The Danbury Fire Department is applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. If awarded, the Department will use the money for equipment, including air packs to help the Volunteer Department finish their replacement program, and the "jaws of life" tools.
Air packs cost a few thousand dollars a piece.
The funding request is not exceeding a million dollars, with FEMA picking up a majority of the costs--leaving Danbury's share at 10-percent. The Fire Department's budget will be reviewed to see if there is funding that can be used toward the City's share.
Praxair, Inc. will maintain its world headquarters in Danbury by building a $65 million new 100,000 square-foot corporate facility. The global leader in industrial gases and applications is currently housed at the Matrix Corporate Center on the City's west side. The plan calls for retaining 535 positions statewide, and is incented to grow up to 120 new jobs over the next five years.
Praxair plans to build at the Berkshire Corporate Park on the Bethel-town line.
A Fortune 250 company holding some 4,000 patents, Praxair employs more than 27,000 people and operates in 50 countries, supplying atmospheric, process, and specialty gases as well as high-performance coatings and related services to a wide range of industries including metals, health care, food and beverage, energy, aerospace, chemicals, electronics, manufacturing, and others.
Connecticut was competing with proposals from both New York and Texas. Governor Dannel Malloy made the announcement Friday at the Danbury Chamber of COmmerce offices. He said the state competes to attract and retain globally recognized corporations like Praxair at every opportunity because of the direct and indirect benefits they bring to Connecticut’s economy, and because their presence enhances Connecticut’s reputation around the world as a great place for these companies to call home.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development is supporting the Praxair project with a comprehensive package, including a $10 million forgivable loan. Praxair will also be eligible for up to $20 million in tax credits through the state’s Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Tax Credit Program, as well as up to $2.5 million in Sales and Use Tax Exemptions. The exemptions are subject to approval from Connecticut Innovations.
A Danbury man has been arrested after refusing to leave a Halloween store and swearing in front of children. Danbury Police say Spirit Halloween on Newtown Road called officers Thursday night about 53-year old Kevin Peroski.
The manager told police that the man was begging for free items, bothering employees and refusing to leave. When officers asked the man to leave, he refused and started to swear. He resisted officer's attempt to arrest him, but was eventually placed in handcuffs.
Peroski is being charged with breach of peace, criminal trespass and interfering with an officer.
Some voters in Newtown will be casting ballots in a different location this year. Edmond Town Hall has been deactivated as a polling location. While the building is ADA compliant for general use, it does not meet stricter ADA standards for a polling location. District 3-2 voters will cast ballots Tuesday at the Reed Intermediate School cafetorium. That is also District 2 polling location in Newtown. Districts 1 and 1-5 vote at Newtown Middle School, Districts 3 and 3-5 vote at Head O' Meadow School.
The 30th State Senate District race features a freshman lawmaker and the man who lost to him in 2012. Republican incumbent Clark Chapin is once again being challenged by Democrat William Riiska for the district which includes New Milford, Kent and part of Brookfield.
Chapin previously served 12 years in the state House. He touted work to bring back some sale tax exemptions in the latest session, including the sales tax free week on back-to-school shopping. There was also a tax free prescription drug exemption that he fought to bring back.
Riiska has held local office and been on many boards and committees such as the United Way, the Northwest Connecticut Chamber, Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation, and the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health now Connecticut Mental Health Affiliates. He spent 12 years as chairman of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Government Relations Committee, and has been a member of that group for twenty years.
Chapin says the best way to grow jobs is to spend less and tax less. He wants to continue working on pro-business legislation. He’s been endorsed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, The National Federation of Independent Business and the Connecticut Realtors. Municipalities get a share of the Real Estate Conveyance Tax, the legislature increased it on a temporary basis several years ago and it was supposed to sunset. But it became a permanent tax.
