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UPDATED: Large fire at condo complex by New Milford High School

Firefighters are battling a large blaze at a New Milford condo complex.  Crews have responded to 466 Danbury Road, Candlewood Condos.  Mutual aid from several area towns has been called in.  Among those responding are Stony Hill, Washington, Roxbury, Sherman and Brookfield.  The condo complex is near New Milford High School.


The fire was reported around 10:15 this morning.  Witnesses say they saw at least one person being carried out on a stretcher.  No official word on injuries.  Damage appears to be significant.


Route 7 has been reopened in both directions.

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Death of Ridgefield toddler left in hot car ruled a homicide

The death of a 15 month old Ridgefield boy left alone in a hot car for an undetermined number of hours has been ruled a homicide.  The Chief Medical Examiner's Office says Benjamin Seitz died from ‘hyperthermia due to environmental exposure’.  The Medical Examiner did not say how long Seitz may have been left alone in the car.  Ridgefield police are reportedly meeting with the Danbury State's Attorney's Office about the ruling.


Seitz was supposed to be dropped off at daycare by his father, who instead drove to his place of employment at 38A Grove Street in Ridgefield with the baby still in the car. 


Police say Danbury Hospital contacted them shortly after 6pm when the child's father reportedly drove him there after finding the baby in his car and becoming concerned for his welfare.  The Ridgefield Police Departments Dispatch Center received no 911 calls regarding this incident.

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Ribbon cut at Danbury's new middle school

When the school year begins next week, Danbury's third middle school will reopen.  School officials held a ribbon cutting and open house Wednesday at the West Side Middle School Academy.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says 300 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program will be located at the former Mill Ridge Intermediate School. 


There will also be a Global Studies Academy open to 6th graders.  Glass says there will also be 100 6th graders in the Global Studies Academy.  Over the next two years, that academy will be populated.


There was an application process for each Academy.  The STEM program is moving from Rogers Park Middle School.  Mill Ridge was closed in 2010, and was retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.

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Student workshop on Gilbert & Bennett transformation

There are 17 towns in the 4th Congressional District.  Democrat Jim Himes is travelling to all of them in 17 days while Congress is on break.  He stopped in Redding Wednesday to meet with students participating in a 7-week summer program known as Re-Wire.  It's a workshop led by local artist Jane Philbrick about transforming the long-abandoned, 55-acre Gilbert and Bennett wire mill site for productive use for the community.


Students who attend Joel Barlow High School, John Read Middle School and Redding Elementary School explored a different theme each week and how it could enhance the site's future development. The program's themes were transportation; ecology; architecture; clean energy and environmental remediation; food, farming and hospitality; and fashion design and art.


Re-Wire’s priorities for the site, which includes six industrial buildings listed on the National Historic Register, include jobs and the economy, energy and the environment, education, and transportation.”


The Re-Wire student artists’ workshop is now in its second year. The program began as a grant proposal for the new initiative “Art Catalyzes Placemaking,” sponsored by the State of Connecticut. Re-Wire is funded in part by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, the State Historic Preservation Office, Connecticut Innovations, and the Fairfield County Bank.


Last summer, the students learned about art and architecture and created a master plan for the Gilbert & Bennett site. High school interns then continued working into the fall and began again in the spring.  The themes this year were drawn from verticals from the master plan Re-Wire students created the previous year.

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Rowboat overturns, man dies in NY reservoir

CARMEL, N.Y. (AP) The agency that runs New York City's watershed says a man died, apparently drowning when the rowboat he was in overturned in a Putnam County reservoir.

The Department of Environmental Protection says another man swam to shore.

The men were fishing in the Croton Falls reservoir when the boat flipped on Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

Fishing is permitted in reservoirs and the DEP said the men had proper permits but were not wearing life preservers.

The victim's name was not made public. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

In addition to DEP police, officers from Carmel and firefighters from the Croton Falls Fire Department were at the scene.

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Not guilty plea in Redding animal cruelty case

A Redding woman has entered a plea of not guilty to two animal cruelty charges.  State Animal Control officers obtained the arrest warrant for 75-year old Lisa Lind-Larsen earlier this month, and it was served by local police.  Her case was continued to September 17.


Two emaciated horses were seized on July 11th from an unkempt barn where there was not nearly enough food to sustain them. 



Lind-Larsen previously said that she knew the horses health was declining, but that it was due to many reasons.  One cited was a property dispute that prevented hay deliveries to the barn.

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Handicap compliance improvements made to Bethel school property

Some handicap accessibility improvements are being made to a school in Bethel.  The Board of Selectmen has approved funding for a project for the parking lot and sidewalk at Berry Elementary School.  The $30,000 in funding from the Highway Department's Road Construction account was approved unanimously.  The Selectmen also decided to refer a funding request to the Board of Finance for other projects.  The proposed $35,000 would be for continued ADA compliance for routes to athletic fields.  The Board of Selectmen proposed that the funding come from the capital non-recurring account.

