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Local Headlines Archives for 2022-06

Drainage project planned on Main Street in Danbury

The Connecticut Department of Transportation will be conducting a drainage improvement project in Danbury next month.  Work is being done on Main Street at Wooster Street where there's been decades of flooding issues.  The project on Route 53 is slated to start on Monday July 11th and be completed on July 22nd.  The hours will be 7:30am to 4pm Mondays through Fridays.  Motorists can expect delays and one lane alternating Traffic.  Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be used to guide motorists through the work zone.

Putnam County Sheriff: Most pistol licensing procedures unchanged

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruling impacts New York State’s concealed carry licensing procedure, the Putnam County Sheriff's Department says it does not change other aspects of pistol licensing law. Carrying a firearm without a license is still illegal in New York, and all other requirements for obtaining a pistol license still apply.  Sheriff Kevin McConville says it's important that people understand this to prevent a situation where they might unknowingly break the law and face possible consequences.

Squantz Pond swim area reopened

The swim area at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield has reopened after water quality issues were detected in tests on Tuesday.  The water was retested yesterday.  Samples are collected weekly by state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff and are analyzed at the Department of Public Health Lab for the presence of certain indicator bacteria.  Rain events can cause elevated levels of these indicators.  Local health departments are responsible for sampling municipal beaches and swimming areas.

Holiday weekend COVID-19 vaccine clinics, testing schedules

The state Department of Public Health/Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Newtown today. Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will also be available.  No appointment is needed for those 6 months and older at Newtown High School, from 3pm to 7pm.  The COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Danbury at Pat Waldron Hall will be closed on Saturday and Monday due to the holiday weekend.  COVID-19 Testing at 118 Memorial Drive in Danbury will be closed on Monday as well.  Any resident who wants a take home test kit is asked to contact the Danbury Health Department at 203-797-4625.

Danbury man sentenced for murder, arson plot

A Danbury man has been sentenced for his role in a plan to murder an individual and set fire to the Bridgeport business where he worked.  33-year old George Rivera, also known as Pito, was ordered to 10 year in prison, followed by 3 years supervised release. 

Early one morning in April of 2018, Bridgeport Police attempted to stop a car with no tail lights, but the driver took off.  Police saw several items tossed from the window and were able to pull the car over several blocks away.  Officers arrested Luis Mercado, who was driving, and Dominick Gonzalez, and recovered two loaded handguns and a quantity of marijuana that had been thrown from the car.  A search of the car also revealed a black ski mask, a pair of binoculars, and a container of gasoline. 

The investigation revealed that Mercado, Gonzalez, Rivera, Jason Scott and Luis Mejias were involved in a plan to murder an individual and set fire to the Wood Avenue Body Shop where the individual worked.  Rivera, Scott and Mejias were arrested later that morning at a hotel in Milford. 

A search of a hotel room revealed a loaded Smith and Wesson model M&P 15-22 caliber rifle, a loaded Taurus “Judge” revolver, a loaded Anderson Manufacturing AR 15 multi-caliber rifle, a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, additional ammunition, brass knuckles, binoculars, gloves and a knit mask.  Investigators also located a seized packaged heroin, ecstasy pills, marijuana, a digital scale and other items in the room, and ammunition and shotgun shells in the trunk of their car. 

Each defendant has a criminal history that includes multiple felony convictions. Rivera’s criminal history includes convictions for firearm, drug, burglary, robbery and assault offenses. 

Mercado, Mejias and Scott were each sentenced earlier this week to 10 years of imprisonment.  Gonzalez awaits sentencing.

Putnam County Sherriff: Premature to make licensing procedure changes after SCOTUS ruling

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on New York's conceal carry law has left many pistol permit licensees with questions about the status of their pistol license, as well as the licensing process in general. The Putnam County Sheriff's Department says they do not yet have any definite answers on the local level.  The New York state legislature could also make changes to the laws.  The Sheriff Department says until that's all sorted out, it would be unwise and premature to make any significant changes to the current licensing procedure. The licensing officer for the County is still legally tasked with approving pistol permits and any changes or amendments to those permits. Permit applications and amendments will still be processed by the County Clerk. Any changes to this process will be discussed and announced once finalized.

Zoners give negative recommendation to Rose St. auto dealer proposal

A negative recommendation is being given to the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals on an application for an automobile dealership & repair service center in the Central Business District Zone.  The Zoning Commission met this week and members say the proposal for Rose Street is a use that's incompatible with others in the zone and is inconsistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development.  The applicant claimed that the property card maintained by the city’s Assessors Office has the wrong zone listed for the lot, but the official zoning map shows the current zone, which was updated in 2007.  The former property owner sought a letter from the Zoning Enforcement Officer about the lot prior to the sale, and the compliance letter was issued before sale.  The Zoning Board of Appeal is holding a public hearing on the application in August.

Two fatal motorcycle accidents under investigation in Newtown

Over the past weekend Newtown Police responded to two separate fatal motorcycle accidents.  On Friday, shortly before 11pm, officers responded to Riverview Road on a report of a motorcycle off the roadway.  No other vehicles were involved in the accident and the motorcyclist, 24-year old Ryan Smith of Enfield, was pronounced dead at the scene.  A witness observed the crash and no charges are expected.  On Saturday, shortly after 5pm, officers responded to a car versus motorcycle accident on Sugar Street near Dodgingtown Road.  The motorcycle operator, 25-year old Harvey Lopez of New Haven, was transported to Danbury Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.  The car driver stayed on the scene and is cooperating.  Newtown Police say no charges are expected.  Both crashes remain under investigation by the Newtown Police Accident Reconstruction Team. The Department is reminding motorists to drive safe this summer.

Lifeguards hired for Squantz Pond, 7 other state parks

The state was able to hire enough lifeguards to  be on duty for Fourth of July weekend at eight of the most popular State Parks, including Squantz Pond in New Fairfield.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was able to hire guards for between 5 and 7 days a week through the majority of the summer at the parks.  The 90 hirees will staff eight of the most popular swimming areas of the state park system, depending on staffing availability and weather.  Where lifeguards are on duty, they will provide coverage from 10am to 6pm.  Before visiting a Connecticut State Park or Forest, DEEP urges all residents and visitors to prioritize water safety.  DEEP's What’s Open Outdoors Page will have up-to-the minute closure information.

30-unit apartment complex proposed for downtown Bethel

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission has received an application for a 30-unit apartment complex on Whitney Road.  The application includes plans for common open spaces, benches and bike racks.  6 of the units would be designated as affordable.  The property is 1.7 acres and located in the Transit Oriented Development overlay zone and has easy access to downtown and to the train station.  20 percent of planned residential developments in the TOD zone are required to be considered affordable.  A public hearing on the 17 Whitney Road proposal will be held on July 12th at 7pm at the Municipal Center.

New Fairfield looks to hire SRO for elementary school level

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is recommending to the Board of Finance that $110,000 be approved for a School Resource Officer for the Meeting House Hill/Consolidated Elementary building.  The money could come from the 2021-2022 Surplus or the unassigned fund balance.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says typically the position has been funded through overtime shifts.  The High School and Middle School have permanent SROs.  She says this would ensure some consistency.  The School Safety Committee made this recommendation and the Board of Education has already approved the proposal. If the Board Of Finance approves, it would go to a Town Meeting.

Work continuing to create new entrance for Danbury Public Works complex

Work is continuing to create a new entrance for the Danbury Public Works Department off Newtown Road.  Director Antonio Iadarola says paving in that area is almost substantially complete.  The state has done line painting as well.  The City has started construction of a new driveway, with the first 150 feet done.  They've also removed old, dead trees on the hill by the Public Works complex.  The City worked with the state to move Public Works traffic to the bottom of the hill.  The new traffic light is designed to accommodate the driveway because Iadarola says the existing left turn onto Newtown Road is like risking drivers lives each time and is worse in winter.  He is touting sight line improvements included in the project, which Iadarola says should be completed in the next two months.  Danbury, the state and Hawley Construction also entered into a land swap agreement for the new driveway, which Hawley is sharing a portion of with Public Works.  The City also received market value for the fill taken from that site, which was later sold.

Judge recommends Danbury FCI for Ghislaine Maxwell's sentence

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 year in prison and the Judge is recommending that she serve her term at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution.  The prison was the inspiration for book and later Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, based on Piper Kerman's stint there on drug charges.  Maxwell is accused of helping to entice vulnerable teenagers to Jeffrey Epstein’s various properties for him to sexually abuse.  Previous former inmates including reality TV star Teresa Giudice of the Real Housewives Of New Jersey, singer Lauryn Hill and hotel magnate Leona Helmsley.  Epstein killed himself in jail while awaiting trial. Maxwell blamed the abuse on Epstein and said meeting him was the greatest regret of her life.

Ducklings rescued from Bethel storm drain

Bethel firefighters were called by the Police Department to assist in rescue a bunch of ducklings that fell into a storm drain.  All of the ducklings were safely returned to their mother.  This was the second duckling rescue in Bethel this year.

  

(Photos: Bethel Fire & EMS)

Squantz Pond closed to swimming due to water quality issues

Squantz Pond State Park is closed to swimming due to water quality issues.  The swim area in New Fairfield will be retested today, with results available tomorrow.  Samples are collected weekly by state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff and are analyzed at the Department of Public Health Lab for the presence of certain indicator bacteria.  Rain events can cause elevated levels of these indicators.  Local health departments are responsible for sampling municipal beaches and swimming areas.

Regional Animal Control looking for part time worker at kennel in New Milford

Regional Animal Control, which serves Bridgewater, Brookfield, New Milford, Roxbury, and Sherman, has an opening for a part time worker at their kennel in New Milford.  Applicants must be willing to work four-hour shifts feeding and caring for the dogs.  The position is for 12 to 20 hours a week, with pay starting at 18 dollars an hour.  Those interested are asked to contact Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read at 860-354-5250 or via email cread@bridgewater-ct.gov.

Feasibility study on broadband solutions underway in Western Conn.

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is performing a feasibility study on broadband solutions and is collecting data for the Greater Danbury area.  Brookfield First Selectman Tara Carr said in a social media post that they have a 9 question survey for residential and business customers, asking what respondents use the internet for--with multiple choice options.  Those taking the survey will also be asked if it's wired service or via cellular internet, overall reliability, speed and cost --along with a question about what pricepoint for service would be considered affordable. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WestCOG_CS.

Nuvance facilities receive American Heart Association Quality Achievement Awards

Danbury Hospital and Nuvance Health’s New Milford campus have received American Heart Association Quality Achievement Awards for implementing specific quality improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks and for their commitment to managing heart failure patients.  Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Norwalk Hospital also received the award.   Danbury Hospital and its New Milford campus also received American Heart Association Get with the Guidelines awards. Danbury Hospital earned the Heart Failure Gold Plus with Target: Heart Failure Honor Roll and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll. New Milford received the Heart Failure Gold Plus.  Both Danbury Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center earned the 2022 Mission: Lifeline® Gold Plus STEMI Receiving Center Achievement Award. Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

Body recovered from Candlewood Lake in area where swimmer went missing

A body has been pulled from Candlewood Lake and is believed to be that of the man who went missing Friday night near Chicken Rock. The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department says the search ended just before 10 o'clock yesterday morning when they successfully recovered a male matching the description of the missing swimmer.  After being spotted by Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol, just southeast of Green Island, Marine 7 responded.  Positive identification of the missing swimmer remains to be completed.   The incident remains under investigation by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 

New Fairfield Zoning Commission denial of bus lot proposal to be appealed

The New Fairfield Permanent Building Committee is appealing a decision of the New Fairfield Zoning Commission rejection of a proposed school bus lot at 302 Ball Pond Road, the former Consolidated School property.  After a 2 hour executive session on the matter, the Committee tasked First Selectman Pat Del Monaco with carrying out that appeal.  Town Attorney Neil Marcus will work with the First Selectman on that, but also on putting together the Zoning Commission's side of the defense as he represents all boards and commissions.

Newtown Health District won't be vaccinating youngest kids against COVID-19

The Newtown Health District team will not be vaccinating children against COVID-19.  Vaccination for children 6 months to 4 years of age has recently been approved by the FDA and CDC.  The Newtown Health Department says parents with questions can check in with their pediatrician.  The state Department of Public Health yellow minivan will be hosting a clinic at Newtown High School on Thursday from 3pm to 7pm.  Some clinics/pharmacies have opened up to the youngest age group.  Community Health Centers is also hosting pop-up clinics at Rogers Park in Danbury today and tomorrow from 1 to 7 pm.  Vax van and pop up clinics are taking walk-ins, no appointment needed.

Eversource to do more tree trimming

More than a dozen towns will be part of a new vegetation management program from Eversource, aimed at removal of trees within a targeted “fall zone” on over 700 properties.  Among the 15 segments of the electric system identified using historical data susceptible to outages are Newtown, Redding, and Sharon.  Eversource vegetation management crews assess whether to trim tree limbs that encroach upon the company’s distribution network and this fall zone is a broader area than before.  To determine the problem areas, Eversource looked at types of outages over a five-year period and then instances over a 10-year-period in which outages were due to weather-related conditions.  Eversource officials say trees cause 90 percent of power outages during storms and severe weather.

Flintlock Drive residents continue push to have Danbury adopt street as public road

Some Danbury residents are continuing to push to have the City adopt their road as a public street.  6 houses at the end of Flintlock Drive are on a private portion of the road, never brought up to the City's specifications by the developer.  A City Council committee trying to resolve the decades old issue met again last week.  Since a March 2021 meeting, the committee determined the identities of the developers and outlined steps to make Flintlock Drive a City road.  A petition was submitted to the City in December 2020 noting that many of the residents didn't know about the private road status when they purchased their homes.  City Attorney Les Pinter says no assessment would be needed, but the petitioners would have to do a title research, get a cost estimate and do the road specification work, and then deed the road to the city.  The City plows the street, but performs no other maintenance.  Drainage and ponding issues in the cul de sac along with potholes have been persistent problems for decades.  The Danbury Planning Commission approved a 525-foot extension of Flintlock Drive as part of a re-subdivision in July 1978.  A road bond was posted, but the developers never met deadlines to complete road and sold homes there anyway.  State Representative Ken Gucker attended the meeting and says it's not fair to put the financial burden on the residents. whose deeds don't say it's a private road.  He claims the city was derelict in its duty in prior decades and bears some responsibility.  Flintlock residents must revise and resubmit their petition and Councilman Irving Fox suggested the committee reconvene once the title search has been completed.

Center for Empowerment and Education looking to fill a number of positions

The Center for Empowerment and Education is looking to fill a number of positions.  Formerly the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, the Center is looking to hire a full time Child and Family Counselor.  This person would  support, advocacy, safety planning, counseling, and educational services to individuals who come to The Center through domestic violence, sexual assault and resource programs.  The Center is also looking to hire a part time Grant Writer to research, identify, develop and respond to government, public and private grant opportunities in areas that support The Center's mission and growth.  The Center is looking to hire a full time Family Violence Victim Advocate.  This person would provide services to people involved in criminal and civil court cases.  Services include providing support, information and advocacy designed to enhance the safety of victims from the time of arraignment throughout the court process. The position provides immediate and ongoing services within the legal system and throughout the community, including local area police departments. A part time Residential Counselor is also  needed.  Their primary role is to provide support, advocacy, safety planning, counseling, and educational services to children and adults who come to The Center for non-shelter and/or shelter services through domestic violence, sexual assault and resource programs.

Newtown Board of Ed has vacancy

There are a couple of vacancies and openings on some Newtown boards and commissions.  The Board of Education has a vacancy available to a Democrat. Interested parties can send a letter of interest and resume to the Board of Education’s office at Newtown Municipal Center.  There is a Republican vacancy for Justice of the Peace. Interested parties can contact the Town Clerk.

New Fairfield ARPA Working Group to hold virtual meeting

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is holding another public forum tonight about possible projects to be funded with American Rescue Plan Act dollars.  The ARPA Working Group is looking at a number of proposals, all of which can be found on the town's website.  Tonight's meeting will be held via Zoom starting at 7:30pm.

Ridgefield Police Department holds awards ceremony

The Ridgefield Police Department held an award ceremony yesterday morning, recognizing officers who went above and beyond the call of duty, over the past three years. The event had been postponed several times due to the pandemic. The officers were recognized for the AAA Traffic Heroes Award, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Award, the Ridgefield Police Department Exceptional Service Award and Officer Of The Year for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Carmel Police caution residents to the Grandparent Scam circulating again

The Carmel Police Department is cautioning residents to the so-called Grandparent scam making it's way around the area once again.  This phone scam involves criminals calling someone, claiming to be a relative who needs help being released from custudy due to an arrest, accident or other ruse.  Carmel Police say the actual police will not demand money over the phone, especially not in the form of gift cards.  Anyone receiving this type of call is urged to not give out any personal identifying information and to hang up.  The call should also be reported to Carmel Police.

Search to resume today for man missing in Candlewood Lake

The search will resume this morning for a man who went missing in Candlewood Lake on Friday night.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection suspended the search yesterday due to weather.  A 21-year old man went underwater near Chicken Rock near the New Fairfield-Sherman border on Friday night and did not emerge.  Boaters are asked to stay clear of the area around Chicken Rock until further notice. A 24-year old Bristol man went under the water in Brookfield Bay Memorial Day weekend and his body was recovered by dive teams June 16th.  A few days prior to the suspected drowning, a 76-year old Brookfield man had been working on his boat tied up at the dock and didn't resurface.  He was pulled from the water by emergency responders who started CPR, but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Eversource installing lightning protection equipment on lines in New Milford

Eversource is conducting some work in New Milford this week.  Contractors are installing lightning protection on nine existing structures in the right-of-way, the power line corridor.  Access to these structures will be from Rooster Tail, the Long Mountain substation, and Bass Road on Eversource property.  Project construction will include crews using a  bucket truck to access the lines, vegetation mowing as necessary to access the structures and installation or replacement of hardware on existing lines.  The work will be done Mondays through Saturdays 7am to 7pm, through late July.  The schedule is weather dependent.

Redistricting prompts new polling precincts in New Fairfield

Redistricting efforts based on 2020 census data means new polling locations in New Fairfield.  The new polling place are based on state Senate districts, rather than House districts.  New Fairfield will now be split between the 24th and 30th Senate districts.  Voters will cast ballots at either New Fairfield Middle School for the 24th or the New Fairfield Senior Center for the 30th instead of the previous Meeting House Hill School and the Company A firehouse locations.  The 138th House district is now Danbury only, so that portion of New Fairfield moved into the 108th.  For the August primary, voting will be done in the middle school gym due to HVAC installation work in the cafeteria, where voting will take place in the future.

Community Health Center holding pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Danbury

The Community Health Center of Danbury is holding a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Rogers Park for the rest of the month.  A clinic, which will also offer boosters, will take place in the park on Memorial Drive from 1pm to 7pm today, tomorrow and Thursday. The state Department of Public Health’s vaccination van will be at Rogers Park on July 3rd from 10am to 4pm and at the Danbury Senior Center’s Elmwood Hall on July 7th from 10am to 2pm.  These clinics are for individuals 12 years and older.  According to state data, as of June 22nd, 77 percent of Danbury residents were fully vaccinated.  About 86-percent of eligible residents received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Connecticut Institute For Communities to reopen Danbury Community Center

The Connecticut Institute For Communities will be reopening the Danbury Community Center at 12 Boughton Street.  A kick off celebration will be held on Tuesday from 4pm to 8pm.  CIFC CEO Katherine Curran says they are pleased to be able to provide a community pool to Danbury once again, and offer aquatics programming this summer for everyone from youths to seniors.  Danbury War Memorial Board President Robert Botelho will be on hand for the event, noting that dual memberships to both facilities will once again be offered.  The Community Center will officially open to the public on Friday July 1st.  The Danbury Community Center will begin with offerings for senior swim, swim lessons, and open swim, and expand into educational opportunities and exercise classes as well as basketball, volleyball, and pickleball, as well as coaching and leagues. The War Memorial has a full-service fitness center, including  weights, weight  machines and cardiovascular equipment. 

Danbury School District encourages participation in Free Summer Meals program

Each summer the Danbury Public School district sponsors the Free Summer Meals Program. Breakfast and lunch are served at several locations and times. Funded by the USDA, Summer Meals meet federal nutrition guidelines and are composed of milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat or another protein. Meals are free to anyone 18 years and younger.  District officials encourage students and siblings not in the schools to take advantage of these meals.  Any one with questions is asked to contact the Danbury Public Schools Family and Community Engagement Center at 203-797-4734.

Danbury Zoners looking into application to sell, service cars off Main St

The Danbury Zoning Commission is meeting tonight and one of the items on their agenda is an application for use variances for a Rose Street property.  The virtual meeting is at 7:30pm.  The applicant is looking for permission to allow automobile dealership & repair service in the Central Business District Zone, to have the fire exits lead to ground above the 100-year flood flow level and to change from one non-conforming use to another non-conforming use. The Zoning Board of Appeals has scheduled a public hearing on the application for July 28th.  Businessman Trevor DiStafano bought the lot off Main Street, which had a history of similar uses.  The card maintained by the city’s Assessors Office has the wrong zone listed for the lot.  The Main Street corridor does not allowed for car sales and service, even with a special permit.

Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce hosting Job Fair

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Job Fair tomorrow.  Chamber President and CEO PJ Prunty says the goal is to help Greater Danbury businesses and job seekers to connect.  He sees this as a way for the Chamber and the Northwest Regional Workforce Board to help make it easier for employers to find workers. All registered Greater Danbury employers participate in the event for free.   This is the first time in two years it's being held in person.  The Jobs Fair is at the Mall from 3pm to 7pm.  As companies signup the event link on the Chamber website will be updated.  Job seekers are encouraged to bring their resume and be prepared for potential on-site interviews with employers.

Fatal motor vehicle accident under investigation in Redding

A fatal motor vehicle accident in Redding closed a major roadway for several hours this morning.  Police responded to a one car crash on Route 53 by John Reed Middle School shortly after 2am.  A heavily damaged vehicle was found on the roadway.  The vehicle was travelling southbound when it struck a tree off the shoulder of the road.  The lone occupant, a 31-year old Danbury resident, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.  Route 53 was reopened around 6:45am.  The accident remains under investigation.

Search continues for man missing in Candlewood Lake in Sherman

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department continues to assist the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in the search for a 21-year old man who went underwater near Chicken Rock in Candlewood Lake Friday night and did not emerge.  Searches will continue this week as weather permits.  Boaters are asked to stay clear of the area around Chicken Rock until further notice.  All searches have been inconclusive so far.  Dive teams from the State Police, New Milford Police Department, and Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue have been searching the area.  The Candlewood Lake Marine Patrol has maintained a search perimeter for the duration of the weekend and will continue to monitor the area as a search continues for a missing man. 

Danbury City Council committee meeting about renaming ACE building

A group of the Danbury City Council is meeting tonight to continue discussions about renaming the ACE building and the street where the school is located.  A proposal was made to name the building after the founding Principal of the Alternative Center for Excellence, Joe Pepin, who passed away in January at age 85.  Pepin served as ACE principal for over 20 years.  The ad hoc committee is looking into what portion of Roberts Avenue could bear his name.  The school is located between 9th Avenue and Locust Avenue.  The name could replace Roberts Avenue or it could be a secondary, honorary name.  Further west beyond 8th Avenue could require state input as those addresses are part of WCSU.  Tonight's meeting is at 6pm at Danbury City Hall.

Herbicide application schedule on Lake Zoar updated

There's an update to the scheduled herbicide application on Lake Zoar.  Selected areas of Newtown, Monroe, Oxford and Southbury will be chemically treated with Diquat herbicide, targeting control of the aquatic nuisance plants Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.  The treatment is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, with a rain date of Thursday.   The shorelines of treated areas will be posted with signs that list temporary water use restrictions to be imposed in treated areas.  There will be no restrictions for swimming, boating and fishing , but people shouldn't use treated lake water for drinking purposes for 3 days or for livestock or domestic animal consumption for 1 day.  People should not use treated lake water for irrigating turf or ornamentals for 3 days, or for irrigating food crops or production ornamentals for 5 days.

Congress members call on VA to work to make homeownership more attainable

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has joined more than five dozen of her colleagues, including chair of the House Republican Conference New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, in asking the Veteran Affairs Department to work to make homeownership more attainable.  In 2021, 19,750 veterans experienced homelessness.  They want the agency to explore how VA mortgage loans can compete in today's marketplace and ensure veterans have negotiating power throughout the home buying process.  Historically, VA mortgage loans were competitive to sellers, but they say the current housing market and the rise in cash and conventional loans with waived contingencies can leave veterans unable to compete with other buyers. VA borrowers are less successful than borrowers using conventional loan products, with 11% of VA borrowers changing loan products during their housing search, compared to only 1% of conventional borrowers who change financing methods.

Water damage at DHS to be repaired

A burst water pipe from January continues to cause problems at the Danbury High School gym.  There were what's been called “skate park-” like humps on the floor.   A flooring company has tried cutting up the floor and drying out the water, but this has been a temporary fix.  Sites and facilities coordinator Mike Seelig says the moisture moves underneath the floor because it’s all shellacked, the moisture doesn't have a chance to dry out and moves under the floor and the humps pop up somewhere else.  The plan is to fix the damage to the floor of the old gym, elevator and weight room ceiling, which has an estimated cost of 400-thousand dollars.  The Board of Education is going to file a claim with Danbury’s insurance company to do the repairs, but must meet the $250,000 deductible.  The city and schools share an insurance policy.  The City Council will now be asked to take the money out of Danbury’s fund balance. The estimate for the floor is $295,000, $30,000 for the elevator and the District is waiting for price on the weight room ceiling repairs.  Seelig says the x factor is how long its going to take to dry out underneath because if it’s a hot, humid summer that could extend the timeline.

Man goes missing in Candlewood Lake near Chicken Rock

A third incident of a person going under the water in Candlewood Lake has been reported this summer.  Sherman Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the area of Green Island, more commonly known as Chicken Rock, on a report that a 21-year old man went underwater Friday and did not emerge. 

They used used sonar and underwater imagining equipment in an attempt to locate the man. The search was called off shortly before midnight and resumed Saturday and Sunday.   

Sherman responded with 2 fire-rescue boats, 1 engine, 1 ambulance, and numerous responders.  The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol Officers were on scene.  Search and rescue canines were deployed on boats to assist with the search.

Mutual aid dive teams from the Brookfield and Danbury Police Departments, and Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue team were deployed. Additional rescue boats from New Fairfield, Brookfield, New Milford, and Danbury Fire Departments responded to assist with the search. A paramedic and communications coordinator from Danbury also responded. State Police Troopers and DEEP Encon Officers were on scene for the incident duration. 

Danbury to again run summer Youth Employment Program

Danbury is once again applying for funding from the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board for the summer Youth Employment Program.  Danbury is seeking $137,500 to employ 62 kids during the summer.  The youths would work 20 hours a week and be paid 14 dollars an hour.  Danbury Youth Services would run the 6 week program for the City from July 5th through August 12th.  The kids would be employed by various City departments, commissions and nonprofits including the library, at the schools, the Housing Authority, Jericho Partnership, and the Still River Alliance among others.

Conn. state parks close early due to capacity limits reached

There were sunny skies and high temperatures over the weekend which led to a number of state parks closing early due to capacity limits.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced several parking lots were full by 2pm each day, warning residents to find alternate locations.  Among the closures was Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield, and Burr Pond State Park in Torrington.  DEEP officials caution that weekend closures will be likely throughout the summer as long as the weather is nice.

Rallies held in response to SCOTUS Roe v Wade ruling

There were a number of protests and rallies around the Greater Danbury area this weekend in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.  About 40 protesters marched down Greenwood Avenue in Bethel on Saturday.  There was also a protest on the Green in New Milford Friday evening.  The court ruling leaves authority to regulate abortion to the states. Connecticut codified Roe into law decades ago, upholding a woman’s right to chose.

Man sentenced for 2018 killing of Bethel woman

A man has been sentenced for the 2018 killing of a Bethel woman.  29-year old Brandon Roberts was ordered to 60 years for murder, 15 years for robbery with a deadly weapon and five years for carrying a pistol without a permit. The terms will be served concurrently.  A jury in April found Robert guilty of killing 25-year-old Emily Todd, whom he met through an online dating app.  She broke up with him, changed her number that day, but he lured her to a boat ramp in Bridgeport.  Police say Roberts stole her car, cellphone and credit cards and emptied her bank account.  Todd’s family reported her missing on December 9, 2018 after she failed to show up for work at Saint John Paul II Center in Danbury, a senior center where she was a therapeutic recreation assistant. Todd was a 2011 graduate of Bethel High School and a 2016 graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.  Roberts was arrested at his father’s home in Ohio on December 14 and later confessed to Bridgeport Police that he had killed Todd and shot another woman near Washington Park a year earlier.

FEMA to reimburse Conn. for response to 2018 tornado, storms

Damage from a line of thunderstorms hit the southwest corner of Connecticut in 2018 will be paid for through FEMA reimbursement.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be sending nearly $1.3 million to Connecticut for the administrative costs of recovering from the tornadoes and storms that struck on May 15th 2018.  The storms left two dead and hundreds of thousands without power after millions of trees were knocked down. Hundreds of homes were damaged and several state parks – Kettletown in Southbury, Sleeping Giant, and Wharton Brook – were temporarily closed as a result of downed trees and damaged infrastructure. The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will receive the federal funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program to reimburse it for the costs of administering the Public Assistance grants that the state received to respond to and recover from the storm.  FEMA awarded nearly $19 million in Public Assistance grants to state and local governments for the disaster. Under the program, the agency awards administrative costs calculated as a percentage of the grants provided.

Ridgefield Police remind parents of Conn.'s Social Host Law

The Ridgefield Police Department is offering a warning to parents hosting graduation parties for their high schoolers this summer.  Connecticut's Social Host Law, or so-called house party law, prohibits minors from possessing alcohol at private dwellings, and failing to halt that possession.  The person in control does not have to be present, does not have to aware of the drinking, nor do they have to be an adult.  The law comes with a $2,000 fine, up to a year in jail or both.  The offender could also be ordered to have evaluations.  Reinstitution of criminal charges is possible if someone is hurt, suffers alcohol poisoning or dies as a result of the party.  

Danbury health officials caution residents of extreme heat this weekend

The City of Danbury is expecting extreme heat this weekend. The Health Department is asking that residents take some precautions to beat the heat including drinking plenty of fluids, checking on a friend or neighbor and limiting time outdoors during the late afternoon.  Danbury officials are also reminding residents not to leave pets or children in cars.

Brookfield Police to have presence at schools next year

The Brookfield Police Department has agreed to have a full officer presence at each school at the start of the academic year in the event that a decision on School Resource Officers or Armed School Security Officers is not finalized by August.  The source of funding is still to be determined. The Security Task Force has been tasked with providing a more detailed, formal recommendation and proposal regarding by the July 20th Board Meeting.

20th Annual Lebanon-American Day being held in Danbury Sunday

The Lebanon American Club of Danbury will  commemorate the 20th Annual Lebanon-American Day on Sunday with a flag raising ceremony at Danbury City Hall at Noon.  Lebanon American Club officers and members will be joined by keynote speaker James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC along with state Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Tom Saadi and Mayor Dean Esposito.  The event will also recognize the100th anniversary of the founding of the Lebanon American Club of Danbury. Following the ceremony there will be a traditional Lebanese Luncheon at the Lebanon American Club.   The flag raising and recognition ceremony is open to all while reservations are required for the Luncheon. 

Boating near Danbury Bay to be disrupted due to Danbury Volunteer Fireman's fireworks display

Normal boating traffic on Candlewood Lake in the area of Danbury Bay will be disrupted tomorrow due to the Annual Danbury Volunteer Fireman’s Fireworks Display.  All boats entering Danbury Bay will be stopped for a brief safety inspection. 

All boats must have one Life Jacket for each person on board.  Children under the age of 13 must wear their life jacket at all times while the boat is underway. All boats must have their required lights in working order. Any boat found not having the required safety equipment will be turned away from the area and ordered back to shore to make the necessary repairs and will not be allowed to enter the area until these safety requirements are met. 

The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol will be setting up a safety zone just north of City Island and a safety lane created along the eastern shore of Danbury Bay.  Beginning at 4pm, all boats in the vicinity of City Island must maintain a “slow-no-wake” speed to allow for the fireworks company to safely set up the fireworks.  No vessels will be allowed to moor or anchor south of the safety zone or in the safety lane approximately 5 hours prior to and during the event. 

Beginning at 7pm no boats will be allowed to travel south of the safety zone near City Island into the display area.  When passing within 200 feet of a law stationary law enforcement or fire rescue vessel with its emergency lights on.  Boat operators are required to slow their vessel to “slow-no-wake” speed until it is more than 200 feet away from the law enforcement or fire rescue vessel. 

Boaters are reminded after the display to proceed out of the viewing area at “slow-no-wake” speed.

Carmel Police participating in annual 'Operation Dry Water' campaign

The Carmel Police Department will be participating in the annual “Operation Dry Water” campaign next weekend to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities on the water.  It's a nationally coordinated effort to educate boaters about the dangers of boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  July 2nd through 4th is the national weekend of amplified recreational boater outreach, education and coordinated enforcement surrounding boating under the influence.

Greater Danbury area COVID-19 rates updated by Conn. Department of Public Health

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 June 18th, there were 120 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 41,  Brookfield had 28 and New Fairfield  13. There were 58 COVID cases in New Milford, 53 in Newtown, Redding reported 16 cases while Ridgefield had 53. 

 

After a brief spike into the state's 2nd highest COVID-19 community spread zone, the town of Sherman is now in the lowest.  New Fairfield remains in yellow from last week.  Many towns joined Danbury this week into orange zone with 10 to 14 case each, dropping from the red zone, the highest level.  They are Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, Redding and Weston.   

 

Case rates for the week ending June 18th are:

New Fairfield 6.7

Danbury 10.1

Brookfield 11.8

Redding 12.5

Newtown 13.6

Bethel 14.8

New Milford 15.5

Ridgefield 15.2 (down from 22)

 

Test positivity rates are:

New Fairfield 4.9 percent

Newtown 6.4 percent

Danbury 8.1 percent

Bethel 9.2 percent

Brookfield 9.4 percent

Redding 9.9 percent

New Milford 11.2 percent

Ridgefield 11.9 percent

 

The rolling 7-day average test positivity rate across Connecticut yesterday was 8.15 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time decreased by 40.  The inpatient total is 233.  The number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 19 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 8.68 percent, up less than 1 tenth of a percent from the week before. 

Danbury launches program for families new to school district

The Danbury Public School District has launched a program for families new to the district.  The New Promise Program details things like how to navigate technologies such as Powershcool, Google Classroom, and Parent Square.  Participants will learn about liaison programs, how to support a child’s learning at home, and other topics.  The program is available in-person in English, Spanish, and Portuguese beginning July 9th. Registration is required.

Matthew Curtiss House Museum Open House in Newtown this weekend

Washington, Connecticut-based Institute for American Indian Studies will be joining the Matthew Curtiss House Museum Open House in Newtown on Sunday. Darlene Kascak is an Educational Coordinator and Traditional Native American Storyteller.  The Newtown resident and member of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation will have a table of artifacts, furs, and other objects that visitors can interact with to learn more about the indigenous people who live in the area. Two traditional storytelling sessions will be held at 1pm and at 3pm. This event from noon to 4pm is free to the public, though donations are welcome.

3 New Milford retailers cited for selling vaping products to underage people

Three New Milford retailers have been cited for selling vaping products to underage people. The New Milford Police Department conducted an undercover compliance check Wednesday of 10 businesses and three sold to people under 21. The clerks were issued an infraction, with a fine of 300 dollars. The three locations that illegally sold were; Aladdin Smoke Shop,  Royal Tobacco and Valero --all on Danbury Road.  7 locations properly asked for identification and did not sell vaping products to underage persons.  Police Chief Spencer Cerruto says the Department will continue to monitor local businesses and minors who frequent these businesses.

4 charged in Danbury for illegal sales of marijuana products, untaxed cigarettes

Four people have been arrested by Danbury Police as the Special Investigations Division looked into the illegal sales of marijuana products and untaxed cigarettes.  Danbury Police carried out search warrants yesterday at Cloud House Tobacco and Vape Shop on Newtown Road, Cloud House II on Mill Plain Road, and Star Rose on Mill Ridge Road.

Although certain quantities of marijuana and various THC/Cannabis products can be legally possessed in Connecticut, selling these products remains illegal for recreational purposes. 

Several pounds of THC products were seized as evidence including pounds of raw marijuana, marijuana packaged for sale, edible THC products, THC vape products, and several thousand dollars in cash.  The seized products have an estimated value of tens of thousands of dollars. 

The investigation was launched into complaints about illegal sales and calls for service around vape/smoke shops including larceny, assault, illegal drug sales, underage sale of tobacco products, and calls for intoxicated persons. 

20-year old Anderson Rolle and 23-year old Mohsen Algadabi from Cloud House Tobacco and Vape, 31-year old Muneer Alsaidi from Cloud House II and 29-year old Ashraf Alsaidi from Star Rose were charged and released with written promises to appear in court at a later date and time.  Rolle, of Brewster, was charged with Sale of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana with intent to sell, and Sale of E-Cigarette to Underage person. Algadabi, of Danbury, was charged with Possession of Marijuana with intent to sell.  Alsaidi, of Virginia, was charged with Illegal Sale of Untaxed Cigarettes, Sale of Marijuana, Possession with Intent to Sell, and Sale of E-Cigarette to Underage person.  Muneer Alsaidi, of Danbury, was charged with Sale of Marijuana and Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell.

Fewer COVID-19 cases reported in Greater Danbury area

The Greater Danbury area is experiencing fewer COVID-19 cases.  Sherman, Bridgewater and Roxbury are in the grey zone, the state's lowest alert level for community spread.  New Fairfield is in the yellow zone, the second lowest at 6.7 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  A number of municipalities have dropped into the orange zone, with 10 to 14 case each, including Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield Newtown, Redding and Weston.  There are still several in the red zone, the state's highest alert level, including Ridgefield, Easton, Wilton and Southbury.

Danbury Board of Education gets update on security, safety procedures

The Danbury Board of Education has gotten an update on security and safety procedures at the schools.  Member Theresa Buzaid raised questions based off the response to last month's shooting in Texas.  security vulnerabilities in school buildings are being examined across the nation after reports that a door didn't lock properly the day a gunman killed 19 children and 2 teachers.  Signal-boosting equipment has been installed in Danbury’s largest school buildings to ensure that radios work in all corners.  A master key that opens each classroom door is kept in the principal’s office at each the city’s 20 schools.  Security Coordinator Richie Torres says Danbury police department has a key fob that belongs to them.  Security improvements underway include investment in “security film” on windows to prevent easy break-ins. Security audits in all of the schools and an overhaul of the school safety training program will happen this summer.  The district is installing a new communications platform called Mutualink.  More cameras are being installed and will be mapped so authorities will know where to look.  Cameras won't be in classroom interiors, the gym, or in the cafeteria to maintain student-teacher privacy.  Chief of strategy and operations Michael Seelig says a new identification system alerts the district when a visitor “is potentially dangerous and should not be let into the school” and double-door vestibules are part of the safety strategy.

Ridgefield marking 125th anniversary of founding of Fire Department

Ridgefield is marking the 125th anniversary of the founding of the town's Fire Department.  Ridgefield’s fire department is made up of 55 active volunteers and 34 paid staff members. The anniversary event is run by its volunteer staff.  A Fireman’s Parade will step off tonight at 7pm on Main Street, going toward Town Hall, then taking a left on Market Street and a right on East Ridge Road until ending up at East Ridge Middle School — at the carnival.  Proceeds will go toward department operating expenses, including to purchase specialized firefighting equipment and tools.  Tomorrow, there will be a fireworks show at dusk. Fireworks will be visible from anywhere near the carnival grounds.  Last year, the Ridgefield Fire Department responded to 2,141 emergency medical service calls and 1,211 fire calls.

Weston residents file suit against town's plan for dog park

More than a dozen Weston residents have teamed up to file a lawsuit against the town's plan for a dog park.  The lawsuit, filed in Stamford Superior Court by 14 residents, argues that the Weston Conservation Commission should not have approved modified plans.  A lawsuit was previously filed on the 2018 approval, but the Superior Court sided with the town.  The new lawsuit makes three arguments. One is that the map for the proposed site didn’t show wetlands or topography, violating the Connecticut State Agencies Code of Ethics.  The lawsuit also argues Town Counsel Ira Bloom had conflicting roles as he challenged the residents’ arguments of the new application and then became the commission’s legal advisor.  They also say the Commission's chairwoman should have recused herself, but didn't--creating a conflict of interest.  Sarah Schlechter responded that given the passage of time between her email to the Board of Selectmen in support of the dog park in 2017 to now, she did not believe it was necessary.

Remote court hearing held for Newtown grad accused for two killings in 2020

A remote court hearing has been held for a former UConn student accused of killing two people in 2020.  Peter Manfredonia appeared virtually from Garner Correctional Institution, where he is being held in lieu of bond.  A prosecutor told the judge that she is beginning to work out a plea offer for the 25-year-old.  He faces charges of murder, felony murder, kidnapping, home invasion, robbery and carrying a pistol without a permit in connection with the killing of fellow Newtown High graduate Nicholas Eisele in Derby and the kidnapping of Eisele’s girlfriend.  A different State’s Attorney is handling charges related to Manfredonia’s alleged samurai sword attack on two men in Willington and home invasion of a nearby house prior to the killing of Eisele.  The Derby case was continued to another remote hearing on July 28th.

104 year old celebrates birthday with Danbury firefighters

The Danbury Fire Department received a unique call yesterday.  A resident was turning 104 and wanted to meet some firefighters.  Firefighters paid her a birthday visit.  In a Facebook post, Department officials say she has a quick wit and walked unassisted out to see the firefighters, meeting a female firefighter and dancing with Troy Morin, who is 81 years younger than her.  She also shared stories about the famous people she befriended including Martin Luther King Jr., and Jackie Robinson.