Riiska says Chapin's votes reflect national corporate interests rather than the interests of the people and small businesses of Northwest Connecticut. He was also critical of what he called Chapin's stock response to inquiries from constituents on issues. Riiska says there are only 36 senators, and the one representing the northwest corner of the state should be an advocate, an educator, a shaper of opinion.
This year the legislature created a new aquatic invasives program. Chapin says while there hasn’t been too much funding for invasive plants, there was a renewed effort to create a program within DEEP to give grant money to municipalities to fight invasive aquatic plants.
Riiska says if elected, one of his main goals is to get the state's economic house in order by passing realistic budgets that reflect rigorous long term planning. His plan for creating and retaining private sector jobs is by creating a fair and stable tax and regulatory system. He says in order to grow manufacturing jobs, community college and technical school programs need to be supported.
Chapin says mental health reforms will need a large pool of money to address it properly. But he says it’s something that needs addressing and is something most legislators would agree on.
Riiska says there will be economic growth if the road, rail, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure are maintained. He also made a pledge to fight for the towns in the District to get their fair share in eduction funding, and to protect open space. Riiska wants to address what he called long neglected mental health issues.
Chapin says almost $190 million has been taken out of the Transportation Fund for other costs. He notes that if the gas tax, which goes into that fund, was used to fix roads and bridges the state would be better off. He says if the state Department of Transportation has too much on their plate and is just collecting too much money, the legislature should think about lowering the tax.
Some local school districts are among those receiving matching grants from the state to beef up security. An additional 380 public schools and 65 private and religious schools will receive funds as part of $22 million in School Security Grant Program.
Among them is Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury and Newtown.
State funding is used to reimburse a portion of the costs associated with school security infrastructure improvements. The state has made a total of $43 million available for school security upgrades at over a thousand Connecticut schools.
Three Bethel schools will be upgraded. One Brookfield school will be improved. Eight schools in Danbury will be sharing in some state matching dollars to perform upgrades. Improvements are planned at 10 schools in Newtown with matching funds.
Two veteran lawmakers are seeking to get out of the state House of Representatives and into the state Senate. With the retirement of Senate Minority John McKinney from the 28th Senate District, there is an open race. Republican Tony Hwang and Democrat Kim Fawcett, both from Fairfield, are looking to fill the role, which represents a part of Newtown.
Hwang says an immigrant experience and upbringing in urban schools helped shape the person he has become. He was first elected to his House seat in 2008.
Fawcett was first elected to her House seat in 2006. Fawcett says recent Metro-North failures have propelled both the management of the aging train system and its much needed, long-term investments into the spotlight. She says she understands the critical need to get Metro-North back on track serving commuters and assuring safe and reliable service, in party because Fairfield has three train stations but also because her husband commutes to New York City.
Hwang says during his time in the House he has fought efforts to raid the Special Transportation Fund and supported increased spending to keep trains safe and on time. He wants to empower the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council to require a constitutional amendment to protect transportation funding, and make safety and on-time performance top priority.
Hwang says from No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Curriculum Standards to the new Teacher Evaluation procedures, educational decisions are not being made where they belong – with teachers, parents, and administrators. Hwang says he will support legislation that returns decisions regarding education to those groups, ending what he calls the “one size fits all” mentality of bureaucrats. He wants to modify the teacher evaluation process to make it more fair and equitable for Connecticut teachers and to ensure that curriculum standards are stringent, yet age appropriate.
Fawcett says while the intent of Common Core education standards might have been laudable, the implementation has not lived up to expectations. She says many dedicated teachers are feeling demoralized and devalued. Fawcett says part of the problem with the implementation is that it came at the same time that Connecticut put new standardized tests in place and a new teacher evaluation system.
Hwang says he is proud to have helped Housatonic Community College obtain a portion of a $17.8 million grant to build a state of the art manufacturing education center.
