Local News

Bethel Planners to hold hearing on application for chickens in residential zones

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on an application to change regulations to allow for chickens to be raised in residential zones.  There would be specific conditions outlined in the text amendment change.  They include the number allowed per square foot, coop requirements, setbacks and sanitation among others.  The hearing is Tuesday at 7pm in the municipal center. 

Road work scheduled in Newtown

There is some roadwork in Newtown next week which could cause delays.  During the week of April 22nd, a road construction project will take place on Toddy Hill Road in the area of Curtis Packaging and Route 34.  Pavement will be removed temporarily leaving a gravel surface.

Danbury Labor Market Area gains jobs in March

Connecticut's unemployment rate went up slightly in March from February.  It's now 3.9 percent.  Three of the six Labor Market Areas saw job increases in March and three saw declines.  The Danbury area gained 600 net new jobs.  The Waterbury and the Norwich-New London areas also picked up jobs.  The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area saw a loss of 600 jobs, while there were smaller losses in the New Haven and the Hartford areas.


State Police rescue dog struck by car on I-84 in Danbury

A dog was struck by a vehicle on I-84 in Danbury this morning.  Drivers had stopped after spotting the animal, but one hit the dog.  With the help of some good Samaritans, two State Police Troopers rescued the stray.  It wasn't wearing a collar and Troopers say wasn't badly injured.  The dog was hiding under the car so Troopers put a covering over it to transport the dog to Danbury Animal control for medical attention.



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No arrests to be made for Ridgefield baseball field fire, compensation sent to town

The investigation into who poured gasoline and set the fire at Governor Park in Ridgefield has been closed by police.  In a statement to The Press, Captain Shawn Platt said compensation has been made for damages and town officials no longer wish to press criminal charges.  He referred further questions to Ridgefield Town Hall. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said during the Board of Selectmen meeting on Wednesday that no taxpayer dollars would be spent to fix the field used by the Ridgefield High School baseball team.  The town's insurance carrier wouldn't cover the $40,000 worth of damage.  Private, anonymous donations from a trustee account overseen by an attorney have been received. 

Three coaches were suspended pending the investigation, but reports are that they are back at work. 

Over 60 yards of contaminated earth and clay was removed and the area was determined to be clear of contaminants.  Fresh clay was brought in, completing restoration work.

Fairfield Hills Community Survey now online

Every 5 years, a committee of Newtown residents are empaneled to review the Fairfield Hills Master Plan.  Set up by the Board of Selectmen, the group gathers input from town leaders and the Newtown Community, and provide recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission for updates to the plan.  The goal is to assure that the property development reflects the current and future needs of the town.  The 2019 Fairfield Hills Community Survey is now available and will be open through May 15th.

Green Chimneys co-founder passes away at 88

The co-founder of Green Chimneys nonprofit in Brewster has passed away.  Myra Ross died at the age of 88.  The organization she founded with her husband, Samuel Ross, who died last year, specializes in animal-assisted therapy and educational activities for children with special needs.  Myra Ross earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Danbury State College, now Western Connecticut State University.  She served as clinical coordinator and director of admissions at Green Chimneys School and Children's Services. A Celebration of Life will take place on May 22nd at 3:30pm on the main campus of Green Chimneys Children’s Services on Doansburg Road in Brewster.

Putnam County Sheriff's Office develops new app

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office has developed a new mobile app to give the public greater access to law enforcement. 

Sheriff Robert Langley says it's meant to give residents, businesses and visitors important alerts, notifications and resources.  One feature is a  Submit a Tip section, which lets users to submit anonymous tips about narcotics, underage drinking, human trafficking and other incidents via email and texts or with their contact information. The tip lines also allow users to submit a photo with the tip.

Other features include inmate information, warrants, sex offender information and victim notification.  There are also sections about Child Safety Seat programs, Pistol Permits & Handgun Safety and the Drug Hotline. 

Seized asset funds were used to fund the development of the app. No tax dollars were used.

Newtown Police Chief weighs in on DOJ reports about mental health services for officers

The Department of Justice has released two reports that focus on the mental health and safety of the nation’s federal, state, local and tribal police officers. The reports were required by the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017. 

Newtown Police Chief James Viadero says the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association's Wellness Committee has spearheaded the ‘Serve Well – Be Well’ program, which encompasses officer emotional and physical wellness from hire to retire and beyond. 

