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Local Headlines Archives for 2022-08

Logan gains Independent Party nomination for Congress

George Logan, the Republican nominee in the 5th Congressional District, has won the Independent Party endorsement and will also appear on that line on November’s general election ballot.  He earned 70% of the total vote at the Independent Party Caucus.  Logan says he wants to be a voice for people of all backgrounds, and that was highlighted at the Independent Party Caucus.  Logan believes Independent voters in the 5th District are dissatisfied with the direction of the country and says common sense solutions to lower costs for families and businesses, making communities safer, and improving education systems are at the forefront of concerns for voters of all parties.  Logan is challenging Democratic incumbent Jahana Hayes.

Community update tonight on New Milford High School roof fire mitigation work

The mitigation process of damage done to New Milford High School from a July 5th roof fire is substantially complete. The remaining work is suspended until the new Monokote fireproofing is applied.  The contractor is continuing with that prep work. Once the new fireproofing is applied, Mayor Pete Bass says 1 day will be needed to finish the cleaning.  Roof removal and replacement in the area where the fire began also is continuing. An update will be provided tonight about the restoration work.  The start of the academic year was pushed back to September 6th.  Bass will host a Facebook Live discussion with the School Leadership team for a Q&A on the post-fire remediation.  The update will be streamed on the town's page starting at 5:30pm.

FAITH Food Pantry to collect donations during Labor Day parade

Friday is National Food Bank Day.  A food drive is being held at FAITH Food Pantry in Newtown Monday to mark the occasion.  Residents are being encouraged to visit, donate or volunteer to community food pantries.  The Newtown food drive hours are 9am to noon Monday.  During the annual Newtown Labor Day parade, volunteers will also be collecting donations and food while they march along the route.

Brush fire reported on Candlewood Lake island

There was a brush fire reported on an island in Candlewood Lake yesterday.  Residents spotted the Danbury Fire Department's vessel dousing an area in the late afternoon.  Connecticut has been experiencing abnormally dry conditions leading to a severe drought situation.

Meeting set to discuss replacement of Merryall Bridge

A community gathering will be held in New Milford to discuss plans for the replacement of Merryall Bridge.  The informational meeting is open to the public to learn more about the plans.  The meeting is set for WEdnesday at 7pm in the E Paul Martin Room of Town Hall.  

Mark Twain Library Book fair is this weekend

The Mark Twain Library Book fair is being held this weekend at the Redding Community Center. The library, founded by its namesake in 1908, is hosting its  principal fundraiser Labor Day weekend.  More than 65,000 donated books will be available Friday through Monday.  Hours Friday are 9am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, and on Monday from 9am to 4pm.  When the author moved to Redding, he had more books than could fit in his new home.  Over 1,000 titles were donated to fill the library’s shelves and his daughter donated more books upon his passing.  

Bethel Police investigating hit and run accident

A hit and run accident is under investigation in Bethel.  The Police Department responded to a report of an evading motor vehicle accident that happened in the overnight hours Friday into Saturday.  An unknown vehicle, possibly a truck or van, struck a parked vehicle on Honey Hollow Road between 9:20pm and 6:30am, causing substantial damage to the front end.  The vehicle most likely had Connecticut license plates, due to imprint and paint transfer color.  The evading vehicle pushed the parked vehicle approximately 25 feet back from its original position.  Police say the driver must have known that they struck another vehicle.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Bethel Police.

Bethel Social Services distributes 104 backpacks to children

The Bethel Social Services Department, with the help of residents, were able to distribute 104 backpacks to children in need.  This year, children had the opportunity to get a brand new jacket as well, through the Knights of Columbus's Coats for Kids program.  Giving Trees were set up at local businesses, the Bethel Chamber of Commerce and at houses of Worship, among other locations, to collect donations for the backpack program.  Bethel students started a new school year on Monday.

New Fairfield residents approved funding for SRO, other items

New Fairfield residents attending a Special Town Meeting last night approved, nearly unanimously, spending requests.  Just one person voted in opposition to the item, which included all of the $195,500.  

A third full-time school resource officer for the Meeting House Hill School and Consolidated Early Learning Academy campus will be funded.  Police coverage at the elementary schools have historically been funded through overtime shifts so the town could save thousands each year. 

The Board of Selectmen's budget this year included money for a police vehicle, but there's a $5,000 shortfall due to price increases.  That funding was also approved last night. 

There was also funding for part time dispatchers included.  The Board of Selectmen previously voted to keep the dispatch center in town as long as there is more than one person at a time at the center and the that length of the shifts are shortened.

A 5-percent hike in the Nuvance contract for ambulance/paramedic services came in after the town approved a budget for the year, so the difference was approved last night.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the town could consider looking elsewhere for services in the future because the increase is not sustainable.  

Federal funding could fix two bridges in Wilton

Federal and state aid is being sent to Wilton for bridge repair work along Route 7.  At least 80 percent reimbursement from the federal government will be provided.  The state will dedicate the remaining funds needed, from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  The two bridges slated for rehabilitation are the ones on Honey Hill Road and Cannon Road.  The estimated costs are $3.5 million and $4.65 million, respectively.  Preliminary design work began in June.  Both will have their bridge beams, the bridge deck and railings replaced, but Cannon Road Bridge work also includes replacing the foundation.  

Danbury cuts ribbon on newly expanded Ellsworth Avenue Elementary

The City of Danbury has cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School, just in time for a new academic year to begin yesterday.  Kindergarteners though have orientation until full day classes start on September 2nd.  The addition added classrooms to connect to a nearby district-owned building on Osborne Street.  Danbury was renting space in a former Catholic school in Brookfield to accommodate kindergarten students.  The 9-point-6 million dollar project was mostly paid for with state funding, covering 6-point-1 million dollars.  City and school officials celebrated the opening on Monday, ahead of yesterday's start date.

Newtown to apply for historic district designation for Fairfield Hills

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has signed off on applying for final historic district designation for the Fairfield Hills Campus by the State Historic Preservation Office.  The Legislative Council previously voted favorably for this plan, which could lead to historic tax credits.  SHPO will determine the boundaries of what is to be included in the historic designation. 

Winn Development senior project director Matthew Robayna says if a building is considered a threat to health and human safety and needs to come down, SHPO would negotiate with the town and would not outright prevent the building from being demolished. 

Officials believe one of the buildings are in imminent danger of collapsing in the next 10 years. 

The next step is to nominate the area for the national register.  The state review board would examine the nomination and then send it to the National Parks Service.  That entire process could take up to a year.  Once approved, the plan to develop two buildings can move forward.  The development plan relies on historic credits and is not viable without the credits.   The former state psychiatric hospital's 185-acre campus includes World War II-era buildings.  

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says once they submit the application, it's possible they could negotiate a smaller area for historic preservation.  If the designation is approved, and tax credits are available to Winn, the developer would negotiate a lease agreement with Newtown and submit a site plan to the town’s Planning and Zoning Department for approval.

Kent House, a 200,000-square-foot structure built in 1940, across from Newtown’s municipal building, and Shelton House, a 90,000-square-foot structure built in 1933 near the entrance to the Fairfield Hills campus could be turned into housing and commercial space.

Driver in multi-vehicle crash in Southbury extricated, hospitalized

Southbury Fire Department has responded to several motor vehicle accidents over the last few days, including last night on I-84 Eastbound prior to Exit 14. While en route, shortly before 6pm, State Police on scene reported that extrication would be required. Firefighters found a multi vehicle accident with 1 SUV across the high speed lane with heavy damage to the front and passenger side of the vehicle with the driver still inside. Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue was dispatched for mutual aid as the Southbury Fire Rescue truck was out of service for annual maintenance. The driver was extricated and Newtown Ambulance transported the injured driver to a nearby Hospital.

Officials warn of dangers from improper disposal of batteries

There have been multiple instances in New Milford of improper disposal of vehicle Jump Starters. The Fire Marshal's Office says these units are not to be disposed of in regular garbage pickup or in dumpsters. Kevin Reynolds says improper disposal can and has led to fires in garbage containers.  Residents are asked to contact their local recycling center or certain retail establishments to dispose of these items properly.  Meanwhile, trash haulers are cautioning residents not to dispose of lithium batteries and battery chargers in their household garbage.  2 car battery chargers were found in the trash last week leading to a hot load, and again this week in Sherman.  The drivers saw the smoke and took quick action to mitigate the problem.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire purchases new Command Boards

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has purchased new Command Boards from Fire Command Consultants.  These boards, designed by a former FDNY FieldComm Captains, will help department officials to track members and resources at emergency incidents.  It is customizable to any sized incident.  The tools were paid for with American Rescue Plan Act Funding and the Department thanked the ARPA committee, Board of Selectman and Board of Finance for approving the purchase.  Brookfield Fire notes that many area towns and state agencies use this same board.  They are Incident Command System and National Incident Management System compliant.

Bethel school officials ask parents to let kids take buses

Despite traffic and bus issues, Bethel School District officials say they had a great first day.  With regards to transportation, Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says the first few weeks are always difficult.  There continues to be an increase in the number of parents driving kids to school so there are ongoing traffic issues that are causing significant delays for buses.  Parents are urged to let their kids to ride the bus as the district doesn't have the funding this year to continue with police to direct traffic.  

Two cars stolen, several entered into in Monroe

Monroe Police had two reports of stolen vehicles and numerous other vehicles entered during the overnight hours Sunday into Monday.  Police say every vehicle that was entered was unlocked and the stolen vehicles were also unlocked with the keys/fobs inside. Officers continue to be active and visible to deter the car thieves, but are asking for residents help by locking vehicles and not leaving keys/fobs in the vehicles.

Catalytic converter theft continues

Thefts of catalytic converters continues, despite a new Connecticut law that took effect July 1st that prohibits scrap dealers from receiving detached converters and requires detailed paperwork on all sales. Hearst Connecticut Media reports that Danbury police have received 145 calls for service with 213 converters stolen this year, compared with 56 calls last year and 129 converters stolen. Under the new state law, a person can only sell one catalytic converter per day to a scrap metal dealer. Dealers can only pay by check and must submit information on converter sales to state police weekly.  The metals inside the pollution-scrubbing devices, platinum and palladium, have soared due to supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine.  The rare earth metals are primarily mined in Russia and South Africa.

Monroe opens new playground at Wolfe's Park

The Town of Monroe has opened a new playground at Wolfe's Park.  The Monroe Playground Foundation - Kids Kreation Rebuilding Project was led by a group of volunteers, raising funds and organizing the community build of the new Wolfe's Den playground.  The Tots area at the entrance to the playground is designed for kids under 5 and features dedicated swings, a therapeutic swing, train inspired climbing structure, and benches for parents.  The larger part of the playground is the big kids area designed for kids ages 5-12 and features monkey bars, slides, a wobbly rock wall, a pretend fire truck and more.

Danbury requiring drought mitigation steps

Danbury, and the majority of the State of Connecticut, remain in a Severe Drought.  Danbury water customers are now being required by the City to take some steps to help mitigate future problems if the conditions become prolonged.  All residential customers should voluntarily stop the irrigation of lawns and gardens. All non-residential and commercial customers, and all condominium and apartment complexes, should stop the use of irrigation systems effective immediately.  People are also being asked to postpone planting any new lawns or vegetation, fix leaky plumbing and fixtures, and discontinue washing vehicles and equipment.  The Danbury Water Department will be patrolling neighborhoods to monitor these irrigation restrictions.

Bethel Police receive increased in reports of attempted phone scams

Bethel Police Department has received an increased number of calls regarding attempted scams over the phone. No government agency or utility company will contact residents directly and request a payment through Bitcoin or any other crypto currency. Bethel Police say these scams are designed to seem legitimate, but they are not.  Anyone who feels they have been scammed are encouraged to contact the utility provider involved, using the number posted on their website. Anyone needing assistance regarding a scam can also contact the Bethel Police Department at 203-744-7900.

Kent opens cooling station

The Kent Office of Emergency Management is cautioning that dangerous heat returns this week.  Very warm and fairly humid conditions are expected today, with maximum heat indices topping out in the low to mid-90s in the valleys.  Residents are reminded to stay hydrated if spending time outdoor.  The Kent Office of Emergency Management and the Kent Memorial Library have partnered to provide a cooling center for those individuals needing relief from the heat. The cooling center is open during business hours at the library, during the week 10am to 5:30pm, Saturday 10 to 4, and Sunday noon to 4.  

Special Town Meeting tonight in New Fairfield on spending items

A Town Meeting is being held in New Fairfield at the end of the month for residents to weigh in on some spending requests.  The allocations are for a third full-time school resource officer, part-time dispatcher salaries, a police vehicle and the 5-percent hike in the Nuvance contract for ambulance/paramedic services.  The total being sought from the General Fund is $195,500.  The SRO for the Meeting House Hill School and Consolidated Early Learning Academy campus salary is $40,500.  Each officer would have their own vehicle, as the high school and middle schools already have full-time school resource officers.  Police coverage at the elementary schools have historically been funded through overtime shifts so the town could save nearly $19,000 with the new SRO position. $58,000 for part-time dispatcher salaries would become part of the Board of Selectmen’s operating budget.  The Nuvance increase totals $22,500.  The Board of Selectmen's budget for 2022-23 included $60,000 for a police vehicle, but there's a $5,000 shortfall because of price increases.  The Town Meeting is tonight at New Fairfield Senior Center at 7pm.

Applications due today for Kent ARPA grants

The Town of Kent will use some American Rescue Plan Act funding, federal pandemic relief aid, to help families, local small businesses and nonprofits.  The town is currently accepting grant applications, subject to conformity with federal requirements.  Individuals and families must have Kent as their primary residence and demonstrate that they have been economically harmed by the pandemic.  Grants will be awarded for up to 5 thousand dollars.  Local small business is defined as a company located in Kent, has less than 500 employees, and provides commodities, goods, products or services to the local public, and, ideally, provides local employment. Grants up to 10 thousand dollars are available. A nonprofit is a Kent entity operating for a collective, public or social benefit.  Grants are up to 15 thousand dollars.  Applications will be accepted through today and can be obtained at Town Hall outside the Treasurer’s Office, or requested via email from ARPA@townofkentct.org.  Applications and supporting documentation are to be submitted to the same email address,  hand delivered to the Selectmen’s office during regular business hours or mailed to Treasurer, Town of Kent, PO Box 678, Kent CT 06757.  Grants will be awarded based upon funds available and the number of applications received. Applicants must be in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service and the Connecticut Department of Revenue in terms of tax filings and if applicable, business / non-profit filings.  Non-profits must have proof of 501c status.

Mercedes Benz dealership gets final land use approvals to relocate

A Mercedes Benz dealership has secured the final approval from Danbury's land use agency to relocate from Federal Road to Miry Brook Road.  Pioneer Realty LLC/Steamboat Motors LLC was approved by the Zoning Commission Tuesday night for a certificate of Location Approval for a Motor Vehicle New Car Dealer’s License.  The area has other high-end auto businesses.  The 31-thousand-square foot, two-story dealership with rooftop parking and 22 service bays would have 250 parking spaces on site. As part of earlier approvals, Curry Automotive was required by the City to install camera detection equipment at three nearby intersections to improve traffic management and signal operations.  The company agreed to pay the City 50-thousand dollars to buy and install the equipment.  Zoning variances, wetland approvals, and Federal Aviation Administration clearance were granted.  

Low water conditions reported at Lattins Cove Boat Launch

Low water conditions on Candlewood Lake are prompting a word of caution from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The Lattins Cove Boat Launch is experiencing low water and boaters are being asked to use caution if launching. An alternate place to launch is the Squantz Cove Boat Launch in New Fairfield.  

Tree, brush fires reported in Newtown this weekend

A tree on wires burned in Newtown yesterday morning.  Botsford Fire Rescue says primary and secondary wires ended up crossing charge through the wet tree and knocked out the circuit. There was a brush fire reported in Newtown Saturday.  Sandy Hook and Stevenson Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the Paugussett State Forest to put out the difficult to reach brush fire.

Work continues in Southbury on Algonquin Gas Transmission's pipeline

Work continues in Southbury on Algonquin Gas Transmission’s pipeline system crosses under Route 67 near 623 Southford Road.  Construction is being done 24 hours a day Mondays through Saturdays 7am to 7am, with one lane of alternative traffic, through September 12th.  But Algonquin anticipates that the work will be completed by Labor Day weekend.

Danbury Fire Department sharing college campus fire safety information

Western Connecticut State University students have moved back into the dorms as classes got underway today.  The Danbury Fire Department is sharing some college campus fire safety information for students living away from home for the first time. 

Students are being encouraged to learn the building's evacuation plan and practice drills as if they were the real thing.  They are also asked to check the school's rules before using electrical appliances in dorm rooms. 

Students living in a house or apartment should make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside sleeping areas and on each level of the structure.  Fire officials say for the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.  Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and the batteries should never be removed. 

The National Fire Protection Association says about 6 out of 7 fires in dormitories are started by cooking.  Students are asked to stay in the kitchen while cooking, and not cooking while drowsy from medicine or alcohol.  Fires in dormitories are more common during the evening hours, between 5pm and 11, and on weekends.  Students living off campus are reminded to have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.

Sherman Fire Department to host Firefighter II class

The Litchfield County Regional Fire School will be running a Firefighter II class hosted by the Sherman Fire Department.  Most of the classes will be at the Sherman fire Station.  Some practical skills days will need to be at the fire school or other locations.  There will be an online component to this course as well.  Firefighter II Certificate involves more specialized areas and command.  The course starts on the 15th and runs through December 8th.

Bethel students returned to school today

Bethel students returned to the school campus today for the start of the new academic year.  The district highlighted the School Resource Officers today on their social media sites.  There's one uniformed law enforcement officer at the Middle School, one at Berry Elementary and the High School which are next door to each other, and a third SRO serving Rockwell and Johnson schools, across from each other.  SROs are considered school officials in the capacity of district and school safety.  They're on site to help maintain a safe and secure environment conducive to learning, help prevent crime and violence on school grounds, and promote positive attitudes regarding the police role in society.

Danbury man arrested on drug related charges

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug related charges.  The Special Investigations Division and Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation several months ago into illegal sales of Fentanyl in the city based on tips from citizens. The target of the investigation was identified as 41-year old Jose Reynaldo Melendez.   Detectives were conducting surveillance Friday when Melendez left his workplace in Commerce Park and was stopped at his vehicle.  Police found 40 Fentanyl pills.  A search warrant was carried out at his East Hayestown Road apartment.  A scale, $1,000 in cash and a 2007 Acura were seized.  Melendez was charged with Possession of narcotics with intent to sell, Possession of a controlled substance, and Possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was held on $100,000 bond.

Fire in large Danbury commercial building extinguished

A fire in a large commercial building in Danbury has been extinguished.  Danbury Fire Department responded to a building on Augusta Drive, in the corporate park section of the City around 1am yesterday.  The incident escalated to a second alarm, bringing in assistance from Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company Tower and Ridgefield Fire Department.  The flames in the rear of the building extended into the roof area.  The scene required an extensive overhaul. The Danbury Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause which is undetermined at this time.

Dogs rescued from Easton house fire, officer suffers smoke inhalation

A kitchen fire in Easton led to an animal rescue late Thursday night, and an officer being briefly hospitalized.  Easton Police received a 911 call from a Morning Glory Drive resident about the fire shortly after 10pm.  The Volunteer Fire Department, EMS and Police were dispatched to the scene.  Police arrived first and found smoke coming from the house, with the residents outside.  But they were notified that there were five dogs still inside.  The officer entered the home and was able to bring the dogs outside to safety. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.  The Officer was transported to St. Vincent’s Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and was later released.  The Fairfield, Long Hill and Weston Fire Departments assisted during the incident.  The fire is under investigation.

Local police remind drivers of school bus safety

Most Ridgefield students are starting classes today.  10 through 12th graders begin their academic year tomorrow.  Ridgefield Police are reminding people that busses will be back out on the roads and the students will be at their bus stops, waiting to be picked up. Residents are being asked to adjust their schedule to have a little extra time for commutes, to pay careful attention around the school campus and to stop for school busses with red flashing lights.

Newtown students are also among those beginning a new academic year today.  The Newtown Police Department is reminding parents to have a conversation with their kids about the basics of pedestrian safety.  The students take on a personal responsibility by walking to and from school.  Students are reminded to cross in crosswalks, obey traffic signals, and look both ways before crossing.  They should also be mindful of their footsteps and not their phones in busy parking areas and intersections. 

This is the time of year many drivers are caught off guard by the sudden masses of students on sidewalks and in roadways.  Motorists are asked to drive with caution to help reduce the risk of accidents. 

Mahopac Business District Wells Superfund site testing expanded

New information is being provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation about the Mahopac Business District Wells Superfund site.  In 2020, PFAS contaminants were detected in groundwater from monitoring wells near Routes 6/6N and Cherry Lane at concentrations that exceed State limits. A survey of the surrounding area revealed that many properties rely on private groundwater wells for their water supply. New York State does not regulate PFAS in private wells.  Sampling was conducted last year, in phases, starting with properties closest to the site. The area of interest has expanded based on the sampling results.  As of this month, 113 water supply wells have been tested. With the exception of one private water supply, each had elevated levels of PFAS. Affected property owners were supplied with bottled water and offered point-of-entry treatment systems at no cost. 46 were installed.  Filtration is a common process used to treat and remove contaminants from drinking water, though not all filters are effective at removing PFAS.

WCSU classes start today

Classes start today for Western Connecticut State University students.  While there are more hybrid classes being offered, this will be a return to more normal operations as COVID-19 cases hit a plateau.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says most classes, especially for first year students, are all in-person.  There are no mask mandates and no mandates on six feet of separation.  He notes that they are following CDC COVID-19 spread levels and if there is a significant uptick, the university will follow federal guidelines and recommendations.  Steinmetz says there is a different concern this semester.  Students are being cautioned to the presence of Monkeypox in the state.  Both infectious diseases are reportable to WCSU.  There are places on campus where students can isolate if necessary.  Monkeypox is spread by close contact, not necessarily intimate contact so students are cautioned not to share towels with their roommates.

Security features a priority at under construction Brookfield school

There will be a number of security features at the school currently under construction in Brookfield. Board of Education member Rosa Fernandes recently gave a brief overview of the state-of-the-art security features that will be included at Candlewood Lake Elementary School, which is replacing Huckleberry Hill and Center schools. 

The design was created with safety as a top priority. 

The long driveway is intentional, to provide clear sightlines of anyone trying to get near the building.  There's a single access point to the building, cars can't drive close by.  Intruder-resistant glass, not ballistic film, was incorporated into the build.  Whisconier Middle School and Brookfield High School have sworn officers.  BHS also have an unarmed security guard.  The district has installed panic buttons and ran practice drills with police on response times.  They've also upgraded intercom system so there are no silent zones.  The buildings are always on lockout mode, but now have given teachers the capability and training to call a lockdown if necessary.  Previously they would have to call the main office. 

Brookfield also installed a secure building access system to identify if someone has a criminal record or is a registered sex offender.

New Fairfield has new polling precincts due to redistricting

Due to redistricting based on new census data, General Assembly representation for New Fairfield is changing.  The state redrew the lines so New Fairfield went from having two House Districts and one Senate, to having one House District and split between two Senate seats.  All of New Fairfield is now in the 108th House District, and part of the 24th Senate District residents are now in the 30th Senate District.  Polling Locations now reflect the new district lines, with the Company A Firehouse no longer a precinct. The two new locations are New Fairfield Middle School and the Senior Center

Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board reaching out to older residents

Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board is offering a new program designed to provide low-income people 55 and older with virtual access to jobs skills training.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the initiative will also connect older job seekers with access to job development services.  Laptops and internet hot spots are provided to participants who cannot get to job training sites in person, for example, those who live in rural areas or are caring for family members. Participants are also paired with a training consultant to enroll in online courses, and update their skills.  Applicants must have basic computer skills, and reside in Waterbury, Danbury, Torrington and the other 38 towns in the Northwest workforce region.  Program slots are limited.

Newtown emergency responders participate in Lifestar landing drill

Newtown Hook & Ladder participated in a Lifestar landing drill this week with Newtown EMS and Newtown Police.  The drill took place at Garner Correctional Institution. Fire officials say working with multiple agencies like this is key to successful operations on the ground.

Greater Danbury area COVID-19 stats updated by Conn. DPH

COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health nearly doubled in Newtown compared to last week. Rates held fairly steady in most Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days.  According to the report ending August 25th, there were 44 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 13, Brookfield had 14 and New Fairfield 8. There were 18 COVID cases in New Milford, 23 in Newtown, 7 in Redding while Ridgefield had 11. 

Most Greater Danbury area towns reported 150 to 200 COVID-19 tests to the state Department of Public Health over the last 7 days.  There were just 56 reported in Redding, and 84 in New Fairfield while Danbury reported 487 tests.  Most towns had 9 to 11-percent test positivity, but Redding's rate over the last 7 days was 16-percent positive.

The rolling 7-day state test positivity average increased slightly from last week to 10.6 percent, from 9.88. There were slightly more tests done than last week.  The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID-19 over the last 7 days increased by 23.  The inpatient total is 352. The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 15 since last Thursday.  

Juvenile struck by car in New Fairfield hit and run accident

A juvenile was struck by a car in New Fairfield yesterday afternoon in a hit and run crash.  State Police say a minor ran out of his yard and into Westview Trail around 4pm yesterday and was hit by a vehicle, which continued northbound.  The driver left the scene.  Minor injuries were reported by the juvenile.  The car was described as being black, with tinted windows, possibly a Honda.  The incident remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Olsowy at the New Fairfield Resident Troopers Office (203) 312-5701.

Former Danbury City Councilwoman has died

A former Danbury City Councilwoman has passed away after a battle with blood cancer.  Mary Teicholz passed away Wednesday at the age of 61.  She served on the City Council from 2003 to 2013 and held board positions for Community Health Charities and the Housing Authority of the City of Danbury. 

Teicholz and her husband, Lee, founded the annual “Walk of Honor," planned the “Veterans Walkway of Honor,” and the commemorative veteran banners throughout City Center. 

Teicholz was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) related to Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) and underwent a bone marrow/stem cell transplant in 2007 and 2018. She organized multiple bone marrow drives in the City.  Teicholz was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Danbury Elks Lodge No. 120, “Honored Hero” of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, its “Michael Garil Courage Award” and a guest speaker on behalf of the society. She was a Danbury Day honoree at the State Capitol in 2019. 

