Local News

Danbury firefighters offer Thanksgiving safety tips

The Danbury Fire Department is reminding residents that kitchen safety is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity going on.  Some of the safety tips the department is highlighting include being home when cooking the turkey, keeping an eye on food cooked on the stove top and making sure smoke alarms are working.  The Danbury Fire Department also urged parents to keep kids away from the stove, from knives and from matches.  They also cautioned that the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.  Homeowners should also be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.


New Milford families in need getting Thanksgiving meals

The United Way, Women’s Club of New Milford, Social Services, Senior Center, Knights of Columbus, and other volunteers came together to feed families in need this weekend.  They coordinated donations for Operation Thanksgiving, which is helping over 275 New Milford families and Seniors in need this Thanksgiving.


Benefit held for Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut

Over 150 runners from Connecticut and New York recently took part in a fundraiser for the Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut.  The event was hosted by New Milford Fitness and Aquatic Club.  The 5K and 10K races were held at Litchfield Crossings, New Milford’s largest shopping center. All event proceeds went to the Community Culinary School, an organization that has prepared over 16,000 meals to feed the New Milford community during the Pandemic.


Wilton Social Services to deliver Thanksgiving meals to families in need

On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers will deliver dinner to Wilton residents who are alone or otherwise would not have a meal.  The dinners, organized by Wilton Social Services, are possible due to the generosity of residents.  First Selectman Lynn Vanderslice says this is just one example of the many kind and generous acts by residents and businesses throughout the pandemic.   


New Fairfield to improve Town Hall, reach out to businesses amid second COVID wave

New Fairfield officials have made moves to put a new state grant to work right away.  The town was awarded $128,000 in the form of a STEAP grant for ventilation for both Town Hall and the Annex.  Currently, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the buildings are running fans and opening windows. The balance of this project costs about $96,000.

The full amount is coming from the town so they can sign the contract and get the work done as soon as possible.  Once the grant is received, the grant money will go back to the general fund.

The Selectmen are looking at ways to help small businesses in town during second round of COVID.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says there is a possibility of deferring taxes for small businesses or possibly establishing a tax abatement committee in town.  Since it's not a Charter town, the Board discussed what options would be open to them. 

Members suggested reaching out to small businesses to make sure they apply for all currently available state and federal grants.


Only creche, menorah apply to be displayed in Bethel for the holidays

Only two applications have been proposed for holiday displays in Bethel this year.  Both are sponsored by Bethel United Methodist Church and Tim Martin for P.T. Barnum Square.  He proposed the traditional creche, which has been displayed for years, and a menorah, which was put up for the first time last year. 

Both are proposed to be displayed from today through January 7th. 

The Bethel Board of Selectmen adopted regulations last year calling for applications to be entered into a lottery if there are too many seeking the same parcel of land. 

The holiday displays are allowed on P.T. Barnum Square between the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through January 7th.  A Bethel resident or organization can apply.  The application period is October 1st to November 7th.  Displays can only take up a third of the total square footage of the property.  Applicants must have insurance.  Applications can be rejected for public safety concerns.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker had proposed at the Board's meeting last week that they move the start date to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  He said that would leave more room for people gathering for the tree lighting, typically held the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Since it's a virtual event this year, the Selectmen decided to hold off on changing the regulation. 

Selectman Rich Straiton said he still hopes to move tree lighting to municipal center in future years. 

The regulation and application process came up after a resident submitted a proposal to hang a banner, wishing a happy holidays from 'your friendly atheist neighbors' on P.T. Barnum Square, at the same time as a creche.  


More students arelearning from home for the next couple of weeks

More students are learning from home for the next couple of weeks.  School districts in Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Newtown, and Easton, Redding and Region 9 all moved to full distance learning for all students.  Danbury has been on distance learning since the Spring.  Ridgefield High School students are doing distance learning through Thanksgiving break.  Several districts cited staffing issues as more educators are in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.  Most of the districts expect to move back to at least a hybrid model of learning on December 7th.  New Milford is on hybrid, but will go remote the week after Thanksgiving.


500 Lake Trout stocked in Squantz, other waters in 'bonus fishery' event

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently stocked close to 500 Lake Trout in select waters around the state.  The “bonus fishery” happened last week at Squantz Pond and elsewhere.  The trout average between 24 to 36 inches long and weigh between 5 to 7 pounds.  There is no expectation that these fish will holdover for years or that they will reproduce. The stocking was done to provide Connecticut anglers with a specialty fishery, enhancing late season and winter fishing opportunities.  The fish come from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Berkshire National Fish Hatchery out of New Marlborough, Massachusetts, where they raise Lake Trout for restoration efforts in the Lower Great Lakes.  The standard statewide regulation of 5 trout per day applies to all stocked Lake Trout. The lone exception is in Squantz Pond during the month of March, when there is a 16” minimum length daily creel limit of 1 trout.