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Newtown lawmaker touts horse owner protection bill being signed into law

A local lawmaker is touting a bill recently signed into law by the Governor that protects horse owners.  Newtown Representative DebraLee Hovey says the legislation makes it clear that horses are not inherently dangerous.


The law, originally proposed by Governor Malloy, stemmed from a Connecticut Supreme Court case involving a 2006 incident where a horse bit a child when he attempted to pet it.  An appellate court in 2012 found that the horse’s owner was at fault because horses are “a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious.”


Hovey says Fairfield County has one of the highest horse per capita in the United States.


The 2nd Company Governor’s Horse Guard is located in Newtown. Connecticut has a long-standing history with mounted cavalry units, including the 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard, located in Avon, which is the oldest continuously active mounted cavalry unit in the country.


Hovey says potentially higher insurance rates for horse owners and farms, and loss of business for veterinarians, feed stores and farriers which all make significant contributions to the state’s economy were averted by this law.

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Bethel Zoning Board holds meeting about medical marijuana facility

The Bethel Zoning Board of Appeals has held a special meeting to discuss the appeal about the medical marijuana dispensary coming to Garella Road in Bethel. Two residents filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approving a zoning permit application for Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center. 


At their last working session, the Board ruled that the filers were not aggrieved and that the use of the site meets regulations.  The Board requested that the town's Land Use Attorney draft a resolution for last night's meeting. 


A letter has been drafted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, requesting that they review the appeal and make changes to regulations so in the future, something like this will trigger the use of a special permit.  That will insure an opportunity for public discussion on the matter.

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Redding speed sign near school found with bullet holes

Redding police are investigating bullet holes in a portable speed trailer at John Read Middle School.  Police Chief Douglas Fuchs tells the Redding Pilot that the sign that displays drivers' real-time speeds wasn't working and so officers went to retrieve it. 


Fuchs says the shots must have been fired at close range and appears to have come from a shot gun.  The projectiles are likely what caused the sign to stop working in the last week or two.  Fuchs says the damage to this piece of equipment is about $15,000. 


He says it's concerning that someone shot the sign, but more so that it was done on school property.

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Brookfield reschedules two public hearings to Sept.

A new public hearing date has been set in Brookfield on two items.  The original hearing date was cancelled earlier this month when the Board of Selectmen's meeting that same night had to be cancelled. 


A public hearing about joining Western Connecticut Council of Governments has been rescheduled for September 8th. 


Also that night, a change to add tattoo parlors to the Brookfield code of ordinances dealing with salons and spas will be discussed.  A locally issued license is required to open and the Director of Health must also conduct annual inspections.  The ordinance change would include tattoo businesses, and businesses offering temporary tattooing of the face, eyelids and eyebrows.

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Ridgefield teen tries to use skateboard as getaway vehicle from burglary

Two Ridgefield teens have been arrested for trying to rob a house on the same street where one of them lives.  Police spokesman Captain Jeff Kreitz says officers responded to a residential burglar alarm shortly before 9pm Monday.


Two teens were seen fleeing the house on foot, but when one saw the officer he skateboarded away..


State Police K-9 units were called in to locate 18-year old Thomas Redmond, who was found at his home a short distance away.  Redmond and 18-year old Henry Gough were charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and interfering with the duties of an officer. 


A window on the house was broken.  Police are continuing to investigate if anything was taken from the home.


The pair were arraigned Tuesday.

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Easton woman arrested forleaving child alone at motel

An Easton woman has been arrested for leaving her child alone in a motel room.  Fairfield Police were called by Easton officers yesterday night asking that they perform a welfare check at the Fairfield Motor Inn on a 4-year old girl. 


Brittany Hacker's ex husband called police after the 24-year old showed up at his house and said their child was with a friend in another room. 


Officers found the girl alone in Hacker's motel room.  Hacker was charged with leaving a child unsupervised and risk of injury to a minor. 


The state Department of Children and Families was notified.

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Democrats demand liquid nicotine rules

FARMINGTON, Conn. (AP) A dozen Senate Democrats are pushing federal legislation to require child-proof bottles for liquid nicotine used for e-cigarettes.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, both Connecticut Democrats, said Tuesday that safety rules are needed in response to a rise in poisonings.

Blumenthal said the absence of rules has led to a ``wild, wild west of unregulated e-nicotine.''

The American Association of Poison Control Centers cites a nearly eight-fold increase in exposures to poison from e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine, from 271 in 2011 to 2,313 so far this year.

A representative of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Other state officials have demanded regulations including a ban on selling flavored products.

The battery-powered devices allow users to inhale vapor from a heated liquid nicotine solution.

