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Ridgefield Representative John Frey says he's heard from a number of constituents who are concerned about the reduction of State and Local Tax  exemption at $10,000.  He co-sponsored a bill in response to that concern, which essentially allows taxpayers to reclassify their property tax payments as charitable donations. This would allow municipalities like Ridgefield to set up charitable organizations so taxpayers can continue to write off the full amount of their local property taxes.

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The town of Redding has scheduled a number of events in celebration of Earth Day today.  The town will once again by building Mt. Trashmore on the town green.  It's a place where volunteers will display all of the roadside trash collected during the one-day event.  A light bulb exchange will also be held.  Vest, gloves, and garbage bags will be distributed from 9am to noon at the Redding Town Green.  Garbage drop off will be open until 3pm.  The light bulb exchange, with a 4 bulb limit, is from 9am to noon. 

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The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting an electronic waste recycling event today in Brookfield from 9am-1pm.  The collection will take place in the Center School parking Lot off Obtuse Hill Road.  The collection is open to residents of the HRRA towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman.  Items accepted include televisions, monitors, computers/laptops, printers, copiers, scanners, power cords, rechargeable batteries, stereo equipment, DVR/VCR/Blue Ray and tape players, radios, telephones, video game equipment, remote controls and microwaves.

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A local lawmaker has co-sponsored legislation that would require anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault to wear a GPS device until sentencing.  Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding says those convicted of aggravated sexual assault would be required to pay for their monitoring while they await sentencing.  The bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee in a unanimous vote.  A similar bill seeking the same protections was approved unanimously in the state Senate, but the House ran out of time for a vote on the measure.

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The inaugural New Milford Day was held at the State Capitol yesterday.  The event showed off New Milford's local businesses and services to the legislature.  Representatives Bill Buckbee and Richard Smith were joined by Senator Craig Miner and Mayor Pete Bass.  Buckbee says New Milford has a lot to offer locally, from major manufacturing to farming to youth services.

 

Goatboy Soaps brought in two baby goats that were born recently, and one named Billy Mo was introduced on the House Floor. 

 

(Billy Mo, Rep. Buckbee, Rep. Smith)

 

The event was planned to fall on Roger Sherman's birthday.  He was one of New Milford’s most influential residents on American Politics, and also former State Representative.

 

Participants of the event included:

Kimberly Farms
Goatboy Soaps
Kimberly Clark
Full Circle Promotions
The Makery
New Milford Girl Scouts – Troop 40232
New Milford Hospital
Pratt Nature Conservancy
New Milford Youth Agency
Community Credit Union of New Milford

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Ridgefield's annual Rid Litter Days take place this weekend in celebration of Earth Day.  Trash bags and safety vests are available at the Parks and Rec building and at the Chamber of Commerce for volunteers.  There are several drop off locations for litter picked up in neighborhoods and parks in Ridgefield.  They are: Farmingville School, East Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield High School and Fox Hill Lake Beach area.

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A prescription drug take back event is taking place next weekend.  Residents can bring unwanted, unused prescription meds to local drop off points on the 28th, from 10am to 2pm. 
 
One location is the Easton Library Lot, where pills will be collected by the Easton Police and destroyed by the DEA. Easton Police Cadets will be assisting citizens as they simply drive up and hand safely packaged medication to them for disposal.
 
Ridgefield Police says prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications will be collected at Bissell Pharmacy on Governor Street. 
 
There is a prescription drug take-back box located in the front lobby of Ridgefield Police Headquarters available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

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The Newtown Town Clerk will hold special absentee voting hours Saturday from 9 am to noon on the budget.  The proposal calls for $41-million for the town and $ 76-million for the schools.  It's a 2.35-percent increase.  Two bond questions will also be on the ballot.  The referendum in Newtown will be held Tuesday.

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Police have arrested  the treasurer of the Wilton High School Parent Teacher Student Association for alleged embezzlement.  Police received a complaint in January from the PTSA about unauthorized withdrawals from their checking account.  42-year old Crismari Feliz of Norwalk allegedly used 24-thousand dollars from the organization for personal credit card and car lease payments.  She was charged Wednesday and released on bond for an April 30th court appearance.

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Two Danbury residents have been arrested on drug related charges following neighbor complaints of illegal drug sales in the Osborne Street area.  Danbury Police carried out a search warrant yesterday at the home of Oliver Joan Ubiera.  He was spotted stuffing suspected drugs into his pants.  Daritza Rivera-Nunez was found in a bedroom of the home she shared with Ubiera.  A substantial amount of crack cocaine, powder cocaine and heroin was seized, along with drug paraphernalia and several hundred dollars in cash.  Ubiera was a convicted felon previously deported to the Dominican Republic who illegally returned to the United States.  The pair were charged with operating a drug factory and other offenses.