Brookfield Board of Finance signs off on water line installation

The Brookfield Board of Finance has approved $1.69 million for a water line installation.  The line will run from Nabby Road to Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.  The Board of Selectmen will work with the Finance members on assessments, how much each property owner will be expected to pay to cover capital costs, following another public hearing.  The line was proposed to address chlorides and sodium found in some well sites tested in that area after residents said they had salty wells.  29 homes and the Huckleberry Hill Elementary School property would be impacted by the new line. 


Newtown Turkey Trot will look different this year

It's a couple of days to Thanksgiving and the Newtown Turkey Trot will look different this year.  People can still sign up for the road race, which is being done any time over the course of the 4 day weekend at participant's 5k course of choice.  The benefit is for C.H. Booth Library. Hundreds of people have already signed up, from Cape Cod to California, and all ages, from 1 to 92.  People can participate individually or as a team, and post photos and race times on the Turkey Trot website.  The event will kickoff with a live stream on FaceBook at 8AM on Thanksgiving Day.  https://www.newtownturkeytrot.com/


Danbury lawmaker to host video chat with hospital ER doc

Like the rest of the country, the Greater Danbury area region is going through a major spike in COVID-19 infections.  Tonight, state Senator Julie Kushner will be speaking with Dr. Patrick Broderick of Danbury Hospital's Emergency Medicine department to talk about how to limit community spread and what steps to take if you think that you may have been in contact with an infected person.  She notes that Danbury Hospital serves a broad geographic area and hopes people even outside the district can benefit from his insights on the status of the virus and the best way to curb community spread. He will also share information about the vaccine.  The Facebook live video starts at 6pm.


Tribal leaders back bill on teaching Native American history

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Leaders of American Indian tribes in Connecticut voiced their support Monday for proposed state legislation that would require the teaching of Native American history in public schools.

The tribal leaders issued a statement with state Sen. Cathy Osten, a Sprague Democrat, in support of the bill she plans to introduce within the next several weeks. The legislation would require all public schools to include Native American studies in their social studies curricula, with a focus on the tribes that lived in what is now Connecticut.

“We fully support this bill, which will assist in public re-education that includes an accurate portrayal of the First Nations People in Connecticut,” said Katherine Sebastian Dring, chairwoman of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation. “The Pequots were not destroyed, we survived. Truth may lead to positive change if we work together for a good life for all nations.”

Joining Dring in the statement were leaders of the other four state-recognized tribes: Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation; Beth Regan, vice chair of the Mohegan Tribal Nation’s council of elders; Leon Brown of the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation; and Richard Velky, chief of the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

Osten and other lawmakers introduced a similar bill earlier this year that drew concerns from state Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, teachers’ unions and municipal leaders. The bill died as the coronavirus shut down much of the legislative session.

Cardona said in March that while it is important to teach about Native Americans, the bill would be an unfunded mandate for school districts that are still working to implement other courses lawmakers and the governor have required them to teach.

New state laws passed in the past two years require schools to teach African American and Latino studies, as well as courses on the Holocaust and other genocides. Many schools have had curriculum on these subjects already in place, but the laws solidify their teachings.


Bethel schools switch to full remote learning

Bethel schools switched to full remote learning for the next two weeks because of staffing issues.  In consultation with the Department of Public Health, through contact tracing, Superintendent Christine Carver says the main source of transmissions is still as a result of  social gatherings and  within families. 

She notes that some staff have quarantined because they have a direct exposure in the community or their children are direct exposures, and just one has a compounding effect.  Bethel, like other towns in the state, does not have the substitute pool that they had in a traditional school year.  

Carver hopes that by being on distance learning through the week after Thanksgiving, all of the current staffing issues will be resolved. 

All meals continue to be free of charge to all, regardless of income, for students and their siblings age 18 and under.  Breakfast and lunch continue to be provided at the back of the High School between 11 am and 1 pm today and tomorrow, with families receiving 3 days worth of meals on Wednesday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Regular daily meal service pickup will resume on November 30th.

During this temporary distance learning period, the Bethel Public Schools school nurses will be in their offices during the regular school day hours. Nurses should be notified if any of the following circumstances exist: a child tests for COVID-19;  child has been asked to quarantine due to COVID-19; and/or, child has traveled to any state on the Connecticut Advisory list.  The nurse will provide information on required paperwork, return to school guidance and available resources.


Danbury firefighters rescue owl from netting at golf course

An owl stuck in netting at Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury was freed over the weekend by firefighters.  An off-duty Connecticut State Police trooper alerted firefighters about the situation early yesterday morning.  Firefighters used ladders to free the owl's talon, which was stuck about 25 feet off the ground, from the netting.  The bird was cornered into a crate, brought to the ground and checked out.  Firefighters removed netting from the talon and the owl flew off when the crate was opened.