Calling hours are being held Sunday at Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home in Danbury from 2 PM to 5 PM.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, at 10:30 AM in St. Peter Church. Interment will follow in St. Peter Cemetery, Danbury.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or to BeTheMatch.org

Virtual hearing scheduled on Conn. LIHEAP program

A virtual hearing is being held at the state capitol on Monday about rising home energy costs and the state's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.  Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang, a ranking member of  the legislature's Planning and Development Committee, says he understands the  financial pressure residents are likely to experience this fall to heat their  homes.  The committees on Appropriations, Energy, and Human Services will  be holding the hearing via Zoom  at 10am on Monday.  Those interested in  testifying virtually must sign up  by 3pm today.  Speaker order will be  posted on the Appropriations Committee web site by 5 pm the same day.   Written testimony can be submitted  in a Word or PDF document to  APPTestimony@cga.ct.gov; ETTestimony@cga.ct.govHSTestimony@cga.ct.gov.  Those without internet access may provide testimony via telephone and register by calling 860-240-0033 to leaving contact information.

Danbury to launch new City website this Fall

The City of Danbury is working on a new website to launch this fall.  Mayor Dean Esposito says the goal is to make city government more accessible to Danbury residents. The City has partnered with Civic Plus, a national technology company focused on government communications to design, build, and implement the website.  The cost is just under $64,000.  There will be little more than $24,000 in recurring annual service costs.  Esposito says the new website will allow constituents to easily obtain public meeting notices, agendas, and minutes as well as allowing key departments to provide timely updates.  Officials note that it will be a mobile friendly platform.

Fl. man charged for alleged sex abuse that happened in Sherman

A Florida man has been extradited to Connecticut to face charges of sexual assault and risk of injury to child for crimes that allegedly happened when he lived in Sherman.  The Connecticut Post reports that 67-year old Leonard Wildman was arraigned August 8th and pleaded not guilty. He was released on bond and a pre-trial hearing was set for September 8th.  According to the published report, State Police received a complaint from a victim, now in his late-20s, that Wildman had allegedly sexually abused him on a weekly to biweekly basis for several years, starting when he was 14.  The victim told police that a woman, who has since died, also participated in the abuse. 

Danbury man killed in highway crash in Waterbury

A Danbury man was killed in a highway crash last night in Waterbury.  A tractor trailer was headed west on I-84 near exit 23 around 8:30pm when the driver of a Chevy Silverado failed to slow down due to traffic, rear ending the truck.  The truck driver was transported to St. Mary's Hospital for evaluation.  The other driver, 20-year old Zachary Carlson of Danbury, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Both vehicles were towed from the highway.  State Police say the accident remains under investigation. Any one with information is asked to contact Tpr Paustian #1094 at Troop A at (203)-267-2200.

CA man charged in connection with NY stolen vehicle case

A California man has been arrested by New York State Police for allegedly stealing a car in New York City.  Troopers from the Brewster Barracks received a report Tuesday night of a stolen vehicle travelling north on Route 22 in Pawling.  The vehicle was located in Dover and Troopers tried to stop the driver, later determined to be the 32-year old suspect.  He didn't comply and a pursuit was initiated.  A Stinger spike strip was eventually released casing the vehicle to stop.  The man fled on foot, and troopers were unable to locate him.  On Wednesday, a trespassing complaint in Columbia County led to the suspect, who was arrested.  He was charged yesterday with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.  

New Milford High opens to staff to prep for new school year

New Milford High School will be open today for staff to return to begin setting up classrooms and prepare for the new school year. Mayor Pete Bass says air sampling at the building was completed this week and considered acceptable following smoke damage from a July 5th roof fire.  The district's contractor continues work in preparation for the full school opening on September 6th.  A freshman orientation video will be sent out via School Messenger today. 

Principals who experienced shootings at schools release Guide to Recovery

The Principal Recovery Network, a national network of current and former school leaders who have experienced gun violence tragedies in their schools, have published the Guide to Recovery.  The collection of best practices to assist school leaders in the aftermath of shooting tragedies was released this week by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.   Authors include current and former principals of Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High School, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  Kathy Gombos took over for Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was among the 6 educators and 20 first-graders killed on 12-14.  She wrote in the guide that recovery was as much about adults as it was children, and will be for a long time. She is working as a resource with educators at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers in May.  Among the topics covered are getting the right kind of counseling, reopening the school, holding commemorations, listening to student voices, and recognizing that obtaining support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Newtown Police search for alleged road rage suspect

Newtown Police are searching for a driver who allegedly used a machete to damage another vehicle in a road rage incident this week.  Police responded to South Main Street near Mile Hill Road Monday afternoon and were told that a driver got out of a tan car, with Florida plates, and damaged the other driver's car with a machete.  The man was described as having tan skin, being about 5-foot-10 to 6 feet tall with short brown hair.  Anyone with any information is asked to contact Newtown Police.

Part of Main Street in Ridgefield closed for DOT project

Main Street in Ridgefield is closed at the intersection with Governor Street for a state Department of Transportation road reconstruction project.  Prep work was done last night, with the full closure as of midnight.  The closure will continue through Sunday.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says all stores in the area will remain open with their normal business hours, though there will be a restricted amount of parking.  Drivers are asked to be patient during the work.  The Main Street Project has been designed to reduce traffic congestion and enhance pedestrian safety. It's fully funded by the Federal and State governments.  Marconi notes that none of the work is related to any other commercial or residential developments.

WCSU to hold 'Entering the Gate' ceremony

Drivers along White Street in Danbury could experience some delays this afternoon. West Conn is welcoming students back to campus today.  The traditional “Entering the Gates” ceremony will be held at 1pm and will include the student procession, performances by the Spirit Band, and speeches by campus leaders and administrators.  About a thousand first year students will be welcomed to West Conn.  Two-thirds of the first year students are incoming freshmen, and one-third have transferred in or are reentering West Conn.  Parents will be lining the street to watch the ceremony.  Motorists in the area of the Midtown campus and the Westside campus will experience heavier-than-usual vehicle and pedestrian traffic as students move into residence halls on both campuses today and during the weekend.

Alex Jones lawyer takes the Fifth during Sandy Hook hearing

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A lawyer for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones invoked his right against self-incrimination during a civil court hearing in Connecticut over the possible improper disclosure of confidential medical records of relatives of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims. Attorney Norman Pattis refused to answer questions Thursday during a hearing on whether he should be disciplined. He has denied wrongdoing. A judge did not decide Thursday if discipline is warranted. The hearing was connected to a Connecticut lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook families against Jones for calling the 2012 shooting that killed 20 children and six educators in Newtown a hoax.

Putnam County Sheriff, school leaders meet about safety measures

Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville has met with officials of the six Putnam County school districts to discuss the "Team Up for School Safety" measures to be taken during the upcoming academic year.  The collaborative effort between the school districts, the Sheriff's Department, and the Putnam County Department of Social Services is aimed at increasing security in the schools.  McConville said after the gathering yesterday that the deputies are prepared, well-trained, and ready to ensure Putnam County's children have a safe school year.

WCSU to hold 'Entering the Gate' ceremony

Western Connecticut State University will welcome 1,000 students to begin the fall semester tomorrow, with the traditional “Entering the Gates” ceremony and a first-time reveal of the university’s new mascot, the Wolves. The students, two-thirds of whom are incoming freshmen, and one-third of whom have transferred in or are reentering West Conn, will proceed from the sidewalk at 181 White Street through the iron gates to the Midtown campus. They will be the first class to be known as W-C-S-U Wolves, after a multi-year discussion that included town halls and online balloting.

Fires reported in Southbury, Newtown

A structure fire was reported in Southbury last night.  Firefighters responded to George’s Hill shortly before 8pm. The first arriving firefighters identified smoke in the basement and crews quickly extinguished the flames before the blaze could extend beyond the basement.

 

Smoke was reported in the area of the covered bridge apartments in Newtown last night.  Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company responded around 9:30pm and the first crews on scene noticed a significant amount of smoke. It was determined that the smoke was coming from a mulch fire that was from a property backing up to the apartments. After the fire was located, a tanker truck responded to assist.  Firefighters cleared the scene after little more than an hour.

All Star hires two reserve bus drivers for New Milford School District

All Star Transportation has agreed to have two reserve bus drivers on contract for the New Milford Public School District when the academic year begins on September 6th.  Reserve drivers are not assigned to routes, but can be used as replacements.  Interim Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote says in addition to the back up drivers, several more are in the process of training, licensing and onboarding.  New Milford experienced a number of delays and canceled bus routes last school year due to a driver shortage.  All-Star says it’s continuing to work diligently with various state departments in a focus to increase the recruitment of additional school bus drivers across the state.  The company is offering existing employees a $3,000 recruitment bonus for new drivers that they refer.

Former Newtown Sgt convicted of embezzlement hired by Bridgeport

A former Newtown police Sgt convicted of embezzlement been hired by the City of Bridgeport as the senior labor relations officer.  The Connecticut Post reports that Domenic Costello will play a pivotal role in union contract negotiations as part of the job.  Costello was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in prison, suspended after six months, and three years of probation after admitting he embezzled over $95,000 from the Newtown police union when he was treasurer.  The conviction was taken into consideration in conjunction with Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission personnel selection guidelines and Bridgeport's second chance initiatives.  City officials cited his experience conducting investigations, case management, handling of grievances and contract negotiations as qualifications for the position.

WCSU home to new Center for School Safety and Crisis Preparation

WestConn is now home to The Connecticut Center for School Safety and Crisis Preparation.  Their mission is to assist public schools in preventing and responding to traumatic events.  Center Director Amery Bernhardt says this is a response to a growing need for safety and mental health support programs.  Bernhardt says the center will work with leaders in the state departments of education, public health, emergency management, and children and families to develop and provide services. Regional crisis teams are currently being set up.

 

Professional development in school safety planning, research on school violence prevention will also be provided.

 

A $2 million state grant will fund this program for two years. Center officials estimate needing $6 million to fully staff the center and develop more service programs.  The center’s staff will include at least five school safety consultants who have the expertise to review school safety and crisis plans and provide feedback to strengthen those plans.


WCSU Interim President Paul Beran, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner attended the opening event.

 

(Bernhardt, Blumenthal)

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Terrence Cheng says this community and this state know all too well the importance and worthiness of investing in school safety.  As the 10th anniversary of Sandy Hook approaches, Cheng opened the doors to a center that he says will be an invaluable resource to better prepare school districts and K-12 educators to keep classrooms as safe as possible.


Center founder Professor Gabriel Lomas says the Center came from recommendations in a 2014 report by the Office of the Child Advocate about 12/14.  He and his colleagues formed a regional crisis team for area schools in 2012, to provide a platform of shared training and the ability to provide mutual aid in a disaster.  Lomas says this new facility will serve as a school crisis and safety resource to all public school districts in the state, and provide training and technical assistance on student resilience, school crisis, school trauma and school safety.

Newtown man charged for vandalism of field at NHS

Newtown Police have charged a town resident with criminal mischief and other offenses for recent vandalism at the High School.  23-year old Ian Wilson was also charged yesterday with Criminal Trespassing and Reckless Driving.  He is due in court on September 7th.  Newtown Police had been searching for the driver of a dark colored pick up truck that did damage to a field at the school.  Shortly after posting a photo on social media of the suspect vehicle, with at least two passengers inside, citizens were able to help identify the person of interest.

Butchered ram, candle, chalk outline found in Easton

Easton Police say a butchered sheep and other items were found in the Mill River this weekend.  A candle flickering in the woods led a passerby to the area near South Park Avenue and Buck Hill Road.  Officers observed a candle that was burned out and some sort of white powder poured on the ground in a rectangular pattern about 15 feet away.  The investigation determined that the animal was an adult Ram which had been professionally butchered elsewhere and dumped at the site. The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture were contacted and assisted with the investigation. The investigation is closed.

Injured hiker on Appalachian Trail rescued during 7 hour operation

An injured hiker has been rescued from the Appalachian Trail in Kent.  The Kent Volunteer Fire Department responded to an area  high in the Schaghticoke section of the trail around 4:30pm Monday.  The rescue operation lasted more than 7 hours.  A UTV flat tire, two rain downpours and the onset of darkness made conditions more complex. 

An initial rescue team made contact with the patient to assess and provide care, but due to the terrain and remote location four-wheel UTV access would not be possible the entire way.  Emergency responders from Bantam, Cornwall, Warren, Gaylordsville, New Milford, Sherman, and Washington, along with Dover, New York were called to assist. More than 60 rescuers assisted. 

(Photo: Kent VFD)

All parties made it out of the backcountry safely and the patient was transported to an area hospital by Kent Ambulance. 

Dust up on social media over Bethel car tax audit

A posting in a social media group for Bethel residents has racked up a lot of comments and drawn a reaction from outgoing First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker.  A new resident who visited a few times over the last couple of years says he changed his car registration to Bethel after he moved, but received a letter from the tax assessor’s office claiming that the company they hired, Municipal Tax Services, had photographic evidence that he spent an inordinate amount of time in Bethel in 2020 and 2021 and owed taxes.  He was reportedly asked to provide proof of New York residency. 

Knickerbocker responded to comments noting that to date the third party firm has registered over 700 vehicles that had skipped out on the local vehicle tax. He claims they are not people just visiting or recently moved to Bethel.  That represents over $120,000 in revenue. 

He wrote that MTS was hired to conduct vehicle tax audits in response to hundreds of complaints over the last few years from residents seeing out of state vehicles around town.  Knickerbocker says he can't comment on this particular case as he does not know any specifics.

Newtown to pave road leading to Paugussett State Forest turnaround

Newtown officials are cautioning visitors to Paugussett State Forest that paving is being done in the turnaround area at the entrance to the forest at Great Quarter Road.  Paving started this morning from the turn around.  Great Quarter is one way in and one way out, and narrow.  The paving equipment and crews will be using most of the roadway. Residents who do not move their vehicle closer to the Route 34 entrance will have a long wait to get out.  Newtown officials say paving may also halt mail and any other deliveries along Great Quarter. In case of an emergency, all equipment will be moved for vehicle access. 

Panera seeks to move to stand-alone building in Danbury

A proposal was slated to be raised by the Danbury Environmental Impact Commission for a Panera Café building with a drive-thru.  The restaurant currently leases space at The Shops at Marcus Dairy, but wants to build the stand alone in the parking lot.  The proposed building is 41-hundred square feet and would have a revised parking configuration at the site at Sugar Hollow Road and Backus Avenue.  The application says the building and drive-thru and parking will be located within existing paved areas of the 10 acre property.  A public hearing was to be opened by the EIC last night.  The Planning and Zoning commissions would also need to sign off on plans. 

Redding looking into idea of joining regional health district

The Town of Redding is looking into the possibility of joining a regional health district.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says they're doing some research and are in touch with the Town of Easton about their process, and what the expense was to join the new Aspetuck Health District.  Easton recently joined Weston and Westport in a merged health district.  Pemberton noted that Redding has partnered with Bethel in the past on H1N1 drills and COVID-19 vaccinations.  Redding officials want to see what improved services could be offered to residents by joining together with other towns.  Pemberton says it's not just public health that the employees deal with, they also take on sanitary services, restaurant inspections, and water pollution control among other responsibilities.  She says this is all very preliminary.

Redding Police receive report of coyotes near Saugatuck Trail

The Redding Police Department received a report yesterday of two coyotes that seemed to be following a resident and their pet while walking the Saugatuck Trail near the Pootatuck Archery area off Diamond Hill. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been notified.  DEEP suggests always walking dogs on a leash to keep them safe.  If approached by a coyote, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area. DEEP says people should not run or turn their backs though as coyotes are territorial and many reports of bold coyotes visiting yards, howling, or threatening larger dogs can often be attributed to this territorial behavior.  DEEP says people can attempt to frighten away coyotes by making loud noises and acting aggressively such as waving arms, throwing sticks, or spraying a hose.

Decision on package store distance change request postponed in Danbury

No decision was made last night in Danbury on a petition to reduce the distance between package stores from 2-thousand feet down to a thousand feet. The Zoning Commission had a few members absent from the meeting and one in attendance suggested that the applicant might want a decision from the full Commission.  The attorney agreed to a continuance to their next meeting.

Bethel posts school bus schedules for new academic year

The Bethel School District has updated bus information for the upcoming academic year.  Students will be back in session starting on Monday.  Parents are asked to have children at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before estimated bus arrival.  Children in grades K-3 must have a Parent/Guardian visible at drop off, or the child will be returned to the school.  District officials asked for patience in the first few weeks as drivers become re-acclimated with their routes.  First Student bus routes for Berry/Rockwell/Johnson, the Middle School, High School, Henry Abbott Tech and St. Mary have been posted to the Bethel School District website.

Newtown Community Center is closed this week

The Newtown Community Center is closed this week for building repairs, maintenance and cleaning.  Through Sunday, some health and wellness programs will be held on the campus.  The Welcome Desk will also be available to assist with Fall registration and inquiries from 8am to 4pm.  

Danbury Police Department hiring entry level officers

The Danbury Police Department is hiring entry level police officers.  Applications will be accepted through October 3rd.  Starting salary is about $62,000.  Danbury does not require that Police Officer applicants be a resident, but those who do live in the City will have points added to their earned scores if successful in the examination process.  Disabled and non-disabled veterans who are eligible for additional credits may have points added to their earned scores.  The candidate will be required to successfully complete a modified Field Training Program of up to eight weeks prior to being approved by the Department for solo patrol duties.  The basic training program at the Connecticut Police Academy is approximately 20 - 26 weeks long. All appointments to the Danbury Police Department shall be for a probationary period of one year following the successful completion of the modified field training program. During this time, the probationary Police Officer shall successfully complete all training and assignments and pass quarterly supervisory evaluations.  Failure to complete this probationary period may subject the Police Officer to discipline, up to and including termination.  The job details and applications can be found online through the police app website.

Newtown Hook & Ladder to sell shirts at Labor Day Parade

Newtown Hook & Ladder will be selling t-shirts and other items at the annual Labor Day Parade this year. The thin red line shirt is available in men’s and women’s sizes and the junior firefighter shirt is in youth sizes.  The volunteer fire company will also be selling shirts at their headquarters at 12 Church Hill Road.  Anyone unable to purchase a shirt at the Labor Day Parade can complete a form to get on a waitlist. After the parade, if the shirt is available, those on the waitlist will be contacted.

Signs reinstalled near dangerous curve on Route 302

Signs have been reinstalled on Route 302 in Newtown after being taken down by the State Department of Transportation a few years ago.  Several serious accidents were reported along the dangerous curve near Dodgingtown center and Sugar Street, including a fatal motorcycle crash in June.  The signs were removed in 2019 after a DOT study, which the Newtown Police Commission found surprising.  Signs indicating the sharp curve were installed along the curve as chip sealing operations were done along the road.  The Newtown Bee reports that the commission is also asking the DOT to “reconsider the appropriateness” of a passing zone leading into the curve.

Newtown Police investigating damage to High School field

A field at Newtown High School was damaged by someone driving a pickup truck.  Police posted a photo on social media yesterday of the dark blue or green Chevy Silverado pickup, with at least two passengers, asking for the public's help in identifying the owners/occupants.  A short time later, Newtown Police said the vehicle and person of interest had been properly identified.  The case remains under investigation and no further details were released at that time.

FirstLight, DEEP agree to drawdown schedule

FirstLight Power and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have met about the schedule of planned drawdowns for later this year. DEEP Fisheries typically requests that the Bulls Bridge canal dewatering not be done until the end of September or early October because the Mountainside Spillway feeds into the best thermal refuge for trout in that area. FirstLight notes that the Bulls Bridge Power Canal and Penstocks 14 day drawdown will be done between August 29th and September 11th, but the Mountainside Spillway gate will not be opened to discharge water to Powerhouse Brook. If there is a need to test the gate function, it may be cycled, but only if it is completely dewatered.  Otherwise, FirstLight will coordinate a test of the gate at a time outside of the thermally sensitive period and through consultation with DEEP.

Redding could hold town meeting on ARPA funding in Sept.

A town meeting could be held sometime in September in Redding for residents to decide on projects to be funded with American Rescue Plan Act dollars.  The Board of Selectmen has been considering a number of proposals from the ARPA Working Group.  One would be funding for improvements to Topstone Park.  Other proposals include an outdoor patio at Mark Twain Library and  the New Pond Farm restoration of wetlands project, as long as the library and New Pond Farm first obtain all required approvals and permits for the projects.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton suggested breaking up the ARPA proposals for the vote.  A town-wide mailing, a larger postcard, with the list the names of proposals and the website for review was discussed.

Brookfield no longer distributing COVID-19 test kits

COVID-19 Home Test Kits are no longer available in Brookfield Town Hall.  The state hasn't distributed any more kits so the Health Department says Brookfield will no longer be distributing them, except through the School System and Childcare facilities. The Test Kits are still available at no cost from the Federal Government and can be requested online at COVID.gov/tests or by calling the CDC info line 1-800-232-0233.

Danbury paving roads around Clapboard Ridge

There's still time before the summer season ends and the asphalt plants close for the City of Danbury to do paving work.  Drivers along Clapboard Ridge Road will also see that the state has finally paved the street.  This week, crews started road improvements on Highland Park Drive, Stuart Drive, Elmar Drive, and Hensel Drive-- all off Clapboard Ridge Road.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola noted that the Saw Mill paving project ate up a lot of the budget, but depending on asphalt prices, and how much is left, they could move further down the large list of prioritized projects.  But Mayor Dean Esposito noted that materials are petroleum-based and the prices keep going up.  Iadarola added that the drainage work that goes with paving is also higher than last year.  Piping is 40-percent higher than it was a year ago and he says all of the catch basin tops, concrete work, and curbing drive the price through the roof.

Silver Alerts issued for two missing Danbury teens

A Silver Alert has been issued for a missing 16-year-old girl in Danbury.  Heidi Logan-Sorenson was reported missing on August 19th. State police say Logan-Sorenson may have shaved her head, and may respond to the name 'Lee' or 'Logan'.  She was last seen wearing a hat or gray-colored hoodie and black-colored jeans.  Logan-Sorenson is 5-foot-2, weighing about 110 pounds and has blue eyes.  State Police also issued a Silver Alert for another 16-year old girl missing from Danbury since Monday.  Kaylee Avila was last seen wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, pink sweatpants and flip flops.  She had a Henna style design on her right hand and blond tips on black hair.  Anyone with information is asked to call Danbury police at 203-797-4614 

Newtown Board of Ed, All Star sign school bus contract

The Newtown Board of Education has signed a 5 year contract with All-Star Transportation for school bus services. They were the only company to bid on the contract, which took effect at the start of this month. The Newtown Public Schools District will have the ability to extend the contract by one year.  The agreement meets the district's budget expectations. All-Star has been working to mitigate bus driver shortages and step up recruitment efforts.  All buses must be 2018 or newer, be equipped with cameras and GPS technology, and run on propane.  The contract has an 8.85 percent increase in year one, with 4-percent increases in subsequent years.  

Brookfield residents approve ARPA funding for school security personnel

Security will be beefed up at Brookfield schools next year.  About 200 residents attended a Special Town Meeting last night and approved two American Rescue Plan Act funding requests. 

Superintendent John Barile made a brief presentation about hiring two more School Resource Offices for the elementary schools, and 5 unarmed security guards along with  an Armed School Security Officer for after school hours at the High School.  Much of the discussion was on the guards and one ASSO.  Barile noted that there are people monitoring front doors now, but it's not all schoolday long. 

Some residents voting no said they wanted more armed security, others said just SROs would be enough.  There was one resident concerned about the cost to the town once American Rescue Plan Act funding runs out.  One resident called it a lot of money for a false sense of security, adding that unarmed guards won't be able to stop an armed assailant intent on doing harm.  Some called for the money to be put toward mental health services instead. 

The vote for the SROs was 157 yes, 55 no.  The vote on the guards and one Armed School Security Officer for after school hours at Brookfield High School was 115 yes and 98 no.  The SRO allocation is $251,515.  The other request was $344,718.

Medical marijuana dispensary seeks change to residential zone boundary measurement in Danbury

The owner of the medical marijuana dispensary in Danbury is petitioning the City to change the distance measurement from residential zone boundaries for cannabis retailers.  D&B Wellness, doing business as The Botanist, is submitting a petition to the Zoning Commission at their meeting tonight to amend the zoning regulations.  A Public Hearing on the request will be held on October 11th.  D&B Wellness officials have said they are looking to apply for a hybrid retailer license from the state in order to expand operations from just medical purposes to also include recreational cannabis sales.

Danbury zoners to take up regulations on distance between package stores

A public hearing is being continued tonight in Danbury on an application for a Mercedes Benz dealership on Miry Brook Road.  Pioneer Realty LLC/Steamboat Motors LLC is seeking a certificate of Location Approval for a Motor Vehicle New Car Dealer’s License.  Tonight's Zoning Commission meeting is being held virtually via Zoom, at 7:30.  The Commission could take action tonight on a petition to reduce the distance between package stores from 2,000 feet down to 1,000 feet.  The Public Hearing into that application was closed at the previous meeting, held August 9th.

Southbury Business Association to become Chamber of Commerce

The Southbury Business Association will dissolve after more than half a century to become the Southbury Chamber of Commerce.  The change over from a volunteer-run organization is set for September 1st.  The Southbury Chamber will be a new affiliate of the Waterbury Regional Chamber.  The SBA Pomperaug High School scholarship program will continue.  The regional chamber includes Beacon Falls, Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oakville, Oxford, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury.

Danbury teacher awarded stipend from science nonprofit

A stipend has been awarded to a Danbury teacher by the nonprofit Society for Science.  Westside Middle School Academy teacher Andrea LaRosa is one of 84 educators nationwide to receive the $5,000 award.  The funding will be used to help guide her students in scientific research and help them to enter that research into science competitions.  Educators who participate in the Society’s Advocate Program work with students from underrepresented groups and low-income households by helping to develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects that can then be entered into science research competitions. 

VFW takes over sponsorship of Danbury Veterans Walkway of Honor

The Veterans Walkway of Honor, previously sponsored by the Danbury War Memorial, is now being sponsored by the Danbury Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 149.  The living tribute for the community to honor past and present members of the armed forces includes bricks lining a path to the War Memorial building.  Anyone looking to purchase a brick can find more information on the project website veteranswalkwayofhonor.org.

Mark Twain Library seeks volunteers for 61st Annual Book Fair

Mark Twain Library in Redding is looking for volunteers to help at their 61st Annual Book Fair over Labor Day weekend.  The book fair, the library's main fundraiser of the year, is being held September 2nd through 5th at the Redding Community Center.  Volunteer opportunities can be found on the fair's website.  The library is no longer accepting donations for this year's Book Fair, but will begin accepting for next year starting on September 15th.

