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Local Headlines Archives for 2022-09

Redding opts out of state law on accessory dwellings

The Redding Board of Selectmen has voted to opt out of a state law on accessory dwellings or so-called granny pods.  During the Board's meeting earlier this month, First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton said that Redding's zoning regulations already permit accessory dwellings of 800 square feet and there is discussion of increase that to 1,000 square feet.  If Redding didn't opt out, which is allowed under the law, Pemberton noted that applicants wouldn't be subject to a public hearing.  She says that deprives the public of the right to be heard on an application and removes local permitting by the Zoning Commission.  The state requirements for parking for accessory and multifamily dwellings would be as-of-right while Redding currently requires slightly more parking for accessory and multifamily dwellings.  By opting out, Pemberton says Redding will maintain local control rather than the state's one-size-fits-all mandate.  Redding has already created two incentive housing zones that include incentives for private development of affordable housing in Georgetown where public sewer and water can support higher density.  

Brookfield Police Department adds new officer to ranks

The Brookfield Police Department has welcomed a new member.  Officer Joseph Smith was sworn into last week.  He joins the force from the Waterbury Police Department, where he was an officer for four years.  Smith is a West Virginia Native with 14 years of military service of combined Active Duty/National Guard, where he is still serving.

Southbury Celebration to be held this weekend

The Southbury Celebration is being held this weekend. The annual program is co-sponsored by the Town of Southbury and the Southbury Training School.  The community event, which features food, music and fireworks, draws approximately 5,000 people each year.  This year's event is slated for Saturday, with a rain date of Sunday at the Southbury Training School on  South Britain Road.

WCSU to host Hispanic Heritage event

Western Connecticut State University is marking Hispanic heritage month with an event on Tuesday.  Stories and advice from regional leaders of Hispanic Heritage will be shared.  Organizers say they will provide powerful insights and advice for students and others interested in accelerating their career opportunities.  The event on Tuesday at the Westside Campus Center Ballroom is from 5:30pm to 7.  It's sponsored by Savings Bank of Danbury, the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, Latin American Student Organization and the WCSU Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  Registration is not required.

Newtown Legislative Council gets update on town's fiscal outlook

The Newtown Legislative Council has gotten an update on the town's fiscal situation.   First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says Newtown has a $ 1.4 million fund balance, plus a surplus, which he says puts the town in a good position.  The town's Finance Director did note that most of the surpluses are due to vacant positions. The police is quite large due to retirees. Newtown reduced the Building Department by one position but left the money open if they needed to hire a part timer. The same with the Town Clerk's office and Highway.

Redding to unveil upgraded recreation facilities

The Town of Redding is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony this weekend for new recreation upgrades completed recently.  4 new Tennis Courts, lined for pickleball, Playground equipment for kids aged 2 to 5 year olds and a Pavilion at the Redding Community Center will be unveiled.  The ceremonies start at 10am Saturday at the Tennis Courts, then making way to the Playground and then to the Pavilion, where there will be light refreshments and entertainment.

Danbury Zoners approve application to change new retail cannabis regulations

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved a change in the way distance is measured between residential zones and recreational retail cannabis establishments. The regulations approved last month called for 200 feet from the property line to the residential zoning district boundary, but D&B Wellness filed an application to change it as being from the front door of an establishment to the district boundary.

The Commission closed the public hearing the night it was opened and voted 7 to 2 in favor of the change.

There was some discussion during the hearing on other possible solutions that would allow D&B Wellness, doing business as The Botanist, to apply for a special exception to become a hybrid retailer, not just a medicinal establishment.  D&B is seeking to apply to the state for a hybrid license to expand the offerings at the Mill Plain Road location.  One possibility was to change the distance from 200 feet to 100, another was to change the measurement to a residential dwelling rather than to a district boundary.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro made the argument that the regulations were written as is because a lot line is an easy and clean measurement to a zoning district boundary. 

In the end, Commission members went with what was proposed in the application before them. Commission Chair Ted Haddad and member Rob Melillo voted against changing the regulations.

Hemorrhagic disease confirmed in white-tailed deer in Conn.

Hemorrhagic disease was recently confirmed in white-tailed deer in Connecticut for the third year since it was first documented in the state in 2017. The first positive case of 2022 came from a deer found in Goshen. A second positive deer was found on a property in Kent where an additional five deer have been found dead. The third positive case was from a property in East Haddam where an additional three deer have been found dead. 

Reports to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection of dead deer in multiple other towns, mainly in the northwest and southeast of the state, fit the description of animals affected by the disease. 

Hemorrhagic disease does not infect humans, and people are not at risk by handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer, or being bitten by infected midges.

There are several different forms of hemorrhagic disease, but it usually kills the animal within one to three days of infection. Symptoms in deer include swollen head, neck, tongue, or eyelids with a bloody discharge from the nasal cavity.  The virus creates high fevers, leading infected deer to be found near water sources. Not all symptoms are present in every infected deer. 

Hemorrhagic disease is transmitted by biting midges, commonly referred to as sand gnats, sand flies, or no-see-ums. There has not been a significant negative impact on the long-term health of deer herds in states where the disease has been detected because only localized pockets of animals tend to be infected within a geographic area. 

The disease rarely causes illness in domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Hunters should observe normal precautions around any sick or strangely acting animals. 

The DEEP Wildlife Division is encouraging anyone who observes deer appearing emaciated, behaving strangely, or lying dead along the edge of waterbodies to report the information to the DEEP Wildlife Division at Andrew.labonte@ct.gov or by calling 860-418-5921. 

Hearing scheduled in lawsuit over swearing in of Bethel First Selectman

A hearing has been scheduled in the lawsuit brought by a Bethel Republican Town Committee member against the Town of Bethel over the swearing in of Rich Straiton as First Selectman earlier this month.  The Board of Selectmen, Straiton and Town Clerk Lisa Bergh were ordered to appear for a remote status conference hearing on October 17th to show cause for why a temporary injunction should not be issued against them as sought by Daniel Nostin.  When  Matt Knickerbocker resigned to take a position in Wilton, Straiton resigned his Selectman's seat and asked the Town Clerk to swear him in as First Selectman.  The Town Attorney advised Bergh to swear Straiton in as First Selectman, not in an acting role.  Under the town's Charter, the vacancy requires a special election, as well as an appointment by the Board of Selectmen to fill the third seat.  Nostin is looking to overturn Straiton's swearing in. 

Ridgefield Police, Fire Annual Safety Day this weekend

The Ridgefield Police Department, Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association, the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department and the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Association will be holding their Annual Safety Day this weekend.  The family-oriented event is set for Sunday from 10am to 2pm in the parking lot of East Ridge Middle School featuring K9 demonstrations.  The planned landing of the State Police helicopter has been cancelled due to the forecasted weather. Admission is free.  There will also be child safety seat inspections, and information on gun safety, Lyme disease prevention and information from the Ridgefield Prevention Council.

Jurors must decide how much Newtown families suffering worth

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — After watching days of testimony that included the parents of slain children breaking down on the witness stand, a Connecticut jury soon will have the difficult task of coming up with a dollar amount that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay for promoting the idea that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.

A judge last year found Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, liable by default for defaming and inflicting emotional distress on the plaintiffs — eight families who lost loved ones in the 2012 massacre and an FBI agent who was among the first responders. The jury of three men and three women is now charged with determining damages.

One by one, family members have taken the stand to talk about the horrors of losing a loved one, and how that has been compounded by a decade of harassment, fear and pain inflicted by those who believed the lie that the shooting never happened.

In often emotional testimony, they have detailed death and rape threats, mail from conspiracy theorists that included photos of dead children and in-person confrontations with people telling them their children or wives or mothers never existed.

At one point, a juror broke into tears and was comforted by another member of the panel.

Robbie Parker, who gave a live statement to the media about his daughter Emilie the day after she was murdered, took the stand Wednesday, following testimony from his wife Alissa. Robbie Parker had been captured on camera cracking a nervous smile as he approached the microphone the day after the shooting, after his father made a little joke of encouragement, referring to him by the name of the school mascot he once portrayed. It was a moment Jones pounced on to publicly call him a “crisis actor.” 

Parker said soon after that, he began getting hateful comments on social media.

“What was just this littering of comments, by Tuesday (four days after the shooting) became just a burning trash pile,” he said.

Alissa Parker cried while describing the abuse they faced in the days after the shooting because of Jones’ comments. She said they decided to have a closed casket funeral out of fear that someone would take a photo of their daughter’s body and use it to further the conspiracy theories.

“Just the things they were saying about my sweet daughter,” she said through tears. “Things like, ‘Watch your back, we’re watching you and we’re coming after you and your daughter.’ Just horrible things. They called Emilie a whore, just the most horrific things you could ever imagine.”

How jurors arrive at a dollar figure is cloaked in secrecy. Although given some basic instructions, there are no specific ones from the judge on how exactly to arrive at dollar figures.

Jurors, however, have been shown evidence and heard testimony on the millions of dollars Jones and his company have made over the years.

Jones’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, is trying to limit any damages the jury awards. In cross examining witnesses, he has tried to show that Jones wasn’t directly linked to many instances of harassment and threats, and he has accused the victims’ relatives of exaggerating the harm the lies caused them.

The Center to hold events marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Center For Empowerment and Education in Danbury is the local Domestic and Sexual Violence resource for Upper Fairfield and Lower Litchfield county.  The Center will hold events and workshops to help spread awareness.  This year’s theme is #Every1KnowsSome1. Last year, The Center provided more than 28,000 individuals in the greater Danbury area Domestic Violence related services. 

SRO appointed for Meeting House Hill, Consolidated Schools

The New Fairfield Police Department, in conjunction with the Connecticut State Police Resident, have appointed a School Resource Officer to the new school campus for Meeting House Hill and Consolidated Schools.  Effective Saturday, New Fairfield Police Officer Marc Scocozza will be assigned to the campus full time. Scocozza is a 26 year veteran police officer and a POST certified instructor in critical incident management.  Department officials say he will be strong asset to the schools.

Hearing scheduled in lawsuit over swearing in of a Bethel First Selectman

An ex parte relief requested in the case of a Bethel Republican Town Committee member against the town has been denied and the court instead has scheduled a hearing.  Daniel Nostin filed the suit over what he called an abuse of process in the appointment of Rich Straiton as First Selectman.  Matt Knickerbocker resigned on September 6th to take a position in Wilton.  Straiton resigned his Selectman's role and asked the Town Clerk to swear him in as First Selectman.  The Town Attorney advised the Town Clerk to swear Straiton in as First Selectman, not in an acting role.  Under the town's Charter, the vacancy in the First Selectman's Office requires a special election, as well as an appointment by the Board of Selectmen to fill the third seat.  Nostin is looking to overturn Straiton's swearing in. 

Danbury Commission continues hearing on application from Panera

Discussion will continue tonight in Danbury on an application from Panera to construct a new stand-alone cafe building with drive thru on Sugar Hollow Road.  The Environmental Impact Commission will hear details about their plans to move out of the Shoppes at Marcus Dairy building into one constructed in the parking lot.  The EIC meeting tonight is at 7 o'clock in Council Chambers of Danbury City Hall.

Chemical treatment was applied to parts of Lake Zoar

Chemical treatment was applied to parts of Lake Zoar yesterday.  The herbicide targets control of the aquatic nuisance plants Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.  The treatment was applied in an area where there was regrowth after an application of Diquat earlier this year.  There are no restrictions for swimming, boating and fishing in treated areas, but for the next 3 days the water should not be used for drinking purposes or for irrigating turf and ornamentals.  There should not be used today for livestock or domestic animal consumption.  For the next 5 days there should not be used of treated lake water for irrigating food crops or production ornamentals.

Danbury continues road paving

Road paving continues in Danbury on Old Shelter Rock Road.  Through the rest of the week there will be closures for the work, with detours set up.  There is no on-street parking during construction, which started about two weeks ago.  The construction hours are 8am to 3pm daily.

Local lawmaker receives award from Conn. Psychological Association

The Connecticut Psychological Association has selected Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang as the 2022 recipient of its “Distinguished Legislator of the Year“ award.  Hwang noted that September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and that he continues to support the work of American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Sen. Hwang is a co-ranking member of the Connecticut legislature’s Public Health Committee and ranking leader on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee.

Moose sightings prompt warning from DEEP

Recent sightings of moose in Woodbury, Southbury, Danbury, Newtown, and New Fairfield, though believed to be the same moose has prompted a warning from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  DEEP says this should serve as an important reminder for motorists to be aware that increased moose activity near roadways can pose a hazard. Though Connecticut’s moose population is small, about 100 animals, moose can pose a serious threat to public safety when they wander onto roadways. Moose are more active and often travel farther distances during the fall breeding season, which peaks in September through October.  Because moose are darker in color, stand much higher than deer, and are most active at dusk and at night, observing reflective eye-shine from headlights is infrequent.  When struck, moose often end up impacting a vehicle windshield. When checking the road for moose at night, look higher than you normally would for deer and reduce the speed of your vehicle. Data collected from other states indicate that a moose/car collision is 30 times more likely to result in a human death than a deer/car collision. On average, one out of 50 moose/car collisions results in a human fatality. 

Redding Zoners to hold hearing on turning commercial structure into apartments

The Redding Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing at their meeting tonight on an application for a special use permit.  A resident wants to turn a business-zoned building on Portland Avenue into apartments.  The 2.5 story building, which most recently served as a child care center, would be converted into a 5-unit building if approved.  No external building changes are proposed.  Four are proposed as one-bedroom units, one a two-bedroom unit.  At least three would be handicap accessible.  There would be two parking spaces per unit.  The Zoning Board of Appeals earlier ruled that the applicant could only build 5 units on the property.  The Planning Commission has signed off on the plans.  The Zoning Commission hearing is at 7:30pm in Redding Town Hall’s hearing room.

Swift House Task Force looking for Kent resident feedback

The Swift House Task Force is looking for Kent resident feedback to guide them in making recommendations back to the Board of Selectmen as to the future of the Swift House, located next to the Veteran's Memorial.  The survey timeframe has been extended.  The Swift family came to Kent in 1743. By the early 1970s, the Swift House was in sad shape. The Town acquired it, and created a fund for restoration, much of which was complete in 1977.  Kent Historical Society, the Kent Informal Club and other civic groups use it as a gathering place.

Families testify of confrontations with Sandy Hook deniers

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A mother who lost one of her sons in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre testified Tuesday that her biggest fear is that people who believe the shooting was a hoax will harm her other son, who survived the attack at his school.

Nicole Hockley and her former husband, Ian Hockley, were the latest family members of the 26 victims of the school shooting to testify at the defamation trial of Alex Jones, where a jury is deciding how much the conspiracy theorist must pay for spreading the hoax lie.

Nicole Hockley said she’s been called an actress and threatened with violence by people who have written to her that her 6-year-old son, Dylan, either never lived or never died.

She keeps knives and a baseball bat by her bed because she fears being attacked, and has taken out a large insurance policy in the event she is killed, she said.

“I got sent pictures of dead kids, because I was told that as a crisis actor, I didn’t really know what a dead kid looked like, so this is what it should look like,” she said.

One piece of hate mail, she said, came from someone who cursed at her and her slain child and wrote, “We’re going to extend an RIP greeting to you,” with the words “rot in pieces” in parentheses. “I got a piece of mail telling me to slit my wrists before they did it for me,” she testified.

Nicole Hockley said her biggest worry is what would happen if her now 18-year-old son, Jake, is confronted by similar threats, “that as a young man he won’t know the right choice to make if he’s approached, because of what that might do to him in terms of making him angry because someone is questioning his own life, questioning the life and death of his brother, his parents.”

Earlier, Ian Hockley testified that he was ridiculed online as a “party boy” and an actor after posting a video of the memorial service for Dylan, because when he found the service uplifting, he smiled.

“That is what that video started to attract is people saying this must be fake,” he said. “He’s an actor. He’s smiling. ‘Oh, you’re out of character,’ all of those things started to appear until we took our video down.”

Jillian Soto-Marino, the last witness of the day, testified she was accosted at charity 5K race for her sister, by Matthew Mills, a conspiracy theorist who had been a guest of Jones. Mills was arrested at the event for harassing Soto-Marino with allegations that her sister, first-grade teacher Vicki Soto, never existed. He was sentenced to two years probation.

“These lies have taken away my sense of security, my sense of safety,” Soto-Marino said. “Things that are supposed to be joyful, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, had Soto-Marino acknowledge that Mills never mentioned Jones or said that he was sent by Jones. She also said she had never watched any video of Jones before the trial started and never received correspondence from Jones. She said that as far as she know, Jones has never used her name.

Earlier in the trial, other relatives also gave often emotional testimony describing how they endured death or rape threats, in-person harassment and abusive comments on social media by people calling the shooting a hoax. Some moved to avoid the abuse.

Judge Barbara Bellis last year found Jones and his company liable by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, a consequence for what she called his repeated failure to turn over documents to their lawyers.

The jury of six will determine how much in damages Jones and his company should pay relatives of five children and three adults killed at the school, for saying the shooting didn’t happen and inflicting emotional distress. An FBI agent who responded to the shooting also is a plaintiff.

Last week, Jones got into a heated exchange with plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Mattei, accusing the lawyer of “ambulance chasing” and saying he was done apologizing for claiming the shooting was staged. In recent years, Jones has acknowledged the massacre happened, but says the families of victims are being used to push a gun-control and anti-free speech agenda.

Ridgefield residents approve $1.8 million for two new fire trucks

Nearly $1.8 million has been approved by Ridgefield residents during a special town meeting to replace two fire trucks.  The apparatus were set for replacement in 2024 and 2025, but will be moved up in the capital plan due to their current poor condition and long lead time for new trucks.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the delivery time for Pierce fire trucks is about 17 months from the time of order. 

Danbury and Bridgeport exclusively use that brand and Marconi says both have run their vehicles very hard.  Pierce's service center is located over the state border in Patterson. 

Fire Chief Jerry Meyers made the case for bumping up the purchase. 

He noted that in the past six months, "we have not had all three of our pumpers in service for longer than five days. We are just experiencing a significant amount of failure in them that has required a lot of maintenance and we're reaching a point now ... we have to ask ourselves today, 'will these trucks be running for us two years from now?' And my gut tells me, 'No, they won't be,' so we need to act a little bit sooner on it. And that's the reason for the off-budget request." 

Selectman Sean Connelly says by purchasing Pierce trucks, this could make it easier to sign a shared maintenance agreement with the City of Danbury.  They could be maintained at a repair facility at Kenosia Avenue.  Marconi notes that they haven't negotiated any agreement with Danbury as of this point, but are hoping to.  The negotiations are underway.

Moose spotted running around Greater Danbury

There was a moose on the loose in the Greater Danbury area yesterday.  A moose was spotted in Newtown, then running through the AMC parking lot in Danbury, and up in New Fairfield.  The day before, a moose was spotted by a Woodbury Resident State Trooper. 

(Photo: Woodbury Resident Trooper Office)

The current moose population in Connecticut is estimated at just over 100 animals.  Moose may stand over 6 feet tall at the shoulders and can weigh up to 1,400 pounds.  By 2007, the Wildlife Division was receiving about 60 sighting reports a year and had documented 19 moose-vehicle collisions. 

Although they may appear to be docile, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says moose should be given the healthy respect that New England’s largest land mammal warrants.  DEEP says moose can present a serious threat to public safety under some circumstances. Although usually shy, moose can demonstrate unpredictable behavior if they wander into populated areas.

Danbury Farmers Market to hold Veteran Recognition, Resource Day

The Danbury Farmers Market is holding a Veteran Recognition and Resource Day this weekend.  All area Veterans and Service members are invited to attend Saturday's event to receive a $10 Farmers Market voucher for purchase of fresh produce. The state Department of Veterans Affairs will have staff available to assist Veterans with accessing benefits and services.  At 10:30am there will be a Veteran Recognition ceremony to include remarks and special presentations by Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi.

Kent streetscape project construction continues

The construction zone in Kent along North Main Street for the streetscape project has grown as the construction crews make their way down the southbound side of the road. There are traffic control personnel out flagging cars to stop or proceed and motorists are asked to pay attention to their directions.  Pedestrians are blocked from certain areas by cones, barrels and caution tape.  There is increased traffic in the area of Bridge and Elizabeth Streets between 7:45 and 8:30am, and again between 2:45 and 3:30pm due to Kent Center School drop-off and pick up times.

Danbury to open small business grant application period

Danbury is making a pool of money available for eligible small businesses to help recover from the pandemic.  An application will be available on the City's website for businesses to apply for American Rescue Plan Act funding.  The grants are up to $5,000 and will depend on need.  Applications will be accepted from October 5th through 31st.  Mayor Dean Esposito says $380,000 will be available to allow businesses to continue operating and thriving, to help lift some of the financial burden and the impact of the pandemic still felt by many businesses.  Eligibility requirements include that the business be located in Danbury, have 10 or fewer employees, and be independently owned and operated with less than $1.5 million in gross revenue recorded in 2019.

COVID-19 vaccines, testing continues to be available through City of Danbury

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services has updated the hours for free COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinics this month.  No appointments are needed for COVID testing at Pat Waldron Hall at 118 Memorial Drive Mondays and Wednesdays from 3pm to 6pm.  No appointments are needed for vaccines and boosters, also at 118 Memorial Drive, Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm.  The Connecticut Institute for Communities is also holding COVID-19 vaccine clinics at their building at 132 Main Street on Wednesdays 9:30am to 12:30pm and Fridays 2pm to 5pm.  They offer Pfizer for everyone aged 5 and older, or Moderna for those 18 and older. 

New Milford High School set to reopen final classrooms damaged by roof fire

New Milford High School is set to reopen three classrooms damaged in a July roof fire.  The three science rooms directly below the blaze, which sustained the most damage, had been sequestered by the contractor by a temporary wall.  They could reopen by the end of the week.  About 50 classrooms sustained smoke and water damage, and the majority were opened before the pushed-back start to the school year.  School administrators moved things around so students could take science classes, and those who needed lab courses were set up with alternative courses.  

Bethel Planning and Zoning to discuss proposed TOD apartment application

An application for a three-story building on a little more than 1.5 acres in Bethel will be reviewed tonight by the Planning and Zoning Commission.  The group is slated to discuss a draft resolution on the proposed 30 one-bedroom units at 17 Whitney Road.  The owners were looking to transform the property from a longtime contractor’s yard into a multi-family residential space in the transit-oriented development overlay zone.  At least 6 of the units would be designated as affordable under the zone's regulations.  Many residents have come out in opposition to the project citing aesthetic, traffic and other concerns.  Tonight's Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission meeting is being held via Zoom and in person in Meeting Room D of the Municipal Center starting at 7pm.

