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Saturday's resurfacing of Walnut Hill Road in Bethel was cancelled due to the contractor's equipment breaking down. The anti-skid treatment application on the hill near the Hoyt Road intersection is rescheduled for today.

 

The road will be closed after the morning school bus runs.  Drivers are asked to avoid the area while the winterizing work is being done.

 

A portion of Shelter Rock Road in Bethel will be closed, starting today from the area of Walnut Hill Road to Payne Road for storm drain installation.  Residents and school buses will be allowed on Shelter Rock during the closures. 

 

The work is being done from 8am to 4pm and is expected to last through the end of the month. 

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There will be two debates happening tomorrow among people looking to lead area towns.  One of the debates will be in Brookfield and feature Democratic incumbent Steve Dunn and Republican challenger Harry Shaker. 

 

Dunn is seeking a 2nd term, Shaker is a long time Board of Ed member.  The debate at Whisconier Middle School is from 7 to 9pm. 

 

In Newtown, the three people vying to be First Selectman will weigh in on issues tomorrow.  Incumbent Pat Llodra has decided not to seek reelection. 

 

Democrat Dan Rosenthal, Republican Will Rodgers and petitioning candidate Andrew Clure will answer questions sent to the Newtown Bee at the Edmond Town Hall theater from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

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The Brookfield Police Department is purchasing a new vehicle for the K9 Patrol Unit.  The 2018 Ford Police Interceptor Utility and associated set-up gear costs $71,333.  The money is coming from the PD Outside Services Fund.  The move was approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance. 

 

Police Chief Jay Purcell says these vehicles last longer than normal patrol cars because its a single user.  He notes that it's not unusual for small departments to have multiple K9 officers, several other area police departments, including Newtown and New Milford, have multiple K9 officers.

 

Purcell says the cost seems high, but it's a full patrol vehicle.  It is the 11th vehicle in the fleet.  The vehicle will include a radio, computer, in car cameras, console, sirens, lights, cage and the K9 equipment.  It also includes something called a K9 hot pop system.  If the officer is out of the vehicle and has an immediate need for back up from his partner, the officer has a panic button-type device that pops the door open and the dog can come out.

 

The vehicle is atmosphere controlled.  The officer has telemetry.  A device on their phone can tell what the temperature is inside the vehicle, and if it goes above a certain level, an alarm will go off.

 

Five out of 21 shifts a week have a K9 officer on patrol.  The second K9 means almost half of any given week will be covered by a K9.  The K9 officer is used for narcotic detection, search and rescue, patrol and tracking Alzheimer's patients or other wanderers.

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Brookfield filed a motion in court this month for a judge to issue a summary judgement in a lawsuit against the former comptroller.  The Newstimes reports that Raymond Bolek's attorney said the case was slated to go to a jury trial in January, but that's change.  Bolek worked as the comptroller from 1975 to 2002 and 2004 to 2008.  He sued after Brookfield ordered him to return nearly $111,500 in pension benefits the town believed was overpaid.  Attorneys for Brookfield say Bolek “waived any claim” to say the town had breached the separation agreement when he paid back the money.

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Senator Bernie Sanders has come out with a health-care plan that would have the government provide coverage for all, creating a federal "single-payer" health care system.  Under the bill, every resident of the United States would receive health insurance through an expanded Medicare program.

 

Sanders says his plan would be funded in part by higher taxes on the wealthy and a 6.2 percent income-based health care premium paid by employers.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal is co-sponsoring the bill.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says he'd want more details about any health care overhaul plan.  He called Medicare a great program that's easy to expand.  But he cautioned that it's also financially unstable with a substantial unfunded liability.  Himes wants to make sure any plan will not make that worse and make sure that the premiums would not make the problem worse.

 

Himes also wants to look at states that have rejected single-payer systems.  Vermont tried and California recently shelved debate on a proposal.

 

Sanders says this is what Americans want.  But polling shows that support for the idea has grown only to about 50 percent. Support for the idea drops in polling when people are asked to consider the costs.

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There were a lot of people in Kent this weekend and they were all there with a common interest.  The 2nd annual Gilmore Girls fan festival was held for 1,500 people.  The show was based in a small Connecticut town and featured a single mother and her teenage daughter.  A four-episode revival was released last November on Netflix.  The three day event included panels with members of the cast and crew, screenings of some episodes and activities inspired by the show at local businesses.  The event last year was held in the town that inspired the show--Washington Depot, but moved to a larger space this year.

