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Local Headlines Archives for 2022-05

State Police ticket, tow illegally parked cars by Squantz Pond

State Police are taking action on illegally parked vehicles parked on Route 39 in New Fairfield  Vehicles in the area of Squantz Pond State Park will be towed.  Troopers cautioned that State Park staff do not have control over walk ins.  Any neighborhood in that area with a parking issue related to Squantz Pond this summer is asked to call the Police Department. 

Members of New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office were there doing a patrol check. 

State Parks Division officials are reminding visitors that there is no alcohol allowed and pets are not permitted.  There is still a 250 car limit.

No lifeguards are on duty.  Recruitment efforts will continue until June 17th, the deadline to get new hires on board and trained in time for July Fourth. To help broaden the pool of lifeguard applicants, the state is recruiting untrained people, aged 16 and older, who have a strong swimming ability. DEEP  will pay them for their time to be trained and certified.  

States and local governments across the country have reported having challenges finding summer help. Many have increased pay to lure applicants. 

Two new officers sworn in for Newtown Police Department

The Newtown Police Department has added two new officers.  Anthony DiGiovanni and Nina Ongaro were sworn in on Friday.  DiGiovanni is a Brewster native who served with the Army for 4 years.  After being discharged, he became a member of the New York Police Department and worked out of a precinct in the Bronx for the last 3 years.  Ongaro is a Brookfield native who holds a degree in Criminology from Western Connecticut State University. 

Danbury clears up rumor about lockdown as neighboring towns sheltered in place

Danbury School District officials are looking to clear up a rumor that circulated on Friday.  The Danbury schools did not go into lockdown.  Danbury Police say there were police investigations in New Milford and Bethel that day which did result in temporary lockdowns out of an abundance of caution.  The matters were resolved and did not affect the City of Danbury. 

In Bethel, Police arrested a person in connection with a domestic incident early Friday that involved a firearm.  Police responded to a home around 7am and learned that a firearm was involved, but the suspect left before they arrive.  The person was  located and was taken into custody without incident. 

New Milford schools were placed in a shelter in place for about a half-hour Friday morning due to an active police investigation in a nearby town that involved a suspect involved in a potential crime. There was no immediate threat to our schools.

Search for missing boater continues on Candlewood Lake for thirrd day

A search of Candlewood Lake will resume this morning for a missing boater. Brookfield Police dive team responded to the area of Candlewood Inn around 7:30pm on Sunday on as report of a boater who jumped into the water and never resurfaced. 

Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police Captain Keith Williams says multiple agencies are looking for a 24-year-old man from Bristol.  Two areas where the missing person was believed to be were searched with negative results.  Unsafe diving conditions meant a change to sonar technology, which was also suspended Sunday.

Operations resumed yesterday morning and State Police took over. 

Williams says the vessel was not underway at the time, meaning it was docked, beached or aground.  Officials are not sure if the man fell or jumped off the boat, but they have been told that he is a strong swimmer.   Williams says they're are looking into any and all factors, including if alcohol was involved and cold water temperature. 

The search will resume at 8am.

Monroe seeks to purchase former St. Jude school for community center

The Town of Monroe will purchase the former St. Jude school property.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg has been working with the Parish and the Diocese of Bridgeport to turn the facility into a Monroe Community Center.  The proposed purchase price would not exceed $2.3 million.  St. Jude Parish would continue to have access to the parking lot and, for a period of time, access to certain areas of the building.  The town will conduct additional due diligence and prepare a final and more detailed purchase agreement for approval by the Town Council, the Board of Finance, and ultimately at a Town Meeting.  While the school building is older construction, it would substantially add to the Town Hall campus. Beyond community center programming, certain municipal functions could eventually migrate to that location, opening up much-needed space at Town Hall. While the former Chalk Hill School was also evaluated, use of that building would cost taxpayers over $10 million and presented a challenge as it's located on a school campus.  

Conn. lawmakers hold hearing on infant formula shortage

Even though the Connecticut General Assembly session ended earlier this month, state lawmakers held an informational hearing on the infant formula shortage.  Newtown Senator Tony Hwang, the ranking leader on the legislative Public Health and the Insurance committees, called the shortage an unimaginable challenge for families.  He notes that many parents who rely on formula for their baby’s nutritional needs are now at risk of not being able to find the formula products they need--depending on a baby’s unique allergies or digestive system.   Hwang says they will follow up on what was said during the hearing.

Southbury Police Department looking to hire officers

The Town of Southbury is currently accepting applications for the positions of Entry Level Police Officer and Certified Police Officer. The deadline is June 2nd.  Details are available on the Town of Southbury Employment Opportunities web page.  The Southbury Police Department consists of 23 full-time police officers, one Resident Trooper Supervisor, 5 full-time dispatchers, 3 part-time dispatchers, and 2 civilian employees. 

2021 Officer of the Year award recipient in Ridgefield named

Ridgefield Police Officer Carlos Olivares has been named the 2021 Officer of the Year award recipient. This award was presented to him by the Ridgefield Exchange Club, at the statewide awards ceremony.  Olivares began his career with the Ridgefield Police Department in 2019. He is a member of the United States Air Force Air National Guard and has been deployed numerous times. Department officials say he is a proactive, enthusiastic officer, who always puts the community before himself. He volunteers his time to participate in PBA events and community policing initiatives.  Olivares has received numerous letters of recognition from the public, for his dedication and commitment to the community.

Southbury Animal Control alerting motorists to turtle season.

Southbury Animal Control is reminding people that it is officially turtle season.  Drivers are asked to be mindful of speed and keep eyes on the road.  Motorists are asked that if they see a turtle trying to cross the road, that it's facing in the same direction as it was heading. Anyone who accidentally hits a turtle should not assume that it is dead, as some turtles can be rehabilitated.  With a lot of wetlands and water sources in Southbury, a lot of snapping turtles are around and people should not approach them, as they have a strong bite force. It is also harmful to their spine when picked up by their tails.

Hearing held on artificial turf field replacement in Bethel

A public hearing has been held in Bethel on work for a turf field in the school campus.  Claris Construction representative Mike Kozlowski told the Board of Selectmen that they're taking the existing field between the high school and the middle school and converting it into an artificial turf field.  With additional square footage by moving the baseball field back into the hillside, and moving softball field, the town will get a full regulation lacrosse, soccer and field hockey field.  Kozlowski says properly maintained, the field will have a 12 to 15 year lifespan.  He notes that there is no need for irrigation and the gravel around the field will act as a giant filter.  A private donor, who asked to remain anonymous, offered to fund the Benzing Field replacement.  A four-post lighting system has been proposed to illuminate the area where soccer, lacrosse and field hockey are played.

Danbury town committees nominate House candidates

Nominations have been made by the town committees in Danbury for candidates to run for election in the 138th state House District. Incumbent Democratic Representative Ken Gucker, who also serves as Assistant Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, was unanimously endorsed.  The Republican's nominated Rachel Chaleski, chair of the Board of Education.

The Danbury Democratic and Republican Town Committees have made their nominations for candidates to run for election in the 109th state House District. The seat is being vacated by Democrat David Arconti, who opted not to seek reelection in November.  The Democrats have endorsed City Councilman Farley Santos, a former Board of Education member.  The Republican Caucus nominated Jusy Fernandez, a political newcomer with a military background.

The Danbury Republican and Democratic Town Committees have made their nominations for candidates to run for election in the 110th state House District. Veteran incumbent State Representative Bob Godfrey, who also serves as Deputy Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives, was unanimously endorsed by the Democrats to seek re-election.  Eric Gleissner, a lifelong resident, is a political newcomer.  He says it's time for a needed change and he wanted to be that instrument of change.  He also noted that his family had lived in the district for over 100 years.

The town committees have nominated candidates to be the Registrars of Voters.  Mary Ann Doran accepted the nomination from the Republicans while Joan Bielizna was nominated by the Democrats.  They are each the incumbents for the two positions.

Danbury Police Department highlighting Crisis Intervention Team work

Mental Health Awareness month is wrapping up.  The Danbury Police Department is highlighting their Crisis Intervention Team and the work that they are doing to help support and care for the members of the community who deal with mental health issues. CIT Coordinator Officer Peter Elste works closely with Crisis Intervention Clinician Scott Alvord, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and helps officers respond to calls involving mental and behavioral issues in ways that can help people connect to services.  They also provide follow up contact with people that have been involved in a police interaction recently.  Danbury Police are also sharing information about some of the many resources available including: 211 for Mobile Crisis Services for both adults and children, 911 for emergency services, and for non-emergent calls regarding mental health needs, the the DPD main line at 203-797-4611 and ask if a CIT officer is available. 

Significant defoliation of hardwood trees expected in Litchfield County

Residents in Litchfield County are being cautioned to expect significant defoliation of hardwood trees this spring.  Officials with Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station say 2021 was the first year of widespread defoliation in northwest Connecticut and most healthy trees refoliated in part due to sufficient summer rains. DEEP Director of Forestry Chris Martin says the energy required to refoliate places significant stress on trees increasing the risk of tree mortality in 2022. Martin warned that repeated attacks from spongy moths, formerly known as gypsy moths, can weaken a tree’s natural ability to ward off secondary stressors such as drought or other insects and disease. Oaks are most preferred tree species.

Seasonal positions open at Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent

The State Parks Division is still looking to hire people to fill seasonal positions at Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent.  The openings include a Campground Supervisor to assist in managing the total operation of a State-owned campground under the supervision of a Park and Recreation Supervisor. There's also an opening for applicants 18 and older to be a Seasonal Maintainer.  This person performs work related to the maintenance and operation of DEEP managed lands and facilities.  There are also openings for people 16 and older including camp office staff and ticket booth attendants.

Boating Education Assistant position open in Danbury

The state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection is currently seeking to fill Boating Education Assistant positions in Danbury.  Applicants hired will be required to visit state boat launches to educate boaters about clean and safe boating practices, conduct voluntary Vessel Safety Checks and Aquatic Invasive Species inspections and report the overall boat launch condition to Boating Division staff. The seasonal position runs through October 15th.  It's for 40 hours per week with the possibility of work hours varying daily. The schedule for this position is Monday to Friday with some evening and weekend work required. The pay rate varies from $13 to $17 per hour depending on education and experience. There are no benefits provided.

Greater Danbury area towns to mark Memorial Day

Memorial Day events are being held by Greater Danbury area towns throughout the long weekend.

 

The Brookfield Memorial Day Parade is being organized by the Lions Club.  It takes place on Sunday and begins at 2pm at Brookfield High School and ends at Center Elementary School.

 

The Danbury Memorial Day events begin at 6:30 a.m. Monday with a service at St. Joseph Church. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 149 will lead the placing of wreaths at various monuments around the city. A bus will leave the parking lot behind the War Memorial Building in Rogers Park at 6 a.m. to shuttle individuals to these events.  Following the wreath laying services, the Danbury Police Department Honor Guard and the Buglers will proceed to the Germantown Firehouse for ceremonies there. All other participants will head toward Main Street, where the parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at the intersection with Rose Street.

 

The Kent Memorial Day Parade steps off from Kent Center School at 9:30am on Monday.  The procession will move along North Main Street in the village, led by American Legion Post 153 Honor Guard, WWII Veteran Bob Bauer and Korean War Veteran Francois DiGregorio, followed by the Kent Center School Band, Kent Scouts, Kent Volunteer Fire Department, and a tractor-driven wagon for kids, driven by Bill McAnn. Weather permitting, there will be a C-130 Military Flyover by the 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut National Guard. In the event of rain there will not be a parade but ceremonies will be held at the entrance to Kent Center School. Marchers will include the American Legion Honor Guard followed by veterans in a military Jeep; World War II Veteran, Robert Bauer and Korean War Veteran, Francois DiGregorio.

 

The Monroe Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday.  The parade begins at 2PM from Elm Street and Monroe Turnpike, and travels north on Monroe Turnpike to the Town green.   The Town's Memorial Day Ceremony takes place immediately following the parade at the War Memorial in front of town hall.

 

The New Fairfield Veterans Association will be holding a somber ceremony of remembrance in honor of those who died in service on Memorial Day, Monday at 11 AM in Veterans Memorial Park.  The ceremony will be held rain or shine.

 

The Redding Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for May 28, rain or shine. The parade will form at the Redding Elementary School Memorial Auditorium at 11:30 a.m., and after a noon ceremony, will step off at 12:15 p.m. The parade will proceed to the Redding Green for flag-raising and flower-placing ceremonies at the Memorial Stone. Parade officials anticipate the festivities concluding by 1 p.m.


The Ridgefield parade steps off at 11:30 May 30 and will feature six marching bands, an Army reserve unit, local town officials, 60 organizations, and a flyover. All are invited to attend the closing ceremony in Ballard Park at the end of the parade where there will be short speeches, patriotic music and remarks from the Grand Marshal.  The 2022 Grand Marshal is Korean War Veteran, Richard (Dick) Godbout.  

No gas available for purchase to fuel boats on Lake Zoar

There is currently no gas available for purchase to fuel boats on Lake Zoar. This will continue through the holiday weekend. Boaters must bring their own pre-filled gas tanks for personal use.  Boaters should always refill portable fuel containers on the pavement or dock to ensure a good ground. While the bed of a truck or the deck of a boat may seem stable, static electricity can build up and cause a spark.  A filtered funnel will also help prevent contaminants from entering the fuel tank.  Portable fuel tanks should be stored out of direct sunlight and kept in a cool, dry place to minimize condensation.

Brookfield VFW hosting collection for Food Pantry

The Jason D. Lewis Brookfield Memorial VFW is hosting a collection to benefit the Brookfield Food Pantry.  The collection is today from 9am to 2pm at 202 Candlewood Lake Road.  Among the needed items are laundry detergent, pasta sauce, oatmeal, coffee and mac and cheese.

Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans War Memorial proposed in Danbury

The Connecticut Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans War Memorial Committee has recently been formed to honor those veterans with a memorial at Rogers Park in Danbury, among the other monuments.  The idea has the backing of Mayor Dean Esposito and Veterans Affairs Director Danny Hayes.  The committee plans to set up a GoFundMe fundraising page, but until that time donations can be mailed.  A federal statute of waiting 10 years after the end of a war before a monument can be considered means it will be 2031 before Congress can work on a monument in the nation's capitol.  Checks can be made payable to CT Afghan and Iraq War Memorial to 71 Newtown Road, Unit 114, Danbury, CT 06810.

Dog licenses needed in Newtown

There are many unlicensed dogs in Newtown, which is a ticketable offense. Newtown Animal Control Shelter is reminding residents that dogs 6 months or older must be licensed and have a valid rabies vaccination. It costs $8 to license a dog if they are spayed/neutered, or $19 for unneutered dogs. This money goes towards the feeding and veterinary care of shelter animals. It is a one time annual payment, less than a $75 ticket for not licensing a dog. Residents have all of June to do this before a late fee is added on.

UPDATED: Man rescued from Candlewood Lake dies

A man who nearly drowned was rescued from Candlewood Lake yesterday.  Brookfield Police, firefighters and EMS received a 911 call shortly before 6:30 Thursday night about a man working on his boat tied to a dock at North Lake Shore Drive. 

Officer Kyek And Firefighter Olivier located the man under 8 feet of water within 12 minutes of the call being dispatched.  Both jumped in the lake fully clothed and without flotation devices. The pair successfully removed the victim to the dock with the assistance of Assistant Fire Chief Broadmeyer where CPR was immediately initiated.  The patient was transported to Danbury Hospital.

Marine units from Danbury and New Fairfield were dispatched to assist but were cancelled prior to arriving on scene.

Brookfield Police say 76-year-old Wayne Pogers was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital.  The exact cause of death was not provided by police.  Pogers’ wife told Police her husband had been working on their boat and doing other chores in the backyard.

Department of Public Health updates Danbury area COVID-19 data

There are a few less towns in the state Department of Public Health's red zone for COVID-19 community spread, the highest level.  159 of 169 municipalities still each have 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported, but Kent and Sharon have moved into the orange zone.  Bridgewater and a few northwest towns are in the grey zone, the lowest alert level.

According to the report for the two weeks ending May 21st, there were 253 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 99,  Brookfield had 88 and New Fairfield 53. There were 105 COVID cases in New Milford, 147 in Newtown, Redding reported 67 cases while Ridgefield had

152. 

There were slight declines in Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield. Case rates for the Greater Danbury area held relatively steady from the previous report. The rates are:

Danbury 21.3

New Fairfield 27.3

New Milford 28

Bethel 35.7

Brookfield 37

Newtown 37.6

Ridgefield 43.5

Redding 52.5

 

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

Danbury 11.5 percent

Newtown 11.5 percent

New Fairfield 15 percent

New Milford 15 percent

Bethel 16.7 percent

Brookfield 17 percent

Ridgefield 21 percent

Redding 22.2 percent

 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 19 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 8.24 percent, up two- tenths of a percent from the week before.   The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 11.77 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time increased by 10.  The inpatient total is 379.

Seasonal Resource Assistant position open at Kettletown State Park and Campground

The State Parks Division is currently seeking to fill a Seasonal Resource Assistant position at Kettletown State Park and Campground in Southbury.  The park contains 605 acres and was originally inhabited by the Pootatuck Indians, members of the Algonquin group. Early colonists reportedly traded one brass kettle for use of the land for hunting and fishing. Eventually, the settlers acquired complete rights to the area and, by 1758, the Pootatucks had either migrated to the northwest or perished.

New Fairfield Police investigate 3 cases of drivers passing school buses

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office is investigating three cases of drivers passing stopped school buses.  State Troopers are reminding motorists that the First Student bus fleet is equipped with working cameras.  The fine for passing a school bus with its red lights on is $450.  It's a fine of $500 to $1,000, up to 30 days in jail, or both for subsequent offenses. School bus drivers have also been instructed to provide police with the violator's license plate and vehicle description so Troopers can take enforcement action.

Political town committees nominate candidates for Danbury Probate Court Judge

Two men are seeking to be the next Probate Judge for the Danbury district and accepted the Republican and Democratic Town Committee nominations.  Republican Dom Chieffalo and Democrat Joe DaSilva Jr are each seeking to fill the seat being vacated by longtime Probate Judge Dianne Yamin, who is retiring after more than three decades on the job.  Most often she had no challenger. In accepting the GOP nomination, Chieffalo detailed his decades long experience before the Probate Court.  DaSilva has practiced law in Danbury and Connecticut for 23 years and serves as a Trial Referee, Arbitrator and Mediator.

3 injured in multi-vehicle crash in Brookfield

Three people were injured in a car crash in Brookfield yesterday morning.  Firefighters responded to Federal Road around 10am on a report of an accident with entrapment.  Three vehicles were involved in the crash, with one its side and the driver pinned.  Firefighters stabilized the car and used the HURST Jaws of Life to remove the trapped motorist.  All three were transported to Danbury Hospital.  Crews were on scene for about 45 minutes, with Federal Road reopening around 11:15am.

Putnam County Sheriff's Department participating in STOP-DWI Campaign

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is participating in the New York statewide STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign during Memorial weekend.  Stepped up patrols begin on the 27th and continue through the 31st.   Memorial Day is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year and marks the official start of summer.  New York State Police, County Sheriffs, municipal law enforcement agencies and local STOP-DWI Programs will collaborate in the coordinated effort to reduce the number of impaired driving-related injuries and deaths.  The campaign has a mobile app called “Have a Plan” where people can find a safe ride home.  Sheriff Kevin McConville says impaired driving is completely preventable, all it takes is a little planning.

Fire on Southbury Training School campus under investigation

A fire on the Southbury Training School campus is under investigation.  State Police say a bus stop gazebo was destroyed last week.  Emergency responders found the structure fully engulfed in flames Friday evening.  Witnesses reported a young female occupant exiting a white SUV stopped in front of the gazebo, running to the structure and setting off fireworks.  Troopers say the SUV was last seen going down Constitution Hill towards Main Street South.  Anyone with information is urged to call Connecticut State Police Troop A.

Newtown Interfaith Council hosts vigil

The Newtown Interfaith Council and the Newtown Action Alliance hosted a vigil last night to stand with the community in Texas, where a school shooting took the lives of 19 children and two teachers.  The vigil took place at Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street in Newtown.

Reverend Matthew Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church, who was one of about 10 speakers during the evening, said while the tragedy occurred in Texas, the sorrow can be felt in every community, everywhere.  He said they all weep together as one people, for all of the dear ones who have been lost, no matter if they came from Texas or Buffalo, Newtown or Hartford, Bridgeport or Tuscan, Oak Creek or Oakland, Littleton or Virginia Tech, Nickel Mines or New York City.

Jordan Gomes, who was a 9-year old student at Sandy Hook School on 12/14,  said she doesn't want to accept living in America where kids can go to school with the fear of never seeing their parents again, watching their friends pass away.

Participants then marched to the Newtown headquarters of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.  Director of Public Affairs Mark Oliva says they are heartbroken over the news.  He notes that the organization has long advocated – and will continue to advocate – for ideas to prevent unauthorized access to firearms by criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, children and others who cannot be trusted to handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner.

Sandy Hook Promise touts Know the Signs training

The founders of Sandy Hook Promise are pushing their educational programming in the wake of the shooting this week at a Texas elementary school.  Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden. Both had 6-year-old sons who were among the 26 children and educators killed nearly 10 years ago. 

Hockley says one of the most important thing for families to do it to not turn away from red flags.  She knows that it's instinctive for parents to believe the best in their kids, but asking the difficult questions and being prepared to help is the best thing parents can do for their kids.  She added that ensuring kids have a connection to parents, grandparents, or someone who cares enough about their choices and their life will go a long way to help them as well. 

Sandy Hook Promise has a Know the Signs guide on how to recognize the warning signs of gun violence as well as how to bring their no-cost trainings to schools and youth organizations.  The organization says they have trained over millions of youths and adults on how to recognize warning signs of gun violence and intervene effectively. 

Sandy Hook Promise says these programs have spurred interventions in response to multiple threats – including a school shooting, suicides and firearms brought to schools – as well as helped to reduce bullying and get hundreds of individuals mental health assistance.

Kids eligible for COVID-19 vaccine booster

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services is reminding parents that there are new CDC recommendations on COVID-19 vaccines for kids. 

Children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible for a booster dose 5 months after their initial Pfizer vaccination series.  Individuals ages 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those who are 50 years of age or older can receive a second booster dose 4 months after their first.  In the past month, Danbury has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and Department officials say a booster dose will help protect individuals against severe disease.

It's the third day in a row that Connecticut's seven-day rolling positivity rate was down from the previous day.  The positivity rate yesterday was 12.05-percent, which is slightly down from Tuesday's 12.13 percent. On Monday, the positivity rate was at 12.3-percent, which was nearly a two percent drop from Friday.