Wilton woman issued summons for underage house party

Wilton Police have issued a misdemeanor summons to a resident for allegedly hosting an underage drinking party at her home.  Police received an anonymous tip on Sunday shortly after 9:30pm about a party at a Twin Oak Lane home.  WFSB-TV reports that Officers were invited in by Joy Posner and found multiple empty alcohol cans in plain sight.  Similar containers were seen on the back patio.  Police say a number of juveniles ran from the scene, but there were more than 50 at the home.  Posner told police she did not provide any of the alcohol and did not realize the kids were drinking.

Conn. Appellate Court affirms dismissal of lawsuit by Schaghticoke tribe

The Connecticut Appellate Court has affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit the Schaghticoke tribe filed against the state in 2016.  The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation claimed that their land was unlawfully seized two centuries ago, against the state and national constitutions, and a breach of fiduciary duty.  WTNH-TV reported on the court’s advance release opinion, which is scheduled to be formally published today.  The court found that the case was right to be dismissed, citing that the state has sovereign immunity protecting it from lawsuits.  The opinion also says the Kent-based tribe didn’t point to any law that supported its claim that it is entitled to money.  The tribe’s lawsuit asked for $610 million in damages.  Connecticut lawmakers passed a resolution in 1754 that said the tribe could use the land, located along the Housatonic River, for cutting wood and timber.  But in 1801, a state-appointed overseer of the tribe asked the state to sell part of the land in order to settle a tribal debt. The sale was approved.  The appellate court ruled that the 1754 resolution granted the tribe permission to use the land and therefore had the right to take it away.

Public hearing opens tonight in Danbury on proposed cannabis regulation change

A public hearing is being opened tonight on an application seeking to change how boundaries are measured from cannabis retailers to residential zones. The Planning Commission voted 3 to 1 for the negative referral to the Zoning Commission.  The regulations call for at least 200 feet from the property line to the start of the nearest residential zone.  D&B Wellness, the owner of the medical marijuana dispensary on Mill Plain Road and doing business as The Botanist, asked that the measurement be from the front door of the business.  Danbury's retail marijuana business regulations were adopted August 9th.  D&B Wellness is looking to apply for a state hybrid retailer license to expand operations from just medical purposes to also include recreational cannabis sales.   The Danbury Zoning Commission is holding a hearing via zoom during their meeting tonight, starting at 7:30pm.

Truck goes off highway, down embankment in Danbury

A truck went off the highway in Danbury early this morning and down an embankment.  Firefighters responded to an area  between Lake Ave Extension and Interstate 84 around 3:30 this morning after State Police learned that a truck left the roadway.  Responders found the truck had tumbled down off the Interstate, and came to rest in area of heavy brush by the Shell Gas Station.  An employee of the Ethan Allen Inn saw the accident and pulled the driver to safety. The driver was transported to the hospital. Firefighters had to then work to clear brush and debris to gain access to the truck, to address hazards associated with the crash, as well as provide access for the tow recovery.  There were no hazardous materials involved. Lake Avenue Extension was closed for about three hours.

Beirut/Lebanon Veterans Memorial Ceremony planned in Danbury

Connecticut Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi, the Danbury Veterans Council and Danbury Veterans Affairs Director Danny Hayes are hosting a Beirut/Lebanon Veterans Memorial Ceremony on October 22nd in front of the Danbury War Memorial building.  This ceremony is held on the weekend of the 39th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut which killed 220 U-S Marines, 18 Navy Sailors and 3 Soldiers.  Another 183 U-S Service personnel were wounded in the attack.  The Beirut Veterans Memorial is inscribed with the names of the eight Connecticut residents killed in the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing and two service members who lost their lives in Lebanon in 1958 and 1985.

Vietnam Veteran ceremony held in Danbury

The Danbury Vietnam Veterans Wall of Remembrance ceremony this weekend memorialized the 612 Connecticut Service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam and all those whose names are etched into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.  Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito and John Falkowski of Green Funeral Home/Dignity Memorial delivered remarks.  State Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi served as Master of Ceremonies.

Grant awarded to Newtown for Edmond Town Hall improvements

The Town of Newtown has been awarded a grant for renovations to Edmond Town Hall.  A $47,000 T-Mobile Hometown Grant will help the town upgrade electrical, digital, and communication capabilities.  The plan also calls for adding a kitchenette, more tables and chairs and improving the environment.

Trooper injured trying to stop wrong-way driver

A Connecticut State Police Trooper was injured in a wrong way crash on I-84 in Southbury over the weekend.  A driver was travelling east the wrong way in the left lane of the westbound side of the highway shortly before midnight on Saturday and collided with the cruiser.  Both operators were transported to Waterbury Hospital with minor injuries.  34-year old Victor Hugo Pelaez-Macas was found at fault and charged with operating without a license, operating under the influence and reckless endangerment.  

Regulations approved for Sandy Hook Memorial property

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has met to come up with guidelines for the site, set to open just ahead of the 10th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  The Newtown Board of Selectman has signed off on the proposed list, with anything not specified falling under Parks and Recreation rules.  Signage in the parking lot area will inform visitors of general guidelines while visiting.  There were concerns that visitors would not read the entire sign if it's a long list of restrictions, but First Selectman Dan Rosenthal noted that the police cannot enforce violations if not noted on the sign.  The heading will read Memorial Etiquette, with the first points being this is a place for reverence and quiet reflection.  Visitors will be asked to be considerate while sharing the space with others, respectful with language and allow space for private contemplation.  The list of restrictions includes not climbing on or throwing anything into the water feature, walking only on paths, and supervising children at all times.  The sign will say that gates will be closed and locked at sunset and that security camera are in use.  Any items left behind will be removed and disposed of on a daily basis. 

Sandy Hook Chief's name added to Fallen Firefighters Memorial

The 20th Annual Connecticut Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service was held yesterday.  This year's honorees included Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Chief Bill Halstead, who died on July 8th.  He served the department as chief for 44 years and died after responding to a call.  In the fall of 2003, the names of those Connecticut Firefighters who perished in the Line of Duty were first inscribed on granite tablets around the base of the Memorial at the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.  

Funding approved for school safety improvements in Ridgefield

Ridgefield residents have approved nearly $230,000 in school safety improvements.  During the Special Town Meeting last week, residents were asked about funding for anti-vehicle intrusion posts to be installed in front of 4 school.  The bollards are meant to protect the front entrances of Scotts Ridge, Farmingville and Branchville Elementary schools and the High School from any vehicle intrusion.  The funding will also pay for vestibules at Scotland and Farmingville Elementary Schools to provide a second set of doors and additional security as a holding space before entering the building.  Visitors will have to be buzzed in twice.

New Milford CERT looking for new members

New Milford CERT is looking for new members and is now accepting applications for their upcoming training sessions for those interested in becoming a part of the Community Emergency Response Team.  The program is a nationally supported, locally implemented initiative that teaches people how to better prepare themselves for hazards that may affect their communities. During the free 20 hour training sessions, residents will learn basic disaster response skills include team organization, disaster medical operations, disaster psychology, fire safety, and light search and rescue.  Space is limited so residents are asked to reserve a spot for training, which will be held at John Pettibone Community Center on September 27th, and 29th, October 1st, 4th, 6th, 11th, and 13th.  The weekday hours are 6pm to 9 and Saturday 8:30am to 2:30pm. 

ARPA funding approved for Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club

The Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club is expanding and recently asked the Board of Selectmen to waive the building permit fee.  Some members were uncomfortable with that request, but wanted to help out in some way.  The Selectmen instead asked the Board of Finance to seek approval at a Town Meeting to allocate $45,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to reimburse the organization for the fee.

The funding was approved last week.  

Selectman Maureen Kozlark appreciated that the Boys & Girls Club was raising all of the money for the project, but noted that the building fee is a payment charged to help run the town.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi noted that they wouldn't be before the Board if they didn't need the help, adding that there is a demand among the community for the facility.

The $6.5 million addition would enable staff to serve twice as many young people on a daily basis.  $2 million in state bonding was approved to construct a new teen center as part of the larger expansion project.  The teen center would have a multipurpose space and technology café.  Officials say they can then offer new programs and educational activities.  The 13,000-square-foot addition would be built off of the club's existing gymnasium. The facility last expanded under a capital campaign between 2006 and 2007, from 6,000 to 19,000 square feet.

Jury sent home; Alex Jones testimony to continue this week

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Lawyers in the defamation trial of Alex Jones agreed Friday not to return him to the stand until next week after a contentious day of testimony Thursday about his promotion of the lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax.

Jones lawyer, Norm Pattis, told the judge he would waive his right to cross-examine Jones and instead call him again as a defense witness next week.

“We think that this will streamline the proceeding, lower the temperature level and help the jury focus on what it needs to decide,” Pattis said in Superior Court in Waterbury.

The jury was sent home around noon. It will determine how much in damages Jones should pay relatives of five children and three adults killed at the school, for saying the shooting didn’t happen and inflicting emotional distress. An FBI agent who responded to the shooting also is a plaintiff.

In his first day of testimony Thursday, Jones got into a heated exchange with plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Mattei, accusing the lawyer of “ambulance chasing” and saying he was done apologizing for claiming the shooting was staged. In recent years, Jones has acknowledged the massacre happened, but says the families of victims are being used to push a gun-control and anti-free speech agenda.

Outside the courthouse, Jones has referred to the proceedings as a “show trial” and a “kangaroo court” and called Judge Barbara Bellis a tyrant.

Jones on Friday was still complaining about the case, including the limits on what he can say on the witness stand.

“Basically it would be like a boxing match where one guy has his arms tied behind his back and a gag in his mouth,” he said outside the courthouse. “So this is totally rigged. It’s an absolute total fraud.”

Jones also said that if he could, he would tell the jury to “research history and understand how dangerous it is when they’ll pick one event of speech that they can say is hurtful, to then use that to set the precedent, to try to knock over all the dominoes and take everybody’s free speech away.”

The comments drew immediate concern from the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who accused Jones of trying to undermine the trial and taint the jury. They informed Bellis about Jones’ statements.

Before dismissing jurors for the day, Bellis repeated her daily instructions that they should not discuss the case with anybody, not view any media coverage and not do any outside research. Because of Jones’ comments Friday, she also told jurors they should avoid any news conferences outside the courthouse.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers sent Bellis’ clerk a link to a video of what Jones said earlier Friday, for her to determine whether any sanctions were warranted. Bellis asked Pattis to convince Jones to stop making such statements, and he agreed to try.

Bellis last year found Jones and his company liable by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, a consequence for what she called his repeated failure to turn over documents to their lawyers.

Earlier in the trial, victims’ relatives gave often emotional testimony describing how they endured death threats, in-person harassment and abusive comments on social media by people calling the shooting a hoax. Some moved to avoid the abuse.

Pattis is arguing that any damages should be limited and accused the victims’ relatives of exaggerating the harm the lies caused them.

The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

Emergency responders resume 'Start with Hello' program participation in Danbury schools

Members of the Danbury Police and Fire Departments attended elementary school this week.  The district is participating in a program called "Start With Hello", which was developed by the Sandy Hook Promise organization.  The police, firefighters and paramedics met with students, teachers, and parents over a lunch period and get to know each other.  The event took place yesterday at Great Plain School and also included members of the West Conn Women's Basketball team.  The program also helps to introduce students to First Responders and lessen their potential anxiety towards them in actual emergencies.

Housatonic Valley Health District to host flu shot clinics

Housatonic Valley Health District will be hosting several community flu clinics next week, including a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic next Saturday, October 1st, from 8:30am to 12:30pm at Sarah Noble Intermediate School.  Appointments are required.  Griffin Health will be on site to administer COVID-19 vaccines. No COVID-19 vaccines appointments are required.  The district covers the towns of New Milford, Southbury, Oxford, Washington and Woodbury.

Danbury continues to monitor water levels, drought conditions

The City of Danbury is still monitoring water levels as drought conditions continue.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says with 5 inches of rain, there was only a 1-percent increase in water storage.  Iadarola says shows how much rain is needed, and how frequently it needs to rain in order to have an impact on the reservoirs.  The City is applying to the state for permission to tap Lake Kenosia in case of emergency. 

Danbury nonprofit raises $45,000 for scholarships, health access and social program

The 8th Annual American Dream Awards Gala, hosted by The New American Dream Foundation, was held last Friday and raised over $45,000 for scholarships, health access and social program. The nonprofit granted $3,000 in a scholarship, raised 34-thousand dollars for its senior hot meal program and raised $10,000 toward Mission Health Day--a day of free health screenings and other community services for the uninsured and the income challenged. The New American Dream Foundation's mission is to highlight all immigrants' cultural, social, and economic contributions across generations, and provide education, health, and civic engagement opportunities.  The organization is also in the process of creating The New American Dream Center.  It will be an in-person resource center at Danbury Library to guide and support new immigrants who dream of becoming American citizens in Danbury.

Area police departments team up for regional child safety seat clinic

A regional child passenger safety seat installation and check event is being held in New Milford this weekend.  The New Milford, Brookfield, Bethel and Danbury Police Departments have teamed up to mark this Child Passenger Safety Week with the clinic on Sunday at Faith Church from 9am to 2pm.  Car seat technicians will be available to answer questions and check or install car seats.  No appointment is needed for the free event. 

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

The town of Brookfield has been experiencing large swings in the number of COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  This week there are 23 cases, last week 6 and the week before there were about 20.  Cases went up by a third in each New Milford and Newtown.  Rates held fairly steady in most other Greater Danbury area municipalities.  According to the report ending September 22nd, there were 66 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 20, and Brookfield had 23.  There were 21 COVID cases in New Milford, 10 in New Fairfield, 23 in Newtown, 6 in Redding while Ridgefield had 17. 

Most Greater Danbury area towns reported 65 to 200 COVID-19 tests to the state Department of Public Health over the last 7 days with positivity of 7 to 16 percent.  New Milford and Danbury each reported about the same number of tests taken as the week before.  Newtown reported 280 tests, down from 600 results over the previous week. At home tests are not reported. 

The positivity rates are:

New Milford 7 percent

New Fairfield  7.6 percent

Newtown 9.5 percent

Redding 11.1 percent

Danbury 12.8 percent

Bethel 14 percent

Ridgefield 15.4 percent

Brookfield 16.7 percent

The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID-19 over the last 7 days increased by 74.  The inpatient total is 400, with 37.25-percent not fully vaccinated. The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 14 since last Thursday.

The number of people in Connecticut receiving a new Bivalent booster has more than doubled from last week.  More than 93,000 doses have been administered since last week.  Those are the new Pfizer and Moderna shots that are meant to target the Omicron subvariants currently circulating in the population as well as the original strain of COVID-19.

The BA5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 continues to make up the majority of the cases sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut, but BA 4 is on the upward trend according to the latest report. 76.5 percent of samples were BA5, while 22.6 percent were identified as BA4.  The rest sent for sequencing were identified as BA 2. 

Spike in overdose deaths prompts New Milford nonprofit to host Narcan event

A New Milford-based nonprofit is holding  a weekend Narcan Handout series.  Brian Cody's Brothers & Sisters Foundation was provided information from the state Medical Examiner's Office that there were overdose fatalities in New Milford last Friday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  In response to this spike, the organization will partner with experts and resources to connect those in need.  The series will provide access to Narcan kits, training, and a forum for questions and answers. The session start tonight on the New Milford Town Green near the bandstand, from 4pm to 6pm.  There will also be sessions this Saturday and Sunday as well.  Brian Cody's Brothers & Sisters Foundation is a network of families that have been impacted by the opioid epidemic with a goal of fighting substance use disorder.  They want to eliminate any impediment blocking those seeking help with their recovery journey.

Animal Sanctuary hosts annual Monarch, Meadows & More event

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary is once again holding its annual Monarch, Meadows & More event Sunday.  The free event from noon to 3:30pm is a a one-of-a-kind pollinator party.  Participants will be able to do monarch tagging, meadow sweeping, insect discovery, pollinator arts and crafts, and backyard beekeeping.  The sanctuary has a new entrance, located at 8 Commerce Road in Newtown.  Founder Jenny Hubbard says it's critical now more than ever given the recent classification of the monarch butterfly as an endangered species. The sanctuary is committed to supporting and protecting the natural environment through education initiatives and land stewardship of its 34-acre property. 2021 marked the completion of the sanctuary’s three-year pollinator protection initiative which included the re-establishment of a 4-acre native meadow habitat, installation of a 12,000 square foot ecotype pollinator garden and creation of an apiary supporting approximately 500,000 bees.

New Milford High School Marching Band, Color Guard host regional competition

The New Milford High School Marching Band and Color Guard will host its annual USBands home competition on September 24th. The competitive circuit is for scholastic band programs nationwide. Over 700 high schools will participate in USBands events this fall.  The home competition will feature performances from the award winning New Milford High School Marching Band and Color Guard as well as 7 other schools from the surrounding area.  Admission to the event at the New Milford High School football stadium is 12 dollars for adults, 8 dollars for students and senior citizens.  The competition starts at 6pm.

Danbury Planning Commission recommends not changing City's new cannabis regulations

One group of Danbury officials is giving a negative recommendation to changing the City's new rules on where cannabis establishments can be located. 

The Planning Commission voted 3 to 1 for the negative referral to the Zoning Commission on an application to change the boundary measurements from cannabis retailers to residential zones.  The regulations call for at least 200 feet from the property line to the start of the nearest residential zone.  D&B Wellness, the owner of the medical marijuana dispensary on Mill Plain Road and doing business as The Botanist, asked that the measurement be from the front door of the business.  

Planning Commission chair Arnold Finaldi was sympathetic to the applicant. 

“We are talking about 25 feet — I mean what the hell difference does it make — 25 feet? There has got to be a way to fix this,” Finaldi said.  He also responded to arguments that the regulations were put in place to protect the health, safety and welfare of residential neighborhoods.

“I am all for protecting residential neighborhoods, but protecting them against what? A business that is selling a substance that the state deems to be legal for medicinal or recreational use?” Finaldi said.

Danbury's retail marijuana business regulations were adopted August 9th. 

D&B Wellness is looking to apply for a state hybrid retailer license to expand operations from just medical purposes to also include recreational cannabis sales.  

The Danbury Zoning Commission is holding a hearing on the regulation change application September 27th.

Juvenile arrested for social media threat against Danbury High School

There will be a stepped up police presence at Danbury High School today.  Police became aware yesterday of a social media threat regarding Danbury High School.  Officers were able to quickly identify a suspect and determine the threat was not credible. A juvenile was arrested. Police have not released further details about the situation. There will be an increased police presence at Danbury High School at both opening and dismissals, as well as extra patrols throughout the day.

School bus company reports drivers passing stopped buses in New Fairfield school campus

A number of drivers have reportedly passed stopped school buses on the New Fairfield school campus. The Resident Trooper's Office received multiple complaints from the First Student bus company and notes that inside the campus, the same laws apply for passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing. 

Any driver forced into the bus lane because of construction, cannot pass a stopped bus with its red lights flashing. There is a physical barrier between the outer bus lane and inner lane for parent pick up and drivers there are lawfully permitted to pass a stopped school bus. The Resident Trooper's Office say the issue is more frequent with Consolidated Early Learning Center drop off and pick up.

The SRO will be available today for parents with questions.

New mausoleum approved for St Peter Cemetery in Danbury

A new mausoleum at St Peter Cemetery in Danbury has been approved by the Danbury Planning Commission.  The 800-square-foot structure would be built next to an existing mausoleum at 71 Lake Avenue Extension.  The “garden-style” mausoleum would be on a 1-acre site where there is already an office and maintenance building.  The facility will contain 264 crypts and 144 niche spaces.  A memo to the Commission from the city’s Planning Department considers the plans satisfactory and there is no need for additional parking.  A variance was previously approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals to reduce the yard around the proposed building. 

Weed regrowth reported in treated areas of Lake Zoar

The first weed treatment this summer on Lake Zoar seemed to be effective, but there was a regrowth. The post treatment survey was delayed however due to short staffing with the research agency. A second weed treatment will be scheduled for this month for the targeted areas with regrowth. It's estimated at one quarter of the total acres originally treated. The Lake Zoar Authority says improved signage has been requested to alert residents of the second treatment. The Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program at Western Connecticut State University continues this month, with results continuously low. Measurements for blue green algae are taken at Eichler’s Cove in Newtown, Jackson’s Cove in Oxford and Kettletown State Park in Southbury.  

Redding to hold two walk-in COVID-19 booster shot clinics

Redding will be holding two walk-in COVID-19 booster shot clinics at the Redding Community Center.  Town officials say the updated booster vaccines provide an immune response  that is protective against the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5. Both Moderna and Pfizer boosters will be available. The Moderna booster is approved for individuals 18 years of age and older, and the Pfizer booster is approved for individuals 12 years of age and older. Only those who have completed the primary shot series and with the most recent shot received at least 2 months ago are eligible for this updated booster.  The clinics are Friday September 30th from 1pm to 4pm, and Saturday October 1st from 1pm to 4pm.  A seasonal flu clinic will be held on Monday October 3rd from 1pm to 3pm at the Redding Community Center. 

Redding, Ridgefield reach agreements with Save The Sound

The Ridgefield and Redding Boards of Selectmen have met to discuss lawsuits alleging violations of the U.S. Clean Water Act.  The towns each reached agreements with Save the Sound, an environmental advocacy group that filed the lawsuits.  Federal regulators must now review the agreements and a federal district court judge must also accept them.  The nonprofit claims that both Ridgefield and Redding were in violation of Connecticut’s General Permit for the Discharge of Municipal Stormwater.

Middletown and Burlington were also accused of failing to keep track of their municipal stormwater systems.  If approved, the agreements call for the towns to sample stormwater outfalls and achieve a 2 percent reduction in connected impervious areas.

The towns would also contribute to the cost of Save the Sound’s attorneys’ fees and the nonprofit’s engineering experts. The Norwalk River is mentioned in the lawsuit as one of nearly a dozen impaired bodies of water threatened by pollution. 

Municipalities are required to file paperwork regarding their stormwater systems with state regulators.  The Ridgefield town engineer tasked with filing annual stormwater reports retired in 2018, and the position has not been filed.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi noted that the town plans to upgrade sewer lines and a treatment plant to address water quality and environmental issues. 

