An internal review of the Easton-Redding school district's financial controls has been completed. The Redding Pilot reports that no evidence was found of nefarious, incompetent, or conniving. Region 9 Superintendent Tom McMorran found that process errors were made by former district finance director Peggy Sullivan pre-emptively transferring a budget surplus into a health insurance safety account and authorizing purchase of a boiler for Redding Elementary School without asking for the Board of Education's approval. McMorran told The Pilot that a number of policy changes are being implemented.
New Milford has applied for a state grant to rehabilitate the old Boardman Bridge. Plans call for work to allow foot traffic to cross the bridge. Mayor David Gronbach says this is an important investment in historic preservation of a bridge whose style and design could not be replicated today.
He notes that it will also help quality of life with bike/walking trails.
New Milford has also applied for a state grant to improve the parking lot at the new Pettibone Community Center. Gronbach says this meets a lot of the State’s priority of rehabilitating old buildings with mixed use, providing an emergency shelter for the community, and servicing recreation, educational, and social service clients.
The New Milford Town Council also authorized a Phase 1 study to upgrade heating, cooling, and electric generation at Pettibone. A new roof with possible solar arrays, financed by the energy savings from new technology, was also authorized. Gronbach hopes to work with UCONN on this project.
A Republican will continue to serve residents the 68th House District of Woodbury and Watertown. Joe Polletta handily won over Democrat Louis Esposito, gaining 78-percent of the vote.
About 19-percent of registered voters in Watertown cast ballots while about 16-percent of Woodbury residents voted.
The 28-year old Polletta switched to the Republican party two years ago. He is a member of the Town Council and the Blight Task Force, and works for his family's real estate business. Polletta opposes recreational marijuana and a state tax on social security.
A Region 9 Board of Education member has been charged with risk of injury to a minor. Sara Sobel's husband Jon Sobel was also charged. They turned themselves in to Redding Police last week and are due in court today.
The Newstimes reports that the couple failed to cooperate with the state Department of Children and Families on a case involving their friend, Stephen Overby. The man reportedly lived with the Sobels for several months and was recently charged with three counts of sexual assault on a minor.
The published reports says that one of the Sobels reported the possible sexual assault to police and the couple initially declined to have the victim examined by a doctor working with DCF. They eventually agreed.
According to court documents, the Sobels revoked consent for DCF to speak with a school guidance counselor and private therapist.
The legislature's budget-writing committee has suddenly halted plans to vote on an alternative to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal.
Democratic leaders of the Appropriations Committee made a surprise announcement Tuesday that they were adjourning without taking the scheduled vote, expressing disappointment there wasn't bipartisan support for the two-year, $40.3 billion proposal.
It's unclear whether a spending bill can be passed before the committee's Thursday deadline, or whether a separate tax bill will be voted on as well.
Democrats say they didn't know until recently that Republicans weren't supporting the spending bill and instead planned to release their own budget. But the GOP leaders say they've been upfront for weeks about their budget proposal, expressing concerns with proposed Democratic tax increases.
Democrats hold a slim majority on the committee.
A local lawmaker is critical of what he said was a tone-deaf budget proposal. Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski says a 5.2 percent spending increase was proposed, and then a vote quickly cancelled.
The Democratic spending plan did remove some of the governor’s more controversial proposals to substantially redistribute local education aid and to shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities. But Sredzinski says the plan would have spent $403 million more than what the governor proposed. He railed against the his Committee colleagues saying it's another example that the majority doesn't grasp how angry and frustrated taxpayers are.
He added that Connecticut will not tax its way out of this problem and the legislature needs to proceed with that mentality.
Earlier this week, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Research announced an update to revenue projections indicating a shortfall of more than $260 million based on tax collections.
There was relatively low voter turn out in Newtown yesterday for the budget referendum, just 20-percent. Residents did overwhelmingly pass the municipal and school spending plans, along with all six of the capital items on the ballot. On the advisory questions, residents said that if the budgets hadn't been approved they should not be increased.
Charter revisions meant that this was the first time certain capital items weren't decided on at Town Meetings. They were listed on the ballot at random.
According to unofficial tallies, the $40.39 million municipal budget was approved 2,227 to 1,130. The $72.99 million education budget was approved 2,150 to 1,214.
$1.8 million for middle school improvements was approved 2,053 to 1,292.
$3 million for a new senior center was narrowly approved 1,930 to 1,391.
$750,000 toward the final phase of high school auditorium improvements got a total 2,026 yes vote and 1,295 no vote.
$850,000 for a roof replacement at Hawley School was approved 2,158 to 1,196.
$1 million for paving was approved by the largest margin of 2,841 to 485.
