Local News

Bethlehem home destroyed by a fire, SRO helped control flames

A Bethlehem home has been destroyed by a fire.  Early yesterday morning firefighters responded to Nonnewaug Road and found extremely heavy smoke on the first floor and in the basement.   Firefighter encountered zero visibility, high heat and heavy flames.  

It took 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze with an attack through the basement hatchway, stairwells and a first floor bedroom and bathroom. 

Bethlehem Ambulance evaluated the occupants, all of who made it out safely.  The house is uninhabitable.

The Bethlehem Elementary School Resource Officer, Mark Cattey, who is the East Litchfield Fire Chief responded from the school immediately and was able to shut all the doors and limit ventilation and control the fire spread.  Mutual aid was provided from Morris, Bantam, Washington, Woodbury, and Watertown with approximately 40 firefighters on scene. 

The fire has been determined to be accidental in origin. 


Redding health officials look to clear up vaccine confusion

There is apparently some confusion regarding the difference between the Vaccine Administration Management System and The Redding Health Department vaccine clinics.  Redding Scheduling Coordinator Kim Becker says residents can register for VAMS, get an account, and get an appointment at any location in the state.  Redding is acting as a Third Party Clinic and therefore is not in VAMS, like how pharmacy clinics are not listed on VAMS.  Residents who pre-register through the form on the town's website will be contacted by volunteers to set up an appointment in Redding.  Redding residents cannot register on the Bethel Town site even though the municipalities partnered for the clinics.  Doses are allocated for residents of each town, divided based on municipal population.


COVID-19 statistics in Danbury appear to be plateauing again

Danbury Health officials have updated the City's COVID-19 case numbers for the past week.  There were 20 positive tests Wednesday, 8 on Tuesday, 16 on Monday and 39 over the weekend.  That two day total nearly equals the number of cases from Friday, at 38.  COVID-19 statistics in Danbury appear to be starting to plateau again.  The City started to come down from the second peak in mid-to-late January.  During the 1st week of February, some 99 cases were reported.  The second week there were 78 positive COVID tests, and the 3rd week of the month had 59.  Last week, Danbury reported 57 COVID cases.  44 cases were reported Monday through Wednesday of this week.


Ridgefield Commission for Accessibility looking for new members

The Ridgefield Commission for Accessibility Is looking for new members.  The group provides advice to the Selectmen and other Ridgefield officials about the rights and needs of disabled citizens and reasonable accommodations to their special needs.  The group proactively advocates further improvements in current public facilities and accommodations to provide more independent and safe access throughout Ridgefield.  Anyone interested is asked to contact the selectmen via email selectman@ridgefieldct.org.


Newtown Police raise funds for Special Olympics through Penguin Plunge

The Newtown Police is once again partnering with Special Olympics Connecticut.  They are participating in a virtual Penguin Plunge fundraiser, though officers will physically take the plunge on March 27th in the chilly waters of Newtown.  Police officials say the pandemic has highlighted the importance of supporting others and coming together as a community.  The department is seeking donations to Special Olympics Connecticut online https://give.soct.org/fundraiser/3134105.


Ridgefield firefighters review pump operations with newer members

Some on-duty Ridgefield firefighters took advantage of the warm weather earlier this week to review pump operations with newer members.  Skills were put to the test to have hydrant water hooked up and flowing prior to hose lines exhausting the tank water on the truck.  Ridgefield Fire Department engines carry about 750 gallons of water.  With two attack lines in operation, the tank will be emptied in about 2-and-a-half minutes.


Hearing set for proposal on firearms, risk protection orders

The legislature's Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing this morning to discuss a bill concerning firearms and risk protection orders.  Redding Senator Will Haskell says in situations where a person poses a risk of imminent personal injury to himself, herself or others, a judge would be allowed to issue an order prohibiting that person from acquiring or possessing firearms or ammunition.

Currently, the law only allows these protection orders to be issued against someone currently in possession of a gun, not someone seeking to acquire one. 

Under the proposed legislation, the protective order will continue to apply until the person can prove they no longer pose risk of injury to themselves or others. Family and household members including spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, step-family members or in-laws would be able to file a complaint, as would people living with the individual, people sharing children with them, romantic partners or legal guardians.