Wilton Police remind of Conn.'s Social Host Law

With prom and graduation season approaching, the Wilton Police Department is reminding people of Connecticut's Social Host Law.  Adults allowing teens to drink in their home or on their property could be hit with a 2-thousand dollar fine, court ordered evaluations, probation, or even jail time.

Ridgefield Police swear in 3 new Officers

The Ridgefield Police Department has three new officers. Roosevelt Theodore, Hillard Bloom, and Andrew Luis were sworn in yesterday by the Town Clerk at a ceremony held at the Lounsbury House. These three officers were chosen from 91 candidates that applied and will start the Connecticut Police Academy on June 3rd.  They will attend for approximately six months before starting Field Training Program in Ridgefield.

5 Danbury Fire Department members graduated Conn. Fire Academy

5 Danbury Fire Department members have now graduated the Connecticut Fire Academy class 69.  Probationary Firefighter Urbano was the recipient of the Firefighter Michael C. Reilly Hard Charger Award.  A previous award winner was Danbury Firefighter Jeff Perkins, who served as Urbano's mentor through the Department's Recruit Mentorship Program.  The program assists recruits in the adjustments to their new career.

Arrested Danbury man found with cocaine in underwear

A Danbury man found with 66 grams of cocaine in his underwear has been arrested.  Detectives from the Special Investigations Division were conducting a surveillance operation of a person known to them for past narcotics violations.  A new investigation was launched several months ago into 36-year old Lenny Cubilette. 

During surveillance yesterday, Detectives observed him meeting up with a person, getting into their vehicle for a short period of time, and exiting. His actions were consistent with drug sales.  Detectives blocked in his car in a Federal Road parking lot and he attempted to flee, striking one of the vehicles.

Cubilette was removed from the car and taken into custody.  A search at the police station turned up the powder and crack cocaine.  His car and $977 were also seized. 

Cubilette was charged with possession of over 1 ounce of crack with intent to sell, possession of under 1 ounce with intent to sell, 2 counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of interfering with the duties of a police officer.  He was held on $100,000 bond.

Sandy Hook survivor calls for federal action

Some Connecticut officials and gun safety advocates gathered on the steps of the state capitol yesterday to call for federal action.  Mary Ann Jacobs, a Sandy Hook School educator, says the 26 lives taken on 12/14 should have been enough.  She questioned how many kids have to die in schools before federal lawmakers act, adding that no one should accept this as the fate of teachers, communities and families.  Jacobs says the patchwork of state by state gun laws endangers those in places with restrictions like Connecticut's. Jacobs was huddled in a closet with 18 nine-year olds and thee colleagues nearly 10 years ago and says she was right back n the closet when she heard the news on Tuesday, remembering the fear and horror, trying to be brave for the kids.  Tuesday’s tragedy in Texas appeared similar to the Sandy Hook shooting, where a 20-year-old shot his way into the locked school after killing his mother and then killed 20 first graders and six educators.  Jacobs says she's one of the lucky ones because she survived.

Newtown Department of Human Services Counselor, Social Worker available to help

Newtown officials are alerting the community to services available following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas.  If anyone in the Newtown community is in need of support or assistance, they are asked not to hesitate to call the licensed professional counselor and licensed clinical social worker at Newtown’s Department of Human Services at 203-270-4612.  Other resources to help are available from Newtown Youth and Family Services and the Resiliency Center of Newtown.  Town officials say these are difficult times for all and they are there to support the community.

'I've got to dig deep': Texas shooting tests Newtown parents

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — As the mother of a girl killed at Sandy Hook, Michele Gay was devastated by the massacre at a Texas elementary school, with its aching parallels to the 2012 attack in Connecticut.

It was all the more saddening in light of the work she has invested in the years since to promote school safety.

“This one has been particularly devastating for me, for my family, for our community, Sandy Hook. We’re just literally transported back in time,” said Gay, co-founder of the nonprofit Safe and Sound Schools. “I’ve got to dig deep. I’m not going to lie.”

In the decade since 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, some of their loved ones who channeled grief into advocacy have claimed success, gradually, in areas including gun safety, attitudes around gun violence, and mental health awareness. The attack in Uvalde has tested their resolve like no other.

Like the Newtown gunman, the attacker in Texas was a young man who shot an older family member he lived with before opening fire with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle inside a nearby elementary school, slaughtering small and defenseless children.

As details of Tuesday’s shooting emerged, Matt Vogl was texting with Jennifer Hensel, whose daughter Avielle was killed in Newtown, and others involved in an advocacy effort named in the girl’s honor, the Avielle Initiative, which promotes efforts to make mental health care more widely available through technology.

“We were all just crying and texting. It’s brutal because it triggers some of the darkest memories we have,” said Vogl, executive director at the National Mental Health Innovation Center in Colorado, where the program is based. The effort was launched after the Newtown attack by Hensel and her husband, Jeremy Richman, who died by suicide in 2019.

“If I can’t stay optimistic I need to quit and find something else to do. On days like today it’s all you got. The vast majority of people don’t go into schools and shoot them up,” Vogl said.

In the first months after the Newtown shooting, much of the families’ advocacy work centered on gun control, particularly a failed effort in 2013 to get a federal law banning some semi-automatic weapons and expanding criminal and mental background checks for gun purchases.

One of the best known groups, Sandy Hook Promise, pivoted afterward to campaigns that helped pass state laws limiting sales of some guns and, more recently, to community-based prevention programs.

There have been victories. Trainings offered to schools by Sandy Hook groups have been credited with stopping potential suicides and school shootings. Victims’ families have prevailed in legal fights with conspiracy theorists and a lawsuit against gun-maker Remington that held the company responsible for its marketing of military-style rifles like those used in the Newtown and Uvalde attacks.

For Mark Barden, a co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, the Texas shooting was all the more frustrating because of everything that has been learned about how looking out for warning signs can prevent such tragedies.

“Today it’s hard because my mind is with with these families in that community,” said Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. “But I do have to buoy myself from crashing because I know that we have something here that works.”

Gay, whose group works with schools around the country, said it was disheartening to hear indications that signs might have been missed in the Texas case.

“Already it appears there were numerous red flags, numerous changes in his behavior over the last year of his life, social media postings that were opportunities to report and then provide intervention,” she said. “That’s hard.”

Schools across Newtown had a stepped-up police presence on Wednesday and Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said counselor teams were on alert for students who might be traumatized by the news from Texas, including high school students who survived the Sandy Hook shooting.

“In just visiting today, it was very obvious that staff were right there to support their students, especially those at the high school who were at Sandy Hook,” she said.

Although Congress hasn’t passed a meaningful gun control law since the Newtown attack, Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the slain principal of Sandy Hook, pushes back on those who say nothing has changed since Sandy Hook. A program manager at Everytown for Gun Safety and an advocate for universal background checks, she said gains have been made quietly in states around the country.

“That is absolutely not something that I see stopping. I do hope that this is an eye opener, as Sandy Hook was, for a push on the federal level,” she said. “But what that’s going to be? Your guess is as good as mine.”

Old New Milford Road in Brookfield to be closed for improvement project

The state Department of Transportation is doing some roadwork in Brookfield next week which requires a road closure.  Old New Milford Road in Brookfield will be closed starting on or around May 31st.  This is part of the project to address intersection and roadway safety improvements along Federal Road and Old New Milford Road between BJ’s Wholesale and Route 133, Junction Road. The project will provide designated turning lanes at intersections, improved sightlines and wider shoulders.  Sidewalks will also be installed.  Old New Milford Road will be closed to through-traffic on the southern end near the intersection with Federal Road through June 21st.  All business access will be maintained throughout the closure. The detour will take drivers to and from Federal Road via Silvermine, Pocono and Junction Roads.

Captain's House in Bridgewater being renovated

The Captain’s House, also known as the Burnham Cottage, in Bridgewater is being renovated. This work is required by the State Historic Preservation Office as “mitigation” for the loss of the Grange structure. First Selectman Curtis Read says residents will notice that the old building, which had already been repaired and moved twice in the past, is in bad condition. The town plans to reuse some of salvageable wood and other old wood to reconstruct the Captain’s House very close to its current location. The project should be finished this Fall. The Bridgewater Historical Society will return the stored historic artifacts and manage the mini museum as part of their offerings to the public.

Easton resident sustains serious burns in house fire

An Easton residents sustained serious burns in a house fire yesterday.  Easton firefighters responded to a Hayes Street house shortly after 7:30am on a report of a fire with people still in the house.  Firefighters found a member of the family inside attempting to extinguish the flames on the second floor of the home. This person exited under his own power but sustained serious burn and smoke injuries and was transported to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Center by Easton EMS.  All other members of the household exited the home without injury.  Newtown, Monroe, Redding and Weston fire companies provided mutual aid.  The fire is under investigation by the Easton Fire Marshal's Office and no cause has been determined at this time.

Putnam County Sheriff Deputy completes statewide training program

A Putnam County Sheriff Deputy has completed a statewide training program.  68 deputy sheriffs and civilian staff from New York, including Deputy William Verrastro, attended the two week training program.  All Sheriffs have civil law enforcement functions, including the service of process and enforcement of judgments and other court orders and mandates. The school provides participants with training in the latest advances in civil law enforcement and a forum to discuss best practices.

Southbury Police attempting to ID larceny suspect

The Southbury Police Department is attempting to identify an individual involved in a larceny from Old Navy, on Main Street North.  The incident happened on the afternoon of Saturday the 14th.  Southbury Police posted a photo from store surveillance on their Facebook page yesterday. Anyone with information about the man's identity is asked to contact Southbury Police.

Police step up presence at area schools

The Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper's Office posted officers at all Region 12 schools today following the shooting at a Texas elementary school yesterday.  The move was done out of an abundance of caution and reassurance.

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office says they are unpleasantly reminded of violence in the Nation by the elementary school shooting in Texas. State and local Police Officers will remain vigilant at all New Fairfield schools.  Troopers say the administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students are often their eyes and ears and asked that anyone who sees or hears anything suspicious, to report it to police immediately.

New Milford Police added extra patrols at the schools today to reassure students, parents, staff, and the community.  Mayor Pete Bass says his .prayers go out to the victims of the tragic shooting and all those impacted by it.

The Brookfield Police Department is offering its condolences to those who have been affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School.  Department officials say safety and the comfort of Brookfield students are a top priority so they increased their presence at all Brookfield Schools, both inside and out.  Officials say this action is not a result of any threats to the schools but simply a community engagement measure in response to what occurred in Texas.

Photronics: Fiscal Q2 Earnings Snapshot

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ Photronics Inc. (PLAB) on Wednesday reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $29.8 million.

The Brookfield, Connecticut-based company said it had profit of 49 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 35 cents per share.

The electronics imaging company posted revenue of $204.5 million in the period.

For the current quarter ending in August, Photronics said it expects revenue in the range of $205 million to $215 million.

After Texas shooting, Conn. senator begs for gun compromise

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A U.S. senator who came to Congress representing the Connecticut community where 26 elementary school students and educators were killed nearly a decade ago begged his colleagues Tuesday, as the latest school shooting unfolded, to pass legislation addressing the nation’s gun violence problem.

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away from Newtown, Connecticut, felt all too familiar to residents and officials who saw many similarities to the attack by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

A gutted Sen. Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor Tuesday and demanded that lawmakers accomplish what they failed to do after 20 children, mostly 6 or 7 years old, and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut died on Dec. 14, 2012. Congress has been unable to pass substantial gun violence legislation since the collapse of a bipartisan Senate effort in the aftermath of that massacre.

“What are we doing?” Murphy asked. The Democrat, who represented Newtown during his time as a U.S. congressman, urged his colleagues to find a compromise.

“I’m here on this floor to beg — to literally get down on my hands and knees — to beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said.

“I just don’t understand why people here think we’re powerless,” Murphy told reporters later. “We aren’t.”

He said he was working with colleagues — and reaching out in particular to Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas — to see if they could muster any bipartisan support for gun violence legislation.

Though the party of Democratic President Joe Biden has slim control of Congress, bills on gun violence have been stymied in the face of Republican opposition in the Senate.

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One would have closed a loophole for private and online sales; the other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.

Tuesday’s tragedy in Texas appeared similar to the Sandy Hook shooting, where a 20-year-old man shot his way into the locked school on Dec. 14, 2012, then killed 20 first graders and six adults with an AR-15-type rifle purchased legally by his mother. He killed himself as police arrived. Before going to the school, he fatally shot his mother at their Newtown home.

“My son never came home from Sandy Hook. My heart bleeds for Texas as I relive Dylan’s murder,” Sandy Hook parent Nicole Hockley wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.

In February, the families of nine Sandy Hook victims reached a $73 million settlement in a lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used in the shooting. The case against Remington, filed in 2015, was closely watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and manufacturers because of its potential to provide a road map for victims of other shootings to sue firearm makers.

The families and a survivor argued the company should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public. They’ve said their focus is on preventing future mass shootings by forcing gun companies to be more responsible with their products and how they market them.

“I hope that more people stand up and demand action and demand change and stop just accepting the tweets of thoughts and prayers. That’s not going to save lives. It’s not going to bring people back,” said Erica Lafferty, daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the slain principal of Sandy Hook.

“It’s really just a gun lobby talking point and something that people feel that they need to say in lieu of action,” she told The Associated Press.

Lafferty, program manager at Everytown for Gun Safety and an advocate for universal background checks, said she decided a couple years ago to step back from talking to the media following what became a succession of mass shootings.

On Tuesday, struck by the familiarity of the aerial news shots of an elementary school and the fact the victims included children as young as second grade and educators like her mother, Lafferty thought she’d try to digest what had happened in Texas privately as well.

It didn’t work.

“I think that lasted maybe five minutes before I hear my mom’s voice in my head: `Get off your butt, kid. This is definitely your time,’” Lafferty said.

Advocacy groups that formed after Sandy Hook also expressed dismay as news of the shooting spread.

“For the past decade, we have warned all Americans, including elected politicians across the nation, that if a mass shooting can happen in Sandy Hook then it can happen anywhere,” Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, said in a written statement.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, tweeted how the “senseless violence will stop only when Congress matches thoughts & prayers with action.”

Murphy acknowledged the problem of gun violence won’t be solved overnight. But, he said, it can be addressed.

“I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything that I may support, but there is a common denominator that we can find,” Murphy said. “But by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing, shooting after shooting.”

Counseling teams available in Newtown for students following TX shooting

Newtown Schools Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said in an email to staff and families that counseling teams are prepared to offer assistance to students today in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Texas.  She noted that these resources would be available at Newtown High School where survivors of the shooting at Sandy Hook School now attend school.  This December will mark 10 years since the gunman killed 20 children and 6 educators.  Rodrigue says in Newtown, this news resonates with students, staff, and families in ways many communities might not understand — and hopefully never will.  Newtown Police will have an enhanced presence at district schools.

Bethel Police to step up presence at schools in wake of TX shooting

The Bethel Police Department says safety has always been their priority, and additional Officers will be present throughout the school complex for the near future in response to the shooting at a school in Texas. 

Superintendent Christine Carver says the school district will have Pupil Personnel Staff--school counselors, psychologists, and social workers--available should any student need to process this event with someone at school.  Carver noted that it's important to provide an opportunity for students to discuss matters openly with a trusted adult. She also shared several resources in a letter to parents that may have developmentally appropriate discussions with children around this topic.

National Association of School Psychologists, Talking to Children about Violence. 
Sesame Street, Talking to Young Children about Violence in the Community. 
Common Sense Media, How to Talk to Your Children About School Shootings. 

The District is also offering its assistance and support to Newtown.  Carver says she can not imagine the trauma that has resurfaced because of this horrific tragedy.  This December will mark 10 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook School. 

Bethel school officials plan to continue to review the District's All-Hazards School Security and Safety Plan and Carver notes that they regularly practice drills with staff and students so they understand what to do in serious situations such as this.

Brookfield meeting go remote amid COVID-19 outbreak

Meetings in Brookfield will be held remotely until June 3rd due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among Town Hall employees.  The decision was based on the advice of the town's health director.  First Selectman Tara Carr says 10 employees, one from outside Town Hall and two from the police department have tested positive recently.  Town Hall remains open for business, but residents are being encouraged to use online resources.  Masks are encouraged, but not being mandated.  Carr said she wears a mask and follows COVID protocols, under the guidance of the health director.  Brookfield latest daily case rate per 100,000 population in the last two weeks is 34.5.  Test positivity was 16.9 percent. Rapid at home tests are not counted in positivity rates.

Eversource to present Resiliency Program plans to Redding

Eversource officials are planning to make a presentation to Redding residents about their Eversource Resiliency Program for the town.  The presentation is at the Redding Community Center at 7:30pm.  To improve day-to-day service reliability for customers and system resiliency during storms, Eversource is using a data-driven approach to address the issue. Eversource will perform additional tree work beyond normal maintenance, in areas that have been hard hit in previous storm events.  The Resiliency Program will expand typical clearances around power lines and remove tall-growing tree species capable of falling onto overhead electric lines, including trees across the street and trees further into private property. Eversource will be visiting neighborhoods to determine the tree work required and will contact property owners to provide information about the extent of the tree work required. The utility's goal is to work closely with the town and help customers understand what work is being done and why.

New Fairfield man pleads not guilty to manslaughter charge

A New Fairfield man has pleaded not guilty to a charge stemming from a fatal stabbing earlier this month.  59-year old Patrick Griffin was charged with manslaughter and entered the plea at a pre-trial hearing on Monday. He remains held on bond for his next hearing, July 11th. Griffin allegedly stabbed a Sandy Hook man in the chest during an assault at his Hillview Drive East home.  65-year-old James Knapp was rushed to Danbury Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.  Knapp was the father of Newtown Legislative Councilman Ryan Knapp.

Connecticut to step up investigation of hate crime probes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials hope timely, stepped-up reporting of hate crime investigations by local police to a new State Police investigative unit will help lead to the prevention and detection of such crimes before something violent happens.

A new law requires all local and tribal police departments, resident state troopers, and constables with law enforcement duties to notify the new Hate Crimes Investigative Unit of a broader list of crimes involving bigotry and bias within 14 days, using a new standardized system, beginning Jan. 1. They must continue to share information about their local investigations with the State Police unit.

“Pretty much every week, every month we get a new national report about the extent of the increase in hate crimes,” said Kent Rep. Maria Horn, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. “These crimes are among the most corrosive ones we have because they go after the bonds that ties together as communities and as a state. And so I think the need is is obvious.”

The new law, which was signed on March 10 by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and highlighted during a ceremonial signing Tuesday, comes days before the State Bond Commission is scheduled to release a second $5 million allocation for security grants for houses of worship and eligible nonprofit organizations at risk of being the target of a hate crime or violent act.

FBI statistics show there were 101 hate crimes reported in 2020 in Connecticut, the most recent year for available data. Sixty-one of those crimes targeted an individual’s race, ethnicity or ancestry; 17 involved a person’s religion; 15 involved someone’s sexual orientation; and eight involved a person’s disability for multiple biases, Lamont’s office said in a statement.

While the new law officially creates the Hate Crimes Investigative Unit within the Connecticut State Police, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said he already formed the group in October.

The unit, which includes a sergeant and a couple of detectives, has already been working with other State Police units, local police and the FBI, investigating various complaints, including racist fliers recently distributed on several West Hartford streets by a white supremacist organization.

Car fire spreads to Newtown home

A fire spread from a car to a home in Newtown early this morning.  All five Newtown fire companies were dispatched to Main Street shortly before 5:30am.  All residents were out of the house when firefighters arrived. The incident originally started as a car fire but quickly spread to the home and an outbuilding. The blaze was contained to the room above the garage as well as the attic above that. All companies were placed back into service about two hours later.

Bridgewater, Roxbury Troopers warn of phone scams

The Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper's Office is getting reports of phone scams.  State Police are reminding people to never give out personal information, to always ask who's calling and then research legitimate phone numbers. Anyone with questions is urged to contact the Resident Trooper's Office.

Lake Zoar channel closed for Rochambeau Bridge work

The channel on Lake Zoar is again being closed through Friday as the Department of Transportation continues work on the Rochambeau Bridge.  Demolition operations will remove the concrete bridge deck during this time.  If operations are completed before Friday, the channel will reopen early.  Additional closure signage was installed prior to the closure, and the DEEP Boating Division was also notified. The second closure for the girder removal will be submitted under a separate cover when dates are confirmed.

Frontier installing fiber optic cable for broadband internet throughout Monroe

Frontier is in the process of installing fiber optic cable for broadband internet service throughout Monroe.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg and other town officials recently met with company representatives, who said about a half dozen crews may be in Monroe each day through July.  Frontier will be installing cable both overhead and underground.  Residents in neighborhoods with underground utilities will receive a door hanger from Frontier that explains the process, including restoration of lawns.  Other residents may receive a letter from Frontier advising that an aerial fiber distribution hub is being installed near their property.  These distribution boxes are attached to a nearby utility pole.  The letter will explain how to contact Frontier with any concerns. 

Former counselor to join Danbury Board of Education

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee has unanimously endorsed Juanita Harris to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education.  Joe DaSilva Jr resigned from the board earlier this month as he seeks his party's nomination for election as Danbury Probate Court Judge.  Harris was born and raised in Danbury and worked in the school system for 44 years as an educator and counselor.  She retired in June 2021. 

Kittens abandoned outside Housatonic Valley Regional High School

State Police Troopers responded to Housatonic Valley Regional High School last week after a report of a cardboard box containing 2 adult cats and 3 kittens. Falls Village Animal Control Officer Lindsay Burr took custody of the cats. During the investigation Burr identified an individual believed to be responsible for abandoning the cats and they have been charged with 5 counts of Cruelty to Animals.

Danbury man caught trespassing at Wilton school gave police fake name

A man caught trespassing at a Wilton school allegedly gave police a fake name and led officers on a chase. Wilton Police charged 26-year old Charlton Anthony White of Danbury with multiple offenses for the incident last Thursday.  According to court records, White was charged with breach of peace, interfering with officers, and several counts of trespassing.  He was held on $2,500 bond.  White's next court date is set for August 17th.  News 12 Connecticut reports that White entered the Gensis School in Wilton while class was in session and was asked by staff to leave.  Police reportedly found White outside the building, where he gave them a fake name and ran.  Officers chased him through a stretch of railroad and was caught. 

Longtime Newtown Police Department member terminated

A longtime Newtown Police Department member has been terminated by the town’s Police Commission based on disability.  51-year old Lt Aaron Bahamonde, who also served as the Department's spokesman and was one of the first to respond to Sandy Hook School on 12/14, had been on the force for 32 years. 

He said in a statement that it was unfortunate he was denied contractual sick time benefits for his disability, which occurred while out on medical leave. 