The agreement with Redding would require the town to provide $70,000 to fund a feasibility study for dam removal work on the Norwalk River and to support ongoing work to improve passage for migratory fish coming from the Long Island Sound.  Ridgefield would provide $70,000 to support work to reduce stormwater runoff to the origin point of the Norwalk River.

Annual Veterans Stand Down event in Danbury today

The state Department of Veterans Affairs will hold its annual Veterans Stand Down event is today. The outreach initiative has been held for nearly three decades.  Five regional in-person Veteran resource access sites include Danbury. The regional events were added two years ago to help more veterans and service members connect with programs and benefits they have earned. 

The local Stand Down event at the Danbury War Memorial  is 8am to 2pm. Veterans can get benefits information, legal assistance, medical screenings, personal needs items, vaccines and meals among other services.

All public transit buses will be fare-free across Connecticut until December 1st.  For Veterans in the Danbury area wishing to attend the Stand Down event, bus service can be accessed in their local area.  Routes and schedules for Housatonic Area Regional Transit can be found on HART's website.

Congresswoman Hayes will have Office staff on site to discuss Veteran Service & Issues.  There will be a distribution of coats, donated from Ocean State Job Lot.  Wester Connecticut Coalition will provide Suicide Prevention Services, the VA Connecticut Homeless Team can discuss housing opportunities and the US Attorney's Office will have information on Civil Rights and ADA Laws.

Representatives from the DMV will be able to help with license renewal, Driver’s license duplicates and license suspension services.

Disability Advocacy, Gambling Recovery Support and Education information will also be provided.

Alex Jones testifies in trial over his Sandy Hook hoax lies

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Alex Jones took the stand Thursday at his Connecticut defamation trial, acknowledging he had promoted the conspiracy theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, but angrily refusing to keep apologizing for that.

More than a dozen relatives of the 26 shooting victims showed up to observe his often contentious testimony in Waterbury Superior Court.

Jones was found liable last year by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, for what the judge called his repeated failures to turn over documents to their lawyers. The six-member jury is now deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems should pay the families for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

On Thursday, Jones admitted calling parents “crisis actors” and saying the shooting was “phony as a three-dollar bill.”

Plaintiff attorney Christopher Mattei accused Jones of putting targets on the parents’ backs, pointing to the family members in the courtroom and saying “these are real people.”

“Just like all the Iraqis you liberals killed and love,” Jones responded. “Just, you’re unbelievable. You switch on emotions, on-and-off when you want. You’re just ambulance chasing.”

“Why don’t you show a little respect?” Mattei shot back, as Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, shouted objections and several family members shook their heads in apparent disbelief.

The exchange went on with Mattei pointing out that the families in the courtroom had “lost children, sisters, wives, moms.”

“Is this a struggle session?” said Jones, who in recent years has acknowledged the shooting was real. “Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times and I’m done saying I’m sorry.”

After excusing the jury for the day, Judge Barbara Bellis admonished both sides, saying further outbursts would lead to a contempt hearing.

Bellis had begun the day by going over the topics that Jones could not mention in his testimony: free speech rights; the Sandy Hook families’ $73 million settlement this year with gun-maker Remington (the company made the Bushmaster rifle used to kill the victims at Sandy Hook); the percentage of Jones’ shows that discussed Sandy Hook; and whether he profited from those shows or a similar case in Texas.

“This is not the appropriate forum for you to offer that testimony,” Bellis said. Jones indicated that he understood.

But the jury had to be sent out of the courtroom several times while attorneys argued about the scope of Jones’ answers.

“You’re going to get your exercise today, for those of you who wear Fitbits,” the judge told jurors.

Earlier in the trial, family members of the victims have given often emotional testimony describing how they endured death threats, in-person harassment and abusive comments on social media. Some moved to avoid the abuse.

Pattis is arguing that any damages should be limited and accused the victims’ relatives of exaggerating the harm the lies caused them.

Jones, who is expected back on the stand Friday, made brief comments to reporters while leaving the courthouse.

“The First Amendment will prevail,” he said. “The American people will never be silenced.”

Walk-in COVID-19 clinics in Newtown, New Milford today

A couple of COVID-19 vaccine mobile clinics are being held in the Greater Danbury area today.  The Department of Public Health-Griffin Health yellow minivans will be at Newtown High School from 4:30pm to 8:30 and at Canterbury School in New Milford from 2pm to 5pm.  The Newtown clinic is for those 6 months and older while the New Milford clinic is for people 12 and up.  No appointments are needed.  Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will be available.

Bridge inspections scheduled in New Milford

There will be alternating one-lane traffic in New Milford part of next week due to bridge inspections.  Michael Baker International will be performing the work on Veterans Bridge Monday and Tuesday from 8am to 4pm.  New Milford Police will be on hand providing traffic control.  Drivers are advised that this will cause delays and should use an alternate route or plan accordingly. 

Newtown Hook & Ladder hosting open house event

Newtown Hook & Ladder is hosting an open house event on October 1st.  There will be a Firefighter Training Course for residents to test skills and complete the course as fast as possible, knocking down the flames with a fire hose. Firefighters will demonstrate their extrication skills while Connecticut State will have a team of dogs that can detect chemicals used in arson investigations showing off their skills.

New Fairfield gets new Resident State Trooper

New Fairfield has welcomed a new Resident State Trooper. John Augelli is now permanently assigned to the town on evening shift, replacing Trooper Dave Tharas, who is now assigned to the academy.  Augelli is a 2015 graduate from Southern Connecticut State University, who majored in business administration. He came from a patrol assignment at Troop A where he was active in speed/traffic enforcement.

Second herbicide application scheduled for Lake Zoar

A second herbicide application is scheduled for Lake Zoar in Newtown, Southbury, Oxford and Monroe.  Selected areas will be chemically treated with Diquat, targeting control of the aquatic nuisance plants Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.  The treatment is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.   Prior to treatment, the lake shoreline in the treatment areas and at public access sites will be posted with printed signs in accordance with state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection requirements.  A map showing the specific treatment areas will be posted at the State Boat Ramp and at other public access sites, prior to treatment.  There will be no restrictions for swimming, boating and fishing in treated areas, but use of treated lake water for drinking purposes and for irrigation is not permitted for 3 days. These temporary water use restrictions apply only to the areas treated and affected by treatment.

Fall drawdown planned for Lake Zoar

The drawdown schedule for FirstLight-owned bodies of water have been scheduled.  Beginning October 15th, FirstLight will conduct a fall drawdown of Lake Zoar at the Stevenson Dam to conduct its maintenance and inspection activities. The normal summer operating range of the station is from 103 to 100 feet and the drawdown will target an elevation of 98-and-a-half feet.  Lake levels will  return to normal operating elevations on October 26th.  All homeowners are encouraged to remove structures, boatlifts, and docks from Lake Zoar to prevent ice or flood damage from occurring during the winter months. 

Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Ceremony held at Newtown High School

State Senator Tony Hwang has hosted a Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Ceremony at Newtown High School.  Area veterans were honored during the ceremony yesterday afternoon.  The Connecticut Veterans’ Wartime Service Medal was established by Governor Jodi Rell and the Connecticut General Assembly in 2005 as a way to recognize the service of our state’s veterans. The medal includes the distinctive red, white, and blue colors along with the official seal of each branch of the US Armed Forces and the words “For Service.”

Vigil for Peace planned this weekend in Newtown

A Vigil for Peace is planned this weekend in Newtown.  The Connecticut Choral Society is uniting singers, soloists, and instrumentalists in the benefit concert to support Ukrainian relief efforts.  The event is part of the Connecticut Choral Society’s 40th Anniversary season.  Proceeds from the benefit concert will support José Andrés World Central Kitchen Chefs for Ukraine and their efforts to feed millions of Ukrainian refugees. The concert on Saturday is at 7:30 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street in Newtown. Donations in support of World Central Kitchen Chefs for Ukraine will be accepted at the door.

Sandy Hook families testify about threats, fear of deniers

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) Two parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre and the daughter of the school's slain principal testified Wednesday of the fear and pain they have suffered from being targeted with threats by those who believe the lie that the shooting was a hoax. David Wheeler, Erica Lafferty and Jennifer Hensel are among those suing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for damages for promoting the Sandy Hook conspiracy theories on his media platforms. A judge last year found Jones and his companies liable by default for failing to turn over documents in the case. The jury is hearing evidence to determine how much Jones should pay.

Southbury officials hold special meeting on new police position

A special meeting of the Southbury Board of Selectmen is being held tonight.  A presentation by the Southbury Police Department, a description of the new detective position and about the community resource officer at Heritage Village will be held.  The Board could then act on the officer for the greater village area.  The community response officer was focused on that community’s needs, but the position is vacant.  It's proposed that the detective position. will also serve as a liaison to the  55 and older active adult community.  First Selectman Jeff Manville says every agency in law enforcement is having a struggle filling positions and the town needs to manage limited resources carefully for the good of all citizens.  Manville also serves as Police Chief.  Tonight's meeting is at Pomperaug High School at 7pm. 

Traveling Vietnam Wall on display at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park

The Traveling Vietnam Wall will be on display at the Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park from noon today until September 25th at 3pm.  It will be open for visits 24 hours a day.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says this is a great educational opportunity for students to see a version of the Vietnam Wall without having to go to Washington D-C.  Students will also be able to meet with local veterans from Putnam County who may have served in the war.  The Traveling Wall is an 80 percent scale replica of the national Memorial and includes a display that features every war America has been involved in from the Revolutionary War through today.  There is also a half-size replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  This event is a collaboration between the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency and the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council. The PCJVC is a local non-profit Veterans Service Organization.  A closing ceremony will take place at 11am Sunday, September 25, which is Gold Star Mother’s Day, and will feature a concert by The Hudson Valley Council Band.

PFAS treatment projects in New Fairfield, Danbury get federal funding

PFAS treatment projects in New Fairfield and Danbury will be paid for with federal funding. The per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the funding for Connecticut last week.  The state will also use some of the more than $53 million dollars in funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for water infrastructure improvements and lead line replacement projects in New London and Waterbury.  The grant marks the first significant distribution of water infrastructure funds under the bill.  

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the PFAS projects in Danbury and New Fairfield will remove harmful chemicals that threaten the health of children and families and are known to cause lifelong illnesses.

Fishers caught in restricted area of Lake Zoar

The Lake Zoar Authority reports that a number of people have been caught fishing in a restricted area.  There is an exclusion zone around the Shepaug Dam. The fisherman was asked to leave and was not cited after he said he didn’t know he couldn’t be there. A second fisher caught later also said he didn’t know he couldn’t be there.  Connecticut law states that no person shall operate a vessel within 1,500 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.  There is a fence blocking foot trespassing on FirstLight’s shoreline. Violation is typically a misdemeanor offense. 

Danbury Health Department urges residents to get flu shot

The Danbury Health Department is urging residents to get a flu shot.  This season, all flu vaccines will be designed to protect against the four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common.  Officials say everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October.  The CDC says vaccination is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for people at higher risk to keep from spreading flu to them.

Danbury official questions using Candlewood for water reserves as drought continues

If drought conditions in the area persist, the City of Danbury could tap Lake Kenosia as a water source. But some officials are wondering what other measures could be taken to replenish the reserves.  Councilman Warren Levy brought up at their meeting this month that water was pumped out of Candlewood into Marjorie Reservoir during the Dyer administration.  Jim Dyer served as Mayor from 1979 to 1987.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says in today's more regulated environment, he doesn't see the state ever allowing that.  He says that's why the City monitors water levels and usage on a daily basis.

Community Development Block Grant recipients approved in Danbury

$625,829 in the U.S. Department Of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program is coming to Danbury, to pass on to nonprofits.  A Policy Committee recommended the recipients for this year's round of funding.  The Danbury War Memorial Association will receive the largest block of funding at $185,000.  The Danbury Housing Authority will receive about $95,500.  $25,000 each will be sent to the Association of Religious Community and to Family and Childrens' Aid Harmony House Shelter.  Others receiving between $4,200 and $35,000 are the Connecticut Institute for Communities, Danbury Youth Services, New Neighborhoods Inc and the Danbury Fire Department.  There's $100,000 for general administration of the program, and $125,000 et aside for Section 108 Loan repayment. 

Danbury City Council reallocates American Rescue Plan Act funding

The Danbury City Council has signed off on reallocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding to projects that were approved in June.  $800,000 was added to the Fire Department's $1.81 million to replace an aerial truck that's aging out of service.  The Facade Improvement Program is being reduced from $300,000 to $100,000, with the difference being committed to the Small Business Economic Assistance Program, which assists entities adversely impacted by the pandemic.  Prior years Capital Funds has $170,000 remaining for Facade Improvements.  $132,000 for Automated External Defibrillators, to replace aging AEDs in City buildings and the Fire Department's first responder program, was added.  The funding will also help pay for Stop the Bleed kits at City buildings.  $37,000 was also added to purchase and install cameras at high impact areas, allowing emergency management officials to monitor weather and road conditions and other safety hazards.  Officials say this will also provide situational awareness for public safety personnel.  

Train crossing gates not operational at Bridge St in New Milford

The crossing gates at the Bridge Street railroad crossing in New Milford are not operational. The train company has put in place a 'Stop and Protect" protocol for that section of track, meaning they stop the train at the intersection, a flagger exits the train, stops traffic, and then the train proceeds through the intersection.  Drivers are being urged to be vigilant when in this area of Bridge Street. Railroad officials say the repair should be completed in the next couple of days.

Danbury Senior Center hosts event honoring veterans

Danbury Senior Center has hosted an event honoring World War II and Korean War veteran Andy Pirone, Vietnam veteran Jean-Paul Trudel and, posthumously, WW II veteran Gene Bailey.  They were recognized with banners as part of the Hometown Heroes Banners program. State Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi presented the World War II Victory Medal to Perone, the Connecticut wartime service medal to Trudel and flowers to Bailey's wife Marietta Molinaro Bailey, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.  Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito and Banner program founder Lee Tiecholz delivered remarks.  Saadi also presented a certificate of recognition to Tiecholz from the DVA.

Local lawmaker touts Blue Ribbon designation for Danbury school

A local lawmaker is reacting to news this week that a Danbury school has been named a 2022 National Blue-Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.  Great Plain School has been honored as a 'School of Distinction' for three consecutive years.  State Representative David Arconti, who attended the elementary school growing up, says the diversity and commitment to every student in the community has earned the school accolades and he congratulated the administrators, teachers, staff, students and families for their collective efforts.  Additionally, Danbury High School was selected among 40 high schools statewide to participate in the 2022-2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid Challenge. Participating schools will pilot innovative strategies to help students and families complete the FAFSA and access resources to support college affordability. Through the Challenge, schools will receive microgrants to pursue strategies to build awareness around the FAFSA and support families in completing the application. This will be the third year of the program.

Bethel Police raise nearly $3,000 for Special Olympics CT

The Bethel Police Department was able to raise nearly $3,000 for Special Olympics Connecticut during a recent event.  A Tip-A-Cop fundraiser was held Monday and through the generosity of the community, and Edison Kitchen matching all tips collected, Special Olympus CT was presented with a donation of $2,893.  Bethel Police say it's events like these that have allowed athletes just like Bethel resident Danielle Mola to continue in opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in sharing of gifts, skills, and, friendship with the world.  Danielle recently competed in the World Games in Orlando over the summer where she won gold in the 100 meter dash, and 4 x 400 meter relay.  She also placed 4th in the individual 400 meter race.  

Bethel, Wilton Police Departments swear in new officers

The Bethel Police Department has welcomed a new member.  Officer Stefano DiMeglio, a member of the Bethel Fire Department, was sworn in this week and is set to start at the Connecticut Police Academy.  The current academy lasts a little over six months and will be a mix of virtual and onsite learning. 

Wilton also has a new Police Officer. Denisse Cabrera was sworn in yesterday and will be attending the Connecticut Police Academy starting on Friday. The Shelton resident is currently studying business administration at Norwalk Community College, and almost finished obtaining her Associates Degree. Cabrera emigrated from Guatemala to the United States in 2003 and has lived much of her life in Norwalk.  Before joining the Wilton Police Department, she was a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service.

Ridgefield residents asked to bond for two new fire trucks

Ridgefield is looking to move up the time frame for ordering two new fire trucks, and to enter into an agreement with the City of Danbury to maintain the apparatus.  A Special Town Meeting will be held tonight about bonding nearly $1.8 million for two trucks, which were already scheduled to be replaced in the 2024 and 2025 capital years. 

When it comes to need, First Selectman Rudy Marconi gave the example that Engine 1 responded to a fire call, pulled into an access lane and it died. The brakes locked up and it couldn't be moved, blocking the driveway.  Marconi says that puts doubt into the men and women who drive those trucks and are responding to fires. Engine 1 recently got a new motor that cost $65,000. 

Pierce fire trucks have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years while there's have an expected life of 10 years.  The trucks would be repaired at Danbury's Kenosia Avenue station near the airport. 

The City would bill Ridgefield for the parts, and the town wouldn't have to hire a mechanic because Danbury has certified technicians.  Ridgefield's former mechanic retired.  The agreement would be for the cost of Danbury hiring another mechanic, which is estimated at $100,000 to $120,000 a year.  Marconi says they will be applying for grant money through the Regional Performance Incentive Program, which for the 1st year would cover 75%, 50% in the 2nd year and 25% in the 3rd year.

Lawsuit filed against Bethel for Charter violation in swearing in of new First Selectman

A lawsuit has been filed by a member of the Bethel Republican Town Committee against Richard Straiton and the Town of Bethel for alleged Charter violations.  Daniel Nostin filed the suit over what he called an abuse of process in the appointment of Straiton as First Selectman.  Matt Knickerbocker resigned on September 6th to take a position in Wilton.  Straiton resigned his Selectman's role and asked the Town Clerk to swear him in as First Selectman.  He did subsequently take the oath of office.  The suit notes that the Board of Selectmen should have chosen a member to be Acting First Selectman.  The vacancy in the First Selectman's Office requires a special election, as well as an appointment by the Board of Selectmen to fill the third seat. At the time of his resignation, Knickerbocker said the special election would most likely be held in early 2023. Nostin, Vice Chairman of the Bethel Republican Town Committee and a member of the Bethel Board of Education, is looking to overturn Straiton's swearing in. 

Application filed with Danbury Planning Commission for retail cannabis location

An application has been filed with the Danbury Planning Commission for approval as a cannabis retailer.  BUDR Hartford Holding LLC is looking for a special exception site plan approval for 108 Federal Road, owned by LoStocco Brothers Federal Road LLC.  Cannabis retailer licenses are approved by the state, with the lottery process for social equity applicants currently under way.  A public hearing will be scheduled by the Planning Commission for November 2nd.  BUDR Cofounder Carl Tirella secured one of the first Equity Joint Venture retail licenses issued by the state.  The entity was given a provisional certificate Monday.  He previously work with Acerage Holdings, a leading cannabis firm that runs the medical medical marijuana dispensary in Danbury.  The company partnered with Nancine Crump, a Middletown resident qualified as a social equity applicant under the state's cannabis laws, and an existing cannabis license holder.

Brookfield woman makes court appearance in case of ramming police cruisers during pursuit

A Brookfield woman has made a court appearance on charges related to  a multi-town police chase that sent 7 officers to the hospital.  Hannah Casperson is accused of ramming her Hummer into a police cruiser in Waterbury and hitting several others in Monroe during the April incident.  Her attorney says he's still reviewing bodycam footage and he's trying to find a long-term rehabilitation facility for his client. Casperson also has several pending cases for conspiracy to commit burglary, larceny and criminal mischief. Police said she and Thomas Crawford were wanted in connection with 41 vehicle break ins.  He was taken into custody two days before her arrest.

Newtown Police mourn sudden passing of retired Sgt.

A retired Newtown police sergeant has been found dead of a suspected medical episode.  John Cole, of Naugatuck was found unresponsive Monday at Holy Savior Polish National Cemetery in Naugatuck.  The 60-year old served for more than two decades, joining the with Newtown Police Department in 1989.  Cole served as the head of the department's field training program and was made detective sergeant in 2006, but returned to patrol in the years before his retirement in 2014. Naugatuck Police do not believe there was any criminal aspect to the death. Anyone with information regarding the death can contact Naugatuck police at 203-729-5221, or via the confidential tip line at 203-720-1010.

Metro North marks National Rail Safety Week

Metro North officials have held a series of events for National Rail Safety Week with a goal of raising awareness of rail safety.  Metro North volunteers were at various train stations in Connecticut on Monday, and at the Brewster station grade-crossing yesterday.  The education campaign was done to promote rail and grade-crossing safety to both pedestrians and drivers.  This was part of the MTA Railroads’ TRACKS or Together Railroads And Communities Keeping Safe program.  Metro North President Catherine Rinaldi says providing a safe experience for riders and the communities they serve is a top priority.  Representatives from the New York State and Connecticut Departments of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Operation Lifesaver, and from the Suicide Response Crisis Center participated in the events.

Alex Jones makes 1st appearance outside Sandy Hook trial

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) After bashing the proceedings, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has made his first appearance outside a courthouse in Connecticut where a jury will determine how much in damages he should pay for telling his audience the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. Jones showed up and made comments outside, but left a short time later, indicating he wouldn't be testifying Tuesday. Jones has been criticizing the proceedings, calling it a ``show trial.'' He has already been found liable for damages and the trial is to decide how much he must pay eight families and an FBI agent who responded to the massacre.

DOT delays planned Exit 11 ramp closures

The state Department of Transportation has delayed a planned closure of the Interstate 84 Exit 11 ramps scheduled for next month.  The closure of the on and off ramps was slated for the weekend of October 14th, but it's been pushed back to the weekend of October 28th A detour will be set up with state and local police providing traffic assistance.  This is part of a larger project to improve the ramps and the surrounding area.

Tree cleared from train tracks between Danbury, Bethel

A tree fell on the train tracks near Bethel last night.  Metro North cancelled a 5pm train on the Danbury branch from Stamford, and the southbound train started in Bethel as there was no service between Danbury and Bethel.  Substitute bus service was then provided between Danbury and Bethel as crews worked to remove the large downed tree.  Train service was restored by 8pm, though the line was operating with delays of 30 to 45 minutes due to branch line congestion.

New Milford Police investigating incident at Cumberland Farms

The New Milford Police Department is looking for the public's assistance in identifying a man involved in an incident at Cumberland Farms earlier this month.  A photo of the person was posted to the New Milford Police Department Facebook page yesterday.  The incident took place on September 12th. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Officer D. Sin at 860-355-3133, our anonymous tips line 860-355-2000 or TIPS@newmilfordpolice.org.