Medical professionals including physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, psychologists and social workers would also be allowed to make such a report. 

The hearing is being held via zoom at 10am.  Testimony can be emailed to judtestimony@cga.ct.gov.


Ridgefield residents vote to move budget meeting just for this year

A charter amendment has been approved in Ridgefield to give residents more time to vote on a town budget this year.  During a Special Town Meeting Wednesday, about two dozen residents, some in person and some virtually, voted to hold the annual budget meeting earlier than normal.  Instead of meeting on May 3rd to vote to send the budget to a referendum, Ridgefield residents will cast that vote on April 24th.  Ridgefield officials have proposed to hold the referendum on May 11th.


Danbury Planners sign off on medical marijuana facility

The Danbury Planning Commission has signed off on allowing a Bethel-based medical marijuana facility to move into a former bank building.  D&B Wellness was approved on Wednesday night for the move to the three-story building on Mill Plain Road. 

The company plans to renovate the interior of the building.  While the drive thru window will stay, there are no plans to dispense product from the window.  The building will become a pharmacy-style store, with the second floor reserved for support groups and other therapies. 

The Compassionate Care Center in Bethel will close once the move is complete.  D&B Wellness is one of 18 dispensaries in Connecticut licensed to sell medical marijuana.


Veterans of all ages eligible for COVID-19 vaccine through VA

Greater Danbury area officials are alerting veterans of all ages that the Connecticut Veteran Affairs Department is offering COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics to those who served.  Veterans must be enrolled for care with VA to receive the vaccine.  Depending on the location, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being administered.  The doses are available for veterans on a first come, first served basis. There is a clinic today at the West Haven Annex in Orange from noon to 4pm.  Mask and physical distancing are required. 


Saturday marks 1 year since first COVID-19 case with Connecticut ties

One year ago tomorrow Danbury and Norwalk officials gathered with state leaders at Danbury City Hall to announce that a Danbury Hospital employee who lives in Westchester County tested positive for coronavirus.  The individual was exposed to the virus while in their home by another individual who tested positive.  At the time, Governor Lamont said they had been expecting exposure of the virus for several weeks, because of outbreaks in New York.  There were still no confirmed cases among Connecticut residents at that point.  Health officials last year started urging people to follow basic but important steps like washing hands frequently, avoid shaking hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home when sick.  Nuvance Health officials had been preparing for an infection since mid-January by holding weekly meetings.  But they cautioned then that anyone who is ill should first call their primary care physician and not just show up at the ER so they weren't overwhelmed by the “worried well” looking for answers. 


New Milford launches vaccine clinic for school staff

The weekly shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses that a municipality receives for clinics hosted by local health departments varies.  New Milford Health Director Lisa Morrissey says that's because the federal government, and in turn the state, are just shipping doses out as they are secured.  She says some times that means 50 doses, sometimes it's 500. 

Right now the clinic is for education staff only.  Morrissey says New Milford has a closed web portal, and when she finds out how many shots they'll be able to administer on Fridays, she contacts the Superintendent of Schools. Morrissey says staff will then follow a link to schedule an appointment.  These time slots are not on the Vaccine Administration Management System.  This is by invitation-only to make sure teachers can get into a clinic sooner rather than later. 

If New Milford's allotment from the state remains stable, the town will be done within 3 weeks.  Mayor Pete Bass says it took a big, multi-departmental lift to bring this type of operation into fruition.


First COVID-19 vaccine clinic held at Danbury mall

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered at the Danbury Mall drive thru clinic hosted by the Community Health Center and Nuvance Health.  For the first day, there were only 300 appointments scheduled, but the plan calls for vaccinating up to 600 people per day.  There is an ability to nearly double that administration.  People who drove up to the site by the former Lord & Taylor received the Moderna vaccine. 

The National Guard was on site to direct traffic. 

A parking area has also been set aside for people to wait 15 minutes for observation to ensure there were no immediate side effects or reactions to the injection.  For people with certain medical histories and allergies, the wait time is 30 minutes. 

Nuvance plans to transition their operations to the mall after March 19th.  