Union Attorney Eric Brown told Hearst Connecticut Media that the union had filed a grievance with the town “about whether or not he is eligible for disability insurance benefits” because Bahamonde is eligible for full retirement benefits. 

The closed door discussion came during the Police Commission's meeting last Wednesday.  After the 90-minute executive session, members returned to the public forum and voted unanimously to terminate the employee immediately.  A written decision is expected soon.

New Fairfield American Rescue Plan Act Working Group holds hearing

The New Fairfield American Rescue Plan Act Working Group held a meeting last night for residents to weigh in on proposed projects to be funding with some of the town's share of the federal COVID relief money.  The group, along with the Board of Selectmen hosted the meeting Monday at 7pm.  New Fairfield received about $4.1 million and the working group is considering a number of uses, including  Company A firehouse renovations, police station communications center equipment and security and beach house reconstruction.  Also under consideration are an emergency housing fund, small business grants and hazard pay for public safety and public health employees.  

Brookfield Library awarded grant for children's MakerSpace visit

The Brookfield Library has been awarded a $2,000 grant from the Connecticut State Library for Summer Enrichment Activities for children.  The grant is a partnership between the state and the Institute of Museum and Library Services as part of the Library Services and Technology Act.  Brookfield will use the funding to bring Playful Engineers Traveling MakerSpace to Brookfield from July 12th through 14th as part of their annual Summer Reading Program.  Elementary school-age children will take part in hands-on exploring, experimenting and teamwork activities to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while gaining knowledge of basic engineering concepts such as forces and motion, scale, cause and effect.

Danbury Health Department launches online health survey

The Danbury Health Department is teaming up with Nuvance Health on a Community Health Needs Assessment.  A 10 minute survey has been created to get community input on the health and wellness of residents.  The survey will ask questions about what the most important health issues are in Danbury and what matters to most to respondents.  The survey will close on June 30th.  It can be completed online https://www.gnyhasurveys.org/CHNA2022, though paper versions of the surveys are available by request.  All survey responses are confidential.  The results will inform the development of a plan, involving many community partners.

Petition launched to support midwives at Connecticut Childbirth & Women's Center

Connecticut Childbirth & Women’s Center claims Nuvance Health has revoked the privileges of one of its midwives to deliver babies at Danbury Hospital.  Nuvance received a complaint against the midwife, though the Center's officials are not disclosing the nature of the complaint, citing patient privacy concerns.  Nuvance has not confirmed whether it investigated a complaint but said in a statement they have an obligation to address any care that's found concerning-- including matters with independent, community practitioners. 

The Connecticut Childbirth & Women's Center is privately owned and located across the street from Danbury Hospital.  Community members have launched an online petition in support of the Center on Change.org, which has more than 4,000 signatures so far.

Midwife Director Cathy Parisi says the practice, not the individual should have been investigated, but their own review found the care was appropriate.  She noted that there was no physical harm to the patient and no outcome altered by the care the patient received.  The care was provided at the center, not the hospital. 

Emergency communications system advisory committee formed in New Fairfield

An advisory committee has been formed in New Fairfield about an emergency responder radio communications system.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the last time the town replaced the system was 10 to 15 years ago and they're looking at an approximately $2 million project this time around.  She notes that a smaller group has been working to get as much information as possible about available options, but they want professional input and feedback from the people who use the system.  The members represent law enforcement, fire, EMS, OEM, finance and IT.

The Advisory Committee will include:

Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bruce Taylor

Volunteer Fire Department 1st Lt Mitch Williams

Firefighter John Morelli

Board of Finance member and experience dispatcher Mark Beninson

Emergency Management Director Maria Evans

Finance Director Olga Melnikov

Director of IT Karen Fildes

Residents State Trooper Sgt Nick Ieraci

Large mulch fire reported along Newtown/Monroe line

Several fire companies responded to a large mulch fire over the weekend in the area of the Newtown-Monroe town line.  The fire, reported just before 5am yesterday on Main Street, initially drew a response from Monroe volunteer fire companies.  Monroe later notified Newtown that it was in their service territory.  Monroe crews had already laid in and set up the ladder and all firefighters remained on scene for a couple hours.

Sheriff: Man intentionally rammed car at high speed

A man involved in a three car crash in Patterson ran from the scene, but was later caught by Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies on Thursday.   Sheriff Kevin McConville says the 29-year old Nassau County man told Deputies that his actions were intentional efforts to kill himself.  Deputies responded to Route 22 and determined that a southbound vehicle was travelling at a high rate of speed when the driver rear ended another vehicle, with a force enough to send it into a car that was temporarily stopped along the southbound shoulder.  The drivers of the two cars that were hit were transported to Danbury Hospital for medical attention.  Drugs and alcohol were determined not to be factors.  He was charged with felony and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, and traffic law violations. He was held at Putnam Hospital Center for mental health evaluation and is required to appear in Patterson Town Court for arraignment on these charges at a future date.

Bridgewater continues revaluation process

A private appraisal firm that has been retained by the Town of Bridgewater to assist the Assessor’s Office with the revaluation project required by the State of Connecticut will be out doing work this week.  Rick Hulswit of Vision Government Solutions will be performing exterior and interior inspections of properties in Bridgewater to ensure accuracy of the town’s data during this phase of the project.  He will be carrying a company-issued identification badge and a description of his car is registered with the local constables and town hall.

Bethel Police seek to identify suspect

The Bethel Police Department is looking to identify an individual in relation to an incident that occurred at Rite Aid on the 13th, around 3PM. Surveillance photos of the man in the store are posted on the Bethel Police Facebook page.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Morris at 203-744-7900 Ext. 663.

Bethel Patriotic Association hosts Annual Memorial Day Parade

The Bethel Patriotic Association hosted their Annual Memorial Day Parade yesterday.  U.S. Marine Corps Iraq & Afghanistan Veteran, Thomas Burke Jr was the Grand Marshal.  Veterans, members of the Bethel Police color guard and the Bethel Navy Jr ROTC Cadets were among the participants.  Burke said in a speech that he was grateful for the opportunity to serve as Grand Marshal.  He served as an infantry Marine with First Battalion Third marines in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Danbury Zoners to receive draft recreational cannabis business regulations

When the Danbury Zoning Commission meets tomorrow night, they'll receive draft regulations on recreational marijuana sales in the City.  The Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the zoning changes related to cannabis for July 12th. 

The proposal would allow four types of permitted businesses, but not on Main Street.  According to the draft, the number of dispensary, retailer, and micro-cultivator businesses would be capped at no more than four at any time citywide.  The Mill Plain Road medical marijuana dispensary counts toward the cap. 

The businesses would be restricted to certain commercial and industrial zones not near schools, parks and houses of worship. Seven other kinds of businesses permitted in state law, such as cannabis food and beverage manufacturing, would be banned.

Also according to the draft, patrons will not be able to consume cannabis in marijuana businesses, and marijuana businesses must have a written “odor abatement program” as a condition of approval to ensure the business contains “any detectable impacts beyond the physical limits of the building.”

DOT pavement paving operation in southwestern Conn.

The state Department of Transportation has a pavement marking project underway in Southwestern Connecticut.  Center lines, shoulder lines and other work is planned on state routes throughout the area.  The overnight project got started last week and will continue until the end of November.  Among the areas will work will occur are Route 53 in Redding from the Weston town line to Route 107, Route 53 in Weston from Route 57 to Valley Forge Road, and Route 33 in Wilton from Route 7 to the Ridgefield town line.  Line painting will also be done on Route 7 in Wilton from the Norwalk town line to Route 33, from Wilton High School to the intersection of Routes 107 and 57, and from there up to the Ridgefield town line.  Traffic control personnel, sign patterns, cones, and truck mounted signs will guide motorists through the work zone.  Work schedule will be done Sundays through Fridays from 8pm to 6am on secondary roadways and 8pm to 5am on expressways.

Brookfield residents vie for open 107th House District seat

Two Brookfield residents have accepted their party nomination for the 107th House District. 

Democrat Phoebe Holmes and Republican Marty Foncello are each seeking to represent Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Newtown. 

Foncello is a former Brookfield First Selectman, serving between 1999 and 2003, and U.S. Army veteran who works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He plans to retire from the agency in the coming months. Foncello says he wants to help seniors find affordable housing and working on  infrastructure and environmental issues. 

Holmes, a former teacher, serves on the Brookfield Zoning Commission.  Holmes wants to focus on education and support staff, environmental issues and gun reform.  Both say they want  find ways to attract young people to the area, and make it affordable for them. 

Current Republican Representative Steve Harding is running for the 30th Senate District seat.

Former Newtown Community Center employee arrested for alleged arson

Newtown Police have arrested a former Community Center employee on arson and criminal mischief charges.  Police say the arrest of 26-year old George DeWitt Wight Ferris on Wednesday stems from an investigation into a fire in an exterior bathroom at the facility in February.  Ferris’ last day of employment was December 31st, and the Center Director says he never had any behavioral issues at work, leaving on his own terms. 

Police and firefighters responded to the Newtown Community Center in the evening of February 27th on a report of a burning odor in the building.  An employee then reported flames and smoke coming from an outdoor men’s bathroom.  The fire was started in a wall-mounted garbage and sparked a fire in the paper towel dispenser above the garbage. 

Police say surveillance video showed the suspect drive off the property and park on Simpson Street, facing the community center, "as if to monitor the situation and/or the response to the fire at the building.” 

He’s pleaded not guilty and remains held on bond. He's due back in court on June 1.

Two motorcycle accidents in Sherman under investigation

Two separate accidents in Sherman this weekend are under investigation.  The first was reported around 11:30am Saturday on Route 37 East, in the area of Upland Pasture Road.  The accident involved a motorcycle and a car and both patients were injured, one critically.  Route 37 was closed for several hours as State Police investigation. Meanwhile, about 15 minutes later, a second motorcycle accident was reported.  This one happened in the area of Route 39 North and Bittersweet Lane.  One patient was seriously injured and taken via Lifenet helicopter to Westchester Medical Center.  The patient is listed in stable condition.

Vandalism at Dickinson Park under investigation

Vandalism at Dickinson Park in Newtown is under investigation.  Police received several complaints from the Parks and Recreation Department about property that was defaced within the park.  Graffiti was spray-painted onto buildings and bathrooms, with the tag “Moser.”  Dickinson Park is open to residents from 9am to sundown, and a permit is required for vehicles to enter the park, which includes a skate park, playground, and several ball courts.  Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Officer Felicia Figol at 203-426-5841.

Bethel officials sign off on funding for Fire Dept. purchases

The Bethel Board of Selectman has signed off on fund for items for Stony Hill and Bethel Fire Departments.  All of the money would come from the Capital Non-Recurring Account.  $15,672 would be used for 12 replacement SCBA bottles for Stony Hill.  Nearly $4,000 would be used to replace tires on Rescue 2.  Funding was also approved for two 3M Scott Sight Masks for a pilot program for both Stony Hill and Bethel Fire.  Initially the Fire Commission was going to seek funding for 12 masks, 6 for each fire company, but they decided to do a pilot program with one each to see how firefighters like the masks.  This is the next evolution of the industry’s first in-mask, hands-free thermal imaging technology. 

DEEP to work with rehabilitator on when to release Newtown cubs back into wild

Two black bear cubs orphaned in Newtown last week are settling into their new home at a New Hampshire wildlife rehabilitation facility.  State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division Director Jenny Dickson says they could be returned to the wild in a few months. 

She notes that it's typically when they're 8 months old.  The cubs are 4.5 months old.  Dickson says their release will depend on how well they do in captivity.  DEEP staff will work with the rehabilitator to determine their release date. 

The cubs' mother, known locally as "Bobbi," was easily identifiable by her ear tags.  217 was shot and killed last Thursday and the incident remains under investigation.  DEEP initially was going to let the cubs remain in the wild, but there were growing concerns for their safety due to the risk of continued public interaction.

Memorial Weekend Flag Retirement Ceremony set in Redding

A Memorial Weekend Flag Retirement Ceremony will take place in Redding next weekend.  Tattered or faded United States flags, collected from the drop box at Redding Town Hall along with worn flags replaced from graves, will be burned in a dignified and proper retirement at Topstone Park at 7pm on May 28th. The fire ring constructed at Topstone Park for community use by Eagle Scout, Cole Anderson, will be utilized for the occasion.  Troop 15 is welcoming the public, and especially Veterans, to Ceremony at 7pm

Regional Hospice Youth Project hosting Color Run

The Regional Hospice Youth Project is hosting a Color Run tomorrow at Tarrywile Park & Mansion in Danbury to raise funds for the children’s hospice programming. This 5K will support the children and families cared for during the end-of-life experience.  Since 1983 Regional Hospice, the first and largest nonprofit hospice provider in Western Connecticut, has been caring for people at the end of life. The race starts at 9am. Participants are asked to park across the street at Immaculate High School. Registration is at the Red Barn and the course loops 3 times.   https://runsignup.com/Race/Register/?raceId=124202&eventId=573994

Vaccine van visit planned in New Fairfield

The CDC has followed the FDA is approving a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for health 5 to 11 year olds.  Now a 3rd shot has been approved for people 5 and older, with people over the age of 50 and those who are immunocompromised approved for a 4th dose.  The New Fairfield Health Department is hosting the vaccine van at the Senior Center from 10am 4pm.  All three brands of vaccine will be available.  Booster dose for kids are now recommended at least 5 months after the 2nd Pfizer vaccination.  The waiting period for a fourth dose is 4 months.

Voter registration drive in New Milford today

A voter registration drive is taking place in New Milford today.  The New Milford Republican Town Committee is sponsoring the event at 5 Danbury Road from 9am to 3pm.  Registration is open to all New Milford residents.  They can drive up and fill out forms to register to vote starting in the August primaries.

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

The state Department of Public Health is providing an update on COVID-19 data for all Greater Danbury area municipalities.  According to the report for the two weeks ending May 14th, there were 239 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 84,  Brookfield had 82 and New Fairfield 44. There were 92 COVID cases in New Milford, 148 in Newtown, Redding reported 80 cases while Ridgefield had 169. 

Case rates for the Greater Danbury area increased since the previous report for the week ending May 14th, based on population.   
The rates are:

Danbury 20.2

New Fairfield 22.6

New Milford 24.5

Bethel 30.3

Brookfield 34.5

Newtown 37.9

Ridgefield 48.4

Redding 62.7

 

Test positivity ticked up slightly from last week.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Danbury 11.3 percent

Newtown 11.7 percent

New Fairfield 13.7 percent

New Milford 13.9 percent

Bethel 14.4 percent

Brookfield 16.9 percent

Ridgefield 22.2 percent

Redding 25.6 percent

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 39 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population, since vaccines have been available, of 8 percent.  The rolling 7-day average test positivity rate was 14 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time increased by 78.  The inpatient total is 369.

All of the COVID-19 tests sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut came back as a strain of the Omicron variant.  Little more than half were identified as BA2, according to the latest weekly report.   Delta has been moved from the Variant of Concern category to Variants being monitored.

Officials warn of dangerous heat conditions this weekend

The Kent Office of Emergency Management is cautioning people to dangerous heat conditions this weekend.  Hot temperatures combined with high humidity levels are expected, with the most oppressive conditions Saturday.  Kent officials are asking people to check on pets and neighbors. 

With record-breaking temperatures this weekend, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection urges all residents and visitors getting in or on the water this weekend to prioritize water safety.  The water temperatures in Long Island Sound and inland water bodies remains very low.  Currently, water temperatures in Long Island Sound are in the low 50-degree range, while summertime temperatures range from the high 60’s through the low 70’s. 

DEEP says there is also a very real danger of hypothermia for swimmers, particularly children, who enter the water for any extended period of time.  Many inland waterbodies also remain in the 50-degree range. 

No lifeguards are on duty this early in the season. 

Paddlers should exercise caution and use proper equipment, practice safety techniques, wear a life jacket, and avoid dangerous situations. Paddlers should always be prepared for a sudden cold-water immersion. Over the last six years, Connecticut families have grieved the loss of seven paddler fatalities during spring’s cold water boating season.  

Brookfield Board of Ed appoints assistant superintendent

The Brookfield Board of Education has appointed a new assistant Superintendent of Schools.  Anna Mahon will be the new lead for teaching, learning and personnel--replacing by Maureen Ruby who has served in the position since 2015.  Mahon, a former Olympic hammer thrower, previously served as a principal in the Amity Regional School District, where she worked for 22 years.

State Police Sgt.'s name added to Conn. memorial

Law enforcement from throughout Connecticut gathered at the state Law Enforcement Memorial yesterday for the 34th Annual Memorial Service, held during National Police Week. Three names were added to the memorial during the event. Last September, State Police Sergeant Brian Mohl lost his life while checking on residents in the area of theswollen Pomperaug River in Woodbury during the flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  For his ultimate sacrifice, his name was added to the memorial. Also added were the names of New Haven Police Officer Diane Gonzalez and Preston Constable William Kinney.

Dedication ceremony for Danbury Hometown Heroes Banner Program tomorrow

A dedication ceremony for the Danbury Hometown Heroes Banner Program will take place on Armed Forces Day, Saturday May 21st.  The ceremony will be held at 10am at Danbury City Hall.

The 62 banners honoring local service members, both past and present, are installed on city-owned lamp posts and will be displayed through Veterans Day. Program Coordinator Lee Teicholz says the banners were sold from August through March and display the honorees photo, name, rank, branch of service, era of service, and service dates.  Sponsors could also add their name at the bottom of the banner.  

He added that the City of Danbury has always been a community, which strongly supports and advocates for military personnel and veterans and the Hometown Heroes Banner Program is just one of many ways that the city shows the brave men and women who have served and those serving this nation today that they will never be forgotten.

State of Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi will be the Master of Ceremonies. Speakers will include Teicholz, Saadi, Mayor Dean Esposito, and Danbury Veterans Affairs Director Dan Hayes.  Maggie Cortese will sing the National Anthem, taps will be played by Albert Russo, the 3-volley salute will be done by the Danbury Police Honor Guard, and Deacon William Murphy of St. Gregory The Great Parish will be doing the invocation and benediction.

Erroneous ballots used by some Brookfield budget referendum voters

Brookfield residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year. 

First Selectman Tara Carr says there was an issue that needed be cleared up before results were certified. 49 ballots from the May 2021 budget referendum were erroneously distributed between 6pm and 7pm at the high school on Tuesday. 

Local officials reached out to the Secretary of the State's office that night, but were told since the budget is done by charter, the oversight is with the town attorney.  But the Office noted that the State Elections Enforcement Commission watchdog agency is separate from the Secretary of the State. 

Those 49 ballots had no impact on the outcome of the referendum results. 

According to unofficial results from the Town Clerk's Office, 1,049 people voted yes for the municipal budget while 751 voted no.  More voters said the budget was too high, though nearly as many said it was adequate and about half as many said it was too low. 

About 1,100 people voted for the Board of Education budget, while 670 voted no.  Most voters said it was adequate, while nearly as many said it was too high and far less said too low.   The question on bonding for capital items was approved by a similar margin. 

There was about 14 percent voter turnout.  The  $67.8 million for the schools and a town operating budget of $41.8 million increases the mill rate 3.15 percent. 

Special Town Meeting set in Redding on ARPA project funding

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Redding next week to vote on funding of American Rescue Plan projects.  The  Board of Selectmen recently approved a list of recommendations from the American Rescue Plan Funds Working Group. The ARPA projects are $40,000 for the Redding Elementary School Paved Recreation Area and $35,000 for the John Read Middle School Project COOL Outdoor Learning Pavilion.

The meeting Thursday the 26th is at 7:30pm at the Redding Community center. 

Also during that meeting, residents will be asked to transfer $460,000 from the unassigned fund balance to cover police overtime due to COVID-19 and other extended leave, along with legal expenses related to the Meadow Ridge trial over property revaluation.

A Superior Court judge found Redding's valuation of the Meadow Ridge retirement community property to be excessive, but that Redding Life Care’s multiple expert witnesses were unreliable.  The nearly nine-year court battle was over the town’s tax assessment of a 136-acre campus in 2012.  The assessment was $112.5 million, but the company claims the value was $84 million.  The ruling says the court's calculation is $92 million.  Meadow Ridge is the largest employer and biggest taxpayer in Redding. 

Residents will also be asked at the Special Town Meeting next week to adopt an Illicit Discharge Ordinance for Stormwater, a federal requirement under the Clean Water Act.

Region 12 hold ribbon cutting on Agriscience building

 

The Region 12 School District is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning (May 20) for the new Agriscience Academy.  After about two years of delays, the agriscience and science lab building project at the Shepaug Valley School in the Town of Washington will open its doors to the public.  The ribbon cutting was supposed to happen in April 2020 but was put on hold due to the pandemic.  After the ribbon is cut at 11am, district officials will give tours and host demonstrations and workshops.  The program is now in its third year, and has tripled in size to 119 students.

WCSU Faculty Senate issue vote of no confidence in university President

The faculty senate of Western Connecticut State University has issued a vote of no confidence in President John Clark over the university's fiscal woes.  A two day retreat was held earlier this week to address serious structural and financial challenges outlined in a report requested by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.  The vote was 19 yes, 7 no and 4 abstentions.  The union representing the faculty says no action is required to be taken by West Conn or the system, but is an accountability message.  According to the report from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, WestConn has operated on a structural deficit for the past decade, dipping into its reserves almost every year to cover expenses.  The report also included recommendations to guide decision-making on how to resolve the issues.  About 200 faculty and staff participated in the retreat Monday and Tuesday.

Easton Police receive reports of bear sightings

There have been several black bear sightings in Easton over the past few days and each caller has reported to Police that the bear had been going after their bird feeders.  Department officials are reminding residents to bring bird feeders and garbage cans inside. Bears are most active from April through November so wildlife officials say it's best not to put out bird feeders during these months.

Most Conn. towns in Red Zone for COVID-19 spread

162 of 169 Connecticut municipalities are in the state Department of Public Health's red zone for COVID-19 community spread, the highest level.  Last week 158 municipalities were in the red zone, with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  Bridgewater is in the grey zone with no reported cases.  5 of 6 other towns in the grey zone are in the northwest corner and one is in the northeast corner.  Danbury reported 20.2 cases per 100,000 population in the two weeks ending May 14th.

Putnam County Sheriff offering free active shooter training to businesses

In the wake of the shooting at a Buffalo supermarket, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents and businesses that they provide active shooter training at no cost for hospitals, schools, houses of worship, and businesses.  The Sheriff’s Office will perform a site assessment of physical security and provide recommendations to enhance existing measures.  Deputies also will provide training focusing on managerial concerns and issues, as well as focused preparation and response training for the workforce.  Sheriff Kevin McConville urged business in Putnam County to take advantage of this free service to address security concerns and assistance in developing reliable plans to address “emergency situations.” For more information or to schedule your organization’s training session, contact Undersheriff Thomas Lindert at https://putnamsheriff.com/business-site-assessment/

Water issues prompt early dismissal of Brewster schools

The Brewster Central School District dismissed schools early today due to a lack of water across the District.  Brewster school officials expect the water issues to be resolved and school to resume as scheduled tomorrow.

