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.
Three people escaped injury when a truck ran over a disabled vehicle on the highway Tuesday night. State Police say 19-year old Cheyenne Morgan Wandall of New Milford was headed west on I-84 in Newtown and had mechanical problems.
The car was half in the shoulder and half in the left lane, and the driver and passenger stepped out of the vehicle. A mack truck in the left lane tried to stop, but couldn't and drove over the sedan.
The car was lodged beneath the truck.
The highway by exit 9 was closed for nearly two hours. The diesel fuel tank ruptured, releasing about 80 gallons onto the highway. DEEP called in an environmental contractor for the clean-up.
51-year old Vincent Phillips of Waterbury was cited for traveling too fast for conditions.
Brookfield Library officials are hosting a series of gatherings for residents to learn about the new library project. The proposal calls for a $14.7 million, 35,000 square foot facility. There is no set location for a new library.
The informational sessions will be held in the community room of the current library. Sessions are from 8 to 10am today, 3:30 to 5:30pm Friday.
6:30 to 8pm on the 22nd, 11am to 12:30pm on the 24th, noon to 1pm on the 25th and 5 to 6:30pm on the 26th.
A vote is scheduled on the project on February 27th.
A Pawling man has been arrested for promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child.
30-year old Felipe Ramon was charged Tuesday. He is accused of soliciting pornographic photos from, and sending photos to, a child less than 17 years old via social media sites and a cell phone. The victim was known to Ramon.
He was charged with 9 felony counts each of use of a child in a sexual performance, possession of a sexual performance by a child and the promotion charge. Ramon was arraigned and ordered held on $100,000 bond.
The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office is asking that anyone having information about the case or similar incidents involving Ramon to contact them at 845-486-3778.
A 6-year old has testified in the sex assault case against 36-year old Rony Ortega of Danbury. He is accused of molesting the child when she was 3-years old. The Newstimes reports that the girl wasn’t able to recount the purported abuse while on the stand yesterday. The girl's mother also testified. According to court documents, the child's mother noticed the her shorts were rolled down around the waist. The girl reportedly told her mother that that Ortega pulled down her pants and touched her. Ortega denied the encounter, but a DNA sample from the clothing was a partial match.
Redding residents have approved a ban on the use and storage of fracking waste. Critics of fracking say the process for extracting oil or natural gas out of bedrock could contaminate groundwater. A violation of the ordinance could result in a $250 fine and associated legal costs. Fracking is not used in Connecticut, but the waste can be brought in and used as fill at construction sites. Residents also approved funding for upgrades at the Redding Wastewater Treatment plant and adopted changes to the Land Use Applications ordinance and Land Use Fee Schedules.