Local News

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company looking to recruit new members

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says their recruitment lawn signs are being removed from their spots and carelessly tossed around.  The all volunteer organization has been going out on more calls as the town of Bethel grows, so they're looking for new members to help the department grow as well. No experience is necessary and all training is provided. Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says they can take members as young as age 16, calling it an opportunity for high school students who need community service hours, and those looking to go into the medical field upon graduation.

Redding Police to host Halloween Decoration Contest

The Redding Police Department has noticed some spooky decorations around town and decided to host a Halloween Decoration Contest on their new Instagram page.  Any Redding resident can send them a direct message and include a picture of the decorations, by 3pm on the 25th.  Redding Police will post all photos submitted and allow voting through the comment section until the 30th.  The winner will be announced at 3 PM on Halloween.  The winner will receive a $25 gift card to Pignone's Redding Ridge Market.

Two area police departments swear in new officers

The Newtown Police Department has a new officer on the job.  Barry Hyvarinen was sworn in on Friday.  The 30 year old spent the last six years as a patrol officer in his home city, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He was a Field Training Officer in his previous department.  Over the next few months Officer Hvyarinen will attend an accelerated lateral police certification course, and then an internal field training program before being cleared for patrol.

The Ridgefield Police Department has welcomed a new officer. Garrett Vasquez of Danbury was sworn in Friday at a ceremony held at police headquarters. Officer Vasquez is a lateral transfer from the Bethel Police Department.  He has started his Field Training Program, which will continue for the coming weeks.

Danbury Schools welcome two new leaders for Finance Department

Danbury Public Schools has appointed two new members to head its Finance Department. John Spang is the district’s Chief Financial Officer while Eduardo Miranda leads as Deputy Director. Spang is the former Director of Finance and School Business Operations for the Town of Preston and Preston Public Schools. Miranda is a former Associate Dean of Campus Administration at Capital Community College in Hartford.

Volunteers at Tarrywile Park recognized by state lawmakers

Volunteers who have helped with maintenance at Tarrywile Park have been honored by the state legislative delegation.  Danbury state Representative Ken Gucker says proclamations were issued in recognition of 25 years of volunteer service by 4 Winds Farm.  There have been over 90-thousand visits to Tarrywile Park in the last year or so. 

Pedestrian struck, injured in hit & run crash in Bethel

A pedestrian was hit by a vehicle in Bethel on Saturday night and police are searching for the driver. 

The crash happened shortly after 9:30pm near the Metro North railroad tracks.  Two pedestrians were crossing Greenwood Avenue from north to south when an eastbound vehicle struck the second pedestrian in the roadway. The pedestrian was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment.

Anyone who witnessed this crash is asked to contact Bethel Police. 

Bethel Police are also looking to identify the driver of a Budget Box truck. The vehicle was involved in a hit and run on October 8th on Grassy Plain Street at Mansfield Street.


Brookfield lifts mask mandate for vaccinated people indoors in public places

Brookfield has lifted its mask mandate for vaccinated individuals indoors in public places.  The restriction was dropped effective over the weekend.  The case rate fell from 14.3 per 100,000 population to 9.3 cases two weeks later.  The infection rate two weeks ago was 3.6 percent, but as of Thursday was down to 2-percent.  The rescinding of the mask mandate doesn't change other rules that the Governor has put in place. The unvaccinated must still wear masks in public places, and the rule for masking in schools has not changed.

Monument to be dedicated in Danbury to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans

A memorial monument is being dedicated in Danbury to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans.  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi, the Danbury Veterans Council and Danbury Veterans Affairs Office  Director Danny Hayes will hold a dedication ceremony on October 23rd at 11am in front of the Danbury War Memorial building.  The ceremony is being held on the 38th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut which killed 220 U.S. Marines, 18 U.S. Navy Sailors and 3 U.S.  Soldiers.  Another 183 U.S. Service personnel were wounded in the attack.  The Beirut Veterans Memorial is inscribed with the names of the 8 Connecticut residents killed in bombing and two service members who lost their lives in Lebanon in 1958 and 1985.