The program encourages peer support and employee assistance programs, and promotes a culture within departments of recognizing and treating mental health issues.  He notes that donations have enabled departments to implement strategies to assist officers, and that the culture of addressing wellness and mental health concerns of officers in Connecticut with dramatic results. 

U.S. Attorney John H. Durham says he is encouraged by the release of these reports and case studies, and the momentum behind this critically important issue.

New Fairfield proposed budget includes slight tax increase

The New Fairfield Board of Finance is recommending a budget for the coming fiscal year with a little more than a 1 percent tax increase.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says this is the lowest mill rate increase in ten years, with the exception of the 2016/2017 budget when the Treasurer refinanced the Town’s debt. 

At the recommendation of the New Fairfield School Safety and Security Committee, the budget contains funding for an additional permanent School Resource Officer position and an additional Dispatcher to monitor school security equipment.  There will be SROs in all four New Fairfield schools.  These additions account for approximately 31-percent of the total municipal budget increase over last year’s budget.  The Board of Selectmen will be holding public question and answer sessions about the budget in the coming weeks.

Priorities were given to school safety, bridge and drainage repairs and EMT Paramedic services.  A third of the increase in the municipal budget is for an additional contract with Danbury Hospital for EMT and Paramedic services for 24/7 coverage following a decreased in volunteers in recent years. 

4 positions have been eliminated from Public Works and Buildings and Grounds over the past decade but this year's budget restores one position.  Del Monaco says prioritizing preventative maintenance improves safety and decreases the need for costly repairs in the future. This addition accounts for 14% of the municipal budget increase. 

Redding Board of Finance recommends budget for May 7th referendum

The Redding Board of Finance is recommending a nearly $51 million budget for the coming fiscal year be sent to a referendum. The vote will take place on May 7th.  The capital plan includes $2.5 million for upgrades to the police and fire emergency communications system and $400,000 for the Station Road bridge project. 

The spending plan is about $1.73 million more than the current year due to pension, social security and contractual obligations.  The municipal portion of the plan is about $15 million dollars.  The Redding Board of Ed budget is about $22.1 million.  The main drivers there leading to an increase are special education costs, health insurance and pensions. 

Redding's share of the Region 9 budget is about $13.9 million.  The Region 9 plan is split based on student population from Redding and Easton at Joel Barlow High School.   

Danbury seeks federal grant funding to improve handicap accessibility along sidewalks

Danbury is applying for a Federal Highway Administration Grant to improve accessibility.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the grant is mainly focused on handicap accessibility.  The City was audited by the federal government, which made several recommendations.  The $1.4 million covers 80-percent of the anticipated costs, with the City needing to foot the remaining 20-percent of the tab. 

The program is aimed at improving mobility of school children, the elderly and people with physical challenges.  The money would go to improving sidewalks along Park Avenue near the elementary school and Golden Hill Road and Beckerly Street for access to the High School.  Improvement of pedestrian facilities for the elderly at Danbury Commons, Kimberly Place, Wooster Manor, Crosby Manor, Danbury Tower, Putnam Tower and Bishop Curtis Home would also be funded. 

The grant would also cover installations to help safe pedestrian mobility to and from the train station.  It's about 1 mile of sidewalks and 70 audible pedestrian push buttons at 13 crossing signals. 

Councilman Duane Perkins asked if Deer Hill Avenue could be included in the grant application because of sidewalks, light and traffic safety issues.  Boughton agreed that there is an issue and a need in that area, but isn't sure if it's an exact fit for the grant requirements.

Two suspects tried to steal ATM from Newtown gas station

Two people tried to steal an ATM from inside a Newtown gas station yesterday morning, but the alarm activated.  Police arrived to see a suspect jump out a broken window of the Citgo on South Main Street, and get into a waiting car. 

Police say it appears the suspects were scared off when they saw a police cruiser approaching.  

The vehicle made its way on side roads to I-84 eastbound and Newtown Police called on State Troopers to deploy spike strips.  The suspect was able to avoid capture and exited in the Waterbury area. 

The vehicle was reported stolen the night before from New Britain and found abandoned. 

The investigation remains ongoing and open.  Newtown Police spokesman Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says he is confident that the suspects will be caught based on further investigative steps.

Hikers lost in Tarrywile Park rescued by Danbury firefighters

Two hikers have been rescued from Tarrywile Park in Danbury. 

The Danbury Fire Department was called to the park at the end of a nice day on a report that two hikers were lost in the woods and tired.  They deployed their Polaris Ranger and, with the aid of technology, dispatchers were able to place a pin on their mobile mapping system which firefighter took into the woods with them. 