(Photo: DFD)

New Milford Police to hold community gathering with K9 unit

New Milford Police Department is hosting a unique Coffee with a Cop opportunity this weekend.  Residents are being invited to the Candlewoof Dog Park to meet with K-9 Ella, K-9 Mattis and their handlers.  Chief Spencer Cerruto will also be on hand Saturday from 11am to 2pm at the facility on Pickett District Road.

Monroe Fire Department presents awards to members

The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department has presented their annual Lloyd Stevens Member of the Year Award to Robert “Jonesy” Jones. He has been a member for 53 years and is their long-serving financial officer.  The Forrest A Ryan Chiefs Award for Outstanding Service was presented to firefighter Robert Klein Sr.  He's been a member for 20 years and along with call response, serves on the board, assists with new driver training and public education, and maintains an effective veteran presence at the station.

New Fairfield Zoners rejects site plan application for school bus lot at former Consolidated School

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission has rejected a site plan application from the town for a school bus lot at the former Consolidated School campus, 302 Ball Pond Road.  During a special meeting of the Commission last month, Town Attorney Neil Marcus noted that he represents both the Permanent Building Commission and the Zoning Commission as Town Counsel.  At their regular meeting, members voted 4 to 1 to retain separate counsel to protect the mission of the Zoning Commission.  The application for site plan approval involved construction of a new parking lot for school buses with small bus dispatch building.  Plans called for improvements for vehicle maneuvering areas, grading, storm drainage, utility connections, fencing and screening.  Marcus says no special permit is necessary for this bus lot because it's zoned for educational purposes.  The plan for the northwest corner would leave over half of the footprint and driveway and front lot available for future development. It would also be the only site that would qualify the town for State reimbursement.

Western Conn. lakes to benefit from state Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program awards

The second round of funding through the Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program has been awarded to 15 projects.  $370,000 will be used to reduce impacts of aquatic invasive species on inland waters in Connecticut.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection awarded funding to the Candlewood Lake Authority, the Lake Lillinonah Authority, the Mamanasco Lake Improvement Fund, the town of New Fairfield for Ball Pond, and WestConn for work on Candlewood Lake/Squantz Pond.

The grant program is funded through the Aquatic Invasive Species Stamp fee applied to all registered boats using Connecticut waters.  The maximum grant award was $50,000. Requests for larger grants were considered, but only for exceptional and well-justified proposals.

Matching funds were required and had to equal or exceed 25% of the total project cost.  DEEP received 26 project applications. 

Candlewood Lake Authority was awarded $31,104 for the Lake Steward Program to Educate Boaters on Aquatic Invasives Threatening Candlewood Lake. 

The Lake Lillinonah Authority was awarded $12,374.79 for the 2022 Invasive Weed Removal Proposal. 

The Mamanasco Lake Improvement Fund was awarded $32,100 to Control of Curly-Leaf Pondweed in Mamanasco Lake in Ridgefield. 

New Fairfield was awarded $3,000 for Survey and Mapping of Vegetation in Ball Pond as Part of a Lake Management Plan. 

Western Connecticut State University will use $7,150 for Investigations into the behaviors of triploid grass carp at Candlewood Lake and the impacts of overstocking at Squantz Pond.

Lake Zoar channel to close for Rochambeau Bridge replacement work

A part of Lake Zoar will be closed soon as work continues on the Rochambeau Bridge replacement in Newtown.  A request has been made to close the navigable channel from June 27th through July 8th, but reopened during the July 2nd through 4th weekend, as long as conditions are safe for the boating public.  The closure is needed due to work removing structural steel girders at span 2 of the bridge.  The construction company says this closure will ensure the safety of any nearby marine traffic during the operation. If the removal work is completed prior to July 8th, the channel will be reopened to marine traffic.  Additional closure signage will be installed prior to the closure, in accordance with the approved boat safety plan.

Milling, paving project planned on Route 7

A milling and paving project is planned on Route 7.  The state Department of Transportation will perform the work both north and southbound from the southbound acceleration lane to Interstate 84.  It's a 1.46 mile segment in Danbury.  The milling will start on Sunday June 26th and be completed by Tuesday July 12th.  The paving will be done between July 10th and July 25th.  Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 7 Northbound and Southbound Sundays through Thursdays from 7pm to 5am. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be utilized to guide motorists through the work zone.  Modifications or extensions to the schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.

Bethel to take part in state DOE's new Science of Reading Masterclass

The State Department of Education has rolled out a new Science of Reading Masterclass that will provide professional learning for educators at participating districts. The first masterclass cohort will begin on June 29th, made up of 11 participating districts, including Bethel.  Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker says this is part of providing a comprehensive K-3 literacy instruction. Such components include phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  Five in-person events will be led by national reading experts.  They will also participate in online content after each masterclass. Districts will receive individualized leadership and literacy coaching supports to help build systemic practices aligned to the implementation of the Science of Reading .  

Connecticut State's Attorney honored

A Newtown resident has been recognized with a lifetime achievement award.  Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky received the honor during the Connecticut Criminal Justice Educational and Charitable Association’s 18th Annual John M. Bailey Memorial Scholarship & Awards Dinner earlier this month.  Sedensky began his career at the Division of Criminal Justice in the State’s Attorney’s Office in Bridgeport and became Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney for the Statewide Prosecution Bureau before becoming State’s Attorney in Danbury.  He is considered a pioneer in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse.  He also conducted the investigation into the shootings of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Road closures planned in Newtown

The Newtown Department of Public Works has a few projects scheduled this summer which require road closures.  Trades Lane will be closed June 27 and 28th between Wasserman Way and Keating Farms. Detour signs will be posted to direct traffic.  There is also a longer term project coming up next month.  Meadowbrook Road Bridge will be closed from July 5th until November. Detour signs will be posted; traffic will be detoured to Cold Spring Road.

Danbury City Council committee considers accepting private road as city street

A Danbury City Council committee is continuing its work tonight, looking into a petition to accept the portion of Flintlock Drive that's a private road as a City street.  The meeting is at 6:30pm at City Hall.  Only the southern end of Flintlock is a private road, developed after the rest of the public street.  The southern end was never accepted by the City because the developer didn’t make the cul-de-sac to the city’s specifications.  An assessment, levied on the residents, could be used to pay for the improvements so it could be accepted as a City street.  Back in 1978, the Danbury Planning Commission approved a 525-foot extension of Flintlock Drive as part of a re-subdivision and the developer put together a small bond to assure that the public improvements were done properly, but it never happened. The petition was submitted to the City in December 2020 and the ad hoc committee met in March 2021.  The company that originally developed the southern end is defunct, so City officials say they have to determine who owns it.

Hiker injured in Southbury woods

A hiker was injured in the woods of Southbury yesterday.  Firefighters were dispatched to a rescue in the woods off Flood Bridge Road around 1pm.  They, along with Southbury Police, located the injured hiker who had fallen down into the water. Using a Stokes basket, crews rescued the man and carried him to an awaiting ambulance.

Monroe FD presents Firefighter of the Year Award

The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department has presented their annual Ryan S. Gardner Firefighter of the Year Award to Jack Sheehan. He joined the department as an EMT and quickly achieved his Firefighter I and II certifications. He is a top 10 responder to fire calls, an active participant in duty crew and staffing programs, and oversees the care and maintenance of the air packs and meters.

Easton Police caution residents to presence of bear, cubs

A bear and her cubs have been spotted around the south end of Easton from the Banks Road area to the Gate Ridge Road area over the last few weeks.  Easton Police say these bears live in the area and move frequently, especially this time of the year. They will pass through, stopping occasionally along the way. Residents are encouraged to bring bird feeders and garbage cans inside, to clean grills after use and not to leave pet food outdoors.  If a bear is spotted, people should not approach it and should make noise or wave arms to make presence known.

Danbury to host CERT training course

Danbury will be hosting CERT classes, or Community Emergency Response Team training soon.  Residents can receive training on how to safely respond to hazards and organize basic disaster response to become a CERT volunteer.  Participants must be over 18 years of age, and it is highly recommended to complete two FEMA courses prior to CERT training. For registration and more information, please contact: (203) 797-4625, or email s.shaikh@danbury-ct.gov.

Virtual public forum in Kent tonight on affordable housing

A public forum is being held tonight on Kent's Housing Affordability Plan.  The Committee will present specific goals and strategies that have been developed to meet Kent's housing needs and will be polling attendees to hear which goals and strategies they support.  Registration is required for the Zoom forum, which starts at 7pm. 

Untimely death under investigation in Oxford

An untimely death is under investigation in Oxford.  State Police from the Oxford Resident Trooper’s Office responded to a Pawnee Road home Monday evening, shortly before midnight for a reported adult male in cardiac arrest.  The man was pronounced dead on the scene. The State Police Western District Major Crime Squad was requested to document the circumstances surrounding the death. Detectives from Troop A Southbury have assumed the investigation. At this time, there is no threat to the public. No further details are being provided at this time.

Carmel Fire Department reminds residents to dial 911 in emergency

Carmel and Lake Carmel Fire Departments responded to an electrical fire yesterday afternoon.  It was reported by a phone call that came in on the 10-digit business line and officials are reminding residents to call 911 in the event of an emergency, not the non-emergency number.  Carmel firefighters happened to be at the station at the time of the call and the information was forwarded to the 911 dispatch center, directing the appropriate department for a response.  Carmel is an all volunteer force, which means the fire station is not staffed or manned 24/7, and members respond from home or work when the 911 dispatcher notifies them of an alarm.  

Some Newtown residents to cast ballots at new polling locations

Postcards are being mailed out to registered Newtown voters about polling places for the August primaries and the general election in November.  The Legislative Council approved redistricting plans in February based off new census data.  The state also did redistricting, changing some House and Senate boundaries.  The Newtown Registrar of Voters now has an online, interactive map showing residents their Legislative Council district.  Voters can enter their address and their new district and polling place will pop up.  Parts of Newtown are no longer in the 112th House and 2nd House districts.  Most of Newtown remains in the 106th, but some residents will be represented by the 107th, which includes Brookfield.  All of Newtown is still part of the 28th State Senate district and the 5th Congressional District.  Each of the four districts have a different colored postcard.

Danbury nonprofits approved for Neighborhood Assistance Act program

The Danbury City Council has approved organizations to be part of a state program.  The Neighborhood Assistance Act program allows businesses to sponsor approved community programs and receive tax credits for their contributions.  25 applications were received by the City of Danbury ahead of the April public hearing, seeking 1-point-2 million dollars in contributions.  Amos House would use 50-thousand dollars for its Transitional Living Program, Daily Bread Food Pantry would use $50,000 for supplemental food purchases and Danbury Youth Services would use $100,000 for youth and family counseling.  The New American Dream Foundation would use $100,000 in contributions toward their hot meals program for seniors, TBICO would use $40,000 for its Better Skills Better Jobs Better Lives program and the Danbury War Memorial would use $75,000 for lower level HVAC and restroom fixture replacements.

New Fairfield Board of Education appoints new superintendent

The New Fairfield Board of Education has appointed a new superintendent of schools.  Kenneth Craw will start the job on July 1st.  He takes over from Pat Cosentino, who is retiring from the position she has held since 2018 to be the interim part-time superintendent in Sherman.  Craw is currently the assistant superintendent of the Weston Public School District, a position he's held for a decade.  He was selected from more than a dozen applicants and the Board says he brings a breadth and depth of expertise in educational leadership and a strong STEM background.  He began his career as a science teacher in Fairfield in 1992, moved onto Darien as a K-5 science specialist and then as a principal at Trumbull High School.  Craw also served four years as staff and students administrator at Joel Barlow High School, then four years as principal of Weston High School.

Brookfield could seek state funding to extend sewer system

Brookfield could seek state funding to extend the sewer system across the Still River.  The  Water Pollution Control Authority says the  municipal sewer line would be hooked up to serve nine buildings on 6 properties near the downtown district, at the intersection of Federal Road and Route 25.  According to the Authority, those properties are currently connected via septic systems to failing historic dry wells.  The Planning and Land Use Commission voted last week to recommend the sewer work to ensure wastewater is treated before it enters the Still River.  A portion of the estimated $1 million cost range would be covered by the six property owners. Brookfield could apply to the state’s Small Town Economic Assistance Program, or, STEAP for a grant.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance would have to review the proposal to submit a grant application.  The application deadline is mid-August. The Board of Finance previously voted against using American Rescue Plan Act funding for the project.

Target to open store at Danbury Mall

Target plans to open a store in Danbury.  A 126,000 square-foot 2-level Target store will open in the former Sears site at the Danbury Mall, a Macerich Property.  There is no timeline for when the store would open.  Macerich President Ed Coppola says Target coming to Danbury is the latest anchor-replacement success.  He added that with a merchandise mix and attractive demographics surrounding Danbury Fair, it's a great match.  Danbury Fair is one of New England's largest shopping destinations, anchored by JCPenney, Macy's, DICK's Sporting Goods and Primark, and with retailers and restaurants including Golf Lounge 18, Barbarie's Grille and over 180 other shops.

DEEP identifies body pulled from Candlewood Lake Thursday

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has identified the body that was pulled from Candlewood Lake on Thursday.  24-year-old Larry Kwokpo Chan, of Bristol, was recovered by the State Police Dive Team after being reported missing Memorial Day weekend.  He  did not resurface after going into the water in the area of Brookfield Bay near the Candlewood Inn.  His death is being investigated as an accidental drowning.  The investigation remains open, pending a final report from the State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

New Fairfield Fire Department looking for new members

The New Fairfield Fire Department is looking for new members.  They have 3 units, Company A, Ball Pond Fire & Squantz Engine Company.  They are the primary provider of fire, EMS and rescue services to over 14-thousand residents. Volunteers compromise 67% of all the firefighters in the country.  Interested residents can stop by any of the three Fire Companies on Wednesday nights at 7pm and pick up an application.

Candlewood Lake Elementary School construction progress photos updated

Construction progress photos of the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School in Brookfield are being shared.  There's an update on the look for the main entrance, the north classroom wing, main cafeteria, the gymnasium, and typical classrooms among others.  Students in 1st through 3rd grades will begin the school year at Huckleberry Hill Elementary and move into the new school around January of 2023 so demolition of the old school can begin, and the driveway and parking areas can be completed.  Current Grade 4 students will matriculate to Grade 5 this fall at Whisconier Middle School and remain there all year.  PreK and Kindergarten students will remain at Center Elementary School this fall and will remain there all year. Candlewood Lake Elementary will open to all students in fall 2023.

Ridgefield's Main St. to be closed for firefighter parade

Main Street in Ridgefield will be closed Friday evening and there will be a parking ban.  The Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department's 125th Anniversary Parade is taking place, starting near the Casagmo entrance on Main Street and heading south towards Town Hall.  The parking ban on Friday does into effect starting at 4pm, lasting through about 8pm.  Main Street will be closed to traffic from 6pm to about 8pm Friday.  The parade will start around 7pm.  The reviewing stand and all announcements will be in front of Ridgefield Hardware. The parade will take a left on Market Street then a right on East Ridge Road, ending at East Ridge Middle School, at the carnival. They are expecting close to 30 fire departments in the parade.  

Newtown Board of Ed gets update on Hawley School accommodations

The Newtown Board of Education has gotten an update on plans to accommodate Hawley Elementary School students next school year while their building is closed for an HVAC renovation project.  Younger students will attend Sandy Hook Elementary School and older students will have classes at Reed Intermediate School.  There will be 7 classrooms at Sandy Hook for Hawley students, with the remaining 21 for Sandy Hook students.  Reed students will have classrooms in the Blue House hallway, described by an Assistant Principal as  almost be a school within a school.  Hawley’s specials classes, like art, will be held in separate spaces.

Selected areas of Lake Zoar to be chemically treated with Diquat herbicide

Selected areas of Lake Zoar will be chemically treated with Diquat herbicide, targeting control the aquatic nuisance plant curlyleaf pondweed. The first annual treatment is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 23rd, or Friday, June 24th, dependent on logistical coordination with FirstLight Power. Prior to treatment, the lake shoreline in the treatment areas and at public access sites will be posted with printed signs in accordance with state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection requirements.  The shorelines of treated areas will be posted with signs that list the temporary water use restriction.  There is no swimming, boating, or fishing restrictions.  The treated area should not be used for drinking purposes for 3 days, and not used for livestock consumption for 1 day.  The treated lake water should not be used for irrigation for 3 days. The chemical application is being conducted by the State licensed firm, SOLitude Lake Management.

Danbury Board of Ed appoints member to vacancy

The Danbury Board of Education has voted for a new member to fill out the rest of a term vacated by a Democrat who resigned to run for Probate Court Judge in November. Members voted on a partly line split to have Julie Miliano fill the term through November 2023.  She was one of 5 people interviewed for the position on the 31st, but is not the Democratic Town Committee's endorsed candidate.  The 5 Republicans on the Board present at the meeting voted for Miliano while the 4 Democratic members in attendance voted in opposition.  The Democratic Town Committee said Juanita Harris was eminently qualified for the position and was supported by the party's Board of Ed members.  The Committee said in a statement that the majority intentionally set a new precedent that goes against the city’s long-standing tradition of collaboration and bipartisanship in such an important elected body.  Miliano is a member of the Latino for Educational Advocacy and Diversity or LEAD organization, which has been advocating for a Charter School to come to Danbury.

Nonprofit acquires New Milford affordable housing development

A Stamford-based nonprofit organization has acquired several affordable housing developments in the state.  New Neighborhoods, Inc. will preserve the apartments at Indian Field in New Milford, Victory Gardens in Newington and the Eleanor apartments and Franklin apartments in Bridgeport.  There are 39 units at Indian Field.  The 4 developments were owned by the Women’s Institute of Housing and Economic Development.  The nonprofit’s mission is to create sustainable communities by developing, redeveloping, and preserving quality housing that strengthens low and moderate income families, allows seniors to age with dignity, and provides stability for the formerly homeless.

'See Something, Say Something' app to be implemented in Brookfield

The "See Something, Say Something" app will be implemented in Brookfield during the upcoming school year.  This is being paid for through a grant from Sandy Hook Promise. This will enable 24/7 monitoring for anonymous reporting.  The Brookfield School District's Technology Director is working with representatives of the Brookfield Police Department and Brookfield Youth Commission to bring the initiative to the district.  Examples of some of the most common behaviors and incidents reported are verbal or physical abuse, assault or harassment, bullying, depression or anxiety, threats of self harm and threats seen on social media.

Danbury to take part in Conn. Low Income Household Water Assistance Program

The Connecticut Department of Social Service is offering Danbury to take part in the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program.  The City Council has signed off on participation in the program for residents struggling or behind on their water and sewer bills.  The City can apply for funding to provide up to a thousand dollars to those in need.  The state program is funded with federal dollars and is for qualifying water bill households at or below 60 percent of the state's median income.  In Connecticut, a household with an income of $47,913 or less could qualify since the median income is $79,855. The Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut would be tapped to identify potential qualifying customers.  Under the program priority is given to those who have had their services shut off or about to be shut off.  Tax Collector Scott Ferguson says he's not aware of anyone who has had their services shut off.  City Councilman Ben Chianese noted that his water bill per quarter was about $15 or $16, meaning someone needing $1,000 in relief had been behind for years.

High winds knock down trees in Bethel, New Fairfield

High winds yesterday knocked down trees in some Greater Danbury area towns, including in Bethel and New Fairfield.  One in Bethel blocked Chimney Drive while a tree in New Fairfield was down across Hudson Drive.  In that case, both Eversource and NYSEG were notified about power outages along the border with Putnam Lake.  A large tree fell across Blackman Avenue in Bethel on Saturday night.  That road, along with South Street was closed into Sunday morning with downed wires and tree limbs.  South Street, between Grassy Plain and Henry, reopened before noon yesterday, but Blackman remained closed between South and Elizabeth Street due to ongoing tree work and line repair.  This was a massive tree that came down. 

Monroe Police Department recognized by The Center for Family Justice

The Monroe Police Department is being recognized by The Center for Family Justice as "Partner of the Year" for their ongoing support of victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.  The nonprofit presented the award to Monroe Police Chief Keith White at its annual meeting last week.  In addition to ongoing support, the Monroe Police Department was chosen this year based on its December Stuff the Gazebo Toy Drive, which it held to help provide client children served by the Center for Family Justice with a special holiday season. As a result of its officers efforts, more than 280 children received toys and gift cards.

New Milford Public Works Department has new website

The New Milford Public Works Department has a new website, at fixnewmilford.com.  It's a one-stop resource and is constantly updated.  Department officials say residents and visitors are empowered to report issues or concerns with roadways and other hazards.  The reporting can be done anonymously and all all progress is updated from initial report to completion.  Resident can also get updates on road closures, maintenance, and construction.

DEEP deadline to apply as lifeguard approaches

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection deadline to apply to be a lifeguard is Monday.  

Starting pay for lifeguards was recently increased to $19 per hour, up from $16.  Positions remain available at several state designated swimming areas, particularly at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, Indian Well State Park in Shelton, and Burr Pond State Park in Torrington. 