Agreement signed for new contractor on New Milford High School roof project

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has signed an agreement with the former High School roof contractor's bonding agent to allow Greenwood Industries to take over the standing steam roof project.  That was the work that was being done July 5th when a fire broke out.  The cause remains under investigation by the New Milford Fire Marshal's Office.  The insurance company has now turned over the scene to the town.  The agreement with the bonding agent was vetted by Town Attorney Randy DiBella.  Once the permanent roof repair is complete, Greenwood will complete the standing seam roof project.  Belfor the Subcontractor continue the damaged roof repair.  Greenwood is meeting with town and school officials on the logistics and timeframe of the roof project.

Improvements to Topstone Park in Redding under discussion

Improvements to Topstone Park in Redding are being discussed by Town officials. Plans call for replacing existing playground equipment, addition of bear-proof garbage containers, new baby changing facilities and more benches.   The Board of Selectmen asked the Planning Commission to review the proposals, but it's not a formal referral so they will continue discussions once that it received.  The Commission has 35 days to provide a report to the Selectmen, but the clock has not started yet.  Members earlier this month talked about seasonal accessibility to the proposed playground, grounds maintenance, off-season access to bathroom facilities and garbage removal.

Putnam County Sheriff kicks off new STOP DWI campaign

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is participating in the next round of the STOP DWI campaign.  The Impaired Driving High Visibility Engagement Campaign got underway on August 19th and continues through September 5th.  New York State Police, Carmel and Kent Police Departments are also participating in special efforts to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving.  Sheriff Kevin McConville says Labor Day and the end of summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year and hopes this coordinated effort will reduce the number of impaired driving-related injuries and deaths. The Campaign also targets Memorial Day, July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Holiday Season, Super Bowl weekend, and St. Patrick’s Day.

Grants awarded to Greater Danbury area candidates in Citizen Elections Program

The state Elections Enforcement Commission has released a 13th round of grants for candidates meeting eligibility requirements in the Citizen Elections Program for public financing of campaigns.  Among the latest candidates to receive grants are Brookfield Republican Marty Foncello in the 107th House District and Danbury Democrat Bob Godfrey in the 110th.  On the Senate side, Democratic candidate Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman running in the 30th and Republican Tony Hwang in the 28th received grants. 

To participate in the voluntary program, candidates must demonstrate that they have substantial support from the public.  State representative candidates must raise $5,800 from at least 150 individuals in the district while senate candidates must raise $17,300 from at least 300 individuals in the district.  The maximum contribution is $290, and no contributions from state contractors or PACs count toward that goal. General election grant amounts are up to $33,175 for state representative candidates and up to $112,795 for state senate candidates. 

Previous grants were awarded to 24th Senate District candidates Democrat Julie Kushner and Republican Michelle Coelho, 30th District Republican Steve Harding, 26th District Democrat Cecilia Maher, and 32nd District Republican Eric Berthel.  On the House side, grants were awarded to Democrat Maria Horn in the 64th, Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo in the 11th, Democrat Ken Gucker in the 138th, Republican Cindy Harrison in the 69th District, Democrat Farley Santos in the 109th, Democrat Anne Hughes in the 135th, Republican Tony Scott in the 112th District, and Republican Patrick Callahan in the 108th.

Danbury Labor area biggest percentage gainer in July in Conn.

Three of the six Connecticut Labor Market Areas posted employment gains in July, including Danbury.  The state Department of Labor reports that three regions saw small declines. The Danbury area was the biggest percentage gainer, adding 900 jobs, increasing the workforce 1.2 percent from last month. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area added 2,000 positions to lead this month in numerical gains. The New Haven area also added jobs. The labor force is smaller than it was pre-pandemic due to a wide variety of issues, according to the state Labor Department, including retirements, daycare issues making it difficult for women to re-engage in the job market; and people creating start-ups and new businesses instead of returning to the workforce as employees.

Town meeting scheduled in Ridgefield on cannabis, ARPA for RVNA

A Town Meeting has been schedule in Ridgefield on a number of items. One deals with an ordinance prohibiting cannabis, which was the subject of a public hearing on August 17th.  At the Town Meeting, residents will also be deciding on expansion of the Economic & Community Development Commission from seven to nine Commissioners, along with longer terms for members.  An easement for Aquarion will also be decided.  It's for a permanent pressure reducing facility easement and a temporary construction easement over a portion of the Barlow Mountain Elementary School Property.  The other item on the agenda is nearly $233,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to reimburse the RVNA for expenses associated with the COVID Vaccination Clinics held between January through April of 2021.  RVNAhealth purchased and installed ultra-low temperature freezers required for vaccine storage, did weekly ordering of the vaccine and inventory management. They administered more than 13,000 vaccines during those 4 months. The Special Town Meeting on September 7th will be at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Annex.

Bethe looking to add parking to Parloa Park

The Bethel Parks and Recreation Commission is recommending that the town purchase a vacant lot for sale at 134 South Street, across from the often inadequate existing parking lot at Parloa Park.  The Commission says the need for more parking has been known for years, but was highlighted at a recent meeting about possible improvements to the park.  The property is currently appraised at $137,200.  The vacant lot is part of a two lot parcel for sale.  The other piece, 118 South Street, has a big white house on the corner and several outbuildings.  The property is in a flood zone so there are restrictions, but it could be used as a parking lot.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the listing agent suggested that the seller would be willing to consider an offer for just the vacant lot, even though the lots are listed together.  The proposal would not need to go to a full Planning and Zoning hearing, rather a referral to have them weigh in on it.  The Town Attorney was tasked with negotiating a purchase price because some consider it listed above fair market value.

Vehicle fire at Carmel gas station quickly extinguished

A vehicle fire at a Carmel gas station was quickly extinguished over the weekend.  Shortly after 8pm on Saturday, Carmel firefighters were dispatched to the Shell station on Route 6.  Crews arrived to find an active fire burning in the engine compartment of the vehicle. Firefighters worked quickly to extinguish the flames without further incident.  Carmel Police, Putnam County Sheriff's Department and Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services assisted at the scene.

Funeral held for former Brewster Fire Chief

Brewster firefighters along with family and friends said farewell to former Chief Edward Hojnacki on Saturday. The chief was known to many who grew up in the Brewster area as Fireman Ed, who spent countless hours teaching fire prevention to children in the Brewster schools.  Hojnacki served with the Ridgefield Police Department from 1984 to 2000. Prior to working in Ridgefield, he was a police officer with the NYPD, retiring after 20 years of service, at the rank of Sergeant.  He was a volunteer with the Brewster Fire Department for 50 years.  Ceremonial honor guards from the NYPD and Ridgefield Police Department took part in the ceremony.  He passed away last month.

Parade held for 10U New Milford Chaos girls softball team

The 10U Chaos girls softball team was welcomed home to New Milford this weekend after placing 2nd in the nation in the Babe Ruth World Series.  A parade was held for the girls.  Mayor Pete Bass says the team went on a historic run- being the only Team north of the Mason-Dixon line to ever make the Babe Ruth World Series Title Game. They finished the season 50-4, collecting 6 championship titles including the Connecticut title and New England Regional title.  They were 7-0 at the World Series going into the title game but came up short, walking away as the Runner-Ups.

Brookfield veterans with DD-214 encouraged to apply for tax exemption

Any Brookfield veteran with a DD-214 could be exempt from municipal taxes.  For those who have never submitted a form for this is asked to contact the Brookfield Town Clerk by September 30th for exemptions on taxes for next year. Anyone who has already submitted the form does not need to do so again. Those married couples with income levels below $58,900 or $52,700 for unmarried may qualify for an extra Veteran’s discount. 

Sherman firefighters hold mock rescue at Chicken Rock for training

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department participated in the last of 4 water training sessions yesterday.  This one involved Inland Water Rescue Operations. The other three courses were Ice Rescue, Intro to Swift Water Rescue, and Swift Water Rescue Technician Certificate. Using Sherman Marine 7 and 8, participants learned various techniques for safely removing patients from the water as well as boat maneuvers for victim rescue. Members practiced retrieving patients from the water using different techniques based on the injuries.  Also covered was boat righting and how to approach hazardous areas for rescues.  The training concluded with a mock rescue scenario in the vicinity of chicken rock.

Candlewood Lake Authority finds fragments of invasive plants

Members of the Candlewood Lake Authority went out on the water recently searching for plants growing in the lake and found some fragments of both invasive milfoil and native species.  They are meeting with aquatic plant experts and gathering information about the environmental and ecosystem factors that might have contributed to the loss of plants this year.  Samples were taken from a cove between New Fairfield and Sherman.  While the fragments were found, none were found growing in that area.

Items returned to New Milford High School from off-site warehouse

The contractor working to clean up and fix New Milford High School following the July 5th roof fire has received and placed a 3rd tractor trailer loads, and two straight truck of student desks and furniture.  The items were moved into the Cafeteria and Athletic corridor to be distributed throughout the building.  Those were all of the remaining items left to be returned from an of-site storage facility.  Crews also continued cleaning in the 3rd floor center hallway, and the 4 classrooms directly impacted by the fire.  The work though will be suspended until the roof demo overhead is completed.  File cabinets and teacher desks were also moved from the Town warehouse and reset into 3rd-floor rooms.  

Fire Departments participate in parade at Bridgewater Country Fair

After a multi-year hiatus due to COVID-19, The annual Bridgewater Fair Fireman's parade returned on Friday night.  Close to 40 departments from Connecticut and New York took part in the event and competed in various categories for awards.  Water Witch Hose Co. #2 of New Milford brought home trophies for most men in line, best appearing hand drawn, and best appearing company overall.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Company A took home a trophy for Best Appearing Tanker.  Stevenson won Best Appearing UTV.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company was awarded Best Appearing Ambulance.  Candlewood Company won an award for best appearing company in shirts, and also placed 3rd in Marching. 

New Milford, Brookfield, New Canaan Police conduct active shooter drill

Active shooter drills were held in New Milford on Thursday.  Mayor Pete Bass says it was a multi agency training exercise at Sarah Noble school. In addition to New Milford Police, Brookfield and New Canaan Police Departments participated in the drills.  Bass says safety of residents is paramount, especially students and staff at the Schools.  He noted that no further details about the training would be disclosed due to the nature of school security.

Brookfield residents to weigh in on funding for SROs, security guards

Brookfield residents will get a chance to weigh in on funding requests for school security.  A Special Town Meeting has been scheduled tonight at 7pm in the Brookfield High School auditorium.  American Rescue Plan Act funding would be tapped to hire two School Resource Officers by the Brookfield Police Department.  The Board of Education is requesting $251,515.  A separate appropriation of $344,718 is being requested by the Board of Ed from ARPA funding to hire 5 unarmed school security personnel to monitor camera, check-in at front doors and to patrol each school campus.  The money would also go toward the hiring of an Armed School Security Officer for after school hours at Brookfield High School.

Ridgefield Selectmen put off vote on draft Affordable Housing Plan

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has put off a vote on the proposed affordable housing plan, mandated by the state to be updated every few years, and will continue discussions at their meeting next month.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi asked his fellow Selectmen for any changes they feel are necessary to the plan was drafted by the Affordable Housing Committee--and approved by the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission last month.  Some of their concerns are over the number of units included in the goal, and the narrative rather than factual statements in portions of the draft.  The state included guidelines for municipalities to follow, which included having a community vision statement.  The plan was due to the state Office of Policy and Management by June.  Municipalities with less than 10 percent of its housing stock considered “affordable” are encouraged to develop more units. Affordable is defined as housing costing less than 30 percent of the income of a household earning 80 percent or less of the area’s median income.

Danbury Zoners consider multifamily housing, liquor store applications

An application to convert a single-family zone into a multi-family district in Danbury has been pulled from consideration before the Danbury Zoning Commission.  The proposal came for properties on Pembroke Road and was seeking to allow four times as much housing as is currently permitted.  Three parcels would have been combined into 5 acres at intersection of Pembroke and Padanaram roads, rezoned to allow as much as 22 units of multi-family housing. 

The Danbury Planning Department gave the proposal a negative recommendation. The Zoning Commission closed the public hearing at their meeting earlier this month.

The Danbury Zoning Commission is considering whether to reduce the distance required between liquor stores.  The current regulation is that there be 2,000 feet between establishments.  An application has been filed for a Division Street property and the application is being represent by the same attorney who sued the City nearly two decades ago on behalf of Stew Leonard's, which wanted a store near its Federal Road supermarket.  The Division Street proposal is 13-hundred feet from an existing package store.  The 2,000 foot distance was put in effect in the mid-1900s after Prohibition and a proliferation of bars and liquor stores on White Street. 

The City's Planning Director said in a report to the Commission that maintaining the current distance requirement will continue to help ensure neighborhoods remain protected against an undue concentration of package stores.  The public hearing into the application has been closed.

Welcome picnic to be hosted by Bethel Schools for new community members

 

Families new to Bethel are being called on to attend a Welcome Picnic to learn more about the school district.  Registration is required for the event tonight hosted by Bethel Public Schools PTOs & Bethel Education Foundation.  Attendees will be able to meet other families new to the Bethel Community, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Carver and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kristen Brooks. The picnic is from 5:30pm to 7pm at the R.M.T. Johnson School Amphitheater, or inside the gym in case of rain.

Bethel fire companies seek funding for new Hurst tools

The Bethel and Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Departments are looking to upgrade some of their tools.  The Board of Selectmen voted in favor of taking up to $35,000 from the Capital NonRecurring Fund for Hurst Tools.  The fire companies are replacing older pneumatic and hydraulic tools, because they have a limited range.  When firefighters are working on a car deep in the woods or a place where a fire truck can't get, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it makes extrication difficult.  Some of the tools were due for replacement anyway and will be replaced by battery operated ones.  Knickerbocker says this will give them more speed and mobility in rescuing patients that may be trapped in vehicles.  Meanwhile, the Fire Commission asked for approval for the Finance office to send out a Request for Qualifications to evaluate apparatus, in correlation to the Plan of Conservation and Development, to see what their future needs are.  

Danbury Councilman calls for formal process for honorary building, road names

A formal process for giving honorary names to buildings or streets in Danbury is being called for by a City Councilman.  First there was an ad hoc committee created about the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant and then one to honor Joe Pepin at the Alternative Center for Excellence, and the road where the school is located.  Councilman Farley Santos says honoring Joe Pepin is a good start.  The ACE building and Roberts Avenue will get honorary names recognizing the founder and longtime principal for his contributions.

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

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has updated case rates for Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days. According to the report ending August 18th, there were 60 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 9, Brookfield had 13 and New Fairfield 8. There were 18 COVID cases in New Milford, 14 in Newtown, while Ridgefield had 10.  Of the 2,600 COVID-19 cases reported to Connecticut in the last 7 days, 46.5 percent were detected in people who were not fully vaccinated.  The remaining 53.5 percent were found among people who are fully vaccinated.  The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 16 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a cumulative breakthrough rate of infections among the more than 2.7 million people who are fully vaccinated of 9.72 percent, up a tenth of a point since last week. 

COVID-19 vaccine van returns to New Fairfield

The Griffin Health Vaccination Van will return to New Fairfield today at the New Fairfield High School Cafeteria.  The Van will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all age groups, starting at 6 months of age. The clinic is from 10am to 4pm. The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months get a the primary series of vaccinations, and boosters, if eligible.  The CDC also recommends vaccinations and boosters even for those who have had COVID.

Interim principal named for Westside Middle School Academy

The Danbury Public School District has named an interim principal for Westside Middle School Academy. Jennifer Blue, who served as assistant principal at Westside, will take over for Frank Labanca.  He resigned earlier this month after 7 years on the job, filling the role since the magnet school opened in 2014. Blue will begin the new role effective immediately.

Backyard burn prompts Monroe Fire response

Stepney Fire Department responded to a report of smoke outdoors on Maple Drive Thursday.  Upon further, investigation firefighters found a small brushfire in a debris pit in a Monroe backyard which was quickly extinguished.  The fire danger level this week has been high or very high and at those levels outdoor burning is not allowed, even with a permit.

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

COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health dropped by half in Bethel and New Fairfield, but nearly doubled in Brookfield compared to last week. Rates held fairly steady in New Milford and Newtown.

 

The test positivity rates for Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days has been updated.  There was no data this week reported for Redding.  At home tests are not reported. 

The rates are:

Newtown 5.5 percent

New Milford 6.3 percent

Bethel 6.78 percent

Ridgefield 11.6 percent

Danbury 11.7 percent

New Fairfield 11.8 percent

Brookfield 12.1 percent

 

New state data released Thursday shows a decrease in COVID-19 positivity compared to last week.  The rolling 7-day average dropped from 12-percent to 9.88. There were 3,400 positive COVID cases reported to the state out of about 34,000 tests, about 6,000 fewer tests than last week. 

 

The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID-19 over the last 7 days increased by 4.  The inpatient total is 329. Of that total, 36.47 percent are not fully vaccinated.

 

The BA5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 makes up the majority of the cases sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut for the week ending August 6th.  According to the latest report, 88.2 percent of samples were BA5, while 7.8 percent were BA4.  BA2 accounts for 3.9 percent.

Area fire departments warn of brush fire danger

The Forest Fire Danger Level for New Milford is very high.  The Fire Marshal's Office say no burning is allowed in town, even with a valid permit.  At this level, fires will start easily from most causes.

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is warning that the fires will spread rapidly and have a quick increase in intensity, right after ignition. Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirls.

Redding Police field questions about fiber optic installation work

The Redding Police Department has gotten a number of questions about tables set up around town, staffed with an officer.  They are working with Optimum making a fiber optic network possible, by providing traffic control.  Many of the workers are at tables, which look like lemonade stands or bake sale tables, along the side of the road.  Police are asking drivers to slow down to keep workers safe.  There have been some complaints about cardboard boxes left behind near these locations.  Redding Police say the company collects all the boxes when they hang the device back on the line. 

Absentee ballot applications now available for general election

Absentee Ballot Applications are now available for the November Election. The Bethel Town Clerk's Office is reminding college students that they can receive absentee ballots at school. Before leaving for campus, they should fill out an application and file it with the Town Clerk's Office. The drop box in the front of the Municipal Center is open for this reason. The ballots will be mailed out on October 7th for the November 8th election. Parents cannot pick up the ballot for their children. They must be mailed. Applications are available on the town's website. 

New Milford Police to hold another Citizens Police Academy

The New Milford Police Department is getting ready for the next round of the Citizens Police Academy.  Residents can sign up to attend the program, which starts September 21st.  The program provides an increased understanding of police operations and is not intended to make citizens into police officers.  It's meant to heighten awareness of both the public and police in an effort to build partnerships and open channels of communication with the community.  Residents can reserve a spot by sending an email to jtoromanides@newmilfordpolice.org  or cgautrau@newmilfordpolice.org.

Fraternal Order of Police makes endorsement in 24th Conn. Senate race

The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed Republican Michelle Coelho for State Senate in the 24th District.  The seat represents Danbury, New Fairfield, and Ridgefield in the state Senate.  Coelho called it a privilege to be endorsed by the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police.  She says the General Assembly should be striving to better equip and protect law enforcement, rather than making it harder and less safe to do their jobs. Coelho currently serves on the Board of Education and is looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Julie Kushner.

Final classrooms impacted by roof fire turned over to New Milford by insurance carrier

A lot of progress has been made at fixing up New Milford High School following the July 5th roof fire. Public Works Director Jack Healy says the two classrooms directly below the fire have been released to the town by the insurance company as the investigation continues into the cause of the blaze. He is confident that all but maybe three rooms will be ready when the academic year begins on September 6th. 

Painting is done on the first and second floors, the floors are being waxed and furniture has been reset.  Items are being moved back to the school from an off-site storage area.  Two tractor trailer loads of student desks have been moved into the cafeteria to be distributed throughout the building. 

The contractor has started demolition and content removal in the 3rd floor center hallway, and packing and moving salvageable plumbing components from the 3rd floor.  The school district has ordered the replacement Smart Boards, Laptops, Chromebooks, Phones, and Access Points that were damaged. 

New Milford Public School District Facilities Director Matt Cunningham says none of the remaining interior work will take place during the school day.  They are constructing walls, with doors and locks, blocking off the area.  There will be signs noting that it's not an exit.  They were able to do this in a way that students will still have access to restrooms on 3rd floor.

2nd shift added for force main installation in Ridgefield

There will be added hours for construction work in Ridgefield on the Water Pollution Control Authority’s Wastewater Facilities Upgrade project.  Beginning Monday, a second shift will be added from 3pm to 11pm.  The first shift is 7am to 3pm.  The added hours are meant to reduce the length of disruption in the upcoming work areas and expedite construction. 

Police will direct traffic during all work hours. 

Next week, force main installation will continue along Limekiln Road between Lee Road and Linden Road. Limekiln will be closed in that area during the extended construction hours.  Installation will start between Linden Road and Nursery Road. Limekiln will be closed in that area when the work starts. 

The project includes installation of 13,600 feet of new 8-inch diameter underground force main piping from the Route 7 Pump Station to the South Street Wastewater Treatment Facility. The existing Route 7 facility will be demolished and replaced with a new pump station in the same location. The existing Wastewater Treatment Facility there will be decommissioned and demolished. 

Director of Academy Partnerships named for Danbury Career Academy

A Director of Academy Partnerships has been named for the Danbury Career Academy. Brent Dean will be the liaison for the school district with local businesses and community-based organizations.  He worked for five years at the Academies of Nashville, the program that inspired the new Danbury school.  His appointment was announced on Wednesday, but he started the job last month.  In his most recent role, Dean served as academy coach at Maplewood High School in Nashville.  Superintendent Kevin Walston said in a statement that Dean’s experience and proven track record in ensuring collaborating with local businesses and maintaining long-range partnerships made him the ideal candidate for this position.  The Danbury Career Academy is expected to open in fall 2024.  Residents voted in June for $164 million in bonding for the middle and high school at the Cartus property.  Negotiations for the building are still underway.

Amazon Fresh opening in Brookfield delayed

Brookfield officials have been fielding questions about when the Amazon Fresh grocery store would be opening on Candlewood Lake Road.  The Economic Department says the opening has been pushed back to February or March.  The delay is due to supply chain issues associated with installing their novel technology.  The company remains committed to the project and working to ensure everything is worked out before welcoming customers to the store.  Managers and associates who have been hired to work at the Brookfield location have been offered work at nearby Amazon locations and training centers.

Bethel to apply for STEAP grant for old police station demolition

The Town of Bethel is applying for a STEAP grant to demolish the old police station.  Bethel is seeking up to $350,000 in Small Town Economic Assistance Program funding for the work.  If granted, the Board of Selectmen signed off on accepted the money.  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 Public Works Department got an estimate on costs, which came back at 93-thousand dollars for remediation and $130,000 for building demolition and parking lot removal.

Deadline passed for developer to file appeal in Newtown warehouse application

The deadline for Wharton Equity Partners, LLC to file an appeal of the Newtown  Planning & Zoning Commission denial of its application has passed.  The developer did not file an appeal with the town by July 1st on their application for a 76 bay door warehouse at 10 Hawleyville Road.  Wharton sought a Special Exception to build a 344,880 square foot warehouse, but the application was denied on a vote of 3 to 2.  Resident objections concerned traffic, air pollution, and noise pollution.  The commission’s split decision stemmed from those reservations, as well as an alternate member asking Wharton to perform a sound study on multiple occasions and the developer refused. An intervenor that opposed the warehouse has filed an application for a six-month moratorium on similar applications to give Newtown an opportunity to “develop restrictions and standards” on such developments.

Lake Zoar Authority opens Life Jacket Loaner Station

The Lake Zoar Authority is partnering with boating safety nonprofit, the Sea Tow Foundation to open a new Life Jacket Loaner Station, which will be available to Lake Zoar boaters this August.  The station – which will be located at the Lakeside Marina– will hold life jackets that local boaters may borrow and use, free of charge. Available in sizes ranging from infant to Adult XL.  Boaters are asked to return them when they are finished so that they are available for others to use.  The Lake Zoar Authority says these life jackets help to ensure each of a boat’s passengers have access to necessary safety equipment.  Since 2008, the Sea Tow Foundation has distributed nearly 50,000 life jackets to local businesses and organizations across the country.

Black Lives Matter mural at Pomperaug High School vandalized

A Black Lives Matter mural at Pomperaug High School has been vandalized.  An administrator reported the incident to police last week.  Students created the mural two years ago on a walkway leading to the football stadium.  There are other murals on the walkway, but this was the only one vandalized. It was covered up with black tar or asphalt smear. Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police.

Brush fire near Mahopac elementary school extinguished

The Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fast growing brush fire yesterday afternoon.  The blaze was reported near Austin Road Elementary School.  Mahopac Fire was also dispatched and firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames.  They continued with the overhaul to ensure all hot spots were found and left the scene after about an hour.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled in New Fairfield

The Griffin Health Vaccination Van will return to New Fairfield on Saturday, at the High School Cafeteria, for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic.  This is for all age groups, starting at 6 months. The clinic is from 10am to 4pm. The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months get a the primary series of vaccinations, and boosters if eligible.  The CDC also recommends vaccinations and boosters even for people who have had COVID.

Vacancies open on Newtown Boards, Commissions

There are a couple of vacancies on Newtown Boards and Commissions.  The Design Advisory Board has an alternate vacancy available to any registered voter. The Police Commission has a vacant position available to a registered Democrat. The last day to submit interest is August 19th

HRRA to host another Household Hazardous Waste event

The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting another Household Hazardous Waste event next month.  The collection event for all towns in the HRRA region will be on September 10th from 9 am to 1 pm at the Hurlbutt Elementary School in Weston.  A list of items that will be collected and those items that aren't allowed can be found on the HRRA website.

Newtown Community Center hosting Fill A Backpack Drive

Officials from the Newtown Community Center are touting a generous donation that came in for their Fill A Backpack Drive.  All of the supplies collected will be distributed throughout the Newtown community.  Anyone still wanting to donate can do so through Friday.  There's a bin in the lobby to collect the donations.  Newtown's academic year begins on the 29th.

Bethel First Selectman to resign to take job in Wilton

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is resigning to take a new job in Wilton. He will become Wilton’s first town administrator.  Knickerbocker will leave his current job on September 7th.  He held the elected position for 13 years. 