Fawcett says she's proud of legislation passed last session to help children including a new law which allows trained school officials to administer epinephrine to students experiencing severe allergic reactions for the first time. She co-sponsored a law to improve how colleges respond to sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, and stalking by creating campus resource teams trained to properly respond to these incidents. Another bill she has personal experience with is one that deals with properly preventing and treating a concussion. Her children are both student athletes who have suffered concussions. The bill requires the State Board of Education to develop a concussion education plan and calls on coaches to provide youth athletes and their parents or guardians with information on concussions.
Hwang is touting his work on economic issues while serving in the state House. He says he helped draft legislation that will eliminate nearly a thousand pages of state regulations identified as obsolete, duplicate, excessively burdensome, or otherwise ineffective or unnecessary. As Co-Chair of the legislature's bipartisan Bioscience Caucus, Hwang says he was able to spearhead legislation to make Connecticut a world leader in bioscience research. The law strengthens the State’s capacity to create competitive investment tools, attract additional federal and private dollars.
He also says he advocated for legislation to empower those with developmental disabilities to achieve a sense of independence and enriched living through work. He says the legislation will allow community non-profits to support and coordinate employment opportunities for the developmentally disabled.
Fawcett is touting her work last year chairing an Affordable Housing Working Group that explored policy initiatives aimed at bringing smart growth, transit-oriented development, and an increase in affordable housing options to the state.
When it comes to passage of Connecticut’s comprehensive gun legislation last year, Fawcett says it was a victory for advocates of gun safety. But she says other less well-known components of the legislation are equally important in curbing gun violence. She pointed to key provisions that lay the groundwork for improving school security and addressing gaps in youth mental health services. Fawcett says the ultimate goal must be to do a better job identifying young people who are struggling and to find effective ways to intervene and provide treatment when necessary.
Hwang says the gun legislation debate was one of the most emotional and grueling exersize lawmakers could have gone through. He voted for the bill says he and will not support any repeal effort. He says it's important to reach a compromise to protect second amendment rights. He says moving forward, there are pieces that need to be better addressed. Hwang says that includes mental health, removing the stigma and offering a collaborative support network. He also wants another look at gun security storage. When it comes to school security, he says there needs to be a balance of cost to municipalities are not overly burdened.
The National Labor Relations Board has issued two rulings about employees at Danbury and New Milford hospitals. A union election has been ordered for the approximately 300 surgical technologists, radiology technologists, licensed practical nurses, and respiratory clinicians employed by Western Connecticut Health Network. A secret ballot election is expected to be held before November 27th.
AFT Connecticut communications coordinator Matt O'Connor says the other deals with the Network engaging illegal labor practices against those employees.
Testimony is slated to start on January 13th at the Hartford regional office.
Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is getting some financial help from the state as they expand their Torrington facility. The first stage of the expansion is to the building, and adds advanced manufacturing equipment to improve efficiencies. The second stage is to expand production capacity and enhance advanced technology capabilities.
The Department of Economic and Community Development is offering $20 million of low interest long-term loans and up to $10 million of tax credits. If certain job retention and creation targets are reached, there will be forgiveness of 50 percent of the loan principal. Total estimated cost for this multi-year project is approximately $23 million for the first stage and $42 million for the second stage.
The final stage of the fuel cell module manufacturing will be relocated to the Torrington facility from its current location at the Danbury headquarters, which the company says will reduce logistics costs.
A Connecticut man who stole mail across Fairfield County containing blank checks or credit card "convenience checks," which he then used to buy cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles for sale online has pleaded guilty. Federal prosecutors say 26-year-old Dayquan Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud for the $120,000 crime.
Prosecutors say the Bridgeport man hit homes in Fairfield County, including in Wilton, this year and last, and sold his purchases to unsuspecting victims from out of state.
Jackson faces up to 30 years in prison at sentencing on March 5th.
The Region 9 Board of Education has gotten an update on the Joel Barlow High School roof restoration project. The school for Easton and Redding students has a roof that didn't leak in recent rain, being completed last week, ahead of schedule.