In addition to the increased starting salary, DEEP Is providing all training required to work as a lifeguard at the State Park beaches and training time is paid. DEEP will be holding a pre-requisite swim test for applicants on Tuesday. . 

The basic duties of a lifeguard are: to monitor activities in swimming areas preventing accidents and providing assistance to swimmers at State Park beaches; to caution swimmers regarding unsafe areas; to maintain order in swimming areas; to rescue swimmers in danger of drowning and administer first aid and/or CPR as required; to participate in physical and rescue skills training; to perform general maintenance tasks and other related duties as required. Lifeguards must be strong swimmers. 

Hours of work are 10am to 6pm., 5 days per week, for a total of 40 hours. Most weekends and the July 4 holiday are mandatory. Minimum age of 16 for lifeguards, 18 for lifeguard supervisors. 

Danbury Mayor tests positive for COVID-19

Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito has tested positive for COVID-19.  He said Saturday that he took an at-home test after feeling under the weather.  Esposito plans to quarantine at home for at least five days, in accordance with CDC recommendations. He added that he is fully vaccinated and boosted.  The CDC also recommends people wear masks around others for an additional five days after the isolation period ends, regardless of vaccination status.

4 teens rescued from Candlewood Lake

Four teenagers were rescued from Candlewood Lake over the weekend when their vessel overturned. Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company says they, along with an EMS team, were dispatched to the lake and found that Good Samaritans brought the teens to shore.  A canoe was recovered by the Lake Authority and Marine 25. Companies were assisted by New Fairfield and Sherman fire departments.

Danbury recognizes Juneteenth

Junteenth is now a federally recognized holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865.  The Danbury City Council is recognizing Juneteenth a reminder to strive for equity, equality and justice in society.  A resolution approved by the Council says June 19th should serve as a reminder of the capacity to heal, hope, emerge from the nation's darkest moments with purpose and resolve.  The City askes that Danbury residents join the state and the country in recognizing Junteenth and recommit to the work of equity, equality and justice. 

Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission rejects application for warehouse

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission has rejected an application for a warehouse on Hawleyville Road.  The controversial proposal from Wharton Equities LLC drew a series of protests from residents concerned about noise, traffic and environmental impacts.  The 3 to 2 vote Thursday means a nearly 345,000 foot warehouse with 55 trucking docks will not be built on 105 acres off Exit 9.  Commission members voting in opposition said they didn't believe the traffic numbers provided by the applicant were accurate, that they were based on an assumption the building wouldn't be used to full capacity and that it wasn't a sound study.  

Danbury Adult Softball Leagues donate scoreboard, batters box

The Danbury Adult Softball Leagues has donated a scoreboard and batters box pad to the Danbury Parks and Recreation Department.  The value of the donation is $7500.  The Equipment at Rogers Park Field 3 is no longer functional and replacement parts are no longer available.  The Parks Department will help to install the equipment.  The Danbury City Council accepted the donation at their meeting earlier this month.

Ridgefield to hold Town Meeting on cannabis sales in town

Ridgefield residents will get a say on the future of marijuana sales in town at a town meeting.  The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to hold a town meeting in September when the moratorium on cannabis businesses expires.  The Board is proposing a continued ban.  When the state legalize recreational use last year, Connecticut gave each municipality the ability to create its own local plan to either allow or ban businesses through a land-use vote or a town ordinance.  The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 in April to implement an ordinance, but it must be approved through a town meeting.  Two public hearings will be held, on July 13th and August 17th. The town meeting is scheduled for September 7th.

Brookfield Board of Ed puts off approval of hiring armed school security officers

Some members of the Brookfield Board of Education want more specifics on a proposal to add armed security at the schools, and an initial motion to fund the firing for 4 officers failed.  The district Superintendent and Police Chief have been asked to present information about cost, training protocols and best practices.  Brookfield police stepped up patrols after the shooting of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Texas last month.  The Board of Education reestablished a security task force to look at security protocols.  The Board of Ed discussion followed a move by First Selectman Tara Carr asking the Board of Selectmen to earmark $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding for ASSOs.  Members voting in favor said the pool of candidates lessens as they wait.

New Milford Police to hold Community Policing Day

The New Milford Police Department is hosting a Community Policing Day today.  Residents can attend the event at Young's Field Park to meet NMPD Officers, Leadership, and others.  The  K9, Dive Team, Aviation, Marine Units, and their specialized equipment will be on hand from 11am to 3pm.

Lots of interest in one-time Conn. child tax credit

A one-time child tax credit is being offered to Connecticut families.  Since the application period opened June 1st, members of the Danbury state legislative delegation say more than 90,000 Connecticut households have filed to receive the up to $250 payments, for up to three children.  The application deadline with the Department of Revenue Services is July 31st.

Danbury offering limited number of free well water test kits

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services is offering free well water test kits to the first 100 Danbury residents who request one.  Testing provides water quality information and ensures it's safe to drink.  The test can determine levels of contaminants, such as iron and manganese.  People can get a test kit online or in person.  Samples taken from the kitchen sink on Tuesday after 12pm and then refrigerate it.  The sample must be returned to the Danbury Health Department before 11am on Wednesday.

Carmel firefighters recognized for lifesaving measures

Several Carmel Fire Department members have been presented with awards and CPR save pins for their work during an incident last weekend.  Shortly before noon last Saturday, Carmel firefighters responded to a call of an unconscious, unresponsive occupant in a vehicle.  They arrived within 3 minutes of dispatch and began life saving measures.  Firefighters performed CPR and administered a defibrillator.  The patient regained a pulse and began breathing on their own. The patient was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
The following members were recognized:
Assistant Chief Vincent L Ruggiero III
Firefighter Thomas Keck Jr
Firefighter Carl Mueller
Firefighter Eric Mueller
Firefighter Tyler Jaeschke
Firefighter Vlad Cardona
Firefighter Christopher Rivera

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

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 June 11th, there were 136 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 44,  Brookfield had 41 and New Fairfield  17. There were 58 COVID cases in New Milford, 64 in Newtown, Redding reported 22 cases while Ridgefield had 77. 

 

Case rates for the week ending June 11th range from 8.7 to 22, down from 14 to 28 per 100,000 population the week before.
The rates are:

New Fairfield 8.7

Danbury 11.5

New Milford 15.5

Bethel 15.9

Newtown 16.4

Redding 17.2

Brookfield 17.3

Ridgefield 22

 

COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area dipped a bit from last week.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The test positivity rates are:

Newtown 7.6 percent

New Fairfield 7.9 percent

Danbury 10.1 percent

Brookfield 11.4 percent

Bethel 11.5 percent

Redding 12 percent

New Milford 12.1 percent

Ridgefield 16.2 percent

 

The state has surpassed a tragic milestone of 11,000 COVID-19 deaths among Connecticut residents.  The state is reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 8-point-59 percent, up 1 tenth of a percent from the week before.  The rolling 7-day average test positivity rate yesterday was 8.04 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time decreased by 9.  The inpatient total is 273.

Ridgefield Police warn of continued vehicle crimes

Ridgefield Police are continuing to see criminal activity in town, as well as throughout the state, related to motor vehicles.  Ridgefield Police are asking for residents to help them put a stop to this type of activity by taking preventative measures.  Those include removing valuables, locking cars and taking keys out of unoccupied vehicles. 

Bethel proposes to transform Parloa Park into multi-recreational destination

The Bethel Parks and Recreation Department is seeking public input on a plan to transform Parloa Park.  Department officials say they want to turn the space into an enhanced multi-recreational destination offering activities for people of all ages. A presentation will be made on Wednesday (June 22) at 7pm in the General Purpose room of the Municipal Center.  SLR Consulting, a landscape design firm, has been working for years on planning with the Parks and Rec department. A design rendering can be found here.

Affordable CT rally planned in Newtown

A rally is being held in Newtown tomorrow by some Connecticut lawmakers in support of legislative/financial relief to make Connecticut more affordable.  State Senator Tony Hwang and others are inviting the public to join them at the parking lot of Blue Colony Diner on Church Hill Road at 9am.  This is one of several rallies being held by the Republican caucus around the state this month.  As inflation surges and the cost of living rises, Hwang says the state should work to ease these burdens on working- and middle- class residents.  Lawmakers are rallying with residents calling for a special session and advocating for relief including an income tax cut, suspension of the diesel tax, a cut to the sales tax and suspension of the 1% meals tax on prepared foods.

Romanian citizen sentenced for his role in ATM skimming scheme

A Romanian citizen has been sentenced for his role in an extensive ATM skimming scheme that defrauded banks in Connecticut and elsewhere.  50-year old Nicolae Marius Barbu was ordered to 21 months in prison and to pay restitution.  He faces immigration proceedings when his prison term is over.  According to court documents, a Connecticut bank experienced 35 incidents of ATM skimming at locations in Monroe, Stratford, Trumbull, Greenwich, Fairfield and elsewhere over 5 months in 2017.  Conspiracy members placed skimming devices at the ATMs to capture account numbers and personal identification numbers, PINs, from customers who used their debit cards at the ATM.  Substitute ATM cards were made and used to obtain money and make purchases. 

Juneteenth Independence Day Celebration being held in Danbury

A Juneteenth Independence Day Celebration is being held in Danbury this weekend.  The Danbury Juneteenth Coalition, a collaborative of Danbury-based agencies, community organizations and residents, has been meeting since October to plan and raise funds for the city’s inaugural event with the theme of “Honoring our Heritage: Forging the Future.” The event on Sunday on West Conn's midtown campus will highlight the contributions and experiences of African Americans in Danbury. There will be a Juneteenth exhibit and walking tour sponsored by the Danbury Museum & Historical Society, an artwork exhibit sponsored by Cultural Alliance of Western CT, as well as children’s activities, vendors, food trucks, and a health and wellness fair sponsored by the Danbury Health Department.  The event from noon to 5pm is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is encouraged https://www.wcsu.edu/tickets.

Drugs, weapons seized during Danbury Police narcotics sale investigation

Over 500 bags of fentanyl has been seized as part of a narcotics investigation in Danbury. Detectives launched a several month long investigation into illegal drug sales and carried out search warrants yesterday. 39-year old Joel Albarran, a convicted drug dealer, was known to members of the Special Investigations Division. 

Police approached the man as he went into his Wooster Street apartment yesterday morning. 

In addition to the fentanyl, Police found 30 grams of crack, over 100 grams of cocaine, and pills.  Detectives also found and seized a 357. Magnum handgun, a Kel-Tec rifle, a loaded sawed-off shotgun, and a loaded 9mm ghost gun.  Packaging materials, an electronic scale and $4,885 in cash were also seized. 

Albarran was held on $250,000 bond.  He was charged with three counts of possession with intent to sell over ½ ounce of crack/cocaine, over 1 ounce of opioid, 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance within 200 feet of public housing, 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession with intent to sell prescription narcotics, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, two counts of criminal possession of a pistol or revolver, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, and three counts of criminal possession of a firearm/ammo.

Man arrested for allegedly stealing truck off highway, ramming police cruisers

A Wolcott man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a construction worker's truck from the highway in Southbury, ramming two police cruisers and trying to take a Trooper's firearm. 

State Police responded to Interstate 84 east near exit 13 just before 8am yesterday on a report that a passenber jumped out of a westbound vehicle, ran into the eastbound lanes and stole a truck.  The man, later determined to be 32-year old Christopher Brown, allegedly rammed into two occupied State Police cruisers parked in the median. Troopers started to chase Brown on foot, and he actively resisted. 

State Police say during the violent struggle, Brown attempted to take a State Trooper’s firearm from his holster.  Civilian drivers in the area stopped to help the troopers, who eventually deployed a Taser.

Brown was taken into custody and transported to a hospital.  Two troopers were taken to an area hospital for minor injuries. The civilians were not injured.

Brown was charged with two counts of assault using a motor vehicle; two counts of assault; reckless endangerment; criminal attempt at assault; criminal possession of a firearm, ammunition or defense weapon; two counts of assaulting a public safety officer; two counts of interfering with or resisting an officer; larceny, reckless driving and illegal operation of a motor vehicle under suspension.

Brown is being held on $1 million bond and is set to appear in court in Waterbury this morning.

Body recovered from Candlewood Lake in Brookfield

A body has been recovered from Candlewood Lake in the area where a 24-year-old Bristol man was reported missing over Memorial Day weekend.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the State Police Dive Team recovered the body of an adult male, who has yet to be identified.  DEEP has been searching the area of Brookfield Bay by the Candlewood Inn for two and a half weeks.  The suspected drowning victim was on a boat that was not moving when he went into the water around May 29th. The incident is being “viewed as an accidental drowning.” The Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner will determine the cause and manner of death of the man whose body was recovered yesterday.

Racial slur found spray painted at turf field at Ridgefield High School

A racial slur has been found spray painted in Ridgefield.  Police are investigating the incident at the turf field at the Tiger Hollow Complex at Ridgefield High School, which happened after a pick-up game Wednesday night.   Principal Jake Greenwood told the school community that he has pressed charges on the party involved.  Greenwood says the incident was not perpetrated by a member of the Ridgefield community or a student in any of their schools.  The suspect was identified after a review of camera footage.  Students using the field at the time the incident were not directly associated with an in-season Ridgefield High School sports team.  The painted word was removed prior to the start of school yesterday.  In an email to families, Greenwood provided resources about how to talk to children about bias, prejudice and racism.

Danbury officials look to crackdown on illegal ATV use

The Danbury City Council is once again looking to crack down on ATV users riding on City streets and on other city property.  The committee was created back in 2016.  They met again last October and asked the City attorney to look at the current ordinance on the books.  In 2003 Danbury regulated all-terrain vehicle use to preven damage to public parks and City-controlled property.  In 2016, the state added dirt bikes and mini motorcycles to the statute. 

Chairman Irving Fox noted that there have been recent changes to state statute, allowing municipalities to put more teeth in their local laws.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter looked into possible changes and what other municipalities are doing when it comes to the growing problem. 

ATV can be seized by the officer and, after 15 days, forfeited and sold at auction.  There are some conditions though.  It can't be resold if there's a lien or lease on the vehicle, or if there's a lienholder who didn't reasonably known that the person on the motorcycle/dirt bike/etc was using it the way it was.  There is no limitation on the seizure. 

Towing and storage cost, along with repairs for any damage, would be the responsiblity of the owner/rider. 

Under state statute, there's a longer wait period and additional process if a private wrecker tows the ATV from the scene.  Danbury Police do not have the capability in-house to tow these vehicles and would have to call on the on-duty tow company. 

Councilman Joe Cavo had asked that the committee meet again when he was Mayor.  At that time he wanted the vehicles seized to be destroyed, but says he's now comfortable with the resale. Cavo says the hefty fine, coupled with the cost to buy back the ATV, would be cost prohibitive in having repeat offenders.  He hopes that through the auction process adults will buy them for proper use in the proper place.  Worse comes to worse and the City finds repetitive rebuy-reuse, Cavo says they can address that with the state delegation to see if state statute could be changed.

Color draining from COVID-19 community spread map in Conn.

New Fairfield has seen a significant drop in COVID-19 cases and has moved into the yellow zone, the 2nd lowest alert level for community spread.  New Fairfield has had 8.7 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  Sherman and Danbury are in the orange zone, with 10 to 14 cases.  Bridgewater and Bethlehem are in the grey zone with zero to 4 cases. The rest of the Greater Danbury area is still in the red zone, with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.

WCSU President to step down in July

Dr. John Clark will be stepping down as President of Western Connecticut State University on July 14th.  He assumed the role in 2015. He says during the COVID-19 pandemic the university community rose to the occasion in the true spirit of Western Connecticut State University, where they teach students to learn, grown and overcome adversity.  Clark says it's that spirit which will carry WestConn forward in the coming years and help it to grow and prosper as a leading regional comprehensive university.  CSCU President Terrence Cheng says Clark helped to introduce an in-state tuition program that first included seven bordering counties in New York, the first of its kind for the system.  Due to the success of the program, it was expanded to include all of New York and New Jersey.  The interim president will be Paul Beran.  Beran has 40 years of experience in higher education leadership: most notably as Executive Director and CEO at South Dakota Board of Regents for Public Universities; as Chancellor at University of Arkansas - Fort Smith; as President at Northwestern Oklahoma State University; and Vice President for Faculty and Instruction at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Mark Twain Library in Redding to commemorate Juneteenth

The Mark Twain Library in Redding is commemorating Juneteenth, the day that marks the effective end to slavery in the United States. The event takes place on the Library lawn tomorrow at 4pm.  The 90-minute commemoration will include discussions, jazz classics and selected poetry readings and will be moderated by Episcopal priest and retired Joel Barlow High School English teacher Tom Kilbourn. It is recommended that those planning to attend read the selected poems prior to the event and they can be found on the Library website. Participants are also encouraged to bring a poem of their own choosing. This discussion is part of the Conversations series which received the 2022 Connecticut Library Association Award for Excellence in Public Library Service. The Series was created in an effort to offer the community the opportunity to continue the conversation on issues of race, justice and democracy where members can exchange ideas and hear differing perspectives.  Registration is recommended, but not required.

Two trucks crash on Route 25

Route 25 in Newtown was closed for a number of hours yesterday due to a two-truck crash. Botsford Fire Rescue officials say there were minor injuries in the dump truck versus box truck accident.  One driver was transported to the hospital.  Firefighters had to clean up a fluid spill.  The commercial vehicles were towed by their contracted companies.

3 violations found during Bethel Police tobacco compliance inspections

The Bethel Police Department has carried out a tobacco compliance inspection at places that sell tobacco products or electronic cigarettes.  Three violations were found during the unannounced visits on Tuesday.  Smoke Haven, Citgo and Food Bag--all on Greenwood Avenue--were found to be noncompliant.  The offending clerks were issued a first time infraction of 300 dollars.  Bethel Police found 8 other establishments were in compliance with state laws concerning the sale of e-cigarette and tobacco products to people under the age of 21.  Retailers are required to inspect the photo ID of anyone who appears under the age of 30 before selling a tobacco product or e-cigarette.  Bethel Police partnered with the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Tobacco Prevention and Enforcement Program for the checks.

Greater Danbury area towns make SafeWise annual Safest Cities list

SafeWise has released its eighth annual Safest Cities report.  Several Greater Danbury area towns have made the Top 10 safest cities in Connecticut, with Danbury coming in at 13. 

The safest municipality in the state is Newtown, followed by Ridgefield.  New Milford is the 8th safest in Connecticut.  SafeWise says the Top 3-- Newtown, Ridgefield, and Simsbury-- held on to their spots for the second consecutive year.  Three of Connecticut’s safest cities reported 10 or fewer burglaries. New Milford had 4, Newtown had 9 and Simsbury had 10. 

Ridgefield and Newtown also appeared on their last 100 Safest Cities in America list.

Danbury, the most populous city in the top 20, was one of just 5 of Connecticut’s safest cities that saw a decrease in property crime rates year over year.

Connecticut boasts the fourth-lowest violent crime rate in the US but experienced the fourth-largest increase in property crime during the 2022 reporting year. Package theft is of particular concern among Connecticut residents.  Property crimes increased 9-percent year over year, but Connecticut’s property crime rate is the 14th lowest in the nation. 

The latest State of Safety survey revealed that Connecticut residents are less worried about violent crime and gun violence than the average American. Connecticut residents through worry about property crime and package theft more often than other Americans.

Controversial warehouse developer makes concessions as it seeks special exception

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a meeting tonight.  Wharton Equity Partners LLC is applying for a Special Exception at 10 Hawleyville Road for a more than 344,000 square foot warehouse with truck docks, trailer, and vehicle parking.  The public hearing was closed earlier this month.  Wharton has agreed to convey 54 acres, more than half the land, into a conservation easement that would protect it from development.  The investor also agreed to reduce the number of dock doors from 76 to 55.  The Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission previously approved its review on a 6-1 vote. 

PA man arrested by Conn. State Police for engaging Troopers in I-84 pursuit

A Pennsylvania man has been arrested by Connecticut State Police for engaging Troopers in a pursuit.  During a routine patrol of Interstate 84 in Danbury Sunday night, Troopers saw two eastbound vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed near Exit 7.  One of the vehicles was stopped, pulling off to the shoulder.  But the driver then accelerated.  Troopers saw him go from the left lane of Route 7 and into the I-84 right lane, and exit the highway into Danbury.  Troopers called off the pursuit, but the driver, later identified as 21-year old Quinten Chanthavong, was located at the Brookfield Lanes bowling alley on Federal Road.  The Philadelphia man was charged with engaging police in pursuit, reckless driving and resisting arrest.  He was released on bond and is due for arraignment next Wednesday.

Ridgefield Board of Ed considers security audit of schools

The Ridgefield Public School District is considering an audit of school security in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Texas.  The Board of Education discussed a possible launch of the more formal review during an executive session last week.  An audit could bring in experts to help identify where there are strengths and opportunities for growth.  Superintendent Susie Da Silva says the discussions are preliminary and nothing has been ruled out at this point.  During the Board meeting Monday, Da Silva said approved projects that have been delayed due to increasing costs could be put back on the table such as a vestibule at an elementary school.  The Board previously asked the Board of Finance to put any surplus finding toward an account for school playground upgrades, but will instead ask that the money be put toward security projects.  