Southbury seeks to hire Certified Police Officers

The Town of Southbury is currently accepting applications for Certified Police Officers.  The applicant deadline is October 14th.  The Department consists of 23 full-time police officers, which includes three Sergeants, an SRO and a Youth Officer. The Southbury Police Department also includes one Resident Trooper Supervisor, five full-time dispatchers, three part-time dispatchers, and two civilian employees.

Roxbury motorcycle accident remains under investigation

A motorcycle accident in Roxbury that happened earlier this month is under investigation.  State Police say a motorcyclist was headed south on Route 67 shortly after 9pm on September 10th when he failed to negotiate the curve by Squire Road.  The motorcyclist was transported to the hospital.  State Police say he was  at fault for the crash and enforcement action is forthcoming, pending further investigation.

Illegal gun recovered with stolen vehicle

Three Waterbury men have been arrested by New York State police after Troopers attempted to stop a stolen car on Interstate 684.  The driver failed to comply and led Troopers on a pursuit Saturday morning to Exit 9 for I-84.  A stop stick was deployed, disabling the vehicle.  All three fled on foot. 

A Putnam County Sheriff’s Bloodhound was able to track the men and they were taken into custody without further incident. 

19-year old Josiah Eleby was found in illegal  possession of a 9MM Glock 43 handgun.  He was charged with 2 counts of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm.  21-year old Ervin Barr was charged with criminal possession of stolen property.  The pair, along with 20-year old Shadeed Turner were each charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration. 

Turner was released for a court appearance in Southeast on October 4th.  Barr was arraigned and released.  Eleby was held at Putnam County Jail on bond.  Both are scheduled to reappear before the court on October 11th.

Brookfield Police report uptick in stolen vehicles, thefts from vehicles

There has been a significant uptick in stolen vehicles and thefts from vehicles throughout Brookfield over the past week.  Police say several vehicles have been stolen and numerous unlocked vehicles were entered and items removed.  Residents are being reminded of simple steps to prevent becoming a victim of this crime of opportunity.  Drivers should lock all unoccupied vehicles, not leave valuables in the car and report suspicious activity to police immediately.  As for securing keys, police suggest placing modern Fob Type Keys in a Faraday Bag or Box in the house.

Roads closed in Brookfield due to downed wires

The storm that moved through the region last night caused some power outages in the Greater Danbury area as tree limbs came down on utility lines.  There was a lot of damage in Brookfield, where Long Meadow Hill Road was closed even after other streets were cleared.  A pole involving wires came down on Long Meadow Hill in the areas of Rabbit Lane, Signal Hill and Hop Brook.  Brookfield emergency responders urged people to treat all wires on the ground as live.  Multiple fire crews were out closing roads and standing by as Eversource conducted repair work.

Brookfield, Redding awarded STEAP grants

Several Greater Danbury area towns have been awarded grants from the state for infrastructure improvements, such as the road safety reconstruction projects, sewer and drainage upgrades, sidewalk and pedestrian safety enhancements, and other kinds of capital improvement projects.  $31.3 million in Small Town Economic Assistance Program grants were awarded this week to 77 municipalities. 

Brookfield was awarded half a million dollars in STEAP funding for the extension of the Brookfield Market Area Sewer System. This will be matched by $313,000 from the town.  $203,000 in STEAP funding was approved for Redding to install a walking and fitness path, with a matching $69,000 coming from Redding.

Bethlehem: $500,000 in state funding is approved for the reconstruction and replacement of the tennis court in the recreation area of the town hall. This will be matched by $100,000 from the town.

Bridgewater: $107,750 in state funding is approved for repairs and improvements to two municipal buildings. This will be matched by $28,000 from the town.

Easton: $244,000 in state funding is approved for new pickleball and tennis courts. This will be matched by $61,000 from the town.

Monroe: $500,000 in state funding is approved for the reconstruction of Old Zoar Road. This will be matched by $300,000 from the town.
Roxbury: $160,000 in state funding is approved for road improvements around town hall. This will be matched by $40,000 from the town.
Roxbury: $200,000 in state funding is approved for the bridge culvert replacement project on Squire Road. This will be matched by $50,000 from the town.
Roxbury: $80,000 in state funding is approved for the rehabilitation and improvements to the town’s Public Works building. This will be matched by $20,000 from the town.

Washington: $458,949 in state funding is approved for the renovation of a municipal building for the purposes of a daycare. This will be matched by $11,900 from the town.

Weston: $500,000 in state funding is approved for building renovations at the Weston Police Department. This will be matched by $264,926 from the town.

Woodbury: $85,000 in state funding is approved for the installation of sidewalks on Washington Avenue and School Street. This will be matched by $19,600 from the town.

Annual Veterans Stand Down event coming up

The state Department of Veterans Affairs will hold its annual Veterans Stand Down event September 23rd. The outreach initiative has been held for nearly three decades.  There five regional in-person Veteran resource access sites, including Danbury. The regional events were added two years ago to help more veterans and service members connect with programs and benefits they have earned.  The local Stand Down event at the Danbury War Memorial. Veterans can get benefits information, legal assistance, medical screenings, housing opportunities, personal needs items, vaccines and meals.  The event is 8am to 2pm.

Lake Zoar Marine Patrol cite boaters for dozens of violations in Aug.

For the month of August, the Lake Zoar Marine Patrol made 7 rounds on the water.  There were a total of 73 enforcements, with the majority of violations being passengers without personal floatation devices, unregistered vessels, and drivers without a safe boating certificate.  18 vessels were towed last month for breakdowns. Three of the 7 patrols were on Tuesday evenings during Oxford concerts. The last concert had more than 80 boats in attendance and there were some violations enforced. The Lake Zoar Authority also held a safety check point at the Southbury boat launch, with 20 vessels inspected. Patrol drivers have been marking a lot of debris and trees along the lake. Photos were taken and sent to FirstLight and debris is now being removed.  FirstLight has indicated they are willing to consider bill back for the patrol boats removing future debris on Lake Zoar, and will consider an increase in grant funding.

Danbury Zoners opt to leave package store distance regulations unchanged

The Danbury Zoning Commission has denied an application seeking to reduce the distance required between liquor stores.  The current regulation is that there be 2,000 feet between establishments.  A Division Street property owner asked that it be reduced to 1,000 feet as their location was 1,300 feet from an existing store.  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.  Nearly two decades ago Stew Leonard's wanted a store near its Federal Road supermarket, there was a lawsuit and the court upheld Danbury's regulations.  Attorney Neil Marcus noted that 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. 

GOP gubernatorial candidate to attend two area town hall events

Two town hall events are being held in the Greater Danbury area this week with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski and his running mate, Lt Governor candidate Laura Devlin.  The Danbury Republican Town Committee is hosting one event at the Portuguese Cultural Center tomorrow from 7pm to 8pm.  Doors open at 6:30.  The Bethel Independent Town Committee and Bethel Republican Town Committee are co-hosting an event on Saturday at the Municipal Center from 5pm to 6.  Doors open at 4:30.

Brookfield holds community meeting on proposed sewer project

The Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority has hosted a community update meeting on a proposed sewer project.  The meeting was widely attended by residents concerned with the health of the lake and the cost of the project.  Studies have been done in the last decade about the Dean and Pocono Roads area.  Members of the WPCA spoke about the proposed scope of work, and had an ecologist from the Candlewood Lake Authority discuss the conditions of the water.  Studies have shown that septic systems in the Candlewood Lake drainage area contribute to elevated phosphorus levels, causing potentially dangerous algae blooms. The study area included 801 properties in the Candlewood Shores, Arrowhead Point, Hickory Hills and Candlewood Orchards neighborhoods, as well as 708 high- and low-density properties along Candlewood Lake Road.  If grants are not approved for the sewer project, assessments would be paid by property owners upon sewer connection at a cost of about 8.1 percent of the property's grand list value.  It would be payable over 20 years with a long-term bond loan provided by the town of Brookfield.

Police investigate and find non-specific threat to schools noncredible

Several school districts in Connecticut on Friday were informed by local police about a non-specific threat.  Danbury Superintendent of Schools Kevin Walston says similar threats were made to other school communities across the country.  Danbury Police  investigated this matter and deemed the threat non-credible and the school day moved forward with normal operations.  Out of an abundance of caution there was increased police presence at the schools on Friday.  In Southington, the district canceled all outdoor activities until it investigated and schools in Watertown were on a 3-hour delay on Friday.  Watertown Police Chief Joshua Bernegger says since the most recent events in the nation, the FBI has increased their level of communication with all local Police Departments.

 

New Fairfield Police marks Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week

This is Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week New Fairfield Police Officer Doug Lange is nationally certified to properly install and check children's safety restraint system.  New Fairfield parents can called the police department to schedule a safety check.  The awareness week highlights the importance of ensuring that all children are properly secured in an appropriate car seat or seatbelt. A child’s age, weight, and height can all play a factor when determining proper safety harnesses, so it’s important to keep up-to-date with all current regulations and suggestions.

New American Dream Foundation holds annual gala

The New American Dream Foundation has held their annual American Dream gala.  The Danbury-based nonprofit presented the Community Hero Award to the  Connecticut Institute for Communities, for helping -and moderate-income individuals and families through a combination of health and education programs and housing and economic development projects.  The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Probate Court Judge Dianne Yamin.  She was first elected to the position in 1990 and was the first woman to hold that position in Danbury.  She was also the youngest elected judge in the state. Her work focused on conservatorships, guardianships for the intellectually disabled, psychiatric matters, adoption, and children's matters — and special immigrant juvenile status cases.

Bethel seeks applicants for municipal center job

The Town of Bethel is looking to hire a Revolving Clerk to perform clerical duties for the Public Works Department and various offices in need of intermittent support.  High School Diploma or GED with two to four years’ experience OR an equivalent combination of education, training and experience is required.  Applicants must be computer literate in both word and excel.  Applications are due by the end of the month.  This is a 35-hour work week, paid 20 dollars per hour.

Ribbon has been cut on Marian Anderson mural in Danbury

The ribbon has been cut on the Marian Anderson mural painted on a building at Kennedy Park in Danbury.  The 45-foot mural celebrating the life and legacy of civil rights pioneer Marian Anderson was painted by Luana Barcelos.  Members of Marian Anderson's family join city officials and others yesterday for the official unveiling.  Savings Bank of Danbury provided support for the project. The 21-year-old freelance artist is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants who was selected and granted an award by the City of Danbury to design and paint mural. Barcelos has also painted large-scale murals for the University of Connecticut, Wellmore Behavioral Health, and businesses like Matteo’s Multicultural Market in Danbury, and The Cosmopolitan Salon in Brewster, among many others.

New Charter Revision Committee formed in Danbury

A new committee has been formed in Danbury to go over the City Charter.  The process of updating the City's governing document started before the COVID-19 pandemic, but stalled.  At this month's City Council meeting Mayor Dean Esposito disbanded the previous committee and appointed new members.  Council President Vinny DiGilio and Councilmen Warren Levy and Ben Chianese will submit a report for the October City Council meeting.  At that timer, Esposito will establish a new Charter Revision Commission membership.

Great Plain School named 2022 National Blue Ribbon School

A Danbury school is one of four in Connecticut to be named by the U.S. Department of Education as 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This award is given annually to select schools across the nation for demonstrating overall high achievement of success in closing achievement gaps. 

Great Plain School in Danbury serves about 280 students in Grades K-5. More than half of the students are from economically-disadvantaged families, and one-third of the students are English learners. This school was named a School of Distinction for three consecutive years. Most recently, in 2018-19, the school demonstrated not only overall high performance in English language arts, but they were also recognized for the strong academic growth of students with high needs in mathematics and ELA. 

The school community including parents and staff meets monthly to discuss student success and current challenges. Additionally, through a partnership with the Jericho Foundation, volunteers including retired teachers, bankers, doctors, construction workers, project managers, and nurses work weekly with students to provide individualized attention and support. In an effort to extend learning time, the school has offered a program for students to arrive at school early four days each week using district-provided transportation so that they may participate in additional math and reading instruction and enrichment based on student need.

Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker congratulated all of the schools named Blue Ribbon Schools in 2022.  She says they are prime examples of the many innovative practices underway in districts to ensure the continued growth and educational success of students.

Brookfield man sentenced for traveling to Maine to have sex with minor

A Brookfield man has been sentenced for traveling to Maine to have sex with a minor.  30-year old Devin Melycher was ordered to more than 11 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release. According to court records, Melycher drove from Brookfield to Maine after weeks of contact over Snapchat and other platforms.  He initially told the victim he was 19 and  pressured the victim to send sexually explicit images despite knowing the victim was only 13.  The U-S Attorney for Maine said Melycher indiscriminately distributed pornographic images of his body across chat platforms without regard to who received them or whether or not they were of legal age in an attempt to interact with them, preying upon minors, grooming them.  

Suspicious person ordered off school property during RHS foot ball game

A person attending Friday night's Ridgefield High School football game was possibly concealing a weapon and Ridgefield Police responded to Tiger Hollow Stadium.  Spectators reported a person acting suspiciously and police located the individual walking toward the practice fields.  It was determined that there was no weapon and no threat to the public. The person was then ordered off school property.  Police thanked people at the game for their cooperation during the incident.

Route 7 pump station, force main installation work continues with extended hours

Work is continuing in Ridgefield on the Route 7 pump station, force main installation and wastewater treatment facility decommissioning project.  Force main installation is starting this week along Haviland Road.  This week, rock drilling will be done between Limekiln Road and Still Road.  That portion of Haviland will be closed during the extended construction hours from 7am to 11pm.  Additional traffic management will be provided around the work area as needed.  Survey layout work is also continuing.  Force main installation will continued along Limekiln between Nursery and Haviland roads.  That portion of Limekiln is closed during the same hours. The proposed construction schedule for the week ending September 30th is to continue survey layout and erosion control installation along Haviland Road, as well as force main installation.   

Part of Lake Zoar closed again to marine traffic for bridge replacement work

The navigable channel on Lake Zoar under the Rochembeau Bridge is closed again as Middlesex Corporation replaces the span carrying Interstate 84 over the water.  The closure started today and ends October 5th. The channel will be reopened during the weekends on September 24th and 25th and October 1st and 2nd for the boating public. This closure will be for setting structural steel girders and cross frames at Span 2 of the Bridge.  Contractors say the closure will ensure the safety of any nearby marine traffic during this operation. If operations to set the new structural steel are completed prior to October 5th, Middlesex Corporation will re-open the channel and notify the appropriate authorities of completion. Additional closure signage will be installed prior to the closure in accordance with the approved boat safety plan.

Ridgefield officials look into native plant policy

A draft policy on plantings on town-owned property in Ridgefield is being reviewed by the Board of Selectmen.  The purpose of the native plant policy is to allow only native species, and remove all non-native invasive species, which backers say  have a negative impact on the ecosystem.  At the Board's September 7th meeting, there was a discussions about the pricing of native vs nonnative plants, why the policy lists both New York and Connecticut invasive species, and the reason for an exception at Ballard Park. The Board of Selectmen will review the policy and provide feedback.   

Danbury seeks state permission to tap Kenosia for water reserves

With a couple of rain storms, the fire danger has lessened in Connecticut, but drought conditions persist. If things continue with little to no rainfall, Danbury officials say they can do flood skimming off Lake Kenosia.  The City can pump almost 9 million gallons of water from lake.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says that body of water has a huge potential impact in providing water, but the state must approve of it's use.  Danbury started that application a couple of weeks ago with the Mayor's Emergency Declaration.  Iadarola notes that there are about 20 criteria to meet to use Kenosia as a water source, including testing and preparing equipment.  The last time there was a drought like this, in 2016, the City applied to the state to prevent further depletion of the water supply. At that time, some of the conditions induced outdoor water bans, a water audit of its top 20 largest water users, and testing for corrosion, bacteria, cyanotoxins, pesticides and inorganic chemicals.

Brookfield officials look to crack down on car property tax dodgers

Brookfield officials are looking to crack down on residents who have their cars registered elsewhere.  Bids are being sought by the Tax Assessor's Office to identify these vehicles and collect owed revenues.  First Selectwoman Tara Carr says she hears frequently about an uptick in out-of-state license plates in school pick-up lines and at local sporting fields. Carr says the assessor’s office does a great job, but through COVID and just people becoming more transient, the office needs the support.  Only a few firms specialize in the use of technology capable of identifying vehicles owned by local residents but that are not yet registered in Brookfield.  Bethel, New Milford and others have hired Shelton-based Municipal Tax Services, which collects 50 percent of vehicle and property taxes found in the initial years of service.  Bethel reported finding $115,000 in tax revenue from a total of 440 vehicles found not to be registered in town since January 2021.  New Connecticut residents must register their cars within 60 days of moving.

Danbury Labor Market Area adds jobs in August

All six of Connecticut's Labor Market Areas showed employment gains in August, though Danbury had the smallest gain.  The area added 400 jobs, about half a percent increase from last month. The year over year change for the Danbury Labor Market Area was a gain of 1300 jobs, a growth of 1.7 percent. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area led the state in August picking up 4600 positions since last month.  

 

The August Private Sector work week in Connecticut averaged 33.7 hours, with average hourly earnings at $34.06.  The Danbury Labor Market Area average weekly hours for the month worked out to 36.8.  Average hourly earnings for the area in August was little more than $35.  The Danbury area average weekly earnings according to the latest report from the state Department of Labor was 1-thousand-289 dollars. 

Newtown officials express surprise seeing regional military asset displayed at National Night Out

During the recent National Night Out event at the Newtown Community Center, a large military truck was parked outside.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal told the Legislative Council that the agreement with former Chief James Viadero was for the regional resource to remain parked out of site at the police station and not be on display or paraded around.  He was surprised to see it at the event last month and says that message was lost in the transition to the new chief.  Rosenthal has since talked with Chief David Kullgren that it should not be out again, and only used if needed.  He added that the chair of the Police Commission agrees with the understanding that had been reached.

New Fairfield seeks to connect volunteers with organizations in need

New Fairfield has a new page on the town's website for volunteer and membership opportunities.  The Social Services department partnered with the town’s technology department to create the Make-A-Difference in the Community page to simplify the process of matching those seeking volunteer opportunities with town groups and organizations who could use their services.  This is an access point for residents to learn about town organizations/clubs and contact them.  The page launched yesterday and will be updated as new organizations submit information to be included. 

Redding Historical Society's Annual Meeting is tomorrow

Redding Historical Society's Annual Meeting is being held on Sunday at 1pm to elect the Board and Officers at 43 Lonetown Road.  A presentation will be made by Louise Wagner concerning local and Connecticut’s statewide planning for the country's 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.  A State Certified restorer of gravestones and markers, Michael Carroll, will give a presentation, in anticipation of a gravestone restoration class to be given at Redding Ridge Cemetery on October 1st, at 10am.

Annual Walk to End Alzheimer's is next weekend in New Milford

The Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is being held in New Milford next weekend.  The event on the Town Greet on the 24th starts at 8:30am.  Promised Garden Opening at 10, and the Walk at 10:30.  The walk raises funds and awareness for those struggling with Alzheimer’s. The national Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer care, support, and research. The goal this year is to raise $90,000 to donate. So far 74 percent of that has been raised. “

Conn. Health Dept. updates Danbury area COVID-19 case rates

COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health were cut by two thirds in Brookfield, falling back to the number from two weeks ago after a spike. Cases this week doubled in New Milford.  Rates held fairly steady in most other Greater Danbury area municipalities.  According to the report ending September 15th, there were 49 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 15, and Brookfield had 6.  There were 24 COVID cases in New Milford, 12 in New Fairfield, 14 in Newtown, 5 in Redding while Ridgefield had 12. 

 

Most Greater Danbury area towns reported 50 to 150 COVID-19 tests to the state Department of Public Health over the last 7 days with positivity of 5 to 10 percent.  New Milford reported 250 and Danbury 585 tests, about the same as the week before.  Newtown reported 600 test results over the course of the week. At home tests are not reported. 

The rates are:

Newtown 2.8 percent

Brookfield 5.3 percent

New Milford 8.8 percent

Redding 8.9 percent

Danbury 9 percent

Bethel 9.4 percent

Ridgefield 9.9 percent

New Fairfield  10.8  percent

 

The rolling 7-day average test positivity rate in Connecticut is 9.4 percent, 4 tenths of a percent down from the week before. There were 3700 positive COVID cases reported to the state out of nearly 39,000 tests, 6,000 more tests than last week. 

 

The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID-19 over the last 7 days decreased by 31.  The inpatient total is 326, with 39-percent not fully vaccinated. The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 35 since last Thursday.

 

The number of people in Connecticut receiving a new Bivalent booster has increased significantly from last week.  More than 43,000 doses have been administered since last week, when just 600 had been administered.  Those are the new Pfizer and Moderna   shots that are meant to target the omicron subvariants currently circulating in the population as well as the original strain of COVID-19.

 

The BA5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 continues to make up the majority of the cases sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut, according to the latest report. 84.6 percent of samples were BA5, while 12.7 percent were identified as BA4 and 2.3 percent as BA2.

Carmel Police arrest man for alleged sexual assault

Carmel Police have arrested a man for an alledge sexual assault on the Putnam Trailway.  The Daily Voice reports that the incident took place in Mahopac on Saturday night, shortly after 7pm near Weber Hill Road.  Responding officers were able to locate the suspect, who was attempting to flee on a bicycle.  The 49-year old was charged with second-degree rape and held at Putnam County Jail on 200-thousand dollars bond.  Carmel Police officers were assisted by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office in the investigation.

Wastewater samples show no signs of poliovirus in Conn.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has started taking wastewater samples to test for poliovirus.  This follows a case being detected in nearby Rockland County, and signs in wastewater across Nassau, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties.  Connecticut Insider reports that 87 samples were collected in Connecticut from May through August for testing and all were negative.  The samples came from Danbury along with Ansonia, Bridgeport, East Norwalk, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Stamford, Stratford, and Waterbury.

Pepper St in Monroe closed this weekend

Monroe Police are reminding drivers that the north end of Pepper Street will be closed to thru traffic this weekend.  Preparations for closer will begin at 6pm Friday.  The road will be completely closed until Sunday night at 5pm.  Access to homes and businesses in or near the construction area will be permitted. All other traffic must seek an alternate route this weekend.

Ridgefield purchases 200,000 gallons of water to irrigate town-owned golf course greens

Due to the drought, the Town of Ridgefield purchased 200,000 gallons of water for the golf course to irrigate the greens.  The $12,800 purchase was made at the end of August/beginning of September prior to the rains the area just received.  Revenues from the town-owned course are up, so First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the money is coming from the golf course account.  If they exceed spending estimates, the town would have to make a transfer somewhere.  There were 32 loads of water tanked in, at $400 a load. 

