Local News

Concert honoring singer, longtime Danbury resident, Marian Anderson at WCSU Saturday

A concert honoring singer and longtime Danbury resident Marian Anderson is being held at West Conn tomorrow.  The event celebrates the 122nd anniversary of Anderson’s birth on February 27th, 1897.  It's being held at 7pm in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus. 

West Conn recently announced its intention to name the School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Visual and Performing Arts Center in honor of Marian Anderson. The naming project will recognize Anderson’s accomplishments in music and civil rights, as well as the memory of her years in Danbury. 

Tickets to tomorrow's concert are 10-dollars and can be purchased online.

Rally in Ridgefield Saturday against school consolidation

A Ridgefield resident is organizing a rally against a proposal at the state capitol to consolidate school districts in towns with fewer than 40,000 residents.  The informal group is calling the movement the “hands off our schools” initiative, and the oppose forced regionalization and other bills that reduce local education control across Connecticut.  A public hearing on regionalization is scheduled for March 1st.  The rally starts at 10am in front of Ridgefield Town Hall.

Sky's the Limit hiking challenge back in Connecticut

The Sky's the Limit is back in Connecticut.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection hiking challenge is an opportunity for residents to explore 14 state parks and forests. 

Among the 14 designated parks are Kettletown in  Southbury, Macedonia in Kent, Mount Tom in Litchfield and Mohawk State Forest in Sharon.  They were selected by supervisors and staff. 

Participants who visit 10 of the designated locations will receive a hiking staff medallion or pin while people who go to all 14 will be entered to win one of 50 hand-carved hiking staffs.  The initiative was started in 2015.

Through the Passport to Parks program, those with Connecticut registered vehicles can park without paying a fee.  The program is funded through a fee on car registrations and renewals.

Brookfield officials to host Coffee with the Community event Saturday

A Coffee with the Community event is scheduled in Brookfield tomorrow, from 9 to 10:30am at Brookfield Deli & Catering on Federal Road.  Joining the Selectmen this month is the town’s Director of Public Works.  Residents are encourage to stop by with any questions about town roads. The event is scheduled on the last Saturday of each month, with a rotating department leader joining the Selectmen.

5 displaced by condo fire in Bethel

5 people were displaced by a condo fire in Bethel on Wednesday night.  Bethel and Stony Hill firefighters were dispatched to the Plumtrees Heights complex shortly before 9:30pm and found flames coming from the garage of a middle unit, extending into the unit.  The situation was brought under control in approximately 30 minutes, however crews remained on scene for an extended period of time to overhaul hot spots.  The fire was held to the garage, which was being used as a bedroom. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians and the cause is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshals office.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Candlewood Company provided station coverage while firefighters were on the scene.

(Photo: Stony Hill Vol. Fire Dept.)

New Fairfield to add officer for School Resource Office program

The New Fairfield School Safety and Security Committee appointed last year has made several recommendations, which are included in both the Town and School proposed budgets for the coming fiscal year.  The Board of Finance will review the proposals March 3rd. The plan includes a School Resource Officer in all four schools.  Prior to the Parkland shooting, New Fairfield had one SRO covering all 4 schools, and currently overtime pay is being used for officers, who have been in place since school started in August.  An additional full time officer will be hired to take pressure off the overtime hours worked by current officers.  The Committee has also recommended upgrading the camera systems currently in use in the schools to improve coverage and quality.

Mediation scheduled in City of Danbury, Dorothy Day permit dispute

A Judicial "alternative dispute resolution" has been scheduled for next month in the case of the City of Danbury versus Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  Danbury officials discovered in 2016 that Dorothy Day never renewed their permit and has been operating without one for about 30 years.  The session to help the sides resolve their disputes before a trial will take place March 12th in Torrington.  The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals denied exceptions to zoning rules on driveway width, parking lot size and setbacks for the more-than century old building.  The homeless shelter operator needed the variances in order to apply for a special exception before the Planning Commission, in order to secure a new permit.

Brookfield students, police, firefighters to shave heads to childhood cancer research awareness

The Brookfield Police Department, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company and the High School are partnering with St. Baldrick's Foundation once again.  The school's Peer Counseling Group and officers are raising money and awareness for childhood cancer research. 

Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute's budget is solely dedicated to childhood cancer research.  There are over a dozen types of childhood cancer and countless subtypes, each requiring specific research to develop the best treatment for every child.  According to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, more children die of childhood cancer in the U.S. than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined. 

Participants receive online pledges to shave their heads at a March 7th event, which will be held at 7 pm at the high school.

Informational hearing in Kent tonight about sidewalk project

A second informational hearing  will be held in Kent tonight about the proposed plan to refurbish Kent's sidewalks.  The focus of this meeting will be to address the unanswered questions from the January meeting.  Issues raised during that time included the cost and length of a loan, options for financing, the construction impact and if it will be done in phases so whole town isn’t torn up at once.  There were also questions about whether the work will be done in asphalt or concrete, what the lights will look like, and about Handicapped parking.  Questions about light pollution and drainage issues were also raised.  Michael Doherty, from the design firm of Milone & MacBroom will attend the February meeting to answer some of the questions.  The meeting is at 7pm at Kent Town Hall. 

Details about three bridge replacement projects detailed in Danbury

An informational meeting was held last night in Danbury about repair projects to three bridges over the Still River.  The Triangle Street work will require about a month-long closure over the summer.  The concrete around the piers of the bridge has been damaged over the years and is also in need of a new drainage system.  A detour for Lee Mac Avenue and Taylor Street will send drivers down Sheridan and Casper streets.  The Crosby Street connector bridge will not require a road closure, but traffic in and out of the White Street shopping center will be limited.  Federal funding is being used for both projects.  The Kennedy Avenue bridge work is still in the early design phase.

Saadi confirmed by State House to continue as DVA Commissioner

Tom Saadi of Danbury has been unanimously confirmed as Commissioner of Veterans Affairs by the state House of Representatives.  The nomination was introduced on the floor by Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey of Danbury. 

Saadi said he was truly humbled by the kind words from the legislators who spoke in favor of his confirmation.  He also thanked Majority Leader Matt Ritter and Representative Matt Blumenthal, the sons of two mentors. Former House Speaker Tom Ritter hired Saadi as a Legislative Assistant in the early 1990s and then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hired him as an Assistant Attorney General in 2000.  

Saadi says he looks forward to continuing to serve Connecticut veterans.

Kent Food Bank in need of volunteers

Kent Food Bank is in need of volunteers. Help is specifically needed during food bank distribution Fridays, 9am to noon. Volunteers are also needed to pick-up donated bakery items at Big Y in New Milford, Fridays at 9am and deliver them to the Kent Food Bank.  Interested residents should contact Kent Social Services.     

Monroe Police searching for man who stole carton of cigarettes

Monroe Police are looking for the public's help identifying a man who stole a carton of cigarettes from the Henny Penny on Route 34.  The suspect distracted the clerk last Monday and ran out of the store towards a gray SUV. The male appears to be in his early 30’s and has a distinct patch of white hair just above his forehead. He appears to be the same person who committed a similar crime in North Branford and North Haven.

Public hearing scheduled on FirstLight proposed Shoreline Management Plan changes

FirstLight Power Resources has scheduled a public hearing for next week on proposed changes to the Shoreline Management Plan.  The hearing is a requirement of its license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Housatonic River Project, which includes Candlewood Lake.  FirstLight is asking speakers at the hearing to to sign in, appear in that order, and that comments be limited to 2 minutes.  The hearing will take place at Heritage Hotel in Southbury Wednesday, February 27th, from 7pm to 9pm.

Town leaders critical of proposed teacher pension shift to municipalities

Governor Ned Lamont delivered a wide ranging budget address.  In his speech, Lamont talked about tolls, changes to sales tax exemptions, an overhaul of the teacher pension system and cost saving moves being made in state government. 

On the tax side. Lamont is proposing an increase in the hotel tax from 13-percent to 17-percent.  He also have proposed a tax on vaping products equal to cigarettes, a 1-and-a-half cent tax per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages, a 19 cent tax on plastic bags and expanding the bottle bill with a 25-cent deposit to include wine and 50 milliliter liquor bottles.