Bethel officials sign off on police software system upgrades

The Bethel Board of Finance has approved $125,500 for the police department so they can upgrade computer-aided dispatch and records management system software.  With the current system, which is about 15 years old, officers can only write accident reports up at the station.  The Board of Selectmen previously signed off on the request.  Bethel is the only police department in the Northeast to use this vendor, so they're looking to use NexGen, which nearly every other Connecticut municipality uses.  System upgrades are done automatically and free as part of the service agreement.  Bethel Police currently hand write tickets and mail it to the state to be included in the computer system, but with the new software, an e-ticket can be generated at the scene.  This will also meet a new state requirement going into effect. A town meeting is not be required for the funding because it was included in the capital budget approved by residents in the last budget referendum.

BBethel residents will be asked to approve more Parks & Rec funding

The Bethel Parks and Rec Department is seeing an increased demand for programming this year compared to last year.  The Board of Finacne last week signed off on 100-thousand dollars for the department to bolster enrollment.  That was the same amount that the Board of Finance cut ahead of a budget being approved this year.  That move was made because services weren't rendered during the pandemic, with the caveat that the funding would be found if demand for services was at pre-pandemic levels.  A town meeting will need to be held for residents to approve the $100,000 for the Parks and Recreation programming budget.

Newtown Police step up efforts to stop distracted drivers

Throughout this month Newtown Police have been increasing efforts to cut down on distracted driving.  This coincides with an increase in fines for texting and driving in Connecticut.  The first violation is now $200, a second offense will result in a $375 fine and third or subsequent violations will cost $625.  The fines increased by $50, $75 and $125 respectively.  Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on the nation’s roads. Newtown Police Sgt Jeff Silver says people make a conscious decision when they pick up their phones while driving and they are putting lives in danger.  He added that there are enough distractions and dangers while driving, calling it irresponsible to be introducing more by choice. 

Danbury Schools realize $2.8 million surplus

The Danbury Public School District is sending about 2-percent of their budget back into the City's reserve fund.  The district saved about $2.8 million, in part because of remote learning, but also due to lower insurance costs.  The schools can used that money as a contingency for technology, special education, and insurance if needed. 

Superintendent Kevin Walston says fewer staff members went to medical appointments during the pandemic, which resulted in $3.4 million of the line item not being used.  Transportation costs were down in the 19-20 and 20-21 school years because field trips, after school activities and sporting events didn't happen.  That totaled about $630,000. 

Special education costs for out-of-district placements saved Danbury about $340,000.  Fewer substitute teachers were needed because of hybrid and remote instruction, coupled with a statewide substitute shortage, which led to $483,000 remaining in that line item. 

But it wasn't all savings. 

When Danbury moved remote, an additional $520,000 was needed for technology that the district hasn't budgeted for.  Some grants were awarded to offset the costs.  Due to increased cleaning of the school buildings, custodial salaries went over budget by more than $244,000.

Local lawmaker tours DOT construction site in Newtown

A local lawmaker has toured a DOT construction site in Newtown.  State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan visited the Rochambeau Bridge project site. Construction is slated to be completed at the end of 2023.  The bridges carrying I-84 over the Housatonic River were found to be structurally deficient and had a non-redundant design. Allie-Brennan says that means if one component fails, the entire bridge would be subject to fail. The new bridges are based on current design standards where redundancy is built in to prevent failure of the entire structure. The crossing was dedicated in 1954 to the French General Rochambeau, who crossed the Housatonic while leading the French army en route to Victory at Yorktown - the last major battle of the American revolution.

Sherman Senior Center marks Fire Prevention Month

October is fire prevention month.  The Sherman Senior Center hosted the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Resident Trooper’s Office as part of a safety presentation this week.  Firefighters discussed the importance of maintaining fire safety vigilance, including changing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries twice a year and ensuring they are in working order by pressing the test button.  The volunteers will provide assistance to any senior or disabled resident in Sherman, by appointment.