Marconi says two of the ponds were completely empty and they were running out of water.  They were not irrigating anything else on the golf course, just the greens so the fairways lost a lot of the grass.  Marconi notes that the recent rains filled the ponds. 

An application for dredging the ponds to remove the sediment that has built up over the years is in the pipeline.  Marconi says they hoped to do that while the ponds were empty, but the rain came.  It would be a different process now that there's water in the area.  Marconi is seeking permission to dredge the ponds from various commissions. 

They're also looking into reseeding the grass, with an anticipated cost of $50,000.

Caraluzzi's launches soft opening for new Danbury market

Caraluzzi's has launched a soft opening for their new market in Danbury. Grand-opening plans are in the works, along with an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mill Plain Road location.  Officials say supply issues with certain construction materials, along with delays with key equipment and fixtures to outfit the space was a hurdle. 

The store conducted Job Fairs and Hiring events to fill the roughly 170 new positions.  Several management positions were filled by promotions from within the company.  Construction has taken little over a year on a vacant parcel of land. 

Specific to the new Danbury location include features like traditional wood fired Neapolitan style pizzas, expanded café offerings of soft serve ice cream, acai bowls, and smoothies to compliment gelato and a variety of specialty brewed coffees and teas.

Public hearing into cannabis distance regulations moved up in Danbury

The public hearing date has been changed in Danbury to consider an application to amend the City's zoning regulation on boundary measurements from cannabis retailers to residential zones.  The Zoning Commission set the hearing date for the end of October, but it's been moved up to September 27th.  D&B Wellness, the owner of the medical marijuana dispensary on Mill Plain Road doing business as The Botanist, is looking to apply for a state hybrid retailer license to expand operations from just medical purposes to also include recreational cannabis sales.  D&B Wellness submitted the application to the Zoning Commission days after the group changed the City's regulations allowing recreational sales.

HRRA looking into report of trash collectors operating in early morning hours in Bethel

Some Bethel residents have expressed concerns with Trash Collectors operating in the early morning hours.  Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority Executive Director Jennifer Heaton-Jones says this has been reported in the area of Taylor Road.  The head of the regional, governmental, solid waste and recycling authority says there is a protocol and enforcement procedure for haulers who violate local and state regulations.  Any Bethel resident with evidence of the identity of the actual hauler who is disturbing the neighborhood is asked to contact HRRA.  She says the goal is not to call out a business, but to help the neighborhood resolve the issue and to work with this business to avoid a citation and suspension from operating in the Town of Bethel.

Environmental work continues at former Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill site

Environmental work continues in Redding at the former Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill site.  The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is complete.  Additional areas of study have been identified by consultant Tighe and Bond.  A project proposal, along with scope of work, was presented  to First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton and the Department of Community Development project supervisor.  The expense up to $99,000 would be covered with funds remaining in the $200,000 brownfield grant previously awarded to Redding.  A grant proposal is being prepared for the next round of brownfield funding opening this fall.  Millions of dollars have been already spent to remediate the site and a sewer plant has been built to support new infrastructure on the property. This is the first step toward redevelopment.  The next steps include more environmental investigations, building structural assessment, ecological assessments of water bodies, and a hazardous building materials survey among others. These tasks could take up to a year, or possibly longer, to complete. 

NUSAR hosting Inaugural dive-a-thon

Newtown Underwater Search & Rescue is hosting its Inaugural dive-a-thon on Saturday.  The event will take place from noon to 8pm at Eichler‘s Cove in Sandy Hook. NUSAR will have divers in the water continuously doing sweep search patterns along the beach. Divers will be equipped with a GoPro and communication lines to the shore team.  Their trucks and primary dive boat will also be on scene.  Area residents are encouraged by NUSAR to stop by to meet the emergency response team, see equipment, learn about their capabilities.  Those in attendance will see how they function with dive operations during a call. The event will be livestreamed. Donations can be made to the team through their website in support of the event.

Fatal accident in Brookfield under investigation

A fatal accident in Brookfield is under investigation by State Police.  A Kia Forte was headed north on Route 7 around 9:30 last night when the driver, for an unknown reason, drove into the median and struck the Junction Road overpass concrete support pillar. The driver was  transported to Danbury Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.  State Police say 24-year old Caleb Anderson was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of accident.  The crash remains under investigation.  Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to contact Trooper Cole at Troop A Southbury at 203-267-2200 or daniel.cole@ct.gov. 

Tunnel2Towers pays off mortgage of Conn, Police Sgt killed in line of duty

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has paid off the mortgages held on the homes of 21 fallen first responder families, in honor of the 21st anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.  Among the families included was that of Connecticut State Police Sergeant Brian Mohl.  He was  swept away in the floodwaters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury when the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved through the state little more than a year ago.  Tunnel to Towers was established in memory of fallen FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller.  The Fallen First Responder Program pays off mortgages for the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty and leave behind young children, ensuring that they will always have a place to call home.

Man points gun at Monroe package store, enters building

A package store employee in Monroe is being credited by police with saving customers lives when a man with a gun walked into the store.  News 12 reports that Monroe Police responded to 574 Wines on Monroe Turnpike Saturday afternoon  on a report of a man being spotted on surveillance pointing a loaded gun outside the store.  An employee ushered 3 customers through a back door and locking themselves in a bathroom.  Police say a gun was found on the floor of a van owned by a 60-year-old. 

New K9 Officer comes to Carmel Police Department

The Carmel Police Department has a new recruit.  K9 Pietro is trained in narcotics and patrol, and came to Carmel from Slovakia.  The K9 is named in memory of Police Office Gary Pietropaolo Jr.  The 29-year-old died in a motorcycle crash in June 2018.  The Carmel High School graduate's motorcycle collided with a mail truck on Route 301 in Kent while he was off-duty.

10th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off scheduled in Ridgefield

Ridgefield’s 10th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off is being held later this month.  The event is hosted by the Connecticut Giant Pumpkin Growers' Association.  The pumpkins are judged in circumference measurement and weight. There are also prizes for the best-looking pumpkin.  The event on the 25th at Ballard Park starts at 10am. 

Roadwork in Carmel to impact school dismissal

Repaving work is being done on Fair Street in Carmel between Bullet Hole Road and John Simpson Road.  This work is scheduled to take place today and tomorrow between 9 am and 4 pm.  Fair Street traffic will be severely impacted during these hours. This will directly impact the George Fisher Middle School.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Department met with construction site supervisors and school staff to develop a traffic plan for dismissal.  All bus routes on Fair Street should expect delays.

COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Brookfield today

A pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic is being held in Brookfield tonight.  The state Department of Public Health Griffin Health yellow minivan will be at Brookfield Children's Physicians on Old New Milford Road from 5pm to 8pm.  The walk up clinic is for kids 6 months to 11 years old.  Pediatric boosters will be available. No appointment is needed.

Redding Police identify two suspects charged for armed robbery

Redding Police have identified two of the suspects charged for an armed robbery Tuesday night.  21-year-old Christopher Torres and 20-year-old Tyrese Edwards, both of Bridgeport, were each charged with second-degree robbery, third-degree larceny and interfering with an officer/resisting arrest.  Two Danbury residents arranged to meet the suspects in the parking lot of the Spinning Wheel Restaurant to sell a computer, but were confronted by the suspects.  One displayed a firearm. Money and a computer were taken and the suspect vehicle fled.  Easton officers spotted the suspect vehicle and pursued them into Bridgeport where the driver stopped.  All three suspects fled on foot.  Redding Police are still searching for the third suspect.  The two men were each held on $150,000 bond.

New Milford man arrested by Brookfield Police for child pornography possession

A New Milford man has been arrested by Brookfield Police on a charge of child pornography possession.  The Connecticut Post reports that 24-year old Caleb Anderson turned himself in on September 1st on a warrant.  Police obtained a warrant for a forensic analysis of his iPhone in July and reportedly found over a thousand inappropriate images and 21 videos of children and young females under age 18.  Police also reportedly found a DropBox account, administered by Anderson, containing videos suspected as being child pornography.  According to the warrant, the material was sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to see if “any known child victims from previous law enforcement investigations” could be identified.  Anderson was arraigned, pleaded not guilty and released on $100,000 bond for a pre-trial hearing September 30th.

Danbury to pave portions of Old Shelter Rock Road, Fleetwood Drive

The City of Danbury has some money left over to continue road paving after the few streets off Clapboard Ridge Road were completed.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says there's time before the asphalt plants close, but they will have to work around the contractor's schedule.  A portion of Old Shelter Rock Road and Fleetwood Drive are currently being paved, with work started yesterday.  This construction will result in road closings between 8am and 3pm.  Detours will be place.  During this time, there will be no on-street parking.  Construction is expected to last 3 to 4 weeks.  In total, the city will pave 7.5 miles of road this year, less than half of the paving done last year. 

Danbury Health Department hosts flu shot clinics at City schools

The Danbury Health and Human Services Department is hosting a series of flu vaccine clinics at the Danbury Public Schools. The clinics begin yesterday at Hayestown Avenue School. The clinics span from mid September to early November. They are mostly being held between 4pm and 6pm and wrap up on November 7th at Shelter Rock Elementary. A couple have different times including at the High School on October 6th is from 2 to 4, and at Rogers Park and Broadview Middle Schools October 11th and 17th respectively from 3 to 5.  More dates and locations can be found on the Danbury Public School District website.

New Fairfield taking part in Paint the Town Purple campaign

New Fairfield is taking part in the Paint the Town Purple campaign for Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month.  The Connecticut chapter of the Alzheimer's Association holds care and consultations and support groups while the national organization offers 24-7 multilingual helpline support, family training seminars, safe return training and educational programs for healthcare professionals among other services.  This week, town buildings and businesses in New Fairfield will put up purple lights, sell Alzheimer Forget Me Not flowers for a donation and people will be wearing purple.  

Part of Prospect Street in Ridgefield to be closed for realignment project

Part of Prospect Street in Ridgefield will be closed this weekend for the ongoing realignment project.  Work is continuing at Prospect Street with new curbing and sidewalks, along with a new granite wall being installed.  For the next part of the reconstruction project, about 60 feet of Prospect Street will be closed at the intersection with Main Street on Friday Sept 16.  The closure is planned for 10pm to Sunday morning at 11am.  The roadway will be rebuilt, and new asphalt poured. As a result, traffic will not be able to enter or exit at the intersection of Prospect and Main Streets during this time. Vehicles will be able to enter and exit from the east end of Prospect Street and will be able to use all adjacent parking lots.

Heritage Village Community Resource Officer position to change

A number of residents of Heritage Village in Southbury are upset to learn that the Community Resource Officer position stationed on site is proposed to change to a detective position. 

During the August Board of Selectmen meeting, they question how the two will compare and asked the Board to reconsider voting on the position.  Discussion is slated to continue Thursday night.  The union president and labor attorney were asked to attend the meeting.  First Selectman Jeff Manville explained that contractually, they can't force someone to take the Community Resource Officer position and there were no applicants for the job.  He added that the CRO job description was enhanced to include the detective portion in order to attract an applicant. 

Part of the job description is to act as a liaison to Heritage Village.  The contract, including the detective position, was previously ratified by the Board and the union.  If the detective is not performing to the town satisfaction, Manville says the contract reserves the right to replace that person after one year. 

Heritage Village is the state’s largest senior housing complex.  While Southbury has a police department, the first selectman is the police chief.

Jones rep: 'False statements' on Sandy Hook shooting

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A representative for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' business empire has acknowledged on the witness stand that ``there were false statements made'' about the Sandy Hook school shooting. Brittany Paz testified Wednesday at a Connecticut civil trial involving Jones' claims that the nation's deadliest school shooting was a hoax concocted as a pretext to tighten gun regulations. Paz is a lawyer hired by Jones' defense to testify on the company's workings. Jones now acknowledges the shooting was real but says his comments were protected free speech. The jury is tasked with determining what Jones has to pay to eight victims' families and an FBI agent.

Eversource contractor starts tree work in Newtown

Stanley Tree Company will be doing extensive tree work for Eversource in Newtown.  The work will begin today and continue for about six months. The work will address the top 100 outage areas and begin on Castle Hill by King Street and continue to Great Hill to Plumtrees at the Bethel town line.

K9s training to join State Police force named for two fallen members

The two newest State Police K9s will be named for two fallen members of the agency.  K9 Mohl and K9 Hall will now be fostered with their assigned Troopers in preparation for the Fall 2023 Patrol Class.  Based on resident recommendations and with permission of their families, the puppies were named after Sgt. Brian Mohl and TFC Kenneth Hall.  The handlers and canines will be trained to help find evidence, locate the most vulnerable missing people, and apprehend the most dangerous suspects.  Sgt Mohl was swept away in the floodwaters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury when the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved through the state little more than a year ago. Hall was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 91 in 2010 conducting a traffic stop when a pick-up truck sped into his cruiser and he died of injuries sustained in the crash.

Fire in garage attached to Monroe home quickly extinguished

The cause of a Monroe house fire is under investigation.  Several residents stopped by Monroe Fire headquarters shortly after 6:30pm Tuesday and reported a fire down the street on Moose Hill Road.  Firefighters arrived within a minute and found all occupants safely evacuated.  Flames were coming from the attached garage, with smoke throughout the entire house.  The fire was extinguished before it entered the living area.  Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company, Stepney Fire Department, White Hills Fire Company of Shelton and Huntington Fire provided mutual assistance.  No firefighters were injured during the response.

Brookfield Fire cancels planned Public Safety Day

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department is cancelling their planned Public Safety Day this weekend.  The event was set to make a return to Brookfield on Sunday, but the Department says due to unforeseen circumstances it will not be held.  There were slated to be live fire, rescue, and police demonstrations.

Rotary Club of Danbury holding Community Shred Day

The Rotary Club of Danbury is holding a Community Shred Day on September 17, from 9am to noon, at the Chuck’s Steakhouse parking lot on Segar Street.  There is no limit to the number of boxes people can bring for shredding.  The cost is $10 each for boxes roughly the size of those that hold copier paper, and more for larger boxes.  No appointment is necessary, and there’s no need to remove staples or paper clips from papers or documents. No plastic can be shredded.  The Rotary Club has been holding Community Shred Days in the spring and fall for three years and the money collected goes toward student scholarships and other local projects.  Federal and state government agencies recommend shredding sensitive documents to protect against fraud and identity theft.

Redding hosting Flu Clinic next month

Redding is hosting a Flu Clinic on October 3rd at Redding Community Center from 1pm to 3pm.  Insurances accepted include Medicare, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, ConnectiCare and Harvard Pilgrim.  For those without insurance who are privately paying a flu shot is $75 for the version meant for those 65 and older, and $55 for the regular flu shot.

Armed robbery in Redding under investigation

An armed robbery in Redding is under investigation.  Redding Police received a 911 call around 8:30 last night about a robbery in the parking lot of the Spinning Wheel Restaurant. The reporting victims were at the arranged meeting spot to sell a computer when they were confronted by three males, with one displaying a firearm. Money and a computer were taken, and the suspect vehicle fled southbound on Route 58. The vehicle description was broadcasted to surrounding agencies and was located in Easton. Officers pursued the vehicle into Bridgeport where it stopped on Trumbull Avenue, when all 3 suspects fled on foot from the vehicle. Two of the three suspects have been taken into custody while the 3rd is still at large. Redding Police say this is an active investigation and no further details are available at this time.

Man with gun, defending against bear, prompts Danbury school lockdown

A school in Danbury went into lock down yesterday after Danbury Police received a call about an agitated man with a firearm near Great Plain Road.   St. Gregory School was notified as a precaution and placed on lockdown. When officers arrived on scene, they quickly established the homeowner was legally carrying a firearm on his property after spotting a bear in his yard. Others in the area notified police that a bear was seen wandering through the neighborhood. The lockdown was lifted and dismissal procedures were not impacted. It’s a busy time of year for bears and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection urges people not to approach bears.  Residents should remove birdfeeders from the yard and store garbage in a secure container.

Man convicted of drug overdose deaths arrested in Danbury on new drug charges

Two Danbury residents have been arrested on drug related charges. An investigation was launched several months ago into tips fentanyl was being sold.  Detectives carried out search warrants Monday for Paul Mignani and his residence/place of business, 39B Mill Plain Road. 

45-year old Dawn Gonzalez who also lives at that location was with him when police observed a hand to hand transaction. 

Police found 10 bags of Fentanyl and crack cocaine. In the 56-year old's apartment, Detectives located over 50 grams of fentanyl, packaged in bags and in bulk form, and over 60 grams of crack cocaine. Several hundred glassine bags used for packaging fentanyl, grinders, an electronic scale, and rubber bands were also seized and led to drug factory charges.  Numerous other pills were also seized.

Detectives located 2 large capacity magazines for handguns and ammunition.  He was known to police for past arrests in 2016.  Mignani pled guilty to distributing heroin, resulting in 2 overdose deaths investigated by the Bethel Police Department. Mignani is currently on Federal Probation.

He was charged Monday with 6 counts of possession of a controlled substance, 3 counts of possession of narcotics with intent to sell over 1 ounce, and one count each of operating a drug factory, possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal possession of high capacity magazines and illegal possession of ammunition. 

He was held on $300,000 bond. 

Gonzalez was charged with conspiracy to possess narcotics with intent to sell, conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of narcotics over 1 ounce with intent to sell.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date.

Sandy Hook witnesses testify about Alex Jones' hoax claims

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A sister of a teacher killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and an FBI agent who responded to the school shooting became overwhelmed with emotion Tuesday as they described what it has been like to be accused of being crisis actors by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and others.

Carlee Soto Parisi and FBI agent William Aldenberg were the first witnesses to testify as a Connecticut jury began hearing evidence in a trial to decide how much money Jones owes for spreading the lie that the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown that killed 20 first graders and six educators didn’t happen.

Soto Parisi said she has been hounded, both in Connecticut and after she moved to North Carolina, by those who believe she was acting. Some of the hoax believers went online and posted photos of grieving women, including an Associated Press photo of a distraught Soto Parisi outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after the shooting, saying they were the same actor.

“I frequently got threatening emails and messages on all social media,” she testified, crying at times. “And it got to a point where they would use the gun emoji. And I spoke with cops in Connecticut and my husband ended up having to speak with cops in North Carolina, because we were scared for our lives.”

Aldenberg also broke down as he described being among the first law enforcement officers to enter the two classrooms where 20 children died. He described watching as the phone next to Vicki Soto’s body lit up with messages from those trying to reach her.

“Was what you saw in that school fake?” asked attorney Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

“No,” Aldenberg said. “It’s awful. It’s awful.”

He also testified about how he and others in the community and law enforcement were targeted with threats and conspiracy theories, including one that claimed he was an actor who also pretended to be the father of a victim.

“It’s one of the worst things that ever happened, if not the worst thing that ever happened here, what happened to them,” Aldenberg said. “And people want to say this didn’t happen? And then they want to get rich off of it? That’s the worst part.”

The trial in Waterbury was attended by more than a dozen family members of victims, including David Wheeler, the father who conspiracy theorists had claimed was the same person as Aldenberg. Wheeler nodded his head as Aldenberg apologized for what Wheeler had to endure because of their resemblance.

Jones did not attend the trial on Tuesday. He is expected in court next week.

The Sandy Hook families and Aldenberg say they have been confronted and harassed for years by people who believed Jones’ false claim that the shooting was staged by crisis actors as part of a plot to take away people’s guns.

Some say strangers have videotaped them and their surviving children. They’ve also endured death threats and been subjected to abusive comments on social media. And some families have moved out of Newtown to avoid harassment. They accuse Jones of causing them emotional and psychological harm.

“You know, you can say whatever you want about me, I don’t care,” Aldenberg said. “Just say what you want. I’m a frigging big boy. I can take it. But then they want to make profits, they want to make millions and millions of dollars. They want to destroy people’s lives. Their children got slaughtered. I saw it myself, and now they have to sit here and listen to me say this.”

It’s the second such trial for Jones, who was ordered by a Texas jury last month to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of one of the slain children. Jones was not at the trial Tuesday and is expected to attend next week.

A jury of three men and three women along with several alternates will decide how much Jones should pay relatives of eight victims and Aldenberg. Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones liable for damages without a trial last year after he failed to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers.

The judge also sanctioned Jones on Tuesday for failing to turn over analytic data related to his website and the popularity of his show. She told his lawyers that because of that failure, they will not be allowed to argue he didn’t profit from his Sandy Hook remarks.

In opening statements, Jones was described by Mattei as a bully and by his own attorney as a crank in a town square who should be ignored.

Mattei showed jurors data indicating how Jones’ audience increased as he spread lies about the shooting. He also showed them photos and videos of things Jones had said, and told the panel they already had the tools from their own life experiences to decide what to do in this case.

“What your parents taught you, what your grandparents taught you to know the difference between right and wrong, to know the difference between the truth and a horrible lie, to know the importance of standing up to bullies when they prey on people who are helpless and profit from them and to know unless you stop a bully, a bully will never stop,” he said. “And when it comes to stopping Alex Jones, that will be the most important work that you do.”

Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, argued that his client has espoused a number of conspiracy theories over the years, something he has a Constitutional right to do.

“At what point do we regard him as a crank on the village green, a person we can walk away from if we choose?” he asked.

Pattis told the jury that although Jones is liable for damages, any award should be minimal and alleged the families were overstating the harm they say Jones caused them.

On his web show on Tuesday, Jones portrayed himself as the victim of unfair show trials.

“How am I handling it? We’re at war. This is total tyranny,” he said. “I’ll tell you this, we can appeal this for years. We can beat this.”

The trial is expected to last about a month and feature testimony from more victims’ relatives. Jones also will be testifying, Pattis said.

Jones now says he believes the shooting was real. At the Texas trial, he testified that he realizes what he said was irresponsible, did hurt people’s feelings and he apologized. He continues, however, to insist that his comments were protected free speech. He views the lawsuits as efforts to silence him and put him out of business.

Jones’ lawyers say he intends to appeal the judgment against him in Texas. Jones also will face a third trial back in Texas involving the parents of another slain child.

