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There was a brush fire in Redding yesterday afternoon.  The West Redding Volunteer Fire Department responded to the area of John Read Middle School around 2:30pm. Arriving firefighters saw smoke in the wooded area. Mutual aid was requested from Redding Fire & EMS, Georgetown, Bethel and Stony Hill firefighters.  An area approximately 50-square feet was burning. Yesterday's forest fire danger level was high, which means even people with burn permits were not allowed to burn brush on their properties.  Today's danger level is moderate.

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In recognition of Flag Day, Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky coordinated a worn Flag drop-off event.  The flags were collected at VFW Post 308 and will be disposed of in an appropriate military ceremony.  Bolinsky says the VFW makes a flag drop-off box accessible year round at their facility on Tinkerfield Road in Newtown.

 

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Danbury Police are continuing to raise money for kids battling cancer and other serious illnesses to be able to attend The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  During an event earlier this month, team members completed over 10,000 push ups in one hour, raising a pledged $2,500.  Danbury Police say there's still time for people to donate, to help then reach their $5,000 fundraising goal.  In total, this year's Push Against Cancer event raised nearly $150,000.

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A bill providing incentives for firearm manufacturers and consumers to develop and purchase so-called smart gun technology has been introduced by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  He says the technology includes biometric or fingerprint locks and radio-frequency identification.  The Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology Act or SAFETY Act, provides incentives in the form of research and development tax credits.  

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A community improvement and neighborhood restoration project is moving forward in Danbury.  Emergency stabilization work on the Octagon House started this month.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the exterior work involves replacing some of the balconies.  It's being done so they don't lose the building.
 
The vacant Spring Street house was abandoned by its previous owner and in foreclosure.  The blighted property attracted vandalism and squatting.  It was also dilapidated, creating public safety concerns.  The City purchased it a few years ago.
 
The building is one of only a handful of eight-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1852.  
 
Mayor Mark Boughton wants to house the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team and a police substation on the property. He says the bike patrol and other related officers would likely operate out of the substation. He wants to convert the upstairs into a community room for residents to use. The backyard would become community garden monitored by a non-profit.

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A New York man has been arrested for allegedly touching a child in a Southeast store.  State Police received a complaint on May 26th of an unidentified man pinching a child's buttock and asking the victim to follow him while in Marshalls.  An investigation led to 43-year old Jaroslav Kiskas of Southeast.  He was charged Friday with forcible touching and released for an appearance in Southeast Town Court next week.

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With the first extremely hot day in the books this summer, the Putnam County Sheriff's office is offering a seasonal reminder.  It’s estimated that hundreds of cats and dogs die each year from being left in hot cars, while even more become seriously ill.  Sheriff Robert Langley says some of the common responses they've heard when grieving pet owners return to find their cat or dog has died of heat stroke include that 'they cracked a window', 'it was just a few minutes' and 'it wasn't that hot' among others.  

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Bethel Police believe suspects who stole a car on Fathers Day, have been committing similar crimes in other towns.  Bethel Police say the same suspects may have been involved in the theft of motor vehicles from Clinton, Connecticut.  They were caught on surveillance video by police in the shoreline town.  The suspects led officers in a pursuit Monday that was ultimately called off.  Bethel Police say the same group may have also been responsible for thefts from cars in town over the weekend.

 

  

 

  

(Photos: Clinton Police)

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The third budget vote in New Milford is being held today.  Residents are being asked to approve the $39-million municipal budget and a $63-million Board of Education budget.  The 3.3 percent tax increase is higher than the last rejected proposal because less money would be used from the undesignated fund.  New state revenue is also now covering capital items instead of operating expenses.  Some $300,000 was cut from the education budget in this revision after being kept the same in the first two proposals.  

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The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about a proposal for a contractor's yard on Ethan Allen Highway.  The three acre site would house infrastructure for excavation, grading, filling and earth processing activities.  Larry Leary Development told the Commission that proposal was identical to one previously approved by the group in 2015. 

 

The earlier approval was overturned by the courts last year because the decision violated yard setback regulations.  The setbacks were then amended in January.

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that Commission Vice Chairman Joe Fossi will again recuse himself because he had done business with Leary as a builder. New Commission member Charles Robbins will also recuse himself because he lives in The Regency complex, which filed suit over the 2015 ruling. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 7:30 at Town Hall Annex.

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A former New Milford Town Council member, who resigned after an uproar over details of his personal life, is back on the hot seat. Scott Chamberlain represented New Milford as a delegate at the congressional and statewide Democratic nominating conventions.

 

Screenshots of Chamberlain’s profile from a private website catering to so-called furries, a subculture of adults who dress in mascot-like animal costumes, forced his resignation. They were circulated again this weekend on Facebook.