At the Board meeting last week, members were told that the 100,000 square foot project was also completed under budget. The project was completed two weeks early, for $200,000 less than anticipated.
Another section of the roof will be replaced next year.
The 26th state Senate district includes parts of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton. Two Wilton residents are vying for the post, a three term incumbent, and a businessman.
Republican incumbent Toni Boucher was critical of tax increases over the last several years saying the state budget has also used one-time revenues and borrowing for ongoing expenses. Boucher is calling for comprehensive tax reforms. She gave the example of Rhode Island state employees being asked to forego cost of living increases until the state could balance the pension account in order to save it. She notes that state employees contribute 2%, less than any other state. She said Connecticut should look into raising the retirement age for state workers.
Democrat Phil Sharlach has worked as a consultant and accountant in the private sector, including for Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Deloitte. He also helped facilitated the break up of AT&T into regulated and non-regulated companies. Sharlach says he has several priorities if elected. Among them is increasing Hartford's investment in Fairfield County, optimizing the state budget and bonding and providing support to seniors and veterans.
Sharlach says making sure all children have access to a good education is every parent's top priority. That's why he says fixing failing schools is so important, but not when the solution burdens students and teachers who are already doing well. He calls the implementation of the Common Core curriculum cumbersome and ill planned. Sharlach says teachers should be teaching to students, not to tests.
Boucher is a member of the Education Committee. She touted the addition of preschool slots in the state, consolidating services into the Office of Early Childhood, a concussion prevention bill dealing with school athletics and a sexual assault on college campus bill that protects students. She called the college bill a model for the rest of the country. The Education Committee also dealt with allergies in schools with passage of a bill about Epi pens. She says a bill was stopped to reduce the drug-free zones around schools.
Boucher says if elected to another term she would be interested in researching the possibility of a grade 9-14 school to give students the change to hone their interest and skills set. They would then graduate with an Associate’s Degree. She also wants to address the cost of higher education becoming less accessible to more middle-income students.
Boucher called Common Core a very controversial program. She says some school districts find it helpful, but for others it’s not up to the level they are already operating. She suggest that it be started gradually and not be a one-size fits all program. Boucher says top down management is not the way to improve education in the state.
Sharlach says his 36 years experience as a business executive could help could close a $1.37 billion deficit that the state is facing next fiscal year. He proposed a change to the conveyance tax, a set of two taxes homeowners face when they sell their property. One is paid to the state, and the other to the town.
Sharlach proposes a New York-Connecticut Transportation Authority, a non-governmental independent entity funded through open market financing and public funding. He says it could create a large freight rail system.
Boucher is also a member of the Transportation Committee. She and her colleagues called on federal agencies to intervene and provide technical and financial assistance, which she says worked. She says the new leadership at Metro North seems to be up to the task of addressing safety issues, mechanical issues, oversight and cultural issues. She says Connecticut has the opportunity to go out to bid on a train contract in 2015.
During a League of Women Voters debate, Sharlach said funding of mental health programs was too often short-changed, that most of the state's problems are economic.
Boucher says brownfield remediation work has done a great deal to clean up former brass and wire mill sites. Development of the Georgetown former Gilbert and Bennett site has stalled. She says the original developer didn’t start to build the housing, office space, train station and retail construction that was slated to go in there. Then the economy crashed. There’s a renewed effort to get development moving. She says the state has invested in making sure the roads through the property are up to code when the development starts.
There were some traffic delays on Interstate 84 overnight in Newtown because of bridge replacement work that's prompting lane shifts. The work is being done on the bridge that carries the highway over Center Street. The state Department of Transportation says the work includes relocation of temporary precast barrier, removal of current pavement markings, installation of new pavement markings, and necessary signing modifications.
The traffic shift started at 7pm, with the new alignment in place for 6am.
The bridges being replaced were constructed in the late 1970s. The total cost of the project is about $5.9 million and is expected to be completed by April.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A former Easton mother accused of hosting a party for high school students who were encouraged to drink alcohol and have sex has been granted special probation.