Selectman Rich Straiton will step up to lead the town.  The vacancy in the First Selectman's Office will require a special election in the near future, as well as an appointment by the Board of Selectmen to fill the third seat. The special election will most likely be held in early 2023. 

Knickerbocker says he's been contemplating making a career change at the end of his current term, wanting to continue in the field of public service, but in a more secure position.  He says since the pandemic has eased, he's gone back to graduate school and earned a master’s degree in public administration. 

Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice says there's increasing resident demand for a “24/7 local government” and described the role as that of Chief Operating Officer.  The town administrator will assist the first select person and act as a conduit between that office and residents. 

The Wilton Board of Selectmen approved a motion from Vanderslice to lower her salary by $20,000 as some of her duties will be passed off to the Town Administrator.  There's up to $200,000 budgeted for the new position, though a contract has not yet been signed. 

Some of the things Knickerbocker says he's most proud of include the ongoing accelerated road reconstruction program, making Bethel one of the first towns in the state to construct a municipal solar farm to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the town’s energy expenses, constructing a new police station and full renovation of two elementary schools, completion of the stalled library expansion, fully revamping the town’s finances and achieving the highest possible bond rating and adopting financial policies that will protect taxpayers from sudden spikes in tax rates in the future. But he says the most significant was transforming the Bethel public water system from being on the verge of failure and making it into one of the best public water systems in the state.

Knickerbocker served on the Western Connecticut Council of Governments’ Executive Committee with Vanderslice and has held leadership positions with the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Material Management, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, Connecticut Council of Small Towns and Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency.

Special Town Meeting in Brookfield on funding requests for school security

Brookfield residents will get a chance to weigh in on funding requests for school security.  A Special Town Meeting has been scheduled for August 22nd at 7pm in the Brookfield High School auditorium.  American Rescue Plan Act funding would be tapped to hire two School Resource Officers by the Brookfield Police Department.  The Board of Education is requesting $251,515.  A separate appropriation of $344,718 is being requested by the Board of Ed from ARPA funding to hire 5 unarmed school security personnel to monitor camera, check-in at front doors and to patrol each school campus.  The money would also go toward the hiring of an Armed School Security Officer for after school hours at Brookfield High School.

Conn. offers grants to schools to provide free breakfast, lunch

Through funding by the State of Connecticut, all schools will begin the new academic year with school meals for free. Students are entitled to one free breakfast and one free lunch daily. The length of this funding is uncertain, as it depends on demand, and meals will go back to being paid, free or reduced price when the grant runs out.  New Milford school officials say that's anticipated to happen before January 1st. The district will provide families with notification prior to this happening.  Even though meals will be free to start the school year, parents are being urged to complete and submit a free and reduced-price meal application. This will help avoid unnecessary charges to student accounts when the district transitions back to a paid, free and reduced price meal system.  Applications can be found on the New Milford School district website.

New Milford Youth Agency offers no-cost counseling services

New Milford Youth Agency Director Jason O'Connor has come up with mental services opportunities for young residents, especially for those youth and families that can least afford it. The service was started last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Youth Agency offers no-cost counseling services for a variety of areas including Depression and Anxiety, Anger Management/Conflict Resolution, ADHD and School Problems.  They also address Social Skills and Bullying, Conflict Resolution, Behavior Management, Self Esteem and Life Skills.  Grief and Loss, Life Transitions, Family Relationship Issues, LGBTQIA+ are also covered.  Any New Milford parent or youth wanting more information can contact the Youth Agency.

Short term rental regulations called for in Redding

Short term rental regulations in Redding could be proposed.  The Planning Commission received a letter from a resident about the need for rules around the industry and the chairman looked at how the issue is handled in other towns and Councils of Government. Redding's Zoning and Inland Wetlands Enforcement Officer noted that current zoning regulations do not adequately address short-term rentals. The Planning Commission Chair suggested the issue should be studied by a committee created by the Board of Selectmen and then draft a proposal.  They suggest members include those from Planning, Zoning, and the newly established Economic Development Committee, as well as the Zoning Enforcement Officer.

Two injured in three-vehicle crash in Woodbury

One man sustained serious injuries and a woman suffered minor injuries in a three car crash in Woodbury yesterday afternoon.  State Police say a Chevy Bolt was headed north on Route 6 when it crossed into the southbound lanes and hit a Jeep, which spun and hit another vehicle going south.  A 78-year-old Bethlehem man, the Bolt driver, was transported to Waterbury Hospital with serious injuries. The Jeep driver, a 34-year-old Woodbury woman was transported to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries.  The other driver, a 77-year-old Southbury woman, was not injured.  Route 6 was closed from around 1:30pm between routes 64 and 67 until shortly before 5:30pm. The accident remains under investigation.

Danbury Police promote three members

The Danbury City Council has confirmed three promotions within the Danbury Police Department. 

Robert Conrad is being promoted to Lieutenant.  He joined the force in 1988 and has served as a member of the ESU SWAT Team, an Assistant Court Officer and Private Duty Officer.  Mayor Dean Esposito says Conrad is well known for his dedication, work ethic and exceptional police work.  He has received many awards, citations and letters of appreciation, including the Exceptional Police Service Award in 1991, and the Life Saving Medal in both June 2018 and October 2018. 

David Antedomenico has been promoted to Sergeant.  He joined the Department in 1995 and has served as a DHS perimeter Security Officer as well as full time Evidence Technician.  He has also dedicated over 20 years with the police Cadet Program, serving as the Assistance Advisor and now the Advisor.  Antedomenico has received the Exceptional Police Service Award, the Chief's Achievement Award and was named the Danbury Exchange Club Officer of the Year in 2007. 

Joseph Michael has been promoted to Detective. He joined the Department in 2014, comin to Danbury from the Newtown Police Department.  He serves as part-time Evidence Technician and is a Field Training Officer.  Michael has earned several letters of appreciation for his service, including Unit Citations in 2014 and 2019.  

Alex Jones' lawyer faces disciplinary hearing in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut judge has begun hearing testimony on whether a lawyer for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should be disciplined for disclosing highly sensitive documents to another one of Jones' lawyers. The hearing about attorney Norman Pattis' conduct started Wednesday. It's in connection with a defamation lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook families against Jones for calling the 2012 shooting a hoax. Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed. Pattis has denied violating a Connecticut judge's order not to disclose confidential documents. Jones was found liable for damages to the families, and jury selection is set to resume Thursday for a trial to determine the amount of damages.

Narcan revives two opioid overdose patients in Wilton

Within the span of  two hours on Sunday evening, Wilton Police officers responded to two separate opioid overdose calls with unresponsive patients.  In both instances the patients were saved by the administering of Narcan by either a friend or responding officers.  Narcan is a brand name of Naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.  It attaches to opioid receptors and reverses and blocks the effects of other opioids. Naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped because of an opioid overdose. 

Chipotle makes revisions to application for new site on Backus Ave.

The Danbury Planning Commission is continuing a public hearing tonight on a proposed fast food restaurant, with drive thru, and a medical office at the corner of Sugar Hollow Road at Backus Avenue.  Chipotle is looking to locate to the property that formerly housed Pier One Imports. 

According to the City's Traffic Engineer, the existing lower traffic volumes from the current study at Backus Avenue and Route 7 Ramps still reflect the post pandemic reduction of traffic when compared with 2019 volumes from Shake Shack traffic report.  The Traffic Engineer wants the project to replace the existing vehicle detection system at the intersections along Backus at the Mall entrance and at Sugar Hollow with a much reliable new 360 degree video vehicle detection system.  This would allow the City to remotely monitor the traffic operations in this area and make necessary timing adjustments as needed for the post development and post pandemic traffic conditions when needed.  

The applicant revised the site plan, based on the City's comments, to now show a drive thru lane 12 feet wide.  Proposed lighting was adjusted to eliminate encroachment onto adjacent properties and shields will be added to minimize glare and skyglow.  

The Zoom meeting is at 7:30pm. 

Streetscape road closure in Brookfield shifts

Federal Road streetscaping in Brookfield is continuing.  The  “Road Closed to Thru Traffic” & “Business Open” signage on Old Route 7 was moved today from their location near the Dunkin driveway to the south end of Old Route 7 at Laurel Hill. The barrels and signage that read “Road Closed” were moved to the northern end.  Customers wanting to access 18, 28 & 31 Old Route 7 businesses will be able to from Laurel Hill Rd only, not Federal Road.  This signage will remain for the next couple weeks until all streetscape work is completed on Old Route 7 and contractors move on to pocket park construction.

Smoke, burning odor reported in Monroe school

Smoke was reported in Fawn Hollow School this morning in Monroe.  The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department, along with Stepney, responded to the school around 5am for the activated alarm.  Custodial staff and firefighters quickly located a burning odor and light smoke condition traced to a malfunctioning HVAC unit with no further damage.

House fire reported in New Milford

No injuries were reported in a New Milford house fire last night.  Water Witch Hose Company responded to Bostwick Place for a reported structure fire around 8:30 and called in Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company for assistance.  Due to the warm weather, Brookfield was assigned to assist with overhaul and extinguishment.  Additional EMS units were called for firefighter rehab.  The American Red Cross also responded to the scene to assist the family.

New Fairfield firefighters help test suppression system at High School

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department assisted the High School Construction Project by supplying water to the building's fire protection system for testing.  Shuttles were run between Ball Pond and the High School, resulting in 16,400 gallons of water being transferred.  Squad 16, with Engine 13 as standby, were located at the Ball Pond boat launch supplying the water for the tankers. The Fire police were also called in for traffic support during the Monday Night Department Drill operation.

Danbury-base FuelCell Energy touts signing of Inflation Reduction Act

Danbury-base FuelCell Energy says under the Inflation Reduction Act, users and producers of fuel cell technology will be able to take advantage of investment tax credits, production tax credits for clean power and hydrogen, and carbon capture utilization and sequestration credits.  FuelCell Energy President Jason Few says these policy mechanisms will provide businesses with the long-term market and tax certainty needed to make important investment decisions in hiring, manufacturing, and partnerships that will lead to a clean energy economic renaissance in the United States while enhancing grid resiliency and reliability.

Easton Police collecting school supplies for kids

The Easton Police Department is looking to help the Center for Family Justice with their Back To School supply drive.  They have a drop box in their lobby, through Friday, to collect donations for the center.  New items needed for students include reusable water bottles, binders with loose leaf paper and tab dividers, sticky notes, folders, crayons, markers, pens, pencils, sharpeners, calculators, headphones, and Clip-on hand sanitizer for backpacks.

Waterbury man arrested in Danbury on drug related charges

A Waterbury man has been arrested on drug related charges in Danbury.  Police launched an investigation months ago into resident complaints about illegal drug sales by 43-year old Gerald Blake Rockhead, who was known to the Special Investigations Division through past investigations and arrests.  He was stopped yesterday during what police say appeared to be a transaction, and found with 8 grams of crack cocaine in his underwear.  A Triangle Street apartment and a hotel room he was seen leaving, and had a room key to, were then searched.  Detectives seized 27 more grams of crack cocaine and drug packaging equipment.  Rockhead was charged with 2 counts each of possession of narcotics with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was held on $150,000 bond.

Redding official opposed to Eversource vegetation management pilot program on scenic road

Eversource proposed a vegetation management pilot program in Redding, the first town in the state, as a way to improve resiliency.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton disagrees with the amount of deforestation she says is planned on Cross Highway, a scenic road.  She recently filmed a drive down the route Eversource proposed.  The so-called fall zone, as large as 75 feet for large trees, is around any tree that could foreseeably fall on power line in the future.  This would be on private, town and state property.  The Resiliency Program will expand typical clearances around power lines and remove tall-growing tree species capable of falling onto overhead electric lines, including trees across the street and trees further into private property.  The utility would need permission from town and private owners for tree removal on their properties.  Pemberton says Cross Highway would be irreparably changed in terms of its scenic character.  She acknowledged that trees have caused some power outages, but notes that regular tree trimming has been effective at preventing outages and more residents have generators.  The town's tree warden would have to sign off on any tree to be removed and will work with the Eversource arborist on assessments.  Each tree must be posted, and within 10 days any resident can call for a hearing.  Eversource crews would seek to plant medium- to- small-sized trees and bushes to mitigate the removal, but it won't be a one-for-one replacement.

Danbury man pulled from Candlewood Lake Monday night has died

A Danbury man pulled from Candlewood Lake Monday night has died.  State Police identified the man as 53-year old Adao Nogueira.  The Chief Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death as an accidental drowning.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to Button Island, in the area of Blueberry Island in New Fairfield around 5pm.  A bystander started CPR and the man was transported to the hospital in cardiac arrest.  He was later pronounced dead.  State Police say preliminary information indicates the incident is not suspicious.  There have been three other drowning fatalities on the lake this summer.

Main Street improvement project in in Ridgefield continues

The Main Street improvement project in in Ridgefield is moving forward.  Main between Governor and Catoonah will be closed from the 26th through 28th due to the heavy equipment present on site.  Part of the roadway will be rebuilt and new asphalt poured.  Detour signs will be posted to guide traffic around a detoured route.   A limited number of vehicles will be allowed to enter or exit at the intersection of Catoonah and Main Street. Parking spaces will also be available in this area. Sidewalks will remain open.

New Fairfield Zoning Commission hires outside attorney in dispute over ruling

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission has hired an outside attorney to represent them on a summons served by the Town of New Fairfield and Permanent Building Committee.  The June 30th action by the PBC is based on the Commission's denial of a site plan application for a proposed school bus lot at 302 Ball Pond Road, the former Consolidated School property.  The Zoning Commission retained Joseph P Williams Esquire from Shipman & Goodwin LLP.  The Permanent Building Committee is appealing the Zoning decision.  Town Attorney Neil Marcus typically represents all boards and commissions, but it was recommended that outside counsel be retained by Zoners.  The proposed site plan called for improvements for vehicle maneuvering areas, grading, storm drainage, utility connections, fencing and screening.  The property is zoned for educational purposes.  Over half of the footprint and driveway, and front lot, would be left open for future development.

Public hearing in Ridgefield tonight on cannabis

A public hearing is being held tonight in Ridgefield about the future of cannabis in town.  An ordinance prohibiting cannabis is up for discussion during the meeting at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Large Conference Room.  Residents are also being called on to discuss expansion of the Economic & Community Development Commission from seven to nine Commissioners.  Also on the agenda is a contract between the Town of Ridgefield & Aquarion Water for a permanent pressure reducing facility easement and a temporary construction easement over a portion of the Barlow Mountain Elementary School Property.

Saturday office hours planned for New Milford Mayor for parking permits

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is holding special office hours on Saturday for residents and visitors to get parking passes for River Road.  Many people have already gone to Town Hall to request permits, which are also needed for the back parking lot at Sega Meadows Park.  Bass says the permit stems from the illegal parking along the side of the road, which has led to safety concerns of emergency vehicles being able to get by.  The permit will include the make and model of the car, the license plate and the valid date. It will be signed off on by the Mayor's Office and the visitor pass is good for one day.  Residents can also request a seasonal permit.

Man in cardiac arrest pulled from Candlewood Lake

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to Candlewood Lake last night on a report of a swimmer in distress.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that emergency medical personnel were called to the area near Echo Bay Marina and Blueberry Island around 5pm.  A bystander pulled the man in his 50s from the water and started CPR.  Paramedics reached the man, who was in cardiac arrest, and transported him to Danbury Hospital.

Algonquin starts maintenance project in Southbury

Algonquin Gas Transmission is performing a maintenance activity on one of its pipelines under Southford Road in Southbury.  The work started yesterday and is being done Mondays through Saturday round the clock.  Only one lane of alternating traffic will get by during construction.  Southbury Police say Algonquin will be taking measures to minimize sound when working outside the daylight hours. At this time, Algonquin anticipates that the work will be completed by the Labor Day weekend. The interstate natural gas transmission company maintains and operates pipelines in the mid-Atlantic and New England States. Part of the system crosses under Route 67 near 623 Southford Road.  Algonquin has been coordinating with local officials to ensure awareness and provide information on the maintenance project.

3 World War II veterans take part in Danbury ceremony

The Danbury Veterans Council hosted a World War II Memorial Ceremony yesterday commemorating 77 years since the end of World War II on August 15th 1945.  Among the veterans in attendance were three who served in World War II.  John Edmond, Julius Demo and Andy Perone took part in the ceremony.  State Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi served as Master of Ceremonies and called the men members of the greatest of generations who lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II to free millions across the globe from oppression and returned home to build a great nation of peace and prosperity for subsequent generations.  Mayor Dean Esposito and Catholic War Veterans Commander Al Mead delivered remarks.  Retired Deputy Police Chief and Navy Veteran Shaun McCulgan read the names of the 106 men from Danbury who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II.  Kelly Gleason sang the National Anthem.  The Danbury Police Department Honor Guard participated in the ceremony.  Saadi thanked CWV member Mindo Rebeiro for the display of WWII photos.

Brush fire danger continues in Conn.

There was a brush fire in Southbury yesterday afternoon.  Southbury Fire Department responded to the Tepi Road area around 4:30pm. Because of the rough, rocky terrain officials say additional help was requested from Sandy Hook and Roxbury Fire Departments. The fire was extinguished quickly and no injuries were reported.

 

New Milford Fire Marshall Kevin Reynolds says the fire danger again today is High.  No outside burning is allowed, as burn permits are not valid at this level.  Residents are asked to use caution with charcoal from grills and with any smoking materials. 

 

Connecticut is currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions. The states forest fire index is either high or extremely high for various parts of the state.   Easton Volunteer Fire Department says there have been several brush fires in surrounding towns, including along the highway in Danbury yesterday.  Residents are asked to refrain from any outside fires until conditions improve.   This includes fire pits. Anyone who sees a brush fire or smoke in the woods is asked to call 911 immediately.

 

Monroe officials provide update on Pepper St. project

The general contractor for the Pepper Street reconstruction project in Monroe has revised the schedule and committed to having work substantially completed by November.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg has expressed frustration in the past over delays and involved the Town Attorney in the matter.  About a year ago, the contractor said the delays were due to pandemic-related supply chain issues coupled with unforeseen conflicts caused by the relocation of utility company equipment and transmission lines in the project area.  This project includes dramatic safety and geometric improvements to sightlines, including lowering the roadway in some areas.  The intersection at Main Street will have an upgraded traffic signal installed. Additionally, the drainage improvements go well beyond routine, and include a complete replacement of the culvert at the Jockey Hollow Road intersection. The state Department of Transportation is paying 90% of the project’s costs.

Project manager hired for Bethel Police firing range project

Downes Construction Company has been retained by the Town of Bethel to be the project manager for the Police Station firing range with HVAC and training equipment installation project.  The specialized ventilation system can remove lead dust.  That's the same company that managed construction of the Judd Avenue facility.  Bethel residents last month approved $1.4 million in funding for the work.  Downes will get $44,819.  Lt. Robert Durkin said during the Board of Selectmen meeting at the water leak was really the only issue that was outstanding, and he’s overall pleased with the work Downes did on site.  Construction wouldn't start until at least January because Action Target has a five-month lead time.

Nonprofit seeks to lease room at Danbury Library for immigrant resource center

The New American Dream Foundation, a Danbury-based nonprofit, is looking to use a room at Danbury Library for an immigrant resource center.  A committee of the City Council has been formed to look into the proposal for a license agreement for the New American Dream Center. The proposed license fee is one dollar a year for use of part of first floor of the library.  The Center is meant to help guide new immigrants through the process of obtaining healthcare, education and basic assistance through its Newcomers Community Navigators Program.  The Center would also assist immigrants eligible for citizenship with free legal services to enable them to apply through a program seeking accreditation by the U-S Department of Justice. 

Danbury signs MOU with The Summit for services during emergencies

Another collaborative agreement has been entered into by the City of Danbury and a business for mass feeding and emergency food distribution in case of emergency.  The Memorandum of Understanding with The Summit was signed off on by the City Council at their August meeting.  Should the need arise, the Summit would help with food preparation and distribution.  The minimum requirement would be 30 meals, with delivery up to a 20 mile radius.  Depending on the emergency event, the option to pick up at The Summit may be possible.  A parking lot would also be made available for a staging area.  The Summit is equipped with an onsite generator. 

A similar agreement was signed with the Amber Room to provide meals in the event of disasters or emergencies.  Memorandums of understanding were also signed with school bus company Student Transportation of America and HARTransit to better provide evacuations and use of their buses as warming or cooling shelters.

Controlled deer hunt approved in Bethel

A controlled deer hunt for this year has been approved in Bethel.  The annual hunt was signed off on by the Board of Selectmen for Terre Haute and Chestnut Ridge.  The Board asked organizers to install warning signs at the two sites.  The Town's attorney reviewed the plan with the town's insurance company.  In lieu of providing insurance, the organizers require each participant to sign a Release and Indemnity Agreement.  That's been done annually since 2007.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection approved seasons are archery from September 15th through December 31st and January 1st through January 31st.  Shotgun season is November 16th through December 6th, while muzzleloaders can be used December 7th through 31st.

Danbury War Memorial seeks bids for HVAC, other renovations

Bids are being sought for work at the Danbury War Memorial.  The state Bond Commission in December approved $1.4 million for designs and renovations including replacement of existing boilers and installation of new building-wide HVAC System, fire alarm system and fire sprinkler system.  Two existing oil-fired steam boilers will be replaced with two new steam boilers with dual fuel burners.  The existing main electrical service and distribution system must also be replaced.  The Danbury War Memorial Association is hosting a mandatory Pre-Bid conference for bidders on Wednesday at 1pm.  Qualifications and proposals from firms who do not attend will not be considered.  Proposals must be submitted to the War Memorial by September 7th. 

New Milford man sentenced for domestic violence incident

A New Milford man has accepted a plea deal for charges in connection to the 2019 death of his wife.  39-year old Joshua Hilliard was sentenced Friday to 10 year in jail, suspended after three.  HE was also ordered to 5 years probation.  He pleaded guilty to risk of injury to child.  Charges of manslaughter, intentional cruelty to persons and tampering with witnesses were dropped.  Police responded to a report of an unconscious woman having difficulty breathing and found Jessica Hilliard lying on the floor, with her husband standing beside her.  New Milford Police launched an investigation into a November 2019 domestic violence incident, and Hilliard was arrested in August 2020. He reportedly told police that the couple argued in front of their children and when he returned to the hall, she came at him with a hammer and there was a brief struggle.  He told officers that she hit herself.  Hilliard has been held at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown since his arrest and that time will count toward the sentence.

Mountain Bike Trail being proposed in Bethel

A Mountain Bike Trail is being proposed in Bethel.  New England Mountain Bike Association Board Member and Bethel resident Michaela Lawlor presented the idea to the Board of Selectmen last month for the area of the Terre Haute property.  She hopes to connect Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Danbury by having trails lead to Tarrywile Park and the Ives Trail.  She says this would have recreation, public health and social benefits.  Lawlor noted that there would also be a positive economic impact by boosting tourism and visitors.  Bethel would be the first in Fairfield County to employ machine built trails, which she says would be a draw to the town.  When it comes to paying for the project, she suggested fundraising, donations from businesses and trail grants available from various sources.  The Selectmen referred the proposal to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Inland and Wetland for review.  The Bethel  Park and Recreation and Economic Developments will also be asked to weigh in.

Bethel officials sign off on ARPA funding for school resource officer

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has signed off on a request to add an additional school resource officer.  The $75,000 for the rest of the fiscal year would be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funding.  This does create a budget hole next year that would have to be built in.  The Selectmen also approved two bid waivers requested by the Board of Education for implementation of security grant awards.  Omni Data, LLC and Environmental Systems Corp will complete the school security projects that have been on the books since last year.

Mahopac Fire attends Fireman's Association of the State of New York parade

Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department attended the Fireman's Association of the State of New York parade Saturday in Tarrytown.  They took home 2nd best appearing dress uniform trophy.  The Mario Cuomo bridge, formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge, was lit up red in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Firefighter Association of the State of New York.   There are 110-thousand Volunteer Firefighters in New York.

Newtown, Stony Hill firefighters respond to multiple accidents on I-84

Newtown Hook & Ladder responded to an early morning car fire on the highway, which set off a brush fire.  Firefighters quickly knocked down the flams and small brush fire with tank water.  All occupants were out of the car before firefighters arrived and no injuries were reported.  The fire was reported around 2:45am and firefighters cleated the scene around 3:30am.

 

A 5-vehicle crash was reported on I-84 in Newtown on Saturday night.  Newtown Hook & Ladder responded to the westbound side of the highway shortly before 6pm.  One driver needed extrication and firefighters were told en route that there were injures involved in the motor vehicle accident.  Hawleyville Fire Company also responded. 

 

There was a multi vehicle accident on I-84 Saturday afternoon between exits 8 and 9 westbound.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says once all hazards were mitigated and patients were treated, it was determined that HOG WILD BBQ’s truck and trailer both needed to be towed from the scene. Officials say firefighters stood by and assisted their crew salvage their pig so it could make its final destination.

Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club, Police play annual wiffle ball game

The Ridgefield Police Department and the Boys & Girls Club counselors faced off Friday in an  annual wiffle ball game.  The counselors gained a large lead in the beginning of the game, with multiple home runs from counselor Kyle Platt.  His father, Ridgefield Police Major Shawn Platt participated in the game.  Police won 10-9 over the counselors. 

Connecticut Institute for Communities expands its health center

The Connecticut Institute for Communities has expanded its health center.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Thursday for the 8,500 square foot wing of their 120 Main Street building.  It houses three new dental rooms, a new family medicine suite, eight additional pediatric and adult medicine exam rooms, and a primary care simulation laboratory for the Teaching Health Center program.  CIFC unveiled a new logo for the building, which will now be called CIFC Health.  The federally-qualified community health center does not turn people away and uses a sliding-fee basis for patients.

Conn. woman charged for allegedly creating false COVID-19 vaccine records

A Connecticut woman has pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false statement relating to a health care matter for creating false COVID-19 vaccine records for several individuals. 25-year old Zaya Powell of Waterbury waived her right to be indicted. 

The Data Entry Specialist for Griffin Health traveled to various COVID-19 vaccination and had access to the electronic health record system, the Vaccine Administration Management System, as well as stacks of blank COVID-19 vaccination cards. Between August and October 2021, Powell created fraudulent vaccination records in VAMS for 14 different individuals, including 4 who worked at the Southbury Training School, a Connecticut Department of Developmental Services facility located in Southbury. 