Ridgefield man found guilty for his role in January 6th riot at U.S. Capitol

A Ridgefield man has been found guilty on multiple charges for his role in the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. Patrick McCaughey III was caught on camera in the violent assault of a police officer.  The video was presented as evidence during the bench trial, showing him pinning Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges with a riot shield as a crowd pushes its way into the Capitol. McCaughey can be heard yelling at the officers to yield to the rioters.  He was found guilty on nine counts, including felony obstruction of an official proceeding. The judge said McCaughey’s testimony that he simply wanted to get inside to protest was unbelievable, and noted he’d made repeated references to legislators and told police, “Our issue is not with you."  His sentencing will take place on January 26th.

Two Danbury students among top competitors in Broadcom MASTERS

Two Danbury students are among the top 300 competitors in the 2022 Broadcom MASTERS, a STEM program.  Sydney Borst and Sandhya Sudarsanam, former Westside Middle School Academy and current Danbury High School students are part of the competition.  The organization works to support youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, working towards a more diverse pipeline of STEM professionals in the future.  The top 300 were selected from over 18-hundred students from 47 states and three territories.   All applicants were named in the top 10-percent of their science fair.  The pair will be honored by the Danbury Board of Education at their biweekly meeting on September 14. 

Vacancy filled on the New Milford Town Council

A vacancy on the New Milford Town Council has been filled.  Paul Murphy has become the newest member at Monday's meeting.  He replaces Republican Joseph Failla, who said last month that he was involved in a new job venture that will be time consuming and decided to step down from his role.  Murphy’s appointment was approved in a unanimous vote, and he was sworn into office by the Town Attorney.  He will serve until next November 30th.

Asbestos found in exterior Whisconier Middle School gym wall during restoration

Bids have come in higher than expected on restoration of the exterior Whisconier Middle School gym wall in Brookfield.  The project consists of repairs to one side and two corners of an external wall.  An environmental analysis found asbestos in samples of paint and caulking from the exterior east wall.  Results yielded positive presence of asbestos with levels at 4% for the paint and 5% for the caulking.  The project for restoration was approved at a cost of $700,000.  Bids came in at nearly $800,000.  Asbestos monitoring and specialized testing came back at $27,800 dollars in unanticipated costs.  Contingency and soft costs at a standard 5-percent were not included and would be little more than $41,000.  The additional funding required is $164,500. 

New Milford conducting bridge inspections

New Milford is conducting bridge inspections in the area of Housatonic Avenue and Boardman Road.  The work is being done today through 5:30pm.  New Milford Police will be directing traffic and have a detour set up.  Drivers should expect delays and are asked to plan accordingly.  Boardman Road was closed earlier today due to a downed tree at the intersection with Aspetuck Ridge and the Ball Fields.

New Fairfield updates resolution creating Margerie Reservoir Trail Advisory Committee

New Fairfield officials have updated the town's resolution creating the Margerie Reservoir Trail Advisory Committee, which is a joint committee with the City of Danbury.  Selectman Khris Hall says this brings the town in line with the City on the structure of the committee and how to move forward.  The first meeting will be held on the 19th.  New Fairfield took out previous references to the Candlewood Valley Regional Land Trust because she says Danbury opposed their involvement.  The town also updated the funding number, but kept the charge of the committee the same.  The project, which has been proposed fore more than a decade, would create a 2-and-a-half mile multi-use path along the Margerie Reservoir between the New Fairfield town center and Peck Road in Danbury.

faulty sprinkler alarm reported at Kent boarding school

Kent volunteer firefighters responded Sunday night to a boarding school in town for an automatic alarm. An on-scene faculty member provided information via dispatch on the location and those first on scene reported no smoke or fire showing. Additional arriving firefighters collaborated with the facilities manager to determine the cause was a faulty sprinkler alarm. 

Southbury looking to hire full-time Planning Director

The Town of Southbury is looking to hire a full-time Planning Director to manage the Land Use Department. This position is 35 hours per week with a salary range of $75,000 to $85,000.  The position is responsible for administering the land use regulatory process for the Planning, Zoning and Inland Wetlands Commissions and supervising the activities of the Land Use Department.  The role is also responsible for guiding growth in accordance with the Plan of Conservation & Development and manages the update of the plan every 10 years per State Statute.

Botsford firefighters respond to single vehicle rollover accident

Botsford Fire Rescue responded to a single vehicle rollover accident around midnight last night.  The sole occupant was out of the vehicle before firefighters arrived.  The Department mitigated a small fluid spill from the vehicle.  The driver was checked out by paramedics on scene, and refused ambulance transport to the hospital.  Newtown Police are investigating the crash.

Southbury officialslooking into garbage, crowds at Little York Park

Southbury officials have received complaints recently from community members about garbage and crowds at River Road and Little York Park.  The Board of Selectmen at their last meeting discussed with the town attorney what can legally be done. There is State property, which the town cannot restrict. First Selectman Jeff Manville showed a report from the police department which shows the amount of police activity during this summer at River Road as well as Little York Park. He notes that social media isn't the way to get enforcement, the public needs to let the police know what is going on. The public should call the non-emergency number to report incidents. 

Alex Jones faces second trial over Sandy Hook hoax claims

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut jury has begun hearing arguments about how much money conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for calling the massacre a hoax. The trial began Tuesday in Waterbury. Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families say Jones caused the families emotional and psychological harm. Jones says he now believes the shooting did occur, but has cited free speech rights in saying it was a hoax. A Texas jury last month ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in damages to Sandy Hook parents in a similar lawsuit over the hoax lies.

Brookfield partners with developer in bid for state grant to clean, build at brownfield site

Brookfield is looking to team up with a private developer to clean up a brownfield site.  The town is also seeking state funding for the  redevelopment of a former dry cleaning business at 20 Station Road.  The property has been a source of environmental contamination for decades.  Dry cleaning chemicals have plumed up to Laurel Hill Road. 

Brookfield wouldn't have to own any liability for current or future contamination under an initiative from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.  The relatively new state grant program requires a municipality to partner with a developer in order to be eligible to receive funding. 

Brookfield Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski says the plans for the property will see it add additional retail and residential space along with public parking.  Brookfield Village Station Road, LLC, is owned by the same principal partners behind the ongoing mixed-used commercial and real estate development projects in that area.  If grant funding is approved, Dembowski says the developer would pay the outstanding property taxes and the blight fines. 

Remediation and demolition of the boarded-up building will not cost the town any capital money.  A utility easement associated with the property would remain with the town for a potential Still River Greenway expansion. 

The deadline to file the 28-page grant application is September 23rd.

List of vehicles targeted for catalytic converter theft released by Danbury Police

The Danbury Police Department has issued a public service announcement about how residents can help protect themselves from a crime of opportunity. 

Insurance companies and police across the country have reported a substantial spike in catalytic converter theft over the past few years.  This type of theft can be completed in less than a minute, and thieves go undetected or flee the scene before officers receive the complaint.  The higher the target vehicle is off the ground, the faster the process can be completed. Vehicles that are being targeted include hybrids, SUVs, and trucks.  

Danbury's top targeted vehicles include:
Honda Accord
Toyota Prius
Honda Element
Chevrolet Express
GMC Savana
Ford F250 and 350
Ford Econoline
Toyota Tundra

Residents can have their license plate number or VIN etched onto the catalytic converter to help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen.  Painting a catalytic converter can help deter buyers.  Drivers should park in well-lit areas, close to public entrances, and use a closed garage. 

Lamont requests natural disaster declaration for Litchfield County due to drought

Governor Ned Lamont has submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for primary natural disaster declarations to be approved in Litchfield and New Haven counties due to damages sustained by agricultural producers in those areas from the ongoing drought impacting Connecticut.

Last month, the federal agency approved primary disaster declarations for New London and Windham counties because of the drought, resulting in Hartford, Middlesex and Tolland counties being designated as contiguous counties and making farm operators in all five eligible for consideration of certain emergency assistance from the Farm Service Agency, such as low-interest loans. If Governor Lamont’s request for primary disaster declarations in Litchfield and New Haven counties is approved, this assistance will open to farm operators in those areas, as well as to those counties that are contiguous.

In his request, Lamont notes that Litchfield and New Haven counties have experienced the same drought as the counties with the approved declarations, including a 30% loss of any one crop as required to meet the threshold for a declaration.

Lamont wrote that this summer’s weather conditions have been rough on farmers in Connecticut, and the approval of this federal declaration will enable those producers who are experiencing significant losses to apply for emergency assistance so they can continue supporting their businesses and the many jobs they provide.

Danbury sees water storage improvement with voluntary use restrictions in palce

A number of people have raised questions to Danbury officials about identifying the large water user on the City's westside, a commercial customer using roughly 100,000 gallons of water a day to water the grass.  This came to light when Mayor Dean Esposito required commercial property owners and condominium complexes to cease using irrigation systems due to drought conditions.  There are several customers with sprinkler connections, permitted by the City and all were asked for a voluntary usage reduction. In 24 to 36 hours, tank  elevations on westside were drastically improved.   Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola didn't disclose the large customer that uses a significant amount of water to maintain their grounds, but Esposito notes it's not Richter Golf.  Iadarola added that development on westside is significantly more than in 2016, the last time there was a drought emergency.

Bridgewater Land Trust, Eversource sign agreement for passive use of land near Lillinonah

The Bridgewater Land Trust has signed a license agreement with Eversource Energy, allowing passive recreational use of a pristine parcel on the east side of Lake Lillinonah and south of Tappen Road.  The 80 acres will soon be open to the public with a new marked and mapped trail network.  Bridgewater Land Trust says the property is ideal for hikers as it features old growth forest, stone walls, impressive rock outcroppings, vernal pools, very few invasive species and a scenic stretch along the lake.  The parcel has been identified by the Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy as one with high conservation values due to climate resilience, core forest, critical habitat, threatened species and connections between protected areas and forested areas.  The plan includes partnerships with other conservation organizations in order to link this network with trails over contiguous protected properties.

Semiconductor-equipment manufacturer to expand Wilton HQ

The world’s largest semiconductor-equipment manufacturer has invested more than $100 million to expand its facility in Connecticut over the past few years.  But market demand means ASML is making another investment in its Wilton campus.  ASML’s photo-lithography machine is used by customer to mass-produce microchips, an essential component of hardware that ranges from smartphones to cars.  A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday with some of Connecticut’s top elected officials to mark the $200 million expansion on Danbury Road.  The project will add about 37,000 square feet to their facility and will include more space for core operations, such as manufacturing in the “cleanroom” area and creation of an “experience center,” which will be open to students.  The construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024.  The company currently employs 2,500 people in Wilton, but is planning to add about 1,000 jobs during the next two years. The company is headquartered in the Netherlands.

Southbury Police investigating another reported vehicle break in

Southbury Police are investigating another reported vehicle break in.  Police responded to the Southbury Dog Park on Roxbury Road shortly one night earlier this month on a report of a suspicious person in a minivan.  The officers saw the vehicle leave, and turned to follow, but the driver sped off.  Police later discovered that the window of a vehicle in the parking lot had been smashed.  The owner reported that a large tote bag and its contents were stolen.  Southbury police were investigating three other smash-and-grab incidents that occurred between August 24th and 30th, and said at the time that they may be connected.

COVID-19 vaccine van coming to New Fairfield Fair Days

New Fairfield officials have arranged for one of the state's COVID-19 vaccine vans to be at New Fairfield Fair Days.  The mobile vaccination team will be on town on Saturday from noon to 5pm in the parking lot behind Town Hall. No appointment is necessary.  New Fairfield is working with the Vaccination Van and St. Edwards to set up a few more dates in September-October for vaccinations.  The new bi-valent booster, which targets the omicron strain, will be available.  To receive the new booster, people must be over 12 for Pfizer and over 18 for Moderna --and not have had a COVID vaccination or booster within the last two months.  The Van also carries all other COVID vaccinations and boosters for children, starting at 6 months, and adults.

Carmel house struck by vehicle

A vehicle struck a home in Carmel over the weekend.  Carmel Fire Department responded to Kelly Ridge Road around 1:30 Saturday afternoon.  The vehicle struck several items and then the residence causing significant damage. The Carmel Building Department was requested to the scene and determined the residence was structurally sound. Carmel firefighters were on site for about 45 minutes before turning the scene to Carmel Police the homeowner.  No injuries were reported.

Kent residents reminded of rules for temporary signs

With election season in full swing, Kent residents are being reminded of Planning and Zoning regulations regarding temporary signage.  Temporary signs for public, political or charitable purposes are allowed without a permit as long as the signs are not located in the road right-of-way, and are in place for no more than 30 days.  The signs must be removed within 3 days after the event, under Kent's land use regulations.

Redding woman declines offer of accelerated rehabilitation in animal cruelty case

A Redding woman has declined an offer of participation in a probationary program in an animal cruelty case against her.  73-year old Nancy Burton was charged with 65 counts, one for each goat confiscated from her.  The state Department of Agriculture, with the help of Redding police, also found 40 to 50 goats dead on her property.  She claims the 65 goats were stolen by the state.  News 12 Connecticut reports that she was offered the opportunity to apply for accelerated rehabilitation. The case is now slated to go to trial and Burton could face a maximum sentence of 66 years.

Masks, COVID-19 test kits available for Kent residents

The COVID-19 Community Spread Level in Litchfield County continues to be medium, according to the CDC. Home test kits and masks continue to be available to Kent residents at Town Hall. Masks are in the front lobby and kits can be picked up in the First Selectman's Office. Drive-through testing at the Transfer Station continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3pm to 6pm.

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Ridgefield today

The state Department of Public Health-Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Ridgefield today.  This one is for people 6 months and older, at Ridgefield Academy from 2pm to 5pm.  Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will also be available.

Wilton Republican Town Committee officially opening its Headquarters

The Wilton Republican Town Committee is officially opening its Headquarters at 33 Danbury Road on Thursday.   A reception will be held from 4pm to 6 with area Republican candidates for office.  Many statewide Republican candidates will be available as well to discuss their campaigns with residents.

Trial set to begin for Alex Jones in Sandy Hook hoax case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is set to go on trial a second time for calling the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax and causing several victims' relatives emotional and psychological harm. The trial starts Tuesday in Waterbury, Connecticut, only 18 miles from the site of the 2012 massacre in Newtown that killed 20 children and six educators. A six-member jury will hear evidence on how much Jones should pay the families, since he already has been found liable for damages. The trial comes a month after a Texas jury in a similar case ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of one of the children killed in the shooting.

Main Street drainage improvement project prevents flooding in Danbury

A drainage improvement project on Main Street in Danbury appears to have solved a long standing flooding issue.  The state Department of Transportation has completed the pipe installation in the area of Elmwood Park, which has flooded routinely for decades during rain storms.  The state just finished paving the private property owner's driveway in the area of the work.  After the 5 inches of rain in one storm last week, there was no flooding on Main Street for the first time in a long time.  City Councilman Duane Perkins though questioned if that was due to the drought situation.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says it wasn't the drought that prevented flooding, it was the new infrastructure that takes surface water off the pavement.  When it rains, the water runs right down into the drainage now.  There had been a collapsed culvert blocking the flow of water.

Scammer impersonating Putnam County Sheriff member in phone fraud case

There's a financial phone scam circulating in Putnam County involving someone impersonating a member of the Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff Kevin McConville has received reports from residents of a man calling and claiming to be Sgt Jason Cooke from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 3 County Center in Carmel.  The caller states that the resident is facing legal consequences for failing to comply with a prior or current criminal matter and that they are required to post monetary bail in lieu of being arrested.  The imposter says bail must be paid in gift cards, providing him with the numbers to the cards.  The Sheriff's Office though will never call to ask residents for money or to purchase gift cards to satisfy a legal matter.  There is no one employed at the Sheriff’s Office with the name Sgt Jason Cooke.  Residents are warned to be cautious when getting these calls and to notify the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 845-225-4300 if they are contacted.

Tax deferral to be considered for Savings Bank of Danbury office project

A committee of the Danbury City Council has been formed to look into a request by Savings Bank of Danbury for a tax deferral.  The bank is planning to build a $14-million office on Main Street at White Street.  The bank wants to pay taxes on the current assessment of the property, and then taxes on the increase in property value after 7 years.  The 4-story office building is planned for 4 properties, currently assessed at $40,000 annually.  The City sold the bank a piece of property Danbury owned, the former Tuxedo Junction nightclub, for the project. 

Bethel Town Clerk's Office contacted about sending absentee ballot applications

The Bethel Town Clerk's Office has been contacted by both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as individual candidates, to obtain applications for absentee ballots in order to distribute them to voters unsolicited for the November 8th Election.  The office was told that the applications will be arriving by mail.  The parties and candidates are legally allowed to distribute applications.  These are just the application for an absentee ballot, not the ballot themselves.  Anyone unable to vote in person on Election Day, for reasons cited in the state constitution, can vote by absentee ballot.  The ballots will be available after October 7th.  Applications can be obtained on the Town of Bethel website, on the Secretary of the State's website, or in person during regular business hours in the Town Clerk's Office.

New Milford Police step up patrols in school zones, along bus routes

The New Milford Police Department has stepped up patrols in school zones and along bus routes now that classes are back in session.  They have both motorcycle and marked units on the roads.  Police Chief Spencer Cerruto asked drivers to pay attention to when school buses have their red flashing lights activated to pick up or drop off kids, who may have to cross the street.  There are different rules on the lower end of Super 7 where it's a divided highway, but that changes further north when it's a double yellow line.  Drivers must stop in both directions at that point when the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is activated.  Police are also offering safety reminders to students: to be aware of their surroundings--not on their phones at bus stops, when crossing streets or walking on sidewalks.

Lawsuit filed challenging Conn. assault weapon, high capacity magazine bans

A lawsuit seeks to overturn Connecticut's assault weapons and magazine ban.  A Colorado-based nonprofit, along with a New Milford resident filed the suit last week claiming the laws infringe Second Amendment rights, and questioned the term assault weapon.  State Attorney General William Ton says similar lawsuits from the National Association for Gun Rights were filed against Massachusetts, Hawaii, Colorado and elsewhere.  Tong says this challenge to the post-Sandy Hook assault weapons ban is the kind of public safety threat he anticipated when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol versus Bruen.  Connecticut's Assault Weapons and Large Capacity Magazines ban took effect in 2013.

Significant progress made on Pepper Street reconstruction in Monroe

There has been significant progress on the Pepper Street reconstruction project in Monroe. A substantial stretch of the road has been excavated, drainage work completed, and the first course of pavement applied. One side of the new box culvert near Jockey Hollow Road has been installed and is now being backfilled.  Up next, utility companies will be completing the transfer of overhead wires between Commerce Drive and Cambridge Drive and the relocation of a fire hydrant.  Significant roadway excavation, reconstruction, and formation of embankments was necessary in the area between Cambridge Drive and Commerce Drive.  That section of Pepper Street was closed to through traffic this weekend to allow for round-the-clock work. The road will be limited to local access starting on Friday at 7pm, and concluding sometime on Sunday.  The road will be opened as soon as the work is completed, and prior to paving which will follow.  Detour signs will be posted.

More money needed for Brookfield High School Boys Locker Room project

More money could be approved for the Brookfield High School Boys Locker Room project. After reviewing bid packages and updated information, the Board of Education says it became clear that $117,000 in additional funding was needed.  The drivers of the increase are bid costs coming in higher than expected and adding contingency or soft cost amounts, which had not been included in the original estimates.  The heating/ventilation systems could not be reused, driving up the cost.  General supply chain costs and inflation also contributed.  The original approved funding totaled $1.3 million.  Bids came in about $50,000 above that, and the recommended 5-percent for contingency adds another $68,000.  The bids came in substantially higher than the original estimates, at $2.9 million, so the scope of the project has been scaled back to keep costs in check.  The town can transfer bonding from projects bonded in the same year.  

Bethel Selectman steps up into First Selectman role

Matt Knickerbocker has presided over his final Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting as First Selectmen.  He resigned this week to become Wilton’s first town administrator.  Knickerbocker held the elected position for 13 years.  He thanked the residents for building a sense of community and of pride.  Rich Straiton has been elevated from Selectman to lead the town until a special election, most likely be held in early 2023. 

Household Hazardous Waste collection today for HRRA towns

The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting another Household Hazardous Waste event today.  The collection event for all towns in the HRRA region is 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.

Greater Danbury area towns to mark 21st anniversary of 9/11 attacks

Danbury's annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony will be held at 2pm at Elmwood Park.

 

Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is hosting their annual brief 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at 9:30am at Fire Headquarters located at 18 Shelton Rd. Parking is available in the field across the street.

New Fairfield will hold its annual ceremony at 5pm at the 9/11 Memorial Park behind the senior center.

New Milford's ceremony will take place at Patriots Way Plaza, with the service beginning at 8:46am.

Ridgefield’s ceremony is at 6:30pm next to the Park & Rec Center at 195 Danbury Road, at the town’s 9/11 memorial.

The Washington Volunteer Fire Department will host a memorial service at 9:30am to remember the firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and civilians who died in the attack. The service will take place at the Washington Depot Fire House.

Dept. Health updates Greater Danbury area COVID-19 data

COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health tripled in Brookfield, and nearly doubled in Ridgefield.  Rates held fairly steady in most other Greater Danbury area municipalities.  No data was reported this week from Redding. According to the report ending September 8th, there were 37 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 10, and Brookfield had 18.  There were 12 COVID cases in New Milford, 7 in New Fairfield, 13 in Newtown, while Ridgefield had 18. 

 

Most Greater Danbury area towns reported 100 to 200 COVID-19 tests to the state Department of Public Health over the last 7 days.  New Fairfield reported 58 and Danbury reported 456 tests, just 20 fewer than the week before.  Newtown last week reported over 500 test results, but only 175 this week.

 

Test positivity rates, not including at home tests are:

New Milford 3.8 percent

Newtown 6.9 percent

Danbury 8.8 percent

Ridgefield 8.9 percent

Bethel 9.6 percent

New Fairfield 10.5 percent

Brookfield 20 percent

 

New state data released Thursday shows a slight increase in COVID-19 positivity compared to last week.  The rolling 7-day average is 9.8 percent, compared to 8.97 percent the week before. There were 3,300 positive COVID cases reported to the state out of nearly 33,000 tests, 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 357, with 32-percent not fully vaccinated. The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 25 since last Thursday.

 

627 Bivalent boosters have been administered in Connecticut.  Those are the new Pfizer and Moderna shots that are meant to target the omicron subvariants currently circulating in the population as well as the original strain of COVID-19.

Moments of Silence held at Danbury City Council meeting

A moment of silence was held at the Danbury City Council meeting on Wednesday for a former member and for the mother of Danbury's Mayor.  Council President Vinny DiGillio noted that 10-year member Mary Teicholz passed away last month at age 61.  Barbara Pooler Esposito passed away on Sunday at age 89.  She worked for 20 years as a private duty nurse and retired as head nurse for Fairfield Hills in 1994.