Parties make 2nd House District nominations

The Danbury and Bethel Democratic and Republican Town Committee have made their nominations for candidates in the 2nd state House District.  Incumbent Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan accepted his party's nomination earlier this month as he seeks a 3rd term.  He is being challenged by Danbury Republican Jenn Lewis. Due to redistricting after the 2020 census, the District will include more portions of Bethel and Danbury, with the loss of Redding and Newtown.

Danbury Police hold 2022 Police Memorial Ceremony

The Danbury Police Department held the 2022 Police Memorial Ceremony yesterday at Memorial Park. Danbury Police honored its Officers who died in the line of duty with a memorial wreath placing and included remarks from Chief Patrick Ridenhour, Deputy Chief Shaun McColgan, and Mayor Dean Esposito. 

Danbury man charged with DWI in Southeast

A 31-year-old Danbury resident has been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated in addition to numerous other Vehicle and Traffic violations in Putnam County. A Deputy observed a vehicle driving erratically southbound on Route 22 in Southeast on Sunday and stopped the motorist.  The Deputy noticed the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and the driver failed a series of field sobriety tests.  The man was processed at the Sheriff’s Office where he was given a chemical breath test which indicated his blood alcohol content of .21percent, more than twice the legal limit. He was given an appearance ticket for a court date in the Town of Southeast and was released to his wife.

Hearing into controversial warehouse proposal continues tonight

A public hearing into a controversial warehouse proposal in Newtown will continue tonight. The Planning and Zoning Commission will again hold their meeting at Edmond Town Hall due to the anticipated large turnout.  New York-based Wharton Equity Partners has applied for a Special Exception for a property on Hawleyville Road for a nearly 345,000 square foot warehouse, truck docks and trailer and vehicle parking.  All other public hearings still open before the Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission are expected to be continued at a special meeting on May 26th.  Tonight's meeting at Edmond Town Hall starts at 7pm.  A number of protest rallies have been held against the application.

Gov. signs reval implementation delay bill

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into that law that would allow certain municipalities to defer implementation of revaluation of real property for the assessment year commencing October 1st.  This would apply to Danbury, Orange, Wilton and Stamford.  Implementation deferral would be until the assessment year commencing October 1, 2023, provided such deferral is approved by the legislative body of the specified municipality. Backers of the bill said during debate that given the trying times of the last two years due to the pandemic, and to the ongoing fiscal woes, every municipality had to take a look at their fiscal situations and decide what was best for them and should be given the opportunity for financial flexibility.

Annual Town Meeting in Kent set for Friday

The annual town budget meeting in Kent is being held tomorrow night.  Officials have decided to hold the meeting virtually, due to rising COVID-19 infections.  The Board of Finance held a public hearing on the proposed budget earlier this month.  The municipal operation budget would be $13.6 million while the Board of Ed is looking for $7.2 million.  Meanwhile Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says the Board of Selectmen has also awarded a bid for Phase I of the long awaited Village Streetscape project, which will be concrete with granite curbing.   Over a dozen residents have volunteered their time serving on the multiple committees that have assisted the Board of Selectmen to this point after 14 years.  

Settlement agreements reached over proposed Candlewood Solar project

Settlement agreements have been signed over a controversial 20 megawatt solar farm for Candlewood Mountain.   Cramer & Anderson, the law firm representing the Town of New Milford and advocacy group Rescue Candlewood Mountain, says Candlewood Solar has agreed to not build a larger than 4 megawatt plant and conserve nearly 90 acres of land as open space.  The appeals of a Connecticut Siting Council ruling will be dropped in exchange.  Opponents of the project have long argued that the project would have destroyed core forest land, a habitat for a threatened species called the northern slimy salamander.  DEEP rejected plans submitted by Candlewood Solar, kicking off the settlement negotiations. As part of the agreement, Candlewood Solar will also create a public walking trail connecting to the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail.

Aquarion to start water main replacement in Sandy Hook

Aquarion is set to start a water main replacement project in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown.  About 7300 feet of water main will be replaced starting next week and residents are cautioned to expect some traffic disruptions.  The work is expected to last through late fall.  The water main replacement will begin on Underhill Road, Round Hill Road, and Bankside Trail, but the other streets will see other preparation work performed as well.  Construction work is planned between 7am and 5pm.  The other streets involved are Alpine Drive, Cottonwood Trail, Cypress Trail, Engleside Terrace, Forest Drive, Locust Drive, and Shadblow Trail.

Newtown Board of Ed votes for new Superintendent

The Newtown Board of Education has voted on a person to fill the Superintendent's role starting on July 1st.  The Board unanimously selected Christopher Melillo to lead the district when current Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue retires at the end of the academic year.  The 53-year old has been the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Hamden for the past 9 years and has been an educator for nearly 3 decades.  The Newtown Board said in a statement that Melillo is a highly-regarded leader who actively engages with both staff and students and is  known as a natural and effective relationship builder throughout the school district and broader community.  Among his responsibilities will be overseeing the move of Hawley Elementary School students to two buildings for the upcoming school year as Hawley undergoes an $8 million renovation.

Hayes introduces bill to improve access to infant formula

A bill has been introduced in Congress to help improve access to infant formula amid shortage for families who participate in the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says she spent the week returning calls to families in the district who reached out about the supply chain issue.  She says one mother found another mother sobbing while holding her 8-month-old daughter in a store aisle and a grandmother traveled to 9 different stores only to go home empty-handed. 

Hayes noted that thousands of parents in Connecticut are now relying on a Facebook group to share info on where formula can be found.  As a young mom, Hayes told her colleagues that she turned to the WIC program to help her family.  As the Chairwoman of the Nutrition Subcommittee, she now working to protect these services. 

Since April, around 40% of formula products were out of stock in seven states, including Connecticut.  Nearly 44,000 families in Connecticut use WIC benefits to purchase formula. 

The Access to Baby Formula Act provides flexibility so that families can continue purchasing safe infant formula with WIC benefits during extenuating circumstances, such as a supply chain disruption.  Abbott Nutrition’s formula products serve 89 percent of all infants participating in WIC, according to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. and Hayes says their recall is particularly alarming.

Highlights of the Access to Baby Formula Act include:

The establishment of waiver authority to address emergencies, disasters and supply chain disruptions by ensuring states that contract with these companies for the WIC program can secure supplies from additional manufacturers.
The waiver of requirements that can slow down the process to get formula back on the shelves, without sacrificing safety standards.
The coordination and information sharing between the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding any supply chain disruption, including supplemental food recalls.
WIC recipients utilize formula at roughly double the rate of  non-participating families– making this crisis have a disproportionate impact on communities and families with the highest need. Further, for those able to find formula in local stores, prices have increased dramatically, in some cases rising 18% over the past year. This legislation provides a back up plan in the case of future recalls or supply chain disruptions so that we are not left agonizing over how we will feed our babies.

Orphaned bear cubs transferred to NH rehabilitation facility

A Ridgefield Police Officer has been placed on administrative leave following the shooting and killing of a bear at a Newtown home.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Environmental Conservation Police declined to release the officer’s name, but say the shooting happened on private property.  Ridgefield Police have referred all questions to the state. 

The investigation into Thursday's shooting remains ongoing. 

The two orphaned bear cubs have been transported to an out of state wildlife rehabilitation facility.  DEEP Wildlife Division Staff contacted various agencies in other states to obtain authorization for the transfer. 

The cubs left yesterday from the DEEP Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area to the Kilham Bear Center in New Hampshire.

Hearing set on Danbury Draft Affordable Housing Plan

The Danbury Planning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight on the City's 2022 Draft Affordable Housing Plan.  Information on how to join the Zoom meeting can be found on the Planning Commission's agenda.  The virtual meeting will be streamed on the Commission's YouTube Channel starting at 7:30pm.  A copy of the plan is available online.

Danbury Health Department shares safety tips amid baby formula shortage

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services is sharing some information about the baby formula supply shortage and offering some safety tips.  This includes not adding extra water in baby formula, not giving toddler formula to infants and not giving milk alternatives to babies under a year or infants with certain medical conditions.  The American Academy of Pediatrics advises buying no more than 10-day to 2-week supply of baby formula. With the supply chain issues, it's recommended that people only use FDA approved products and make online purchases from well-recognized distributors rather than individually sold or auction sites.

Gov. signs bill with Ridgefield highway right-of-way use provision

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law to implement recommendations of the state Department of Transportation.  One of the provisions is that the DOT Commissioner issue a request for proposals for the sale of goods within the highway right-of-way in the area of 300 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield.  This stems from an issue going back a few years where a vendor was ordered to stop selling food from that location.  Under previous regulations, the state could sell, lease or enter into agreement for highway purpose.

Redding looking to hire Public Safety Dispatcher

Redding is looking to hire a Public Safety Dispatcher to provide services for Police, Fire and EMS.  Preference is being given to candidates having current certification as a Telecommunicator or prior COLLECT certifications.  Applications are due by August 1st.  Candidates should have interpersonal skills, customer service abilities and be willing to work a variety of shifts in a 24/7 communications center.  Salary may be commensurate with experience ranging from $54,684 to $64,948.  The position requires a High School Diploma and the ability to pass a thorough background check and pre-employment drug screening.

New playground in Monroe still under construction

Most of a new playground at Wolfe Park in Monroe was built over the weekend, but officials are cautioning people that it is still an active construction site.  About 99-percent of the playground is built, but it's not open yet for play.  Residents are asked not to skirt around any fences or walk over any fencing that has fallen due to the strong winds during the last several days.

Upstream Properties mixed use development approved in Bethel, new overlay zone

The Stony Hill Mixed Use Overlay Zone has been approved by the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission.  The group also approved a site plan/special permit for a mixed used development at 48 Stony Hill Road. 

Upstream Properties has proposed 137 residential units and 9, 606 square feet of commercial development.  The vacant parcel is between the Copper Square townhouses and Mountain Laurel Plaza.

The Commission reviewed aspects of the map amendment for the overlay zone and determined that the proposed district will create a desirable development that will provide affordable housing opportunities and support existing commercial entities located within the Route 6 Zone.  For parcels at least five acres in size, up to 20 units per acre would be allowed within the zoning change, compared to 10 units currently permitted in the Route 6 zone. 

The Commission also determined that the proposed text amendment is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan of the Town of Bethel and will aid in providing more diversity in housing as stated in the Plan of Conservation & Development Plan of 2020. 

The term affordable was changed from state to area median income.

New Fairfield COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled for this weekend

New Fairfield is still in the state Department of Public Health's red zone for COVID-19 community spread.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco noted that there are no reports on home tests, but rates are steadily climbing. PCR testing is offered at the Senior Center Monday thru Friday, by appointment, through curative.com. 

Selectman Khris Hall reminded residents that the last scheduled COVID-19 vaccination clinic will be held on Saturday, May 21st at the Senior Center from 10am to 4pm. There have been discussions for possible clinics in the event that the FDA approves the vaccine for children under 5 years old. 

Meanwhile the FDA authorized a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5 to 11-year-olds. Already those 12 and older are free to get a booster and those 50 and over are authorized to get a second booster shot.  The CDC must decide whether to formally recommend the booster for the 5 to 11 year olds with scientific advisers scheduled to meet on Thursday.

New Milford residents approve budget

New Milford residents have approved a budget with a 1.7 percent mill rate increase.  Mayor Pete Bass says both the town and Board of Education budgets were approved.  About 9-percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Residents decided 978-604 in favor of $67.8 million for the schools and 1,059-519 for a town operating budget of $41.8 million. 

Bass says the main budget drivers were due to paid staff at the New Milford Ambulance, New Milford Ambulance Barn Building Debt, Health insurance costs, Library opening, and bringing back full staff.

Himes questions officials during hearing into UFOs

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee held its first hearing in more than half a century into UFOs yesterday.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes noted that unidentified flying objects are now referred to as unidentified aerial phenomena.  He asked a Pentagon senior intelligence official to reduce speculation and conspiracy theories, that this isn't necessarily look into alien life forms.  Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray presented evidence, including video, of aerial phenomena that they could not explain, noting that it comes down to a lack of evidence. 

Litchfield County anticipating heavy presence of spongy moth caterpillars

Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station is cautioning residences in northern portions of Litchfield County to anticipate a heavy presence of spongy moth caterpillars, formerly named gypsy moths, this Spring.  The Entomological Society of America removed the previous name due to its use of a derogatory term for the Romani people. Spongy moth populations rose substantially in 2021 particularly in the Sharon-Cornwall area last year, and caterpillars have begun to emerge.  The state-wide gypsy moth egg mass survey, especially in northwestern Connecticut, showed large masses, which leads entomologists to believe there will be a continued hatch and extensive caterpillar activity in 2022. The change is the first undertaken by ESA's Better Common Names Project.

Investigation continues into cause of WCSU dorm fire

An investigation continues into the cause of the fire at a West Conn dorm on Friday night, but it could have started accidentally.  Officials are speculating that a lithium-ion battery was dropped down the trash chute and something caused it to heat up and spontaneously combust.  There was no evidence of combustible liquids and it’s not uncommon for lithium-ion batteries to cause fire if they get overheated.  An automatic fire alarm sounded shortly after 10pm Friday in Centennial Hall on the westside campus and firefighters responded to the scene quickly.  With Commencement ceremonies that weekend, there were few people in the building at the time.  

DEEP warns of dangerous behaviors around bears

With the rescue of two orphaned bear cubs in Newtown, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says they saw some negative behaviors that encourage danger to bears.  Wildlife Division Director Jenny Dickson says they want to use this opportunity to remind people about living with bears. 

She notes that the bear that was killed was tagged as 217 so DEEP could identify it when there are sighting reported.  Even though it was nicknamed on social media as Bobbie, Dickson says DEEP doesn't name wild animals because that's when people start to think of them as pets and do things that are not in the animals best interest. 

Dickson says the primary contributing factor to bear nuisance problems is the presence of easily-accessible food sources near homes and businesses.  Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble noted that there's a concerning trend on social media of people posting photos and videos of bears eating out of garbage cans or bird feeders, saying it's not cute but rather it's dangerous for the animal and for people. 

Black bears are becoming increasingly common in Connecticut as the population continues to grow and expand. Reports of bear sightings, even in heavily populated residential areas, have been on the rise.  

Fed bears can become habituated and lose their fear of humans. Bears should never be fed, either intentionally or accidentally. Bears are attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and bird feeders. Bird Feeders and bird food should be removed from late March through November.  Residents should clean and store grills in a garage or shed after use. 

Gov. signs bill aimed at cracking down on catalytic converter thefts

Legislation that attempts to make it more challenging to steal and sell catalytic converters has been signed into law by Governor Lamont.

Connecticut lawmakers rose one after another to tell stories about the recent spike in the number of catalytic converters being stolen in their districts.

The thieves, they said, have been slipping under vehicles, often in the middle of the night, and quickly removing the toxic gas and emissions-reducing devices from engines of school buses, vans used by nonprofit agencies and senior centers, private vehicles, contractors’ trucks, and RVs. Bandits are lured by a possible bounty of about $1,000 to $1,500 per converter, which contain precious metals.

Kent state Representative Maria Horn says she's isn't out on a limb to say that not a single member of this chamber has passed maybe a week without hearing multiple reports about the theft of catalytic converters in their district and throughout the state.  The co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee says as their value increases, there are increasing stories of them being sold, some really harrowing stories.

In general, the bill prohibits motor vehicle recyclers from accepting a catalytic converter unless it’s attached to a vehicle. They’re also prevented from selling or transferring the converter unless a stock number is added, and they’re required to create a written record of the converters they sell or transfer.

The bill also includes new restrictions and record-keeping rules for scrap metal processors, junk dealers and junk yard owners if they receive a catalytic converters not attached to a vehicle, including documenting the seller’s name, address and identity, including with photographs.

It also prohibits anyone other than a recycler or a repair shop from selling more than one unattached converter to a scrap metal processor, junk dealer or junk yard in a day.

It takes effect July 1.

DEEP provides update on rescued orphan bear cubs

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is providing an update on the two orphaned bear cubs rescued in Newtown yesterday.  DEEP Wildlife Division Director Jenny Dickson says staff was in the woods 12 hours on Monday.  While one cub came down the tree relatively quickly, staff waited through rain, high winds and lightning for the other.  The second cub was tranquilized shortly before sunset.  Dickson says they were prepared for a long day as wild animals behave differently.  This morning they were awake and feisty.  Dickson says they need a little extra support right now, though they are healthy and doing well.  She says they probably have a good chance of surviving.  DEEP is making final arrangements with other states, seeing has space and is willing to accept the cubs until they are older and can be brought back to Connecticut.

Special Permit approved for crematory in Clarke Business Park

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a Special Permit for a crematory to be located in Clarke Business Park. The decision was reached as a result of a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in favor of Shawn McLoughlin over the Commission's previous denial.  Attorneys for the company argued that 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.  Monocrete Step's site plan was approved for 12 Trowbridge Drive.  The motion passed with 6 in favor, one opposed and one abstention.  The Supreme Court opinion, written by Chief Justice Richard Robinson, concluded 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.    

Danbury continues hydrant flushing

The Danbury Water Department is continuing with an anticipated 10 week project to flush fire hydrants across the City.  Officials say the annual work will provide better quality water and fire protection. Customers may experience fluctuations in pressure and/or discoloration of their water during hydrant flushing.  The tentative list of streets to be flushed includes White Street, Town Hill Avenue, South Street, Crows Nest Lane and Great Pasture Road among others.  They'll also be doing work at the following condo complex:  Birchwood, South Gate, South Woods, Southport and Timber Oaks.

Nominations made for local state Senate race

Republican Michelle Coelho has accepted the nomination for the 24th State Senate District.  Delegates from Ridgefield, New Fairfield and Danbury were in attendance Monday night.  Meanwhile Democratic incumbent Julie Kushner has accepted her party's nomination for the seat. 

Promotion ceremony held for 4 Danbury Police members

The Danbury Police Department has held a promotion ceremony.  4 members took their new oaths of office.  Captain Joseph LeRose III, Lieutenant Mark Wochek, Sergeant Michael Russotti, and Detective Jonathan Grande were approved for promotions by the City Council earlier this month.

Danbury Police remind residents tip411 not monitored 24/7

While the Danbury Police Department appreciates members of the community using the tip411 app, they are issuing a reminder that it's not for reporting crimes occurring at the time.  The system is not monitored 24-7.  The intention of tip411 is to help Danbury Police develop information anonymously from the public about ongoing investigations.  Any complaints needing police response must be filed by calling dispatch at 203-797-4611, or in an emergency 911.

Newtown Police Department celebrates National Law Enforcement Memorial Day

The Newtown Police Department celebrated National Law Enforcement Memorial Day on Sunday with their first annual ceremony.  Officers and family gathered in observance and prayer for the event.  Newtown Police placed 472 flags in the lawn of the police department to honor the 472 Officers who lost their lives in 2021.  Newtown Police honored State Trooper Eugene Kenneth Baron JR who lost his life battling cancer linked to his response to Ground Zero and State Police Sgt Brian Mohl who lost his life during a flood. Both Officers will be added to the memorial wall this year.  Newtown Police also recognized Newtown Officer Stephen Ketchum who lost his battle with cancer from his response to the events of 9/11.

Henry Abbott Tech teacher arrested for alleged sexual relationship with student

A Henry Abbott Tech teacher has been arrested on charges related to an alleged sexual relationship with an underage female student.  State Police charged Salvatore Maimone on Friday and he was arraigned yesterday at Danbury Superior Court. 

The 41-year old allegedly began a relationship with the 17-year old in October 2021, and it lasted through late March of this year.  Abbott Tech officials contacted police and immediately put the teacher on administrative leave. 

The Watertown resident allegedly had multiple sexual encounters with the girl at a nearby store where he was a part-time employee.  Police say at least two encounters took place at a Danbury hotel and investigators say he registered for a room under the name, “Henry Abbott.” 

Maimone denied any allegations of wrongdoing.  His next court hearing is June 10.

Police say Maimone bought her gifts, including jewelry and a new cellphone, and allegedly told her to turn on her location device so he could track her whereabouts.  The victim told police he would show up wherever she was and tried to break off the relationship.

Maimone began teaching at Abbott Tech during the 2018-19 school year after having previously worked as a college math professor.

Two orphaned bear cubs in Newtown captured for rehabilitation

The two orphaned bear cubs in Newtown have been captured by State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division staff.  The 4-and-a-half month old cubs were left alone since Thursday when their mother, nicknamed Bobbi and tagged by DEEP as 217, was shot and killed by an off-duty Ridgefield Police Officer. 

The cubs were located high in a tree, which is what DEEP says they learn to do to evade predators. One cub came down from the tree where it was located yesterday and was tranquilized and safely captured.  Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble says the other cub remained in the tree, but was later tranquilized and captured successfully. 

Both were transported to a rehabilitator and appeared to be very healthy.

DEEP Wildlife Division Director Jenny Dickson says while the agency's first priority is to let wild animals remain wild, the attention drawn to the bear cubs have put them in a difficult situation.  She feared they could become habituated to humans, or food left out for them could attract other predators that could put the cubs in danger.

Dickson confirmed that the shooting , which is still under investigation, involved free range chickens owned by the resident.

State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan worked with Representatives Nicole Klarides-Ditria and David Michel to apply pressure to DEEP to safely capture the cubs and transport them to a sanctuary.  They say simply letting “nature run its course” is not acceptable to the Newtown community and shouldn’t be acceptable to the state. Instead of hoping for the best, he says rehabilitating them will ensure their survival. 

Ridgefield official urges caution as COVID-19 cases climb

According to the CDC COVID-19 community levels map, Fairfield County remains listed in the medium category.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi urged anyone who feels sick or has sinus issues to use caution attending any group function.  He notes that the town and state's COVID-19 numbers are climbing again.  He urged everyone eligible to get vaccinated.  According to the CDC medium category, residents should stay up-to-date with vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms.  Those at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about when to wear a mask. 

Danbury Railway Museum earns state grant

The Connecticut League of History Organizations has awarded 15 organizations with grant money through a new program in partnership with Conservation ConneCTion.  The "Museum Makeover" program offers grants of up to $3,000 and a visit from museum curators to develop a plan to improve certain areas of the museums and the visitor experience.  Danbury Railway Museum and Wilton Historical Society are among the 15 recipients to receive inaugural grant funding.  Conservation ConneCTion, a program of the Connecticut State Library founded in 2008, gives training and resources to cultural heritage organizations in Connecticut. The next round of grants will be available at the end of this year. 