$300,000 to begin the design phase for a new police station was approved 2,214 to 1,109.
A Sandy Hook teenager has been charged for allegedly robbing a gas station in Newtown. Police arrested 19-year old Stephen Violet Tuesday on a 1st degree robbery charge. The incident happened at the Citgo Gas Station on South Main Street January 20th.
Violet has been detained since January 23rd on charges filed by Norwalk Police.
Bond in the Newtown case was set at $75,000. The Newtown case is still active and Police say other suspects are being investigated as taking part in this robbery.
Violet was charged by Norwalk Police with stealing a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance. He is due in court on May 11th on those charges. He is also facing charges of robbery, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny for incidents in Norwalk on January 6th, 11th and 14th. He is also facing one count of threatening.
The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is participating in Denim Day today as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Denim Day was originally started by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove them, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.
The Women's Center asked people to participate today in making a social statement by wearing jeans. Officials say the activism provides an opportunity to start discussions about consent and what consent really is.
Western Connecticut State University and the Women's Center will talk about consent from 11am to 2pm in the Student Center on the university’s Midtown campus on White Street.
Two Brewster residents have been arrested by Connecticut State Police for an alleged scheme to steal from Home Depot stores in Fairfield and New Haven counties. 28-year old Marissa Ghiazza and 31-year old Kenneth Mathews were each charged Friday with organized retail theft, larceny and two counts of conspiracy.
They were ordered to appear in court on May 5th.
State Police launched a three month investigation into the scheme due to the number of jurisdictions involved in the case.
An internal investigator for Home Depot identified the suspects, who lived in Bridgeport at the time. Generally, one of the suspects would select an item from the store and bring it to the return counter, presenting an older receipt for the item. They would then be issued a store credit gift card. The pair allegedly purchased the same item at a different store and would pawn it for cash.
Mathews was allegedly responsible for $27,837 in theft while Ghiazza was responsible for about $2,996. Mathews had 87 refunds associated with him between January 2016 and January 2017. Ghiazza was identified in 19 of the videos. In all of her instances and 53 of his, an infant child was present.
Stores in Danbury and New Milford were among the 12 affected.
10 returns were made in Danbury between August and December of last year, for a total of $2,920. Mathews completed 8 of the returns while Ghiazza completed two of them. Video evidence for four of the returns showed an infant with the couple. A single refund was issued to Mathews at the New Milford Home Depot for $105. Ghiazza and the infant were present at the time.
Plans for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the New Milford Town Green have been unveiled. Local veteran Ray Crawford worked on these plans for a number of months. Mayor David Gronbach says the cost is estimated at $3,000 and the VFW will be accepting donations to offset that cost. New Milford is providing financial backing. The Memorial is proposed on what Gronbach says is a conspicuously empty space on the All Wars Memorial at the south end of the Green.
Officials from Danbury-based FuelCell Energy contributed to the clean coal discussion at the recent National Coal Council’s Annual Spring Meeting. They highlighted the company's fuel cell carbon capture solution that captures carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in an affordable way, while simultaneously producing power. FuelCell Energy says about 70 percent of the smog producing nitrogen oxide in the coal flue gas is destroyed by the fuel cells. Vice President of Advanced Applications & Technology Development Tony Leo told the gathering that the benefits are industry-changing from an environmental, economic and energy standpoint.
An informational meeting is being held in Newtown tonight about the 2017 Revaluation Project. Newtown is currently in Phase 2: Market Analysis.
Newtown Officials say a variety of resources are used to analyze the real estate market. While the physical data is being collected by Vision data collectors, appraisal personnel will be analyzing sales that have taken place over the last few years to determine which market factors influenced property values.
Once all the data is collected and reviewed for accuracy, the appraisers will determine land value and set neighborhoods that rate the desirability of locations throughout Newtown. Individual property values will not be discussed at this meeting.
New property values will be announced at a later date.
Tonight's meeting is at 6:30pm at the Municipal Center.
Two properties owned by New Milford will be put up for sale. The Town Council voted Monday to list a vacant 1.64-acre lot on Perry Drive and the 19 acre Still Meadow property. The Council also opted to send out a bid request for 25 Church Street, which once housed the New Milford Art Commission's gallery. The recommendations came from the Surplus Properties Subcommittee.
New Milford bought the Perry Drive property in 2001 through the foreclosure process, and will be listed at $50,000. While that decision was unanimous, there was one dissenting vote on the Still Meadow decision.
The Newstimes reports that two parcels on Route 7 will be listed at $2.2 million, slightly more than the town purchased it for in 1998. Republican Paul Szymanski said more big-box stores could come to New Milford if the property is listed. Democrat Scott Chamberlain asked Szymanski to recuse himself because Szymanski had done work on the land for his engineering firm.