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Annual Enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans got under way this week, and ends December 7th.  Brookfield Senior Center officials say letters have gone out and they should be studied carefully to learn about premium and co-pay changes, as well as any changes to the medications the plan may cover.  The center has volunteer experts on hand to help eligible residents find out if there is a better plan for 2018 that can save money.

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The Danbury High School Marching Band will host the 2017 Danbury Marching Band Jamboree tonight.  The event is typically held at the High School, but was moved this year because of the ongoing construction project of the Freshman Academy. 

 

Tonight's jamboree is 6pm to 10pm at the Western Connecticut State University Westside Campus Western Athletic Complex. 

 

Bands from the region scheduled to compete include Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, New Fairfield, New Milford, Norwalk, and Shelton, plus bands from Garden City and Port Chester, NY.  The Danbury Drum Corps will be giving a featured exhibition performance, and the Danbury High School Marching Band will perform their 2017 program, “A Heart’s Journey,” in exhibition.

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New Milford Hospital has launch an Eatingwell program to provide Diebold Family Cancer Center patients with the nutritional benefits of Plow to Plate eating, free of charge. 

 

The healthy meals program for cancer patients is being paid for through support from the community.  $34,000 must be raised annually for the program to continue. 

 

The program promotes local foods and agriculture.  The Eatingwell program will serve 350 meals each month to patients receiving cancer care. 

 

New Milford Hospital doctors say nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment which can be associated with side effects that make eating well challenging.  They say maintaining good nutrition can help cancer patients feel better and stay stronger. 

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Brookfield Police continue to seek information about a suspect who robbed the Federal Road branch of Newtown Savings Bank Friday morning.  The black male has a medium build, is about 5-foot-10 and was wearing a dark baseball cap with a distinctive white stripe, grey hooded sweatshirt, black pants and military style work boots.  A New Haven Police Department Officer and his K-9 partner training in the area followed a track towards Grays Bridge Road where the scent was lost.  Brookfield Police say the suspect may have left in a car parked on or near Grays Bridge Road.  The suspect handed the teller a note demanding money and did not display a weapon.  Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Sgt. Micheal O'Brien at 203-775-2575.

 

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New Fairfield upgraded its 911 system this week. It was done as part of a statewide project that enhances the equipment of all public safety answering points across Connecticut.  The new system should provide better inter-operability between towns when transferring calls, a better mapping system, enhanced GPS tracking, and automatic reroute in the unlikely event that the Town system goes down.  New Fairfield officials say all of the dispatchers have received formal training on the new system.  The cost of the training is reimbursable by the state.  The cost of the upgrade to the Town was minimal with the State picking up the bulk of cost.

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Federal law enforcement was in Danbury yesterday to assist Danbury Police in carrying out search and seizure warrants at an Ashwood Valley home.  The warrants were granted in response to neighbor complaints of illegal drug sales in the Danbury area. 

 

While conducting surveillance of 43-year old Keenan Moore, he was stopped on Nabby Road.  Moore was found to be in possession of a substantial quantity of narcotics packaged for sale and associated drug paraphernalia. 

 

Moore was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance within 1500’ Prohibited Place, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500’ Prohibited Place, possession of drug paraphernalia and risk of injury to a child.

 
He was released on $50,000 bond.  

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For the second year in a row, the Danbury Police Explorer team won 1st Place overall at the annual Cadet SWAT Challenge.  The nine member Explorer SWAT team competed at the event held this past weekend in Fairfield. Explorer Cadets compete individually and in teams through SWAT challenge stations.  The team was trained by Sergeant John Krupinsky and Special Agent Brianna McNally of the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service.  Three 1st Place finishes for Danbury came in Rapid Deployment, High Risk Stop, and Drug Warrant Execution.  Individual and team ranks of 2nd place in the Officer Down event and 3rd place in the Sniper Challenge were also awarded for Danbury.

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Bethel Police are cautioning residents to a phone scam.  Some people have reported receiving calls from someone claiming to be from Eversource, saying payment is past due and electricity is about to be shut off.  The caller ID even displays the name Eversource.  Bethel Police advise residents receiving such a call to hang up and call the customer service phone number on your bill.  The scam was discussed at the Bethel Police Commission meeting this week.  The caller has said they have so-called supervisors standing by if needed.  They also tell their potential victims that it's too late to pay by credit card, asks them to purchase gift cards and read the number over the phone.  

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5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has raised the most money last quarter, among Connecticut's incumbent Representatives.  According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Esty raised $295,746 in total contributions last quarter. 

 

She has one challenger for the contest a little more than a year away, Craig Diangelo of New Britain.  He raised about $7,500 this year and has loaned his campaign another $5,000.  