The records indicated that each of the 14 individuals had received a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccination, with cards that included lot numbers of genuine vaccines that were administered to other Griffin Health patients.  The four Southbury Training School employees were within the scope of Executive Order 13G issued by Governor Lamont, and required to get a vaccine.  

Powell is released on a $25,000 bond pending sentencing, which is set for for November 4th.

Zoners push off hearing on land donation to Danbury

The public hearing before the Danbury Zoning Commission on accepting two parcel of donated land has been pushed off.  The hearing was originally scheduled for August 23rd, but has been postponed to September 13th.  Officials says this was done as the City continues negotiations with the owner on buying the building located on the property for the proposed Danbury Career Academy.  MMP Realty has offered the land that includes Apple Ridge Road, and about 6,000 acres on an adjacent parcel to the City, if Danbury buys the Cartus building.

Football, band camps return to New Milford High School

Reconstruction and mitigation work at New Milford High School continues following the July 5th roof fire.  The contractor received and staged 2nd floor and some 3rd floor furniture.  Crews packed and moved remaining Library books and moved furniture so carpeting can be installed.  Band and athletic camps open today and return to the fields.  Students, staff and parents are being asked to be mindful that only the main gate is open and accessible for entry and exit.  Football drop off and pick up is being done near the observatory and Band is by the band entrance doors.  Parking is limited to the southernmost lot near the weight room entrance.

World War II Memorial Ceremony to be held in Danbury

The Danbury Veterans Council is hosting a World War II Memorial Ceremony this morning.  The commemoration is being organized by the Catholic War Veterans Post 1042.  Danbury Veterans Affairs Director Danny Hayes and State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi are inviting the public to attend the service at 10am at the Rose Garden on Memorial Drive.  The ceremony will include the reading of the names by former Deputy Police Chief Shaun McCulgan of the 106 men from Danbury who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II.  CWV post 1042 Commander Al Mead will read FDR's December 8th Declaration of War address to Congress.

Local lawmaker calls on residents to attend insurance rate hike request hearing

Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang, a ranking member of the legislature's   Insurance Committee, is encouraging residents to turn out at the state capitol today for a public hearing about proposed health insurance rate hikes being reviewed by state regulators.  Health insurance companies are seeking increases averaging over 20-percent.  Today's public hearing starts at 9am.  In order to accommodate all those who wish to speak, comments at the hearing will be limited to 3 minutes per person. The online public comment period began on July 8 when the filings were posted for public review and such period will be open until the decision is made by the Department.

Danbury reservoir levels slightly below normal

Connecticut is at a Stage 2 Drought level due to precipitation across the state being below normal.  Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says reservoir levels in the City are at about 82 percent.  Normally they're at 85-percent at this time of year so not too far off. He did tell the City Council at their meeting last week that they were in a bit of an uncomfortable position with the level of water they were pumping. He said he's never, in all of the years he's been in the City, seen some of the demands that creeped up on them.  The plants can push out 8-and-a-half to 9 million gallons and crews were able to ramp up reservoirs so water tank levels are starting to come up.  He notes that they were maintained at a level the Department is comfortable with.  State officials say residents should be mindful of their water consumption and take sensible steps to reduce impacts from now to mitigate the potential for harm should the drought become prolonged. 

New Fairfield Emergency Communications Center to stay in town, staff hours to change

Staffing for the New Fairfield Emergency Communications Center has been discussed by the Board of Selectmen.  They also talked about the possibility of moving the dispatch to Newtown and changing the hours of dispatch workers.  An advisory committee put together to research the options recommended keeping the dispatch center in town.  The Board of Selectmen noted that the they would be willing to keep the dispatch center in town as long as there is more than one person at a time at the center, and the that length of the shifts are shortened.

The additional cost of these staffing changes would be approximately $60,000 per year.  The Board voted to keep the center in town and recommend to the Board of Finance that $58,000 to appropriated for additional staffing.  The money would come from surplus or the unassigned fund balance. 

It was decided that the Board of Selectmen will review call response times and part-time staffing levels for the Communications Center in six months.  Del Monaco says funding is set aside in ARPA for a new dispatch console, estimated at half a million dollars.  New Fairfield could apply for a STEAP grant, but that would require a 20-percent local match. 

The state standard is to answer 90 percent of calls within 10 seconds. 

Selectman Khris Hall says in the last four quarters, there was one where New Fairfield met that comfortably, two where they barely made it and one where they didn't meet that standard.  She says it wasn't a narrow miss either.  Del Monaco says her understanding is that when there are events in town, they can only answer a certain number of calls at one time.  When someone is out sick, the town is filling the role with overtime from another dispatcher rather than a part-timer on regular time pay. 

Del Monaco hopes it will make the job more attractive to part timers by creating more flexible, shorter shifts, which will also help control overtime costs.  She notes that the town already operates with one- and two-person departments, so there is no where to go in the budget to offset this new cost.

State Police Sgt. accused of leaving accident scene has court date postponed

A Connecticut state police sergeant accused of fleeing the scene of a car accident last month has had her case continued to next month. Sgt. Catherine Koeppel was scheduled to be arraigned in Danbury Superior Court on Friday, after being delayed earlier in the week and eventually pushed to September 23rd.  Koeppel was issued a misdemeanor summons for following too close and evading responsibility.  The 36-year-old’s police powers were suspended following the July 24th crash and she was placed on desk assignment. A 20-year-old had her car totaled in the crash on Route 7 near the intersection with Route 202 in Brookfield. Both vehicles were in the northbound lanes when Koeppel, who was off-duty, crashed into the rear of the Kia.

United Way accepting donations for annual Back-to-School drive

The United Way of Western Connecticut is accepting donations for its annual Back-to-School drive in Danbury and Greater New Milford. Donations are being accepted at Danbury Fair on August 16, or can be dropped off at the United Way office on Main Street.  Danbury Public Library will hold a Back to School party on Saturday, August 27th from 10am to 2pm.  The first 150 students will receive a pencil case with school supplies inside.

Newtown Police Department looking to hire certified police officer

The Newtown Police Department is looking to hire a certified police officer.  The starting salary is about $61,000, but could be up to $85,000, depending on experience.  No CHIP of physical agility test is required for this position.  Candidates must complete a written exam in order to submit their application.  There will then be oral, polygraph and psychological exams and a detailed background check investigation.  

Preserve New Fairfield welcoming visitors at Hubbell House

Preserve New Fairfield will be welcoming visitors at the Hubbell House behind the Senior Center on Sunday from 2pm tp 4pm.   Visitors will be able to watch the Candlewood Lake documentary "Plows to Power", recounting the history of the Lake.  There will also be a raffle for a gift basket to benefit Preserve New Fairfield. 

Sprinkler, fire alarm systems tested at New Milford High School

New Milford High School restoration work continues from the July 5th roof fire.  The contractor is doing evaluation, inventory, and relocation of electronics. There's also evaluation and activation of the fire alarm control panel work underway.  Smoke detector replacement and final repair to the sprinkler system began Friday. Mayor Pete Bass says it was confirmed that all systems, including the dry system, are charged. 

Carmel Police believe social media post warning of abductor is a scam

The Carmel Police Department is cautioning residents that a post on a social media group page warning of an abductor in the area is in fact a scam.  Carmel Police were sent the post from a tag sale page over concerns that there might be a predator in the area.  Police say that particular post is a scam, adding that the poster is from Zimbabwe.  The post was only their second on the local page, they were a member of the group for only one day, and they hadn't posted anything else in months.  Police say this could be a phishing scam.  Carmel Police say they do keep an eye for legitimate threats like this, but have a degree of certainty that this one is bogus.  Residents were asked not to engage with the post and anyone with continuing concerns should reach out to their local police agency.

Handicap man escapes Brewster house fire, firefighters treated for heat exhaustion

The Brewster Fire Department has released more details about a fire that happened Wednesday afternoon on Shore Drive.  Firefighters were notified that the resident was handicapped and they found the man in his wheelchair at the top of his driveway, safely away from the burning home. Brewster firefighters made an aggressive interior attack, but were forced out when the roof collapsed.  Due to the extreme hot weather conditions, medics and EMTs from Ambulunz were on hand to rehab firefighters as they exited the building. Other than heat exhaustion, no firefighters were injured. The house located at the bottom of a long driveway on the shores of Lake Tonetta suffered significant damage.  With no fire hydrants in the area water had to be pumped from the lake. Firefighters cleared the scene shortly after 8pm.

Opening of New Milford Parking Portal for students delayed

New Milford High School band and CIAC sanctioned athletics are returning to campus beginning Monday.  Band camp will be on the Joe Wiser Stadium field.  Football practice will be using the North Field.  With restoration and roofing work active in the parking lot, administrators are asking that parent drop off occur near the observatory and any student parking occur near the southernmost parking lot/weight room entrance.  The Parking Portal for students will be open on Monday.  This is a change from the original launch of today. 

Bethel opts into School Meals Assistance Revenue for Transition program

Bethel parents will be getting an email from the school district in the coming days about the school meals program.  Bethel got additional Federal funding to support free breakfast and lunch because the district opted in to the School Meals Assistance Revenue for Transition program.  Unlike last year, Bethel was designated a certain dollar amount that should take the district through the first half of the year.  When the funds run out, charges for meals will need to resume.  Because the funding won't last, school officials say it's important for families who qualify to complete a free and reduced application. 

COVID-19 case rates vary across Greater Danbury area

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has updated case rates for Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days. 

According to the report ending August 11th, there were 52 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 20, Brookfield had 8 and New Fairfield 13. There were 13 COVID cases in New Milford, 15 in Newtown, Redding reported 6 cases while Ridgefield had 17. 

 

COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health dropped by half in Brookfield but doubled in Bethel and New Fairfield compared to last week. Rates held steady in New Milford, Newtown and Redding.

 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has updated test positivity rates for Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days.  At home tests are not reported. 

The rates are:

New Milford 4.2 percent

Newtown 5.6 percent

Brookfield 7.1 percent

Redding 10 percent

Danbury 10.5 percent

New Fairfield 11.5 percent

Ridgefield 11.9 percent

Bethel 13.1 percent


The Griffin Health Vaccination Van will return to New Fairfield on Saturday at the New Fairfield High School Cafeteria.  The Van will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all age groups, starting at 6 months of age. The clinic is from 10am to 4pm. The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months get a the primary series of vaccinations, and boosters, if eligible.  The CDC also recommends vaccinations and boosters even for those who have had COVID.

 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 34 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a cumulative breakthrough rate of infections among the more than 2.7 million people who are fully vaccinated of 9.63 percent. 

 

New state data released Thursday shows a slight increase in COVID-19 positivity compared to last week.   The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was just over 12-percent. There were 4,800 positive COVID cases reported to the state out of about 40,000 tests. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time decreased by 27.  The inpatient total is 325.

First case of Monkeypox in Putnam County reported

The first case of Monkeypox in Putnam County has been reported.  The County Health Department communicable disease staff have completed investigation.  The Commissioner notes that the  risk of contracting the disease for the general public remains low. 

Jurisdictions are allocated monkeypox vaccine doses based on need by the New York State Department of Health. At this time, Putnam has not been allocated any, but Putnam County residents who are considered at-risk for monkeypox are eligible for vaccination at sites nearby in Westchester County. Any eligible resident who encounters difficulty acquiring a monkeypox vaccine appointment should call the Putnam County Department of Health at 845-808-1390. 

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that can cause severe illness, hospitalization and, rarely, death. The virus is most often spread through direct contact with a rash or sores on an individual who has the virus. It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding, and other items used by a person with monkeypox, or from respiratory droplets that can be passed through close contact. Transmission can occur during sex or other close physical contact.

Danbury officials stand with Danbury Proton in urging Conn. OHS to reconsider application

The City of Danbury is standing with Danbury Proton and calling for the state to reconsider their application for a Certificate of Need. Mayor Dean Esposito and members of the Danbury delegation in the Connecticut General Assembly spoke at a press conference on Wednesday. On July 14, the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy denied the CON application. In response, on July 29, Danbury Proton submitted a formal Petition for Reconsideration, imploring OHS to engage in a dialogue to address any concerns. 

OHS will accept letters of support.  With this petition process, officials say they can engage with OHS and have a dialog in a way that they couldn't before.  The deadline is 25 days from submission.

Esposito says the denial doesn't compute.  He says it needs to be better justified, or approval needs to be given. 

OHS approved a Wallingford facility, which is affiliating with Yale-New Haven Health and Hartford HealthCare.  OHS would prefer Danbury Proton to be a “multi- institutional arrangement.”  The company says their facility would be open to all health systems’ patients, excluding none. Danbury Proton stated its intent to partner with regional medical schools, noting the request by the New York Medical College to place interns at Danbury Proton for training. Officials are calling on residents to let the state know if they back the proposal by using a fill-in comment form on their website, https://danburyproton.com/.

State Representative Bob Godfrey says he's befuddled, noting that he wouldn't want to have to make the drive to Wallingford because there's no easy or quick way from here to there.  He believes Governor Lamont and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Lehman are interested in high tech industries.  Godfrey says the delegation is looking to sign onto a letter together to send to Lamont and others voicing their support.

State Senator Julie Kushner says those in Hartford don't get what it is to live in Western Connecticut.  She echoed Godfrey's remarks about Lamont and Lehman looking to invest in new technology that would provide construction jobs, but also permanent jobs in health care.  Kushner called it a win-win.  As for being part of a larger medical system, she says Nuvance and similar systems have to think about how they provide services in an efficient and economic manner and that might not be development of a new technology like this.  Kushner added that it's good to have difference sources of medical care in the community

State Representative Pat Callahan says there is no downside to this cutting edge treatment.  He says quality of life is another reason to bring this to Danbury, giving families a place to get some rest and relaxation when they're going through the worst time in their lives.

State Representative Ken Gucker shared a story of his mother's battle with cancer and recovery from the effects of radiology and chemotherapy treatment meaning she couldn't see him sworn in.  He also says the location by Danbury Municipal Airport is perfect.  The applicant modified their designs because it is the runway of the airport, and Gucker says not much can really be built there.  The City's Land Use agency approved plans for the building.

The proton therapy cancer treatment center proposed at 85 Wooster Heights would create over 100 construction jobs during a two-year period.  Danbury Proton would employ over 30 full-time equivalent workers including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, medical support and administrative staff. The non-invasive cancer-fighting tool was first used to treat patients in 1954, and received FDA approval in 1988. Unlike traditional radiation which uses photons, or x-rays, protons can deliver nearly all of their energy within a tumor.

Culvert replacement project in Ridgefield leads to road closure, detour

A construction project in Ridgefield will lead to a road closure.  The Bennett’s Farm Road culvert replacement project is underway and the detour and road closure will begin today.  Crews anticipate the work to last through the 19th.  The road closure is needed to remove the existing piping to allow for the installation of the new culvert.  The Bennett's Farm Road closure is in the vicinity of 71 Bennett’s Farm Road.  Access to the local streets for emergency vehicles, residences and other services will need to follow detour signs from Knollwood Drive to Old Stage Coach Road.  The local residents affected by the closure have been notified.
• From the South (Knollwood Drive) will have access up to - Sunset Drive, including Ridgebury Elementary School and Lake Wind Wing
• From the North (Old Stage Coach Road) will have access up to - 71 Bennett’s Farm Road, including Skytop Road and Douglas Lane.

Public hearing set for proposed health insurance rate hikes

The Connecticut Insurance Department has scheduled a public hearing to discuss requested rate increases for health insurance.  The hearing is Monday.  Redding state Senator Will Haskell says the deadline for people to testify virtually is noon today.  People must  email cid.RateFilings@ct.gov with their name and written remarks.  Those who want to testify in person can sign up at the Legislative Office Building on Monday beginning at 8:30am.  Health insurance carriers have requested to raise the cost of individual plans by an average of 20.4 percent. For context, Haskell says the Insurance industry recently spent more than $1.3 million to lobby against the public healthcare option he supported in the last General Assembly session.

Wrong way driver crashes on I-84 in Danbury

A wrong way driver crashed on Interstate 84 in Danbury early Wednesday morning.  State Police say the driver and her passenger were both from Danbury and uninjured.  The accident happened on the westbound side of the highway around 2:30am when the 46-year old headed eastbound just east of Exit 6.  State Police did not say where the vehicle entered the roadway.  The driver hit the cement jersey barrier in the center median.  The vehicle was towed from the scene, and the driver was issued an infraction for wrong-way driving, making an improper turn and failing to drive in the proper lane.  

State, Southbury Police to help with Operation Backpack

Connecticut State Police - Troop A and the Southbury Police Department are looking to help the Southbury Woman’s Club with Operation Backpack.  The goal is to provide much needed school supplies to Southbury children.  Physical donation boxes have been set up at Troop A and Southbury Police Department for drop offs, through the 14th.  There’s a need for lunch boxes, water bottles, and ice packs.  Monetary donations are accepted through the Southbury Woman’s Club and there is also an Amazon Wish List as well.  More information is available on the SWC website or https://southburywomensclub.org/operation-backpack.

Putnam County Sheriff reminds of 'dark house' program

With the summer season winding down and people taking vacations before school starts, Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville is reminding residents that thieves often look for easy opportunities. Anyone planning to be away in the coming weeks are being reminded of a dark house program-- informing patrol deputies of when people are away so they can periodically inspect the exterior of a residence for anything out of the ordinary. To request this service, Putnam County residents can call the Sheriff's Department at 845 225-4300.  McConville notes that it's smart to leave on some interior lights and install motion-detecting exterior lights.  He added that advertising plans on social media should be limited to friends and family and not shared publicly.      

Danbury gas station gets lease approval for city land

The Danbury City Council has signed off on a request from a business for a license agreement for the use of City property.  Shell gas station on Newtown Road is looking to use 3,000 square feet of city-owned land on Old Sherman Turnpike for parking.  The owners suggested paying $1,000 a year for use of the land for 7 spaces.  The agreement would be for 10 years, renewed automatically unless terminated.  The additional parking is required under zoning regulations due to a proposed expansion.  Outside Counsel noted that the City Council can't provide stipulations on signage in the agreement.  The license agreement is contingent on Planning and Zoning approvals.  The proposed $2.2 million facility upgrade will result in an expanded convenience store, landscaping and lighting.  There would be an additional 4,700 square feet, and 6 new canopied gas pumps.  When the project is complete the gas station will add two full time and three part time employees.  

Swim area at Squantz Pond State Park reopened

The swim area at Squantz Pond State Park has reopened.  It was closed yesterday due to elevated levels of indicator bacteria found in the weekly water sample collected by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Another sample was collected and retested yesterday and analyzed at the Department of Public Health Lab.  Chatfield Hollow also reopened, but levels remained elevated at the swim area of Hopeville Pond.

House fire, commercial blaze reported in Brewster

There was a house fire in Brewster yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters responded to Shore Drive shortly before 4:30pm and then called in the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department Tower Ladder to assist with additional manpower.  Mutual aid was also provided by Carmel, Lake Carmel, and Putnam Lake fire departments, along with Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services.  Danbury Fire Department responded, along with Putnam Lake Fire Department to Brewster for a reported commercial structure fire with a full alarm assignment around the same time.  Danbury crews found a smoldering fire in the ceiling that required some overhaul. The flames were quickly extinguished.

Mahopac man arrested for promoting sexual performance by child

A Mahopac man has been arrested for promoting a sexual performance by a child.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation in March after a tip was received from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  Images and videos of child sexual abuse material were being shared online from a residence in Carmel.  A search warrant was carried out in May, assisted by electronic storage detection K9 Hannah. A forensic examination recovered evidence and identified the 36-year old man has the suspect.  He was charged with 4 counts of Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child, arraigned and released for a future court appearance.

Public hearing continues for proposed auto dealer in Danbury's Central Business District

A public hearing is continuing tonight before the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals on a use variance so an automobile dealership and repair service could locate to a property on Rose Street.  The property is in the City's Central Business District, which does not allow auto dealers.  The Zoning Commission says the proposal 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 Board's meeting starts at 7pm and is being held in Council Chambers of Danbury City Hall.

Man arrested for the death of dog in Newtown pleads not guilty

The man arrested last month by Newtown Police for the death of a dog has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of animal cruelty.  David Czerniawski allegedly brought a male chihuahua to Berkshire Veterinary Hospital in Sandy Hook, where a veterinarian determined the dog was dead due to blunt force trauma.  According to police, the dog died at an apartment on Farrell Court.  The 71-year-old Florida man was released on bond for a court appearance on the 31st.

Ridgefield recognized by state in Red, White, and Blue Schools program

Two schools and one school district have been recognized by the state of Connecticut for their implementation of the Red, White, and Blue Schools program, which increases the innovative teaching of civics and government.  The program was created in 2016 for students to study local issues, plan solutions, and implement their plans.  There are different themes each year. The theme for 2021-2022 was “Local Elections and Government.”  Ridgefield High School Humanities Supervisor Annie Tucci and students were recognized for meeting the criteria of a Red, White, and Blue School.

Stabbing in Danbury under investigation

A stabbing is under investigation in Danbury.  Police say a 57-year old City resident was stabbed Tuesday night, around 9pm, at the Mill Ridge Plaza at the corner of Mill Ridge Road and Lake Avenue Ext.  The resident was treated for multiple stab wounds at the hospital.  Police say what led up to the stabbing is unclear at this time, but all involved parties have been identified.  It appears that the victim and the suspect or suspects are known to each other, and the attack was not random.  Investigators are continuing their work and anticipate an arrest or arrests.  Anyone with information though is asked to contact Det. Jonathan Grande at (203)-797-4662, j.grande@danbury-ct.gov, or call the confidential tips line at (203)-790-TIPS (8477).  Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to the Danbury Police Department by texting DANBURYPD and their message/tip to 847411 (tip411). 

Regulations approved to allow certain cannabis-related businesses in Danbury

Regulations to allow certain cannabis-related businesses in Danbury have been approved by the Zoning Commission.  At their meeting Tuesday, members voted 6 to 3 for the plan allowing four types of marijuana businesses and banning seven others defined in state statute.  Two public hearings were held on the proposals. 

The 4 types of licenses allowed by state statute that would be allowed to locate to Danbury are the revenue generating ones, which would result in a 3 percent tax for the City.  The revenue can only be used for certain things such as streetscaping, youth employment, mental health and addiction services and services for people released by the Department of Corrections.

The regulations allow for two hybrid retailers that sell both medicinal marijuana and recreational cannabis to adults, or one medicinal marijuana dispensary, one recreational retailer, one hybrid retailer and one micro-cultivator.  The City defines micro-cultivator as an indoor plant producer whose grow space is between 2,000- and 10,000-square-feet. 

Danbury does have the opportunity in the future to make amendments and allow for more businesses.

Cafe liquor license approved for proposed Danbury establishment

A cafe liquor license has been approved by the Danbury Zoning Commission for a proposed cafe on Mill Plain Road.  The public hearing was opened on Wednesday, and closed with few questions on the Special Permit request posed to the applicant for Revolution.  The proposed 70-seat café would feature dancing and live bands.   The 53-hundred-square-foot facility is in a multi-tenant building and would occupy the space where a package store was located.  Two restaurants and a gym are also located in the building behind Noah’s Arc Veterinary Office.

DOT to upgrade traffic control signals in Western Conn.

Some changes are coming to traffic control signals at several intersections in Western Connecticut towns. The Department of Transportation is developing plans to remove the nighttime flashing operations at intersections in Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Southbury. The DOT will install 360-degree stop bar detection cameras, add dilemma zone detection radar units, and add pedestrian countdown timers at locations that have existing exclusive pedestrian phases.  In total there are 40 state-owned and maintained traffic signals where this work will be done.  Design plans will be completed by next June with the tentative construction start a year from now.  The DOT doesn't anticipate an informational meeting or formal public hearing on the project.   
The following intersections are included:

Bethel – U.S. Route 6 (Stony Hill Road) at Benedict Road & Vail Road
Bethel – U.S. Route 6 (Stony Hill Road) at Big Y Drive and Redwood Drive
Brookfield - Route 25 (Whisconier Road) at Route 133 (Obtuse Road) & Silvermine Road
Brookfield – U.S. Route 202 (Federal Road) at Rolling Wood Drive & Brookfield Commons Drive
Brookfield – U.S. Route 202 (Federal Road) at Silvermine Road & Elbow Hill Road
Brookfield – U.S. Route 202 (Federal Road) at Costco Driveway and Commercial Drive
Danbury – U.S. Route 7 (Sugar Hollow Road) at Starrs Plain Road
Danbury – U.S. Route 7 (Sugar Hollow Road) at Bennetts Farm Road & Private Road
Danbury - SR 840 (White Turkey Road Extension) at Eagle Road Extension
Danbury – U.S. Routes 6/202 (Mill Plain Road) at Prindle Lane

New Fairfield - Route 39 (Candlewood Lake Road) at Shaw's Plaza Driveway & Heritage Plaza Driveway
Newtown – U.S. Route 6 (Church Hill Road) at Queen Street
Newtown - Route 25 (South Main Street) at Meadow Brook Hill Road & Botsford Hill Road
Newtown - Route 25 (South Main Street) at Button Shop Road & Sandhill Plaza Drive
Redding - Route 57 (Georgetown Road) at Route 107/57 (Redding Road)
Redding - Route 107 (Redding Road) at North Main Street
Ridgefield – U.S. Route 7 (Ethan Allen Highway) at Route 102 (Branchville Road) & Depot Road
Ridgefield - Route 35 (Danbury-Ridgefield Road) at Grove Street & Private Drive
Ridgefield – U.S. Route 7 (Danbury Road) at Regency/Laurel Ridge
Southbury - Route 67 (Southford Road) at Route 188 (Quaker Farms Road)

At this time, it is anticipated that an informational meeting or formal public hearing will not be necessary.

Public hearing held on proposed affordable housing in Bethel

Another public hearing has been held in Bethel on a proposed three story housing complex on Whitney Road.  The Planning and Zoning Commission heard criticism from residents about the 30-units proposed for a 1.7 acre lot.  The property used to be a contractor's yard and is located in the Transit-Oriented Development overlay zone.  During the hearing, Commission members heard concerns about fitting in with the neighborhood, traffic and noise.  All of the one-bedroom apartments would be ADA-complaint, and at least six would be designated affordable.  Since the previous hearing, plans were revised to reduce the height of the building.  The hearing was closed on Tuesday.  The next meeting is scheduled for September 13th at  7pm.