Danbury Health Dept. shares info on best practices to stop spread of Monkeypox

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services is offering Monkeypox guidance for food service establishments, salons, massage therapists and the like.  Connecticut has had over 100 confirmed positive cases of monkeypox as of Wednesday.  Establishments are asked to continue following sanitation guidelines, post signs reminding individuals to wash their hands, and wear gloves when appropriate.  To prevent illness and infection, residents should avoid skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have a rash, not touch materials or fabric from a person who has monkeypox and wash hands often with soap and water.  Anyone sick with monkeypox should isolate at home.

Emergency responders called to rollover accident in Bethel

No injuries were reported in a rollover accident in Bethel Wednesday night.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to Wine Sap Run shortly before 11:30pm and found the single car crash.  The sole occupant had self extricated prior to firefighter arrival. They were evaluated by paramedics and ultimately refused transport to the hospital. A tow company removed the vehicle from the roadway.

DOT plans exit 11 ramp closure

The State Department of Transportation is continuing work to improve the I-84 Exit 11 ramps and the surrounding area.  Crews are working on concrete sidewalk and curbing at various locations around the site.  The exit 11 on and off ramps will be closed on the weekend of October 14th.  A detour will be set up with state and local police providing traffic assistance.

Financial scam involving gift cards reported to Bethel Police

The Bethel Police Department has received several complaints of a financial scam involving gift cards used a so-called 'blocking cards.'  The scammer calls a victim and says that their personal information has been stolen, and the only way to secure it is to purchase blocking cards, which are gift cards.  The scammer will ask the victim to give the gift card information and numbers over the phone.  Bethel Police are reminding residents to never purchase gift cards after someone they don't know asks for them, nor to give gift card information over the phone.  Gift cards are not a secure means of transferring money, and once the information has been compromised, there is no effective way to recoup the money or investigate the crime.

Friends of the 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard to host open house

The Friends of the Second Company Governor's Horse Guard group is hosting an open house this weekend at the Newtown headquarters of the 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard.  The event on Saturday is from 11am to 3pm at 4 Trades Lane. 

Attendees will learn about the workings of the unit, see horse musical drill rides, view interactive history displays, family friendly activities.  Lt. Col. Gordon Johnson says colonial uniforms and others will be on display.  Their current uniforms are approved by the military department as the Guard is connected to the National Guard. 

2nd Lt Marion Lynott says there will be a barrel race demonstration with fast action in the timed race.  The event is free and open to the public, though donations will be accepted.  There was a two year hiatus in holding the open house event due to the pandemic. 

Established in 1808, the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard is an all-volunteer unit of the Organized State Militia. Upon the request of the Office of the Governor of the State of Connecticut, the Adjutant General, municipalities and non-government organizations, the unit participates in ceremonial functions, operates service programs, and promotes Connecticut’s rich and revolutionary history. 

Recruiting takes place annually starting in October, with an 18-week training program starting in February.  Recruits must be between 18 and 60 years old, pass a physical and a background check and be available to participate in community events and training.  No prior military or equestrian experience is necessary.  The Horse Guard are continuously looking for horse to fit into their program and expand the herd. 

The group currently ranges between 10 and 12 gelding horse who live together, and spend most of their time outside. 

Separation agreement reached between Danbury, City Finance Director

The Danbury City Council has agreed to a  separation agreement with the City's Finance Director, who has been on paid leave for more than a month.  No members commented on the agreement with David St Hilaire.  He worked for Danbury for 15 years and was one of the highest paid employees in the City.  Assistant Finance Director Dan Garrick has been leading the department since St Hilaire was placed on paid leave 6 weeks ago.  Those involved say the separation negotiations are confidential and no one would be commenting.  The Council went into executive session at the end of their meeting Wednesday and voted to approve the agreement without public discussion.

Possible gas leak at Danbury High School investigated

Danbury High School was evacuated yesterday due to a possible gas leak.  The Fire Department responded to a gas odor in the morning and students were dismissed early out an abundance of caution.  Fire officials deemed the school safe for occupancy and normal classes resume today. Pressure tests will be conducted, and any repairs would be carried out after school hours.  Officials say the issue was expected to be resolved in the coming days.

Ridgefield residents vote to ban cannabis establishments

Ridgefield residents have voted to ban cannabis businesses in town.  During a Special Town Meeting this week, residents voted 144 to 43 to ban marijuana sales.  Three public hearings were held on the matter.  The Board of Selectmen voted in April, 4 to 1, to prohibit cannabis business.  The Planning and Zoning Commission passed a one-year moratorium in September, but Ridgefield officials wanted residents to weigh in.  The state legislation allows municipalities the decision on whether to allow 11 types of businesses ranging from cultivators to retailers and transporters.  In municipalities where it's allowed through zoning, Cannabis sales are expected to begin at the end of this year.

Roof repair nearly completed at New Milford High School

New Milford officials expect the rest of the remediation and reconstruction work inside the High School in the area of the July roof fire to be completed by the end of the month.  After that, just a few small items will remain.  Crews are now working in the afternoons and evenings because students are back in class.  The roof repair is about 90-percent complete.  Public Works Director Jack Healy expects that project to wrap up in the next week or two.  The next phase is to put the actual roof on the building.  The standing seam roof, which was being worked on when the fire brok out, would follow.  Healy met twice with the bonding agent and the proposed contractor, Greenwood.  The logistics have been worked out, coordinating with school officials on parking

New Milford relocates leaning 9/11 monument

The New Milford 9-11 memorial was beginning to lean because it had been constructed right on the bank of Patriot's Way, a hillside only accessible from one side. The monument has now been moved to a better location on Patriot's Way and will be ready for the 9-11 ceremony on Sunday.  This is the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks.  New Milford residents can gather at the new memorial location starting at 8am.  The service will start at 8:46am with a bell tolling, followed by a flag raising and remarks.  The new monument location is more than double the size of the previous location, about 50 feet away.  Two granite pillars at the field entrance represent the World Trade Center building.  Two benches will be placed around the area for quiet reflection.  More plantings will also offer added privacy. 

New First Selectman takes Oath of Office in Bethel

Bethel has a new First Selectman.  Rich Straiton was sworn in yesterday the Town Clerk Lisa Bergh.  Straiton will lead the town until a special election is held to replace Matt Knickerbocker, who resigned to take a position in Wilton.  Straiton is a lifelong Bethel resident who has served on various boards and 13 years as a Selectman.  He says he looks forward to continuing the works that he's been involved in for the betterment of the community. 

New Milford library addition, renovation project continuing

The New Milford library addition and renovation project is continuing. The library shelving installation is complete, except for the 1897 building, where duct & HVAC installation is in progress.  The painting is in progress there now that the plumbing and basement abatement has been completed.  Books from storage have been moved back to the library and shelved.  New Furniture has been delivered to outfit the expanded space.  Front sidewalk railing is tentatively set to be installed beginning at the end of this week.

Brookfield Fire gets new toolds

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has taken delivery of new Hurst E-draulic cutters, spreaders and forcible entry tools.  The items, which was replacing older and outdated hydraulic tools, were paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funding, previously approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance.  Brookfield fire officials says their old hydraulic hurst tools run off pumps. All the pumps, tools and hoses need to be serviced and tested annually. These new tools have minimal service and just a battery.

NY man charged with drug possession following routine traffic stop

A New York man has been arrested on drug related charges following a routine traffic stop in the Town of Southeast.  Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies were on patrol Friday and stopped a driver on Route 6 for vehicle and traffic law violations.  Deputies found fentanyl and crack cocaine in the vehicle.  The 40-year old was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 3rd and 7th degrees.  He was arraigned in Carmel Town Court and released for a court appearance in Southeast on the 15th.  

Ridgefield Historical Society finishing work on American Battlefield Protection Program grant

The Ridgefield Historical Society is finishing work on a Phase I grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.  Two workshops were organized in the Spring by a consultant to gather community input on future celebrations of the American Revolution-era Battle of Ridgefield, as well as educational and tourism programming. 

FHI Studio’s report determined that all participants were supportive of long-term stewardship and preservation of the battlefield. 

Suggestions included coordinating with elementary, middle and high schools to include the Battle of Ridgefield, with emphasis on the choices Ridgefielders were making in 1776-77 as loyalist and patriot positions hardened. It was also suggested that the Ridgefield High Class of 2026 could have a special opportunity to commemorate American Independence, since they’ll be graduating just before the July 4, 2026 national celebrations. 

One suggestion was to place the Battle of Ridgefield in a regional context.  Another was to establish walking, cycling, and driving self-guided and facilitated battle tours.  Long term, respondents support further archaeology research and to consider incentives for developers to grant deed restrictions in areas of most historic significance in the battlefield area. 

Ridgefield could apply to the State Historic Preservation office for state historic designation and develop a committee to begin planning for the 250th anniversary of America’s founding.

Danbury to hold CERT training sessions

The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services, together with the Office of Emergency Management, will be holding CERT training sessions for those interested in becoming a part of Danbury’s Community Emergency Response Team.  The CERT program is a nationally supported, locally implemented initiative that teaches people how to better prepare themselves for hazards that may affect their communities. The basic disaster response skills include team organization, disaster medical operations, disaster psychology, fire safety, and light search and rescue.  The certification program consists of 20 hours of training, and will be conducted over a span of 5 sessions, being held on September 12th, 14th, 19th, and 21st from 7pm to 10om at Danbury City Hall, and September 17th from 8am to 4pm at Danbury Fire School. Participants must be over 18 years of age and attend all five sessions in order to receive certification.
To register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/2p8zn93a

23rd Annual Brazilian Flag Raising Ceremony held at Danbury City Hall

The 23rd Annual Brazilian Flag Raising Ceremony has been held at Danbury City Hall.  The day yesterday honored Brazil's Independence Day from the United Kingdom of Portugal in 1822. This year marks the 200th year of Brazil's Independence.  Mayor Dean Esposito and Consulate General of Brazil in Hartford Ambassador Fernando Mello Vidal delivered remarks, and two members of the Brazilian community were recognized for their service to the community.  Abby Ribeiro, Director of Client Support Services at The Center for Empowerment & Education --formerly known as the Women's center--was honored.  The other honoree was Eduardo Santos Braga is an entrepreneur, and owner of Menino Market, which opened in 2019, and Menino Market II, in 2021.

CT United Ride to proceed through Fairfield County Sunday

Connecticut's largest annual 9/11 tribute is being held on Sunday.  The 21st annual CT United Ride will see more than a thousand motorcyclists making their way throughout Fairfield County, honoring  first responders and their families.  The ride this year is leaving from Sherwood Island State Park in Westport and participants will ride with full police escort through 11 municipalities: Norwalk, Westport, Wilton, Georgetown, Redding, Bethel, Newtown, Monroe, Trumbull, Fairfield, and Bridgeport. In each of the towns, the local Fire Stations bring out their Ladder Trucks and hang the American Flag from their extended Ladders over the roadway traveled by the riders. 

New Fairfield Police remind drivers of school safety rules

Classes started up in New Fairfield on Tuesday and now the Resident Trooper's Office is offering some reminders to parents who drive their kids to school.  For the new Meeting House Hill/Consolidated campus, parents are asked to pull to the very far right of Gillotti Road westbound and put on hazard lights while waiting to enter.  Police need to have traffic moving safely on Gillotti Road.  Troopers say coming too early causes traffic problems. There will also be times when the trooper/officer will not let parents make a left out of the school and drivers are asked to follow their directions as they manage traffic in/out of the school, Gillotti and Middleton Roads and the pedestrian crosswalk. 

Animal rights advocates question DEEP decision clearing man for killing bear in Newtown

Animal rights groups are pushing for action after an off-duty Ridgefield police officer killed a bear on his Newtown property and was cleared of wrongdoing.  In May, a bear, nicknamed Bobbi, was shot, and killed by Lawrence Clarke. He told investigators the bear had been behaving aggressively, threatening his chickens and his grandson. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection cleared the officer of wrongdoing.  Newtown has an ordinance that forbids weapon from being discharged within 500 feet of a residence, but Chief David Kullgren says this case was an exception due to self defense.  

Bethel to implement Tax Stabilization Ordinance

A public hearing has been held in Bethel on a proposed Tax Stabilization Ordinance.  Officials say the goal is to prevent radical increases in the mill rate.  The Boards of Finance and Selectmen signed off on the plans prior to the hearing.  The Selectmen approved the proposal at their meeting Tuesday.  Outgoing First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the purpose is to promote sound financial management and enforce spending discipline by setting aside budget surplus dollars for use during years with lower growth or declining revenue.  Weak economic conditions, state or federal mandates or large business taxpayers leaving can cause unanticipated revenue shortfalls during a fiscal year that would be addressed through reductions to services or increases in taxes.  Knickerbocker says the Tax Stabilization Fund may be used to prevent those actions. During the development of the annual budget, the Board of Finance may authorize a transfer to the General Fund consistent to the extent possible with Use of Fund Balance entries. The maximum annual transfer is $500,000 in any one fiscal year.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics today, tomorrow in Danbury

The state Department of Public Health/Griffin Health mobile vaccination team is holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Danbury this afternoon.  The clinic at Saint Peter's School at 98 Main Street is from 4pm to 7pm and for everyone 6 months and up. Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will be available.  Griffin Health will be hosting a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at the Goddard School in Danbury tomorrow.  This will take place at the lower level of The Summit on Reserve Road from 3pm to 7pm.  No appointment is needed. 

Putnam County's 9/11 observation planned

Putnam County’s observation of the 21th anniversary of the September 11th attacks will be held on Sunday, at the Putnam Heroes Memorial, located at Cornerstone Park in Carmel. The Candlelight Vigil will start at 7pm.  Fair Street will be closed from Vink Drive to Route 52 at 6pm and Route 52 will be closed from Route 301 to Fowler Avenue at 6:30pm

Raised with trauma, Sandy Hook survivors send hope to Uvalde

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The survivors who were able to walk out of Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly a decade ago want to share a message of hope with the children of Uvalde, Texas: You will learn how to live with your trauma, pain and grief. And it will get better.

They know what’s ahead. There’s shock, followed by numbness. There are struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety. Survivor’s guilt. Anger that these shootings continue to happen in America. Reliving their trauma every time there’s another mass shooting.

They know it will be hard to say they are from Uvalde. That well-meaning adults will sometimes make the wrong decisions to protect you. That grief can be unpredictable, and different for everyone.

Danbury Mayor mourns loss of mother

Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito is mourning the loss of his mother, Barbara Pooler Esposito.  She passed away on Sunday at age 89.  She worked for 20 years as a private duty nurse and retired as head nurse for Fairfield Hills in 1994. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, at 10:30am at St. Peter Church, Danbury. The service is open to the public.  No calling hours will be held and interment in St. Peter Cemetery will be private.

Danbury Police mourn loss of retired Detective Lieutenant

The Danbury Police Department is mourning the loss of a retired Detective Lieutenant.  Kevin Barry passed away on August 27th at the age of 78.  He joined the force as a Special Police Officer in 1968 and retired in 1998.  During that time, he was assigned as a Youth / Community Relations Officer, became Segreant in 1974 and Lt in 1977 where he helped spearhead one of the earliest Victim Advocate programs in the State. He established and commanded the department’s Community Services Division until his retirement.  Barry was active in the Police Explorer program as early as 1973, is a founding member of the CT Advisory Council to the National Crime Prevention Council, and was recognized for his work in an illegal gambling investigation in 1980.

Special Town Meeting in Ridgefield on several items

A Special Town Meeting is being held tonight in Ridgefield.  Residents are being called on to vote on 4 items, including a ban on cannabis sales in Ridgefield.  First on the agenda is the expansion of the Economic & Community Development Commission from 7 to 9 members, and their term of service from 1 year to two years. 

The next item up for a vote is a contract with Aquarion Water Company for a permanent pressure reducing facility easement and a temporary construction easement over a portion of the Scotland Elementary School Property. 

The third item is an Cannabis Prohibiting Ordinance. 

The last item on the agenda is nearly $233,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to reimburse the RVNA for expenses associated with the Covid Vaccination Clinic.  The clinics were 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.

Under the cannabis proposal, it will be unlawful to commercially Cultivate or dispense Cannabis in any building or land anywhere in town, with some exceptions.  No application will be permitted in any zone in Ridgefield.  Under state statutes, delivery of cannabis is allowed.  Ridgefield will not prohibit the delivery of Cannabis to a consumer, qualifying patient, or caregiver when the delivery is made by an authorized entity.  Also under state law, residents may cultivate up to three mature Cannabis plants and three immature Cannabis plants at home, as long as they are secure from access by others. 

Nothing in the proposed ordinance will prohibit any entirely lawful cultivation, processing, manufacturing, or retail of Hemp or hemp products licensed by the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Consumer Protection. 

The Town Meeting is at 7:30pm.

Route 7 in New Milford to be paved

The state Department of Transportation has held a pre-construction meeting for the resurfacing of Route 7 in New Milford,  The milling and paving will be done from the area of Three Brothers Restaurant, north to the intersection with Route 37.  The milling is slated to start on September 26th and continue through October 4th, weather permitting.  Paving will start on October 2nd and cotninue through the 11th.  The consturction will be done in the overnight hours, from 7pm to 5am.  Two New Milford Police officers stationed--one on each end of the work zone--with certified flaggers for traffic control.

Mausoleum proposed for St Peter Cemetery in Danbury

When the Danbury Planning Commission meets tonight, members will open a public hearing into a request by the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation to build an 800-square-foot mausoleum at St Peter Cemetery.  Plans call for locating the structure next to an existing mausoleum at 71 Lake Avenue Extension.  The “garden-style” mausoleum would be on a 1-acre site where there is already an office and maintenance building.  The proposed mausoleum will contain 264 crypts and 144 niche spaces.  A memo to the Commission from the city’s Planning Department considers the plans satisfactory and there is no need for additional parking.  A variance was previously approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals to reduce the yard around the proposed building.  Tonight's meeting is being held via Zoom starting at 7:30pm.

Agreement between TMobile, New Fairfield amended

An amendment has been made to the agreement between the Town Of New Fairfield and a telecommunications company for the lease of space on the tower at 302 Ball Pond Road.  T-Mobile is looking to replace 9 pieces of equipment and antennas, replacing them with 9 new pieces of technology.  The rent paid to New Fairfield will be $425 per month, and increase annually under the terms of the original lease.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the increase in rent is why the Board of Selectmen had to sign off on the lease amendment.

Sandy Hook Promise wins Emmy for 'Teenage Dream' PSA

Sandy Hook Promise has won an Emmy Award for its “Teenage Dream” Public Service Announcement.  The award, presented on Saturday, was for Outstanding Commercial.  Co-founder Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary nearly a decade ago, accepted the award at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony.  Hockley says awareness of the problem, and its solutions, are critical first steps to end the epidemic of gun violence.  Another gun violence prevention ad, from Change the Ref's, was presented with the same award.  The "Teenage Dream” PSA encourages people to learn and act on warning signs that may lead to gun violence.  Singer Katy Perry donated her award-winning song “Teenage Dream" for the ad featuring school shooting survivors. Sandy Hook Promise also won an Emmy for their "Back-to-School Essentials" PSA and was nominated for their "Point of View" PSA. 

Blueberry Island in Candlewood Lake closed due to unsanitary conditions

Blueberry Island in Candlewood Lake is closed indefinitely due to unsanitary conditions.  The property in New Fairfield is owned by FirstLight Power Resources.  The island was closed by order of the New Fairfield Health Department following complaints about a significant amount of human waste, soiled toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and dirty diapers on the island.  The notification was posted by the New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office and many concerned citizens reached out about cleaning it up.  This would not involve the Police Department, rather it's the responsibility of First Light and/or the Candlewood Lake Authority. 

Brookfield's newest Officer joins the force from DPD

Brookfield Police Department's newest officer joins the force after serving for more than two decades in Danbury.  Joe Pooler was sworn in last week after 21 years with the DPD.  He was a k-9 handler, Field Training Officer, and remains a member of the Regional ESU team. Officer Pooler is a Brookfield native.  While serving in Danbury, Pooler was ambushed and beaten while in a marked patrol car in a parking lot  in 2016.  A man pacing up and down the street approached his cruiser and started to bang and kick it.  Pooler got out of the car thinking the the man needed help, and there was a violent struggle between the pair.  Pooler sustained significant injuries to his jaw and face.

New Milford School District updates COVID-19 guidelines for new year

The new school year started today in New Milford.  The district noted that students and staff should test if they develop COVID-19 like symptoms.  The district does have a  supply of COVID-19 test kits and will make them available, while supplies last.  Anyone testing positive is asked to contact the school nurse and isolate for 5 days, with the day of the positive test being Day 0.  After 5 days, students or staff are allowed to return to school if they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication. It is still mandatory to wear a mask from days 6-10 when returning to school after a positive COVID-19 case.  Anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19, should wear a high quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 2 or 3 and again on day 5 from the last exposure.  Home tests are sufficient. Masks are optional in New Milford Public Schools. Students and staff may choose to wear masks as an additional layer of protection and they are available in schools. Masks are no longer required on buses.

Executive director of Ridgefield Playhouse stepping down

The executive director of The Ridgefield Playhouse is stepping down.  Allison Stockel will be honored for her 21 years of work at a November gala.  Under her leadership, the nonprofit performing arts center went from producing 40 shows a year to more than 250 shows.  Most recently, the lobby was expanded and there were upgrades to the backstage area and audio system.  The gala honoring the Ridgefield mother of two, will star actress, singer and children’s book author Bernadette Peters.  Managing Director Ashley Paltauf will becoming managing director of operations and development, while Artistic Director Jared Shahid will be managing director of talent and marketing. Shahid started out as Stockel’s assistant, founded his own speaker’s bureau and worked for “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John.  Shahid has moved and rebooked outdoor shows during the pandemic.  Paltauf worked with patrons through the outdoor tent/field shows as well as transitioning back to indoor shows.

Police rappel off Mohegan Sun in Special Olympics fundraiser

Several local police officers took part in a fundraiser for Special Olympics, including from Brookfield and Wilton.  Officers went over the edge of Mohegan Sun's Sky Tower and rappelled down the building. Brookfield raised over $1,800 for Special Olympics Connecticut.

FEMA grant awarded to Danbury Fire Department

The Danbury Fire Department has been awarded funding through Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Firefighter Wellness Program. The grant award is $63,772.  The Wellness Program will include cancer screenings and ultrasounds for tumor detection.