Brookfield gets interest in contaminated, blighted property

A blighted, contaminated property in Brookfield could be cleaned up. The development company behind commercial and residential construction in the Town Center District has an offer on 20 Station Road.  Brookfield Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski says Brookfield Village is under contract to buy the property. 

The site was home to a dry cleaning business decades ago and includes a run down two-story home with the windows boarded up.  Brookfield is seeking to collect $86,000 in blight violation fines wracked up since 2011. 

The town secured a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection grant in 2017 for an environmental assessment of the 2-point-31 acres.  There's asbestos and PCB contamination, petroleum contaminants leached from drainage sources, and underground heating fuel storage tank.  Only municipalities can apply for funding, not private developers, under DEEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant programs. 

Licensed environmental professional and brownfield specialist for Tighe and Bond Amy Vaillancourt has been hired by Brookfield to help the town with the application process to get state money to clean up and monitor the lot.  She says the damaged property abuts a designated wetlands zone and any structure built there requires a developer to install an underground vapor mitigation system. Under a state law taking effect this October, changes are coming to both the Abandonment Brownfield Cleanup program and the Brownfield Remediation & Liability Relief Program.  Property owners would be “protected from third-party lawsuits,” in situations where, “neighbors [seek] to sue the viable owner,” as a result of contamination spreading to surrounding properties and causing harm. Any future application for a state grant has to go out to bid, not awarded right to Tighe and Bond. 

The Inland-Wetlands Commission must sign off on Brookfield Village's design plans.

Bethel Police seek to identify man regarding alleged larceny

The Bethel Police Department is looking to identify an individual about a larceny incident that occurred at Ace Hardware on Greenwood Avenue.  The incident happened on June 13th around 10:15am.  A photo of the man has been posted to the Bethel Police Department Facebook page.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Ofc. Morris at 203-744-7900.

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Newtown today

A mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic is being held in Newtown today.  The state Department of Public Health/Griffin Health minivan will be at the Newtown Community Center from 3pm to 8pm.  This is for everyone 5 and older.  Pfizer is the only brand of vaccine with emergency use authorization for kids 5 to 11.  All three brands though will be available for first, second and booster doses.

New Milford Police to hold Community Policing Day

The New Milford Police Department is hosting a Community Policing Day this weekend.  Residents can attend the event at Young's Field Park Saturday to meet NMPD Officers, Leadership, and others.  The  K9, Dive Team, Aviation, Marine Units, and their specialized equipment will be on hand from 11am to 3pm.

Bethel to get bids for demolition of old police station

The old Bethel police station will be demolished.  The Board of Selectmen authorized the purchasing department to draft bid packages for the remediation and demolition of the facility. The Plumtrees Road station has been mostly vacant since 2018 when the new police department was opened on Judd Avenue.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there is no economical use for the building.  It's highly contaminated, is in a flood zone and is not consistent with any use Planning and Zoning would permit.  The Board could consider an alternate use for that property in the future.  The old building was used as an office by the school construction firm during Rockwell and Johnson renovations.  Knickerbocker noted that part of the building was remediated after OSHA deemed the old firing range a hazardous site due to lead dust. The construction company hired for the Rockwell and Johnson schools renovation and expansion projects used the old Police Station building for offices and parking during the work.  The Public Works Department got an estimate on costs.  They were given three names of contractors, two of whom also do demolition.  The estimate is 93-thousand dollars for remediation and 130-thousand dollars for building demolition and parking lot removal.

Ridgefield Police warn of phone fundraising scam

A phone scam is being warned about by Ridgefield Police.  The Department is reminding residents that the Ridgefield Police Union and the Police Benevolent Association do not solicit funds via phone. The Union fundraiser gets mailed out in July and the PBA letter gets mailed out in October.  Anyone receiving a phone call asking for donations should assume that it's not legitimate.  Ridgefield Police say a good rule of thumb is to get the information and confirm with the actual entity, prior to making any kind of donation.

Informational meeting to be held about proposed cell tower in Brookfield

An informational meeting is being held on Thursday in Brookfield about a proposed cell tower.  Homeland Towers LLC is proposing to add infrastructure at 60 Vale Road for New Cingular Wireless, AT&T.  A 165-foot tall monopole is being proposed.  The information session Thursday is from 6pm to 7:30 in Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.  In addition to providing reliable wireless service to these areas, AT&T will also provide FirstNet services, which is the first broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services. AT&T was selected by the  First Responder Network Authority (“FirstNet”) to build and manage the only broadband
network dedicated to unify emergency communications to give first responders the technology they need to communicate and collaborate across agencies and jurisdictions.

Bethel Water Department starts 2022 hydrant flushing program

The Bethel Water Department has started its 2022 hydrant flushing program.  The project is expected to take four weeks to five weeks to complete.  Department officials say hydrant flushing is necessary to improve water quality and fire protection throughout the system. Hydrant flushing may cause temporary discolored water and/or pressure fluctuations. The discolored water is due to the removal of accumulated sediment, predominantly naturally occurring minerals, such as iron and manganese. Hydrant flushing provides an opportunity to check the mechanical operation of the hydrants, as well as the available flow. Customers are advised to check the color of their water before using and avoid using hot water, washing machines or dishwashers during periods of temporary discolored water. If discolored water is experienced, flush from the cold tap in the bathtub or outside spigot until it clears. A list of streets to be flushed with an approximate schedule is posted on the Town of Bethel's website.

Candlewood Lake Authority looking for employees for Lake Steward Program

The Candlewood Lake Authority is looking for employees for their Lake Steward Program this summer. This person will greet boaters and offer invasive species education and voluntary inspections at the seven public launches around Candlewood Lake on a rotating schedule during peak boating days.  They must educate boaters on the “Clean, Drain, and Dry” best management practice to prevent the spread of invasive species.  The job also requires the employee to gather anonymized data about general boating trends on Candlewood Lake. This position reports to the Lake Steward Supervisor and Director of Ecology and works in collaboration with the Watershed Management Chairman and Committee.  The part-time seasonal position, through Labor Day weekend, may require varied hours in the season, including mostly weekends and holidays. 

Danbury Planning Director makes recommendations on cannabis sales

The Danbury Planning and Zoning Commissions have received documents from City planners about retail marijuana operations in the City.  The Zoning Commission is slated to open discussions on cannabis at a meeting July 12th.  In a recommendation, City Planning Director Sharon Calitro wrote that the retail sales component of the state law could lead to the City collecting an additional 6 percent sales tax.  A proposed amendment would allow for a limited number of specific cannabis uses in Danbury.  Zoners will be looking into allowing 4 types of businesses, with restrictions.  Marijuana sales would not be allowed on Main Street, but could be in certain commercial and industrial zones from no more than two hybrid retailers that sell both medicinal marijuana and recreational marijuana.  No more than one micro-cultivator, a small scale indoor plant producer whose “grow space” is between 2,000- and 10,000-square-feet, would be allowed.  Cannabis food and beverage manufacturing would be banned in Danbury.  The City has a temporary moratorium on marijuana business applications.

Superintendent appointed for Region 14 School District

A new Superintendent has been appointed for the Region 14 School District of Bethlehem and Woodbury.  The Board of Education has appointed Brian Murphy to the role.  He's expected to start on August 25th.  Murphy was selected from 13 applicants.  The Woodbury resident says he is looking forward to serving students in the district where he's a resident and a parent.  Murphy has served as the superintendent for the New Hartford Public Schools since 2015.  Prior to that, he was the principal of Great Oak Middle School in Oxford and held many positions at Waterbury Public Schools and Sacred Heart High School, where he was dean of students.

Narcan Training, QPR Suicide Prevention Certification in New Fairfield

Free Narcan Training and QPR Suicide Prevention Certification is being held in New Fairfield tomorrow.  The training is being done at the Senior Center from noon to 2pm.  Registration is required for the session presented by New Fairfield Suicide Postvention Information Network, the New Fairfield Prevention Council and Western Connecticut Coalition.  Those 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult.  Training on the use of Narcan, the opioid overdose reversal drug, includes risk factors, signs and symptoms of an overdose, how to administer Narcan and the Good Samaritan law.  QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer.  It's an evidence-based suicide prevention gatekeeper training.  Participants will learn to recognize sings, learn to properly intervene, offer hope and connect to helpful resources.  https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ej6huzilcb61760d&oseq=&c=&ch=

Informational meeting set in Brookfield on proposed cell tower

An informational meeting is being held on Thursday in Brookfield about a proposed cell tower.  Homeland Towers LLC is proposing to add infrastructure at 60 Vale Road.  New Cingular Wireless, AT&T, has contracted with Homeland Towers to assist in the search and development of various facilities in Connecticut.  The company entered into a long-term ground lease for a portion of a nearly 4 acre parcel of land owned by 70 Vale Road LLC.  The company says a 165 foot tall monopole would bring reliable wireless services to southern Brookfield and portions of eastern Danbury and northern Bethel.  The Town departments will also use the proposed facility for emergency communication needs.  The information session Thursday is from 6pm to 7:30 in Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

Bethel looking to hire residential building inspector

The Town of Bethel is looking to hire a residential building inspector.  This position is responsible for code enforcement and inspection work involving the review of site and construction plans for new residential buildings.  The building inspector also examines residential buildings in the process of construction, renovation or repair to assure conformance with applicable local codes, ordinances and regulations, national electrical codes and plumbing and heating codes.  High school education or vocational school or completion of an apprenticeship training program in a construction skill and no less than 4 years’ experience and training which provides the knowledge, skills and abilities required. Certification by the State of Connecticut as an Assistant Building Official, plus mandatory continuing education through seminars.  Applications are on the Town’s website or in the Human Resources Department. The application process will remain open until position is filled.

Public hearing into controversial warehouse application in Newtown closed

A public hearing into a controversial warehouse application in Newtown has been closed.  Wharton Equity Partners LLC is applying for a Special Exception at 10 Hawleyville Road for a more than 344,000 square foot warehouse with truck docks, trailer, and vehicle parking. 

Attorney Thomas Cody spoke about the potential conditions of approval which include reducing the number of dock doors from 76 to 55. Three conservation easement areas are proposed that amount to 54 acres of the project site.  The third conservation area is particularly significant because it adjoins the closest residential area on Whippoorwill Hill Road.

The applicant again refuted claims that this would be a truck terminal, saying the application is for a warehouse distribution center, which has lower volume than a terminal or depot. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission had to move their meetings to Edmond Town Hall to accommodate the large turnout of interested residents.  Their next meeting is scheduled for Thursday (June 16th).  It will be held in the Newtown Middle School auditorium.  Since the hearing was closed earlier this month, residents will not get to weigh in on the application at the upcoming meeting. 

The Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission approved its review on a 6-1 vote.  The Planning and Zoning Commission will have 65 days to make its decision.

Lake Zoar Authority reminding lake users about how to report illegal activity

As the summer boating season gets under way, the Lake Zoar Authority is reminding lake users about how to report illegal activity at state boat launches and boating violations.  Two Monroe residents told the LZA about excessive speeds in and out of Eichler’s Cove and request some kind of deterrence at the opening.  The Lake Authority suggested that Newtown Parks and Recreation be contacted and directed to apply for a buoy from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection since the town of Newtown is in charge of the area with traffic in question.  Boating violations can be reported to DEEP EnCon Police by calling 860-424-3333.  People should include location, time, date and nature of the violation or suspicious activity. Description of boat or vehicle involved such as license plate, color or make, and the direction of travel along with clothing or distinguishing features of those involved should also be reported.

Brookfield approved by state for Affordable Housing moratorium

The State Department of Housing has determined that the Town of Brookfield meets the requirements for a moratorium on building affordable housing.  Brookfield was granted a four-year pause.  First Selectman Tara Carr notes that the town was turned down in July and in December, but the state finally approved the request.  Brookfield previously had a moratorium from 2017 until 2021.  Brookfield has the 5th highest amount of designated affordable housing in the Western Connecticut Council of Government's region, which includes 18 municipalities spanning from Sherman to Stamford.  Only Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford are above the 10-percent threshold. 

Danbury Planners to review daycare expansion application

The Danbury Planning Commission is going to look into an application at their meeting tomorrow which would allow a downtown daycare to expand its operations.  Twinkle Little Star Learning Center on White Street, across from Western Connecticut State University, is looking to buy the building they've been renting a portion of.  They propose growing from a third of the 15-thousand square foot building, to the entire building and expanding the outdoor play area.  More parking is also planned at the 1-point-3 acre site. Property owner Mars Electric would still have a presence on the site, using several free-standing garages and storage containers.  Those storage garages were previously deemed non-conforming by the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  Without a presence in the building, those structures would not be considered accessory and would have to be removed from the site.

New state program offers down payment assistance to homebuyers

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is alerting residents that the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority is now accepting applications for a new state program offering down payment assistance to low and moderate-income homebuyers in Connecticut.  The Time to Own program is available to eligible applicants securing a CHFA first mortgage loan to purchase their first home. Applicants may also access their existing down payment assistance program at the same time.  The Time to Own loan is structured as a ten-year, 0% non-amortizing loan, with one-tenth of the principal amount forgiven on the anniversary of the loan closing each year until the loan is fully forgiven. The loan is based on several eligibility requirements, including the borrower’s financial needs, their ability to repay their mortgage obligations, and their eligibility under CHFA’s First-Time Homebuyer Program, which is open to new homebuyers or those who have not owned a home in the last three years. The program is open to any borrower who can demonstrate residency in Connecticut for the past three years.

Bethel Building, Health Departments moving to paperless system

The Bethel Building Department and Health Department are moving closer to an online/ paperless system.  During this month and next, the Property Files and Permanent Health files will be scanned with the intent of making them more readily accessible to the public and for the preservation of the documents. Documents will not be readily available as they will be off site being processed.  Bethel residents are asked to call or email the departments during this time with requests for permits, certificates, site maps, septic plans, property violation, and health department files.  Officials caution that it could take several days to make those request available.  While a temporary inconvenience, department officials say this process will be beneficial to all.

Newtown officials review Affordable Housing Plan

Newtown's affordable housing stock, according to state figures, is 2-point-66 percent.  Each town is required to have 10-percent of housing be considered affordable.  Municipalities are currently drafting or recently submitted plans to meet the requirement to the state. 

The Newtown Legislative Council is reviewing the draft plan.  Newtown had 268  affordable housing units in 2020.  Newtown needs 738 more affordable housing units to reach the 10% threshold.  Land Use Director George Benson says Newtown has limited land space and may never get to the 10 percent threshold. 

Newtown is among the municipalities working with the Western Council of Governments, the regional planning agency, to put together a plan.  The Newtown section shows what is already being done to try to add stock to the housing options in town.  The housing plan is not legally binding, it's a strategy document. 

Newtown’s population was 16,942 in 1970; 27,560 in 2020; and is projected to be 29,824 in 2030. Newtown currently has 8,742 owner-occupied housing units and 1,143 rented housing units. The number of housing units increased from 4,821 in 1970 to 10,322 in 2020, a  114% increase.  The median price for a single family dwelling was $421,000 in 2020.

In order to increase affordable housing, Newtown's strategies call for encouraging the approval of tax incentive applications for developments that include affordable housing, educate the public on available assistance such as CHFA loans, and continue to look for public transportation opportunities  appropriate for a municipality as geographically large and spread out as Newtown.

Inclusive playground upgrade at Dickinson Park in Newtown complete

An inclusive playground upgrade at Dickinson Park in Newtown is complete.  The ribbon was recently cut by the Newtown Lions Club on the project, which brings three new pieces of motion-oriented and wheelchair-accessible playground equipment to the playground.  The organization says the goal was to provide an environment where children with mobility issues can play with their able-bodied friends and siblings.  Previously, the only swing for special needs kids at Dickinson Park was near the baby swings.  The Newtown Lions Club has helped raise funds for the FunScape equipment at Dickinson. 

Southbury Police seek thief who stole donation box from convenience store

The Southbury Police Department is attempting to identify an individual involved in a larceny of a donation box from The Shell Gas Station on Main Street North.  The theft happened last Tuesday, around 8:40pm.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Pierce at (203)264-5912. All calls will be kept confidential. Photos and video of the suspect have been posted to the Southbury Police Department Facebook page.

New Fairfield Troopers to crack down on speeding around Ball Pond

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office is looking to crack down on speeding drivers this summer in the area of Ball Pond. Troopers say the majority of complaints are when the High School is letting out so they're asking parents with young drivers in the Ball Pond Road East and Ball Pond Road area to discuss speed limits with them.  This area is frequented by walkers, cyclists and children. Troopers are enforcing the speed limit, however, they say a ticket for speeding is nothing in comparison to a motor vehicle collision with a pedestrian. 

Road damaged in Wilton

A small section of the northbound lane of Scribner Hill Road in Wilton, just north of Blue Ridge Road, has sustained damage. The Town is engaging a geotechnical engineer to evaluate the section.  The impacted section is closed while the southbound lane is open to alternating traffic, using temporary stop signs.  Driver are encourage to use alternate routes.  The timeframe of the closure is currently unknown.  The Wilton Director of Public Works/Town Engineer is monitoring conditions on a daily basis.    

Newtown lawmaker hold American Flag drop off

Today is the last day for Newtown residents to drop off worn American flags at Newtown VFW Post #308.  The state legislative delegation is paying tribute to Flag Day by coordinating with the VFW and Boy Scouts.  The U.S. Flag Code specifies that old American flags no longer in service must be properly disposed, and the lawmakers are offering this service free of charge.  Flags can be dropped off through today at CH Booth Library, the Newtown Municipal Center or the VFW Post on Tinkerfield Road.  Flags can be dropped off there in any condition throughout the year.

Independent counsel retained to review past conduct of Brookfield Board of Finance Chair

An independent counsel is being retained in Brookfield to review past conduct of the Board of Finance chair and the potential liability it may create for the town, and steps to eliminate such further conduct in the future. 

The issue came to a head last week when members of the Board sent an open letter to the Selectmen asking that a partner in the law firm retained by the town not work on Brookfield litigation.  The Finance members accused Attorney Tim Herbst of maligning Chairman Glenn Rooney.  The Board of Finance meeting agenda for Wednesday included an item simply titled Town Attorney Firm.  First Selectman Tara Carr noted that members of the firm were not invited to attend.  She called that a potential conflict between the town and the Town Counsel.

Rooney, a Republican, says the item was on the agenda to clear up rumors about the invoices from the law firm.  He says the former attorney would invoice the town for $5,000.  The new firm outlines all billing hours on the invoice, but caps the charge at $5,000.  The former attorney had a monthly retainer of $5,000 and didn't itemize the bills whereas the new attorney provides great detail.

Herbst's statement challenged the tone and demeanor Rooney used when addressing town staff and officials.

Former First Selectman Steve Dunn provided Carr with correspondence about a December 3, 2020 incident involving Rooney and town employees at Town Hall.  He was seeking to have documents notarized, but employees didn't recognize him and asked for two forms of ID, as per standard procedure.  According to the correspondence Rooney allegedly became irate and threatened to have the employee fired, or eliminate the position from the budget.  The correspondence goes on to say that the employees feared retaliation during the budget process.

No formal investigation was taken at the time to examine his conduct in the context of possible violations of the Brookfield Code of Ethics.  Carr says in March 2022, the town's Human Resources Director was so upset with how Rooney spoke about Town employees that she attended a Board of Finance meeting to read a detailed statement.

Carr says she'll take all necessary steps to ensure the Code of Ethics is fully and fairly enforced as to all incidents discovered during the town's expanded inquiry.  She also encouraged Rooney and the Board to seek independent legal advice prior to take further action which could potentially create further liability for the Town, including a First Amendment retaliation complaint.

Car parade for New Fairfield High School seniors tonight

There will be some extra traffic in New Fairfield tonight.  The high school's graduating class is taking part in a car parade.  The seniors will be leaving from the high school parking lot off Gillotti Road around 7pm, headed to Route 39 and Saw Mill Road.  The car parade will continue onto Route 37, down Brush Hill Road onto Barnum Road and back to the high school via Gillotti Road.  181 seniors will receive diplomas at the New Fairfield High School graduation ceremony June 17th at 5pm at the Rebel Stadium football field. 

Brookfield firefighters respond to rollover accident

There were more than a dozen emergency calls in Brookfield over the weekend, including a rollover crash yesterday.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department says there were also 7 fire calls from Friday to Sunday.  The single car rollover happened on Park Ridge Road early yesterday morning.  The driver was taken to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  There was no one else in the vehicle.  Firefighters were on scene for about 45 minutes.

Danbury Schools to scale back summer school program

Limited staffing means Danbury Public School's summer program will be scaled back to pre-pandemic age groups.  Summer school will be offered to kindergarten through third grade students.  During the pandemic, fourth and fifth graders could also take part.  It will be a two week session, instead of 4 weeks.  The special education department though will continue to offer its traditional five-week summer school program.  Superintendent Kevin Walston says the staff is exhausted and not many signed up to teach summer school after an an uptick in behavioral problems, among other challenges.