The MTA recognized five employees at yesterday's Metro-North Railroad Committee meeting. They were thanked for saving a colleague who suffered a heart attack at the Brewster Yard last month. Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti says their swift thinking and compassion saved a man's life.
A colleague asked Jeff Ballard, a Brewster Yardmaster who lives in New Milford, what a heart attack feels like. Ballard, who worked for 20 years as an Emergency Medical Technician, took his colleague’s pulse and recognized that he was having a heart attack. Brewster Mechanical Office Foreman Jeff Boyle, who heads up the emergency response team, as well as EMT Brendan Szabo, were called in.
Harlem Line Superintendent Michele Salvatore called 911. Trainmaster Andrew McClellan, from Danbury, directed the EMS to their colleague.
When EMS arrived, they confirmed that the man was experiencing a true cardiac emergency, and he was transported to Danbury Hospital. Boyle and Szabo stayed with the man in the ambulance.
(Michele Salvatore, Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, Jeff Ballard, Jeffrey Boyle, Andrew McClellan, Brendan Szabo, MTA Police Chief Owen Monaghan, MTA Board's Metro-North Railroad Committee Chair Susan Metzger)
The Gunnery School in Washington Connecticut is looking into an allegation against a former teacher. The private boarding school sent a letter to parents and alumni this weekend about Jaime Rivera-Murillo. He worked at The Gunnery from 1996 to 1998 prior to teaching at Choate Rosemary Hall.
Choate released a report earlier this month about allegations of sexual assault by 12 faculty members, including Rivera-Murillo.
He was fired from Choate in response to the allegations, but the school did not alert authorities or tell the districts where he was subsequently hired. Those schools included Henry Abbott Tech and Newtown High School.
According to the Choate report, Rivera-Murillo admitted drinking with students, but denied engaging in sexual misconduct.
Newtown residents are voting on a budget today. The proposed municipal budget is $40.3 million. The proposed education budget is $72.9 million. Debt obligations are 7.9 percent of the total budget. There is a .27 mill rate increase included in the plan being voted on today. Spending is up about .82 percent. Newtown officials cautioned that state revenue is expected to decline.
Six capital items are also being decided today.
$850,000 for a new roof at Hawley School, $1.8 million for improvements to the Middle School and $750,000 for Phase 2 of the Newtown High School auditorium project are on the ballot. $1 million for paving, $300,000 for planning of a new Police Station and $3 million for a new senior center are also being voted on.
Residents can vote at Newtown Middle School until 8pm.
One of the items on tonight's Zoning Commission meeting in Danbury is a continuation of a public hearing on a proposed zone change that would allow off track betting in the City. It would make an OTB facility an accessory use to a restaurant.
Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to renovate the first floor of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street into a sports bar and restaurant. OTB gaming would be added to the second floor.
If the Zoning Commission gives their OK, the City Council must approve the application.
During the meeting earlier this month, resident Ken Gucker voiced concern that this was "spot zoning" for the benefit of one person, which he believes is illegal.
The Chairman of the Jericho Partnership also spoke out against an OTB site in Danbury. He says to add more gambling to the City sends the wrong message as Danbury struggles to fight substance abuse, human trafficking and address fear in the immigrant community.
There is a special election in the 68th Assembly District of Woodbury and Watertown. The seat was vacated by Republican Eric Berthel--who was recently elected to the state Senate. Democrat Louis Esposito and Republican Joe Polletta, both of Watertown, are running.
There is no Election Day Registration for special elections.
The 70-year old Esposito is a retired postal worker, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and a former Town Councilman. He wants to advocate for seniors and supports tolls.
The 28-year old Polletta switched to the Republican party two years ago. He is a member of the Town Council and the Blight Task Force, and works for his family's real estate business. Polletta opposes recreational marijuana and a state tax on social security .
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty opposes draft legislation that would institute a monthly reduction in pay for troops as a means of offsetting the cost of expanding G.I. Bill eligibility and longevity for future veterans. She is concerned about asking the troops, who she says have already sacrifice more than enough, to bear any additional burden in exchange for the benefits they deserve. Esty says asking the troops to pay for their own benefits while the country is still engaged in conflict sends the wrong signal. Esty is a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Easton First Selectman Adam Dunsby will seek a third term in that role. Dunsby told the Easton Courier that he plans to run in November for the part time position. The Easton First Selectman also serves as state Representative for the 135th District of Easton, Redding and Weston. That is also a part time position. Dunsby was unopposed when he ran for a second term. In the House, he serves on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the Education Committee, and the Environment Committee.