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The Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation is meeting with the Connecticut Citizens Defense League this afternoon to speak out against Governor Malloy's proposal to quadruple the pistol permit renewal fee.  The groups say this would hurt Connecticut's 250,000 gun owners.  They claim this is an imposition on law abiding citizens trying to exercise their constitutional rights. 

 

State Senator Cathy Osten, a co-chair of the Appropriations Committee believes that targeting one fee over another is inappropriate.  She says there are other ways to derive revenue that doesn't target one fee over another.

 

The proposed $300 renewal fee for a five year permit would make Connecticut the second most expensive in the nation, only behind New York City.



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The Brookfield Conservation Commission has received a grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, a private non-profit group, to develop a master plan for the Gurski Homestead.  An Ad-Hoc Committee has been formed and  Fitzgerald & Halliday has been retained to assist in creating a plan. There will be an opportunity for the public to get involved in the planning process towards the end of April.



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5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced the Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act to honor service members who lose their lives serving in uniform and to provide assistance to their families. 

 

In 2014, Esty met with families who lost loved ones where she spoke with Joe Nolan, a Vietnam veteran and former Marine who lost his son in Iraq in 2004.  Nolan, who also initiated the Gold Star Family License Plate in Connecticut, suggested creating a postal stamp in honor of the families of the fallen.  

 

Esty has introduced legislation to do so during each of her three terms in Congress. 

 

Nolan said the stamp would not only keep their memories alive, but it would also spread awareness to those who may not be familiar with the Gold Star symbol. 

 

The proceeds from sales of the stamp would go to the Families of the Fallen Support program, which supports families at Dover Air Base when they witness the return of their fallen loved ones.  It also includes peer-based support groups and camps for children to connect with others coping with a similar loss. 

 

Esty previously introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act, which extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of disabled and deceased veterans.  The bill was signed into law in October 2015.



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A final report on asbestos testing at the former John Pettibone School in New Milford has come back.  No asbestos was detected in the walls or drop ceilings where renovation was being done.  The report also found that there was no toxic levels in lead paint that was tested. 

 

Mayor David Gronbach says they knew already that floor tiles and some insulation contained asbestos, but noted that it's common in buildings constructed around the same time.  He says the contractor will either avoid disturbing such areas or will rely on certified contractors to address any issues.  While some low lead levels were identified, Gronbach says the work will not create any airborne concentrations over the acceptable level.

 

Documents and updates about the work being done to turn Pettibone into a community center will be posted on a new page of the New Milford town website.



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Easton Police are investigating car break ins.  Police say there's been an uptick of cars being entered, late at night, and items being stolen from them.  Easton Police are reminding drivers to lock their vehicles at all times and take their belongings with them when they leave their cars.  Anyone seeing suspicious activity is asked to call Easton Police at 203-268-4111.



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The New Milford Board of Education has voted no to changes in a memorandum of Understanding about moving administrative offices from the East Street building to the former Pettibone School.  The Board voted unanimously this week to not fund the renovation costs from Board's reserve account.  Mayor David Gronbach said in a statement that he was disappointed with the decision.  He said the 250-thousand dollars would be reimbursed when the East Street building was sold.  The sale is estimated are more than $1.5 million.



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A PeaceJam event is being held at West Conn next Friday night.  A Novel Peace Laureate who is a Liberian peace activist and trained social worker will be the featured speaker.  The event at Ives Concert Hall on the the midtown campus is at 6:30pm next Friday. 

 

Women’s rights advocate Leymah Gbowee was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to lead a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. She is founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, a nonprofit organization that provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and youth in West Africa. Gbowee also is the co-founder of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, which promotes cross-national peace-building efforts and transforms women from victims in the crucible of war to mobilized armies for peace. 

 

Gbowee has been a member of PeaceJam since 2012.



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Nearly 60 businesses in Danbury were closed yesterday as part of a nationwide protest being called "A Day without Immigrants.  Some 500 people rallied at City Hall last night, with police closing down part of Deer Hill Avenue for the event.  Organizers thanked the police department for their help. 

 

The day was intended to demonstrate the importance of immigrants to the U-S economy.  The Latino owned businesses closed their doors in solidarity with immigrants--documented and undocumented. 

 

While there were supporters of the protest and rally, others said legal immigrant should be supported.  Critics also said they didn't think children should skip school. 

