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Roadwork being done at the Redding-Weston town line will likely effect traffic.  Route 57 in Weston near its intersection with Route 53 will be closed to traffic beginning today for a bridge replacement.  Most traffic will be diverted down Cobbs Mill in Weston, while trucks will be turned around in Redding.  Alternate ways around the closure are Route 7 or Route 53.  A Redding Police officer will be posted at Route 57 near the Weston town line to turn around all truck traffic.

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Ridgefield Police are urging people to be careful on social media sites following a scam incident reported by a town resident.  Ridgefield Police were recently informed that a resident was almost lured into sending money via a fake Facebook account. 

 

Police say while there was no money lost in this incident, it does serve as a reminder to know who you are dealing with online before disclosing personal information. 

 

A woman reported that a friend request was sent to her using the name and picture of someone she knew, and they began chatting.  The person seemed to know basic information about the woman's job and told her about a grant, sending a link to the application.  The woman was tipped off when the link requested a $1,500 down payment to process the application. 

 

Police say they should be contacted if residents believe they are the victim of a scam, and to notify Facebook or other sites about suspicious accounts.

 

Profile pictures as well as basic personal information can be easily obtained online and scammers can set up an account using Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, dating sites, etc. impersonating others very easily. 

 

Other reminders including to verify your security settings on Facebook and check them regularly to make sure they have not been changed, and to never provide any personal information or credit card information.

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A local lawmaker is speaking out about funding taken from the Special Transportation Fund in the newly adopted state budget.  Danbury Republican State Senator Mike McLachlan says some of his constituents are upset because they don't feel elected officials are in touch with reality.

 

He wants a lockbox on the Special Transportation Fund. 

 

Language in the bill expands how much money can be spent from the Fund for items other than fixing roads.  McLachlan says under the bill, boating enforcement is now considered transportation.  While part of Candlewood Lake is in his district, McLachlan says that should not come out of the Special Transportation Fund. 

 

Governor Dannel Malloy signed the revised state budget into law, acknowledging he'd like to see at least one more change.  He says the state ultimately needs to amend its constitution to ensure revenues collected in Connecticut's Special Transportation Fund are spent on transportation matters, not other programs.

A bill passed during Monday's special legislative session included such a provision, but only in state statute.

Malloy, who has proposed a 30-year, $100 billion overhaul of state transportation infrastructure, said Monday's vote was the ``first step'' toward a constitutional amendment. That process typically can take two years, but Malloy contends the question could appear on the 2016 ballot.

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The Second Chance Society legislation, proposed by Governor Malloy and approved by lawmakers in special session this week, is being criticized by a local lawmaker.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding, an attorney, opposed the measure, saying that substance abuse treatment on a second arrest is already practiced.  He says by the time someone gets an actual conviction on a drug possession crime, they've gone through three, four, or five diversionary programs.

 

Harding says there's a drug education program, a community service labor program--which can be used twice--and a treatment program where someone can once again walk out of court without anything on their record.

 

Harding says this could have an indirect impact on drug sale laws, if not a direct effect.  He gave the example of a plea negotiation for someone charged with sale or intent to sell, gets convicted of possession of narcotics, and walking out with a misdemeanor conviction.

 

Harding says laws should be created to deter people from using drugs rather than pardoning it.

 

He says there are many other aggravating factors for those in jail on a simple drug possession conviction.

 

Connecticut officials and policy experts say the state's drug laws will transform from some of the most draconian in the country to some of the most lenient this fall. That's when most drug possession crimes will become misdemeanors instead of felonies.  The changes include eliminating a mandatory two-year prison term for possessing drugs within 1,500 feet of a school.

State officials estimate the new law will save Connecticut about $19 million in prison costs over the next two years by decreasing the prison population.

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Metro-North will provide additional early-afternoon service from New York on Thursday for customers planning an early getaway for the start of the Independence Day holiday.  Between noon and 4 pm, 18 extra trains will depart Grand Central Terminal.  On Thursday, the 5:27pm train to Brewster will not operate. 