Bridgewater First Selectman opposes scenic road designation

A virtual information session has been held about a state Department of Transportation proposal to designate part of Route 133 as a scenic road.  Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read opposes the plan because of a lack of public input, loss of local control and increased tourist traffic.  Read acknowledged that the road is a state route, but it's resident and town owned property that make it scenic. The proposal would extend from Brookfield, across the Lake Lillinonah bridge and past the boat launch, north through Bridgewater.  The designation would include the fairgrounds and downtown of the Village Center.  The designation would then cross to Route 67 in New Milford, across Veterans’ Bridge on Route 202.

Greater Danbury area has low COVID-19 infection rate

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's rate has held steady from last week at 2.2-percent.  Brookfield's rate went up a fraction to to 2-percent.

Danbury has 5.7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 1.5-percent.  Redding's current case rate per 100,000 is 7.8 and the positivity rate is 2.1 percent.  Each municipality lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals in indoor public places as of today.

New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate declined a fraction from last week to 2.5-percent.  New Milford's rate increased more than a percentage point to 3.7 percent.  Ridgefield's infection rate ticked down a bit to 2. 3 percent. 

Public Information Session in Ridgefield on construction at sewer plant

A Public Information Session is being held in Ridgefield tomorrow about construction at the sewer plant.  There's a proposal to use some American Rescue Plan Act funds to partially fund the construction of a sewer forced main from Route 7 District two to South Street District one sewer plant.  The allocation would be about $2.9 million.  The information meeting hosted by the Water Pollution Control Authoruity is tomorrow at 10am in the large conference room at Ridgefield Town Hall.

Some Danbury school staff placed on leave

15 or 16 Danbury Public School District employees have been placed on unpaid administrative leave for not being in compliance with a vaccine mandate.  The announcement at the Board of Ed meeting this week also noted that the majority of school staff have met the Governor's mandate that all educators be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test weekly.  About 90-percent are vaccinated.  170 employees are tested weekly, with no positive cases reported this week.  District officials say the number of those getting tested will decrease as more staffers get a second dose of a vaccine. 

Danbury drops mask mandate, Mayor warns it could return

Danbury is lifting the mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals indoors in public places, effective Friday.  Mayor Joe Cavo says the City is in a place where the requirement can be relaxed, but noted that if cases start to rise again it could be reinstated. 

Cavo says he's certain by masking up two months ago had a huge impact on keeping the caseload down.  He added that the biggest prevention tool is for people to get vaccinated, adding that the percentage is continuing to climb though not as quickly as he'd like it to. 

Cavo thanked residents for their cooperation in masking up, acknowledging that it wasn't easy for everyone to comply. 

Danbury establishment can continue the use of masks and facial coverings, on their own, for staff and visitors.  He notes that if requested, the City Health Department will be available to assist in facilitating an implementation plan.  He reiterated his support of the choice of fully vaccinated residents and visitors who want to continue wearing a mask in public settings where they might feel at-risk or cannot social distance themselves.  

Danbury Public Schools and private schools in Danbury are not subject to City regulations, but rather state rules. Masks are required in schools under an order from the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health outlining conditions and environments subject to the exemption provided in Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 12A. The order also requires healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, and childcare settings to require face-covering masks.

Redding lifts mask mandate for the fully vaccinated

Redding has lifted the mask mandate for the fully vaccinated in indoor public places.  Health Officer Doug Hartline says the daily rate of COVID-19 cases has declined regionally and in Redding they have dropped below 10 per 100,000 for three weeks in a row.  The  current daily case rate is 7.8 per 100,000.  State mandates continue to require masks in schools and for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces. Face coverings though are now optional for fully vaccinated individuals.  Hartline says it's still recommended that Redding residents, and especially for those at higher risk of severe COVID-19, continue mask wearing when indoors in public areas, and when distancing cannot be maintained.  He also asked for cooperation when visiting Redding establishments and locations that have chosen to maintain the full mask policy for the safety of their staff and customers.

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