New Milford budget vote today

The New Milford budget vote is being held today. On the Town side of the budget, Mayor Pete Bass says the major increases were due to paid staff at the New Milford Ambulance, New Milford Ambulance Barn Building Debt, health insurance costs, Library opening, and bringing back full staff. The total increase is 1.7 percent.  The $109.6 million budget that would increase spending by 4.28 percent. That includes $67.8 million for the schools and a town operating budget of $41.8 million for dollars.  Poll are open until 8pm.

Brookfield budget referendum today

Brookfield residents are voting in a budget referendum today.  The town operating budget is proposed at $29 million.  The Board of Education is seeking $48.7 million.  First Selectwoman Tara Carr says initial budget projections for the  mill rate were above 5 percent, but they were able to bring the increase to 3.15 percent, in line with what several other surrounding towns are expecting.  The budget drivers are contractual salary increases and public safety. Carr notes that there's been an increased demand on fire and EMS.  In addition to the advisory questions of too high, too low or adequate, there's also a question on the Brookfield ballot asking residents if the town should appropriate $8.27 million for Capital Improvement Projects.   

Putnam County fundraiser to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland a success

The Putnam County Mother's Day Weekend fundraiser to help the Ukrainian refugees in Poland was a success.  The drive was organized by a Mahopac resident who is a native of Poland and County government on the three day event.  People donated everything from baby products, clothing, and shampoos to first aid kits.  Putnam residents and businesses donated enough to fill a 40-foot shipping container to send to Poland, where millions of Ukrainian refugees have taken shelter. Now volunteers will organize, pack the shipping container and send it off to Poland.  The Unilever corporation donated $100,000 worth of diapers and feminine hygiene products.  A Mahopac couple donated $2000 for shipping.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says putnamcountycares.com/ukraineaid/ was designed by Thomas Lannon, Director of the county's Information, Technology & GIS Department. The Putnam County Sheriff's Department helped staff the event.  The Paladin Center donated its space for the collection drive and is allowing all of the items to be stored on its property until the shipment can be made.

Putnam County Correctional Facility earns accreditation

The Putnam County Correctional Facility has again earned accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and is in compliance with their Standards for Health Services in Jails. The correctional facility underwent a rigorous on-site survey. An experienced physician and other experts in correctional health care surveyed the site for compliance with standards on continuous quality improvement, safety, infection control, chronic care, personnel and training, medical and mental health care, health records, and legal issues. The facility was first accredited in 2005. Accreditation is a voluntary process that Putnam has successfully completed since then.

Hit & run involving dump truck under investigation in Newtown

A hit and run accident is under investigation in Newtown.  Police say a dark gray dump truck attempted to pass an SUV on South Main Street shortly before 10am on Saturday.  The SUV was hit around Mile Hill Road as the driver stopped after seeing a road repair patch in the roadway.  The truck made contact with the Nissan’s passenger side front fender, passenger side door and passenger side front tire as it passed and did not stop.  The Nissan driver was not injured. Anyone with information is asked to contact Newtown Police at 203-270-4255.

Truck crashes into ambulance at Brewster highway accident site

While Brewster firefighters responded to a motor vehicle accident with injuries on Interstate 84 westbound at Exit 68 Saturday, Putnam 911 reported a second accident involving an overturned tractor trailer. In the second accident, Brewster’s ambulance was struck by a tractor trailer forcing it into the guardrail and center median. 

(Photo: Brewster Fire Department)

The Brewster Fire Department ambulance crew and the driver of the truck were transported to Danbury and Putnam Hospital with minor injuries.  

The truck was carrying milk, some of which spilled into the center median. Additionally, 250 gallons of diesel spilled requiring the response of DEP, DEC and Putnam County Haz Mat to the scene. 

Western Connecticut State University holds 124th Commencement Exercises

Western Connecticut State University held its 124th Commencement Exercises in two ceremonies yesterday, at the Westside Athletic Complex. Graduates from the Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences and School of Professional Studies received their degrees in the morning and Graduates from the Ancell School of Business and School of Visual & Performing Arts received their degrees in the afternoon.  In addition to the 1,021 undergraduates, 192 master’s degree recipients and 18 doctoral degree candidates were eligible to participate in the ceremonies.  Attorney and former Congressman Jim Maloney received the President’s Medal from WCSU President Dr. John Clark.  Following his congressional terms, Maloney founded the Connecticut Institute For Communities, a comprehensive community development organization designed to provide critical services to the region’s low and moderate income children and families.

Applications being accepted to fill Board of Ed vacancy

Applications are being accepted by the Danbury Board of Education to fill a vacancy due to the resignation of Democrat Joe DaSilva, who is seeking his party's nomination as Probate Judge.  The Board of Ed term will extend until the municipal election in November 2023.  Applicants must be at least 18 and a U-S citizen.  Applications will be accepted until May 26th.

Lake Zoar channel closed for Rochambeau Bridge work

The channel on Lake Zoar is closed through Friday as the Department of Transportation continues work on the Rochambeau Bridge.  Demolition operations will remove the concrete bridge deck during this time.  If operations are completed before Friday, the channel will reopen early.  Additional closure signage was installed prior to the closure, and the DEEP Boating Division was also notified. The second closure for the girder removal will be submitted under a separate cover when dates are confirmed.

125 American Flags installed in Brookfield by VFW

Brookfield VFW members put up 125 U.S. Flags in Brookfield this weekend.  They were assisted by Eversource and JFC Electrical LLC with bucket trucks. The flags are up on utility poles, lamp posts and elsewhere from Memorial Day through at least Labor Day.  The tradition began more than 20 years ago.

4 people injured in weekend crash in Brookfield

Four people were injured in a multi-vehicle crash on Federal Road in Brookfield over the weekend.  Four cars were involved in the accident in front of Savers.  Three ambulances responded and all four patients were transported to Danbury Hospital.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company operated on scene stabilizing vehicles, securing batteries and using speedy dry to clean up a large fluid spill. Members also assisted with traffic and clean up.

DEEP to try to capture, rehabilitate two bear cubs in Newtown

Two bear cubs have been located in Newtown and officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection say they appear to be in good health.  Their mother, nicknamed Bobbi and tagged by DEEP as 217, was shot and killed in Newtown on Thursday by an off-duty Ridgefield Police Officer. 

DEEP said in a statement last night that they have concerns for the safety of the cubs due to the risk of continued public interaction.  DEEP will be attempting capture and rehabilitation.  Wildlife Division staff will be on-scene this morning to check the condition of the bears and, if possible to do so safely, remove them from the wild in order to bring them to a rehabilitator. 

To help make capture successful,  DEEP asked the public to stay away from the cubs to allow them to remain in the area. 

It’s illegal to hunt or trap bears in Connecticut, though a person may kill a bear in self-defense and state law also allows the killing of a bear deemed a public health or safety threat.

Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals signs off on revised plans by Caraluzzi's Market

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals has signed off on revised plans by Caraluzzi's Market for the size of the sign to be placed at the front of their Mill Plain Road property.  The applicant reduced the proposed sign size from 211 square feet to 174 square feet, with the LED screen shrinking from a proposed 112 square feet to 96 square feet.  The overall design would stay the same and still comply with the height limit in the zone. 

Attorney Tom Beecher, speaking on behalf of the applicant noted that there are technically three businesses that will be on the sign, the grocery store, the liquor store and a bank. 

The sign will not be illuminated between 11pm and 6am.  The LED portion won't change any sooner than 30 seconds, as opposed to the 10 seconds previously proposed.  The images will fade in and fade out.  Beecher noted that the LED sign can be adjusted and dimmed. 

Commission member Michael Sibbitt said he hopes the City will enforce the interval of the rotating message on the LED sign.  Beecher then noted that since the previous meeting where he pointed out that the message on the sign outside City Hall change at intervals quicker than 10 seconds, they have been slowed down.  He says the City of Danbury changed the timing of the messages to 22 to 25 seconds.

New Fairfield residents approve budget

New Fairfield residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  In a vote on Saturday, residents voted 1,044 yes and 637 no on the municipal spending plan while 1,012 signed off on the school plan and 669 opposed.  The municipal budget is $13.3 million while the Board of Education will use $48.2 million, which includes more than $5 million in debt service.  The proposed mill rate would increase to 32.47. 

Untimely death in Redding motel under investigation

An untimely death in Redding is under investigation.  Police responded to the Days Inn on Route 7 Saturday night.  Redding police chief Mark O'Donnell said in a statement that a 56-year-old woman was found dead in a room at the motel.  The Western District Major Crime Unit is assisting in the investigation.  Police says there was no danger to the public.  No other details were provided in the statement.

Fire in WCSU dorm extinguished

A fire in a West Conn dorm Friday night was quickly extinguished.  Firefighters responded to Centennial Hall on the westside campus shortly after 10pm and found a working fire in a trash compactor.  A second alarm was called, bringing in additional fire companies.  Some firefighters went up to the 4th floor to monitor a small attic as it had filled with smoke from the trash chute.  Officials did not report any injuries to residents or firefighters.  Centennial Hall is the newest of the residence halls and was built in 2004.

(Photo: Mill Plain Independent Hose Company #12)

DOT bill has Ridgefield carve-out for highway right-of-way use

The General Assembly has passed a bill and sent it to the Governor for his signature to implement recommendations of the state Department of Transportation.  One of the provisions is that the DOT Commissioner issue a request for proposals for the sale of goods within the highway right-of-way in the area of 300 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield. 

This stems from an issue going back a few years where a vendor was ordered to stop selling food from that location.  The Zawack Shack, a popular food truck which operated for more than a decade, approached the town for help to structure a lease agreement with the DOT after being shut down.  When the owners tried to obtain a lease for the area when they opened the business, the request was denied, but the state allowed them to operate if the town signed off and they had insurance.  They did both. 

Under previous regulations, the state could sell, lease or enter into agreement for highway purpose.

The bill passed in the House on a vote of 147 to 3 and in the Senate 27 to 9.  New Milford Senator Craig Miner introduced an amendment for historic structures that pre-date the permitting process, stating that they could not be removed or forced to leave the right-of-way.  Newtown Senator Tony Hwang says the Ridgefield provision in the bill signals support for the amendment since it speaks to the selectivity of use of state rights-of-way. 

Ridgefield Senator Will Haskell says the carveout is not for a specific vendor, but rather for an area that the town has invested in through the installation of picnic tables.  The amendment failed to be adopted. 

Kent Registrar canvassing voters

The Kent Registrar’s of Voters are currently compiling lists of voters to be included in their yearly canvass to determine if a voter still lives at the address they have on their registration card.  Voters to be canvassed are those who added a PO Box number or other mailing address but still live at their residence; have moved from one location in town to another; have moved to another town in Connecticut or have moved out of state.  Through the end of May, voters with a phone number listed will receive a call, while others will receive a letter.  Kent residents will have 30 days from contact to call or respond.  Those who don't, will have their name placed on the inactive list.  To be restored to the voter rolls, a resident will have to fill out a new registration card.  Any Kent resident who hasn't voted in an election since 2018 may have their name removed from the voter rolls. 

Putnam County Sheriff's Office hosting Boat Safety Class

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a Boat Safety Class next month.  The in-classroom course is designed as a comprehensive study of boating safety to teach the fundamentals of safe boating operation. The course requires a structured classroom setting and has been approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators.  It will be held on June 5th in the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services auditorium from 8am to 4pm.  Online registration is required.  

Sandy Hook lawsuits against Alex Jones on track to resume

VICTORIA, Texas (AP) - The Sandy Hook families' lawsuits against and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for calling the 2012 Newtown school shooting in Connecticut a hoax appear poised to resume soon. That is based on agreements revealed Friday in a Texas bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy filings of three Jones companies last month delayed the defamation lawsuits filed in Texas and Connecticut. Lawyers say the families will be removed as creditors in the bankruptcy case and Jones' companies will be removed from the defamation lawsuits. That will allow the state cases against Jones to resume. Jones has already lost the lawsuits. Trials on how much he should pay the families are pending.

DEEP investigating fatal shooting of bear in Newtown, monitoring cubs

The fatal shooting of a female bear in Newtown is under investigation by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The shooting happened yesterday.  The surviving bear cubs were left by DEEP in the area as it is their home range, and their familiarity with the area will increase their chance of success.  Newtown Police urge people not to feed the bear cubs, which will greatly reduce that likelihood.  DEEP says this behavior will also diminish their fear of people creating a greater danger for the bear and public safety. Newtown is working with the DEEP to monitor the bear cubs.  Any witnesses to the incident are requested to notify DEEP (860-424-3011).  Anyone who observes a black bear in Connecticut is encouraged to report the sighting on DEEP’s website or send an email to deep.wildlife@ct.gov.

COVID-19 data for Greater Danbury area updated by Conn. DPH

Danbury has moved into the state Department of Public Health's red zone for COVID-19 community spread.  158 of the state's 169 municipalities are in the red zone with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population each in the last two weeks reported.  Sherman is in the Yellow zone with between 5 to 9 cases.  10 small towns, including Bridgewater and Roxbury, are in the grey zone with fewer than 5. 

According to the report for the two weeks ending May 7th, there were 193 COVID-19 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 79,  Brookfield had 53 and New Fairfield 36. There were 74 COVID cases in New Milford, 127 in Newtown, Redding reported 48 cases while Ridgefield had 158. 

The case rates per 100,000 population are:

Danbury 16.3

New Fairfield 18.5

New Milford 19.7

Brookfield 22.3

Bethel 28.5

Newtown 32.5

Redding 37.6

Ridgefield 45.2


The test positivity rates are:

Danbury 10.9 percent

New Milford 11.1 percent

Newtown 11.2 percent

Brookfield 12.1 percent

New Fairfield 13.3 percent

Bethel 14.8 percent

Redding 17.5 percent

Ridgefield 18 percent

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 25 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 7.58 percent, up a bit from the week before. The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 13.24 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time increased by 58.  Of the 291 positive patients, 35-percent are not fully vaccinated.  

One Danbury Commission approves self-storage facility for City's westside

An application for a self-storage facility has been approved by the Danbury Environmental Impact Commission.  Georgia-based Diamond Point Development is looking to construct a three-story, 100-thousand square foot building on a vacant lot at the corner of Mill Plain and Aunt Hack Roads.  The 3-acre property is partially sloped and part of the hillside at the back of the property will be cut into.  The applicant plans to add a drainage system that takes pollutants out of storm water.  The application remains pending before the Danbury Planning Commission, which is holding a public hearing on June 1st.  Traffic and other neighborhood impacts will be reviewed at that time.

Newtown Animal Control Shelter holding rabies clinic

Newtown Animal Control Shelter is holding a rabies clinic tomorrow.  Both cats and dogs are welcome, though dogs must be leashed and cats must be in carriers.  A previous vaccination is not required to receive a new vaccination at the event tomorrow from 9am to 11am.  Any pet owner with a valid rabies certificate expiring by tomorrow is asked to bring it so the dog or cat can receive a 3 year vaccine.  Any pet without a valid certificate will receive a 1 year vaccine.  Newtown Animal Control will also be licensing pets at the event.

Annual budget referendum in New Fairfield is tomorrow

The annual budget referendum in New Fairfield is tomorrow.  Voters can cast ballots tomorrow from 10am to 8pm at New Fairfield Middle School.  Absentee ballots are available for those who qualify until noon today.  The budget is $55.2 million, a 3.11 percent mill rate increase over the current year. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says about 85% of the proposed tax increase is attributable to sum of the increases in debt service for the new schools and state and federally mandated Special Education expenditures.  The remaining increases in the budget include modest hikes for contractual salaries, utilities, road paving, and costs associated with pandemic recovery in academics. 

She notes that recent increases in the cost of fuel, contracted services and special education costs have already negatively impacted the budget approved by the Board of Finance.  Del Monaco added that further cuts to either budget will result in further reductions in programs and services provided by both the Town and the schools.

Bethel Action Committee hosting forum on Social Emotional Learning

Bethel Action Committee and the Independent Party Town Committee are hosting a forum next week for parents about Social Emotional Learning.  A panel of educational leaders will guide the discussion on the role of parents and community.  The open forum is Monday at 7pm in the Bethel Municipal Center General Purpose Room.  Panelists include Wilton Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith, Bethel resident and fifth grade teacher Kim Houlker Romero, North Stonington sixth grade teacher and Constitution State Educators founder Michael Costanza, Greenwich Patriots founder Jackie Homan, and Southbury Attorney Deborah Stevenson, who specializes in Constitutional, Appellate & Education Law.  The event will be live-streamed on the Bethel Action Committee’s YouTube channel.

Restaurant with drive-thru proposed for former Pier 1 building in Danbury

The Danbury Environmental Impact Commission is considering an application to turn a vacant building near the mall into a restaurant with drive-thru.  The application, for a restaurant to be determined, is before commission because Kissen Brook runs behind the former Pier 1 Imports property.  Danbury Retail Management LLC plans to tear down the building and construct a smaller one for a drive-thru restaurant and other commercial space.  The parking area would be reduced with some of the 1.2 acres at the corner of Backus Avenue and Sugar Hollow Road returned to nature.  The public hearing has been continued to the May 25th meeting.  Approvals would also be needed from Danbury's Planning and Zoning commissions.

Alternative Center for Excellence honoring late founder

The Alternative Center for Excellence in Danbury is honoring its late founder with Joe Pepin Day.  The event on May 14th is open to the public.  ACE will celebrate his legacy from 1pm to 4pm.  The 85-year-old Pepin died in January.  The City Council is considering renaming the school building, and the street or a portion of the street where it's located, after him. He taught at Danbury High School before becoming ACE’s founding principal and teaching there beginning in 1977. He retired in 1997 but continued to participate in events there.

Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club to offer before-school program in partnership with District

The Ridgefield Board of Education has announced a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield for a before-school program in the fall.  This would be for students of Barlow Mountain, Farmingville and Veterans Park Elementary Schools, which all start classes at 9am.  During the Board's meeting this week, Superintendent Susie Da Silva said they heard from parents who had problems finding day care, and a survey determined the late-arrival schools had the most challenges.  The Boys and Girls Club is in walking distance to Veterans Park, so adults will walk the children to school, while buses will transport Barlow Mountain and Farmingville children to the schools.  The cost of the program will be 10 dollars per day per child, with a limit of 225 children.  Between 7am and 9am children will have access to Boys and Girls Club programming and homework help.  Enrollment is open until July.

Bethel makes funding available to property owners for repairs

The Town of Bethel has funding available to assist income eligible residential property owners for repairs to existing properties. Funds can be used to perform a variety of repairs and upgrades including but not limited to code violations, increased energy efficiency and accessibility improvements and other general rehabilitation and improvements as approved by the Town.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says applications will be accepted and processed on a first come first serve basis, pending the availability of funds. 

The Town has retained A&E Services Group, LLC to implement and administer the Program.  Funding is offered to owner-occupied households as a 0% interest, deferred payment loan. Deferred payment loans accrue no interest and payment is not due until there is a transfer of title by means of sale, transfer of title, re-finance, owners’ demise or if the property is no longer their principal place of residency.

Eligible items include heating updates, plumbing repairs, electrical updates, roof replacement weatherization, such as insulation, window replacement and siding. Well and water line connections and septic and sewer connections are also eligible. All work must conform to State and Local codes and is awarded through a competitive bidding process approved by the Town.

Applicants are eligible for participation based upon Federal income limits.  Maximum gross household income limits vary based on the household size; for example, a one-person household can earn up to $56,300, 2 person $64,350.00, 3 person $72,400.00, 4 person $80,400.00, 5 person $86,850.00 6 person $93,300.00. Additional limits for larger households are available upon request.  

Income limits are based on gross household income. Additional household size income limits are available and other eligibility requirements apply.

Legislative kills bill to reroute fees on power generation

A proposal to reroute fees on power generation designed to help reduce energy costs to ratepayers to help address waste has been killed by the legislature's Environment Committee.  The proposal would have diverted $8 million a year in expected rebates on customer’s monthly energy bills from the expected closure of the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, MIRA. 

The funding would have gone to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a grant program to help towns come up with solutions for reducing their solid waste streams. 

Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding says it was a last-ditch attempt to manage the impact of closing one of the state’s largest waste-to-energy plants.  DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes submitted testimony that they used nearly all of the initial money allocated for the grant program, showing that municipalities need additional resources to come up with better methods of sorting and reducing the trash they currently send to incinerators like MIRA. 

Harding was concerned that Connecticut's energy utility companies would have been required to pay rebates to customers if they fail to get at least 4 percent of their power from waste-to-energy plants.

Brookfield recognizes, promotes mental health awareness

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has adopted a proclamation to recognize and promote mental health awareness. Brookfield Cares is promoting social and emotional wellness in the community with a number of resources available on the organization's website.  Brookfield Cares promotes outreach, awareness, and education on the impact of mental health issues, substance use and misuse, addiction, suicide, and other public health concerns. 

The latest campaign is It's Okay to NOT Be Okay. 

May has been declared Mental Health Month in Brookfield.  First Selectman Tara Carr signed a proclamation that calls on residents, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses and schools to recommit to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health, and the need for appropriate and accessible services for all people with mental health conditions. 

The proclamation says mental health is essential to everyone's overall health and well being, but that everyone experiences times of difficulty and stress in their lives.  The proclamation continues by saying that early and effective treatment can help individuals recover and lead full productive lives.  

Brookfield Food Pantry adds hours

Brookfield Food Pantry volunteers have taken delivery of a truck filled with 1300 pounds of product from Connecticut Foodbank/Foodshare.  They sorted and bagged 50 pound bags of apples, carrots, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and cabbage to get ready for the new Thursday afternoon pantry last week.  The new hours, starting this month, are Tuesdays 9:30am to 11 and the first and third Thursdays of the month from 4:30pm to 6.

New Milford budget referendum to be held next week

The New Milford budget vote is being held on Tuesday, the 17th. On the Town side of the budget, Mayor Pete Bass says the major increases were due to paid staff at the New Milford Ambulance, New Milford Ambulance Barn Building Debt, Health insurance costs, Library opening, and bringing back full staff. The total increase is 1.7 percent.  Polls Tuesday will be open from 6am to 8pm. 

Virtual charette tonight on Battle of Ridgefield

Ridgefield officials are holding a virtual workshop tonight on what researchers have found about the 1777 Battle of Ridgefield. The Historical Society is also looking for feedback from residents about how best to preserve the town's history, the evidence and artifacts that represent it.  Ridgefield recently marked the 245th anniversary of the Revolutionary War event.  Tonight's Zoom is at 7pm and registration is required.  A second, in person charette is planned.  The collaborative and moderated workshop will include brainstorming, participation, and interaction about how Ridgefield will continue to commemorate the Battle of Ridgefield in years to come.  That event will be held June 12th at Ridgefield Library from 2pm to 3:30.

Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce hosts annual Economic Forecast event

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce held its annual Economic Forecast event yesterday morning.  The keynote speaker was economist Don Klepper-Smith, who served as Chairman of former Governor Rell’s Economic Advisory Council between 2007 and 2010. He told the Chamber to expect more inflation and a 50 percent chance of recession over the next year.  He noted that it does mean a 50 percent chance of getting away with slower growth.  During his virtual presentation, Klepper-Smith said there is a recession headwind.

COVID vaccine clinic in Newtown today

Two COVID-19 vaccine clinics are being held in Newtown.  The first one is today.  The Department of Public Health Griffin Health van will be at the Newtown Community Center from 3pm to 7.  This is for everyone 5 and older with a separate area for pediatric vaccines.  This clinic is a walk-in, individuals are welcome at any time.  Those getting a booster shot are asked to bring their vaccine card.  The Newtown Health District Team is holding a clinic at the Municipal Center on May 17th from 1pm to 3:30.  The Moderna vaccine clinic is for individuals age 18 and up only.  This clinic is by appointment only and reservations can be made on the health district's webpage. 

Man seriously injured in trench collapse in Bethel

A person was seriously injured in Bethel yesterday in a reported trench collapse.  A worker was trapped in a hole about 13 to 15 feet deep, up to his chin in dirt, on Budd Drive.  

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department received the rescue call shortly after 1pm and brought in Danbury Fire's technical rescue team for assistance.  The worker was conscious and talking when responders arrived. 

They shored up the hole, preventing further collapse, by removing dirt by hand.  Danbury Public Works responded with a vacuum truck to help remove dirt. 

(Photo: SHVFD)

Nuvance Health paramedics on scene determined that the worker needed to be airlifted to Yale New Haven Hospital so Brookfield and West Redding Fire secured a landing zone for Life Star at Rubino Field on Hawleyville Road.  The person was removed shortly before 4pm, about 2.5 hours later. 

He was transported by Stony Hill EMS to the LifeStar helicopter.

Ridgefield budget approved with low voter turnout

Ridgefield residents have approved a budget with a 3.22 percent increase in spending.  Just under 7-percent of eligible voters cast ballots on Tuesday for the $156 million municipal and school plan.  The town operating budget passed by a vote of 975-to-208, while the school spending plan was approved on a 860-to-321 vote.  The mill rate will be 28.43, a .77 percent tax rate increase over the current year. 

Hearing into controversial warehouse proposal continued in Newtown

A public hearing into a controversial warehouse proposal in Newtown has been continued to May 19th. The Planning and Zoning Commission will again hold their meeting at Edmond Town Hall due to the anticipated large turnout.

New York-based Wharton Equity Partners has applied for a Special Exception for a property on Hawleyville Road for a nearly 345,000 square foot warehouse, truck docks and trailer and vehicle parking. 

The presentations by Wharton and the intervenors took up all public speaking time and the general public didn't have an opportunity to speak.  Wharton attorneys say the warehouse would be “one of the highest taxpayers in town,” helping to offset residential taxes, while not generating any costs to the school system.  One intervenor said the developer's traffic study didn't account for employee in and out trips. 

The Newtown Bee reports that a lawyer for Wharton objected to intervenor Azeez Bhavnagarwala as he offered a presentation about potential impacts of vehicular traffic at and around the proposed facility because he's not a traffic engineer.  Bhavnagarwala is an electrical engineer and a research scientist, with over 50 issued and pending patents, some of which IBM sold to Microsoft, Google, TSMC and Cypress. 

The objection was noted, but Bhavnagarwala was allowed to continue.

Danbury man announces candidacy for Judge of Probate

A Danbury man has announced his candidacy for Judge of Probate.  Joseph DaSilva Jr, a Board of Education member, intends to seek the Danbury Democratic Party endorsement at a meeting expected to occur next week.  The Probate Court Judge position is vacant for the first time in 32 years.  Dianne Yamin decided not to seek a ninth four-year term.  DaSilva, an attorney practicing law in Connecticut over 22 years, served as a Court Appointed Attorney Trial Referee, Arbitrator and Mediator. DaSilva is a member and past President of the Danbury Bar Association and is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Fairfield County Bar Association. He is also a member and trustee of the Wooster Hose Volunteer Fire Company, a member of the Board of Directors of the Danbury War Memorial, and a Danbury Youth Baseball Coach.

Danbury Police continuing investigation into missing person case

Danbury Police are continuing their investigation into a missing person case. 

20-year-old Carlos Reyes was reported missing by his family on March 31st.  Investigators have been actively seeking information about his disappearance, and at this time don't have anything further to report.  Investigators have received assistance from several sources, including other law enforcement agencies, most recently the Sheffield Mass. Police Department and the F.B.I. 

As part of their investigation, Police executed a search-and-seizure warrant on a Ball Pond Road property on April 7 for possible clues or evidence. 

They are asking that anyone with information to come forward.  Anonymous tips can be made at 203-790-TIPS or by texting DANBURYPD at Tip411. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online through the tip411 website or app.  The system is anonymous, as the technology removes all identifying information before officers receive it, and there is no way to identify the sender. 

Brookfield High School students stage walkout over Roe v. Wade

Some Brookfield High School students have staged a walkout over the leaked draft decision that would overturn Roe versus Wade.  The Newstimes reports that about 65 students held signs and chanted during the protest.  The walkout lasted about half an hour and student organizers coordinated with the Principal, who worked to provide the space and security for the civil action. Marc Balanda said in a statement that they were not really condoning or approving of the action, but made sure the students were safe and secure when they exercised their free speech rights.  Each student who participated received an absence from the class they left.

Half a dozen appointments, promotions approved for Danbury Police

Half a dozen appointments and promotions have been approved for the Danbury Police Department. 

The City Council voted to confirm Police Captain Michael Sturdevant to the position of Deputy Police Chief.  He started in Danbury in 1994 and has made his way up the ranks.  Sturdevant was a commanding officer of the Emergency Services Unit SWAT, a Field Training Officer and participated in the Protection Detail Team for the Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC in January 2005. 

Police Lt Joseph Le Rose has been appointed as Captain.  He started in Danbury in 1985 and moved up the ranks, serving as Headquarters Lieutenant, Public Information Officer and as a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team.  He's received many awards and citations during his service. 

Police Sgt Mark Wocheck was confirmed Tuesday as Lieutenant.  He started in Danbury in 1996 and has served as a Field Training Officer and is a longtime member of the Honor Guard. 

Detective Michael Russotti was appointed as Sergeant.  He joined the Danbury Department in 2014 and was the recipient of the Samuel J. Luciano Award for graduating at the top of his class at the CT POST Academy.  He's served as a Crisis Intervention Officer, part-time Evidence Technician and Police Diver among other roles. 

Officer Jonathan Grande has been appointed to the position of Detective. He started in Danbury in 2015 and has received several awards and citations.

Dragan Stojkovic has been appointed as a Certified Police Officer.  He was employed by the NYPD for the last 4.5 years as a patrol officer and member of the anti-crime unit in South Bronx.  Before that, he served as a Corrections Officer at a maximum security prison.  Stojkovic is a black blet in Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, teaching MMA on a part time basis.

Wilton Police mark National Fentanyl Awareness Day

Wilton Police say overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl tripled among teenagers in the last two years.  In 2021, the Wilton Police Department investigated three overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl.  They are spreading the work about the dangers of illegally made fentanyl during this National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

Brush fire knocked down with extinguisher, water can

A brush fire in Southbury has been extinguished.  Southbury Fire was dispatched to the area right past the exit 16 on ramp of I-84 westbound around 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon.  State Police kept the fire under control with an extinguisher and fire crews knocked down the remainder of the flames with a water can. The 15 by 15 foot area was then thoroughly wet down.

Stony Hill Fire, Bethel Police to host Car Seat Clinic

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company and Bethel Police are hosting a Car Seat Clinic. The free safety event is June 5th from 8am to 2pm. No reservation is required. Public safety officials say this is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to make sure that children are using the right car seat for their age and size, and that it’s properly and safely installed.

Water Witch Hose takes delivery on new rescue boat

Water Witch Hose Fire Company of New Milford has taken delivery and ownership of their new Whaly500r rescue boat.  Marine 2 is outfitted with a Humminbird Solix 15 side scan sonar which will allow for state of the art underwater imaging. This purchase was made possible by American Rescue Plan Act funds received from the Town of New Milford.  Marine 2 will replace Zodiac, which has served the area for over 20 years.

Danbury health officials discuss 'long COVID'

Post-COVID conditions can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services says post-COVID, also called long COVID, conditions are long-term effects someone experiences due to the initial infection.  The wide range of symptoms can last weeks, months, or years are are more often found in people who had severe COVID-19 illness.  Healthcare providers consider a diagnosis of post-COVID conditions based on a patient's health history, including diagnosis by a positive test or by symptoms or exposure, as well as doing a health examination.

Monroe EMT presented with award

Monroe EMT Jack Sheehan has been presented with an award from Hartford Healthcare St. Vincent’s Medical Center.  The Emergency Medical Services Values Recognition Award is a commendation that celebrates an EMS provider who has demonstrated the core values of integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and empathy while providing selfless service that is patient focused. In 2021 Sheehan gave 1,235 hours to Monroe EMS while also volunteering with the Monroe Fire Department and attending college.  Department officials say he was a vital member of the service during the pandemic and recently become a trainer so he can help train future EMT’s. 

First grants in Brookfield Small Business Assistance Program awarded

Brookfield has awarded the first round of grants to local small businesses as part of a plan to distribute up to $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.  8 applications have been approved, 3 have been deferred and 5 came in from non-Brookfield businesses.  About two dozen more are pending. 

A committee of 5 met to review redacted applications and First Selectman Tara Carr then signed off on the committee's recommendations.  The Committee is meeting again tonight to review any new applications that have come in. 

Selectman Steve Dunn raised concerned with the Board of Selectmen not having a say, just the First Selectman.  Brookfield Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski says several businesses asked that their information be kept private.  He noted that's why he plans to maintain confidentiality on a a need-to-know basis. 

Dembowski says he modeled the program on initiatives in New Milford and Bethel. 

Dembowski works with the town’s tax assessor to verify the business is properly registered and then checks with the tax clerk’s office to make sure their taxes are paid.  The town clerk’s office ensures they are registered with the state if they are a Limited Liability Company or a sole proprietorship, and if their trade name is registered. 

Qualifying businesses and registered nonprofits in Brookfield posting an annual gross revenue of less than $1 million prior to the pandemic are review for business viability, economic hardship and financial need.

Police seek funding for record storage in Brookfield

The Brookfield Police Department is asking town officials for an appropriation from the Police Department Outside Services Fund for a records storage solution for the Records division.  The Board of Selectmen approved the $43,000 and forwarded the request to the Board of Finance approval. 

Chief John Puglisi says the system would give them an open room to put a track cabinet system that slides, along with standing shelves for permanent documents that will be put into banker boxes, but one door to keep everything locked.  The records department holds a minimum of 10 years of records at any given time.  That does not include records labeled permanent via the State Library. 

Since 2001, the division has been working with random file drawers and storage in the downstairs of the building.  Puglisi says this will help personnel can pull files in a timely manner, and that they will be secure and locked.  One wall in the office will be moved, the current closet removed, and the door between the Captains office and records office would also be removed.  

New Fairfield Board of Finance meets on member's controversial comments

When the New Fairfield Board of Finance held their special meeting to address controversial remarks made by an alternate member, the member did not attend.  Some residents have called for an apology from David Coleman over comments he made during budget deliberations on special education costs.  The nearly two hour Zoom meeting was attended by dozens of residents.  Board of Finance Chair Wes Marsh says the meeting was Coleman's chance to clear up his comments and apologize, but it wound up being a missed opportunity.  A number of board members said they do not believe there was ill intent behind the comments, and that he didn't know proper terminology.  No action was taken against Coleman during the special meeting, with some members saying it's up the the voters in the next election to replace members.  The next meeting of the Board of Finance is on the 18th, via Zoom, at 7:30pm.

Housatonic Valley Health District to take on mental health, stress

To raise awareness about mental health, the Housatonic Valley Health District will host virtual sessions about positive mental health and combating feelings of anxiety, stress and loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The two hour programs will include general information regarding mental health, promoting a healthy lifestyle, tips to combat stress, tips to deal with COVID related stress and anxiety.  The first session is Thursday, May 12, from 3pm to 5pm.  Registration is required online https://hvhd.us/event/coping-during-times-of-covid-19/.

Brookfield teams up with Nuvance Health on Community Health Needs Assessment

The Brookfield Health Department is teaming up with Nuvance Health on a Community Health Needs Assessment.  A 10 minute survey has been created to get community input on the health and wellness of residents.  The survey will ask questions about what the most important health issues are in Brookfield and what matters to most to respondents.  The survey will close on June 30th.  It can be completed online https://www.gnyhasurveys.org/CHNA2022, though paper versions of the surveys are available by request.  All survey responses are confidential.  the results will inform the development of a plan, involving many community partners.

Fire Departments warn of forest fire dangers

The forest fire danger level in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties has been high or very high all this week.  Permits are required to burn brush, but burn permits are not valid due to the that fire danger level.  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 ground 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. 

Putnam County Fire Departments are warning of wildfire dangers.  The sun and high winds are whipping up dry vegetation on the ground, which can ignite from a small spark of a cigarette, downed utility wire or other source.  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.

Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive returns

The Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive by the U.S. Postal Service is back and takes place on Saturday.  Danbury Post Office Food Drive Coordinator Charles Volpe says the effort was put on hold for two years due to the pandemic.  Letter Carriers collect non-perishable food donations left by mailboxes and in post offices and deliver them to local community food banks, pantries and shelters.  The food is sorted, and delivered to an area food bank or pantry, where it is available for needy families.  Volpe says it's more important than ever because of the lingering food insecurity from the pandemic.  Most food drives are held around Thanksgiving and the December holidays so supplies are depleted.  Schools will also be out for the year soon and students won't have access to free or reduce priced meals.

Firefighters respond to reported gas odor in New Fairfield home

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a home on Gillotti Road late last night for the reported smell of gas in garage area since the morning. Firefighters investigated and found gas leaking from a carburetor on portable generator. The unit was removed and the living space was metered to make sure everyone was safe to enter. Firefighters also did a walkthrough of the new High School construction with the reps from O&G Construction.  They'll have another walkthrough next spring when most of the construction is completed. 

Dog licensing begins in Bethel June 1

The Bethel Town Clerk is reminding residents that dog licensing will begin June 1st.  People should check their dog's rabies certificate for the expiration date. If it expired or will expire within the month of June, the dog should go to the vet and a get copy of the certificate for licensing purposes. Renewals will be mailed out May 31st, and they should be mailed back or dropped in the municipal center drop box at the front entrance. The license will be mailed out immediately upon receipt.

Several capital items on Ridgefield budget ballot

The Ridgefield budget referendum is today, including several capital item bonding questions.  One is about $437,854 for East Ridge Middle School auditorium lighting upgrades and school district-wide replacement of orchestra and band instruments.  Another is $615,812 in funding for Annex Building interior flooring, Highway Garage roof replacement and Playhouse fire suppression.  One question asks about $1.39 million for East Ridge Middle School LED lighting upgrades, school district-wide network infrastructure upgrades, Barlow Mountain Elementary oil tank removal and replacement, and Branchville Elementary School asbestos abatement and floor re-tiling.  Anticipated Eversource rebates of about $92,000 for the lighting will offset some of the cost.  Another question asks for $538,750 for tennis, basketball and pickleball court replacement, and Rec Center updates including gym floors and pads.  Another is $1.6 million dollars for road and ADA improvements.  Residents are also being asked about $1.8 million for a fire mini attack pumper, a Mack dump truck, sidewalk improvements and construction of tertiary roads.  The bond amount would be reduced by the amount of any grants received, anticipated at $150,000 for sidewalk improvements.

Ridgefield residents voting on budget today

The  Ridgefield Budget Referendum is today.  The proposed spending plan on the municipal side, including debt service, is $47.4 million.  The proposed Board of Education budget is $106.6 million, a 4.24 percent increase.  More than half of the school spending is for salaries.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says almost a third of the municipal budget is for public safety.  Recreation is about 16-percent of the budget, with the pandemic sending more people outside.  Another question on the ballot would be $1.6 million for road and ADA improvements.  Other capital item questions are also on the ballot, including funding for tennis, basketball and pickleball court replacement.  Voting is from 6am to 8pm in Yanity Gym.

Bail lowered for New Fairfield man charged for fatal stabbing

A 59-year old New Fairfield man is being held on $750,000 bail for allegedly fatally stabbing a man at his home over the weekend.  Bail was lowered yesterday for Patrick Griffin during arraignment.  The judge said there may be evidence of self-defense, and while he does have prior convictions, none are recent.  Griffin was charged with manslaughter for the death of  65-year-old James Knapp of Sandy Hook.  Defense attorney Thomas Leaf says intoxication might have played a role in a violent struggle. Griffin and Knapp were transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries, and Knapp was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police warn of uptick in car break-ins in New Fairfield

New Fairfield is experiencing an uptick in car break-ins.  The police remind all residents to lock car doors and remove all purses, wallets, valuables and key fobs from the vehicle.  Police also ask that if anyone notices that multiple outdoor lights activated by motion sensors are turning on in the neighborhood in a short period of time, to call 911.  Police say the individuals committing these crimes will come back to areas where they know that there are unlocked vehicles to steal. 

Public hearing date set on Brookfield NAA program proposals

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has set a public hearing date for the proposals in the Neighborhood Assistance Act program.  Eligible proposals are able to receive donations from various persons or organizations, who then receive a tax credit.  The Town's Human Resource Department oversees implementation of the program.  The only three proposals received are from the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut Annual Support Campaign; Regional YMCA Camp Greenknoll Enhancement; and WestCOG Foundation Regional Open Space Fund.  The public hearing will be  June 6th at 6:45pm in Room 133.

Danbury cuts ribbon on EMS, police substation on westside

Danbury has cut the ribbon on two new emergency responder facilities on the City's westside.  The Summit is allowing the Police Department to use space at their development, the former Matrix Center, for a substation, rent free.  An emergency medical services building at the site of Keystone Place at Wooster Heights is now open as well.  It was built by Rizzo Corporation at their senior living facility and donated to Danbury, with the City paying a dollar a year in rent.  City officials previously said this would allow personnel to stay on the westside and reduce response times. 

Danbury members appointed to joint committee with New Fairfield for walking trail

Planning for a walking trail along Margerie Reservoir in Danbury and New Fairfield is underway.  Earlier this year, the State Bond Commission approved $1.8 million for New Fairfield to be used for the construction of a multi-use trail at the Margerie Reservoir.  Each municipality has signed off on establishing a joint Advisory Committee. 

There will be two members from New Fairfield and three from Danbury.  The City representatives are City Council President Vinny DiGilio, Public Utilities Superintendent David Day, and Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola, who also serves as New Fairfield's part time Town Engineer.  The group will provide updates on progress toward hiring a consultant and determining the location and design of the trail, among other items. 

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says this trail will promote a healthy lifestyle and be a win for both communities.  The state Department of Transportation's Community Connectivity Program seeks to improve accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians in urban, suburban and rural community centers. 

Initial proposals call for the trail to meander along the reservoir side of Route 37 from Bear Mountain in Danbury to Saw Mill in New Fairfield.  

Newtown continues to grapple with redevelopment of Fairfield Hills campus

The Connecticut Office of Historic Preservation has responded to Newtown's plans to redevelop two empty buildings on the Fairfield Hills campus saying they'll support the project, as long as  Newtown keeps all the other vacant former hospital buildings for at least five years after the completion of the redevelopment.  The Newstimes reports that the town was seeking the state's backing as it seeks historic preservation tax credits from the National Park Service.  Boston-based WinnDevelopment is looking to convert Kent House and Shelton House, built in 1940 and 1933 respectively, into housing and shops.  Newtown has demolished other unsafe structures and officials have previously said the remaining buildings are dilapidated and need to be demolished as well.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal suggested a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Legislative Council about how to proceed.

Firefighter injured, two units damaged in Brewster townhouse fire

At least two townhouses in Brewster were damaged by fire over the weekend, which also sent a firefighter to the hospital.   Brewster firefighters were awakened to reports of a structure fire around 3am Saturday  in Reed Farm on Route 22. First arriving units confirmed the working fire in a 4-unit connected townhouse. All occupants were able to escape unharmed.  Firefighters encountered heavy smoke conditions while searching for the fire, which was discovered in the basement of one of the units and spread to a neighboring unit. Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack and had the fire under control in about an hour. A Brewster firefighter was transported to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries. Mutual aid was provided by Croton Falls, Lake Carmel, Carmel, Mahopac, Putnam Lake and Miry Brook fire departments.

Southbury Police investigate debit card fraud

The Southbury Police Department is attempting to identify a woman fraudulently using a debit card.  ATM footage from Stop and Shop on Main Street North showed the suspect on various dates, from October to December of 2021.  Photos have been posted to the Department's Facebook page.  Anyone with information regarding the identity of this person is asked to contact Southbury Police Ofc. Jacques at (203) 264-5912. All calls will be kept confidential.

Brookfield Firefighters respond to rollover accidents

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is reminding motorists to slow down and wear seatbelts.  Between Thursday and Friday, firefighters responded to 3 major accidents with injuries, 2 involved rollovers and the other was a high speed head on collision.  In one rollover, West Whisconier was closed for a while Friday.  No injuries were reported.  Thursday night, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department received 3 simultaneous EMS calls, including the other rollover.

Wilton Police release Distracted Driving Awareness Month results

During the month of April Wilton Police made 256 traffic stops for distracted driving violations.  Although National Distracted Driving Awareness Month is over,  Department officials say they are committed to keeping the roads safe all year, and ask motorists to do their part.

Danbury Exchange Club Officers of the Year honored

The Danbury Exchange Club has honored its 2020 and 2022 Danbury Exchange Club Officers of the Year. The awardees are Sergeant Rory DeRocco and Sergeant Stephen Hilderbrand.  The event was co sponsored by the Danbury Housing Authority.

New Fairfield man charged for fatal stabbing on Sandy Hook man

A New Fairfield man has been charged for a fatal stabbing that took place over the weekend.  State Police say 59-year old Patrick Griffin stabbed a Sandy Hook man in the chest during an assault at Griffin's Hillview Drive East home late Saturday night.  65-year-old James Knapp was rushed to Danbury Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.  Knapp was the father of Newtown Legislative Councilman Ryan Knapp.  Griffin has been charged with manslaughter and was held in lieu of $1 million bail for arraignment today.