 

  

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A construction company hit a gas line yesterday afternoon in Southbury, closing I-84 and Route 188 in the area of Judd Hill Road.  The gas leak prompted an evacuation of the Wyndham Southbury hotel.  Eversource Energy says a third party construction company was doing work around 1pm, but the utility did respond to the scene.  The gas line to Pomperaug High School was hit, and the school was closed for spring break.  A gas station and a deli off the highway were closed as a precaution.  There were no injuries reported to the construction crew

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The United Way of Western Connecticut is launching a $1 million program over the next several years to support new family childcare centers in Danbury.  The Cora's Kids program was announced yesterday as one way for Danbury to address childcare challenges facing the city.  Other solutions are being advanced as part of a larger grant initiative where Danbury was awarded $450,000 from the Boston Federal Reserve's Working Cities Challenge.  Cora's Kids will offer incentives for up to 15 new licensees per year to keep childcare costs down and increase availability of home-based childcare centers.  United Way officials say childcare accounts for more than 25-percent of a household budget on average.

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Ridgefield High School students are participating in a protest today against gun violence.  Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.  Sophomore Lane Murdock launched the National School Walkout after the February shooting at a Florida high school.  Participating students will walk out of class at 10am to a rally on campus, opening with a moment of silence. 
 
There will also be an open mic portion of the event, and Murdock says second amendment supporters will be able to voice their opinions. 
 
Ridgefield High School Principal Stacey Gross told the Ridgefield Press that the police department agreed to cover the cost of providing security for the protest.
 
Plans for Friday's walkout began only hours after the Parkland shooting, when Murdock teen started an online petition calling for protests on the anniversary of Columbine. She then gathered a few other students at Ridgefield High School to orchestrate the national protest.

"We're walking out to remember every single young person who has been killed by American gun violence," Murdock said in a statement Thursday. "We're walking out to talk about the real problems our country is facing, and the solutions that our leaders are too scared to dream up."

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There's one less person seeking their party's nomination to run for Congress in the 5th District.  Republican Mark Greenberg, who won the GOP nomination in 2014, says he will continue to run for state Comptroller.  Greenberg says that office is where he can most directly help the state and its families and businesses.  Greenberg says his skill set can help him best contribute to the economic health of Connecticut by working in state government, rather than in Washington.

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The Ridgefield Board of Education will not vote on a special appropriation because a projected deficit has been mitigated.  During their meeting earlier this week, it was announced that the spending freeze enacted in September has resulted in savings.  Health benefit claims have also come in lower than previous years.  Ridgefield school officials had been looking at a deficit after 8 new students with special education plan had to be placed out of district, along with 3 other students already enrolled when the budget was crafted.  About a dozen special education related settlements were also a factor. 
 

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A Connecticut man stopped by Ridgefield Police for texting while driving, has been arrested on drug related charges.  35-year old William Garcia-Perez of Stamford was pulled over Tuesday night.  K9 Loki detected narcotics and a search found the 35-year old in possession of 2.5 grams of marijuana and 8.5 grams of crack cocaine.  Garcia-Perez was also cited for driving with a suspended license. He was released on bond for a court appearance on the 24th.

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Western Connecticut State University is participating in the Day of Silence today.  It's  a student-led national event where participants take a vow of silence  to highlight the silencing of LGBTQ+ persons at school.  West Conn's event is hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and supported by the Office of InterCultural Affairs. Day of Silence, last held at WestConn in 2015, is aimed at having participants think about issues still to be tackled and to make West Conn a more inclusive place.

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A local lawmaker is speaking out about some attempts to undercut regionalization efforts that are working, while proposing ideas that won't.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman, was critical of plans to defund the regional fire school in Fairfield. He also says a failed bill proposed taking money from regional Councils of Government to create a new state department to study regional efficiency.

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Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day was held at the state capitol yesterday.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says education is a primary factor in reversing the stigma associated with those who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Bolinsky says inclusiveness and understanding are key to building strength within communities,  He says opportunities for employment, volunteering and socializing are great ways to build great lives.The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Autism Advocacy Coalition. 

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Immigrant students without legal status say they're optimistic legislation making them eligible for institutional financial aid will pass the Connecticut General Assembly. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 30-5 vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where it has not been called for a vote in previous years. This year's version includes some new requirements for applicants.
 
Some students from Danbury High School used part of their spring break this week to lobby state lawmakers for a bill which would equalize access to higher education institutional college aid for undocumented students in Connecticut.   Institutional aid is funded by tuition revenue, and despite paying into the system, undocumented students are currently barred from accessing that aid. 

More than 250 people submitted testimony in support of the bill during a public hearing last month.

Evelin Garcia tried to obtain legalization through her U-S citizen grandfather, but she encountered issues and became undocumented.  Garcia graduated from WCSU in 2017, a recipient of the CSU Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.  The recognition is presented to the top 12 students in the state.  But she says it wasn't easy, because she didn't have access to institutional financial aid.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded that the proposal would have no fiscal impact on the state or on the higher education system.

The bill is supported by WestConn President John Clark.  Connecticut allows the students to pay in-state tuition as long as they have spent at least two years at a Connecticut high school. But they can’t apply for any government money, including the institutional aid.

Opponents have argued that allowing the students to access financial aid would mean less money for those in the country legally.

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