New Fairfield considered extended use at rifle club for training

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has again put off a decision on an amendment to the use agreement with the Hahlawah Rifle and Pistol Club.  The representative for the Club was unavailable at their last meeting and the matter was pushed off to tonight's meeting.  The proposed amendment would allow extended hours for formal training and instruction under certain conditions such as enhancing the safe use of weapons by residents.  Dates for each training session would have to be approved by the Board of Selectmen and limited to no more than two days per year, between 9am and 6pm, with priority given to New Fairfield residents and law enforcement officers.  With approval of the Board of Selectmen, an additional session of Extended Training may be added, if there is sufficient demand among New Fairfield residents.

Possible release of medical records in Junes defamation trial probed

The possible release of private medical records of several Sandy Hook family members is the subject of a new line of questioning in the ongoing trial in Connecticut against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.  Judge Barbara Bellis ordered his attorney, Norm Pattis, to explain how the records ended up being sent to Jones’ attorney in Texas.  The judge also wants to know what steps he and other attorneys took to protect the confidentiality of the records of several of the plaintiffs suing Jones for defamation over his claims that 12-14 was a hoax.  The revelation came up when an attorney in the Texas case said Jones' attorney mistakenly sent him a cache of documents.  An attorney for Pattis requested that future hearings be held privately to protect Pattis from potential damage to his “reputation and character,” but Judge Bellis denied that request.  The chief disciplinary counsel for the Connecticut Judiciary will schedule a date for an in-person hearing. Bellis noted that it is not the first time attorneys for Jones have been accused of misconduct, calling the number of disciplinary cases to stem from the lawsuit “unprecedented.”

Swim area at Squantz Pond closed today

The swimming areas at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, Hopeville Pond, and Chatfield Hollow are closed due to the presence of certain indicator bacteria in samples collected yesterday.  New samples are being retested today with results available tomorrow morning.  Weekly samples connected by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff and analyzed at the Department of Public Health Lab.

Chip sealing continues on Route 302 in Bethel, Newtown

Chip sealing continues on Route 302 in Bethel and Newtown.  The state Department of Transportation project involves replacing catch basin tops as needed, crack sealing, patching repairs to the existing pavement, the application of Asphalt Rubber Chip Seal over the existing pavement surface, and new pavement markings.  Construction work takes place Monday through Friday 9am to 3pm and 6pm to 6am, and weekends 6pm to 10am.  Alternating one-way traffic is to be expected through each work zone. Comer Contracting is slated to wrap up work on Route 302, Route 188 in Southbury, Seymour and Oxford, and Route 179 in Barkhamsted and Hartland by mid-October.  The total project cost is $3.5 million. 

DOT to upgrade existing pedestrian crossing equipment in 20 towns

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is developing plans to upgrade existing pedestrian crossing equipment at 25 different locations in 20 towns including Bethel, Danbury, Ridgefield and Southbury. 

The proposed upgrades include countdown pedestrian indications, accessible pedestrian pushbuttons, and concurrent pedestrian phasing which will improve accessibility and pedestrian safety.  Upgrades are also proposed for intersections in New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, and Seymour. 

At this time, the DOT doesn't anticipated the an informational meeting or formal public hearing will be necessary. 

The design plans for these projects are expected to be completed in April 2023, with a tentative advertising date for construction of July 2023. Anyone interested in requesting information on this project may do so by contacting Ethan Donecker, Project Manager via email at Ethan.Donecker@ct.gov and make reference to Project No. 0174-0452.
The following intersections include: 

Bethel – Route 53 (Grassy Plain Street) at Francis J Clarke Circle – Int. # 009-218
Danbury – S.R. 824 (New State Road) at I-84 Exit 2 Westbound On/Off Ramps – Int. #034-246
Danbury – S.R. 824 (New State Road) at I-84 Exit 2 Eastbound On/Off Ramps – Int. # 034-247
Danbury – U.S. Route 6 & 202 (Mill Plain Road) at Westwood Village Drive – Int. # 034-256

New Milford – U.S. Routes 7 & 202 (Kent Road & Danbury Road) at Route 67 & U.S. Route 202 (Bridge Street) and Peagler Hill Road – Int. # 095-222
Newtown – Route 34 (Berkshire Road) at Toddy Hill Road – Int. # 096-225
Oxford – Route 67 (Oxford Road) at Oxford Towne Center Driveway – Int. # 107-208
Ridgefield – Route 7 (Ethan Allen Hwy.) at Topstone Road and Cains Hill Road – Int. # 117-225
Ridgefield – Route 7 (Danbury Road) at Regency/Laurel Ridge – Int. # 117-235
Seymour – Route 313 (Broad Street & River Street) at Derby Avenue and West Street – Int. # 124-207
Southbury – U.S. Route 6 (Main Street North) at Route 67 (Roxbury Road) – Int. # 130-211

Ridgefield school district hires new food service provider

The Ridgefield Public School District has contracted with a new food service provider.  Aramark will replace Chartwells Compass Group.  Aramark was selected through a request for proposals process.  The contract is one year and the district can possibly extend it for longer.  Balances from the prior year will be rolled into the current school year.  Ridgefield Public School families who qualify for free- or- reduced-price lunch will need to fill out the form, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture is ending the COVID-19-era free lunch program.

Conn. DOT to replace traffic light at Routes 202, 109 in New Milford

28 state-owned and maintained traffic signals in Western Connecticut are due for an upgrade, including in New Milford.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation is developing plans to remove the nighttime flashing operation at the intersection of Route 202 at Route 109, install 360-degree stop bar detection cameras, add dilemma zone detection radar units, and add pedestrian countdown timers at locations that have existing exclusive pedestrian phases.  At this time, the DOT says it is anticipated that an informational meeting or formal public hearing will not be necessary.  The design plans for this project are expected to be completed by July 2023 with a tentative advertising date for construction of September 2023.  

Seasonal parking permits to be issued to New Milford residents for River Road

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is providing more information about the parking passes that will be needed starting this Friday for the parking area by the train tracks on River Road, the River Road turn offs, the Sega Meadows internal parking area, and the lot by the train tracks on Boardman Road--the east side of Boardman Bridge.  Seasonal passes will only be for New Milford residents for the summer and fall.  Day passes will be available for residents and visitors.  They passes are free and available at The Mayor’s Office Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.   Applicants must provide license plate number, vehicle make and model, driver’s license or official photo ID with proof of New Milford residency.  The pass must by displayed in the windshield to prevent from being towed.  No cooking, fires or swimming is allowed off River Road.  

Conn. insurer presents check to Bridgewater officials

The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency has presented a check to Bridgewater officials as part of CIRMA's Members’ Equity Distribution. First Selectman Curtis Read accepted little more than 48-hundred dollars.  Over the past twelve years, CIRMA put nearly $42 million in equity back into the hands, and budgets of its member towns, cities, schools and local public agencies. Town of Bridgewater received a total of $44,272 in distributed Members’ Equity. CIRMA provides Workers’ Compensation, Liability, Auto, and Property insurance coverages to Connecticut public entities.

Reconstruction work starts at New Milford High School

The contractor working to clean up New Milford High School from the July 5th roof fire is now in the reconstruction phase.  Mayor Pete Bass says Belfor is continuing to install insulation on the 3rd floor, ceiling tiles on the 2nd floor and drywall sanding on the 1st floor.  The contractor began resetting lockers on the 3rd floor and lights, speakers and other electrical equipment on the 2nd floor.  Post-construction cleaning is now being done on the 1st floor.  The repair of the fire-damaged portion of the roof will be done by Belfor. New Milford is working with the town's insurance carrier as well as the former contractor's insurance carriers to hiring the new contractor that will complete the standing steam roof project. 

Man stabbed in alleged assault, robbery in Southbury

A man doing a home construction project in Southbury was stabbed yesterday during an assault and robbery.  State Police say a woman called 911 shortly after 12:30pm to report that two men in the roadway approached her, and one appeared to have a stab wound to the abdomen. The injured male was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  Western District Major Crime Detectives learned that the victims were at a Bucks Hill Road home when two men allegedly entered the residence, one armed with a firearm and the other with a knife. The victims reported that they were restrained, assaulted, and robbed by the two men. Detectives have determined that the suspects are known to one of the victims. This is believed to be a targeted, isolated incident and there is no threat to the public. The investigation is ongoing.

Regional police training exercise to be held in Bethel

The Bethel Police Department is sponsoring regional training at Rockwell School today.  The regional team consists of officers from Danbury, Bethel, Ridgefield, Brookfield, and Newtown police departments. They will be practicing protocols related to school security.   The building will be closed to staff and parents.  School District administrators notified Bethel residents yesterday to say that anyone on the school campus will see police cars from other communities.  This is a planned training exercise.

Bethel man charged for allegedly fraudulently obtaining PPP loan

A Bethel man is among three people arrested yesterday on criminal charges for allegedly fraudulently obtaining and misusing Paycheck Protection Program loans.  57-year old Eric O'Neil allegedly falsified information and submitted fraudulent documents to obtain funding from the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Relief, Aid, and Economic Security Act for small businesses struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19.  O’Neil was charged with one count of bank fraud.  According to the indictment, O'Neil lied about the number of employees, the monthly payroll and other information for his business, Accountant R Us, in an application to an Idaho financial institution.  The indictment claims that he had no employees, paid no salaries, and paid no payroll taxes in 2019 and 2020. In the PPP loan, O’Neil sought $373,201.

Incumbent wins 69th state House race in GOP primary

The incumbent 69th state House District representative, Cindy Harrison, has won her primary race.  She garnered about 51-percent of the vote compared to the 49-percent received by Southbury Selectman Jason Buchsbaum.  The 69th District represents Southbury, part of New Milford, Bridgewater and Roxbury in the Connecticut General Assembly.  No Democrats have filed to run for the seat.

Harrison, a Newtown native, received 915 votes. Buchsbaum received 869 votes.

She says the economy and public safety are the biggest issues facing the state.  She is a certified public accountant and wife of a retired police officer, who owns and operate Breezy Knoll Farm.  In the most recent General Assembly session, Harrison served on the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, Environment Committee and Transportation Committee. 

 

Party-endorsed candidate wins GOP primary for 4th Congressional District

Republican Jayme Stevenson has won yesterday's primary contest in the 4th Congressional District and will go on to the General Election against Democratic incumbent Jim Himes.  The former Darien First Selectman earned 60-percent of the vote, with Greenwich resident Michael Goldstein receiving about 40-percent of the vote.   Stevenson says her top goals, if elected, include tackling supply chain issues and overdependence on foreign manufacturing.  She also called for revitalizing the job market, providing law enforcement with needed resources, and finding solutions to the nationwide opioid and fentanyl epidemic.  The 4th District includes Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, part of Shelton, Stamford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

Bethel Library, Red Cross host preparedness event

Bethel Library is holding an event tonight for residents about out how to prepare their home and families for storm season.  The Red Cross will provide information on general preparedness; having a plan, having a disaster kit, and how to stay informed in case of an emergency.  Bethel Emergency Management Director Tom Galliford will be on hand to talk about specific resources residents can use to be informed during Town emergencies.  He will also discuss how the Town responds to and recovers from weather events.  Registration for the Wednesday event is required and can be done through the library website.

Danbury updates ordinance prohibiting use of ATVs, UTVs, mini motorcycles, dirt bikes

The Danbury City Council has adopted an updated ordinance prohibiting the use of ATVs, UTVs, mini motorcycles and dirt bikes on city property.  Violators would be fined and their vehicle could be confiscated and later sold at auction.  In addition to police, the Traffic Authority and the United Neighborhood Inspection Team would be able to enforce the prohibition as well.  In 2003 Danbury regulated all-terrain vehicle use to prevent damage to public parks and City-controlled property.  In 2016, the state added dirt bikes and mini motorcycles to the statute.  Towing and storage cost, along with repairs for any damage, would be the responsibility of the owner/rider.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury today, Saturday in New Fairfield

The state Department of Public Health Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic today in Danbury.  Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will also be available.  The clinic is at Danbury Library from noon to 6pm.  This is for everyone 6 months and older.

COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held at the New Fairfield High School cafeteria on Saturday, August 13th and August 20th from 9am to 4pm.  There will be two clinic areas, one for kids and one for adults.  Selectman Khris Hall says they had a successful visit last month with almost 50 people getting vaccines, including children.  She notes that arrangements are being made to have the vaccination van at New Fairfield Days. 

Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission continuing hearing on TOD application

The Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission is continuing a public hearing tonight into an application for 30 one-bedroom units in a new complex proposed for Whitney Road.  The application from Frank & Judith Saunders includes a Site Plan in the Transit Oriented Development Overlay Zone.  Tonight's meeting is being held at Bethel Municipal Center in Meeting Room D and via Zoom, at 7pm.  The application includes plans for common open spaces, benches and bike racks.  20 percent of planned residential developments in the TOD zone are required to be considered affordable.  6 of the units would be designated as affordable.  The property is 1-point-7 acres and has served as a contractor’s yard for the last three decades.  

Danbury Zoning Commission to consider cannabis establishment regulations

The Danbury Zoning Commission is holding a virtual meeting tonight to continue discussion about proposed regulations for specific adult use cannabis establishments.  The public hearing on the proposals closed July 26th and the Commission could take action during their Zoom meeting tonight, at 7:30.

 

A public hearing is being opened on a Special Permit application for a cafe liquor license for Revolution on Mill Plain Road.  The proposed 70-seat café  would feature dancing and live bands. Plans for the 5300-square-foot facility in a multi-tenant building call for occupying a former package store.  Two restaurants, a patio store, and a gym are also located in the building behind Noah’s Arc Veterinary Office. The Zoom meeting is at 7:30pm.

Entrance changes to Monroe polling locations for Primary

Due to the high heat, there are some changes to the entrances and rooms being used at the normal polling locations in Monroe for today's Democratic and Republican Primaries.  All four regular polling places will be open until   8pm.  District 1 voters will enter the main front doors of Fawn Hollow School, District 2 the side service entrance at Stepney Elementary, District 3 has no change and district 4 will use the main front doors of Masuk High School.

New Milford creates new parking permit system for River Rd, Sega Meadows

A new permit has been created in New Milford for people looking to park along River Road, in the turn offs, and the back parking lot at Sega Meadows Park. The free permit will be issued for a specific date of the resident's choosing. Mayor Pete Bass says this stems from the illegal parking along the side of the road, which has led to safety concerns of emergency vehicles being able to get by. 

The permit will include the make and model of the car, the license plate and the valid date. It will be signed off on by the Mayor's Office and is good for one day. Anyone looking for multiple days, could be issued multiple permits.

Bass says they're trying to ensure a safe environment and will tow cars parked there illegally.  Police will be on hand to make sure the rules are followed. 

Polling location change in Ridgefield due to heat

Due to the extreme heat, some Ridgefield residents will be casting ballots in a different location for today's primary.  Voting at District 1 at East Ridge Middle School will take place in the cafeteria.  District 2 has no change at Scotts Ridge Middle School.  Voting at District 3 Yanity Gym will take place in the Town Hall Annex Conference Room. Parking remains in the Yanity Gym parking area.
Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Ridgefield Registrar of Voters office at 203-431-2771.

Republican-registered voters in 4th Congressional District voting in Primary

Ridgefield, Redding and other Republican-registered voters in 4th Congressional District municipalities are voting in a Primary today for a candidate to run against Democratic incumbent Jim Himes in November.

The GOP endorsed candidate is former Darien first selectman Jayme Stevenson.  The mother of five adult children says the well-being of children must be a priority.  Doctor, lawyer and Greenwich resident Michael Goldstein collected enough signatures to force a primary.  He called himself a Constitutional conservative that believes in the Second Amendment. 

Goldstein says his top priorities, if elected, would be to secure the border, work to end the dependence on foreign oil and end pandemic-related mandates that he says have hurt the mental health of children. 

Stevenson says her top goals, if elected, include tackling supply chain issues and overdependence on foreign manufacturing.  She also called for revitalizing the job market, providing law enforcement with needed resources, and finding solutions to the nationwide opioid and fentanyl epidemic. 

The 4th District also includes Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Oxford, part of Shelton, Stamford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

Town Meeting scheduled in New Fairfield on sale of town-owned property

A Town Meeting has been scheduled in New Fairfield for residents to weigh in on request to purchase a piece of undeveloped municipal land.  New Fairfield acquired the land years ago after their were no buyers in a tax sale.  During a public hearing on their request, a Putnam County couple said they want to plant flowers and gardens on the .7 acres at 32 Calverton Drive and 39 Fulton Drive, along the Brewster border abutting their property.  Since the neighboring owner died, it's become a dumping ground for construction debris and that resident's construction site staging area.  New Fairfield is looking for 4-thousand dollars for the proposed land transfers.  If approved, the couple would need an 8-24 referral from the Planning Commission to ensure the couple's plans are consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.  The Special Town Meeting on September 8th at New Fairfield Senior Center is at 7pm.

Downed wires sparked weekend brush fire in Redding

One weekend brush fire in Redding is under investigation by DEEP and Aquarion Police as it burned land along the Saugatuck Reservoir.  The other major brush fire in Redding happened Sunday afternoon in the Georgetown district.  Downed wires sparked that blaze.  About an acre burned along Portland Avenue.  While a tree limb was involved, fire officials say they're not sure to what exactly caused the wires to come down.  The fire burned between homes, but none were damaged.  Firefighters were able to stop the flames before they got any closer.  Crews were on scene for about two hours.

CIFC to unveil new Health Center name, logo

The Connecticut Institute For Communities is celebrating National Community Health Center week this week with a ribbon cutting event.  The Danbury-based non-profit providing health, education, and housing programs is opening its 8,500-square foot addition.  Their new Health Center name and logo will also be unveiled.  There's a free Community Health Fair tomorrow featuring over 20 community organizations.  CIFC doctors will offer free blood pressure & glucose checks, attendees can visit with Stewie the duck and learn about water safety, and with the Fire Department to learn about fire safety.  Music, food, face painting, , games, and Zumba will also be offered.  The event is from 12:30 to 4:30pm in the parking lot of the Danbury Community Center at 12 Boughton Street.  Parking is available at St. Peter’s Center Street lot.

Judge Bellis named chief administrative judge of civil matters

Judge Barbara Bellis has been assigned to serve as chief administrative judge of civil matters starting September 6th.  Court officials say she has many years of experience processing large dockets and presiding over the most complex civil matters, including at the Danbury Geographical Area.   Bellis will, among other responsibilities, work with the Chief Court Administrator on policy and procedures affecting civil matters; solicit advice and suggestions from other civil judges; and assist with the statewide implementation of policies and programs. Judge Bellis has been instrumental in the development and enhancement of the Branch’s e-filing and electronic case management systems and has trained countless new judges on the use of those systems.  Bellis, a Superior Court judge since June 2003, served at Geographical Area courthouses in Danbury, Bridgeport, Norwalk, and New Haven.  She presided over civil matters in the New Haven and the Fairfield Judicial Districts, and in Milford.  She currently is assigned to the Complex Litigation Docket in Waterbury.

Woman dies in Monroe house fire

There was a fatal house fire in Monroe on Friday.  The volunteer fire companies responded to Bagburn Hill Road shortly after 9am by a passerby who reported smoke coming from a home.  Firefighters found heavy fire on the first floor, which was contained relatively quickly. One adult female resident perished inside the home. There were no other civilian or firefighter injuries. Monroe Fire Department extended their condolences to the family of the deceased, and thanked mutual aid partners for their assistance in rotating out crews and providing station coverage as firefighter contended with the hot weather and challenging conditions inside the home.  The Monroe and State Police Fire Marshals are investigating the cause.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department warns of text scam

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is warning residents of a text scam circulating again.  They've seen multiple posts from local residents of text messages soliciting shirt sales. The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company does not sell items via text. Any official item can be found on their webstore www.brookfieldfirestore.com.  Officials are asking that residents not purchase from this company, Maxmin, or gear launch as it is a scam as they do not benefit from the sales. They suggest blocking the number and reporting to the phone company.

UConn looking for new location for Fairfield County Extension Center

Stony Hill Preserve, Inc., a 501(c)(3) that acquired an 11-acre property in May 2017, has sent a notice to UConn that it would not be renewing the lease for its Fairfield County Extension Center.  The Newstimes reports that UConn is now looking for a new home to the regional extension program that's been located on Stony Hill Road for more than 60 years.  The notice was sent in February, and given an vacate by date of August 1st, but there are programs still going on.  The  programs range from master gardening and youth development to nutrition, urban agriculture and soil nutrient analysis.  The Fairfield County Extension Center will rent the property on a month-to-month basis until early 2023 as it seeks a new site.  No plans for the property have been submitted to Bethel's Land Use Office.

Brookfield Police raise thousands for Special Olympics Conn.

Brookfield Police say they are beyond grateful to have had such overwhelming community support at their National Night Out event last week.  They were able to raise close to 5-thousand dollars for Special Olympics Connecticut.  The camaraderie building campaign promotes strong police-community partnerships to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places. National organizers say this is a time of unity to showcase the importance of citizen involvement in the police-community relationship.

Two major brush fires in Redding extinguished

There were two major brush fires in Redding over the weekend.  Redding Fire & EMS officials say these are very dangerous and resource-depleting operations.  DEEP and Aquarion Police are investigating the fire on the northeast shore of Saugatuk reservoir in the Greenbush Road area.  Neighboring fire departments answered the call for several additional medical and fire incidents while the blazes were being handled.  Residents are asked to be extra vigilant about discarding smoking materials. Outside burning of all sorts should be curtailed until conditions improve.  Redding Fire officials say last night's showers were not enough.

GOP Primary tomorrow in state's 69th House District

There area a couple of statewide primaries tomorrow for registered Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut.  There's also a GOP primary in the 4th Congressional District.  Two Republicans are also facing off in the state's 69th House District representing Southbury, New Milford, Bridgewater and Roxbury in the Connecticut General Assembly.  No Democrats have filed to run for the seat.

In tomorrow's GOP contest, incumbent Cindy Harrison is being challenged by Southbury Selectman Jason Buchsbaum. 

Harrison, a Newtown native, says the economy and public safety are the biggest issues facing the state.  She is a certified public accountant and wife of a retired police officer, who owns and operate Breezy Knoll Farm. 

Buchsbaum, a partner at the law firm Cohen and Wolf, says he wants to be an advocate for transparency and collaboration. He's now in his fourth term on the Board of Selectmen and previously served as vice chairman of the Charter Revision Commission.

In the most recent General Assembly session, Harrison served on the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, Environment Committee and Transportation Committee.  Prior to moving to Southbury in 2009, Buchsbaum served on the Seymour Board of Education.

Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Committee gets update on security, landscaping

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has met, the first time in more than a year. They mainly discussed signage and memorial etiquette or guidelines.  According to the Newtown Bee, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal noted at the meeting that the driveway gate to the memorial site on Riverside Road has been installed and that the lights are on at night, with security cameras. The memorial will only be open to the public from dawn to dusk and is locked overnight.  Rosenthal also gave members an update on vegetation at the site, noting that despite a lack of rain the grass is coming in as expected and the plants are growing.  The dedication ceremony is slated for Saturday, November 12th.

Danbury accepts land donation for proposed Career Academy

 

Two parcels of land in Danbury have been donated to the City and the City Council voted unanimously to accept them at their meeting last week.  The properties are located adjacent to the proposed site of the Danbury Career Academy.  Owner Melvyn Powers and M&M Realty have offered to donate land along Apple Ridge Road, where the Cartus building is currently located. The plot contains the road, the only access to the site, connecting to Kenosia Avenue.  A vacant 6,000 acre parcel of land directly adjacent to and associated with the proposed Danbury Career Academy facility/complex was also donated.  This is contingent on the City buying the Cartus building. The $164 million proposed school is planned to open in 2024 with the goal of creating a school to accommodate 1,040 high school students and 360 middle school students. The two schools would share some core communal spaces and amenities — the gym, cafeteria, capstone presentation area, blackbox, media center, and health education and fitness rooms.

New Milford School Administrators set up plans for start to school year

Restoration work is progressing at New Milford High School. But Mayor Pete Bass says some of the work will have to wait until the fire investigation is completed. All of the 3rd floor work, except in the middle section of center hallway and 4 classrooms, has been completed. Soot cleaning is finished on the 4th floor with all of the areas prepared for fireproofing encapsulation.  All progress on the 4th floor also excludes the center connecting hallway. 

The Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate the cause of the July 5th fire.

New Milford High School staff items have been boxed and secured.  A process is being finalized now for staff to review and retrieve their desk items. 

The Board of Education says plans for underclassman photos will be sent out by Friday for school ID, PowerSchool, and yearbook, and will be similar to last year using Schedule My Conference software to reserve a date and time for their photo to be taken.  Dates will be the 17th, 18th and 19th. 

Parking, with priority for Seniors first, will be made available to students and families by mid-week as administrators update the registration portal.  Once Senior needs are fulfilled, Juniors will have an opportunity.

Danbury to recognize dedication of Alternative Center for Excellence founder Joe Pepin

Danbury officials have signed off on adding honorary names to a City street and a building to recognize the dedication of Alternative Center for Excellence founder Joe Pepin.  He also served as ACE principal for over 20 years.  Roberts Avenue, where the school is located, would get a secondary name of Joe Pepin Way.  The school is located between 9th Avenue and Locust Avenue. 

The ACE building will be called the Joseph Pepin Memorial Building.   The ACE school would retain its name. 

During the City Council meeting Tuesday night several members, along with Mayor Dean Esposito, spoke in favor of the names.  Former ACE teacher, counselor and principal Sandy Arconti Atanasoff recalled that her mentor was really down-to-earth and connected with the students. 

ACE is a high school program that supports student experiences that develop individual strengths, physical and emotional health, and respect for self and others. ACE prepares its students to become competent and contributing community members. On average, more than half of ACE graduates go on to college, while most have a post-secondary education plan.  The measure was approved unanimously.

Alex Jones ordered to pay $45.2M more over Sandy Hook lies

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury on Friday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, adding to the $4.1 million he must pay for the suffering he put them through by claiming for years that the nation’s deadliest school shooting was a hoax.

The total — $49.3 million — is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. But the trial marks the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the massacre, claiming it was faked by the government to tighten gun laws.

Afterward, Lewis said that Jones — who wasn’t in the courtroom to hear the verdict — has been held accountable. She said when she took the stand and looked Jones in the eye, she thought of her son, who was credited with saving lives by yelling “run” when the killer paused in his rampage.

“He stood up to the bully...and saved nine of his classmates’ lives,” Lewis said. “I hope that I did that incredible courage justice when I was able to confront Alex Jones, who is also a bully. I hope that inspires other people to do the same.”

It could be a while before the plaintiffs collect anything. Jones’ lead attorney, Andino Reynal, told the judge he will appeal and ask the courts to drastically reduce the size of the verdict.