On the operating side of the budget, Lamont pledged to cut back on middle management.  Commissioners have also raised ideas to cut costs and to find efficiencies, including a suggestion to replace the State Trooper auto fleet every five years instead of four and putting civilians on desk jobs to allow more State Troopers to be on patrol.  With over 2,000 forms, less than 5-percent of which can be completed online, Lamont proposed digitizing more transactions.

Lamont plans to honor the Education Cost Sharing formula adopted last year, bringing underfunded districts closer to full funding, while accelerating phase-down.  He also called for an incentive for strategic decisions where larger schools and districts which pool resources, sharing superintendents and back-office functions, would receive priority for new bonding.

Lamont did not proposed raising the income tax rate, which has been raised 5 times over the last 15 years.  He is also leaving the sales tax rate flat.  The Governor also called on Connecticut businesses to step up and partner with him to help the next generation of talent repay their student loans and save for their futures. To kick-start this effort, Travelers and Stanley Black & Decker have agreed to offer their own loan forgiveness programs, to train, attract and retain top talent in the state.

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker applauded Lamont for tackling hard issues head on, but opposed a move to transfer a quarter of teacher pension costs onto municipalities. A larger percentage would be placed on districts paying over the state average.  Knickerbocker says that doesn't take into account the vast differences in cost of living from county to county.  He understands that this would be on future pension costs, not legacy costs, but it will lead to an increase in property taxes.

Knickerbocker says the towns did not have a seat at the table when these pension benefits are negotiated.  He'd prefer covering all of the pension cost, if the town could negotiate it locally.

Bethel Board of Ed to present budget proposal tonight

The Bethel Board of Education has approved a budget for the coming year. The proposed 3.43-percent increase focuses on maintaining curricular and extracurricular programs, while continuing to make progress towards the goals of the district's Strategic Plan. Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says they are challenged this year with increased enrollment and some shifting demographics.  The budget will be presented to the Boards of Selectman and Finance tonight at 6:30 PM in the Municipal Center.  The presentation will highlight the priorities towards accomplishing goals as a system and continued growth in the district’s primary purpose, to improve student achievement. The $46.7 million proposal accounts for reductions in state funding and a new state graduation requirement that all students take a foreign language.

Public Information meeting in Danbury on bridge work

A Public Information Meeting is being held in Danbury tonight about improvements to the Triangle Street bridge over the Still River, the Crosby Street connector bridge and the Kennedy Avenue bridge.  A design presentation will start the event at 6pm.  A question and answer period will immediately follow the presentation.  The meeting is at the Danbury City Hall Council Chambers.  Residents, business owners and other interested individuals are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the proposed projects.  Plans are available for review at the Danbury Engineering Department.

New Milford to apply for housing rehabilitation loan program

The Town of New Milford is applying to the Connecticut Department of Housing to reactivate the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program, which financially assists home owners with repairs such as the correction of health and safety violations, energy conservation, lead paint mitigation and code compliance measures. 

Funding for this Program is contingent upon award of grant money from the Department of Housing.  To show the Department of Housing that there is a need for this Program in New Milford, Mayor Pete Bass is asking potentially eligible home owners and property investors to complete a pre-application and submit it to the town's Grants & Compliance Specialist. 

If awarded, qualified New Milford home owners may receive a 0-percent interest deferred payment loan to complete the approved work.  Eligibility is based on the gross annual income, though other factors such as equity and property tax status will impact loan eligibility.  More details can be found on the town's website.

Redding officials to study community center HVAC system

During budget discussions in Redding at the latest Board of Selectmen meeting, the HVAC system at the community center was brought up.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton says it's been so cold this month that program participants had to wear coats, while in the summer they had to bring in air conditioners because it was too hot.  The Selectmen agreed to study the building’s heating, ventilation and cooling system.  Redding will make a formal request for proposals for an engineering study and then voters can then decide if it should be fixed.  Pemberton noted that there have been HVAC problems since she took office in 2013, but that it goes back well before then.

Opioid crisis roundtable discussion in Bethel Friday

A roundtable discussion is being held in Bethel on Friday about the impact of the opioid epidemic.  The discussion will be led by state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan and Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz.  Among the panelists will be first responders, law enforcement officials, health care professionals, and members of local advocacy groups.  More than a thousand peopled died in Connecticut last year from unintentional drug and opioid overdoses.  The roundtable discussion Friday is at 9:30am at the Bethel police station.

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