 

There doesn't seem to be a single organizer of the nationwide strike, but rather coming from a social media movement.



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A Connecticut man has been sentenced in connection to the heroin overdose death of a Newtown woman.  38-year old Ronald Weaver was ordered to 52 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release. As part of his sentenced, Weaver was ordered to forfeit two vehicles and more than $1,900 in cash seized from him at the time of his arrest.  Newtown police had responded to a home last March on a report of a 30-year old in cardiac arrest.  The woman later died at the hospital.  Her family turned over several wax folds of heroin, several empty folds and other drug paraphernalia.  An investigation revealed that she bought heroin from a man who worked as a runner conducting drug sales for Weaver.

 



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Students and administrators from colleges in Connecticut have testified before the legislature's Appropriations Committee about the effect of proposed state budget cuts. 

 

In total, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system President Mark Ojakian said he is preparing for a single-year cut of as much as $81 million.  He told lawmakers that the system might even consider declaring financial exigency, which would allow it to circumvent union contracts, spend reserve funds and sell off some assets.  All options would be considered, including campus consolidations and additional tuition increases. 

 

Tuition has increased by 17.8 percent at the four regional state universities over the past five years. 

 

Western Connecticut State University graduate Allison Vas knew she was paying for college on her own, and WestConn offered an equally competitive program to private universities at a fraction of the cost.  She is in consideration as a Fulbright semifinalist.  Vas said without WestConn she wouldn't be a competitor in that program. 

 

WCSU student Zach Rubin told lawmakers he's was underprepared socially, academically, and personally for college and failed out of school.  He later chose WestConn for its affordability and it's business school reputation.  He says the system isn't design just for high overachievers, but for kids who slacked in high school and now want to make something of themselves.



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The Danbury Police Department is hosting a "Coffee with a Cop" event on Friday. The community event is designed to have the patrol cop who responds to calls for service to interact with the public they serve in order to break down barriers. Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says they hope residents will see that they are regular people, just like the community they serve. Danbury Police hopes this event will remove agendas and give residents an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the Officers. The Coffee with a Cop event is from 7:30am to 10:30am at Mothership Bakery on Main Street.



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The owner of the Newtown liquor store allegedly robbed, set on fire and found with anti-Semitic graffiti has been arrested.  Newtown Police charged 39-year old Scott Young Thursday for the January 21st incident at Rooster Wine and Liquor Store.   

 

Young was charged with arson, insurance fraud, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, and three counts of providing a false statement. 

 

Newtown Police said in a statement the fact that Young used racial epithets and symbolism to cover up a crime was extremely disturbing to not only the community, but all of the agencies involved.   Police continued by saying that such an incident unnerves the community and they are thankful they could bring the incident to a successful resolution to put everyone’s concern at ease. 

 

Newtown Police Chief James Viadero commended the officers and agencies involved for a thorough and quick conclusion to such a disturbing crime.  State Police, including the Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit, and the Newtown Fire Marshal’s Office assisted in the investigation.



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A routine traffic stop turned up drugs.  Danbury Police Traffic Enforcement Officers saw a vehicle on Maple Avenue Wednesday afternoon with extremely dark tinted windows, which prevent them from seeing the driver.  The car was pulled over on North Street and officers could smell burnt marijuana coming from inside.  Danbury Police K9 Zeke alerted on the vehicle, where officers then found heroin, pills and marijuana.  The driver, 25-year old Rafael Veras-molina was charged with possession of narcotics, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  He was released for a court appearance next month.



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The New Milford Town Council has approved an agreement that moves plans forward for Ameresco Solar to install a development on Candlewood Mountain.  The Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement is for 20 megawatts of solar panels on 80 acres of land leased from Commercial Services Realty.  Ameresco will pay New Milford a total of $2.7 million over 20 years.  The location, about 600 feet up on Candlewood Mountain, has been criticized by a number of people.  It requires tree removal.  The project does require approval of the Connecticut Siting Council.  A local zoning change was made, which officials say reduces the scale of residential building--eliminating the possibility of a condo project.



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Monroe's Police K9 has been outfitted with a bullet and stab protective vest.  For every 15 vests purchased through the non-profit organization "Vested Interest in K9s", one free vest is awarded.  K9 Murphy's new vest has a five-year warranty, and weighs 4 to 5 pounds.  The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers.  "Vested Interest in K9s" has provided over 2,300 protective vests, in 50 states at a cost of over $1.9 million.  All vests are custom made in Michigan.

