Some plans for proposed Bethel school renovations have been revised, lowering the potential cost. Rockwell Elementary would have had a kindergarten addition under the original design, but the footprint of the building now won't change. The State Office of School Construction, which could grant up to 45-percent reimbursement on eligible costs, asked the town to see if educational program goals could be reached while not including bumpouts.
Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver says they went back and looked at how to get that done. They would have to give up some things to under an alternative layout. The two classrooms were incorporated into the main floor of the building while the art room was moved to the second floor. With the revisions, the collaborative spaces were cut and the library was made smaller, which meant the elimination of the maker space and STEM space.
School officials are working with the town's Fire Marshal on some issues with access to the second floor. Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms can not be on the second floor, but they can go there for certain things. According to fire code they there would have to be a dedicated stairwell for them.
But all of the changes lowered the cost estimates about $2.4 million.
Carver says the state Office of School Construction feels Bethel is coming in well prepared and while the buildings are aged, they are well maintained. She also noted that Bethel doesn't have a declining enrollment.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced two bipartisan bills to combat human trafficking. One piece of legislation is called the "Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act". It focuses on preventing human trafficking. The bill would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation and increase outreach, education, and reporting efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The bill is supported by Truckers Against Trafficking, National District Attorneys Association, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and ECPAT-USA.
The other bill is called the "No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act" would disqualify individuals from operating a commercial motor vehicle for their lifetime if they used such a vehicle to commit a felony involving human trafficking.
Esty called Human trafficking an inhumane crime. She notes that it is occurring in communities all over the state and throughout America. Esty says anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, regardless of race, age, gender, or socio-economic status.
The Democratic candidate for Mayor in Danbury is making a proposal to buy a parcel of land for open space. Al Almeida says if he is elected, he wants the City to purchase the 78 acre property recently known as Cotswold located between Clapboard Ridge and Padanaram Roads.
He called it an environmentally significant property that should be preserved and used for passive recreation.
There have been multiple attempts over several decades to develop the Cotswold property. Almeida says by having the City purchase the property, it would protect the long term interests of residents in this area, and preserve environmental resources. He added that student athletes could use the property for running.
The Cotswold property adjoins city owned property at both its north and south ends and an adjacent watershed area to the north. Student Athletes
Bethel received a $10,000 grant for an upcoming energy saving projects. The town would like to host a Light Bulb Exchange in October. Estimates are that $2,000 will provide enough light bulbs for 485 households to swap out 5 incandescents . The Bright Idea Grant was accepted by the Board of Selectman.
The Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team is giving an update on the legal status of a dispute with a Gregory Street property owner.
The yard has been blighted with high grass, piles of rubbish and unregistered/inoperable vehicles. UNIT says the property owner was recently brought in front of a judge for the 4th time and a final ruling may be made later this month to determine how to mitigate the quality of life issue.
Written orders and fine assessments didn't work and conditions worsened last year, frustrating neighbors. That prompted UNIT to take legal action. The owner is facing daily fines until he complies and cleans up the Gregory Street property.
A Danbury man has been arrested for selling drugs around the City after neighbor complaints led to a police investigation. A search warrant was carried out on Saturday for 24-year old Jason Allan Perez and his Town Hill Avenue apartment.
Perez was seen by officers getting into the passenger seat of a car, which was stopped on Main Street. A substantial quantity of illegal drugs was then found at his home.
Perez was held on $50,000 bond for arraignment.
He was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a prohibited place, two counts each of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and possession within 1,500 feet of a prohibited place, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of drug paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of a prohibited place.
MONROE, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman has been charged with stealing tools from a home and using the homeowners' car without permission while they were on a nine-day vacation.
The Connecticut Post reports that the couple left their Monroe home and dog in the care of a 26-year-old woman they met through a local animal hospital.
Police say that woman allowed 37-year-old Jennifer Spezzano, of Waterbury, stay in the home and use the couple's car.