Fire officials say it was a matter of connecting the dots to locate the lost hikers.  The lost hikers were found in 24 minutes and given a lift to their car back at the Mansion. 

Fire officials remind park goers to carry a well charged cell phone so that if the need arrives to call for help, your phone is ready to assist in the rescue.

Man with drugs in car speeding past Troopers in Newtown eventually caught

State Police yesterday announced the arrest of a Connecticut man who sped by Troopers who were conducting seatbelt enforcement in Newtown.   Troopers were near the Exit 11 off ramp on Saturday when a Mercedes sped by and failed to stop when signaled to do so. 

Troopers were able to conduct a motor vehicle stop a short distance later and found a large amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. 

22-year old Christian Enrique Cedillos of Bridgeport was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, traveling unreasonably fast and disobeying the signal of an officer. 

He was released on bond for an appearance in Danbury Superior Court on April 30th.

Men will have access to baby changing tables under bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - It could soon become easier for men to change a baby's diaper in Connecticut.

The state Senate on Wednesday voted 34-2 in favor of a bill that requires newly constructed or substantially renovated public or commercial buildings to have an infant changing table available to men, as well as women. The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Democratic Sen. Dennis Bradley of Bridgeport says "men also have the responsibility to change the diapers of our children" in today's world.

Ridgefield Democratic Sen. Will Haskell notes the law change is important for same-sex parents. Haskell says his brother and husband too often "have to resort to a floor or counter" to change their daughter's diaper because there isn't a changing table in many men's rooms.

Sandy Hook lawsuit goes before appeals court

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut appeals court has heard arguments over whether Sandy Hook Elementary School officials were negligent in failing to order a lockdown before a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators in 2012.

A lawyer for the parents of two children killed in the massacre told the state Appellate Court on Wednesday that school officials didn't follow protocols and order a lockdown that may have saved lives when they heard the gunman shoot his way through the school's locked entrance.

The parents are appealing a lower court ruling that dismissed their lawsuit against the town and its schools.

The town's lawyer argued officials weren't certain what they heard was gunfire in the chaotic first seconds and ordering a lockdown was discretionary.

It's not clear when the Appellate Court will rule.

Summer Bike Series coming to Clarke Park in Bethel

Economic Development Chairman Mike Boyle presented the 2019 Summer Bike Series request from Mike Conlan to be held on Tuesday evenings from May 21st through  August 6th.  It would be from 6pm to 8:30pm at Clarke Park.  The Selectmen approved the 2019 Summer Bike Series, subject to final review of Town Counsel.  There is a detailed set of requirements and stipulations for the event. The bike race will be sanctioned by USA Cycling.  Bethel police officers will be hired to be on site for the evenings. There are a couple of businesses open during the evening, but the race will follow so-called yellow line rules, where riders must stay to the right hand side of the road on the course.

Man arrested after flipping uninvolved victim's car while drag racing on I-684

One person was injured in an accident yesterday afternoon on Route 22 in North Salem when a driver who was drag racing, crashed into her vehicle.  New York State Police say 27-year old Quintin Rodriguez of Rockaway Beach New York was headed northbound on I-648 near exit 7 racing an unidentified vehicle.  He sideswiped a car, causing it to hit the guardrail and land on its roof on Route 22.  The road was closed between Routes 116 and 138 during the emergency response and investigation.   The driver of the overturned vehicle, a 22-year old Danbury woman, sustained minor injuries.  Rodriguez was charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving.  The investigation remains on-going to identify the vehicle he was racing.  Rodriguez is due in Court on April 29th.

NY woman charged for Wilton jewelry store robbery

A New York woman has been charged for an October 2017 jewelry store robbery in Wilton.  Police Detectives traveled to Bedford Hills Correctional Center and took custody of Paula Hurtado on an active arrest warrant.  The 38-year old Astoria woman was extradited to Connecticut to face felony Larceny charges. 

Wilton Police say she is the third of four suspects.  Three women distracted the two salespersons while a man allegedly took $21,000 worth of jewelry from behind the counter and put it in a brown paper shopping bag.  The suspects purchased an item with cash and left with the stolen items. 

Hurtado posted bond and is due back in court on the 26th.  The final suspect in the case is currently incarcerated and will be extradited from New York when they complete their prison  sentence. 

32-year old Erika Santa of Jamaica Queens and 56-year old Yolanda Santa of Ridgewood were charged.  Both are due in court on April 23rd.

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