Local News

Lawmakers being asked by Eversource to authorize $700 million in borrowing

State lawmakers are being asked by Eversource to authorize $700 million in borrowing.  The utility says this  securitization would blunt the impact on consumers of losses from the tropical storm, pandemic and rate increase rollback.  Energy Committee co-chair, Danbury Representative David Arconti, says there's no change of this happening and called it a joke for them to suggest it.  Eversource calls the plan a rate reduction bond and says it would be in place of a rate increase due to extraordinary losses.  Arconti says the request should have been made to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, though that would require a public review.  He told the Connecticut Post that to legislate this away would set a terrible precedent.  He added that the legislation references three open cases before PURA and if accepted, would effectively end the inquiry.

Bethel VNA hosting a community Flu Shot Clinic

The Bethel VNA is hosting a community Flu Clinic for Flu Shots at Berry School October 7th, and a flu clinic for school district staff will be held on October 6th at the high school.  Residents were urged to call the pediatrician or family doctor to see if children should be vaccinated and then schedule an appointment.   Many insurance carriers are participating in the flu clinic.  There is no charge for children 18 and under regardless of insurance. 

DOT continues work on Veterans Bridge in New Milford

The state Department of Transportation has updated their timelines for work on Veterans Bridge in New Milford.  The membrane installation was mostly complete, about 75-percent, on Monday evening.  The night  work and detours are likely to be complete by next week.  Day work, with two way traffic, will continue through the Fall.

5 active COVID-19 cases in New Fairfield

There are 5 active COVID-19 cases in New Fairfield.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the low number of active cases is the result of residents wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.  She says probable cases are not confirmed positive and rarely become confirmed cases.  For example,  "probable" cases may include individuals who have been exposed to a confirmed case, or those who have been tested due to COVID-like symptoms, but not confirmed.  Every individual who is reported to the Director of Health as confirmed positive for COVID-19 is contacted by a nurse trained in contact tracing.  Contacts that were in prolonged, close contact with the infected individual are directed to get tested and to self quarantine.

Half of New Milford students finally have first day of in-person learning

Half of New Milford students just had their first day of in-person learning yesterday. The delay was sparked by positive COVID-19 cases detected in the district last Wednesday. The New Milford Acting Superintendent of Schools is shedding more light on the decision making process to shut down all of the schools. 

Dr Paul Smotas says his office was notified late Wednesday afternoon that there was potentially multiple families with positive cases, though they didn't have reliable information.  The district started contact tracing with the local Department of Health. 

Smotas compared it to a spiderweb, looking into all of the variables including transportation, classroom, lunch and recess among others.  After two to three hours of contact tracing, Smotas says it became clear that there was a problem and it wasn't going to be just one school.  He says the contact tracing was completed too late on Thursday to be able to open on Friday. 

Smotas noted that state Department of Public Health guidelines call for schools to close for at least 2 days when there is a positive COVID case detected.

Advice offered for college students looking for absentee ballots

The Bethel Town Clerk is offering some reminders for college age students who are looking to cast an absentee ballot in Connecticut, The application is available on the town website and can be filled out. The address of the school should be printed legibly.  The Town Clerk's office is operating as a production line and most other office procedures will take a back seat to the processing and accounting of what is anticipated as a tsunami of Absentee Ballots.

Bill could be considered dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses

A bill could be considered by Connecticut lawmakers during a special session this fall dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses.  Kent state Representative Maria Horn says there's a concern that student won't report incidents if the assault happened at a gathering, illegal due to coronavirus restrictions.  As parties are essentially banned, students found attending could be asked to leave school.  The proposed bill would make it easier for survivors or bystanders to come forward and report it.  The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities have an amnesty provision built into the student code of conduct meaning the student would not receive any kind of negative consequences upon reporting that.  According to research by the U.S. Department of Justice, the first month and a half of college is the time when freshmen women are most likely to be raped or experience attempted rape.

Easton man charged with production of child pornography

An Easton man has been charged with production of child pornography.  The one-count indictment against 41-year old Robert McGuire, returned last week, alleges that he produced the images between 2018 and June of this year.  McGuire appeared yesterday via video conference and pleaded not guilty to the charge.  He has been detained since his arrest by Easton Police on related state charges on July 10th.  If convicted, McGuire faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.

Ridgefield Board of Ed member resigning

A Ridgefield Board of Ed member is resigning to spend more time with her family.  Carina Borgia-Drake is leaving effecting September 30th.  She was first elected to the Board in November 2017.  In her resignation letter, Borgia-Drake talked about the Board's two searches for a Superintendent and the pandemic.  The vacancy is required to be filled by a majority vote of the remaining members of the Board of Ed within a month.  If that time passes, the Board of Selectmen will make the appointment.  The Democratic Town Committee can make an advisory recommendation to the Board of Ed, which began seeking potential candidates for the vacancy last week.  Interested candidates should send a “statement of interest” and resume to recruitment@ridgefielddems.org by next Saturday.

Traffic stop leads police to find gun reported stolen from VA

A routine traffic stop has led to more charges against a New York City man.  State Police from the Brewster Barracks pulled a Mercedes Benz over on I-84 in Southeast Saturday afternoon.  Troopers determined that 26-year old Victor Jimenez was in possession of a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun.  An investigation revealed the gun was reported stolen out of Chesterfield County Virginia.  Jimenez was charged with felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property.  He was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Jail on bond.  His next scheduled appearance is October 13th.

Trooper assists injured Immature Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Connecticut State Police say a recent incident brings a new meaning to “Wingman.”  On Tuesday, Trooper Lit Winczyk, who is assigned to the Troop L Barracks, stopped to assist an injured Immature Sharp-Shinned Hawk which had been struck by a motor vehicle near Mount Tom State Park in Washington. The hawk is listed as a threatened species in the State of Connecticut and was transported from the scene by Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police for further treatment.