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Public hearing held on bonding in Danbury

A public hearing has been held in Danbury about four items.  Residents had a chance last night to weigh in on a proposed change to Danbury's Pension Obligation Bonds.  The City maintains six pension plans for a total of $305 million, funded at 84 percent.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the City has an opportunity to refinance it's unfunded liability for a $15 million savings over the 20 year repayment schedule.  Boughton says the City has an opportunity to refinance the unfunded liability from a rate of 7.25 percent down to 3.6 percent. 


During the public hearing, a proposed increased fine in the blight ordinance was discussed.  Minor changes to the way the fire marshal collects fees was also on the agenda.


$20 million is proposed bonding for road repairs and roof replacements was also discussed.  Anything over $3 million has to go to a public hearing and a vote.  The items could be placed on the November ballot. 


The breakdown of the bonding is:


$1 million for public safety communications network upgrades and replacement


$6.5 million for the public works department to rebuild, pave, fix drainage issues and replace curbs, guardrails and lighting on various roads throughout the city.  The Department would also get $3 million for equipment and vehicle replacements.


$4 million for the engineering department for a bridge repair and replacement program


$5.5 million for a roof replacement program

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WCSU officer attends FBI training clinic

A Western Connecticut State university Police Sgt with more than 20 years on the job has completed a 10-week training course at the FBI's headquarters in Quantico Virginia.  Only one-half of one percent of all law enforcement personnel in the world are invited to attend the academy.  Sgt Richard Montefusco was one of three officers from Connecticut joining police from 17 countries and 48 states. 


Montefusco participated in an FBI program that fabricates active shooter scenarios through the use of avatars.  He was on a team with 13 other officers and says they all understood immediatly, the concept that the had to work together.


Montefusco took courses in civil law, civil liability , social media, communication strategies and labor law.  He also received intensive behavioral training taught by an FBI behavioral scientist on the human psyche, anti-social and psycho-social behavior, and how people think.


Montefusco, who is one of Western’s firearms instructors, studied less-lethal munitions at the academy, focusing on the use of alternatives to guns.  Relying on less lethal options for crowd control, Montefusco says will allow university police to neutralize a situation in seconds without having to wait for special teams to arrive on campus.

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Mass resignation leaves 1 Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee member

There is just one member left on the Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee.  The group had been operating with three vacancies, but the Ridgefield Press reports that five members of the Committee have resigned as of last week.  The five members signed a letter of resignation delivered to the Board of Selectmen last week saying that the diverse housing needs of Ridgefielders doesn't seem to be a concern of the Board. 


The group said some of their frustration stemmed from the proposed sale of Schlumberger land for luxury condos. 


Chairman Dave Goldenberg, Joanne Search, Rob Gutman, Lynne Sewell, and Elizabeth DiSalvo signed the letter.  Michael Austin is now the only person on the committee.


First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Ridgefield Press that he felt the committee had some substantial accomplishments in partnership with the selectmen and other town agencies, such as the Housing Authority.  He pointed to the 20-unit Prospect Ridge Meadows project, completed in 2008.

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New Milford man arrested for firing weapon in neighborhood

A New Milford man has been arrested for firing a rifle in a residential neighborhood.  Police say 49-year old Douglas Murphy was arrested shortly after 7:30 Saturday night when officers responded to Burnett Road for reports of shots fired.  Police say Murphy was intoxicated.  He was charged with assaulting a public safety officer, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, unlawful discharge of a fire arm and violation of a protective order.  He was held on bond for arraignment Monday at Bantam Superior Court.

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Cops: mom left toddler alone in SUV outside bar

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) Police have arrested a Connecticut woman on allegations she left her 22-month-old child alone in a vehicle outside a bar as she enjoyed drinks with friends.

Norwalk police charged 32-year-old Christina Failla of Weston early Sunday morning with felony risk of injury to a minor. A witness called police after finding the child sleeping alone in a locked sport-utility vehicle late Saturday night.

Police told The Hour that Failla returned to the SUV after officers had removed the child from the vehicle. Police say she told officers she had only been gone a few minutes, but a witness said she had several alcoholic drinks at the bar.

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UPDATED: 2 die in separate motorcycle crashes in Conn.

Two men were killed after losing control of their motorcycles in separate accidents in Litchfield and Bethel.

Bethel police say a man died after he crashed his motorcycle into a traffic island on Mansfield Street on Sunday afternoon.  48-year old Stephen Quantrano of New Preston later died at Danbury Hospital.

Police are trying to determine the causes of the accidents and are asking witnesses to come forward.  No additional information about the Bethel accident was released, though police say it appears Quantrano simply lost control of his vehicle.

State police say 50-year-old Jay Coffey of Watertown crashed his motorcycle on Route 254 in Litchfield at about 5 p.m. Sunday. Troopers say the bike struck some wood posts and Coffey was ejected. He was later pronounced dead at Waterbury Hospital.


Ice Bucket Challenge COMPLETED!!

Rich Minor accepted the challenge from his friend to donate to the ALS Association AND do the Ice Bucket Challenge.

His "bucket" of choice...well, that's where Westchester Tractor came into play.

Check it out!




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