Local News

New river access site is opening on the Housatonic River

A new river access site is opening on the Housatonic River after a decade of planning.  The ribbon cutting is set for Saturday, at 2pm at “The Bend” of the Housatonic River in West Cornwall. 

The HVA Watershed Conservation Director and others will hold a brief dedication ceremony. 

The completed project provides safe access for boating and fishing, addresses runoff issues, restores riverside wildlife habitat and provides parking for people visiting West Cornwall.  Runoff and erosion prevention measures were put in, invasive plants were removed and native trees and shrubs were restored. 

The access ramp was upgraded to accommodate the Cornwall Fire Department’s river rescue boat in emergencies.  An interpretive kiosk and a concrete pad for a portable toilet were also installed. 

Representatives from property owner Eversource Energy, the Housatonic River Commission and project designer and contractor will be on hand.  Experienced boaters are encouraged to join a short paddle from The Bend down to Housatonic Meadows State Park to mark the occasion, as weather conditions permit.

Sherman Resident State Trooper hosts Community Crime Awareness presentation

The Sherman Resident State Trooper held a Community Crime Awareness presentation at the Sherman Senior Center on Tuesday.  Topics impacting the community, such as criminal phone scams and larcenies from unlocked motor vehicles, were addressed. The Sherman Resident Trooper office is looking to provide more of these programs in the future to educate and learn from the residents of Sherman.

Wilton Police say one road closure no longer needed ahead of Memorial Day parade

Wilton Police say it will no longer be necessary to close the portion of River Road between Horseshoe Road and Stop and Shop ahead of the Memorial Day Parade on Monday.  All roads in the Town center will remain open until 9:30am, at which time the roads in Wilton Town Center will be closed.  In preparation for a 10 am parade start, Route 33 between Route 7 and Drum Hill Road will also be closed at 9:30am Monday.

Local lawmaker highlights two bills passed by Conn. Senate

The state Senate has voted unanimously for a bill commonly called the Time's Up Act.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says An Act Combatting Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment extends current statute of limitations for the most serious sexual assault crimes from 5 years to 20. 

It also increases certain sexual harassment penalties in Connecticut, extends the time limits people have to file lawsuits for sexual assault, allows more time for criminal prosecutions of sexual assault, and requires more employer-sponsored sexual harassment training. 

The bill was sent to the House.

A measure was also approved to strengthen Connecticut's ‘Trust Act,’ which provides protections for immigrants in Connecticut. 

Kushner says changes were made to the 2013 law to prohibit law enforcement officers from detaining an individual based on an ICE detainer.  She says it's just a request for cooperation from a federal agency to a local police department. 

Kushner notes that the new bill makes clear that when there is a very serious concern about an individual, if they are a member of a gang or potential terrorist, if they have a felony conviction or a final deportation order – local law enforcement will detain and secure that person if there is an order signed by a judge. 

This bill now awaits a vote by the state House.

Driver pulled from burning car by former Brookfield volunteer firefighter

A driver sustained serious injuries in a fiery car crash in Brookfield Tuesday morning.  Emergency responders were called to Federal Road near Laurel Hill Road along the Still River Greenway on a report of a driver trapped in the burning car. 

(Photo: BVFD)

Former Brookfield firefighter Jim Docktor Jr. was able to smash out a car window and remove the badly injured driver.  Other bystanders helped pull the driver further from the car.  Docktor then continued to work. 

First arriving Fire and Police personnel indicated that had he not removed the driver when he did, the man would have burned alive in the vehicle.  Docktor's father is a past chief of the volunteer fire company. 

Judge dismisses tribe's lawsuit in land-taking dispute

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has dismissed all remaining claims in a lawsuit in which a Native American tribe alleged the state owed it more than $600 million for land seized from the tribe more than a century ago.

Judge Thomas Moukawsher in Hartford ruled Wednesday that the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation doesn't own the mortgages on the land and dismissed the case.

The tribe sued in 2016, saying the state seized 2,000 acres from a 2,400-acre (9.7 square kilometers) reservation in western Connecticut between 1801 and 1918 without compensating the tribe. The same judge in 2017 dismissed the tribe's claim that it owned the land but let the mortgages issue proceed.