Ravenous worm species disrupting Conn.'s forest ecosystem

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A ravenous species of earthworm has arrived in Connecticut with the potential to cause all sorts of damage to forests and wildlife. An entomologist with the state's agriculture experiment station tells Hearst Connecticut Media Group that so-called "jumping worms" can destabilize the soil and make it harder for some plants to grow. They also can accumulate toxic metals like mercury and lead, which are then eaten by birds and other animals. The worms are spread mostly in the transport of mulch, compost and potted plants, and have been found throughout the state but mostly along the shore and in Fairfield County.

Two boating accidents reported on Lake Zoar

During the first weekend of June, there were two boating accidents on Lake Zoar. On Sunday a jet ski collision was reported just north of the Southbury bridge resulting in minor injuries to one of the drivers, a fourteen year old Sandy Hook resident who had no safe boating certificate or PWC endorsement.  Another teen jet ski driver from Waterbury, also with no safe boating certificate or PWC endorsement, was the other boater involved. On Monday, Monroe Police reported a head on boat crash between Jackson Cove and the Stevenson Dam. Two boats came out of the Monroe Launch and collided. There was damage to the boats and one passenger required medical treatment for a laceration. 

Brookfield Neighborhood Assistance Act applications accepted

A Public Hearing has been held in Brookfield about the Neighborhood Assistance Act, a state program where eligible proposals are able to receive donations from various persons or organizations.  Donors are able to receive a tax credit. The 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 Board of Selectmen approved the program proposals as submitted. 

Conspiracy theorist's bankruptcy tossed in deal with Sandy Hook parents

VICTORIA, Texas (AP) - A federal judge in Texas has dismissed the bankruptcy protection case of three companies controlled by Alex Jones. The ruling on Friday was the result of an agreement between lawyers for the conspiracy theorist and parents of some of the children slain in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The dismissal allows the parents' defamation lawsuits against Jones for calling the shooting a hoax to continue in Texas and Connecticut. Judges in both states found Jones and his companies liable for damages to the families. Trials are pending on how much he should pay them.

Putnam County Sheriff launches School Safety Team work

Putnam County has formed a School Safety Team.  Sheriff Kevin McConville says the security of students and staff is of fundamental importance to his Department.  He notes that there is an undeniable and increasing prevalence of emergency situations in schools, and there is an increasing severity of school violence. Since Columbine, which occurred in 1999, McConville says there have been over 287 school shootings.  American Rescue Plan Act funding will be used to provide a critical review and assessment of schools, safety programs, and intervention procedures.  He says a fresh appraisal of emergency management plans, preparedness and response actions will assist law enforcement.

Butterfly Party in Newtown today to benefit foundation of 12/14 victim

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary is hosting a Butterfly Party today from noon to 4pm at Fairfield Hill Campus in Newtown. Live wildlife presentations, pet-related businesses, local craftsmen, food trucks, and live music will be featured at the free public event.  The sanctuary will also be partnering with over 25 animal rescues from Connecticut and New York, to feature over 200 adoptable animals. Partnering shelters include the ASPCA, Gimme Shelter, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, the North Shore Animal League, Animal Welfare Society and more. The Rider’s Closet, a charitable venture founded by philanthropist and professional equestrian Georgina Bloomberg and now a program of the EQUUS Foundation, will be on site accepting donations of new and gently used riding apparel.  The Butterfly Party is held in honor of Catherine Violet Hubbard, who was killed on 12/14, and will highlight sanctuary services and efforts, as well as the sanctuary's facility construction. Upon completion the sanctuary will have a state-of-the-art veterinarian intake facility, library, and education center, as well as public animal and nature events.

Battle of Ridgefield charrette being held tomorrow

Ridgefield Library is hosting the second of two gatherings about efforts to preserve the evolving Battle of Ridgefield history and the evidence and artifacts that represent it.  The Ridgefield Historical Society will share what researchers have found, and hear feedback.  The charrette is Sunday from 2pm to 3 at Ridgefield Library.  Registration is required.  Ridgefield last month commemorated the 245th Anniversary of the 1777 Battle of Ridgefield. 

FuelCell Energy: Fiscal Q2 Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) on Thursday reported a loss of $30.2 million in its fiscal second quarter.

The Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of 8 cents per share.

The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 6 cents per share.

The fuel cell power plant maker posted revenue of $16.4 million in the period, which also missed Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $33.4 million.

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

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 June 4th, there were 166 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 52,  Brookfield had 58 and New Fairfield  28. There were 62 COVID cases in New Milford, 85 in Newtown, Redding reported 35 cases while Ridgefield had 89. 

Case rates range from 14 to 28, down from 19 to 33.5 per 100,000 population the week before.
The rates are:

Danbury 14

New Fairfield 14.4

New Milford 16.4

Bethel 18.8

Newtown 21.8

Brookfield 24.4

Ridgefield 25.5

Redding 27.4

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area held relatively steady from last week, ranging from 9 to 18 percent, down from 10 to 19 percent the previous week.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Newtown 9.4 percent

Danbury 12.1 percent

Bethel 12.4 percent

New Fairfield 13.4 percent

Brookfield 14.7 percent

New Milford 15 percent

Redding 16.5 percent

Ridgefield 18.5 percent

 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 27 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 8.49 percent, up nearly 1 tenth of a percent from the week before. 

New state data released Thursday show there were 3,200 positive COVID cases reported to the state over the last 7 days out of 36,000 tests.  The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 8.81 percent.   Among the new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks in Connecticut, 69-percent have been detected in people fully vaccinated against COVID.  About 30-percent were cases among those not fully vaccinated.  All of the COVID-19 tests sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut came back as a strain of the Omicron variant.  84 percent were identified as BA 2, according to the latest weekly report and the rest were a variant of BA2.

The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during the past week decreased by 29.  The inpatient total is 282. 

Brookfield man charged for fatal 2021 Danbury car accident

Danbury Police have charged a Brookfield man for a striking and killing a man in a head-on accident last year on Padanaram Road.  35-year old Jason Bernardez was charged Tuesday for the fatal two car crash near Jeanette Street on the evening of last June 24th.  He was allegedly intoxicated, speeding and using his cell phone just before the crash.  34-year old Corey Ward of Naugatuck was killed when Bernardez’s northbound Audi crossed over into the southbound lane at a high rate of speed.  According to the arrest warrant, Bernardez told police he was being tailgated and increased his speed to create distance and lost control.  An investigation determined that he was travelling at about 65 miles an hour in the 35 mph zone.  His blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. Police say phone records showed him using it within seconds prior to the collision.

Danbury Fire Department to put new pumper/rescue truck in service soon

The Danbury Fire Department recently took delivery of a brand new Rescue Pumper assigned as Squad 21.  Over the last several days members have been attending in-service training, giving driver/operators lessons on the new style "PUC" pump along with the other on board systems. Department officials say Squad 21 brings the versatility of a pumper and a rescue apparatus that has a short wheelbase for tighter roads and neighborhoods. Squad 21 is scheduled to go in service some time next week.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company holding weekend open house

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company is having an open house this weekend.   The volunteer firefighters are no longer going door-to-door asking for donations so this weekend is being used as an opportunity to invite the community to their door.  The newly renovated firehouse is at 18 Bayview Drive.  Residents who attend the open house, from 9am to 1pm Saturday and Sunday, will also see the new Engine 21 which was delivered last year.  The Pumper replaced one from 1998 and cost close to $750,000.  Anyone who lives in Candlewood Company's Fund Drive district and gets their annual Fund Drive letter can drop off donations in person.  The all volunteer company responded to close to 800 calls for service last year.  

Amazon Fresh to hire soon for new Brookfield location

The Brookfield Economic and Community Development Department is alerting area residents that Amazon Fresh is hiring.  The signs went up this week on the store at the corner of Federal and Candlewood Lake Roads.  The grocer is hiring for the Store Manager, Assistant Store Manager, and Zone Leads positions. These are roles that include some supervision of associate-level staff.  Overnight Associate roles are also open.  The next and final roles to be posted will be those for Store Associates. On July 20th, the remaining Associate roles will be posted, including Dayside Grocery, Dayside Meat, Seafood and Produce, and Dayside Prepared Foods, Dayside Flex, ON Grocery, ON FSA, ON Kitchen. 

Brookfield Conservation Commission to clear invasives this weekened

Brookfield’s Open Spaces are being overrun with invasive plant species and the Conservation Commission is looking for volunteers to help remove them.  If these plants aren’t controlled, officials say forests and meadows will be permanently damaged, along with wildlife and native plants.  Volunteers are needed Sunday from 9am to noon, meeting at Williams Park Entrance.  Volunteers are asked to bring garden gloves and gardening tools, including pruning shears. A Master Gardener will be available to help identify and provide information about the dangers of invasive species.

Two people injured in multi-vehicle accident in Mahopac

Two people were injured in a multi vehicle accident in Mahopac.  Putnam County Sheriff Deputies responded to Route 6 near the Westchester County border on Saturday around 8:30pm.  A 43-year-old Mahopac man reported that a vehicle pulled out of Baldwin Place Road causing him to brake suddenly. The 74-year old Mahopac woman behind him rear ended his vehicle, and a motorcycle behind her struck the rear of her car and was ejected from the bike.  The woman was transported to Putnam Hospital Center for difficulty breathing and the 56-year old Tuckahoe man was transported to Westchester Medical Center for a possible concussion. Motorists are reminded to allow for proper following distance between vehicles.

Putnam County earmarks ARPA funding for school security

Putnam County government will earmark $2 million for the Sheriff’s Department to work with the Department of Social Services and Putnam’s six school districts to protect schools in Putnam County.  This stems from the elementary school shooting in Texas. 

The money is coming from the $19 million Putnam County received from the American Rescue Plan Act.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says while Putnam is the safest County in New York, they acknowledge that school shootings can happen anywhere and are preparing in order to prevent a tragic event from occurring in Putnam County. 

The effort, called “Team Up for School Safety,”  will start with Sheriff Kevin McConville and Department of Social Services and Mental Health Director Michael Piazza Jr. working with school superintendents countywide to identify what is already in place and which gaps districts might need to fill.

After the elementary school shooting in Texas, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police and local law enforcement established a greater and highly visible presence in schools throughout the county to act as a deterrent to any copycats.  

Alcohol ban to resume at 7 Connecticut parks and forests

Connecticut park officials say they’re re-imposing a temporary ban on alcohol this summer at seven state recreational areas that have had problems with drinking, crowds, unruly behavior and property damage. The ban, announced Thursday, will take effect immediately and continue until September 5th. The affected areas include the upper section of Paugussett State Forest and George Waldo State Park in Southbury; Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown and Middlefield; and Lake Waramaug State Park in New Preston.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the temporary ban has proven effective at reducing bad behavior.  DEEP says Connecticut’s state parks, forests, and boat launches should be peaceful and family-oriented places where visitors can feel welcome and safe while recreating outdoors.

Sherman Troopers arrest man for alleged theft from town home

A New Milford man has been arrested on burglary and criminal mischief charges for allegedly breaking into his ex-girlfriend's home and stealing her firearm.  The Sherman Resident Trooper's Office received a call early on May 30th about an Echo Lane home being ransacked, with a .38 caliber revolver, loose ammunition and the plastic firearm case missing.  Police say the air conditioner, plastic grill and a nightstand were damaged.  29-year old Dale Forschner was also charged June 3rd with stealing a firearm and larceny.  He is due in court on July 14th.  According to the warrant, they broke up in November, but Forschner didn’t move out until February and the last time they saw each other was in mid-May when he came to retrieve some of his belongings.  Police carried out a search of his home and found some missing items, but the warrant did not say whether police found the revolver.

Danbury City Council approves ARPA-funded projects

The Danbury City Council has signed off on a list of projects to be funded with $32 million from the City's share of the American Rescue Plan Act.  There's $2.5 million set aside for COVID pay, $1.9 million for fire department trucks and communications equipment and $700,000 for emergency medical services vehicle, equipment and technology.  $660,000 will pay for police body cameras and tasers.  Money is also being set aside to replenish budgets of city authorities such as the museum hit hard by lockdowns.  $625,000 will be used for playscape repairs, replacement and safety resurfacing at city parks and schools and $300,000 to replace spray parks. 

Danbury, New Fairfield see drop in COVID-19 cases

20 Connecticut municipalities are no longer in the state Department of Public Health's Red Zone, the highest alert level for COVID-19 community spread.  Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman and Monroe have dropped into the orange zone with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  Bridgewater remains in the grey zone, with fewer than 5 cases.  All other greater Danbury area towns are reporting 15 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.

Work continues in Ridgefield on force main installation

Paving is on schedule for today in Ridgefield in the areas where crews have completed a force main installation.  This is part of the Water Pollution Control Authority’s Wastewater Facilities Upgrade project.  About 13,600 linear feet of new 8-inch diameter underground force main piping is being installed from the Route 7 Pump Station to the South Street Wastewater Treatment Facility.  Ridgefield is getting ready to decommission the District 2 plant and renovate the District 1 facility. 

New Fairfield signs off on lease with DISH for space on cell tower

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has signed off on a lease with DISH Network for space on a cell tower.  Town Counsel Dan Rosemark spoke of the addition of DISH Network to the cell tower at Ball Pond. He noted that there are currently four carriers on this tower. He spoke of the proposed leased and noted that the current revenue for this network would be $3,925 per month that will increase by 3.5% annually.  The lease is for an initial five-year term, with four additional five-year renewals.   Rent starts upon signing.  The lease is consistent with the market, and the other companies on the tower.  If the contract is terminated by DISH early, the town would recoup some money.  DISH would locate on an existing pad vacated by Cingular Wireless, which merged with AT&T.  DISH still has to go through Connecticut Siting Council approvals process. Others on the tower are Verizon, AT&T, TMobile, and town systems.  It will still have capacity to take on other uses, but that's all of the wireless carriers nationwide at this point.

State grants awarded to Southbury, Aspetuck Land Trusts

A state grant has been awarded to the Southbury Land Trust to clear trails and add boardwalks, if needed, to access a pollinator pathway, meadow, pond, and stream at Bothwell Farm.  The $253,500 will also be used to add a wildlife viewing platform on the northern side of the pond, a short and fairly level distance from the parking area, making it more accessible for visitors with disabilities.  The more than 31 acre Bothwell Farm on Reservoir Road and Woodbury Road has historic and cultural significance as a dairy farm in the early 1900s. The site contains an abundance of DEEP-rated Class AA watercourses and the headwaters of streams that feed the recharge area of Woodbury’s public water supply well.

Aspetuck Land Trust has been awarded a nearly $400,000 grant to preserve almost 10 acres in Wilton.  The 9.8 acres consists of two lots on Old Two Rod Highway.  The organization is looking to create a 705-acre contiguous forest known as the Weston/Wilton Forest Block.  This will be the sixth acquisition by the Aspetuck Land Trust, providing passive recreation opportunities, with a public access trail heads at the Upper Parish Drive terminus (to the north), on the adjacent Fromson-Strassler Property and Old Two Rod Highway/Wampum Hill Road terminus (to the south).  The Aspetuck Land Trust plans to connect the WWFB with the Norwalk River Valley Trail in Wilton through other open spaces owned by the town and Wilton Land Conservation Trust.  The Norwalk River Valley Trail is a 38-mile, multi-purpose phased trail construction project from Norwalk to Danbury, connecting to the Norwalk Heritage Greenway (a Connecticut-designated greenway). The WWFB is one of the last un-fragmented forests in Fairfield County.

Brookfield Firefighters respond to two car crash

One car went down an embankment in Brookfield yesterday evening during a two car crash.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to Route 7 north, in the area of exit 12, shortly after 10pm.  Firefighters found one car in the woods and the other further up on the exit ramp.  Both drivers refused treatment by EMS.  Firefighters assisted in removing the vehicle from the woods and were on scene until about 11:30pm.

Wilton Police team up with Domestic Violence Task Force

Members of the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force,  the Domestic Violence Crisis Center and the Wilton Police Department were at the Wilton Farmers' Market yesterday to promote Healthy Relationships and Services available for all people.  Wilton Police responded to 73 domestic-related incidents last year, including 39 that involved violence.  Department officials say it's their partnership with the DVCC that helps keep victims safe.

Nature Conservancy to preserve forest, freshwater resources in Redding

The Nature Conservancy is receiving a state grant to preserve forest and freshwater resources in Redding.  The $1.105 million will preserve little more than 99 acres located at 55 Dorothy Road, the last large, undeveloped parcel adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s 1,833-acre Devil’s Den Preserve.  The mostly wooded property possesses traits with above average resilience to changes in climate by The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient and Connected Landscapes project. Devil's Den is the conservancy’s largest and most frequented preserve in Connecticut with more than 20 miles of trails within the “Saugatuck Core” of the Saugatuck Forest Lands. It is part of a 15,300-acre network of protected open space and contiguous forest with high conservation value including the Centennial Watershed State Forest, Aspetuck Land Trust, Redding Land Trust, Town of Weston, Town of Redding, and Wildlife in Crisis properties.

Danbury considers buying Old Fairfield County Courthouse from Conn.

The Danbury City Council will look into acquiring the Old Fairfield County Courthouse on Main Street from the state.  The 1899 building is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The City could use the structure for the Danbury Museum and Historical Society or the Probate Court offices.  The state Department of Administrative Services declared the building surplus and is asking $1.46 million.  There are some restrictions on the property and not a lot of parking.  An ad hoc committee of the City Council will study the issues around the potential acquisition.  

Title IX rally planned in Washington, D.C.

A rally is being held in Washington DC to mark the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education.  The  “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally will be held on June 23rd.  Among those slated to attend are Alana Smith of Danbury, who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that sought to prevent transgender athletes from competing in girls high school sports in Connecticut. Before Title IX, only one in 27 girls participated in sports. Today, two in five do. 

United Way of Western Connecticut holds annual Day of Action

More than 200 volunteers took part yesterday in United Way of Western Connecticut's annual Day of Action across greater Danbury and greater New Milford.  Volunteers helped at 18 different sites for 16 nonprofit agency partners, generating more than 53-thousand dollars of volunteer.  Nonprofits benefiting from the work include Ability Beyond, Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, Jericho Partnership, Danbury Museum and Harrybrooke Park among others.


Belimo: Ability Beyond (4 Berkshire Boulevard Bethel, CT) 
Linde: Action Early Learning Center (75 Balmforth Avenue Danbury, CT ), Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary (45 Main Street Newtown, CT) 
Newtown Savings Bank: Children’s Adventure Center (14 Riverside Road Sandy Hook, CT) 
Union Savings Bank: Children’s Center of New Milford (11 Aspetuck Ave New Milford, CT), Jericho Partnership (44 Spring Street Danbury, CT), Jericho Partnership (13 Rose Street Danbury, CT), Kent Education and Nursery School (6 Bridge Street Kent, CT) Pratt Nature Center (163 Paper Mill Road New Milford, CT)
Savings Bank of Danbury: Danbury Museum (43 Main Street Danbury, CT) 
Kimberly-Clark: Harrybrooke Park (100 Still River Drive New Milford, CT) 
Eaton Corporation: Meckauer Park Born Learning Trail (16 Shelter Rock Road Bethel, CT) 
Del-Tron Precision, Inc.: New Milford Senior Center (40 Main Street New Milford, CT)
Branson Ultrasonics: New Milford Senior Center (40 Main Street New Milford, CT)
Danbury Mission Technologies: New Pond Farm Education Center (101 Marchant Road Redding, CT)
Waterworks: Pratt Nature Center (163 Paper Mill Road New Milford, CT)
Western Connecticut Federal Credit Union: Regional YMCA Grassy Plain Children's Center (57 Grassy Plain Road Bethel, CT) 
Webster Bank: Sullivan Farm (140 Park Lane New Milford, CT) 
Fairfield County Bank: Woodcock Nature Center (54 Deer Run Road Wilton, CT) 

Redding Board of Ed to beef up school security

The Redding Board of Education assessed security in April and at their meeting Tuesday went into executive session to discuss the review.  The report covered a range of school safety and security policies including the availability of defibrillators, drug use and student safety.  Superintendent Jason McKinnon says they are making improvements considered best practices based on the review. The Redding Board of Ed approved using up to 35-thousand dollars to upgrade existing systems.  Funding could be requested from the Redding American Rescue Plan Act committee.

Damage done by car to lawn of Sandy Hook fire substation

A tree was knocked down by a car outside the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue substation.  Newtown Police are looking for the driver that also damaged the lawn last week.  Police say the accident happened sometime between May 31st and June 3rd when the vehicle left the roadway.  The substation is located on the corner of Berkshire Road and Nighthawk Lane.  Anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in the area during those dates is asked to call Officer Steven Borges at 203-426-5841.

Bethel gets first state check from 'nip' surcharge

When Connecticut lawmakers updated the bottle deposit program last year, a five-cent surcharge was added to the sale of liquor bottles smaller than 50 milliliters.  The money is returned every 6 months to the Connecticut municipality where the nip was sold.  The cities and towns must use that funding for litter control and similar efforts.  Suggestions were included in the law including the hiring of a recycling coordinator, purchase of a street sweeper or installation of storm drain filters to prevent waste from entering local waterways.  Municipalities are given a lot of leeway and the law does not specify when the money must be spent.  There is also no oversight to ensure compliance with the intent of the law.  Nearly 37-point-6 million miniature bottles were sold between October and April resulting in more tan 1-point-8 million dollars returned to municipalities.  During the Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting last month. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker noted that municipalities wanted a 10 cent fee, like on everything else.  He says that would have provided a strong incentive not to litter in the first place.  While they lost that fight, all of the 5 cent fee is returned to the municipality.  Bethel received its first check last month, for $7,647.  Knickerbocker says that funding could be used for grant funding for activities by the newly seated Sustainability Commission in the future.  