 



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A New Milford man has been sentenced on a firearms related charge. 61-year old Leonard Sikorski transported three rifles, two shotguns and 1,561 live rounds of ammunition to a pair of storage lockers he rented in Danbury in September 2015. That October, Sikorski admitted to federal agents that one of the shotguns had an obliterated serial number.

 

He was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison followed by a year of supervised release for possessing that shotgun.

 

Sikorski agreed to forfeit the firearms and ammunition seized from the storage lockers based on federal laws barring unlawful users of controlled substances from possessing firearms. He also agreed to forfeit five handguns and two rifles seized by New Milford and Naugatuck police during separate motor vehicle stops.

 

Sikorski is currently in state custody for an unrelated charge of illegal possession of explosives. His federal sentenced will run concurrently with the state sentence.



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Some small towns in the Greater Danbury area are concerned about a part of Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed budget that would end state contribution for Resident State Troopers.  Connecticut currently pays 15-percent for the first two resident troopers in each town.  Town leaders say they'll be faced with a choice of having to increase taxes or cut services in order to pick up that part of the tab. 

 

Kent, New Fairfield, Sherman, Southbury, Bridgewater, Roxbury, and Washington employ residents state troopers. 

 

New Fairfield employs 7 resident state troopers and 6 police officers.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says the state is unfairly pushing its fiscal woes onto small towns.  It's a $66,000 hit to the municipal budget. 

 

She noted that the state already cut it's contribution in half two years ago. 

 

Chapman says this is an excellent program that's served small towns well over the years.  She added that the difference in cost between a state trooper and a police officer is not significant, but it's the benefit from having troopers in town that is the real difference in this program.



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Concerned members of the General Assembly's Finance Committee are grilling Governor Malloy's budget chief. 

 

Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding, whose district also includes the Stony Hill section of Bethel, says his towns will lose out.  While he appreciates that the state is trying to mitigate a large deficit and rightly restructure the Education Cost Sharing formula, doing it on the back of children is wrong. 

 

Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle says municipalities will raise local taxes to make up for proposed state cuts.  She says many community leaders are reeling from the sheer amount of state aid cuts being proposed.

 

Moving some teacher pension costs off onto municipalities was a concern Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman said one-third is an arbitrary number and questioned why it's not 25 percent.  He wanted to know if the municipal contribution would stay at one-third, or go up to 50 percent.  Budget chief Benjamin Barnes said the number was what the administration thought was a tolerable amount for municipalities, given their significant involvement in setting teacher salaries and hiring teachers.



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A Danbury man who police were investigating for a noise complaint, threatened to "get an assault rifle and shoot up the Danbury Police Department". 

 

Officers were dispatched to Samuels Court on Scuppo Road early Wednesday morning on a report than an intoxicated man was pounding on an apartment floor.  Responding officers were told that the man, 51-year old Gary Mayone, was issued an infraction Tuesday for creating a public disturbance.  While speaking with the neighbor, officers heard several loud bangs. 

 

Mayone was taken into custody and as he was being walked to the police cruiser, he attempted to headbutt an officer.  A struggle ensued.  While being processed at the police station, Mayone kicked an officer in the leg.  He then made the threatening statement. 

 

Mayone kicked another officer while being evaluated at Danbury Hospital. 

 

He was charged with breach of peace, attempted assault on an officer, failure to be fingerprinted, two counts of interfering with an officer, two counts of assault on an officer and one act of terrorism.  He was held on $50,000 bond. 

 

Two of the three officers sustained injuries.



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Weston residents are being reminded to shovel their driveways and make sure private roads are properly cleared of snow.  The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is also asking that residents put down ice melter on sidewalks because some members have slipped on icy driveways and sidewalks. 

 

Fortunately, they say say no one has been injured. 

 

The Department is pointing to an incident in nearby New Canaan where a fire department vehicle became stuck in a long, shared driveway and blocked all other vehicles from being able to access a house fire Monday.  Weston fire officials are reminding residents that fire trucks and ambulances need more room than personal vehicles. 

 

The fire, just over the Wilton town line, was small and firefighters were able to hand carry the appropriate gear to the house.  The fire was caused by embers falling down a crack between the hearth and an extension of the fireplace, reaching a wood structure below.  Mutual aid responded from Wilton, Norwalk, Stamford, Pound Ridge and Vista, New York.



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