Assuming funding will be available , Danbury officials are looking into sites for new basketball courts. But the City has had to absorb several million dollars worth of cuts from the state in the current year's budget so it's questionable if the funding will be available. Even though the money was budgeted for in Danbury, Mayor Mark Boughton says he will have to balance the City's need. If more classrooms are needed, he says that would take priority over basketball courts.
Officials did checked out a site in the Rogers Park area, but Boughton says they're still uncertain about locations because of two reasons.
One is that while they want 12 to 18 year olds to be able to have access, inevitably 18 to 25 year olds will take over and won't let the younger kids play. The other problem is that some youth don't want to play there if supervision is provided to even out playing time.
Boughton says they're still searching for a place that's centrally located, and visible from the roadway.
The local state of Emergency has been lifted in Kent. The ice jam on the Housatonic has moved out of town. The Incident Public Information Officer, state Representative Brian Ohler, says the temperatures over the past week and a half, combined with some moderate precipitation, have allowed the river water to soften and loosen the ice jam.
The State of Emergency was in place for a total of 33 days.
Ohler says the size of the ice jam and the length of time that it decided to take up residency in Kent was out of the norm, but the way it melted was the scenario Incident Managers and Meteorologists were hoping for.
He notes that there were no injuries or fatalities to report. A few families are receiving assistance for damages to their homes due to the ice jam and the subsequent flooding.
More than a thousand power outages were reported in Danbury over the weekend. Firefighters responded to Lake and Well Avenues on a report of a downed tree, which also took down utility wires. The roads were closed while crews removed the tree and fixed the electric lines.
There was a roll over accident in Danbury around 10:30 Sunday morning. One lane on Clapboard Ridge Road near Ledgemere Drive was closed as crews cleared the car. A person in the vehicle was injured and transported to the hospital.
In Ridgefield, two people were injured in a three car crash on Route 7. The accident happened between New Road and Cains Hill Road and closed Route 7 for about an hour.
An Informational Forum has been held on the Connecticut Citizens' Election Program. Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan is co-chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, which took testimony about changes to the program.
The voluntary system of publicly financing campaigns was created in 2005, in response to the corruption scandal that forced John Rowland to resign as Governor.
Participants can accept individual donations of no more than $100, most from their district, and meet fundraising thresholds. They are then awarded grants. The budget adopted in October includes a provision that mandates complaints unresolved by the State Elections Enforcement Commission in a year be dismissed. But there's been a 40 percent reduction in SEEC staff over the years. It also raised the limit on qualifying contributions to $250.
There were some concerns raised about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which threw out prohibitions on independent expenditures by corporations and unions. McLachlan objected to provisions adopted in 2013 that allowed the state parties to make unlimited expenditures on Connecticut legislative races. There had been a limit of $10,000. He says a candidate's friends or family could be directed to give thousands of dollars through the state parties.
A budget workshop meeting is being held in Danbury Wednesday night.
The Board of Education hopes to present to City officials their arguments for a proposed $135 dollar budget. The 5.5 percent increase is about $7 million. In the recent past, the City Council and the Mayor have only granted a portion of what Board of Ed members has requested. Mayor Mark Boughton is expected to release his budget for the coming fiscal year in April.
School officials say smaller-than-requested increases have not kept pace with enrollment and cuts in state funding. Danbury is last in per-pupil funding of the state's 169 cities and towns.
The workshop Wednesday is at 6pm at the administrative offices on Beaver Brook Road.
Danbury has declared a Level 1 Snow Emergency ahead of tonight's storm. People have up to one hour after the start of the storm to move cars off the street so plows can go out without any obstructions and clear the roads. Residents are also required to shovel in front of their homes after the storm.
A pick up truck crashed into a Danbury house early this morning,sending three people to the hospital. Firefighters responded to West Wooster Street at Garfield Avenue shortly before 4am. A Ford pickup truck careened into a house injuring the driver and two occupants. Fire Department officials say all injuries appeared to be minor. The Red Cross was requested to assist the remaining occupants due to the damage.