Hearst Connecticut Media Group reports that Eliane Mullen of Greenwich on Tuesday was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a program for first-time, nonviolent offenders. Mullen did not plead guilty to the 10 counts of risk of injury to a minor pending but instead was placed on two years' probation.
The charges will be dismissed if she commits no other crimes during probation.
Mullen's lawyer said she is happy to finally put the incident behind her.
Mullen had said the April 18 party ``got out of hand,'' but police said she bought vodka, whisky and a six pack of beer. Police also said Mullen supplied a condom to two teens.
A temporary solution to a road block in New Milford is being put in place. The Newstimes reports that a property owner on Waller Road is allowing the town to clear a wooded area and put gravel down to create a large service truck turnaround location.
The property is on the end of the road where Housatonic Railroad closed the rail crossing this summer. The crossing was closed for repairs by the freight rail company on an emergency order from the state Department of Transportation after a truck reportedly damaged the tracks. Housatonic Railroad decided then to permanently close the crossing.
The New Milford Town Council heard from several residents concerned about trucks and buses going in reverse down the road, creating a dangerous hazard.
The Director of Veterans Affairs for Danbury has passed away. Patrick Waldron died suddenly Tuesday of a heart attack. He was a member of the Disabled American Veterans and Korean War Veterans Association. Waldron was 81 years old.
Former President of Danbury Veterans Council George Smith says a number of veterans were at the VA canteen and were all in shock. He says there's a million stories from veterans about Pat Waldron. Smith was told by a fellow veteran about how he was living in a culvert on the side of the road until Waldron took up his cause, and got him VA disability benefits. Smith called Waldron an incredible guy who was always looking out for veterans.
City Councilman Tom Saadi, a member of the Army Reserves, says he was saddened by the news. He called Waldron a pilar of the community and someone who dedicated his life to serving this country, and serving residents in the Greater Danbury area. Saadi told a story of how anytime they would see each other, Waldron would always tell him what he was working on to help veterans. He called that Waldron's mission, one that he carried out with energy, all his soul and his enthusiasm. Saadi called Waldron's death a great loss for the City and the community.
Former City Councilwoman Mary Teicholz, whose son is in the military, says Waldron was always such an advocate for veterans in the area. She recalled one year asking him to help her organization find a veteran to donate gifts to, and he was right there. She says Waldron went above and beyond to find more funding to help the veteran out. Teicholz organizes the Walk of Honor and the Warrior Award presentation each year, along with the new Walkway of Honor.
A pedestrian was hit by a car in Danbury Tuesday night. Police say the accident happened shortly after 9pm on New Street, right by the fire department.
39-year old Julio Rodriguez of Danbury was driving south on New Street when he hit a woman who was in the road, not in a cross walk. The woman was identified as 42-year old Barbara Mouning of Danbury. Police say it's not clear when she was stopped in the street, but it's believed to be alcohol related.
Mouning is listed in stable condition at Danbury Hospital, where she is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Any witnesses to the accident are urged to call Police Officer Glenn Utter at 203-797-4611.
A freshman lawmaker is being challenged by a political newcomer in the 106th state House District. Mitch Bolinsky is the Republican incumbent. He is being challenged by Matt Cole, a recent Western Connecticut State University graduate and social worker. Bolinsky says there’s still a lot of work that he wants to do in the legislature. Some of the areas he’s proud of this past session included toughening drunken driving laws and moving funding forward for the rebuilding of Sandy Hook School. Another initiative he touted was to include private and parochial schools in the state’s program to fund security improvements.
During a candidate forum held last week by the Newtown Bee, Cole said he feels there are no constructive conversations taking place in Hartford. He noted that as a trained social worker, he is adept at working as a consensus. He interned with former state Representative Chris Lyddy.