Ridgefield to receive Conn. clean-water grant

Ridgefield is among the municipalities to share in $580-million in clean-water grants to upgrade sewer systems and waste-water treatment facilities.  18 prioritized projects will be spread out over two years, with some  funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  $10 million has been approved to permanently close a sewage treatment facility in Ridgefield with $7 million to upgrade a Litchfield plant.  Cities and towns may submit applications for reserve funds through the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission discusses site signage

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has held their first meeting in more than a year.  In late July, the group discussed signage at the memorial site.  According to the Newtown Bee, members suggested that dogs, with the exception of service dogs, be prohibited.  They also talked about banning smoking, vaping, alcohol, and skateboarding, but note that they can create new signs in the future if they missed something and want to be more specific. 

The signs could be titled “Memorial Etiquette” instead of memorial rules or guidelines. 

Items left at the site, such as flowers or toys, will be removed and discarded, asking that people only leave their thoughts. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal read the wording of one planned signs: “Welcome to the memorial honoring the lives of the victims of the December 14, 2012, shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. This is a special place of quiet and reverence. A place for the families of the victims and for the community to reflect and remember. Encased within the stone is the sacred soil created from the many items left in spontaneous memorials throughout the town on the days following the tragedy.”

GOP voters in 4th Congressional District to pick candidate in Tuesday Primary

Tuesday is Primary day in Connecticut.  There is a GOP contest in the 4th Congressional District to determine the candidate to face off against incumbent Democrat Jim Himes in November.  On Tuesday, registered Republicans in the 4th Congressional District will be deciding between Darien First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson and Greenwich physician Michael Goldstein.  Himes has held the seat since 2009, defeating the last Republican in Connecticut to serve in Congress, Chris Shays in 2008.

Health officials offer reminders about hot weather safety

Newtown Emergency Management officials are offering some information for residents to prevent becoming victims of the heat during these continued high temperatures.  Residents are encouraged to check on elderly or frail neighbors to be certain they are doing ok, and suggest they go to cooling centers if their home is overheated.  People are reminded to stay hydrated and avoid strenuous outdoor work.  Residents are being reminded to monitor pets, keeping them out of the sun and not left in hot cars.  When the temperature outside is 85 degrees, it takes less than 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 100 degrees and half an hour to reach 120 degrees.

Danbury to hold World War II memorial ceremony

The Danbury Veterans Council, Mayor Dean Esposito, Veterans Affairs Director Danny Hayes and State Department of Veteran Affairs Commission Tom Saadi are hosting a World War II memorial ceremony on August 15th.  They're inviting residents to honor the service and sacrifice of those from Danbury who served during the war.  The ceremony will including the reading of the names of the 106 men from Danbury who made the ultimate sacrifice on the mantel of freedom in World War II. 

Department of Health updates Conn. COVID-19 data

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has updated case rates for Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days.  According to the report ending August 4th, there were 66 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 10, Brookfield had 14 and New Fairfield 7. There were 11 COVID cases in New Milford, 14 in Newtown, Redding reported 7 cases while Ridgefield had 20. 

 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has updated test positivity rates for Greater Danbury area municipalities over the last 7 days.  At home tests are not reported. 

The rates are:

Newtown 4.1 percent

New Milford 6.2 percent

Bethel 6.6 percent

New Fairfield 7.1 percent

Brookfield 10.3 percent

Redding 11.4 percent

Danbury 12.3 percent

Ridgefield 12.3 percent

 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 28 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a cumulative breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the more than 2.7 million people who are fully vaccinated of 9.59 percent.  There was a slight decrease in COVID-19 positivity compared to last week.  The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 11.75 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive during that time increased by 24.  The inpatient total is 352.

 

The number of infants and toddlers, up to age 5 increased their COVID-19 vaccination rate by 1 percentage point since last week to 7-percent. About half of Connecticut children aged 5 to 9 years old have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

The BA.5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 makes up the majority of the cases sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut for the week ending July 23rd.  According to the latest report, 75.3 percent of samples were BA5, while 14.7 percent were BA4.  BA2 accounts for 6 percent, and the original strain was found in 4 percent of samples tested.

Danbury School District makes 5 administrative appointments

5 administrative appointments have been made by the Danbury Public School District.  Assistant principal and principal positions at Broadview Middle School, Danbury High School and Shelter Rock Elementary School have now been  filled.  David Kimball was named principal at Broadview, having previously served as an assistant principal at Avon High School.  The new assistant principal Anna Machial, was the principal of Shelter Rock Elementary.  Alexandra Pacheco, formerly an assistant principal at Park Avenue School in Danbury, will take an interim role as the principal of Shelter Rock.  Broadview's second assistant principal will be Tany Douangta, a school counselor.  The new DHS assistant principal, Andrew Lambo, was interim assistant principal and the dean of student support.

Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol carrying out spot checks

The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol has started carrying out spot checks on the sandbar.  Last month there was a disturbance between two people who are known to frequent the area.  The Authority says the parties reported closure to the incident and there was no further safety risk.  But Police presence on and near the sandbar will continue going forward. The Marine Patrol of the Lake Zoar Authority has also been doing spot checks at the state boat launch ramp to inspect every boat coming in for compliance.  At least 54 boats were inspected, 12 of which were turned away for being unsafe. There will be another spot check at the state boat launch in the coming weeks. 

Republicans in 69th state House district to elect Rep. in Tuesday Primary

The primary is Connecticut is on Tuesday.  In addition to Democratic and Republican races for Secretary of the State, a Democratic primary for state Treasurer and GOP contest for U.S. Senate, there's also a vote for Republicans in the 69th state House district.  Freshman incumbent Cindy Harrison is being challenged by Southbury Selectman Jason Buchsbaum. No Democrats have filed to run for the seat.  Harrison, a Newtown native and accountant, co-owns Breezy Knolls Farm with her husband.  Buchsbaum, a lawyer and former vice chair of the town’s Charter Revision Commission, was a member of the Seymour Board of Education. The district also includes Bridgewater and Roxbury.

Work at New Milford High School move into restoration from remediation

New Milford officials say the work at the High School is moving into restoration from remediation following the July 5th roof fire.  The next group meeting of school and municipal officials to update the community on the work is scheduled for August 17th.  Mayor Pete Bass expects much more information to be available at that time on the project.  He says they're excited the town doesn't need temporary pods for classrooms and that the contractor will get work mostly taken care of by the delayed start to the new academic year September 6th.

Positive referral made to rezone Cartus property for middle, high school

The Danbury Planning Commission is giving a positive referral to rezone property needed to build the proposed Danbury Career Academy. At their meeting Wednesday night, members got an update on the petition by Delaware MMP Realty LLC to change the Cartus property at 40 Apple Ridge Road from industrial to residential, which can be used for a school.  The Zoning Commission has a public hearing scheduled for August 23rd on the application.  Residents signed off in June in a referendum on bonding to retrofit the building into a middle and high school. The City is still negotiating a price with owner Mel Powers for the property.

Alex Jones ordered to pay Sandy Hook parents more than $4M

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury Thursday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million — significantly less than the $150 million being sought — in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, marking the first time Jones has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax.

The Austin jury must still decide how much Jones should pay in punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

The parents had sought at least $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jones’ attorney asked the jury to limit damages to $8 — one dollar for each of the compensation charges they considered — and Jones himself said any award over $2 million “would sink us.”

It likely won’t be the last judgment against Jones — who was not in the courtroom — over his claims that the attack was staged in the interests of increasing gun controls. A Connecticut judge has ruled against him in a similar lawsuit brought by other victims’ families and an FBI agent who worked on the case. He also faces another trial in Austin.

Jones’ lead attorney, Andino Reynal, winked at his co-counsel before leaving the courtroom. He declined to comment on the verdict.

Outside the courthouse, the plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston insisted that the $4.11 million amount wasn’t a disappointment, noting it was only part of the damages Jones will have to pay.

The jury returns Friday to hear more evidence about Jones and his company’s finances.

In a video posted on his website Thursday night, Jones called the reduced award a major victory.

“I admitted I was wrong. I admitted it was a mistake. I admitted that I followed disinformation but not on purpose. I apologized to the families. And the jury understood that. What I did to those families was wrong. But I didn’t do it on purpose,” he said.

The award was “more money than my company and I personally have, but we are going to work on trying to make restitution on that,” Jones said.

Bankston suggested any victory declarations might be premature.

“We aren’t done folks,” Bankston said. “We knew coming into this case it was necessary to shoot for the moon to get the jury to understand we were serious and passionate. After tomorrow, he’s going to owe a lot more.”

The total amount awarded in this case could set a marker for the other lawsuits against Jones and underlines the financial threat he’s facing. It also raises new questions about the ability of his show — which has been banned from YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for hate speech — to continue operating, although the company’s finances remain unclear.

Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that the attack was “100% real” and that he was wrong to have lied about it. But Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wouldn’t suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.

The parents testified Tuesday about how they’ve endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gun shots fired at a home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via his website.

A forensic psychiatrist testified that the parents suffer from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim.

At one point in her testimony, Lewis looked directly at Jones, who was sitting barely 10 feet away.

“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis told Jones.

Barry Covert, a Buffalo, New York, First Amendment lawyer who is not involved in the Jones case, said the $4 million in compensatory damages was lower than he would have expected given the evidence and testimony.

“But I don’t think Jones can take this as a victory,” he added. “The fact is, $4 million is significant even if we might have thought it would be a little higher.”

Jurors often decline to award any punitive damages after deciding on a compensation figure. But when they choose to, the punitive amount is often higher, Covert said. He said he expects the parents’ attorneys to argue that jurors should send the message that no one should profit off defamation.

“They will want jurors to send the message that you can’t make a quarter of a billion in profit off harming someone and say you’ll just take the damages loss in court,” Covert said.

Jones was the only witness to testify in his defense, and he only attended the trial sporadically while still appearing on his show. And he came under withering attack from the plaintiffs attorneys under cross-examination, as they reviewed Jones’ own video claims about Sandy Hook over the years, and accused him of lying and trying to hide evidence, including text messages and emails about the attack. It also included internal emails sent by an employee that said “this Sandy Hook stuff is killing us.”

At one point, Jones was told that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the last two years’ worth of texts from Jones’ cellphone. Bankston said in court Thursday that the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested the records and that he intends to comply.

And shortly after Jones declared “I don’t use email,” Jones was shown one that came from his address, and another one from a business officer telling Jones that the company had earned $800,000 gross in selling its products in a single day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year.

Jones’ media company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy during the two-week trial.

Newtown holding special absentee ballot hours tomorrow

Newtown is holding special absentee ballot hours tomorrow.  The Town Clerk's Office will be open from 9am to noon to issue absentee ballots for the the Republican and Democratic State primaries.  They may be applied for by any qualified voter unable to go to the polls for designated reasons including active armed forces service, absence from town, sickness, physical illness, or religious tenets forbidding secular activities on election day.  Absentee Ballots must be received by the Town Clerk no later than 8pm on Primary Day, Tuesday August 9th.  There is a ballot dropbox outside the the North and South entrances to Newtown Municipal Center.  Ballots can also be returned by mail, or in person Monday or Tuesday 8am to 4:30pm.

Person fishing in prohibited area on Zoar issued warning

The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol was more aggressive with enforcement actions last month. On Saturday, July 27, a person was caught fishing in the exclusion zone of the Shepaug Dam and issued a written warning.  Connecticut law states that no person shall operate a vessel within 15-hundred feet of the downstream side of the Lake Housatonic Dam in Derby or the Shepaug Dam in Southbury.  Signage prohibiting occupation in the area is posted. It is illegal to fish in this area from a boat. There is a fence blocking foot trespassing on FirstLight’s shoreline.  The Marine Patrol says more serious enforcement will be taken in the future, including ticketing of a misdemeanor offence.

Drainage repair project in Danbury nearing completion

Most of the drainage repair project on Main Street in Danbury is complete.  The state has been working to replace piping at Wooster Street to resolve decades of flooding issues.  The project on Route 53 is slated to wrap up within days.  Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they did have a back and forth with the state on the size of pipe that should be used, but completion is moving forward. Danbury came up with the plans and the DOT replaced a temporary pump installed by the City to test the idea. An investigation revealed that about 100 feet of a nearby culvert collapsed because of tree roots.  The storm drain just beyond it is wide open so the City pumped the water there.  Then-Mayor Joe Cavo said the operation didn't cause any problems down stream.   The blocked culvert was likely constructed in the 1920s.

United Way's Back-to-School Program underway

The United Way's Back-to-School Program is once again underway in Greater New Milford and Danbury. This year, more than 500 kids are being provided with the school supplies and essentials they need.  The United Way is looking for residents to sponsor the backpacks to be distributed to students from Danbury, New Milford, Bridgewater, Kent, Roxbury, Sherman, Washington, and Warren. More information about the Greater New Milford Back-to-School drive, information to donate monetary gift cards or supplies, or details about how to sponsor the full needs of a student, residents can contact Katy Francis at Katy.francis@uwwesternct.org or 860-354-8800.  The Danbury Back-to-School drive is in partnership with Danbury Fair.

Some students to move into Candlewood Lake Elementary by year end

The new Candlewood Lake Elementary School in Brookfield could be ready for students by November or December.  Superintendent of Schools John Barille gave an update on the transition into the new 139-thousand square foot facility, replacing Huckleberry and Center elementary schools.  The 78-point-1 million dollar project includes the demolition of Huckleberry School, where plans call for a parking lot.  Grades 2, 3, and 4 students from Huckleberry will move in with their teachers and all the ancillary staff into the new building when it mostly or totally finished.  The second half of the year will include about 115 temporary parking spaces.  Demolition will happen in sometime in February, and be completed in June.  Center School students will attend classes at the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School at the beginning of 2023.  Board of Education member Rosa Fernandes says work has started on the metal, brick and stone veneer for the front of the building. The Municipal Building Committee submitted the Technology Package proposal to the Office of School Construction & Grants Management and is expecting approval soon. The gas line to the building should be hooked up this month. All furniture, fixtures and equipment have been purchased. The MBC is coordinating the design and purchase of playground equipment with Athletic/Health &PE Director, Steve Baldwin. 

Race4Chase triathlon takes place tomorrow

On Saturday, 650 kids in Connecticut will take participate in a triathlon—swimming, biking and running-- in memory of a 7-year-old boy killed on 12-14.  Chase Kowalski competed in his first triathlon the summer before died, and came in first in his age division.  The Kowalskis started the Race4Chase triathlon training program two years after the shooting at Sandy Hook School. Race4Chase started with three camps and about 90 kids ages 6-12. Now there are 29 camps, mostly in Connecticut and a few in Rhode Island and South Carolina.  The event is free and for kids that don’t own a bike, one’s given to them. Race4Chase runs for six weeks and culminates with a triathlon for all the kids in each state.

Brookfield High School to offer mental health services to families

The Brookfield Board of Education has accepted the Connecticut Institute for Communities as a service provider for the district.  The BHS Pillars worked for over 10 months to analyze the mental health concerns facing students, particularly since COVID. 

During a presentation to the Board, they heard that there's been significant increases in the numbers of students who are experiencing mental health crises such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, truancy or whose families were referred to DCF.  There has also been a significant increase in crisis intervention referrals through calls to 211.

CIFC would offer mental health services and substance abuse prevention counseling to students and families on-site at BHS, regardless of financial status. There is no cost to the district, and the services are covered by most insurance plans. A part-time therapist would be placed in the school, also offering family counseling, and would be available for immediate assistance with 211 referrals.

To help address the decline in overall student well-being, the increase in discipline issues (such as substance abuse), and the general downturn in academic performance, the BHS Pillars committee recommended restructuring some BHS committees to better handle academic, social and behavioral issues, securing school counselor and social worker interns, and partnering with an outside agency.

Wake today for 3 kids, mother killed in triple murder-suicide

A wake will be held today for a woman and her three children who police say died in a triple-murder-suicide last week.  The wake at St Peter Church is from 3pm to 9.  Funeral services are planned for tomorrow at 10am at the Danbury church.  Police say 36-year-old Sonia Loja killed her three children — 12, 10, and 5 — before taking her own life on July 27th.  The children’s father said through an interpreter that his wife was concerned about paying for bills after the state ordered her daycare business closed.  The Office of Early Childhood visited the home multiple times in June after receiving a complaint of an illegal day care business.

Virtual community update about Danbury, New Milford Hospitals tonight

Nuvance Health is holding a virtual community update about Danbury and New Milford Hospitals. The Zoom meeting is tonight from 5:30pm to 7. Hospitals President Sharon Adams will present a virtual community report that includes the latest information on Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital services and an update on the affiliation that created Nuvance Health. Their independent monitor will report on its review of compliance with the affiliation agreement issued by Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy.  A question and answer period will follow the presentation.  Questions can be emailed in advance to pubrel@nuvancehealth.org or phoned in to (203) 852-2250, with name and phone number. 

Join by phone: (646) 558-8656  or (669) 900-6833
Webinar ID: 923 8774 3102
Passcode: 650343

New Milford High School administrators temporarily working out of Hill & Plain

New Milford High School leaders continue their summer work at their temporary home at Hill and Plain School as a contractor works to clean up smoke and water damage from the July 5th roof fire.  Soot cleaning is continuing on the 3rd floor, along with preparation for fireproofing encapsulation.  The contractor started cleaning and packing the contents from the lower cabinets in the chemical storage room on the 3rd floor in preparation for the removal of damaged casework, drywall and ceiling tiles.  Just one dehumidifier remains in the building for drying and that's in the room directly under the fire.

August hours for COVID-19 testing, vaccine clinics updated in Danbury

August hours for COVID-19 vaccine clinics and COVID-19 testing in Danbury have been updated.  Testing is being done Mondays and Wednesdays at 118 Memorial Drive from 3pm to 6pm. No appointment is needed for COVID-19 vaccines, also at 118 Memorial Drive Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7 and weekends 10am to 4pm.  The Sunday clinics are only for those 18 or older.  Vaccines are also available at 132 Main Street, with Pfizer offered to those 5 and up or Moderna for people 18 and older.  The hours there are Wednesdays 9:30am to 12:30pm and Fridays 2pm to 5pm.

Lake Zoar Authority  Marine Patrol reported 102 enforcement actions in July

The Lake Zoar Authority  Marine Patrol reported 102 enforcement actions last month as the result of 21 patrols.  There were warnings, tickets, and 6 infractions.  The majority of offenses included no personal floatation devices on kayaks and unregistered personal watercrafts, or those with unlicensed drivers or illegal passengers.  The Marine Patrol says voyages will continue to be terminated for these offenders. There were 5 tows completed by Marine Patrol last month for disabled boats.  There are currently a limited supply of life jackets available to borrow at Lakeside Marina on Lake Zoar.  The Lake Zoar Authority says they are available thanks to generous donations from the community. More life jackets are expected to arrive from SeaTow on August 15th. There must be a life jacket on board for every passenger, in any type of watercraft, on Lake Zoar.  The Marine Patrol will continue to check for compliance.  Those borrowing life jackets are being reminded to return them after use. 

New Fairfield Board of Finance releases proposed draft public participation policy

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has released a proposed draft public participation policy.  It includes a section on public conduct that says participants should refrain from personal attacks and ridicule against the integrity and motives of the board members, employees, presenters and other public participants.  The draft policy prohibits drowning out others perspectives in an aggressive, derogatory or intimidating manner.  Foul, profane, abusive language, jeering or clapping or cheering would also be prohibited.  The proposals stem from residents speaking out at meetings following comments from alternate David Coleman about the special needs community earlier this year. Some in town found the comment to be insensitive, demeaning and disrespectful.

Ethan Allen: Fiscal Q4 Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (ETD) on Wednesday reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $31.5 million.

On a per-share basis, the Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had net income of $1.23. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $1.25 per share.

The home furnishings company posted revenue of $229.7 million in the period.

For the year, the company reported profit of $103.3 million, or $4.05 per share. Revenue was reported as $817.8 million.

Retired Ridgefield Officer, Brewster Fire Chief passes away

The Ridgefield Police Department is mourning the passing of one of a retired longtime member. Officer Edward Hojnacki passed away on Monday.  He served with the Ridgefield Police Department from 1984 to 2000. Prior to working in Ridgefield, Hojnacki was a police officer with the NYPD, retiring after 20 years of service, at the rank of Sergeant.  He was a volunteer with the Brewster Fire Department for 50 years, and served as Chief.  During his career in Ridgefield, he received numerous commendation letters, letters of recognition from the public and was a PBA Officer of the Year recipient.  Department officials say their thoughts and prayers are with the Hojnacki family and that Hojnacki will be dearly missed.  The Brewster Fire Department says their former Chief was well known for teaching thousands of children about fire safety in the Brewster schools.  Services will be Saturday August 20th at Saint Lawrence O’Toole Church.  

Alex Jones concedes Sandy Hook attack was '100% real'

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — For years, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ranted to his millions of followers that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, that children weren’t killed and that parents were crisis actors in an elaborate ruse to force gun control.

Under oath and facing a jury that could hit him with $150 million or more in damages for his false claims, Jones said Wednesday he now realizes that was irresponsible and believes that what happened in the deadliest school shooting in American history was “100% real.”

Jones’ public contrition came on the final day of testimony in a two-week defamation lawsuit against him and his Austin-based media company, Free Speech Systems, brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis. Their son was a first grader who was among the 20 students and six teachers killed at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.

“I unintentionally took part in things that did hurt these people’s feelings,” said Jones, who also acknowledged raising conspiracy claims about other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings to the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida, “and I’m sorry for that.”

But an apology isn’t enough for Heslin and Lewis. They said Jones and the media empire he controls and used to spread his false assertions must be held accountable.

“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I’ll finish this fight.”

The parents testified Tuesday about a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gun shots fired at a home, online and telephone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers, all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via his website Infowars.

A forensic psychiatrist testified the parents suffer from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim.

At one point in her testimony, Lewis looked directly at Jones, who was sitting barely 10 feet away.

“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis told Jones.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control.

Now, Heslin and Lewis are asking the jury in Austin for $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They will also ask the jury to assess additional punitive damages.

Jurors began considering damages Wednesday. Once they determine whether Jones should pay the parents compensation for defamation and emotional distress, it must then decide if he must also pay punitive damages. That portion will involve a separate mini-trial with Jones and economists testifying to his and his company’s net worth.

Jones’ attorney asked the jury to limit damages to $8 — one dollar for each of the compensation charges they are considering — and Jones himself said any award over $2 million “would sink us.”

At the end of Jones’ testimony, Mark Bankston, an attorney for the family, pulled a crumpled dollar bill out of his pocket, showed it to Jones, and put it down in front of the parents.

“The day Sandy Hook happened, Alex Jones planted a seed of misinformation that lasted a decade,” parents’ attorney Kyle Farrar told the jury in closing arguments. “And he just watered that seed over and over until it bore fruit: cruelty and money.”

During his testimony, Jones said he’s tried in the past to back off the hoax claims, but “they (the media) won’t let me take it back.”

Jones — who has been banned from major social media platforms for hate speech and abusive behavior — has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights and complained that he’s been “typecast as someone that runs around talking about Sandy Hook, makes money off Sandy Hook, is obsessed by Sandy Hook.”

Eight days of testimony included videos of Jones and Infowars employees talking about the Sandy Hook conspiracy and even mocking Heslin’s description in a 2017 television interview that he’d held his dead son Jesse’s body “with a bullet hole through his head.” Heslin described that moment with his dead son to the jury.

Jones was the only witness to testify in his defense. And he came under withering attack from the plaintiffs attorneys under cross examination, as they reviewed Jones’ own video claims about Sandy Hook over the years, and accused him of lying and trying to hide evidence, including text messages and emails about Sandy Hook. It also included internal emails sent by an Infowars employee that said “this Sandy Hook stuff is killing us.”

At one point, Jones was told that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the last two years’ worth of texts from Jones’ cellphone.

And shortly after Jones declared “I don’t use email,” Jones was shown one that came from his address, and another one from an Infowars business officer telling Jones that the company had earned $800,000 gross in selling its products in a single day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year.

Jones has already tried to protect Free Speech Systems financially. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over his financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to protect millions owned by Jones and his family through shell entities.

New rifles, storage to be bought by Brookfield Police

New rifles and storage will be purchased by the Brookfield Police Department. Chief John Puglisi says the department’s Firearms Training Group is concerned over the department’s issued weapons.  The Board of Selectmen approved an appropriation of $141,025 from the Police Outside Services Fund for the replacements. Puglisi says the current  25 rifles lack needed upgrades including optics, lights and sound suppressors.  The funding will buy more storage lockers to accommodate 37 new firearms with accessories, which are also being funded in the request.  Accessories will consist of a rifle optic, flashlight, sound suppressor, muzzle device, spare magazines, and sling.  The current rifles are about 18 years old.  There are 32 in service, 7 of which are not owned by the Department, but are on loan from the Federal 1033 Program.  The appropriation will also cover 7 in-vehicle rifle locks to be upgraded to current standards.  

Regional Animal Control warns of het dangers to pets

Heat stroke is a serious threat to animals, and even with prompt treatment it can be fatal. Regional Animal Control, serving-Bridgewater, Brookfield, New Milford, Roxbury, and  Sherman says pets that have already suffered heat stroke once are more susceptible, as are animals that are young or old, have health problems, are overweight, or are snub-nosed. 

Signs of heat stroke in pets include panting, staring, an anxious expression, refusal to obey, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse.  A veterinarian should be called immediately if these signs are present, and the animal should be moved out of direct heat.  They should be wet in a wading pool, with a hose, or by covering it with towels soaked in cool water. Towels are most effective on less hairy parts of the body, like a dog's belly and legs.

Regional Animal Control is reminding people to avoid leaving an animal in a parked vehicle, even for a few minutes during periods of extreme heat. The temperature in a parked car can reach 120 degrees within minutes, so just a 10-minute stop may be dangerous. Opening the windows a few inches doesn't provide adequate cooling. Pet owners are reminded to provide fresh, cool drinking water at all times. That includes inside the vehicle when traveling.

New Fairfield opens cooling centers

New Fairfield has opened up cooling centers as a Heat Advisory takes effect for today and tomorrow.  The Library and Senior Center are open 10 to 7 and 9 to 4 today.  Tomorrow they will be open 10am to 5 and 9 to 3.  Seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental health conditions are at an increased risk of heat related illness. Homes without air conditioning can be much hotter than outdoor temperatures.  A Heat Advisory is issued when the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make it feel like it is the mid 90s to 100 degrees for two or more consecutive days, or 100 to 104 degrees for any length of time.