A lawyer for the tribe says it is seeking a clarification of the ruling, and the case is not over.


Connecticut considers blockchain technology to protect voter data

Connecticut will study the use of blockchain technology to collect voter information.  New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee says Blockchain is most commonly used in the trading and securing of cryptocurrency. However, many private industries outside of financial institutions have started looking into how it could be used to store internal and consumer data. 

West Virginia used blockchain to help 144 members of the military, spread over 24 different countries, vote in the 2018 election. 

.Buckbee says the Connecticut bill builds off an initial task force established by the legislature last year. With growing concerns of voter fraud and lack of voter participation, he says it’s important to consider how blockchain could be used to remedy those issues.  The measure was passed unanimously in the House and was sent to the Senate.

Road reconstruction underway in Danbury

Beginning today, Danbury Public Works Department will be conducting road construction on Hamilton Drive, Wheeler Drive, and Fanton Road. This construction will not result in road closings, however there is the possibility of travel restrictions and detours during this work period.  During construction there will be NO on-street parking. Construction should last approximately 2 to 3 weeks.

Bethel transfer station permits available next month

Bethel transfer station permits expire on June 30th.  The annual pass for the 2019-2020 year will be available to residents starting on June 1st.  The Bethel Town Clerk will be at the Transfer Station June 15th between 7am and noon, but asks that applications be filled out in advance to save time. The applications will be available on the town's website starting next Friday, and available at the Transfer Station.  Bethel issued 2400 permits this year.

Conn. Senators sponsor bills to end robocalls

The U.S. Senate has passed legislation Senator Richard Bluementhal co-sponsored to help block robocalls. 

The TRACED Act, legislation Senator Chris Murphy cosponsored, is aimed at ending the growing number of illegal robocalls that plague consumers.  The bill extends the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement against violators and requires telecom companies to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before reaching consumers’ phones.

Blumenthal also wrote the ROBOCOP, or Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones  Act, which  requires telephone companies to offer free robocall blocking services to all their customers.  Blumenthal says telephone harassment skyrocketed in 2018, with the number of robocalls made to Americans exceeding 16.3 billion in the first five months of that year.

The Do Not Call Registry has little to no impact, particularly when it comes to scams and call centers located outside of the United States. 

Man hit by own car in Oxford liquor store parking lot

A man was hit by his own car in the parking lot of the Oxford Liquor Shoppe yesterday afternoon when the vehicle was left in gear. State Police say 73-year old Stephen Kovzel of Oxford didn't put his Jeep in park and it rolled backwards into another vehicle.  The other driver, 62-year old Mark Reilly of Beacon Falls, moved backwards into the car causing Kovzel to be caught by the door and run over by his own vehicle.  The car came to a stop in the northbound lane of Route 67, against a steel guard rail.  Kovzel was taken to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries to his arms and left leg.    Reilly was issued a ticket for evading responsibility, not having insurance, driving without a license and for an expired registration.

Public input session tonight in New Milford on future uses for Lillis Building

A public input session is being held in New Milford tonight to gather opinions from residents on what the Lillis Administration Building could be used for in the future.  The 50 East Street facility currently houses the school district's central offices, but it does not meet ADA requirements. The 23,600-square-foot brick building is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  A consulting firm is putting together a community-based adaptive reuse study, paid for with a State Historic Preservation Office grant.  The meeting is from 6pm to 9pm at the Senior Center.  Options discussed over the years for the building have included selling it to be affordable housing or an assisted living complex, emergency services headquarters or office space.

Owl rescued from roadway in Easton

An animal rescue was made in Easton last night.  Police received a call about an owl sitting in the middle of the road.  The baby Barred Owl was picked up and taken back to the police station.  A  dispatcher transported him to Wildlife in Crisis in Weston where he will be cared for until he grows up enough to be able to be released in a few months.

(Photo: Easton Police)

Weston High School named a Green Ribbon School

Weston High School has been named a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.  The program honors schools that reduce environmental impact and costs, improve the health and wellness of schools, students and staff, and provide effective environmental and sustainable education. Weston High School, along with other honorees from across the nation, will be formally recognized during an event on September 25th in Washington DC.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the school is playing an important role in teaching the next generation how to live in a responsible and sustainable manner.