 

On Friday, July 3rd Metro-North will operate on a Saturday schedule. 

 

Saturday July 4th will also be a Saturday schedule, but with an extra 11:13pm train on the New Haven line to get people home from the Macy's Fireworks display.  Sunday will be a typical Sunday schedule.  A complete list of added trains or those not operating, can be found on the MTA website.

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Connecticut's House has approved business-friendly tweaks of the state's new budget after tax increases in the spending plan drew criticism from major employers in the state. The House voted to approve the changes early this morning. 

 

Southbury Republican state Representative Arthur O'Neill says the adjustments have been modest – hardly the ‘rollback’ the GOP was assured would be on the table.  He says this budget continues to deal a massive and sustained blow to middle class families, employers, and taxpayers. 

 

O’Neill says despite the massive tax increase, budget deficits are very likely to continue materializing because the state's economy cannot support the staggering tax increases and ballooning government spending that have been the hallmark of the Malloy administration. 

 

The Senate passed the budget-related bill last night.

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A Kent man has been arrested in New York for allegedly burglarizing an acquaintance's home.  New York State Police were called to a home in Dover Saturday on a report of several items missing from the residence.  The woman also reported that someone had rummaged through her car and removed items. 

 

An investigation led to 34-year old Daniel Vandekar.  Police say the Connecticut man damaged the woman's TV and car. 

 

He was arraigned and is being held on $5,000 bond.  Vandekar's next court appearance is set for July 13th.

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A New York man is facing felony drug sale charges in the town of Southeast.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reported today that an undercover officer arranged to purchase a large quantity of heroin from 53-year old Victor Cerda of the Bronx.  The sale was made on Saturday night in a parking lot in Southeast.  Cerda was arrested and charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.  He was arraigned and is being held without bail at Putnam County Correctional Facility for a future court appearance.

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Thirteen current and former MTA workers were indicted yesterday on charges they cheated on safety tests required to become Metro-North engineers and conductors.

The employees, which include four Westchester County NY residents, are accused of sharing copies of the questions and answers before they took the tests, which help determine how much a candidate knows about critical information including train traffic signals, speed limits and emergency procedures.

Nine of the employees were suspended from their jobs on Friday, and four have been fired. 

Metro-North called the allegations "extremely disturbing," but said it's "confident that the railroad is safe for its customers and employees, and that every engineer and conductor is competent and qualified to do their jobs."

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A Putnam County restaurant owner has been found guilty of groping a waitress. 

 

A jury returned the unanimous verdict against Lani Zaimi, owner of the former Ariano’s Restaurants in Carmel and Mahopac, last week.  The Putnam County District Attorney's office announced Monday that the 45-year old was found guilty of forcible touching and sexual abuse for the January 2014 incident. 

 

Zaimi remains free on bond for an August 26th sentencing date.  Zaimi faces deportation due to a 2nd conviction for a sexual offense. 

 

He also faces a retrial for the rape of another waitress in July 2013.  She was 18 years old at the time.  That trial will start August 3rd.

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Connecticut's top elected leaders are declaring victory in their efforts to see that it does not become easier for local American Indian tribes to obtain federal recognition.

The Obama administration on Monday is announcing changes to regulations that have been criticized as cumbersome and lacking transparency.

Proposed new rules that were first issued in draft form two years ago were seen by officials in Connecticut as clearing the way for three groups that previously had been denied federal recognition to win the prized status.

 

That includes the Kent-based Schagticokes.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut's two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, said at a news conference Monday afternoon that recent revisions will prevent those groups from winning recognition and pressing claims for surrounding lands.

Connecticut has two federally recognized tribes, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says Western Connecticut property owners can breathe a sigh of relief that a casino won't come to Danbury or Kent.  He wrote to the BIA nine months ago, warning that allowing other Connecticut tribes to seek recognition could potentially jeopardize the state's agreements with the Mohegans and Pequots.