Litchfield County fire companies train on Swiftwater Rescue techniques

This weekend, Sherman Firefighters and EMS personnel, in conjunction with Gaylordsville, Kent and New Milford fire companies participated in a Swiftwater Rescue Technician certification. The 4 day course put participants through real world rescue scenarios in the rapids of the Housatonic River above and below Bulls Bridge, in Kent. The participants were taught skills such as water hydrology, rigging, throw rope rescues, tethered rescues, how to navigate in rapids, crossing currents safely, rafting saves and other techniques. The training will culminate this coming Saturday with a night rescue scenario and graduation.  The Housatonic is a popular place for kayakers and has some mild currents all the way up to Class 4 rapids, which are for intermediate and experienced rafters. The rapids are long and unpredictable with large waves and narrow passages.

Candlewood Lake area fire, police show off resources available during marine emergencies

Earlier in the week, City of Danbury Emergency Management set up an opportunity for Candlewood Lake area public safety agencies that operate marine units to gather at the Danbury Town Park for a "meet and greet". Crews were able to board each vessel to learn more about the capabilities each agency brings to the table.  Each department introduced resources available to assist with Marine emergencies.  Danbury Hospital EMS, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company, Brookfield Police Department, Water Witch Hose Co. #2 of New Milford, Candlewood Lake Authority, New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department Company A, Ball Pond Volunteer Fire Company, and Sherman Volunteer Fire Department took part.

Catherine's Butterfly Party Saturday in Newtown

Catherine’s Butterfly Party, an annual pet adoption event and fundraiser for a foundation started in honor of a girl killed at Sandy Hook School, is taking place again Saturday.  This year's event from The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary will have 25 animal rescues, 200 adoptable pets and an estimated crowd of 7,000.  The event, raising money for the sanctuary project, will be held at the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown.  The organization is looking to build an 8 million dollar facility on 30-acres in Newtown.  About half of the money has already been raised.  The project includes a veterinary intake facility and an education center offering animal and nature programming.  Danbury Animal Welfare Society, Bridgeport Cat Rescue, CT Parrot Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue, House Rabbit Connection, Gimme Shelter, Best Friends Animal Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA are participating Saturday.

Brookfield firefighters extinguish car fire

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and EMS responded to a vehicle fire on Route 7 North just past the Exit 11 on ramp yesterday afternoon.  Units arrived around 4:30pm and found smoke in the passenger compartment. Further investigation revealed a small fire in the under carriage of the low profile car. Being unable to access the fire area, firefighters used a stabilization tool and the Jaws of Life e-draulic spreader to lift the car to extinguish the small fire.  Crews were on scene for about 40 minutes. 

Tensions run high among Brookfield Selectmen during Armed School Security funding debate

There was a heated discussion at the Brookfield Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night when members talked about school security concerns.  First Selectman Tara Carr wanted the Selectmen to decide on the funding source to set in motion a plan to employ the Armed School Security Officers, pending Board of Ed approval.  There was about 30 minutes of debate with Selectman Steve Dunn noting that they can't make an allocation for something that hasn't been requested since the Board of Ed is different than every other town government entity. 

Dunn argued that if the funding was approved, the Board of Ed could then spend that money on whatever they want. 

Carr said both he and Selectmen Harry Shaker don't have children in school and know what it feels like to send kids to school unsafe every day.  Dunn called that comment offensive.  Carr argued that she didn't want to get bogged down by the process, but Dunn countered that it's the school board's job to decide on security and not the Selectmen. 

Dunn and Shaker agreed that the town should spend whatever is needed, but say allocating funding from now is putting the cart before the horse. 

Shaker called it a question of policy and procedure and asked if they ignore the process for this, where would they draw the line.  Carr gave the example of additional funding for a wall at Whisconier Middle School, but Dunn noted that school buildings are in the town's purview.  Carr responded that the safety of students should be the town's responsibility as well. 

Carr met recently with the Superintendent, Board of Education Chair and Chief of Police.   From now to the end of summer school, there will be police presence at each school.  They came to a consensus to employ school security officers at each school beginning in the Fall. 

She noted that Brookfield Police received cost estimates in January from New Milford Police, which looked at ASSO rates from Watertown, Sherman, Easton, Redding, Ridgefield and elsewhere.  They range from $24-$30 per hour, plus sick time, days off and other benefits. Brookfield officials estimate there would be 182 to 186 days of work, at 8 hours per day, with benefits, would be about $75,000 for each position.  Carr proposed up to $600,000 from ARPA funding be used. 

Danbury residents approve $207.9 million bond with 7% turnout

With very low voter turnout in Danbury, residents overwhelmingly approved the school bond package up for a referendum yesterday.  Mayor Dean Esposito says Danbury will be the first city or town in the state with a “Career Academy” focused curriculum.  He says it will revolutionize the education system by broadening opportunities for all of Danbury students.  Esposito added that the Career Academy, as well as the additional improvements and advancements in this bond, will help generations of Danbury children succeed.  Esposito thanked Superintendent Kevin Walston for his partnership and support during this entire process, and the entire state delegation for securing the 80-percent reimbursement rate on eligible costs.  Other projects include an early childhood center, ADA compliance and a new roof for one school.  Just about 7 percent of registered Danbury residents cast ballots for the more than $200 million.  The final vote count was 2,641 in favor and 433 against. The learning model will contain six academies.  They are Emerging Technologies, and Entrepreneurship; Scientific Innovation and Medicine; Information and Cyber Security; Professional and Public Service; Art, Engineering and Design; and Communication and Design. 

Waterbury man arrested for Friday shooting in Danbury

Danbury Police have provided more details about the shooting that happened Friday night on Beaver at Elm Streets.  One person was transported to the hospital and a suspect was taken into custody at that time.  Police have identified the suspect as 22-year-old James Urbano Velez, of Waterbury.  He was charged with assault, illegal discharge of a firearm, violation of pistol permit requirements, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment and breach of peace.  Police have not updated the condition of the victim.

Police searching for missing South Salem man

New York State Police are searching for a missing man who did not arrive at his Ridgefield destination on Sunday.  Troopers in Somers are searching for 64-year-old Robert Swern of South Salem.  His family reported him missing after leaving his home around 5pm Sunday for Ridgefield, but he never arrived.  Troopers determined he was in Brewster around 6pm and in White Plains around 8pm.  Swern in 5 feet 10 inches tall, he weighs 212 pounds, has bluish gray eyes, and gray hair.  Vehicle he is operating is a 2012 Hyundai Elantra station wagon bearing NY registration GDR9605.  Anyone who may have spotted the man is asked to contact New York State Police at (914) 769-2600.

Danbury man arrested on sex assault charge was City teacher

A Danbury man arrested on sexual assault charges last week was a middle school teacher until a few months before his arrest, according to Hearst Connecticut Media.  Kenneth Gardner taught at Broadview Middle School.  The school's human resources director said in a published report that the science teacher resigned at the end of February, 5 months after Danbury police launched an investigation into child sexual abuse allegations against him and his wife.  He and Lisa Gardner were arrested May 31st following an 8 month long investigation into allegations by a child, who is now an adult.

Roundtable on baby formula access held in Danbury

A roundtable discussion has been held in Danbury on access to baby formula.  The forum at the Connecticut Institute For Communities was organized by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and featured Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye, Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito, State Representative David Arconti and state Senator Julie Kushner.  Hayes says the baby formula crisis has revealed so many underlying issues that Connecticut families are facing.  She is looking to address the root causes of this crises.

Danbury Health Department updates COVID-19 testing, vaccine clinic hours

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services has updated the hours and locations of COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinics for the month of June.  Testing is still being done at Pat Waldron's Veterans Hall on Memorial Drive Mondays through Thursday, but the hours this month are 3pm to 6pm.  COVID-19 vaccines will be administered at the same location Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7pm, Saturdays 9am to 3pm and Sundays 10am to 4pm.  There is also a COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned on the West Conn midtown campus at 181 White Street on June 19th from noon to 5pm.

The Center for Empowerment & Education's Annual Dinner coming up

The Center for Empowerment & Education’s Annual Dinner is coming up on the 17th.  The Center, formerly the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, says the building, design and planning team of Patricia House, the Center’s new residential facility, will be honored. 

Honorees are Former Mayor of Danbury and current Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue, Mark Boughton, City of Danbury Public Works Director, Antonio Iadarola, Principal Architect of seventy2atchitets, Maura Newell Juan, and Charles Van Zanten, Executive Vice President, Hawley Companies/Hawley Construction. Dinner Co-Chair, Vicki Taylor-Bloch of New Fairfield stated, “We could not think of a better group to honor than the team that made Patricia House a reality. This new state-of-the-art facility is a blueprint for how the state, nonprofits and private business can work together to get things done.”

Ridgefield residents, Elaine and Kevin Cox will also be celebrated for their work co-chairing the successful Speaking Up/Speaking Out Enrichment Campaign. 

The Center for Empowerment & Education's Annual Dinner coming up

The Center for Empowerment & Education’s Annual Dinner is coming up on the 17th.  The Center, formerly the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, says the building, design and planning team of Patricia House, the Center’s new residential facility, will be honored. 

Honorees are Former Mayor of Danbury and current Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue, Mark Boughton, City of Danbury Public Works Director, Antonio Iadarola, Principal Architect of seventy2atchitets, Maura Newell Juan, and Charles Van Zanten, Executive Vice President, Hawley Companies/Hawley Construction. Dinner Co-Chair, Vicki Taylor-Bloch of New Fairfield stated, “We could not think of a better group to honor than the team that made Patricia House a reality. This new state-of-the-art facility is a blueprint for how the state, nonprofits and private business can work together to get things done.”

Ridgefield residents, Elaine and Kevin Cox will also be celebrated for their work co-chairing the successful Speaking Up/Speaking Out Enrichment Campaign. 

Two lifeguards presented with commendations for work in Brookfield

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has presented two local lifeguards with commendations for their life saving efforts while at the YMCA in December. Lifeguards Justin Tarsi and Emma Padros were nominated by Brookfield Police Officer Joseph Kyek for their quick actions when a party had a medical issue in the pool.  The commendation noted that their swift and professional actions ensured there was a positive outcome from this call.

Enhanced police presence at Danbury schools today for bond referendum

There will be a lot of police stationed at Danbury schools today.  The heightened police presence is because of the schools being used as voting locations for the bond referendum. 

The Mayor's Office, Police Department, Office of Emergency Management and the Public School District coordinated the effort.  There will also be restricted access to the school buildings during voting hours.  Mayor Dean Esposito says the security of children, teachers and staff is their top priority and felt it was necessary to provide these additional resources while the public will be casting their votes, through 8pm. 

The bulk of the more than $200 million school bond package is for the proposed Danbury Career Academy.  The ballot contains two separate questions for the significant new construction and improvements for the Danbury School District Facilities and grounds. 

Danbury residents are being asked to sign off on $164 million for the Danbury Career Academy Bond and $43.9 million for district wide improvements.  State reimbursement of 80-percent of eligible costs on the Career Academy and 60-percent on the renovations would lower the direct impact on taxpayers.  The proposal calls for buying little more than 30 acres of land, the former Cartus site, and renovating the building. 

The district wide improvements are for an elevator at Hayestown Elementary, DHS Phase 1 accreditation, a roof for King Street Primary, DHS ADA compliance, and Pre-K Center/Early Childhood Center. 

Banner being signed by Newtown residents in support of Uvalde, TX community

Newtown area residents are signing a banner to show support for Uvalde, Texas.  The Newtown Community Center, built with funding donated after the shooting at Sandy Hook School, has the banner and encouraged residents to drop by during business hours and leave a message for the community in Texas where a gunman killed 19 students and 2 teachers last month.  Newtown Community Center will be shipping the banner by Wednesday, June 8th.

DEEP continues search for missing man in Candlewood Lake

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is continuing to search Candlewood Lake for a boater who went missing more than a week ago.  A 24-year old man was last seen on a boat with friends May 29th in the area of the Candlewood Inn. The vessel was not moving when the individual was reported missing.  It wasn't clear whether he jumped or fell off the boat.  DEEP is asking anyone who was in the Brookfield Bay area between 5:30pm and 6:45pm last Sunday to call Environmental Conservation Police at 860-904-8154. 

Putnam County Sheriff reminds residents to be wary of phone scams

Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville is reminding residents to be wary of phone calls from strangers asking for money.  These calls vary and understands that those receiving them may be scared by a person by telling them that they are from a police agency and a relative needs bail money.  Often the callers will put someone on the phone to impersonate a child or grandchild to convince the victim further.  Other times, criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments. Seniors are often targeted because they usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit, making them attractive to scammers. McConville says seniors may be less inclined to report fraud because they don’t know how, are too ashamed of being scammed, or concerned that their relatives will lose confidence in their abilities to manage their financial affairs. Residents who believe that they have been a victim of a scam should contact the Sheriff’s Office at (845) 225-4300.

DEEP seeks to fill positions at Putnam Memorial State Park

The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is seeking to fill multiple positions at Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding.  The site of the Continental Army's 1779 winter encampment under the command of General Israel Putnam consists of remains of the encampment, reconstructed log buildings, a Visitors Center and a museum. The Putnam Memorial State Park Unit of the State Park and Forest System also provides staff support to Kettletown State Park and Campground in Southbury as well as Southford Falls and Huntington State Parks, among other state lands in that area of the state.  The seasonal Resource Assistant position is open until filled.

Signs confirm Amazon Fresh coming to Brookfield

The signs are up for a new grocery store on Candlewood Lake Road in Brookfield. After much speculation the large Amazon Fresh sign was installed Wednesday.  The company has not disclosed any details about when the ribbon will be cut and the doors would be opened. 

When the technology company submitted an application to land use officials in the fall of 2020, the owners of the shopping plaza told the Brookfield Zoning Commission that the tenant wanted to remain anonymous and noted that they had trouble finding someone to take over the former TJ Maxx location.  Design submissions a year later still did not include a logo for the signage. 

The first Amazon Fresh store opened to the public in Los Angeles in September 2020.  31 locations are currently open for business in the U.S.

Pedestrian struck, killed by car on I-84 in Danbury

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle on Interstate 84 in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  State Police say the accident happened around exit 4 eastbound shortly before 4pm when a pedestrian was attempted to cross the highway from the center median. 

There are 5 lanes in that area with Route 7 merging onto I-84. 

The pedestrian, later identified as 77-year-old Mariano Canales-Hernandez of Danbury, was transported to Danbury Hospital where he later died of his injuries.  The driver and a passenger of the vehicle involved in the collision were also transported to Danbury Hospital to be treated for possible injuries.

The highway was closed for several hours as emergency crews worked at the scene.  The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Smith #1103 of Troop A at (203) 267-2200.

Man stabbed in New Fairfield over the weekend

A man was stabbed in New Fairfield over the weekend.  Police received a call Saturday shortly before 1am on a report from a man stating that he was stabbed in his Route 37 driveway.  The caller and another family member confronted unknown males outside of their home when the assault occurred. New Fairfield Police, State Troopers and Western District Major Crime Squad responded.  Detectives have identified some of the assailants.  At least one is known to one of the victims.   Police called it an isolated incident and said there was no threat to the public. The investigation is active and ongoing.  No further information is being released at this time. Anyone with information on the identity of the assailants is asked to contact Major Crime Detectives at Troop A, at (203) 267-2200.

New Fairfield Police search for driver who passed stopped school bus

New Fairfield Police have been cracking down on drivers who pass stopped school buses.  On Thursday afternoon,  a red SUV with New York plates passed a stopped school bus with it's red lights flashing.  This happened on Route 37 south, near Hardscrabble Road. The Resident Trooper's Office has released a still shot of the video camera from bus 7.  Troopers are working with First Student to get the video of the violation only, so no children are in the multi screen video.  They not that the video quality is better than the still shot posted to their Facebook page.

Danbury man arrested for alleged home invasion, larceny in Bethel

A Danbury man has been arrested by Bethel Police for a home invasion, larceny and other charges.  Bethel Police responded to a Windaway Road home shortly after midnight on May 25th on a report of a home invasion. 

The 82-year old victim reported that an unknown male entered his house, woke him up and held a knife to his neck while demanding gold and money.  The victim handed over money and was tied up with an extension cord.   Later in the day the victim reported to detectives that his wallet was also missing from the bedroom and several of his credit cards were being used in Danbury. 

Detectives were able to identify the suspect using the victim’s credit cards as 60-year old Johnny Conyers, who previously lived across the street from the victim.

Bethel Police Detectives were able to locate Conyers in the area of Division Street in Danbury and took him into custody on the financial crimes warrant. Once arrested, Bethel Detectives were able to secure several items of evidence linking Conyers to the home invasion and on Saturday, June 4, secured an arrest warrant for Conyers for Home Invasion, Robbery, Unlawful Restraint, Larceny, Criminal Mischief, Reckless Endangerment, Threatening, and Assault.

Conyers is currently being held on a $250,000 bond for the Financial Crimes case and a court set $500,000 bond for the home invasion investigation.  The financial crimes warrant is for six counts each of Identity Theft, Illegal Use of Credit Card, Larceny, and Receipt of Goods Obtained by Illegal Use of Credit Card.

Putnam County enacting temporary gas tax break

Putnam County is enacting a temporary gas tax break.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell signed a law limiting the 4-percent county gas tax to the first $2 per gallon, regardless of how high gas prices rise.  The break is in place from now through the end of the calendar year. As Summer travel season begins, Odell says the local government wanted to make sure that drivers are receiving the gas tax break they deserve.  The consumer affairs department will canvas all gas stations and track their pricing.  She believes most gas stations will do the right thing, but will take steps to ensure that they aren't price gouging drivers.  She called the cost of gas these days highway robbery, noting that it’s taking an unprecedented toll on family budgets.

Brookfield schools reimplement security task force

A task force focused on security is being reimplemented by the Brookfield Board of Education.  The task force was dissolved in the summer of 2020.  During their meeting last week, members said it was time to make sure security plans are solid so nothing like the recent mass school shooting happens in Brookfield.  The Board of Ed members on the task force will review existing security protocols and see what improvements can be made.  In the meantime, Brookfield Police have an additional officer stationed at each school, among other enhanced presence in the district.

Newtown officials accept long awaited state grant funding for Sandy Hook memorial

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has accepted a $2.5 million state grant for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.  The State Bond Commission approved the funding in July 2021. 

At their meeting, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said considering the fact that they're fairly far along in the process, he's glad the funding has come through.  Newtown Finance Director Bob Tait went back and forth with the state for a few months trying to figure out which department owned the grant.  Now that it's been established, the Board accepting the funding is the first step in getting the money released. 

Rosenthal notes that the delay hasn't stymied the process, but the town appreciates getting the money the state offered for the project.  The $3.7 million project was approved by Newtown voters in April 2021. 

Construction of the project began last summer, just down the street from where the shooting occurred.  The project is anticipated to be finished before the tenth anniversary in December. The five-acre site is designed to include a central water feature, along with a sycamore tree in the center with the victims’ names engraved on a supporting wall. 

The design was chosen from among 190 submissions sent in from around the country.  The water flow has been designed so floatable candles, flowers and other objects will move toward the tree and circle around it. Pathways will take visitors through a variety of plantings, including flower gardens.  SWA Group designed the memorial.  Associate principal Daniel Affleck says they wanted to create a place that was quiet, a place of reflection.  He says the design will be a place where people can come to connect to nature, see the seasonality, the changes, and the reflection of the passage of time.

Info session today on full scholarships for NVCC Danbury program

Full scholarships are available at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Danbury - Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program.  Two information sessions are scheduled this month about the scholarship and for tours of the new location.  One session is today from 11am to noon, the other is June 23rd. 

Registration is required. 

The new facility is located on the WestConn campus.  All Tuition expenses are paid, including textbooks for all courses, materials and technical equipment package.  Graduates earn 31 college credits in two semesters towards an Associates Degree in Technology Studies.  Upon completion students will have earned two certificates--one in Fundamentals of Machine Technology and one in Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology. 

The program prepares individuals for “hands-on” positions in the manufacturing sector as inspectors, machine operators, CNC machinists and other related fields. 

The scholarship application deadline is June 30th.

Connecticut Trails Day weekend now underway

Connecticut Trails Day weekend gets underway today.  There are more than 150 events scheduled throughout the state, with activities ranging from paddling to hiking; overnight backing trips to nature walks; and bike rides to trail maintenance.  Trails Day events are being held in nearly every Greater Danbury area municipality.  A list of activities can be found online at trailsday.org.  