New Milford to hire superintendent from New Mexico

The New Milford School District will start negotiations with a New Mexico Superintendent to come to Connecticut and take up the same role.  The New Milford Board of Education voted Tuesday and expect to formally approve the appointment of Kerry Parker next month.  She was one of 26 applicants from across the country.  Parker would take over for Stephen Tracy who has been interim Superintendent since August. 

Danbury Democratic Mayoral challenger releases education plan as teachers rally for more funding

A multi-step platform to improve education in Danbury has been released by Democratic Mayoral candidate Chris Setaro.  He says Danbury is at a crossroads in many ways, and nowhere more apparent than in the school system.

Setaro wants to ensure children get the best start in life by creating free pre-k citywide.  He also plans to work in collaboration with the state delegation to get more funding from Hartford.  Another part of the plan is to connect high school students with local companies and higher education institutions in Danbury to expand the workforce.  Setaro also wants to bring together facilities experts, educators and others to create a strategic plan for infrastructure and operational needs.

According to state records, Danbury is last in Connecticut in per-pupil spending.  The City does have 7 schools of distinction.  The city’s school system has a graduation rate of about 80 percent, also among the lowest in the state. And only 26 percent
of students are proficient in mathematics.

9-term Republican Mayor Mark Boughton noted that the City led a statewide lawsuit to rework the education cost sharing formula, which was denied on appeal and says the state isn't giving Danbury the City's fair share of funding.  He adds that the city does have pre-K programs for at-risk children.  Boughton says the City already has a facility task force of the Board of Ed to address the city’s growing enrollment.

Meanwhile, there's a nationwide movement to get more funding into classrooms.  In Danbury, some educators held protest signs outside Pembroke Elementary School yesterday morning before class.  Teachers Union NEA Danbury also supported the Red for Ed movement of teacher walkouts and protests across the country.  The educators are calling on more money from the City of Danbury to accommodate growing enrollment. 

Carmel couple charged with grand larceny for alleged exorbitant service charges

A Carmel couple has been arrested on felony grand larceny and other charges stemming from a complaint about the owners of Top Notch Towing in Mahopac.  New York State Police say an investigation was launched with the help of the Putnam County District Attorney’s office and the state Departments of Taxation and of Transportation. 

The complaint was about 47-year old Frank Inzano and 42-year old Shannon Inzano billing customers exorbitant charges for services.  The investigation found the Inzano’s stole over $50,000 using fraudulent billing practices, possessed five illegal hand guns, and committed tax fraud. 

They were arraigned and released for court appearances June 24th.  The couple also faces charges of  Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Offer to File a False Instrument and Criminal Tax Fraud.  

Danbury, CT, NY Police conduct seat belt checkpoint operation

During the national Click it or Ticket campaign, Connecticut and New York State Police Departments conducted an occupant safety checkpoint on Route 6/Danbury Road in the town of Southeast near the State line.  Danbury Police also coordinated the effort. 

A total of 13 tickets were issued during this targeted enforcement period, two of which were for seatbelt/passenger restraint related violations. 

New York State's law says drivers and front-seat passengers over age 16 can be fined up to $50 each for failure to buckle up.  The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive up to three driver license penalty points for each violation of a passenger under 16 not in an appropriate safety restraint system.

Redding police investigating vandalism of local business

Redding Police are investigating a vandalism incident that happened at a Route 7 business last week.  Police say someone or a group of people caused $600 in damage at Empire Fences.  A brick was thrown through the glass window of a display shed some time between Monday evening and Wednesday morning.  The family-owned and -operated business is on the Ridgefield-Redding border. Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact Redding police.

Unexpected problem causes delay in Route 133 bridge project between Brookfield and Bridgewater

A significant issue has been found with the Route 133 bridge replacement project between Brookfield and Bridgewater.  The state DOT contractor says the way the bridge deck was constructed 20 years ago, causes a problem now on how to demolish it.  Engineers developed an underdeck support system to be installed this week.  The delay, which is about a month long, is to allow for engineering and adjustments to the contract costs.  The DOT expects the contractors to complete only 2 stages with weekend closures and by-passes before the Bridgewater Fair weekend. The last weekend closure may be as late as the November. 

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