This was National Random Acts of Kindness Week. Bethel High School students and staff came together to support local and national charities through various events during the week, culminating in an assembly Friday. Students wore tie-dye t-shirts in honor for TamboStrong, an organization to benefit the Tamburino family. Mike Tamburino was diagnosed with ALS last year, his wife Lois is an ISS teacher at BHS and their children are all recent BHS graduates.
The Kindness Committee includes five students who helped organized Spirit Week activities for the school community to participate in.
Senior Catherine Galliford says their first big project was to participate in World Kindness Day in November. They saw different instances of intolerance and hatred, not just in the school, and wanted to take a stand against it. Galliford added that seeing the proliferation of hatred turned her more cynical and she didn’t like the feeling.
Junior Audrey Garcia says the fall Spirit Week gets a lot of hype because it’s a competition and they wanted to channel that energy into this cause. The “Kindness Games” week involved a different charity each day, and students were encouraged to wear a specific color. Points were given to each grade level for their participation in the various activities. For example, students wore wearing orange on Monday and brought in canned goods to support the Bethel Food Pantry.
Throughout the week, a Penny Wars took place. Jars labeled by grade were placed around the school to collect pennies for TamboStrong.
Tuesday was “Make a Wish Foundation” Day. Senior Emily Lane says they received information about four children, and each grade wrote letters to those kids. She says the community really comes together for students in need, and they want to show that kindness to others. Some of the funds in the Kindness Account was used to buy gifts for the children. At the end of the week, each of the four kids were sent a bag of supportive letters and a present.
Junior Anne Habeck says they sold carnations on Valentine’s Day and hosted a “speed friending” event. Like speed dating, the students reached out beyond their established group. Seniors and Sophomores got together, and the Juniors and Freshmen got together. Students reached out between grade levels to get to know other students at the school.
The JROTC program at BHS spearheaded Thursday’s Spirit Day, raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Patrick Joyce says they received merchandise from the organization, which were each sold for $1. The class contributing the most to got the kindness points for that day. Joyce notes that they also featured a video Thursday from the Wounded Warrior Project about how people can help them out during the year.
Joyce says this week is more personable than the fall Spirit Week, because many of the students know Lois Tamburino. Since it hits home, he says students who might not normally participate have done so this week.
About 500 tie-dye t-shirts were sold to benefit TamboStrong in the lead up to Kindness Week.
Assistant Principal Mari Lerz says the inspiration for the Kindness Committee came from various programs in place elsewhere. She says they wanted to make something uniquely Bethel, while teaching similar values. They looked at what Sandy Hook Promise and Ben’s Bells have to offer and created their own Kindness Program. It started small with World Kindness Day in November, followed by a gratitude and thankfulness advisory around Thanksgiving. Lerz says the kids came up with the idea to support five different charities during this National Random Acts of Kindness Week, while making it fun and interactive.
Lerz says she’s very proud of the students on the Kindness Committee, who are working to make the school and the town a better place.
Five new Danbury Fire Department recruits have started the training program at the Connecticut Fire Academy. Department officials say the program is an 18 week course that will prepare them for a safe and healthy career as firefighters.
Two Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company firefighters have started at the Connecticut Fire Academy in the Recruit program. It runs 40 or more hours a week and is wraps up at the end of May. Fire officials say the intense program covers all disciplines of firefighting, technical rescue and Haz-Mat. The recruits are paying their own tuition and the company is the sponsoring agency.
There are 46 members in the class.
The Newtown Police Commission agreed to a 2-week safety test period of school buses using an alternate accessway to Reed Intermediate School. The Board of Education voted to change school start times and some buses are looking to use Old Farm Road between 8:50am and 9am. All-Star Transportation believes this will alleviate traffic at the Mile Hill Road-Wasserman Way-Trades Lane intersection. Reed School custodial staff will chain and unchain the gates each morning. The Commission will meet March 6th and reevaluate the situation.
There is now a Prescription Drug Dropbox in the lobby of the Danbury Police Station. The box is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week for people to safely dispose of unwanted, unused, and expired medications. Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour says this will help residents keep the medicines away from children, other unauthorized persons, and pets.