31 Danbury Public School community members in precautionary quarantine

31 Danbury Public School community members are in a precautionary 10 day quarantine because of three positive cases. 

The Health and Nursing Services Coordinator has a message for families.  Kathy O'Dowd asks that if anyone in a household is sick, even with mild symptoms, to not send children to school. Anyone in this position is asked to contact the School Nurse for further guidance. 

There were two positive COVID-19 cases at Danbury High School with 13 close contacts, and a case at Stadley Rough School with 15 close contacts. 

On Monday there was one case each reported at the High School and West Side Middle School where there was no school contact.  Yesterday, a positive case was identified each at Rogers Park, Stadley Rough, and King Street Primary with no school contact.


New Milford to become regional COVID-19 vaccine hub

New Milford will eventually become a regional COVID-19 vaccine hub, as more doses become available.  Mayor Pete Bass says clinics will be open to the childcare providers in the surrounding community in the upcoming weeks. The state is shipping vaccines specifically for these kinds of providers so it won't take away from the town's capacity to vaccinate New Milford educators and early childhood providers.


UNIT removes 100 illegal signs from telephone poles in Danbury

Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team recently removed 100 illegal signs from telephone poles around the City.  UNIT members spotted the bright yellow vinyl signs promoting a business nailed to telephone poles, on street corners and elsewhere last month.  Within a week of spotting the proliferation, UNIT removed 100 signs and secured camera footage that could possibly identify who put them up.  State statute allows for a $50 ticket to be issued for each sign placed on a telephone pole. 


John Read Middle School gets new principal

The Redding Board of Education has signed off on a new principal for John Read Middle School.  Meghan Ward was unanimously appointed by the Board and is slated to take on the role on July 1st.  Ward, an assistant principal at Staples High School in Westport, is a Joel Barlow alumna.


Federal prosecutors: Inmates refuse inoculations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — More than 200 inmates at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, have declined to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including numerous medically vulnerable prisoners who have been seeking release to home confinement due to concerns about the coronavirus, according to federal officials.

Federal prosecutors disclosed in a new court document filed Tuesday that nearly 550 of the approximately 800 inmates at the prison complex have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine and 336 have received at least the first of two doses. Another 212 inmates declined.

Some inmates may be worried or confused about the safety of the vaccines, or do not trust them, said Ariadne Ellsworth, a Yale Law School student and member of the legal team representing Danbury inmates who filed a class-action lawsuit accusing federal officials of not doing enough to protect them from the coronavirus.

“Our understanding is that, as more information has become available and individuals have had more opportunities to educate themselves about the vaccine, a number of class members who initially declined the vaccine have since informed the facility that they are now willing to take it,” Ellsworth said.

The Connecticut U.S. attorney’s office filed the new document as part of the class-action lawsuit, which was settled last July. The federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to promptly identify prisoners who are low security risks and are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 complication, and release them to home confinement.

Prison officials say inmates who decline vaccinations without a documented medical reason will not be given further consideration for home confinement. Officials say they are continuing to consider home confinement for inmates who accept vaccinations, up until the time they are fully inoculated, usually two weeks after receiving the second dose.

Asked about inmates refusing vaccinations, the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement Wednesday that it does not comment on pending legal matters and is not providing the number of federal prison staff and inmates nationwide who have declined the vaccines.


New Milford to vaccinate educators at Pettibone clinics

New Milford will be providing additional COVID 19 clinics at Pettibone Community Center.  The clinic will operate two to three days a week.  During this month though, they will vaccinate teachers, day care providers, and pre-K through 12 staff.  The clinic will also make appointments for those in Phase 1A who haven't yet received a shot.  That includes health care personnel, first responders, and residents and staff of congregate and long term care settings.  Later, appointments will be opened to the public through the Vaccine Administration Management System.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass called for patience, saying based on the number of doses the town will receive, it could take about three weeks to immunize all teachers.


Ridgefield officials present proposed budget with slight increase

The Ridgefield proposed budget is set to get further scrutiny from the Board of Finance.  The town is seeking $39.5 million while the school budget is $103 million.  The plan includes a 1.9 percent increase over the current year.  the Board of Education requested a 3.5 percent hike, but the proposal includes just a 3-percent increase.  Part of the budget driver on the municipal side was the combining of the police and fire dispatch centers.  The consolidation is aimed at cutting the delay in emergency response times through a better coordinated effort.  


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