 

Part of the profile said Chamberlain tolerates rape, but he said it was in the context of sorting topics into categories: loves, likes, tolerates and hates.  Chamberlain said at the time that his interest in the furry community was a harmless hobby about cartoon animals, not sex. 

 

Chamberlain voted as an alternate at the congressional convention.  Delegates do not need to be members or former members of the town committee.

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In an effort to discourage Squantz Pond visitors from parking along Shortwoods Road in New Fairfield, signs were put up for the weekend saying that the road is closed to through traffic.  There is still storm debris along Shortwoods Road, so parking along the street could have created a safety hazard.  The road remained open to local traffic.  Signs were placed at the intersection with Beaver Bog Road.

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New York State Police are investigating a fatal all-terrain vehicle crash.  The accident happened Friday morning on Blackberry Hill Road in Somers.  The ATV was operated by 15-year old Reece Ferrara.  He struck a concrete mailbox pillar, was ejected from the vehicle, and later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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A parent workshop on teen dating violence is being held tomorrow night by the Women's Center of Greater Danbury.  The workshop at Ridgefield Library will include a panel discussion with local teens, parents and experts, and a presentation on the dynamics of abuse.  Parents will learn how to support children and start conversations with them about healthy relationships. The goal is to create a safe space to have an open discussion about this issue.  Tomorrow's workshop is from 6:30 to 8pm.

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The Danbury Early College Opportunity program has received a $30,000 grant.  Funding from the Fairfield County Community Foundation will pay for course programming to help the Danbury High School students as they pursue an Associate Degree in Computer Information Sciences.  The degree is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College, earned simultaneously with a high school diploma.

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An anonymous donor is offering to pay for a track and field training center at Bethel High School.  The Newstimes reports that the facility would be for practices only and not to hold competitions.  It would included a 200-meter track, storage space and practice space for hurdling, long jump and shot put.  Plans call for leasing the lot by the old tennis courts for a dollar a year for 5 years, and then it be given to the Board of Education.  If all approvals go through, construction could be done at the same time as renovations to Rockwell and Johnson schools are done, beginning this fall.

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A judge has encouraged Danbury and the Dorothy Day Hospitality House to come to an agreement so he doesn't have to issue a ruling in a cease and desist case.  The Zoning Board of Appeals took up a request for variances at their meeting last week.  The ZBA continued the hearing to July 12th so Dorothy Day can get more information to the board. Variances are being sought so a site plan, with special exceptions, can be filed with the Planning Commission.  
 
In order to bring the application to the Planning Commission, Dorothy Day has to show to that the site conforms to regulations for proposed use, or has obtained variances if the property doesn't conform.
 
There are three buildings on the property.  The largest is a brick building with a market and the Dorothy Day Hospitality House and four 1-bedroom apartments on the second floor.  Another building housed the former office of catholic charities office and has two  apartments.  The third building is the shelter.
 
Setback exceptions were requested because the buildings, constructed in the 19th century, and are not in compliance today.  The zone also requires a 20,000 square foot lot to apply for a special exception for a homeless shelter, but the lot is only total 13,118 square feet.  
 
There are two driveways on the property, and there isn't room for a 24-foot wide driveway at either current location.  The ZBA wants input from the fire department on driveway exceptions.  One ZBA member said the lot should be regraded so a variance isn't needed on the parking lot size.

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Bethel Police are investigating numerous reported thefts from vehicles that happened Saturday into Sunday.  At least one vehicle was stolen from Wolfpits Road.  The attempted break ins happened around Andrews Street and Governors Lane.  One vehicle reported stolen recently has been recovered.  Bethel Police say the targeted vehicles were left unlocked and the stolen vehicles had the keys inside.  Several other Police Departments in the region are investigating incidents in their jurisdictions as well.

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NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's medical examiner has ruled the death of a prison inmate who struggled with guards a homicide.

J'Allen Jones died in March at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown. Authorities said the 31-year-old Atlanta man was being transferred to a mental health unit when he became combative with staff, and then become non-responsive.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Gill told the Hartford Courant that Jones' death resulted from "restraint with chest compression" and an adverse reaction to pepper spray.

Gill says the homicide finding does not necessarily mean a crime was committed.

A correction department spokeswoman says state police are continuing to investigate the incident, but added the agency stands by its initial assessment that officers did not appear to use excessive force.

Jones was serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery. 

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A Pennsylvania man has been arrested in Southbury after Connecticut Police were alerted by authorities in that state about the stolen vehicle.  Troopers located 36-year old Alex Ocasio near exit 13 on Friday and pulled him over.  He allegedly broke into several cars before finding the one he was driving in Connecticut.  Ocasio gave Troopers his brother's name, but his real identity was discovered when he was fingerprinted.  Ocasio was charged with larceny, criminal impersonation and driving with a suspended license.  He is due in Danbury Superior Court today.  Ocasio is also wanted in Waterbury, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.  

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