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A Shark Tank competition for kids is coming to Bethel.  Based on the reality TV show of the same name, Pro Access Bethel Teen Center is encouraging students in 7th through 12th grades to learn about and come up with a business idea to present to coaches and executives.  Center Director Hilda Maria Valdespino says they are partnering with Junior Achievement for the first time for this event.

 

Teens who want to participate can sign up through July 3.  There is no cost to compete. 

 

Participants will learn the tasks necessary to launch and run a new business, including identifying needs, solving problems and developing products that consumers would want to buy. Students – who can work as a team or individually -- don’t need to have a formal business idea to start the program but will be coached on what it takes to start a business or service for the community.

 

The kickoff and information session will be July 8 at 6 pm with an optional showing of a Discovery Channel documentary on sharks to conclude the evening.

 

The program will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 pm for three consecutive weeks beginning on July 14 and ending July 30. The Shark Tank competition will take place on August 4 when competitors will present their business plans to “The Bethel Sharks,” local business executives, entrepreneurs and community members who have volunteered to judge the contest.

 

Sign up for the competition by the July 3 deadline by contacting Hilda Maria Valdespino at at hilda@bethelproaccess.org.

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The Federal Hockey League has approved a team for Danbury.  Hockey will be back at the Danbury Ice Arena next season with a yet-to-be named team co-owned by Bruce Bennett.  The Danbury resident, who owner Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton, has signed a six year lease with Eagle Ice Sports. 

 

There will be six teams in the Federal Hockey League including the recently announced Stateline Whalers in Brewster.  The future of hockey in Danbury was uncertain after the owner of the Danbury Ice Arena and the now inactive Danbury Whalers failed to reach agreement on the second half of a lease. 

 

The new Danbury team will be coached by Phil Esposito, who resigned as head coach of the Danbury Whalers during that dispute.  The other owners of the Danbury team are a Brookfield insurance agency owner, Edward Crowe, and the owner of the former Berkshire Battalion, William Dadds.

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A Monroe woman is due in court Friday for an incident that happened earlier this month where she allegedly smashed a wine glass against a restaurant wall and locked herself in the bathroom.  Monroe Police were called to Tula on June 6th on a report from a patron saying that a woman wearing a hoodie and pajama pants walked in, sat at their table and drank their wine. 

 

The woman, later determined to be Audra Smith, smashed the glass, left and returned a short time later, locking herself in the bathroom.  Monroe police say she told responding officers that she had a medical condition.  Smith was taken to the hospital as a precaution. 

 

She turned herself in to police on Thursday for charges of breach of peace and criminal mischief.

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A "topping off" ceremony is planned at the new Sandy Hook School Tuesday.  The Newtown Bee reports that the final steel beam will be placed on the structure of the building.  It will be signed by the construction team and marks a milestone in the building process. 

 

The latest photos of the construction site have been posted to the Sandy Hook 2016 website showing exterior and interior progress on the various wings. 

 

 

The Public Building and Site Commission's meeting this month gave approval to two playgrounds for the site.  The construction project is being paid for with a $50 million grant from the state.

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In Danbury ....A fire weekend is still under investigation .   

A fire on the first floor of a condominium on Crows Nest Lane was quickly extinguished Saturday afternoon.

The fire at Birchwood Condos began about 12:30 p.m. in a bathroom. 

 Asst. Deputy Chief Mark Omasta said the blaze was contained to one unit and was quickly put under control. Omasta said there was nobody home during the fire. The cause is under investigation.

A neighbor who smelled and saw the smoke called 911.

The assistant chief said firefighters “made an aggressive attack” and knocked down the fire before it could spread to neighboring units.

However, there was some structural damage to the floor between that unit and the one above it so both families had to spend the night elsewhere.

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Ridgefield Police say a car chase ended Saturday night when a woman crashed a stolen van into Tony’s Corner Deli on Main Street.