Woman allegedly threatened motorist with handgun in Danbury road rage incident

A Waterbury woman has been arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at another driver in a road rage incident in Danbury. Police received a call from a motorist who said he was driving slowly down Main Street on Thursday looking for a business when the driver behind him started honking. The man stopped at a red light on South Street and the other driver, later determined to be 43-year old Danielle Barnaby, reportedly pulled up next to him, yelled through the window that she was going to kill him and pointed a handgun. The woman sped away and Bethel Police were notified-with a description of the operator, the vehicle, and the license plate number.  Bethel officers located the vehicle and stopped the driver.  Barnaby was found in possession of a Ruger LCP .380 caliber handgun.  She was charged with Reckless Endangerment, Threatening, and Breach of Peace.

Personal finance website ranks Most, Least Equitable School Districts in Connecticut

Personal finance website WalletHub has released its report on the Most and Least Equitable School Districts in Connecticut. To find out where school funding is distributed most fairly, WalletHub scored the equitability of each district based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil. 

WalletHub also released rankings for the States with the Most and Least Equitable School Districts. Connecticut ranked as the 13th least equitable overall.  For that report, 12,876 school districts throughout the U.S. were scored based on the same metrics.

Students have experienced a large amount of learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, and analyst Jill Gonzalez says all parents shouldn't be expected to be able to afford resources to help their children catch up.  She notes that that’s especially true during this period of high inflation.  Gonzalez says all schools should have enough funding for an effective catch-up year, including tutoring resources for students who have fallen behind.

Most & Least Equitable School Districts in Connecticut

Most Equitable                                 Least Equitable
1. Somers School District              157. Redding School District
2. Windsor School District             158. Waterbury School District
3. Regional School District 04       159. Bridgeport School District
4. Litchfield School District            160. Greenwich School District
5. Oxford School District               161. New Canaan School District
6. Preston School District              162. Wilton School District
7. Salem School District                163. Weston School District
8. Barkhamsted School District     164. Sharon School District
9. Bloomfield School District         165. Westport School District
10. Old Saybrook School District  166. Darien School District


https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-equitable-school-districts-in-connecticut/77060/ 

 

Rank    District         Score   Expenditures* per Pupil    Income by School District
37.    Brookfield       7.83                $19,333                       $117,292
59.   New Fairfield  14.67              $21,522                       $114,583

78.   Bethel             18.91              $18,555                       $94,973

84.   New Milford    19.93              $18,598                       $93,815

96.   Newtown         25.13             $21,422                       $125,028

143. Danbury          56.17             $15,264                       $73,204

148. Ridgefield        64.58             $23,828                       $152,630

154. Region 9         70.00              $26,577                      $146,200

 

*for Public Elementary and Secondary Schools 

New Fairfield Resident Troopers stations at school campus for start of new year

New Fairfield students are returning to classes for a new academic year today.  There will be two Resident State Troopers at the new school campus with School Resource Officers at the high school and middle school.  New Fairfield Police ask drivers to slow down on the school campus and use turn signals when exiting the school so the trooper/officer can see the intended direction of travel.  A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for the new Consolidated/Meeting House Hill complex on Saturday.  Tours will be held following the ceremony.

Road rage, shoplifting incidents under investigation in New Milford

New Milford Police are looking for a road rage suspect.  Police responded to  Danbury Road near the intersection of Sullivan Road on Friday.  The incident happened between 3:45pm and shortly after 4pm.  Two black vehicles with white male operators were headed northbound when the incident occurred. 

 

Meanwhile, New Milford Police are also investigating a shoplifting incident and looking for the public's help in identifying the suspects.  Police are searching for an Hispanic male in his 20s and an Hispanic female in her 20s who reportedly stole items from Tractor Supply on Danbury Road on August 26th.  They left the scene in a newer model gray Kia Sportage. Photos of the suspects have been posted to the Department's Facebook page.

 

Anyone with information concerning these cases, is asked to contact New Milford Police. 

60th annual Newtown Labor Day parade held

The 60th annual Newtown Labor Day parade was held yesterday.  The day featured police and fire trucks, school bands, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and veterans among others.  The rain held off for the parade, which wasn't held for two years during the pandemic.  People lined the streets to see the floats, performance and marchers.  Newtown’s Labor Day parade was also one of the few big political events left before November’s election and candidates from both parties for Governor, U-S Senate and Congress were among those also participating in the parade.

Aquarion replacing equipment at Sandy Hook pump station

Aquarion Water Company is starting a project today to replace equipment at its Sandy Hook pump station.  The work is being done at Bancroft Road and Alpine Drive.  The utility says residents should expect minor traffic disruptions, including detours.  Most of the work is being done off the roadway, on Aquarion property.  Construction hours are 7am to 5pm.  The construction project could last for at least a year.  No disruption in water service is expected.  Aquarion officials say the project is meant to ensure reliable water pressure in the distribution system serving customers in the Sandy Hook area.

Newtown to purchase front bucket loader with ARPA funding

A front bucket loader will be purchased by the Newtown Public Works Department.  The cost is $300,000 and will be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal notes that the dollar value exceeds the threshold to be on the Capital Improvement Plan.  Director Fred Hurley says the loader is one of the most expensive and most useful pieces of equipment they have.  It's used for loading trucks for winter snow removal, and when needed throughout the year for other departments.  Any trade in value will be used for added equipment for the loader.  The Board of Selectmen approved amending the 2022-23 Legislative Council-approved CIP for the Public Works front bucket loader to be funded with ARPA dollars.

Informational meeting to be held in Brookfield on sanitary sewer study area

The Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority is holding an information meeting next week about a recent study of some areas surrounding Candlewood Lake Road.  The consulting engineers will present preliminary alternatives for sanitary sewer service to the study areas around Dean and Pocono roads, the Candlewood Lake Peninsula and the Candlewood Lake Club.  The  information session will be Wednesday the 14th, at 7pm, in the Brookfield High School auditorium.  After the presentation, there will be time for the WPCA to obtain feedback from residents, though they are asking for questions to be submitted prior to the meeting so complete answers can be presented.  Questions can be emailed to the WPCA office@brookfieldwpca.org and with “Question” in the subject line.

Only a few lifeguards remain at state park swim areas

For the rest of this holiday weekend, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will have lifeguards on duty at Black Rock, Silver Sands and Hammonasset Beach State Parks. Other designated swim areas, including Squantz Pond State Park will not have guards on duty. After Labor Day, there will be no lifeguards on duty at any of Connecticut's state park swimming areas.  DEEP hired 90 lifeguards to staff eight of the most popular swimming areas of the state park system, at a time when jurisdictions across the country have been dealing with a lifeguard shortage. At this time of year, however, many lifeguards leave their positions to return to school.

Brookfield highlights National Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.  The Brookfield Health Department is looking to shine a spotlight on a topic not often talked about.  The Brookfield Cares website has information about suicide prevention, along with information on the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.  Also known as Suicide Awareness Month, officials are highlighting the impact on family and friends long after the loss of a loved one. According to the National Institutes of Health, on average, one person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes in the U-S.  Two-thirds of the people who commit suicide suffer from depression.  Meanwhile, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is hosting a Family Support Group at the Senior Center building on the last Wednesday of the month at 7pm.

Conn. Summer at the Museum program ends today

The Connecticut Summer at the Museum program is winding down.  Connecticut children can receive free admission to more than 130 museums across the state through today.
The program was established in 2021 in response to the pandemic as a way of providing children with engaging summer enrichment and learning experiences. It is funded through a $15 million investment in federal funding Connecticut received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Children aged 18 and under – plus one accompanying adult – can receive free admission to participating museums, historic sites, science centers, botanical gardens and zoos.  Capacity may be limited at the participating entities. Connecticut residents should check each museum’s website to learn of any restrictions before visiting.

Some of the attractions in the Greater Danbury area include the Danbury Railway Museum, Harrybrooke Park in New Milford and Keeler Tavern Museum in Ridgefield.
The full list of participating museums is available at CTSummerMuseums.com.

While any museum in Connecticut can choose to participate, eligible properties had an opportunity to apply for grant funding to offset the cost of admission. More than 120 grants were awarded, calculated based on the applicant’s average revenue from children’s admissions over the same period for multiple years, plus a base award tied to operating budget. The minimum grant award is $1,000.
Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development director of arts, preservation, and museums Liz Shapiro says these institutions play an important role in local communities and economies, plus they are rich canvases for socio-emotional development in young people.  She notes that this is the only program of its kind in the United States.

 

Also participating are:

Danbury Museum, Danbury

Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Museum, Kent
Eric Sloane Museum, Kent

EverWonder Children's Museum, Newtown
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield

Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington
Glebe House Museum & Gertrude Jekyll Garden, Woodbury

Newtown has potentially interested party for former police station building

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says a contractor is evaluating Town Hall South, the old police station building, but there's nothing official to report right now on a potential sale of the building.  He says if this doesn't bear fruit, the town will likely go the broker route.  Right now, Rosenthal says it looks like something promising, along the lines of what people would be happy with.  A sign is posted on the building noting that the Legislative Council and Board of Selectmen voted to put 3 Main Street up for sale.

Food pantries in Bethel, Newtown host food drives

Yesterday marked National Food Bank Day.  Bethel-based Brotherhood in Action is hosting a food drive today.  The Stuff a truck/humvee event is taking place from 9am to noon at their headquarters on Greenwood Avenue.  FAITH Food Pantry in Newtown will hold a food drive Monday from 9am to noon.  During the annual Newtown Labor Day parade, volunteers will be collecting donations and food while they march along the route.  Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang says food insecurity and the hunger crisis exists in all communities.  He's grateful that local food pantries are collecting good to fill their depleted shelves.  Hwang says households are struggling with inflation costs on food, while trying to pay elevated energy bills and make other payments.

Brookfield Town Beach open for a few remaining days

The Brookfield Town Beach is open this weekend, from 10am until 6pm each day. The last day operating day of the season is Labor Day, Monday. Brookfield residents who do not have season passes have the option of paying the daily guest fee at the gate. The fee is 10-dollars per person with no charge for residents under age 2, or over age 65. Visitors must bring proof of residency, such as a driver's license, to the gate.   

Medical marijuana dispensary seeks Danbury zoning changes as it pursues hybrid license

During the Danbury Zoning Commission's latest meeting, members set a public hearing date on regulations measuring the distance between a cannabis business and the nearest neighborhood.  The Board only approved new retail marijuana business regulations at their August 9th meeting.  The Botanist, an existing medical marijuana dispensary on Mill Plain Road wants to apply to the state for a hybrid license, but its property line is not at least 200 feet from the start of the nearest residential zone.  The petition seeks to change the rules as being from the front entrance of an establishment instead of the property line.  The public hearing will be held on October 11th.

COVID-19 case rates updated for Greater Danbury area

COVID-19 cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health were cut by more than half in Brookfield, New Milford and Newtown compared to last week.  Cases fell by more than a quarter in Danbury over the last 7 days.  There was no data for New Fairfield or Redding this week.  Rates held fairly steady in most other Greater Danbury area municipalities.

 

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 September 1st, there were 35 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 11, and Brookfield had 6.  There were 8 COVID cases in New Milford, 14 in Newtown, while Ridgefield had 10. 

 

Most Greater Danbury area towns reported 100 to 200 COVID-19 tests to the state over the last 7 days.  There were just 96 reported in Brookfield.  Danbury reported 476 tests, about the same as the week before.  Newtown reported 516 tests to the state this week.

 

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 3.3 percent

New Milford 3.4 percent

Brookfield 7.2 percent

Ridgefield 8.2 percent

Danbury 8.4 percent

Bethel 10.6 percent

 

New state data released Thursday shows a decrease in COVID-19 positivity compared to last week.  The rolling 7-day average is 8.97 percent, down from 10.6 percent the week before. There were 3,400 positive COVID cases reported to the state out of nearly 39,000 tests, only slightly more each than last week. 

 

The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID-19 over the last 7 days increased by 1.  The inpatient total is 353, with 42-percent not fully vaccinated.  19 more patients in Fairfield County hospitals this week tested positive compared to last week. 

 

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 17 since last Thursday.

 

The BA5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 continues to make up the majority of the cases sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut for the week ending August 20th, but BA4 is edging up.  According to the latest report, 84.6 percent of samples were BA5, while 15.4 percent were BA4.  

State Police remember Sgt. killed one year ago in line of duty

Connecticut State Police are remembering a Trooper today who was killed in the line of duty one year ago.  Sgt Brian Mohl was swept away in the floodwaters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury when the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved through the state.  The 26-year veteran of the department died after calling for help, saying his vehicle was trapped in rising flood waters.  Dive teams found his empty vehicle in the river just after daybreak. The 50-year old was found an hour later further down the river.  Mohl graduated from the State Police Training Academy in 1995, with the 105th Training Troop. He was assigned to Troop A in Southbury and transferred to Troop L in Litchfield after being promoted to Sergeant in May 2000. He also served as Sergeant at Troop B in North Canaan, Troop G in Bridgeport and Troop H in Hartford before returning to Troop L in 2008.

Newtown official warns of fire danger

Due to the ongoing drought conditions, Newtown Fire Marshal Rich Frampton says the forest fire danger is extreme in Fairfield County.  He says precautions should be taken to prevent fires, by limited campfires to their stone or metal rings and be sure the fire is doused thoroughly when done.  The fire danger today in Litchfield County is moderate.

Candlewood Lake water levels low, but within operating range

Candlewood Lake water levels are lower than earlier in the season, but within normal operating range for boating.  The pumped storage hydroelectric lake levels fluctuate by nature of its operations by up to 2.5 feet throughout the boating season.  According to FirstLight's operating license, the level ranges from 427 feet to 429.5 feet.  As of yesterday, the level was 427.3.  FirstLight is currently unable to pump additional water in Candlewood due to low flows in the Housatonic River stemming from existing drought conditions.  Lower water levels are likely to continue.  The Candlewood Lake Authority says boaters should always be prepared for boating at different water levels, stay away from marked hazards and shallow areas.  CLA says there may be unmarked hazards when water levels are at the lower end of the normal operating range.  

Lake users asked to be aware of signs of drowning this holiday weekend

There were five drowning deaths on Candlewood Lake this season and as the busy Labor Day weekend approaches, lake users are being asked to be aware of the signs of drowning.  New Fairfield officials note that drowning is silent.  Some signs to look for include hair over the forehead, head tilted back, unable to call or wave for help, body in a vertical position or making a motion underwater like they are climbing a ladder.  This is the last weekend that the town beaches in municipalities around the lake will have lifeguards on duty.

Newtown P&Z rejects proposed moratorium on warehouse applications

An application to the Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission to place a moratorium on warehouse and distribution center applications has been denied. This stemmed from a proposal, which was previously rejected, for a 345,000 square foot warehouse with 55 trucking docks on Hawleyville Road.  The moratorium application was presented by a group called Newtown Neighbors Alliance, LLC.  Some commission members felt that the proposal was too broad, others felt it was specifically targeting particular areas.  Planning Director George Benson noted that the Commission doesn't need a moratorium to create a subcommittee to look at the process of making regulation changes. 

Smash-and-grab robberies from vehicles in Southbury under investigation

A string of smash-and-grab robberies from vehicles in Southbury may have been committed by one suspect or group of suspects.  Southbury Police say since last Wednesday, at least three unoccupied vehicles had their windows smashed in order to gain entry and steal items left inside.  Police say they aren't ruling out the possibility that some of the incidents may be connected.  The incidents currently under investigation include from parking lots at Community House Park, Bent of the River Audubon Center, and a commercial building on Southford Road.  Witnesses reported a white SUV driving erratically out of the parking lot.  The investigation remains ongoing.

Plant material on Candlewood down to virtually zero

Over the course of the first half of the boating season, the Candlewood Lake Authority found that plant material had been reduced to virtually zero, both invasive and native species.  CLA is working with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, FirstLight, and aquatic plant experts to determine the exact cause of the drastic change.  FirstLight conducted an entire plant community assessment, with the CLA conducting similar smaller-scale assessments. While historically the plant community, dominated by the invasive species Eurasian Watermilfoil, has been over-abundant to the point of being a recreational nuisance, CLA says the plants do provide a critical ecosystem service as both a part of the food web and providing fish habitat.

New Milford High School contractor down to skeleton crew

After the long holiday weekend, New Milford students will be returning for a new academic year.  While there is still repair work happening at the High School from a July roof fire, officials say there's very little left to do to get ready to welcome students back.  Public Works Director Jack Healy says about 200,000 square feet was impacted was fire, smoke or water and they're down to mostly punch list items. The contractor just has a skeleton crew on site for the remaining work.  The plan is to finish the 3rd floor by the end of the month, though they are waiting for some cabinetry and other items.  Healy says by Christmas everything will be in place.  The contractor will be moving dumpsters and sweeping up the back parking lot today and this weekend so that it will be available for students when classes begin on Tuesday.

Redding Police warn of unemployment fraud claims on the rise

Fraudulent unemployment claims are on the rise in Connecticut.  Redding Police say typically this is occurs when someone's identity has been compromised via a data breach and personal information is obtained. If residents or employers realize there has been a fraudulent unemployment claim filed on their behalf, it can be reported to the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Warning issued to boaters around Rochambeau Bridge construction site

The contractor working on the Rochambeau Bridge replacement along I-84 in Newtown has constructed a temporary bent for future steel erection in Span 2, which is over the navigation channel on Lake Zoar. The bent will be in place until late September. It will be well-lit and delineated so boaters can see it well in advance. A 75-foot channel will be maintained between the bent and Pier 2.  Last week crews completed removal of the existing concrete barrier wall and concrete placement for Pier 3 pier cap.  They also poured concrete at abutment 2.  This week crews have been working on drainage and preparing to install bearings.  

New Milford High School clean up substantially complete

With classes starting in New Milford next week, recovery work is wrapping up on most of the High School a July roof fire.  About 200,000 square feet was impacted. Over  300,000 ceiling drop tiles have been replaced.  All of the ceiling tiles in the center of the school were taken out because they're porous and were impacted by smoke or water. Air quality testing shows no lingering issues from smoke damage.  Prior to the fire, the district replaced 2-inch filters with 4 inch filters.  Contractors took those out and put in new carbon filters and pleated filters, which Public Works Director Jack Healy says makes for even higher quality filtering.  A number of steps were taken to ensure there wouldn't be any mold from water damage.  Healy says the walls are porous so the only way was to remove them.  The areas were all cleaned, insulation was replaced and the solid duct work was inspected before walls were rebuilt.  Air quality tests show there are no particulates remaining.

Fire danger extreme today in Fairfield County

The fire danger in Fairfield County today is extreme and rated as high in Litchfield County.  For anyone who received a permit from the local Open Burn Official to burn brush on private property, the permit is not valid when the danger is rated high, very high or extreme and burning within 100 feet of a grassland or woodland.

Candlewood Lake examined for zebra mussel presence

FirstLight worked this summer with a team of zebra mussel ecologists to conduct a dive searching for the invasive species specimen below the level of the drawdown where they could continue to survive over the winter. During that dive, they found a total of 370 adult zebra mussels across over 30 dive sites.  The Candlewood Lake Authority's environmental DNA chemical analysis, in partnership with WestConn, showed two samples with low concentrations of Zebra Mussel DNA in the water.  CLA says that could be an indication of reproduction in the lake and adult mussel growth and survival. 

Town Meeting won't be held in New Fairfield on proposed school bus lot location

A town meeting will not be held in New Fairfield about the proposed school bus lot and dispatch center at the former Consolidated School property.  During a Special Board of Selectmen meeting on August 25th, members vote 2 to 1 not to hold a meeting in response to a petition from residents.  The Board noted that current challenge to the approvals of school construction and related amenities is untimely. 

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission hired an outside attorney to represent them on a summons served by the Town  and the Permanent Building Committee over the Commission's denial of a site plan application for 302 Ball Pond Road. 

During the August 25th gathering, several residents spoke out about concerns with construction of a bus lot.  They signed onto the petition, seeking a vote by taxpayers.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says line-by-line comparisons for each option examined were previously made public. 

The Town Attorney issued an opinion that the Board of Selectmen is not required to hold a town meeting in response to the petition.  Selectman Lori Beninson though said she would be in favor of it.  

The Permanent Building Committee has made changes to the plan to make the lot more aesthetic and to hide the buses as much as possible.  The plans called for having the buses further from road, a different entrance and exit, along with additional screening.  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.  

Ridgefield High School senior creates new 'SAFE SPACES' program

The Ridgefield Police Department was asked by a High School senior to be a location for her new program "SAFE SPACES".  They accepted the invitation from Briony Sekelsky to be among those listed as a Safe Space.  The partnerships between the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield and locations in town are meant  to provide safety and aid to youth who feel unsafe and uncomfortable while alone. Locations can be identified by a sticker/decal on a front window.  Ridgefield Police say what makes them a little different from the other locations, is that they are always open. Each location has a guidance sheet with step-by-step instructions on how to handle common situations that could occur.

Danbury monitoring reservoir levels amid drought conditions

With a continued lack of significant rainfall, the City of Danbury is taking steps to monitor the drought situation and mitigate problems where possible.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the  city’s reservoir system is at 72 percent capacity, down from a 100 percent capacity only back in May.  Crews are increasing their monitoring of West Lake and Margerie Lake reservoirs.  He says the trend doesn't look good, but the City is at a point in storage capacity where he feels comfortable with operations.  This week Mayor Dean Esposito put out a call for homeowners, businesses and apartment or condo complexes to not irrigate lawns and gardens.  While there are no penalties for continuing, the city warned it would be patrolling neighborhoods to monitor compliance.

Funding awarded to United Way program designed to help ALICE households

$1.2 million in Senate Directed Funds has been awarded to the United Way of Western Connecticut support the expansion of a first- of- its- kind digital marketplace. Prosperi-Key will support ALICE families, those who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  Nearly 40 percent of their service region does not make enough to afford the basic cost of living. 

The digital marketplace was launched last year to connects ALICE households to social services, business discounts, government supports, and other resources to help lessen the cost of living, reduce family stress, and support their ability to save. Prosperi-Key also supports small businesses by linking them with a new customer base, while also giving back to their community. 

The Senate funding will help grow small and mid-size businesses offerings for ALICE by underwriting the cost for businesses to join Prosperi-Key;  recruit ALICE to join Prosperi-Key as “Key Members”;  enhance vocational and educational accessibility on Prosperi-Key, including collaboration with State workforce development programs; and help to build out the additional technology infrastructure for this expansion.

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