 

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, 4th District Congressman Jim Himes raised $157,395 last quarter.  Himes has no opponent for his 2018 reelection race.  Himes has the largest bank of Connecticut House members at nearly $2.3 million.

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State lawmakers are being briefed over the next few days on details of a tentative bipartisan state budget plan, with a vote possible sometime next week.  Lawmakers have been at odds over how to balance a roughly two-year budget that's projected to be $3.5 billion in deficit. 

 

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding says municipalities haven't been able to plan for next year, because they've been focused on the current year.  He acknowledged that changes to the education cost sharing formula are needed, but opposed the deep cuts and funding eliminations in Governor Malloy's executive order.

 

Lawmakers and staff confirmed the following highlights of proposal, stressing they could still change.

- Property taxes on vehicles: The state would continue capping the tax rate that cities and towns can charge on vehicles in local property taxes in the first year of the two-year budget and then entirely scrap the tax in the second year. Lawmakers have not yet decided how to make up the lost revenue to cities and towns, but stressed they would be somehow compensated.

Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said her organization worries the proposal "will simply shift more of the property tax burden to homeowners and businesses, discouraging investment in real estate and undermining our local economies."

- Taxes: Connecticut's cigarette tax would increase by 45 cents in the first year, to a total of $4.35 a pack. Currently, the budget package does not include higher income taxes or sales taxes. Earlier ideas, such as a proposed state property tax on seasonal homes, a 25-cent fee on ride-hailing services and a cellphone surcharge are not part of the tentative agreement.

As it stands, the plan would limit the state's $200 property tax credit against the personal income tax to only seniors and people with dependent children.

- Teacher pension: The blueprint does not shift the cost of funding the state teacher pension plan to cities and towns, as proposed by Malloy. However, it requires teachers to contribute 1 percent more of their income to the fund starting in January 2018. They currently pay 6 percent. The compromise maintains a 25 percent personal income tax exemption for teacher retirement pay. The state's largest teacher union, the Connecticut Education Association, opposes the proposal, calling it tax increase.

 

 

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The state Board of Regents for Higher Education has approved a plan to allow West Conn students from New York and New Jersey to pay in-state tuition.  This applies to both current and new students and will be reviewed in two years. 

 

West Conn has seen a drop in enrollment over the last few years and previously extended in-state tuition rates to Putnam County residents.  That pilot program included six other nearby counties and increased the number of New York students at West Conn more than 200-percent. 

 

In-state students pay $10,418 in annual tuition at Western, while out-of state students pay $23,107. 

 

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian also presented his plan at the meeting for consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges into one institution.  He plans to hold three briefings around the state on the proposal and wants feedback by November 20th.

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100 baggies of heroin have been seized in New Milford and three men are now facing charges.  Police stopped a driver early yesterday morning for speeding on Bridgewater Road.  K9 Kira sniffed out drugs and a searched turned up the heroin and paraphernalia.  25-year old Jordan Leighton of Easton and his passengers, 26-year-old Kenneth Farber and 45-year-old Brian Lashomb, were charged with drug possession.  Leighton was also cited for speeding.

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The state Supreme Court heard arguments this week in the case of the state versus Lorenzo Adams, which was tried in Danbury Superior Court.  The high court is deciding whether there was sufficient evidence to support conviction for a breach of peace charge stemming from an alleged shoplifting incident. 

 

Surveillance video from the Marshalls department store showed Adams take several items and carry them to a corner of the store obstructed from the camera's view.  The defendant was then spotted again on video taking a large, full bag to the store exit without paying.  After a physical struggle with two loss prevention officers, he dropped the bag and fled. Loss Prevention Officers claim $979 worth of merchandise was in the bag. 

 

The Appellate Court reversed the larceny conviction because the surveillance footage did not show Adams entering the store or placing the items into the bag.  The Appellate Court said it's possible Adams had entered the store with the bag and that the items were from somewhere else.  The Court upheld the breach of the peace conviction. 

 

In the state's appeal, the justices will consider whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the evidence was insufficient to support the attempted larceny conviction.  

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After months of no court action, a lawsuit against New Milford Mayor David Gronbach will be coming before a judge.  Mike Barnes, who is chair of the Republican Town Committee, sued as a New Milford taxpayer saying that Gronbach bypassed the Board of Finance.  The Newstimes reports that Barnes is arguing that using money for the Community Center from the Waste Management Fund is illegal.  Gronbach previously said that if everyone can sue the mayor, it would grind government to a halt.  The case will be heard Monday.

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