Police charged Spezzano with third-degree larceny, conspiracy and using a vehicle without permission. She was released after posting $25,000 bond.
Police said they later determined that Spezzano had sold the tools to pawn shops.
Brookfield Police are calling this weekend's car seat clinic a success. Most, if not all, of the car seats that came to the clinic had at least one installation mistake, which the technicians were able to point out and correct. The line was backed up several cars deep and extended out of the parking lot at several times during the day. Three technicians worked to get everyone in and out efficiently.
There were several expired seats, for which the department provided and installed a new seat. Police say there were also several seats facing the wrong direction, calling it an unsafe practice and illegal in some cases. There were also a few where the child had outgrown the seat entirely so Brookfield Police provided and installed a new seat or booster.
The Department thanked the MOMS Club of Brookfield for donating safety packs for each child whose loved one stopped by the police station to have a car seat inspected or installed.
New car seat laws take effect in Connecticut on Sunday.
Danbury and Bethel state lawmakers are working with the Hopeline of Danbury for a collection effort. The diaper drive started earlier this month and continues through October 11th. The delegation put together the month-long diaper drive with Hopeline after in-need Bethel families learned that diapers were not covered by Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Residents can donate diapers at Danbury and Bethel town halls and Bethel Library through October 11th. According to state statistics, a month’s supply of diapers can cost over $100.
A ceremonial ribbon cutting was held over the weekend in New Milford for the John Pettibone Community Center. Mayor David Gronbach took visitors on a tour of the former school. It's been renovated to house the Parks and Recreation Department, social services and New Milford's youth agency. Some renovations are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
$225,000 for repairs was approved by the Town Council while $155,000 for sidewalks came from the Waste Management Fund.
New Milford schools central office will remain in the Lillis Building after a dispute over financing the project. The Newstimes reports that the empty wing of the building could be offered to Naugatuck Valley Community College or Henry Abbott Technical High School to use for satellite labs.
Part of Simpaug Turnpike in Redding will be closed later this morning for road maintenance. Redding officials say there was a last minute schedule change with the contractor. The work will take place between the Post office and Topstone Road from 9am to 3 pm. Drivers are asked to take an alternate route during these times.
A public hearing is being held in Bethel tonight about proposed renovations to Rockwell Elementary School and Johnson School. Superintendent Christine Carver told the Board of Finance at their last meeting that school construction funding is separate from education cost sharing grants and may not be affected by the state budget stalemate.
The State office of School Construction has said they remain supportive of Bethel's plans. Rockwell was built in 1971 and Johnson in 1980.
About 45-percent of the $68 million renovations could be eligible for state reimbursement. A referendum has to be held before November 15th in order to be eligible for the priority list. The resolution for a referendum could be written in a way that says going forward with the project is contingent on the state funding. There would be an "out clause" so the town wouldn't be responsible for the full $68 million if the state funding doesn't come through.
Tonight's public hearing is at 7 o'clock in the Bethel High School auditorium.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit against the state by the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which is seeking $610 million for land it says the state seized from the tribe from 1801 to 1918.
The Connecticut Law Tribune reports that Judge Thomas Moukawsher rejected the state's argument that the Tribal Nation lacks standing to file the lawsuit because at least two other factions of the tribe claim leadership authority. The judge issued the ruling last week.
The state also asked that the lawsuit be dismissed on grounds of government immunity from such lawsuits.
The Tribal Nation alleges the state took 2,000 of the 2,400 acres in the tribe's reservation in western Connecticut and sold the land, but never compensated the tribe.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A judge's landmark ruling that declared Connecticut's system for funding public schools unconstitutional is set to go before the state Supreme Court.
Justices are scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in the state's appeal of the ruling. The hearing comes as Connecticut officials are mired in a budget impasse that includes debate over how the state should distribute education aid to cities and towns.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ordered state officials last year to develop plans for an overhaul of the state's public education system within six months. He said a huge gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns showed parts of the system are unconstitutional and irrational.