Today is Save the Lake Day on Lake Lillinonah

Saturday is Save the Lake Day on Lake Lillinonah.  The Friends of the Lake are holding a clean up from 8:30am to 12:30pm, leaving from the State Boat Launch on Route 133 in Bridgewater.  Operations are returning this year to the normal collection of man-made debris that has built up along the shoreline. Refreshments, gloves and garbage bags will be provided. Face masks are not required. Volunteers are asked to wear shoes that can get wet and have good traction in slippery conditions. anyone who can offer the service of their pontoon boat to help shuttle volunteers is asked to contact info@friendsofthelake.org.

Ridgefield marks Pride Month with event at Ballard Park

June is Pride month. Ridgefield CT Pride along with Ridgefield Allies, First Selectman  Rudy Marconi, State Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo and State Senator Julie Kushner and others will raise the Pride Progress flag which will fly high in front of Town Hall for the month of June.  Ridgefield’s Third Annual Pride in the Park celebration will take place today from noon until 3 m in Ballard Park.  The event is rain or shine, with a parade around the park starting at 1pm.   The free event is open to the public.

COVID-19 cases decline in Greater Danbury area

159 cities and towns are in the state Department of Public Health's red zone for COVID-19 community spread, the highest level.  Each of those municipalities have 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  Kent moved back up to red from orange last week while Sherman dropped from red to orange, with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks.  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 28th, there were 230 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 93,  Brookfield had 68 and New Fairfield 43. There were 91 COVID cases in New Milford, 115 in Newtown, Redding reported 36 cases while Ridgefield had 116.

The lowest case rate is in Danbury and the highest is in Bethel, based on population.   

The rates are:

Danbury 19.4

New Fairfield 22.1

New Milford 24.2

Redding 28.2

Brookfield 28.6

Newtown 29.5

Ridgefield 32.3

Bethel 33.5

 

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area range from 10 to 19 percent, down from 11 to 22 percent the previous week.  The lowest test positivity is in Newtown and the highest is in Ridgefield.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Newtown 10.4 percent

Danbury 13 percent

Brookfield 15 percent

New Fairfield 15 percent

Redding 15.1 percent

New Milford 16.5 percent

Bethel 16.7 percent

Ridgefield 19.2 percent

 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 31 since last Thursday.  New state data released Thursday show there were 3,500 positive COVID cases reported to the state over the last 7 days out of 33,000 tests.  The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 10.83 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time increased by 68.  The inpatient total is 311.

The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 8.39 percent, up nearly 2 tenths of a percent 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.  89 percent were identified as BA 2, according to the latest weekly report and the rest were a variant of BA2.

There's been an increase in the number of Connecticut residents who have received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since last week. The 45 to 54 year old cohort increased their vaccination rate by 2 percent while 35 to 44 year olds increased by 1 percent.

Cars rummaged through in Bridgewater/Roxbury

The Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper's Office is reminding residents to lock their cars at night and not to leave keys in unattended vehicles.  State Police received a report of cars gone throughout Bridgewater-Roxbury Thursday night.  There were also reports of multiple stolen cars in surrounding towns. All were unlocked and keys were in the vehicle.

Cars reported stolen in Southbury

Southbury Police received reports of vehicles stolen from the Lakemere Drive area Wednesday night.  The vehicles were unlocked and had the keys in them. One of the vehicles was recovered yesterday morning. Southbury Police also received a report of a vehicle rummaged through on Roxbury Road that was unlocked. Officers are again reminding residents not to make it easy for criminals and in an effort to avoid becoming a victim, to not leave keys in unattended vehicles and to lock cars. 

Pride flag raised outside Danbury City Hall

The Pride flag has been raised outside of Danbury City Hall.  Remarks were made by Mayor Dean Esposito, 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and others.  The event was organized by Will Love, founder of the Danbury Area Justice Network.  Apex Community Care, an organization that supports and advocates for individuals with HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use disorders had representative son hand.

Vigils, rallies to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day

A number of events are being held in the Greater Danbury area today on National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

There will be a community vigil in New Fairfield to remember the 31 people killed in Buffalo and Uvalde.  The vigil is from 6:30pm to 7:15 at the New Fairfield Congregational Church. 

In Newtown, Senator Richard Blumenthal will join advocates at a march and rally for action.  Representatives from Sandy Hook Promise, Jr Newtown Action Alliance, Moms Demand Action CT, and Connecticut Against Gun Violence among others are gathering at Edmond Town Hall at 6pm. 

Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, Police Chief John Lynch and Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith gathered at Town Hall yesterday in observance of “wear Orange” and National Gun Violence Awareness Day.  Also among those in attendance was former Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher, who is running to retake the seat.  She says she wants to work to institute common sense public safety measures to make every community safer for every person.  Boucher, like others, say learning of the horrific shooting in Uvalde brought back the gut wrenching feeling so many felt following the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Boucher supported a massive bipartisan bill that addressed everything from gun safety to school policy and mental health care – a result of the collaboration of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as the voices of parents, students, and constituents across the state.

Weston man sentenced for fatal DUI crash with tow truck driver

A Weston man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drunk driving accident in which he hit and killed a tow truck driver two years ago.  48-year old Dean Robert will have the term suspended after 4 and a half years, plus 5 years probation.  He was also ordered to pay a $10,000  fine to the family of the 58-year old man killed on the Merritt Parkway.  That's the maximum fine under the state's  "Move Over" law and the first time it's been enacted.  Robert's vehicle flipped over during the accident.  Corey Iodice was loading a car onto his flatbed when he was struck by a vehicle going over 80 miles an hour.  His family started a non-profit called "Flagman" to raise awareness about road safety.  The judge said Robert must continue his therapy, take his anti-depressants and volunteer in the community. 

State raises starting wage for lifeguards as swim areas go unguarded

The state still hasn't been able to attract lifeguards for this summer at several locations including Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has again raised the starting pay for lifeguards to $19 an hour, up from $16.  Lifeguard positions are also still available at Black Rock in Watertown, Burr Pond in Torrington, and Sherwood Island in Westport among others.  In addition to the increased starting salary, DEEP is providing all training required to work as a lifeguard, and training time is paid. DEEP will be holding a pre-requisite swim test for applicants next weekend, on June 11th and 12th. Applicants are encouraged to apply before the test. The final deadline to apply is June 17th.  Most weekends and the July 4 holiday are mandatory.  The hours are 10am to 6pm, 5 days a week.  The minimum age is 16, and 18 for lifeguard supervisors.

Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics today

Police officers in the Greater Danbury area are taking to the roads today for a good cause.  There are several legs of the Law Enforcement Torch Run in the area today to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut.  Danbury Police will be receiving the torch from Brookfield on Federal Road around 9:45am.  Officers will then head to White Street, around 10:15 and Main Street shortly after.  Officers will make their way to the Bethel town line to pass the torch on South Street shortly before 11am.  Drivers are being cautioned that there will be minor traffic delays as a result.  Bethel Police will continue south on Route 53, onto Route 302, and meeting Newtown Police at the Dodgingtown Market.

CityCenter's Danbury Street Festival set for Saturday

Part of Main Street in Danbury will be closed on Saturday for CityCenter’s Danbury Street Festival.  Main Street will be closed to traffic from West Street to White Street from 9am to 7pm. Event parking will be available at the Patriot Parking Garage.  The free event runs from noon to 6pm and will be followed by a concert on the Green, which will run until about 10pm.  The festival will feature  live music, food, shopping and activities.  More than 50 artists and vendors will line Main Street.  Macaroni Kid & Ventura Law is sponsoring a Family Fun Zone with a host of activities.

Danbury holds hearing on Affordable Housing Draft Plan

The Danbury Planning Commission has held a public hearing on the City's 2022 Draft Affordable Housing Plan.  Each municipality is required by state law to update their plan every 10 years.  Most Greater Danbury area towns opted to sign onto a plan drafted by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency for municipalities from Sherman down to Stamford.  That plan breaks out statistic for the individual towns. 

In response to affordable housing needs, the Danbury Plan identifies six goals to increase the supply of affordable housing and expand the diversity of housing options.  The goals include an emphasis on seniors, units in downtown Danbury, those accessible to people with mobility limitation and fostering relationships that ensure the housing needs of the City’s most vulnerable residents are met.

Based on the analysis of Danbury’s demographics and housing market conditions, there is a gap in both home ownership and rental units for low to extremely low income households. While there exist affordable units in the City that may meet the statutory definition as affordable, these units do not necessarily meet the specific needs for a sizable portion of Danbury’s residents.

Median household income in Danbury was $73,204 in 2020 according to the 2020 American Community Survey.  Although renter household incomes have increased, the share of renter households that are housing cost burdened is twenty percentage points higher than owner households. A household is considered housing cost burdened if it spends 30% or more of household income on housing costs. Based upon the most recent data available, 51% of renter households are housing cost burdened or severely housing cost burdened compared to 31% of owner households.

https://www.danbury-ct.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/COD-2022-DRAFT-Affordable-Housing-Plan.pdf

Greater Danbury area police to participate in Law Enforcement Torch Run

Brookfield Police Officers will participate tomorrow in the annual Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics Connecticut.  Drivers are asked to use caution on the roadways and to expect slow moving traffic on Federal Road beginning around 8:30am. 

The officers will be receiving the torch from New Milford Police at Faith Church.  From there, they will be running the torch south on Federal Road and handing the torch to the Danbury Police Department.  Danbury PD will be running it to the Bethel town line. 

The Ridgefield Police will also be participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics of Connecticut tomorrow.  Officers from Wilton and Redding Police Departments, the Bridgeport Department of Corrections and some Special Olympians will participate in this leg of the run. After carrying the torch through 2.3 miles of Ridgefield, the Ridgefield Police officers will finish the remaining 1.8 miles in Wilton.

Drivers are cautioned to possible slow moving traffic and urged to pay extra attention to the runners and use caution.

Two drivers injured in Newtown crash

Botsford Fire & Rescue responded to a two car crash on South Main Street yesterday with unknown injuries and possible entrapment.  The crash happened at the intersection with Button Shop Road. Extrication was ultimately not required, but paramedics were called to the scene as one driver sustained significant injuries.  The other driver appeared to have mild injuries.  Newtown Police are investigating the cause of the crash.

State, local officials gather in Danbury to discuss child tax rebate

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz was in Danbury this morning to raise awareness about the application period opening for a one time child tax rebate.  She was joined by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, State Representative David Arconti, State Representative Bob Godfrey, State Senator Julie Kushner, and other local officials at the Connecticut Institute For Communities Early Childhood Education Center on Park Avenue.  Families can apply to receive a state tax rebate of up to $250 per child, up to three children.  Bysiewicz says the rebate provides direct relief to workers doing their best to provide for their families while confronting pandemic-related costs from masks and tests to childcare and internet access.

Brookfield firefighters get three new vehicles

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has taken delivery of three new vehicles.  Two Chevy Silverado pickups will be getting a vehicle build which includes bed caps, slide out rear bed trays and a full array of radio and command equipment. These 2 vehicles were paid for, at no cost to the taxpayers, through donations during the Department's annual fund drive.  The pickup replace two older units in their fleet.  Another Chevy Silverado will be used for traffic control and towing their trailers. This is a new unit designation, partially paid for through last year's capital budget. The balance of the truck's payment and vehicle upfit is also being paid for from their annual donation fund.  All three units will be in service later this summer.

EnCon Police seek public help in search for man missing in Candlewood Lake

Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police are asking for the public's help in their investigation into a missing boater in Brookfield.  EnCon Police responded to the area of Brookfield Bay on Candlewood Lake for a boating incident involving a 24 year-old male missing in the water Sunday.  A search has been conducted every day since then, with no success.  Anyone who was around Brookfield Bay Sunday between 5:30pm and 6:45pm is asked to call DEEP at 860-904-8154.

New Milford Police looking to hire armed school security officers

The New Milford Police Department is looking to hire armed school security officers.  This is a civilian position and the salary is 25 dollars an hour.  The deadline to apply is August 26th.  Three Armed School Security Officers for a school assignment up to 40 hours would carry out existing district and school procedures and programs related to school security and safety functions. The position reports to the Chief of Police.  Applicants must be a retired Federal, State, or Municipal police officer who is eligible to be certified as an Armed School Security Officer with the State of Connecticut. The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss school security at its meeting tonight, but in executive session.  School Resource Officers are located at the middle and high school and one of the elementary schools, with an armed security guard at the other elementary school.  

Danbury-Southeast rail link, New Fairfield Police communications in running for federal funding

15 requests have been submitted by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes to the House Committee on Appropriations for 2023 Community Project Funding Requests. 

Danbury could used $2 million for an Environmental Impact Study for the Danbury to Southeast passenger rail link. The new rail link will connect Danbury’s downtown Metro North rail hub to allow direct trains on the Harlem line in Southeast, by adding two new stations in Danbury.  The funding was advocated for and selected by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes to be sent as a request to the Appropriations Committee, chaired in the House by Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. 

Mayor Dean Esposito says this important next step will pave the way for something once considered a long shot, a direct passenger rail line to New York City.  The restoration of passenger rail service would extend the existing public transportation network and provide benefits to all communities along the corridor. It is possible the restoration of service will reduce private vehicle volumes on Interstate 84, Interstate 684, and local roadways along the interstate roadway corridors. Lower vehicle counts could result in less vehicular congestion and emissions, and would have a lasting impact on the community.

$2 million is being requested for the Connecticut Institute of Communities Health Centers for construction of a parking garage for the center on Main Street in Danbury.  Center officials say this would make it easier for patients to access health center services. The parking structure will also enable the development of a nearby low-income senior’s housing facility.

$2.1 million is being requested for the New Fairfield Police Department to upgrade their emergency communications system.  Hayes says with New Fairfield’s location and proximity to Candlewood Lake and the New York border, it's critical to preparedness that there's interoperability between localities.  She notes that small towns like New Fairfield and its immediate neighbors depend on shared resources and mutual aid during emergencies, and this upgrade will allow for that with other towns and state agencies. 

Public hearing continues into controversial warehouse proposal in Newtown

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.  The application was revised in May. Tonight's meeting at Edmond Town Hall starts at 7pm.  A number of protest rallies have been held with residents concerned about hundreds of trucks entering and leaving the warehouse daily, and thousand of employee generated trips.

6th grade bilingual teacher named Danbury Public Schools Teacher of the Year

A 6th grade bilingual teacher has been named Danbury Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Emily Lopes has been a teacher in Danbury for 22 years and currently works at Rogers Park Middle School. Throughout her career, district officials say Lopes has shown her ability to connect with her students and build long-lasting relationships with families.  Superintendent Kevin Walston says over the last two school years, teachers have been expected to not just teach, but manage the aftershocks of the pandemic, like trauma, learning loss, and social isolation.  Lopes is 1 of 20 Danbury Public School educators nominated for Teacher of the Year. She will go on to represent Danbury in the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program. Lopes will also be honored by the Board of Education on June 8th, during their 7PM biweekly meeting.

Danbury bond vote next week on school construction, improvements

Danbury residents will be voting next week on a more than $200 million school bond package, with the bulk of the funding for the proposed Danbury Career Academy.  The Proposed Bond Referendum for June 7th contains two separate questions for the significant new construction and improvements for the Danbury School District Facilities and grounds.  Danbury residents are being asked to sign off on $164 million for the Danbury Career Academy Bond and $43.9 million for district wide improvements.  State reimbursement of 80-percent of eligible costs on the Career Academy and 60-percent on the renovations would lower the direct impact on taxpayers.  The proposal calls for buying little more than 30 acres of land, the former Cartus site, and renovating the building.  The district wide improvements are for an elevator at Hayestown Elementary, DHS Phase 1 accreditation, a roof for King Street Primary, DHS ADA compliance, and Pre-K Center/Early Childhood Center.  DHS renovations include code compliance improvements to science laboratories, the nurse suite and bathrooms.  

Sherman firefighters use trolley to access grill fire

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department responded to a reported gas grill on fire on the back deck of a residence yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters found the blaze had been extinguished by the resident with a fire extinguisher.  Fire officials are reminding residents to have a working fire extinguisher and ensure their homes are properly marked with easily identifiable mail box numbers.  This home was in a tough to access lake community, and firefighters used an onsite trolley to access the property. 

(Photo: SVFD)

Danbury Planners to meet on self storage facility, proposed drive thru restaurant

The Danbury Planning Commission is holding a public hearing during their meeting tonight about an application for special exception and site plan approval for a Self Service Storage facility on Mill Plain Road.  Diamond Point Development is seeking to blast part of the hillside next to Aunt Hack Road.  The Contractor will be required to control the amount of vibration and overpressure generated by blasting, and limit peak particle velocities and frequencies at the property line. The measured overpressures generated by blasting shall not exceed 130 decibels at the property line.  Members will be also be presented with an application for a Fast Food Restaurant with Drive-Thru Use and a medical office at a property on Sugar Hollow Road. A special exception is needed with site plan approval because of cumulative uses generating over 500 vehicle trips per day.  This is the former Pier One Imports site.  A public hearing will be scheduled for July 20th.

Next HRRA Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off day Saturday in Bethel

Another Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off day is being held by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority on Saturday.  The collection is being done at Bethel High School from 9am to 1pm.  People dropping off items must remain in their vehicle at all times, with the items in the back of the car.  Volunteers will remove the contents.  Wait times vary from 5 to 30 minutes depending on volume of cars.  Residents are asked to contact HRRA if they have more than 20 gallons of waste fuel or large quantities of other items.  This event is for residents of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Weston and Wilton.

Lake Zoar Authority reminding boaters about children's life jacket rules

The Lake Zoar Authority is reminding boaters about children's life jacket recommendations and requirements.  Children need to wear personal floatation devices whenever they are around the water. They also need to be taught how to properly wear a life jacket and get used to wearing one. The Lake Zoar Authority says children often understandably panic when they suddenly fall into the water, which can make it difficult for them to float face up, even when wearing a life jacket.

Two charged for sexual assault of child

Two people have been arrested on sexual assault and risk of injury charges following an investigation into a complaint from a child.  Danbury Police say the child is now an adult. 

Special Victims Unit members carried out search warrants yesterday and took two people into custody.  51-year old Kenneth Gardner was charged with sexual assault with force, three counts of sexual assault, 5 counts of sexual assault incest, 5 counts of risk of injury, conspiracy to commit sexual assault incest, criminal attempt to commit sexual assault with force and criminal attempt to commit sexual assault incest. 

He was held on $750,000 bond. 

51-year old Lisa Gardner was charged with conspiracy to commit sexual assault, criminal liability for sexual assault and conspiracy to commit risk of injury to a minor due to sexual contact. 

She was held on $300,000 bond.

Two men arrested for allegedly pointing gun at kids waiting for buses

Two men have been arrested after Danbury Police received a number of calls about a vehicle with two males pointing a weapon at children waiting for buses yesterday morning.  Officers quickly located the car and arrested two men, 26-year old Justin Balzarini of Danbury and 20-year old Elijah La Penga of New Milford.  An unloaded paintball gun, believed to be the gun in question, was recovered.  Both men admitted to their involvement, but denied the gun was loaded.  Each was charged with threatening, beach of peace and illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle as well as conspiracy to commit each offense.  They were held on a 100-thousand dollars bond pending release or presented to the court.  

Search enters 4th day for boater missing in Candlewood Lake

The search will resume today for a missing boater in Candlewood Lake in Brookfield.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection suspended the search near the Candlewood Inn around 8 o'clock last night and dive teams will be back in the water starting at 8am.  This will be the 4th day of the search for a man who went missing while out with friends.  A DEEP spokesman 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.   Investigators are looking into any and all factors, including if alcohol was involved and cold water temperature. Brookfield and Danbury Police and Fire Departments, Candlewood Lake Authority and the Connecticut State Police Dive Team have all assisted in the search.

Pre-trial hearing today for New Milford woman accused of relationship with teen

A pre-trial hearing is being held today for a New Milford woman accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with a teen.  Krystal Jones pleaded not guilty to 12 felony charges including sexual assault, illegal sexual contact and risk of injury.  The charges against the 34-year-old were filed in April in response to an investigation into a complaint lodged with the Department of Children and Families.  The 15-year old initially denied having a sexual relationship with Jones, but police say they found messages and images related to a suspected relationship.  Jones posted bail and was released from custody May 9th.

Bethel man charged for firing weapon at person

Bethel Police have provided an update on a situation from Friday involving a gun.  Police charged 67-year old Wilfredo Diaz with two counts of illegal discharge of a firearm, unlawful restraint, endangerment, threatening and disorderly conduct.  The charges stem from a complaint received around 7am Friday about a man firing two shots after pointing a gun at another person.  No injuries were reported.  Police say the man initially left the scene, but later agreed to speak with officers.

Danbury Planners continue hearing into proposed auto dealer near airport

The Danbury Planning Commission is holding another hearing tonight into an application for a car dealership near the airport.  The Commission has received a 200-page traffic study of 6 intersections near the proposed Mercedes-Benz dealership.  The report found that there would be little change in traffic volume if the application is approved.  Curry Automotive is looking move its Mercedes-Benz dealership from Federal Road to a 2-and-a-half acre property at the corner of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads.  The intersections are currently rated by the state Department of Transportation as As and Bs for congestion, but could drop to C or D during certain days and times.  

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Todd Schnitt

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