Bolinsky says Connecticut has an economy that’s not working the way it should be. He says something has to be done to attract business, not picking winners and losers like the First Five program. Bolinsky referring to a program implemented by Governor Malloy that provides funding to companies in exchange for relocating to and within Connecticut. He says lowering taxes, both on corporations and individuals, will make Connecticut more competitive with other states, and a place that people want to live. Bolinsky says making Connecticut more affordable to live and do business here is the first step to growing jobs, gaining employment numbers and getting the state’s economy back on the right track.
Cole says people are struggling because wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. Property taxes for seniors who bought their houses decades ago and aren’t worth what they were, which he says poses a serious burden. He wants to work with Newtown’s Economic Development Commission to learn what he can do to help the town succeed. Cole suggested having a so-called Buffet rule in Connecticut where people making seven-figures or more a year pay more taxes to fund programs that serve the people scraping by or are living in extreme poverty.
Bolinsky says it’s important to get Common Core right. He calls implementation a rushed process and he wants more input from parents, teachers and students. He says it’s very testing intensive and doesn’t have a lot of flexibility for practical learning and creativity in the classroom.
Cole says he likes the idea of Common Core, but that the implementation was rushed. He says there are some pros to it, in that it allows teachers more resources to work with students that are at different levels. He also touted that Common Core develops critical thinking. But he says students were left out of the process of what Common Core standards should look like.
Bolinsky says Connecticut ranks 49th or 50th in terms of infrastructure stability. He wants lawmakers and others to stop raiding the Special Transportation Fund for money to plug holes in the state budget. He believes transportation money should be used for transportation with investments in infrastructure to replace years of neglect. Bolinsky says he was discouraged to hear that the state Department of Transportation has tabled a project to expand Interstate 84 between Danbury and Waterbury from two lanes to three. He says he wants to continue to push for that project to be brought back to life.
Cole says roads and bridges need to be repaired in an effort to attract business to the state. He says people are frustrated with the state of roads in the state. Cole says expanding the highway would be a priority for him. He thinks the roadways should be able to hand the population today, not 40 years ago.
Bolinsky says open space is important to the character of Newtown. In the private sector, he helped write a part of the 2009 Clean Energy Act. It’s now law in California and in Congress to reduce global warming from vehicle air conditioning systems.
Bolinsky says in the wake of the legislature’s work in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook School, and in anticipation of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s report, there will be more work to address the issues that stemmed from that tragedy. He says with the so-called gun bill adopted last year, by no means does the state have the solutions to prevent another similar tragedy. He says there must be a focus on mental health. He calls early detection key. He wants to see programs implemented that prevent people from reaching the point where they become a danger to themselves or the community. He wants to continue to make schools safe, while making them a happy place for them to learn, grow and prosper.
Cole says the gun law passed last year should only be strengthened. He thinks open carry laws in Connecticut need to change. He also called fore more early intervention for elementary school aged children when it comes to mental health care. Cole says more community support programs and proper funding for those programs is needed. He cited Ability Beyond Disability and other similar organizations in the region having to fold into other groups because they don’t have enough resources or funding. Cole says there is a large underserved population that could benefit from more services.
A panel discussion has been held at CH Booth Library in Newtown by Ben's Lighthouse. The organization was named for Benjamin Wheeler, one of the children killed at Sandy Hook School. The founders say they want to create a positive impact on this community and beyond. The panel was made up of participants on a recent trip through Ben's Lighthouse to Loveland, Colorado where they helped with the rebuilding efforts from last fall's flooding. Last year members travelled to Oklahoma to help with recovery efforts from tornadoes that ripped through the region.
A site walk is being held in Brookfield for companies interested in making bids for work at Cadigan Park. The town is currently accepting bids for Phase 2 of the Parks Revitalization Program. The work proposed is for overall site improvements and new building construction at the Town Beach side of the Park. The pre-bid site walk is being held from 11am to noon at the Candlewood Lake Road entrance . The completion goal for this phase of the work is Memorial Day 2015.