Putnam County Sheriff to host Rx drug takeback event

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a prescription drop off this Saturday for safe disposal of expired and/or unused medication. The event will be at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in Carmel between 10 AM and 2 PM. Social distancing guidelines will be strictly enforced.  Residents are asked to consider using this safe way of disposing of medication so it does not end up in the water system or in the wrong hands.

Bethel Town Clerk gives update on absentee ballot application mailings

The Bethel Town Clerk knows that people are waiting for Absentee Ballot Applications.  Danbury has received, as has Newtown, and Wilton.  Lisa Bergh says she was told by the Secretary of the State last week that applications began a roll out beginning on the 8th with larger cities and finishing up on Friday with the mailing.  But she learned during a conference call this week that the mailouts continued through yesterday.  Ballots can not be mailed to people who have applied for them until October 2nd. 

New Fairfield seeks grant money for ventilation upgrades at Town Hall

New Fairfield officials are applying for funding to upgrade the ventilation system for both Town Hall and the Annex due to COVID-19.  STEAP grant funding could be used for this project.  

Town Engineer Antonio Iadarola researched information about the systems and determined that a combination of adding ventilation and UV disinfection would be the best option. 

FEMA could cover some of the cost of this project, but then a state STEAP grant can't be used.  But First Selectman Pat Del Monaco noted that she has not been able to reach FEMA regarding this issue. She believes the project is important and should go forward even if grants are not awarded. The cost is approximately $155,000.  The STEAP grant application is for $128,205. 

The current AC units cannot provide the sufficient outdoor air intake and air exchanges to mitigate COVID exposure for employees and the public.  The project includes installation of energy-recovery ventilators to new and existing air handling units and adding ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to return air ducts.

Danbury's new Emergency Management Director sworn in

Danbury's new Emergency Management Director has been sworn in.  Matt Cassavechia took the oath of office yesterday.  He holds a Masters degree in homeland security.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is adding an office in city hall for the director because the public health emergency is still underway.  Cassavechia will work with current Director TJ Wiedl for another month or so.  The former Fire Chief took over the position in March from Paul Estephan, who retired.  Cassavechia will also continue to serve as director of emergency medical services at Danbury Hospital’s parent company, Nuvance Health.  Boughton says the contractual position is the best option for serving the City.  Cassavechia has 30 years of experience running ambulance services in Danbury and four surrounding towns.

Danbury to hold pop up COVID-19 test event Saturday

Danbury's positive COVID-19 numbers have been all over the place in the last week.  There were 17 new cases were reported yesterday and 19 on Tuesday.  5 positive tests were identified Monday, 6 on Sunday, 11 on Saturday and 23 on Friday.  The City's infection rate is at 6-point-8 percent is the same as last week.  It's down just slightly from last month when the state issued a a COVID-19 alert for Danbury due to a spike in cases.  There will be a testing event on Saturday at Sacred Heart Church on Cottage Street from 10am to 2pm.  There are no scheduled pop up tests scheduled by the Community Health Center nor the Greater Danbury Community Health Center, though each offer testing at their facilities.  The Community Health Center offers free testing 9am to 1pm. Monday through Friday at 8 Delay Street.  The Greater Danbury Community Health Center offers testing from 3pm to 5pm on Mondays and from 8:30am until needed on Wednesdays and Fridays at 120 Main Street.

Bethel agrees to hire law firm to investigate Eversource storm response

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has voted to hire a law firm to investigate Eversource’s response to last month’s tropical storm.  The firm Cohen and Wolf will counsel the town, which filed last week for intervener status in the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s investigation into Eversource.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says not only will the municipalities be able to cross-examine witnesses, they could seek compensation for losses.  Newtown, Ridgefield and New Fairfield have all hired the same law firm.  Each town is expected to pay about 25-thousand dollars.  New Milford is also looking to investigate storm response.

Bridgewater officials give update on ballot application delivery status

The Town of Bridgewater has been advised by the Secretary of State’s Office that the application for absentee ballots were mailed on Friday.  Registered voters should be on the lookout in the mail during this week for the application.  Anyone who would like to vote by mail, is asked to fill out the application and mail it to the Bridgewater Town Clerk or place it in the drop box outside of the back door of Bridgewater Town Hall.  Absentee ballots will become available beginning October 2nd. Polls will still be open for in-person voting on November 3rd.

Eversource contends it took COVID-19 precautions into account in storm response

Eversource executives say in a mandated post-storm report that the need to apply COVID-19 protocols to protect the health of employees and customers permeated every aspect of the utility's response.  But Danbury state Representative David Arconti previously expressed doubt about Eversource taking the pandemic into account.  Danbury experienced a small spike in COVID-19 cases about two weeks after the tropical storm, prompting the state Department of Public Health to declare a COVID-19 alert for the City.  The local Public Health Department was able to trace some cases to areas where there was no power for more than a week after storm.  On Twitter, Eversource had been directing people to stay with family or friends to beat the heat if their electricity was off.  Arconti says that goes against all of the guidance for people to socially distance from people not in their immediate household.

Southbury man arrested for fatal 2019 crash

A Southbury man has been arrested for a fatal motor vehicle accident that happened last year.  79-year old Thomas Sherk was charged Tuesday with negligent homicide and improper turn.  The warrant stemmed from a November crash on Old Waterbury Road that killed 66-year-old Southbury resident Elizabeth Ballard.  Police say Sherk tried to make a left turn into a condo complex, but crashed head on with another vehicle.  He was released on bond for an appearance in Waterbury Superior Court on November 18th.


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