Danbury firefighters rescue goose from netting

Danbury firefighters made a tricky rescue yesterday.  C platoon Truck Company was called to Rogers Park after a Canada Goose had gotten tangled up in the baseball field net and could not get free. Firefighters put up Truck 1's Tower Ladder, then cut some netting from around the goose, and brought him down to the ground.  The firefighters had to cut some of the netting off the goose's feet, let him rest a bit, and then he went on his way.

(Photo: DFD)

Wilton budget, funding for new police station approved

The Wilton budget for the coming fiscal year has been approved.  During the Annual Town Meeting vote, unofficial results show about 74-percent of participants cast a yes vote for the $130.94 million budget.  Each of the 6 ballot questions were approved, with 74 to 89 percent of those same voters casting yes votes. 

Wilton residents authorized a new police station, funding for road improvements, a vacuum truck, a study of school building HVAC replacement, and the bridge replacement and school roof replacement programs. 

The mill rate will be 28-point-22.  The Municipal Budget is $33,943,364, the Board of Education Budget is $86,677,862.  Debt Service is $9,025,210. 

Capital items approved were $1,100,000 for the Construction and Reconstruction of Town Roads, $760,137 for the Bridge Replacement Program, $16,400,000 for the Construction and Furnishing of a New Police Headquarters, $500,000 for the Acquisition of a Vacuum Truck , $600,000 for the Construction and Installation of School District Roof Replacements, and $100,000 for the Study and Design of Middlebrook Middle School and Cider Mill School Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Replacements.

New Fairfield Board of Finance to hold special meeting on member comments

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has scheduled a special meeting to discuss remarks made by an alternate member during budget discussions.  Some residents have called for an apology and censure or resignation from David Coleman over remarks they say were insensitive and demeaning.  During discussion on special education cost increases for students who go to residential facilities, Coleman said he felt sorry for any family who winds up in a situation with a child like that.  Some residents also took another comment to mean that he thought special education students aren't likely to graduate.  Tonight's special meeting is at 7:30pm and will be held via Zoom.  The agenda calls for a discussion of the comments and actions to take.  There will be time for public comment and board member comment.

Danbury seeks extension on financial audit

Danbury is seeking another extension on its financial audit due to delays from the school district.  A number of people in the Finance Department left last year, including the Director who was replaced in September.  The district wasn't able to complete its portion by the December deadline, which delayed the City's review, now expected to be completed at the end of this month.  An audit must be filed with the state, and various financial entities. City Finance Director David St Hilaire says because the review wasn't done in March, Danbury wasn't able to refinance its bonds when interest rates were lower.  Meanwhile the School District plans to bring in a consultant to respond to the latest round of requests for additional information after a meeting with the city audit committee.

Revaluation deferment bill approved by General Assembly

The state House has passed a bill that would allow certain municipalities to defer implementation of revaluation of real property for the assessment year commencing October 1st.  This would apply to the municipalities of Danbury, Orange, Wilton and Stamford.  Implementation deferral would be until the assessment year commencing October 1, 2023, provided such deferral is approved by the legislative body of the specified municipality.

State Representative Joe Zullo asked if all municipalities were asked if this is something they wanted and given a fair chance to request this type of accommodation.  Planning and Development Committee chair Representative Christine McCarthy Vahey says there was an equal opportunity for every community to respond.  Zullo noted that given the trying times of the last two years due to the pandemic, and to the ongoing fiscal woes, every municipality had to take a look at their fiscal situations and decide what was best for them and praised his colleagues for affording them the opportunity for financial flexibility.

The Senate also passed the bill, sending it to the Governor's desk for his signature.

Newtown officials make ARPA recommendations

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has approved a number of projects to be recommended for funding with American Rescue Plan Act money.  The largest amount of funding is for improvements to the transfer station.  $200,000 will improve traffic patterns for recycling and household garbage drop off.  $225,000 will be used for outside storage and a patio at the Community Center.  $16,000 will be used for handicap accessible doors at the Senior Center.  $150,000 is recommended for Dickinson Park pavilion refurbishment, including lighting, wiring for WiFi and replacement of roof and support columns. $90,000 would go to a Parks & Recreation Department dump truck replacement.  $100,000 worth of improvements at the Municipal Center include window abatement and refurbishment, hallway painting and, floor replacement at the Public Works garage, renovation of the women’s locker room at the garage.  The Board of Finance and Legislative Council need to sign off on the spending

Two lane bridge replacement approved for scenic road in New Milford

A two lane bridge will be constructed on a scenic road in New Milford.  The New Milford Town Council voted 6 to 3 to authorize design work on the Cherniski Bridge.  The current one-lane bridge has been closed since January 2021, due to its poor condition. 

Public Works Director Jack Healy says a two-lane bridge is estimated to cost about $1.6 million.  It would qualify for a 50 percent state grant.  Some American Rescue Plan Act funds were also set aside for the work.  The balance comes to $230,000.  A single lane bridge would cost the town $830,000 because the state doesn't offer reimbursement for that kind of design as it's considered functionally obsolete.  Healy says the only way the state would consider giving grant money is for travel by less than 100 cars a day. 

Opponents say a two lane bridge design would violate the town’s scenic road ordinance.  The ordinance says that no alterations of a scenic road can be made unless the Town Council determines they’re necessary to maintain the road in good repair and in passable condition.  Opponents also argued that the ordinance calls for a scenic road committee to be formed.  The committee, appointed by the Mayor, would recommend aesthetics, beautification and preservation. 

The deadline to apply to the state for the grant is May 31st. Construction is expected to take place in 2023.

Agreement approved between school bus company, Danbury Emergency Management

A memorandum of understanding is being signed between the City of Danbury and Student Transportation of America, the school district's bus company. The agreement will set up a way for the Office of Emergency Management to better provide evacuations and other activities in the event of a disaster, crisis of other designated emergency. STA would provide transportation to designated locations or use of their buses as warming or cooling shelters during times of extreme temperatures.  The City is also signing a similar memorandum of understanding with HART.  This follows previous approval of an agreement with the Amber Room to provide meals in the event of disasters or emergencies.

Federal funding approved for dam removal in Wilton

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has announced $475,000 in federal funding for Wilton.  The money will be used to facilitate the removal of the Dana Dam, located at Merwin Meadows.  He met with First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice and environmental advocates from Save the Sound this week to talk about creating a 14-mile stretch of uninterrupted migratory corridor for fish.  Himes says the removal will also enhance water quality, improve public safety and community resilience.

Bethel Emergency Management marks Hurricane Preparedness Week

Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal's Office is marking Hurricane Preparedness Week.  They say the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests renters to work with landlords to prepare for a storm.  Homeowners should make sure their house is in good repair to withstand wind impacts.  NOAA says having the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors is important.  The garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds. 

MannKind: Q1 Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ MannKind Corp. (MNKD) on Thursday reported a loss of $26 million in its first quarter.

The Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of 10 cents per share.

The results matched Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for a loss of 10 cents per share.

The biopharmaceutical company posted revenue of $12 million in the period, exceeding Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $10.4 million.

State Department of Public Health updates COVID-19 case data

145 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 with 11 cases per 100,000 population.  There were 131 cases reported to the state in the last two weeks, ending April 30th.  The City's test positivity rate is 7-point-9 percent.  All of the towns surrounding Danbury are in the red zone, except Sherman which is in the Yellow.

New Fairfield showed across the board COVID-19 statistic decreases this week, though the numbers are still elevated compared to a month or two ago. According to the latest report, Bethel reported 78,  Brookfield had 49 and New Fairfield 48. There were 69 COVID cases in New Milford, 111 in Newtown, Redding reported 38 cases while Ridgefield had 110. 

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area held fairly steady from last week. Case rates for the week ending April 30th range 11 to 31. The lowest case rate is in Danbury and the highest is in Ridgefield, based on population.   
The rates are:

Danbury 11

New Milford 18

Brookfield 20.6

New Fairfield 24.7

Bethel 28.1

Newtown 28.4

Redding 29.8

Ridgefield 31.5

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 8 to 17 percent.  The lowest test positivity is in Danbury and the highest is in New Fairfield.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Danbury 7.9 percent

Newtown 10 percent

New Milford 10.1 percent

Brookfield 10.7 percent

Ridgefield 11.9 percent

Redding 13.9 percent

Bethel 15 percent

New Fairfield 17.2 percent

The CDC COVID-19 community level map has all 8 Connecticut counties in the medium or high categories.  Fairfield and Litchfield counties are on the medium list.  Residents are urged to stay up-to-date with vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms.  Those at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about when to wear a mask. 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 18 since last Thursday.  The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 10.35 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive over during that time held steady since this time last week.  Of the 233 positive patients, 35-percent are not fully vaccinated.  

The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 7.29 percent, up a bit from the week before.  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 about 96-percent of the samples tested. Testing was done for 20 subvariants.

Deadline approaching for party enrollment changes ahead of Primary

The Bethel Registrars of Voters are alerting residents to some upcoming deadlines.  The state Primary will take place on Tuesday August 9th.  Connecticut has a closed system, so only members of the party holding an election can cast ballots in that vote so registered Democrats in the Democratic primary and Republicans in the GOP primary.  The deadline for enrolled party members to switch parties is this Monday.  Anyone needing to look up their enrollment status, or see if they are registered to vote, can do so on the Secretary of the State's website.

Budget hearing to be hybrid meeting tonight in Kent

A Budget Hearing is taking place tonight in Kent.  It will be a hybrid meeting, so residents have the option of attending the hearing in-person at Kent Town Hall or virtually via Zoom.  Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases statewide, First Selectman Jean Speck recommended all in-person attendees wear a mask.  Masks will be available on site.  During the 7 o'clock meeting tonight, the Kent Board of Finance will also consider a resolution for the May 20th Town Budget Meeting appropriating 2-point-35 million dollars in bonding for Kent Streetscape Improvements Phase II.

Ridgefield woman advocates for stillbirth tax credit

A bill introduced by a local lawmaker at the request of a constituent has been approved by the Connecticut General Assembly.  Ridgefield Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo advocated for a tax credit to parents of stillborn children.  Brittney Crystal approached her about the proposal and later testified before various committees about having to come home to a room prepared for a child that's not going to need it.  She said there are unexpected expenses such as funeral costs and genetic testing to see if subsequent pregnancies are a possibility. The $2,500 stillbirth tax credit was included in the state budget.  Connecticut is the third state in the nation to have such a credit, though it's larger than those in Louisiana and Minnesota which have a tax credit of $2,000.

3 Danbury FCI inmates released to home confinement sue over reincarceration

A lawsuit has been filed by three women claiming their release from Danbury Federal Correctional Institution to home confinement during the pandemic was revoked without due process.  The Legal Clinic at Quinnipiac University School of Law says there is no opportunity for a hearing, even when child custody or care is impacted.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons says there is an appeal process through the Administrative Remedy Program, based on the circumstances of their cases.  The reentry center in charge of home confinement for one woman suing, Nordia Tompkins, claimed they couldn't reach her while she was at school.  Virginia Lallave has had a baby since her release to home confinement in June 2020.  According to court documents, she allegedly tested positive for , but she hasn't been provided the toxicology report.  Eva Cardoza, who reestablished connections with her children, also allegedly tested positive for marijuana. The suit is seeking a declaration from a federal judge that lack of due process is unconstitutional.  Their argument is that home confinement should have protections similar to release to probation and parole. 

Danbury will get 80-percent state reimbursement on Career Academy

Danbury will get 80-percent state reimbursement on all eligible costs on the proposed Career Academy under revised language approved by the General Assembly in the final days of this legislative session.  The cost of the project soared from an estimated $99 million, to $164 million.  State Representative David Arconti, who opted not to seek reelection in November, says the funding was included in the updated state budget.  Mayor Dean Esposito expressed his appreciation for the passage of the special legislation, specifically Arconti for what Esposito called his passion and determination to champion this legislation.  The eligible costs also include site acquisition.  Danbury residents will be deciding on bonding for the Career Academy and other school projects in a June 7th referendum.

 

NJ man arrested for allegedly passing bogus bills in Newtown stores

Newtown Police have arrested a New Jersey man for allegedly using counterfeit money to make purchases at several stores last week.  32-year old Alex Burnett-Deroche was charged last Wednesday with two counts each of forgery and criminal attempt to commit larceny, as well as larceny, criminal impersonation and interfering with an officer.  Newtown Police were called by two businesses about a man trying to buy low priced items with fake 100-dollar bills.  Officers located his vehicle on Church Hill Road.  The man initially provided a fake New York ID card.  He was arraigned and was held on bond for a May 12th court apperance.  Newtown police are asking anyone in possession of a $100 bill with a B46637239A serial number to bring the bills to the police station, in an attempt to collect the counterfeit money Burnett-Deroche allegedly distributed.

HART, Danbury sign agreement on emergency services

HARTransit and the City of Danbury are signing onto a memorandum of understanding to work with the City's Department of Emergency Management.  HART would provide transportation to designated locations for evacuations and other activities in the event of a disaster, crisis of other designated emergency.  HART is also agreeing to continued use of their buses as warming or cooling shelters during times of extreme temperatures.

Danbury considering license agreement for property to Shell

The Danbury City Council is going to look into a request from a business for a license agreement for the use of City property.  Shell gas station on Newtown Road is looking to use 3,000 square feet of city-owned land on Old Sherman Turnpike for parking.  The owners are asking for approval to pay $1,000 a year for use of the land for 7 spaces.  The agreement would be for 10 years, renewed automatically unless terminated.  This is part of a proposed $2.2 million upgrade with an expanded convenience store, new gas pumps and landscaping and lighting.  When the project is complete the facility will add two full time and three part time employees.  An ad hoc committee will study the request with the City attorney, Economic Development Commissioner and Directors of Planning and Public Works.  The additional parking is required under zoning regulations due to the expansion, which calls for an additional 4,700 square feet, and 6 new canopied gas pumps.  An application will be submitted to the Planning Commission.

Putnam County ranked among healthiest counties in New York

Putnam County has been ranked among the healthiest counties in New York State. The County Health Rankings, released annually, were created by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This year Putnam is ranked third in health factors and first in health outcomes.  They rank counties nationwide in two areas—health factors and health outcomes.  In 2013, the numbers of uninsured residents was nearly 10 percent.   Today the figure has dropped to only 4 percent.  Live Healthy Putnam, a coalition of organizations working on chronic disease prevention, was cited as an example of a long-standing partnership that contributes to community health improvement.  The data collected on health factors includes health behaviors and socio-economic factors such as access to and availability of health care. Physical inactivity is  one significant factor that contributes to risk of premature death, so Putnam’s Office for Senior Resources plans its programming with this in mind. Among their numerous offerings for older residents are evidence-based programs to engage seniors in safe and beneficial physical exercise.

Kent looking for volunteers on the Architectural Review Board

The Town of Kent is looking for volunteers to serve on the Architectural Review Board.  There are two openings it needs to fill.  The Board meets on the first Tuesday of every month, if there are applications, and is responsible for administering the Kent Village District Regulations.  The Kent Village District is an overlay district whose regulations ensure that new development or redevelopment of the land or modification of buildings within the District are consistent and compatible with the architectural context of the Village District.  Interviews will be held by the Architectural Review Board with appointments made by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Danbury calls on Conn. to pave state roads in the City

The Danbury City Council has approved a Capital budget for the coming fiscal year, with about $1.12 million included for road paving, drainage and road improvements.  About $3.5 million in previous borrowing is also available.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says that's enough to pave little more than 6 miles of the worst roadways in the City.  A bid has been sent out for paving, but Iadarola cautioned that the cost of materials is rising and that escalation is hitting the City hard.  While he normally doesn't provide a list of roads to pave, in case there are changes, Iadarola says one top concern is Saw Mill Road.  He notes that it took a beating over the winter and his office has received a lot of complaints about the condition of the road.  Mayor Dean Esposito told the City Council that his office also fields a lot of calls about road condition, but most are about state roads such as Federal Road or Clapboard Ridge Road.  

Ridgefield Police offer tips to avoid catalytic converter theft

The Ridgefield Police Department is asking that residents take steps to prevent becoming the victim of a Catalytic Converter theft.  Police say the thefts have occurred any time, day and night, and it only takes a few minutes.  Anyone who sees something that looks suspicious or out of place is urged to call the police and report the activity.  The exhaust emissions devices can cost thousands of dollars to replace and are a target nationwide due to the high cost of their precious metals.  Prevention tips include parking in a well lit area, having the vin number etched into the catalytic converter, or using a bright anti-theft spray paint on it.

New Fairfield State Troopers focus on new areas of speeding concern

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office says speeding is a continuing challenge on town roads.  Troopers have moved their radar speed signs to areas of concern.  State Police say the decision was based on actual police observations, citizen complaints and areas of high pedestrian travel.  Anyone out walking, jogging or biking is urged to wear high visibility clothing.

Southbury looking to hire more Police Officers

The Town of Southbury is currently accepting applications for Entry Level Police Officer and Certified Police Officer.  The application deadline is June 2nd.  The Southbury Police Department has 23 full-time police officers, one Resident Trooper Supervisor, 5 full-time dispatchers, 3 part-time dispatchers, and 2 civilian employees. Department officials say they rely on community policing, being mobile and highly visible, and frequently interacting with residents and business owners in a more personal and positive manner. 

Sherman School District hiring part-time interim Superintendent

The Sherman School District is hiring a part-time interim Superintendent.  Pat Cosentino, who is retiring as New Fairfield School Superintendent at the end of the academic year, will take on the role.  She will be a familiar face in the district as some Sherman teens attend New Fairfield High School.  Sherman's enrollment has been steadily decreasing since 2009.

Newtown Police to participate in Law Enforcement Torch Run

The Newtown Police Department is once again taking part in the Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics.  The event is taking place June 1st through 3rd.  Newtown Officer will be carrying the “Flame of Hope” through town on June 3rd, starting at the Dodgingtown Market and finishing at the Blue Colony Diner.  Police note there are sponsorship opportunities for businesses or groups looking to donate to Special Olympics Connecticut through the “Adopt-a-Mile” program.

Next HRRA Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off day is Saturday in Newtown

The next Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off day is being held this weekend in Newtown.  All residents in the HRRA region can drop accepted items off at Newtown Public Works on Turkey Hill Road Saturday, between 9am and 2pm.  Residents must remain in their vehicle, with windows rolled up.  Proof of residency will be required to be shown.  Items should be in the back of the vehicle and volunteers in safety gear will remove the contents.  HRRA covers Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Weston, and Wilton. For additional information, including items that will not be accepted, visit hrra.org/household-hazardous-waste.

Meeting on proposed warehouse in Newtown moved to larger venue

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission is holding their meeting tonight at Edmond Town Hall.  This is due to the expected large attendance over a controversial plan for a warehouse at 10 Hawleyville Road.  The public hearing is at 7pm. 

A number of protest rallies have been held against the application by New York-based Wharton Equity Partners for a more than 330,000 square foot warehouse on 104 acres in the industrial zone.  The property near exit 9 off I-84 and Mt Pleasant Road is near several residential neighborhoods. 

More than 200 people attended the first hearing, on April 7th. 

The focus tonight could be on a third party review of traffic studies.  Rally organizers say the project could potentially have 200 tractor trailers per day going in and out 24/7, 365.  Attorneys for the applicant previously said landscaping will maintain as much vegetation as possible.

New Milford house damaged by fire

A house was damaged by fire in New Milford yesterday.  Water Witch Hose Co was alerted to a structure fire in the Merryall section of town just before noon. First arriving units found a well involved fire at the rear of the residence.  The town wide “all call” was activated when firefighters were first dispatch, which bought over 10,000 gallons of water to the scene by 3 tankers from Gaylordsville and Northville, until they were able to establish a water supply at a nearby pond. Engines from Bridgewater and Brookfield provided standby coverage at the firehouses.  Company officials say New Milford Ambulance looked after firefighters on scene.  No injuries were reported.

Brookfield sets budget referendum date

Brookfield has set the budget referendum date as May 17th.  The town operating budget is proposed at $29 million.  The Board of Education is seeking $48.7 million.  First Selectwoman Tara Carr says getting to those numbers wasn't easy, but thanked her colleagues for working through it.  She notes that initial budget projections for the  mill rate were above 5 percent, but they were able to bring the increase to 3.15 percent, in line with what several other surrounding towns are expecting.  In addition to the advisory questions of too high, too low or adequate, there's also a question on the Brookfield ballot asking residents if the town should appropriate $8.27 million for Capital Improvement Projects.

Clean City Danbury Day returns Saturday

Clean City Danbury Day is taking place on Saturday, from 8AM to noon. Residents can drop off debris and unwanted items free of charge at five locations throughout the City.  Residents, community groups and organizations are also encouraged to adopt a street as part of the beautification effort. 

The partnership with Oak Ridge Waste and Recycling will have dumpsters located at Danbury City Hall, the Public Works Facility on Newtown Road, at the PAL building on Hayestown Road, in Rogers Park by the Tennis Courts and at West Conn's Westside campus. 

A list of accepted items can be found on the City website. 

Organizations looking to adopt a street are asked to email Jon Barney at j.barney@danbury-ct.gov or call 203-797-4511.

Putnam County Sheriff marks Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.  Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville is reminding motorists to share the road with motorcycles as traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels, families plan summer road trips, and motorcycling is seeing strong growth. McConville says passenger car drivers must allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle and show extra caution in intersections. He says most crashes occur when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.  Motorcyclists should position their motorcycles to avoid a driver's blind spot and use turn signals for every turn or lane change.

Next phase of Ridgefield sewer infrastructure upgrade project starts

Preliminary work has started in Ridgefield on the next phase of the sewer infrastructure upgrade project.  Crews are doing survey work, marking the roadways and started drilling that's needed to install an underground force main pipe. 

Ridgefield is getting ready to decommission the Route 7 Pump Station and renovate the South Street Wastewater Treatment Facility.  A new Route 7 pump station will be constructed so an underground pipe is being installed to connect to the District I plant.  The renovations at the District I plant are behind schedule due to supply chain issues and labor shortages.  

Ridgefield received an extension from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on enforcement of stricter phosphorus removal regulation.  The extension is until April 2023. 

District II plant will eventually be demolished.  Voters approved $48 million for the project in 2018, but is now projected to cost $55 million.  Ridgefield officials will use $2.9 million in American Rescue Plan funding, an approximate $1 million DEEP grant and $500,000 from the Water Pollution Control Authority to close the gap.

Aquarion donating property to Bethel

Aquarion Water Company is donating a piece of property to the Town of Bethel. 

There is an old decommissioned well at 5 Old Turnpike Road, no longer in use.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the idea was presented several months ago, but they had to wait for this formal agreement to come through.  It will go through a formal process with PURA, the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, as well.  It could take until next September before the company actually turns over the land. 