The prescription drug dropbox was donated by the Rite Aid Corporation’s KidCents Foundation Safe Medication Disposal Program. The Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse and Danbury-based Stand Together Make A Difference partnered with the Danbury Police Department to help address issues of substance abuse.
The Rotary Club has donated funding to pay for some liners for the box.
A local lawmaker opposes a proposal to hike the state's minimum wage. Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the proposal, particularly at this time, would damage Connecticut's struggling economy and further weaken its anemic job market. She noted that the state's unemployment is higher than any other state in the Northeast. Boucher says the small increase a minimum wage earner will receive may not be enough to offset the higher costs businesses are forced to pass on to consumers.
Interstate-84 westbound in Danbury is closed at exit 5 due to a truck fire. Traffic is being diverted off the highway at exit 5, with a detour on North Main Street to Lake Avenue. Vehicles will be allowed back on the highway at exit 4. The truck fire is just before that exit. There is some rubbernecking delays eastbound from exit 3 out to the fire site.
Danbury Animal Control is cautioning residents not to leave their pets unattended outside at this time of year. This is coyote mating season and they can become aggressive. Animal Control says they have had several small dogs or cats lost to coyotes this year, more so than in the past. The pets shouldn't be unattended, even inside an electric fence because coyotes can enter and the dog has no escape.
An Easton Democrat is throwing her hat into the ring for the 135th state House seat. 52-year old Anne Hughes is looking to challenge Republican incumbent Adam Dunsby for the district which also includes Redding and Weston. Dunsby is also Easton's First Selectman. Hughes is a political newcomer. She works at Bridgeport-based Jewish Senior Services, a non-profit. She is a social worker and case manager.
The so-called “Man in a Van” has rescued nearly 140,000 pounds of food since October for delivery in the Danbury area.
Mike Greene has been driving miles each day picking up food from local grocery stores to bring to local food pantries. The pantries are part of the Danbury Food Collaborative, which is helping to feed hungry families and individuals who struggle to afford food. The Danbury resident is the former coordinator of the food pantry for Danbury’s Interfaith AIDS Ministry, and continues to work there part-time.
In 82 days, Greene has driven 5,084 miles around Greater Danbury, rescuing 138,673 pounds of fresh food.
The Connecticut Food Bank provides Greene with a food delivery van. United Way of Western Connecticut covers the van's insurance and gas. Danbury Food Collaborative is looking to to formalize the role and sustain the effort by hiring a driver. Danbury Food Collaborative has set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $7,000 to enable them to rescue more than 400,000 pounds of food per year.
During yesterday's testimony in a sex assault case against a Danbury man, his attorney raised the suggestion that someone else was responsible for the crime. The Newstimes reports that Rony Ortega's attorney asked the then 3-year old victim's mother if anyone else was living in the home when the assault happened. She replied that a person renting a room moved out about a week later. Ortega's attorney claimed to have witnesses backing the new allegation, but the judge reportedly told jurors to disregard the question. “Third-party culpability” can only be brought if evidence is shown.
A new president and CEO of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has been named. PJ Prunty will leave his post as CityCenter director by the end of the month to fill the role. He begins in position March 5th, taking over from interim director JoAnn Cueva.
The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has more than 800 members.
Stephen Bull, who served as Chamber president for 20 years, was let go in October. Cueva and director of office operations Amelia Anderson have been leading chamber members during the transition period.
Prunty is a board member for the Danbury & New Milford Hospital Foundation, Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut and United Way of Western Connecticut Community Council.
Brookfield residents have approved a special appropriation for the schools to cover a shortfall this year. $470,000 which would have gone into the fund balance from Brookfield's former health insurance carrier, will instead go to the schools. To make up the remaining $400,000 shortfall, school officials plan a budget freeze. The deficit was created after a dozen additional students needed placement outside of the district for special education services not provided by Brookfield.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has narrowed down the number of designs for further consideration. Of the 188 designs submitted, 13 were selected to move on. Some aspects of designs that were favorable included the way the sacred soil was handled, bells or chimes, an unfinished wall, bathrooms, covered shelter, a viewing platform, a pavilion like structure that is not enclosed, memorial benches surrounding a fountain, and a slash through the landscape. The 26 families are now being given opportunities to view the 13 projects.