(Photo: DFD)


Brookfield School District creates dashboard of COVID-19 cases, isolation

Brookfield Public Schools has created a new dashboard with information on reported COVID-19 cases.  The details include the number of staff who test positive and are in isolation, students who test positive and are in isolation, staff who are quarantining after being a close contact and students who are quarantining after being a close contact.   The data will be updated weekly.  Brookfield is considered a red alert town by the state’s metrics.  Brookfield schools, due to having a rate of over 25 cases per 100,000 residents have gone into full remote mode.


Volunteer fire companies in Bethel, Newtown collect food for pantries

The five volunteers fire companies in Newtown held a massive food drive at several locations over the weekend.  This was their 18th year and it was again a success.  Fire company officials say COVID didn’t stop residents from coming out to support their efforts to fill the fire truck.  They were able to donate 177 boxes of food, 77 turkeys and over $3,100 in cash and gift cards to FAITH food pantry.

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company held a food drive over the weekend to benefit the Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel Food Pantry.  They filled a uHaul truck with food and raised approximately $1,000. These donations will benefit local families in need this holiday season.  Dennis Janofsky from Quality Gem provided the uHaul.

(Photo: SHVFD)


Monroe schools move to full distance learning

Monroe's two week case rate is now averaging approximately 7.5 cases per day, which equals an average of 38.9 per 100,000 population. A Monroe resident, in their 90s, has passed from COVID-19.  All Monroe Public Schools have moved to full remote learning through December 11th.  The decision was driven by guidance from the State Department of Education and Department of Public Health, based on the current 14-day case rate, as well as numerous school staff having to remain home due to childcare issues or having to quarantine - due to being a close contact with someone either at, or outside of, school who has tested positive.


Nuvance Health seeks volunteers for plasma trials to fight COVID-19

Nuvance Health has been selected by Johns Hopkins University to be part of COVID plasma trials.  There are two trials underway at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals and Vassar Brothers Medical Center.  This trial will help determine whether antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help people who have either been recently exposed, or who have been recently diagnosed and have symptoms, avoid getting very sick or catching the disease. 

One trial is for people who tested for COVID-19 no more than 5 days ago and were positively diagnosed, who still have symptoms but haven’t been hospitalized. People who were  in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 no more than 3 days ago, who don’t have any symptoms are also included.  The other is for people who have needed hospitalization. 

Participants will be compensated.  Enrollment is being done by contacting Johns Hopkins at 888-506-1199 or visiting CovidPlasmaTrial.org and filling out a questionnaire.  People can also call 203-739-7411 and speak with a screener.

This is the first U.S. multi-center, double-blind, randomized clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of convalescent blood plasma as an outpatient therapy.  If this option is deemed effective, Dr. Joann Petrini of Nuvance Health says it would be one of the lower-cost options for treating and/or preventing coronavirus illness worldwide, compared to vaccines, which might be too costly for some populations and countries.


Work starts on major study of the Revolutionary War-era Battle of Ridgefield

Work has begun on a major study of the Revolutionary War-era Battle of Ridgefield.  An advisory group has been formed to oversee the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program grant obtained this year by the Ridgefield Historical Society. The two-year grant aims to deepen understanding of the Ridgefield events that were part of General Tryon’s raid on Danbury.  T

he impetus for this new study was the discovery a year ago of skeletons that may be the remains of soldiers who fell in the battle. Analysis of the skeletons has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but preliminary assessments suggested young men who were hastily buried in the 18th Century. 

Another goal of the grant is to build community consensus for preservation related to the Battle. 

Researchers will provide a final report to the Historical Society, including a preliminary assessment of the battlefield boundaries, and recommendations for additional research or archaeological surveys.  The advisory group will be responsible for hiring historical researchers to arrive at the best understanding of what occurred on April 27, 1777, as Tryon’s troops marched through the town on their return to ships off Westport.

Another subcommittee will come up with a plan for publicizing the project’s work and discoveries across a variety of platforms.  The two-year grant is anticipated as the beginning of a multi-year project to document and protect the site of Connecticut’s only inland battle during the Revolutionary War, one in which General Benedict Arnold was a hero for the Patriots.


Ridgefield COVID-19 cases double from last week

COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Ridgefield.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi reports that Ridgefield is averaging nine cases a day.  Just a week and a half ago, Ridgefield was at 3.5 cases a day and now that's more than doubled.  11 cases were reported on Friday alone.  He asked that people avoid others not in their immediate household as many people do not show symptoms and do not know they are contagious.  Meanwhile Veterans Park Elementary School announced its first COVID-19 case on Saturday, and another positive case was reported at the High School.  Officials said they cannot rule out in-school transmission for the high school case.  The elementary community member was in school for several days before knowing they were contagious. 57 students and 10 staff at Veterans Park are quarantining for 14 days.  There's also a presumed positive case, and the two individuals are connected outside of the school building. 


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