The property will be used for passive open space use as a place for people to walk and have picnics. The well used to provide water to the Meckauer Circle Water Company, which was formed when the neighborhood was construction 30 to 35 years ago.  The system was purchased by Aquarion 7 or 8 years ago. 

Knickerbocker says there were some real issues with the Meckauer operation so Aquarion connected it to their overall distribution system at the north end of Bethel and Newtown.  The well was then capped.

Redding residents approve budget

Redding’s Budget Referendum, including capital projects, results are in and all items on the ballot were approved by the voters. 

The $51.4 million plan, including $15.61 million for the Town Operation Budget, $238 million for the Redding Board of Ed and $12 million for Redding's share of the Region 9 school district budget was approved on a vote of 591 to 156.  The Region 9 budget of $24.7 million was approved in Easton as well. 

Redding residents voted in similar margins for the five capital items, including $25,000 to replace a crane at the sewer plant, $85,000 for highway department equipment and $113,000 for Police body cams and dash cams.  Also approved was $178,000 for the Town Hall and Highway Department roofs and $575,000 to replace the four tennis courts at the community center.  

Region 12 towns approve Board of Ed budget

All three towns of the Region 12 school district have passed the budget for the coming year. Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington residents signed off on the $23.65 million budget.  $1.16 million in revenue from the agriscience program, which accepts students from other towns, offsets some of the increase.

MyHomeCT program to help homeowners impacted by COVID-19

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is alerting residents to a state program to help homeowners with a goal of preventing foreclosures.  The MyHomeCT program was created by using $123 million awarded to the state from the  American Rescue Plan Act.  The program, funded by the Homeowner Assistance Fund, is to cure mortgage delinquencies and defaults among eligible homeowners that occurred as a result of the pandemic. The program also includes assistance for qualified non-mortgage expenses including, non-escrowed real estate taxes and insurance as well as condominium or homeowners' association fees.  The program is being administered by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Housing.

Lake Zoar Authority cautioning boaters to obstructions

The Lake Zoar Authority is cautioning boaters to an obstruction.  A displaced, impermeable tree is stuck on the bottom of the lake and sticking out of the water, just above the Oxford park. A second impermeable tree is also stuck about 100 yards south of the entrance of Kettletown. The Lake Authority says both present a dangerous risks to boaters.  FirstLight was notified for removal purposes.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company gives out awards for service

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has given out awards for service and accomplishments.  The Firefighter of the Year is Sara Ellis. EMS Provider of the Year is Jennifer Zolotorofe.

The Engineer of the Year is Bill Doyle.  His sons William and Matthew who come and assist him weekly received “Assistant Engineer” plaques. 

Service awards:

Sara Ellis 25 years/life member

Alan Owen 35 years

Past Chief Rich Lane 60 years

 

Chiefs awards:

Alan Owen

James Owen

Ben Marsico

 

Honorary Chief:

Raymond T Nobes

1st annual Raymond T Nobes Award for EMS excellence:

Maria Cevallos

Planning Commission to open hearing into car dealer application in Danbury

The Danbury Planning Commission is opening a public hearing tonight into an application for a car dealership at Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads.  A stockpiling yard would be converted into a Mercedes-Benz dealership and service center if approved.  A report from the City's traffic engineers found this would generate 67 vehicle trips in the area on weekday mornings, 82 on weekday evenings, and 125 trips on a weekend days--making it a major traffic generator.  Curry Automotive recently purchased the property and plans to construct a two-story building with 250 parking spaces and 22 service bays.  Zoning variances and an environmental permit for construction have previously been approved.  The Federal Aviation Administration must still sign off on plans.

Danbury City Council approves budget, with tax increase

After about an hour discussion, mostly focused on education spending, the Danubry City Council has approved a more than $277 million budget for the coming year.  City residents will see a tax increase for the first time in years, with the mill rate increasing 2.25 percent. 

Nearly a dozen residents stood up during the public speaking portion of the meeting and urged the City Council to support the Board of Education request. 

Councilman Irving Fox, a parent and former Board of Ed member, called for a standing committee on education spending to discuss the matter year round.  He says many questions were asked, and weren't answered--including the local percentage of education funding. The Board of Ed presentation was significantly different than what the City had.  Under the plan , the city will provide another $10.4 million in “indirect funding” to the schools.  This includes debt service, building maintenance, some pension costs, and field maintenance and snow removal. 

Councilman Ben Chianese made a motion to put $4 million from the city’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the education budget, but that vote failed 15-6.  The education portion of the budget was approved 14-6, with all but one Democrat voting against the budget. All Republicans, except for one who abstained, voted for it. 

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 rate increases of 2.75 percent were also approved. The typical residential homeowner who uses 15,000 gallons per quarter, for both water and sewer will see an increase of little less than $3 a quarter.

3 stores allegedly sold tobacco to underage persons during New Fairfield compliance checks

A compliance initiative in New Fairfield around the sale of tobacco products to underage persons has been carried out by the New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office.  Three retailers were found in compliance, while three were not.  The three that were issued an infraction ticket of $300 were The Smoke Shop on Brush Hill Road, L and A Smoke Shop on Route 39 and New Fairfield Mobile on Route 37.  State Police say this initiative will continue.  A second offense within 24 months of first would result in a $ 750 fine, while the third during that time would be $1,000 fine.  In addition, the third offense triggers a review from the Department of Revenue Services who then determines if the business can still sell tobacco products

Monroe budget approved

Monroe residents have voted in favor of a budget for next year.  The unofficial tally was 917 in favor, 76 opposed.  The $31.7 million on the town side and $64.4 million for the schools would increase taxes by 1.38 percent.  The municipal spending plan is about a half a percent increase of the the current year.  School spending would increase 4.75 percent.  The proposed mill rate would be 36.86.

Putnam County's prescription drug take back day a success

Putnam County’s prescription drug take back day, part of a nationwide effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration, collected double the amount of medication from last year.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Department, the local Health Department and the Putnam Communities That Care Coalition hosted the collection on Saturday and took in 317 pounds of medications.  More than 200 residents dropped off prescription, over the counter and pet medications as part of an effort to combat the misuse and the dangers of improper disposal. 

Housatonic Wild and Scenic River Act of 2022 introdeuced

Senator Chris Murphy and 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes have introduced the Housatonic Wild and Scenic River Act of 2022, which would create a U.S. National Park Service protective designation for 41 miles of the Housatonic River, running through  New Milford, Kent, and elsewhere. The designation would bring federal resources to the towns along the river to support conservation efforts, especially as recreation use has increased since the start of COVID-19. In February, Murphy and Hayes held a roundtable in Kent with conservation leaders and local stakeholders to discuss the importance of protecting the Housatonic River and gather feedback on the legislation.  Murphy says this designation will help preserve the river’s beauty, ecological diversity, and recreational opportunities for generations.  Hayes says with the effects of climate change on the rise, this brings critical funding to protect the rich ecosystem along the 41 miles of the river.

Ridgefield Annual Town Meeting on the budget held

The Ridgefield Annual Town Meeting on the budget has been held.  The proposed spending plan on the municipal side, including debt service, is $ 47.4 million.  The proposed Board of Education budget is $106.6 million, a 4.24 percent increase.  More than half of the spending is for salaries.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says almost a third of the budget is for public safety.  Recreation is about 16-percent of the budget, with the pandemic sending more people outside.  Another question on the ballot would be $1.6 million for road and ADA improvements.  Capital item questions are also on the ballot.  The referendum is set for May 10th from 6am to 8pm.

New Milford Police detail ghost gun, altercation incident

New Milford Police have released more information about the so-called ghost gun found in a car outside the High School the same day there was a fight in a bathroom.  Information obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media through a Freedom of Information Act request details a timeline of the incidents April 26th, which prompted a lockdown.  A parent called Police saying a student had a gun in his backpack.  The 17-year-old was located and searched. 

The black P80 polymer frame firearm with a Live Free Armory slide/barrel was found under the teen's driver’s seat, not in a holster or secured in any way.  There was no identifiable serial number and 10 9mm caliber rounds in the magazine.  Police secured the gun and then learned about a fight between the teen and two others this morning. 

The fight allegedly stemmed from an incident days earlier when a 19-year-old allegedly pointed a gun at someone in a car outside the school.  The older teen allegedly approached a student in the bathroom asking why the other student was telling people.  According to the report, the student who was punched told police another physical altercation broke out near a staircase and the fight was broken up by an administrator.

COVID-19 testing, vaccine clinic changes this month in Danbury

There are new hours for COVID-19 testing in Danbury.  The testing is available this month Mondays through Thursdays from pm to 6pm.  Testing is still being done at Pat Waldron Hall by Roger's Park.  Anyone in need of a free at home test kit, can contact the Danbury Health Department.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Danbury have moved locations for the month of May.  There are no more clinics at 7 East Hayestown Road, they are now being done at Pat Waldron Hall by Roger's Park. The hours are Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7, Saturdays from 9am to 3pm and Sundays 10am to 4pm.

Connecticut's rolling 7-day average COVID-19 test positivity rate yesterday dropped down a bit to 8.85 percent.  There were about 5,800 cases found out of 66,000 tests reported to the Department of Health.  Another 51 patients in Connecticut hospitals tested positive, bringing the total to 230.  About 30-percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated.

Monroe budget referendum today

Monroe residents are voting on a budget today for the coming fiscal year.  The $31.7 million on the town side and $64.4 million for the schools would increase taxes by 1.38 percent.  The municipal spending plan is about a half a percent increase of the the current year.  School spending, if approved, would increase 4.75 percent.  The proposed mill rate would be 36.86. The Board of Finance will officially set the new mill rate after a new budget is adopted via referendum.  Polls are open until 8pm.

Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall exhibit to return to Conn.

The Wall That Heals, a traveling three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., is coming to Connecticut.  The traveling exhibit honors the more than three million Americans who served in the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the wall bears the names of the 58,281 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam including two Marines from Bethel.  The exhibit will be in Norwalk from June 2nd, through 2pm on June 5th. Taps will be played each day at 5pm.  The Wall That Heals will be available for viewing 24 hours per day at Veterans Memorial Park on Seaview Avenue. There is no admission charge.  A mobile Education Center displays items a digital The Wall of Faces, which includes photos of men and women whose names are listed on The Wall.

New Milford Police K9 locates missing Monroe child

New Milford Police Officer Williams and K9 Ella have graduated from the National Bloodhound Certification Course in Maryland.  They put their training to work immediately by assisting the Monroe Police in locating a missing juvenile. Ella tracked a 12 hour old trail through a swamp and woods to locate the child.

Redding to host Memorial Day parade

Redding’s Memorial Day is returning this year.  The parade will be held on Saturday, May 28th, rain or shine.  As in past years, formation will take place at the Redding Elementary School Memorial Auditorium, beginning at 11:30am. The ceremony will begin promptly at Noon with parade step-off at 12:15pm.  The parade will proceed to the Redding Green, for flag-raising and flower-placing ceremonies at the Memorial Stone and festivities should conclude by 1pm.

Danbury City Council set to vote on proposed budget plan

The Danbury City Council is set to vote on a $277.5 million budget tonight.  Under the plan proposed by Mayor Dean Esposito, 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 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 6 new officers to the police force. 

City Finance Director David St Hilaire notes that after 3 years of no tax increases the City knew they would have to ask for a little more.  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.  

Eversource rate increases take effect this month

 

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is warning residents that PURA has approved rate adjustments for Eversource beginning this month.  He says the town's Eversource Liaison relayed that the rate increase reflect an overall deficiency in revenue.  Residential customers will see bills go up 1.7 percent.  Eversource says the new rates look to recover revenue necessary to cover costs and expenses that are critical to maintaining and operating a safe and reliable electric system.  Small to medium Commercial and Industrial customers bills will increase 2.3 percent, while large C&I customers are seeing a 2.5 percent hike.  Customers concerned about their bills are urged to call Eversource about payment assistance programs at 800-286-2828 for residential customers or 800-682-3637 for business customers. 

Man found hiding in attic of home maintained by Putnam County Parks Dept.

A man, believed to be homeless, has been charged by the Putnam County Sheriff Department with trespassing for entering a home owned by Putnam County and is maintained by the Parks Department. Deputies responded to the home on Route 312 in Southeast for the complaint on Tuesday and were told by Parks personnel that there was an open window.  They observed someone inside without permission. Deputies located the 34-year old man hiding in the attic.  He was issued an appearance ticket for Southeast Town Court and given a referral to the Department of Social Services for possible housing assistance.

Ribbon cut on renovated Charles Ives House in Danbury

The ribbon has been cut on a renovated Charles Ives House in Danbury.  The Danbury Museum and Historical Society says the Saturday ceremony was the culmination of more than two years of work.  Ives was a Pulitzer Prize winning composer and one of the first American composers of international renown.  Tours of the Ives Birthplace, beginning on June 25th, can be booked via the organization's website, and will be a discounted $10 this summer during the soft open of the house to visitors. Savings Bank of Danbury, which was launched in 1849 from the house, provided support.  The house was moved three times throughout its history. It was originally on Main Street, but two local banks needed to expand. It was moved a third time to allow for the construction of the nearby school.

Ridgefield looks to add flex time to student schedules

The Ridgefield Board of Education is looking into so-called flex time at the High School.  For two years now, under a pilot program, a block schedule has given longer class time for students.  The 26 minutes of flex time would be scheduled at the beginning of the day for students to connect with teachers for extra support and for club meetings.  During the Board of Ed meeting last week, administrators said this will help student social and emotional well being, and give teachers more time to assess academic challenges or gains made by the students.  Other planned schedule changes are shorter pass time between classes, but longer lunch periods.

Monroe planning for 200th anniversary celebration next May

The Town of Monroe will celebrate its 200th anniversary next May.  The First Selectman has established a Bicentennial Committee to guide the town in creating an appropriate celebration.  The committee is inviting community leaders, residents and businesses to participate in a forum on Wednesday, at 7pm in Council Chambers of Monroe Town Hall, to hear what the committee has discussed to date.  They'll also take input on how to celebrate the historical event.  Memorial Day weekend in 2023 will kick-off with events geared towards the Monroe community, followed by a “Bicentennial Summer.”

WCSU honors Danbury businessman at Foundation breakfast

The WestConn Society Breakfast for Student Success is holding a ceremony today honoring George Mulvaney, who has built a career with a base in the Danbury region.  He is the founder of Mulvaney Mechanical, a high technology mechanical contracting company that has done millions of dollars’ worth of work over its 41 years of operation. Mulvaney has been recognized previously with several awards, including the 2019 Cecil J. Previdi Award from the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, the Robert S. Young Humanitarian Award from Ability Beyond, and the Good Samaritan Award from AMOS House, among others.

Motorcyclist killed in Sunday crash in New Milford

A motorcyclist was killed in a crash yesterday in New Milford.  Police say 22-year old Brandon Forlastro of New Milford was  pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.  Police, firefighters and EMTs responded to Route 7 around 11:30am and determined that the motorcyclist was headed south when he was struck a pick-up truck turning west into a parking lot.  A female passenger on the motorcycle was transported to Danbury hospital in critical condition. The operator and passenger in the pick-up truck did not report any injuries.  Investigators believe speed may have played a factor in the collision. Police are continuing to investigate the crash and seeking witnesses.  Anyone with information related to the crash is requested to contact Officer Peterson of the New Milford Police Department at 860-355-3133.

Pedestrian struck, killed by two cars in Danbury

A pedestrian was struck by two cars and killed in Danbury early yesterday morning.  Danbury Police received a call about a collision shortly before 1:30am yesterday near 26 Lake Avenue, involving a Volkswagon Jetta and a pedestrian.  The driver was headed east, while a 26-year old man was crossing Lake Avenue.  Police say the pedestrian was vaulted into the opposite lane of traffic, where he was struck by a Toyota Corolla, which was traveling westbound.  The pedestrian was transported to Danbury Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.  The collision is under investigation by the Danbury Police Department’s Traffic Unit.  Anyone who has information or witnessed this collision is asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco or PO Jason Lyder at (203) 797-2157.

Search warrant in firearms investigation leads Deputies to heroin mill

When Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies went to carry out a search warrant at a Southeast home last week as part of a firearms investigation, they located a small heroin mill in the home along with a quantity of heroin and fentanyl.  Deputies also found a loaded personally made pistol also known as a ghost gun, and a shotgun.  The 36-year-old resident  is prohibited from possessing firearms because he has two prior felony convictions.  The man was was taken into custody and charged with two counts each of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and 4 counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon.

Deputies find drugs in car during routine traffic stop

During a routine traffic stop last week, Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies found 56 glassine envelopes of Fentanyl in the car.  Deputies stopped the vehicle on Route 22 in Southeast last Monday and determined that the 57-year-old Wingdale man had drugs in the car.  He was taken into custody without incident and charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance. He has two past felony convictions and was ordered at arraignment to appear bi-weekly at Putnam County Probation.

Mulch fire in Newtown extended to nearby structure

Newtown Hook & Ladder was dispatched Saturday afternoon to the rear of dental associates for a mulch fire that spread to the structure.  A fire truck happened to be up the street at the time for their annual boot drive fundraiser and quickly knocked down the flames.  Botsford Fire Rescue also responded and says crews had water on the fire fast and made a quick knockdown preventing further fire spread and damage to the structure.

Southbury Police investigating grocery store shoplifting incident

The Southbury Police Department is looking to identify subjects regarding a shoplifting incident which occurred at ShopRite last Friday, around 5pm.  Photos of the suspects were posted to the Southbury Police Department Facebook page.  Any one with information is asked to contact Officer Critelli at 203-264-5912. All information will be kept confidential. 

Newtown Police join Neighbors App to improve safety

The Newtown Police Department has joined Neighbors By Ring App.  This is an efforts to connect with residents and improve safety.  The program allows users to share photos, videos and information related to local crime and safety incidents so fellow residents can stay informed.  Newtown Police can view what local residents have posted publicly to Neighbors and respond with relevant updates or safety alerts to help residents stay informed.  Residents do not need a Ring device to join Neighbors, just a smartphone to download the app.  Newtown Police though do remind people to report criminal activity or emergency situations directly to the Police by contacting Police.

Aquarion, Eversource start joint water pipeline, gas system project in Wilton

Aquarion Water Company and Eversource are starting a joint water pipeline and gas system project in Wilton.  The project is on Route 106 from Old Kings Highway to Belden Hill Road between 8:30am and 4pm.  All school bus stops will remain at their current locations. The roadway will remain open for emergency vehicles. All other traffic will follow detour routes. 

Electronic billboards will be installed to provide daily updates throughout construction. 

The new 36-inch diameter water main will parallel the existing water main located in Route 106.  The Wilton phase of the project begins at the Belden Hill water tanks. for 1.8 miles to the New Canaan town line at the Silvermine River. 

Eversource Gas will be installing approximately two miles of 16-inch gas pipeline to improve system resiliency between New Canaan and Wilton and increase the availability of gas supply options. 

Construction is slated to end in December 2022.  The pipelines will be constructed in the state or town rights-of-way.  Most will occur in the road, resulting in minimal impacts to private property.  Eversource and Aquarion are investing $9 million in this multi-phase resiliency project this year. 

Local lawmaker concerned about carbon-free electricity supply bill

A local lawmaker is expressing concerns about a bill setting a target of 2040 for having a carbon-free electricity supply.  Southbury state Representative Cindy Harrison says the legislation does not include any mandates or penalties for failing to reach the goal, and is concerned it could ultimately lead to higher electric rates for consumers.  The legislation, which codifies an executive order issued in 2019 by Governor Lamont,would make Connecticut the 11th state to set the ambitious objective.  Harrison says while these goals may be admirable, she doesn't want the burden placed on the ratepayers.  The bill cleared the House of Representatives by a vote of 113-35 on Thursday, days after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation.

Greater Danbury area farms awarded state grant money

Several Greater Danbury area farms have been awarded state Department of Agriculture grants.  33 projects from the Farm Transition Grant program were awarded a total $515,000 to strengthen the economic viability of Connecticut farmers and agricultural cooperatives seeking to expand, diversify, and improve their existing operation. 

Among those receiving a grant is Hollandia Nurseries in Bethel, which will used the money to help purchase and install irrigation systems in five greenhouses. Hollandia Nurseries was founded in a 2-car garage in 1964 and now covers more than 20 acres on Stony Hill Road. 

The Farm Transition Grant Program was created in 2005 and was passed in the legislature on a unanimous and bipartisan basis. Grant funds are reimbursed to the farm after the project is successfully completed, a final financial and written report outlining all of the expenses and tasks associated with the project have been received and approved, and a site inspection by agency staff is conducted. 

In the New Farmer Grant category, Holbrook Farm is Redding will use funding for a Cold frame greenhouse.  In the Innovation and Diversification category, March Farm in Bethlehem will purchase a zone tiller to reduce tillage and improve soil health.  Moss Creek Farm in Newtown will use the grant for a greenhouse and irrigation for a medicinal herb farm.  This is the second grant cycle.

Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield scheduled

The Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield to discuss the proposed Town and School Operating Budget for the coming fiscal year will take place tomorrow night.  Residents will also be asked to discuss Capital Projects during the meeting.  There will be a budget presentation, and in the Call of the meeting, a vote will be taken for a Referendum date of May 17th.  Tomorrow's gathering is at 7pm in Brookfield High School Auditorium.

245th anniversary of Battle of Ridgefield commemorated

245th anniversary commemoration events were held in Ridgefield this weekend to mark the Revolutionary War Battle of Ridgefield.  The Ridgefield Historical Society kicked off the events Friday with a panel discussion about the skeletal remains of what are believed to be war-era soldiers.  State archaeologists and researchers are continuing to investigate the 4 sets of remains discovered in 2019 by a homeowner renovating a basement.  37 brass alloy buttons and two made of pewter were also discovered.  One button turned out to be a finial from the base of a gun powder horn, which researchers say indicates that these men were engaged in fighting. An American Battlefield Protection Program Grant money will be used to conduct further research in Ridgefield over the next two years to determine more about the battlefield itself.

Nuvance Health hospitals earn accreditation as Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery

Four Nuvance Health hospitals have earned accreditation as a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation. Danbury Hospital along with three of their facilities in New York received the designation from the external evaluator of programs and services for surgeons and hospitals.  The review looks at quality of care provided and overall patient safety. The evaluation is conducted every three years and the hospitals' accreditations are through 2025.  This designation signifies Nuvance Health hospital robotic surgery services meet national and internationally recognized standards for quality of care following a series of inspections and extensive review of surgical volumes, equipment, standardized operating procedures and patient education. This is in partnership with physicians, nurses, administrators and others involved in the comprehensive programs offered.

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