Brookfield Police Chief addresses speeding issue on town roads

Brookfield Police Chief John Puglisi provided a requested update to the Board of Selectmen this week about speeding in town.  He notes that automated speed enforcement signs help pinpoint speeders and ticketing them, but complaints they continue to receive complaints from residents that people are driving too fast on local roads.  The Brookfield Police Department has used grants from the state Department of Transportation to fund cell phone enforcement and measures to enforce against drunken driving, but he notes that there is no state funding available to help enforce speed limits.  The department uses automated speed enforcement signs to help guide when and where officers are deployed to issue tickets.  The speed signs capture the number of vehicles, the speeds, and the times.  That data is used to schedule officers in selective enforcement.  He also summarized efforts to operate efficiently despite a staffing shortage.  In this current environment, Puglisi says they are having a hard time hiring officers to replace the officers who have retired so they are forced to do more with less. 

Carmel Police place two hybrid vehicles into service

The Carmel Police Department officially placed two Ford Police Interceptor utility hybrid vehicles into service.  These are the first two hybrid patrol cars assigned to police duty in Putnam County. The Ford Police Interceptor utility is the gas/electric hybrid police version of the Ford Explorer. Carmel Police placed an order over a year ago, but supply-chain issues caused delays in delivery and equipment installation.  Department officials say they will roll out a marked and unmarked patrol vehicle first to test their effectiveness in the different roles these vehicles perform.

Troopers attend New England Regional Law Enforcement Education Association Cadet Academy

Connecticut State Police Troopers from Troop L in Litchfield and Troop A in Southbury attended the New England Regional Law Enforcement Education Association Cadet Academy last week. The Academy brings together approximately 500 participants for a week-long, in-residence, para-military ‘boot camp’ style training. It's a comprehensive experience in the field of law enforcement.  State Police say this program has been designed to provide Cadets age 14 to 21 with a broad exposure to modern-day police work. Each level is a one-week program and takes the full week to complete. 

Propane leak reported in Newtown

Botsford Fire Rescue along with Dodgingtown Fire responded to a propane leak yesterday.  An individual had struck equipment with a machine. Once on scene firefighters saw visible off-gassing. Power was shut off to the home and Hocon Gas was requested to the scene.  The company temporarily plugged the relief which had been sheared.

Local lawmaker hosts anti-bullying forum

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is hosting an Anti-Bullying and School Climate Forum on August 10th with the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity.  The forum will feature anti-bullying experts.  Allie-Brennan says he's heard from concerned parents and says anti-bullying policies should deter harassment and intimidation.  He also called for clear guidelines as to what constitutes bullying and how to take appropriate action.  He notes that the panel is meant to give parents, educators, and members of the community an opportunity to ask questions and help inform legislative work as the state considers reforms to anti-bullying laws. Zoom meeting info: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83695377955

Southbury starts paving project

Southbury Public Works will be milling and paving Old Waterbury Road, between Reservoir Road and Bucks Hill Road starting today. The work is expected to last until next Friday, August 12.  There will be limited access so motorists are advised to use alternate routes, if possible. Residents will have access to their driveways.  Schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions and availability of outside vendors.

Hahlawah Rifle and Pistol club seeks change to use agreement

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has put off a decision on amending an agreement with the Hahlawah Rifle and Pistol club.  The organization was looking to include training exercises.  Club President Anthony Yorio spoke of a possible amendment to the Use Agreement.  Currently, the permitted hours are only 10am to 12:30pm on Sundays, but they want to expand the hours for safe firearm classes, which are 8 to 9 hours long over two consecutive days.  The club is also looking to expand the use permit by six days per calendar year. No more than 16 participants would be permitted for these classes. 

Virtual community update about Danbury, New Milford Hospitals planned

Nuvance Health is holding a virtual community update about Danbury and New Milford Hospitals. The Zoom meeting is set for August 4th from 5:30pm to 7. Hospitals President Sharon Adams will present a virtual community report that includes the latest information on Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital services and an update on the affiliation that created Nuvance Health. Their independent monitor will report on its review of compliance with the affiliation agreement issued by Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy.  A question and answer period will follow the presentation.  Questions can be emailed in advance to pubrel@nuvancehealth.org or phoned in to (203) 852-2250, with name and phone number. 

Join by phone: (646) 558-8656  or (669) 900-6833
Webinar ID: 923 8774 3102
Passcode: 650343

Officers graduate from DARE training course

Police Officers and Troopers from across Connecticut, including Southbury Office Elizabeth Armeno, graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Training program Friday after spending two weeks learning how to become D.A.R.E. officers in the elementary schools in their community.  D.A.R.E. was founded in Los Angeles in 1983 to prevent the use of controlled drugs and violent behavior in children through education. 

Westside Middle School Academy Principal resigning

The first principal of Westside Middle School Academy in Danbury is resigning.  Frank LaBanca, who's led the the magnet school since it opened in 2014, announced the move in an email to the school community Monday.  He did not say why he's leaving after 8 years.  LaBanca served as director of the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection prior to Westside and was named Outstanding First-Year Principal of the Year in 2015. LaBanca says he will be working limited hours this week, and the hiring process for Westside’s new principal will be determined by Superintendent Kevin Walston.

Sherman summer camp gets visit from New Milford Police Search & Rescue Helicopter

Kids taking part in the Sherman Parks and Rec summer camp recently received a visit from New Milford Police Search and Rescue Helicopter, Eagle 2,  as well as Sherman Volunteer Fire Department Ambulance and Brush Truck. The pilot, Tom O'Halloran, gave a hands-on tour and answered lots of questions from the kids. The pilot then took off to their next "flyby" to the loudspeaker tune of "Danger Zone" from Top Gun.  After Eagle 2 left, the kids took a tour of Sherman Ambulance while EMT Jack Fitzpatrick let them dress up in the gear and helmets. 

Sandy Hook parents: Alex Jones claims created 'living hell'

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Fighting back tears and finally given the chance to confront conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting described being put through a “living hell” of death threats, harassment and ongoing trauma over the last decade caused by Jones using his media platforms to push claims that it was all a hoax.

The parents led a day of charged testimony that included the judge scolding the bombastic Jones for not being truthful with some of what he said under oath.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook, took the witness stand Tuesday on the final day of testimony in the two-week defamation damages trial against Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems. They are seeking at least $150 million in damages.

In a gripping exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away. Earlier that day, Jones was on his broadcast program telling his audience that Heslin is “slow” and being manipulated by bad people.

“I am a mother first and foremost and I know you are a father. My son existed,” Lewis said to Jones. “I am not deep state... I know you know that... And yet you’re going to leave this courthouse and say it again on your show.”

At one point, Lewis asked Jones: “Do you think I’m an actor?”

“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones responded before the judge admonished him to be quiet until called to testify.

Lewis continued trying to impress on Jones that the Sandy Hook shooting and trauma inflicted in the decade since then were real.

“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis said. “I am so glad this day is here. I’m actually relieved. And grateful... that I got to say all this to you.”

Jones visibly shook his head several times while Scarlett Lewis was addressing him.

Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed several lawsuits alleging that Sandy Hook hoax claims pushed by Jones have led to years of abuse by Jones and his followers.

Heslin and Lewis both said they fear for their lives and have been confronted by strangers at home and on the street. Heslin said his home and car have been shot at. The jury heard a death threat sent via telephone message to another Sandy Hook family.

“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said.

Scarlett Lewis also described threatening emails that seemed to have uncovered deep details of her personal life.

“It’s fear for your life,” Scarlett Lewis said. “You don’t know what they were going to do.”

Heslin said he didn’t know if the Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theory originated with Jones, but it was Jones who “lit the match and started the fire” with an online platform and broadcast that reached millions worldwide.

“What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world,” Heslin said. “As time went on, I truly realized how dangerous it was.”

Jones skipped Heslin’s morning testimony while he was on his show — a move Heslin dismissed as “cowardly” — but arrived in the courtroom for part of Scarlett Lewis’ testimony. He was accompanied by several private security guards.

“Today is very important to me and it’s been a long time coming... to face Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore the honor and legacy of my son,” Heslin said when Jones wasn’t there.

Heslin told the jury about holding his son with a bullet hole through his head, even describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body. A key segment of the case is a 2017 broadcast that said Heslin didn’t hold his son.

The jury was shown a school picture of a smiling Jesse taken two weeks before he was killed. The parents didn’t receive the photo until after the shooting. They described how Jesse was known for telling classmates to “run!” which likely saved lives.

An apology from Jones wouldn’t be good enough, the parents said.

“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I’ll finish this fight.”

Jones later took the stand himself, initially being combative with the judge, who had asked him to answer his own attorney’s question. Jones testified he had long wanted to apologize to the plaintiffs.

“I never intentionally tried to hurt you. I never said your name until this came to court,” Jones said. “The internet had questions, I had questions.”

Later, the judge sent the jury out of the room and strongly scolded Jones for telling the jury he complied with pretrial evidence gathering even though he didn’t, and that he is bankrupt, which has not been determined. Plaintiff’s attorneys were furious about Jones mentioning he is bankrupt, which they worry will taint a jury decision about damages.

“This is not your show,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Jones. “Your beliefs do not make something true. You are under oath.”

Last September, Guerra admonished Jones in her default judgment over his failure to turn over documents requested by the Sandy Hook families. A court in Connecticut issued a similar default judgment against Jones for the same reasons in a separate lawsuit brought by other Sandy Hook parents.

Heslin and Lewis suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that comes from constant trauma, similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or child abuse victims, a forensic psychologist who studied their cases and met with them testified Monday.

Jones has portrayed the lawsuit against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights.

At stake in the trial is how much Jones will pay. The parents have asked the jury to award $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury will then consider whether Jones and his company will pay punitive damages.

The trial is just one of several Jones faces.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax. In both states, judges issued default judgements against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.

Jones has already tried to protect Free Speech Systems financially. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over his financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to protect millions owned by Jones and his family through shell entities.

Kent sidewalk construction starts after decade of planning

After almost 14 years of planning, construction of new sidewalks in Kent got underway this week.  The contractor will be conducting curb cuts, first on North Main street and then moving to Bridge Street tomorrow. This line of saw cuts in the roadway will eventually be excavated to provide the 'workspace' for the contractor during demolition and construction of the sidewalks.  Sidewalk demo and construction will start on Bridge Street at the concrete bridge to take advantage of fewer students walking from Kent Center School and Kent School during the summer months, and once that work is complete, moving to the northern end of Phase I to avoid construction in the highest pedestrian areas of the village till later in the season.  Work hours are weekdays 7am to 4pm.

Easton Police Department looking to hire part-time Dispatcher

The Easton Police Department is looking to hire a part-time Dispatcher. Applicants must be available weekends, holidays, and all shifts.  The part time dispatcher would handle 911 and routine calls, data entry into department CAD system, and interact with Police, Fire and EMS personnel.  The candidate must have a High School diploma; experience and computer skills preferred. Starting pay is $21.55/hr after training.  A background check including criminal history and drug screening will be performed prior to hiring for this position.  There is no deadline for applying as the posting will remain open until filled.

Residents encouraged to voluntarily undertake water conservation measures

Connecticut is experiencing Stage 2 Drought conditions due to below normal precipitation.  Residents and businesses are being encouraged to voluntarily undertake water conservation measures to minimize future drought impacts as the summer progresses.  Bethel Water Department customers are encouraged to practice water conservation.  A no more than a twice-a-week lawn watering schedule is being suggested with even numbered addresses watering on Sundays and Wednesdays and odd numbered addresses on Saturdays and Tuesdays.  Residents are encouraged to avoid watering between 10am and 6pm when evaporation rates are highest.  Outdoor watering is considered non-essential and can account for up to 30% to 40% of the total water use of many accounts, especially those with automatic sprinkler systems that frequently over irrigate the landscape.  A similar schedule was implemented throughout Connecticut following the 2016 drought conditions and worked to save water.  Officials say the proposed schedule and watering tips will conserve water by reducing overwatering of lawns and provide balance to the system.  Local conservation efforts can ensure that water supplies remain sufficient for critical needs such as human consumption and fire protection.

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company elects new Chief

The Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company has named a new Chief.  Anthony Capozziello was unanimously elected to the position at their meeting last night.  He takes over following the death of longtime Chief Bill Halstead, who started his 45th year in that position on July 1st.  At the time, Halstead announced it would be his last year leading the fire department, but not his service to the company.  Halstead passed away last month.  Capozziello has been a member of the fire company for more than 30 years, serving as Assistant Chief, later renamed Deputy Chief, since 2008.  The Newtown native is General Supervisor of the Newtown Public Works Department.

Soot cleaning continues at New Milford High School

The contractor continues remediation and repair work at New Milford High School, cleaning up from a July 5th roof fire.  Soot cleaning and encapsulation of the entire 1st floor of the building is completed.  About75 percent of that work on the 2nd floor is done.  Mayor Pete Bass says infrastructure above the ceiling grid is being prepared for fireproofing encapsulation.  All water-damaged drywall and insulation has been removed from the 3rd floor, except the two classrooms directly impacted by the fire, which is still under investigation.  1 dehumidifier and 2 air movers are the only drying equipment remaining, in room 3204, directly under the fire.

Florida man charged with animal cruelty in Newtown

A Florida man has been charged with animal cruelty in Newtown.  David Czerniawski was charged July 25th, after police say he brought a male chihuahua to Berkshire Veterinary Hospital in Sandy Hook. A veterinarian determined the dog was dead due to blunt force trauma.  The dog died at an apartment on Farrell Court in Newtown.  The 71-year-old was later released on bond, and is scheduled to appear in Court on the 9th.

19-year old charged in connection with Mall shooting sentenced

A 19-year old charged in connection with a shooting at Danbury Mall last August has been sentenced.  Derek Sotelo was sentenced to a 5 year suspended jail term, and 5 years probation with special conditions.  He pleaded guilty to attempt to commit second-degree assault.  Charges of reckless endangerment, inciting a riot, inciting injury to a person, risk of injury to a minor and breach of peace were dropped.  A 15-year-old girl sustained a gunshot wound to the left side of her throat.  A 14 year old has been charged with the shooting, which led to a more-than-hour-long lockdown of the mall nearly a year ago.  Danbury Police say the shooting stemmed from a fight at the mall carnival two months prior, during which Sotelo was allegedly jumped by a group of juveniles.  He allegedly grabbed a hammer from a car parked outside and approaching the teen charged with later firing a gun.

Brookfield Board of Ed seeks to hire more SROs, unarmed security guards

The Brookfield Board of Education has voted to hire both unarmed and armed security personnel or each building in the school district.  The existing School Resource Officer program will be expanded to Brookfield elementary schools.  There was a more than two-hour executive session over whether to arm the five security guards at the school buildings, who also monitor security cameras.  The Security Task Force was unanimous in recommending they be unarmed.  Board members voted unanimously to request funding for the SROs, and voted 5-2 to hire five unarmed security officers for each of the schools’ entrances.  One armed security officer would also be hired to patrol at Brookfield High School during after-school extra-curricular activities and athletics events. The Board of Selectmen must approve funding for the new positions.

Greater Danbury area Police Departments hosting National Night Out events

A number of Greater Danbury area Police Departments are hosting events tonight for the Annual National Night Out.  The camaraderie building campaign promotes strong police-community partnerships to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places.  National organizers say this is a time of unity to showcase the importance of citizen involvement in the police-community relationship.  The Brookfield Police Department is inviting residents to Town Hall from 4pm to 8:30pm for a free event with first responders featuring family-friendly activities.

Appointments needed for monkeypox vaccines in Connecticut

Appointments are needed for those looking to get the monkeypox vaccine in Connecticut.  The CDC is reporting 33 cases in the state, though the Connecticut Department of Public Health is reporting fewer cases.  The World Health Organization recently declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.  The first case was identified in Connecticut July 5th.  A number of vaccine cites opened on Monday for those eligible for the vaccine.  That includes men who are 18 years old or older who have sex with men and have been exposed to monkeypox in the last 14 days. 


The vaccine sites including:
Anchor Health Initiative in Hamden
Circle Care Center in Norwalk
Community Health Center in Clinton, Danbury, Enfield, Middletown, New London, Stamford
Community Health and Wellness in Torrington
Fair Haven Community Center in New Haven
Intercommunity in Hartford
Planned Parenthood in Bridgeport, Norwich, Willimantic
Staywell Health Center in Waterbury

Danbury looks to give honorary names to ACE building, street

A recommendation is being made to the Danbury City Council tonight to add honorary names to the Alternative Center for Excellence building and the street where it's located.  Both would be in honor of ACE's late founder Joe Pepin, who served as principal for over 20 years.  The school is located on Roberts Avenue between 9th Avenue and Locust Avenue, but has a Locust Avenue postal address.  The committee is recommending that an honorary or secondary name be added to Roberts Avenue of Joe Pepin Way, and that the ACE building be called the Joseph Pepin Memorial Building.  Roberts Avenue was named after a Connecticut governor.  The ACE school would retain its name.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter  noted that there are no houses with Roberts Avenue addresses between 9th and Locust.  This is a one-off until an ad hoc to establish a formal process for renaming buildings or streets is created.

Psychiatrist says Sandy Hook parents fear for their lives

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) —  The parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim live with a complex form of post-traumatic stress disorder and a constant fear that followers of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will kill them, a psychiatrist testified Monday at Jones’ defamation trial.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, have sued Jones and his company Free Speech Systems over the harassment and threats they and other parents say they’ve endured for years while Jones claimed the 2012 attack was a hoax or faked.

The psychiatrist testified that Heslin has had guns fired at his home and has been accosted on the street. The parents are seeking at least $150 million in the case.  An attorney for Heslin and Lewis, said the family has gone into isolation under a “large and professional security team” because of an incident that happened since the trial began. He did not provide details of what happened.

The pair are expected to testify today as the final witnesses for their side.

Jones, who has attended only some of the trial, was not in the courtroom for Monday morning’s testimony and will testify today in his own defense.

The trial is in Texas because he lives in Austin and his company is based there. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection, though defense attorneys say that should not disrupt the trial, which is in its second week.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges issued default judgements against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents. 

Public hearing in Brookfield tonight on Charter revision process

A public hearing is being held in Brookfield tonight on the charter revision process.  The Commission reviewing the town's governing document are looking to see if there are any contradictions in the Charter, obsolete sections or conflicts with new state statutes.  The Commission is in in the very preliminary stages of identifying potential areas for change.  The Board of Selectmen wants the commission to review how the town should fill vacancies on boards when a volunteer steps down or leaves a position, and if the town should establish a pension board.  The town clerk position possibly being appointed rather than elected will also be examined.  The hearing tonight is at 6pm in Brookfield Town Hall.

Funeral services announced for Danbury children, mother

Funeral services have been announced for the three Danbury children and their mother who died last week.  The funeral is scheduled for Friday at 10am at St. Peter Catholic Church. Visitation will take place there Thursday from 3pm to 9pm.  The state Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the children's causes of death was strangulation while 36-year old Sonia Loja died by hanging. 

St. Peter Catholic Church has set up a funeral fund for the family.

Pedro Panjon told reporters, through a translator, that his wife was distraught over the loss of income after being ordered to close her day care business in June.  The state Office of Early Childhood visited the Whaley Street home four times in June about the illegal business.  Loja was told to provider her Social Security number and other documentation to comply with legal operation requirements.  The family was living in the U.S. illegally and didn’t have the required documents to operate the day care.

Danbury man sentenced for 2020 death of man near railroad tracks

A Danbury man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the suspicious death of a man by the railroad tracks in June of 2020.  The jail term for Carlos Guzman-Lopez will be suspended after 12 years, plus 5 years probation.  Police charged the 48-year old for causing multiple blunt force trauma strikes to 60-year old Ricardo Uruchima's head and upper body with his fist and a rusty piece of metal.  A witness reported drinking with the pair near the intersection of Maple Avenue and Garamella Boulevard when the men started arguing over liquor. 

WCSU students take part in Archaeology Field School

During this summer’s Archaeology Field School, West Conn students spent four weeks cataloguing artifacts from the 2021 excavation from the Templeton site, and excavating a site known as Deer Run in Warren. This site dates from the late Archaic period, 4000 BC to 2000 BC, through the woodland time period. The pottery found by students date from 700BC to 550 AD.  The found items included multiple fire hearts, a large mortar and pestle, knives, scrapers, cooking stones, fire-cracked rock and calcined bones. Projectile points included Brewerton, Vosberg, Snook Kill, Fox Creek, Greene, Levanna, Lamoka, and Squibnocket. Pottery excavated included untyped cord-wrapped stick stamped Vinette Dentat and Vinette Rocker.  All the items are now housed nearby in Washington, Connecticut, at the Institute for American Indian Studies for future analysis.  Some students involved in this summer dig are now volunteering at IAIS and at the site.

New Milford school administrators check teaching supplies for water, smoke damage

New Milford High School administrators have gone through each classroom to determine the impact of the July 5th roof fire on curriculum materials. Teaching materials and textbooks were in closed cabinets before the fire broke out, but were checked for smoke and water damage.  Items that were on counters and desks were packed and labelled with a room number.  File cabinets and the boxes were moved to a town-owned building.  The process for staff to retrieve items that were in the classrooms is still being worked out. 

Danbury man clocked driving 161 mph arrested in NH

A Connecticut man is facing reckless driving charges in New Hampshire after state troopers clocked him driving 161 miles per hour yesterday morning.  30-year old Alejandro Zapata-Rebello was driving an orange Corvette on Interstate 93.  The speed limit at that section of the interstate is 70 miles per hour.  The patrol officer was unable to pursue due to high speeds and put out a Be On The Lookout Order.  He was spotted by Woodstock police, clocked at 130, and stopped after becoming stuck in traffic.  He was detained until New Hampshire State Police arrived.  He's due in a Plymouth court next month.

New Milford won't need temporary classrooms at High School as fire repair work moves along

New Milford will not have to use temporary pods for the school year, which starts next month.  Mayor Pete Bass says this decision followed a discussion with the Public Works Director, the insurance carrier and the remediation contractor.  New Milford High School 1st and 2nd floors, along with most of the 3rd floor will be ready for use this fall.  Prior to the students coming back, there will be testing of air quality and other safety tests.  The restoration company has completed removal of water-damaged carpeting from the Library along with soot cleaning on the 1st and 2nd floors.  As of Friday, removal of water-damaged drywall and insulation on the 3rd floor was 95% complete.  There will be parking spots available, but the Administration is working on the parking plan and will release details once further restoration is complete.  New Milford High School Athletics will start on time as scheduled, with access to both the indoor gymnasiums and all of the outdoor fields.  Football and Golf start on Monday, August 15th, with all other Fall Sports starting on August 25th.  

Ridgefield man enters plea agreement for conspiring to launder money

A Ridgefield man has entered into a plea agreement for conspiring to launder money by allegedly smuggling cosmetics in Iran while he served as president of a Long Island-based cosmetics manufacturer and supplier. Michael Rose was ordered to pay more than $350,000 in fines and perform 300 hours of community service.  Prosecutors alleged that he was involved in a scheme that spanned years to violate government sanctions on Iran.  He was also charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and conspiring to commit bank fraud.  The FBI alleges Rose intentionally disguised where his products were ultimately going, and allegedly lied about the prices of the products to limit his customs liability. 

Man arrested for selling Newtown house without owner's knowledge. permission

A Connecticut man has been arrested by Newtown Police for allegedly selling a resident's home without their knowledge or permission. On Friday, Police announced that Edwin Robert Lewis was arrested at his Willington home on the 27th following a lengthy investigation.  The legitimate homeowner found that his residence had been sold, and paperwork for the sale had been filed with the town, without his knowledge of authorization.  Lewis was charged with money laundering, identity theft, larceny, criminal impersonation and forgery.  He was released on bail for an August 11th court appearance.

New Fairfield needs to allocate more for paramedic, ambulance services

Following an increase in paramedic and ambulance services from Nuvance Health, New Fairfield officials are looking at the possibility of changing providers.  The Board of Selectmen voted to recommend appropriating $22,500 from the surplus or unassigned fund balance for the services.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says during budget season, Nuvance sent a letter saying that they would be increasing the fee paid for paramedic and EMT services by 2 percent.  Now, due to additional costs on their end, they are increasing that to a 5-percent hike over last year.  The Board of Finance is being asked to allocate the difference.  Del Monaco notes that other towns also reported receiving the increase.  She foresees going out to bid because the town is unsure about the large increase in future years.

Brush fire cause highway tie ups in Danbury

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to at least 5 brush fires along Route 7 last month.  On Saturday, there was also a brush fire in the Danbury, just beyond that area of Route 7's grassy median.  Multiple brush fires were reported along I-84 west between exits 7 and 6. Brookfield fire responded to assist and operated for a little over an hour.  They also provided station coverage for about 90 minutes and during that time covered a medical call on Newtown Road. 

Bond approved for parks improvements around Greater Danbury

Several Greater Danbury area municipalities will receive state bond money.  The grant in aid projects approved on Friday include$ 650,000 for the Richter Association for the Arts in Danbury.  The nonprofit organization will make accessibility improvements to bathrooms and concession areas around their outdoor venues and improve its walking paths and parking area.  $400,00 was also approved for Graham Dickinson Spirit Skate Park in Ridgefield.  The facility, built in 1998, will be refurbished.  Monroe will spend $50,000 to match $150,000 in state bonding for athletic facility upgrades to Wolfe Park.  Another $2 million would go to the Connecticut Institute for Communities to build a two-level garage accommodating roughly 100 parking spaces behind the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  In a separate item, the state Bond Commission also approved $250,000 for Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield.  The money will be used for the renovation of the Boat Launch/Parking area.

New Milford to crack down on illegal activities around River Road

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has signed an Executive Order concerning the Health and Safety of Residents, First Responders, and those using waterways. There were instances last weekend of people swimming in the Housatonic without knowing how to swim, children with “ noodle” flotations without knowing how to swim, garbage left on the Riverbanks, and scattered throughout River Road area. In addition, campfires and cooking grills left charcoal remnants which he says could have caused a major fire in this heavily wooded area.  Public Works crews have placed no parking signs on the unpaved portion of River Road. Bass says these efforts were prompted by complaints from residents on the road of cars speeding and then parking as to where our emergency vehicles could not get through if an emergency arose. Large numbers of people gathered in and around the River, with loud music, alcohol, and open burning along the Riverbank. 

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