19 year old Giselle Rivera of the Bronx led New York and Ridgefield police officers on a chase through the downtown area about 8 p.m. Saturday. 

Police officers from Lewisboro, N.Y., noticed Rivera was driving erratically and followed her into Ridgefield on Route 35. Ridgefield police officers tried to help the Lewisboro officers stop Rivera, but she “fled and drove recklessly” northbound on Main Street before crashing into the deli. 

Rivera has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, interfering with an officer, engaging in a pursuit, and operating without a license. 


She was held on $10,000 bond.

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A bill about animal-assisted therapy services made it through the legislative session which ended this month and was sent to Governor Malloy last week for his signature.  The bill requires the Department of Children and Families commissioner to develop a protocol to identify and mobilize animal-assisted critical incident response teams statewide.  That's a change from just a canine crisis response team. The bill extends the deadline for this requirement to January 1st 2016.

 

It requires the teams to be available to provide animal-assisted activities, not just animal-assisted therapy. As under current law, the teams must operate on a volunteer basis and be available on 24 hours' notice.  The team is defined in the bill's new language as a team of registered handlers and therapy animals that has been identified by DCF and can provide animal-assisted activities to individuals during and after traumatic events.

 

State Representative Diana Urban says this bill stemmed, in part, from the response to Newtown on 12-14.  She says Allen's Angels, Canine First Responders, Soul Friends and Tails of Joy among others. 

 

The bill also requires the DCF commissioner to develop a protocol by that deadline to identify and credential animal-assisted activity organizations and animal-assisted therapy providers in the state.  The bill does not specify how DCF will credential the organizations and providers.

 

The DCF Commissioner must also develop and implement training for certain department employees and healthcare providers on the healing value of the human-animal bond for children, value of therapy animals in dealing with traumatic situations, and benefits of animal-assisted activities and therapy.

 

The measure passed the Senate unanimously. 

 

There were just 9 votes in opposition in the state House.  Several of those voters came from Greater Danbury area lawmakers.  They are Newtown Representative Mitch Bolisnky, Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford, Danbury Representative Dan Carter, Richard Smith of New Fairfield and Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski.

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Retiring Western Connecticut State University President James Schmotter was celebrated at an event Friday night in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal issued proclamations in recognition of Schmotter's work.  Western also made a presentation.  The James W. Schmotter Student Assistance Fund is being created with proceeds from the event.

 

The fund is being developed as a resource for seniors on the cusp of graduating, who may not be able to do so because of unexpected costs. 

 

University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says students who run into some kind of financial trouble during the semester will be able to look to this fund to help them out.  He gave the example of if they need last minute money for books.  There is nothing like this currently at Western.  Schmotter specifically wanted to direct the money from Friday's event to this concept.

 

Steinmetz says a lot of students also work and there's not a lot of margin for error if something bad happens, like if their car breaks down, and they need financial help or they drop out of school.  That's something that Western is trying to address with this fund.

 

Schmotter joined Western from Western Michigan University, where he was dean of Haworth College of Business and professor of management. His teaching career started at Northwestern University and he first became an administrator at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He also served at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management and was dean of the College of Business and Economics at Lehigh University.

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State lawmakers are headed back to the capital for a special session.  The two-year, $40 billion Democratic budget narrowly passed the General Assembly on the final day of the legislative session, and included controversial business tax increases.  Southbury Republican state Senator Rob Kane thinks the budget should be vetoed by Governor Malloy.

 

Kane says Republicans and others have the votes to back the Governor up if he decides a complete overhaul is needed.

 

Kane says he will carefully watch the budget implementors, and go line by line, to ensure "there's no funny business taking place".  He wants to make sure there's no pet projects added in at the last minute, considering how close the budget vote was and how late in the session it came. 

 

Those bills will be acted on during a special session next week.

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Boy is confused by weird object.  What is it?  It's a pay phone.

 

 

NOOOOOOO!!  Where's the spell check?

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