The ruling came in a lawsuit against the state by a coalition of cities, towns, parents and students. Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the suit.
A Danbury woman who nearly hit a police cruiser has been arrested for a number of offences. Danbury Police say an officer was on Lake Avenue late Friday night and a car veered into his lane. The woman, later Identified as Bianca Marie Cruz, then ran a red light. When she was pulled over, police could smell marijuana coming from the car.
The officer asked Cruz to step out of the vehicle, but she drove off, nearly dragging the officer away. Cruz crashed into a fence, damaged a resident's front lawn and tried hiding in the bushes.
A small amount of marijuana and a grinder were found in her vehicle.
Cruz was charged with running a red light, reckless driving, evading the scene of an accident, engaging in a police pursuit, possession of marijuana, possession of drugs less than 1,500 feet from a housing complex, possession of drug paraphernalia and interfering with police. She is being held on a $2,500 bond.
A man trying to leave Patriot Parking Garage in Danbury hit a wall and is now facing charges of driving under the influence, among other offenses. Danbury Police were called by parking staff early Saturday morning to help with the intoxicated man, Rolando Ordonez-Morocho.
When officers arrived, they found that the 31-year old had fallen asleep leaning on an ATM in the garage.
The Newstimes reports that he hit the wall while trying to pull out of a parking spot, backed up and hit the wall again. When Ordonez-Morocho tried to pay with a debit card, he was told the garage is cash only and was directed to the ATM.
He allegedly urinated on a security guard’s car before trying to take out cash.
Ordonez-Morocho was also charged with evading responsibility, breach of peace and criminal mischief. He was released on a $2,500 bond.
A $600,000 grant to the University of Connecticut and Western Connecticut State University from the Health Resources and Services Administration received through the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program. The program, which was reauthorized as part of Senator Chris Murphy's recently enacted Mental Health Reform Act, seeks to expand the behavioral health workforce and train new mental health providers, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and paraprofessionals.
UConn will receive $178,544 to recruit, train and place social workers in underserved areas of Connecticut with a focus on integrated care. Western Connecticut State University will receive $420,522 to increase the number of school and clinical mental health counselors who can provide trauma-informed mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults.
In addition to the stigma surrounding mental illness that prevents too many from getting the help they need and deserve, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the state faces a serious shortage of trained mental health professionals.
Murphy says too many kids and adults with mental health needs in this country don’t get the timely care they need for one reason: not enough trained behavioral health specialists to care for them. He added that it should be as easy to access a doctor or get prescriptions for an illness of the mind as it is for an illness of the body.
Wilton Police conducted a two week pedestrian safety enforcement operation in Wilton Center. A total of 32 pedestrians and drivers were cited for violations. The effort focused on motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and people walking who took unsafe actions. Wilton Police hoped to educate and encourage the community to develop and maintain safe practices while driving, walking, and cycling throughout Wilton Center. Chief John Lynch says ensuring pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility between motorists and pedestrians.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission released design regulations today. The 5-acre site includes some natural elements that they hope will be involved in the tribute to the children and educators killed on 12-14. One element is a pond, but it's overgrown and could be costly to clean up. The Commission wanted to start removing some of the invasive plants, but the Land Use Department suggested it be left as is for now. There are several terrace-like areas that could be used in a design, along with other open space, if the pond area isn't cleaned up. Commissioner chairman Kyle Lyddy says a water element was always in peoples thoughts since the beginning of the process.
An area legislator is cautioning against the proliferation of casinos in Connecticut. State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says that old phrase “the house always wins” can be applied to gaming expansion. He says communities will see an increase in crime, traffic, and impaired driving. He says that would be coupled with decreased home values.
Hwang is critical of Governor Malloy for signing a bill into law allowing the two federally recognized tribes to jointly operate a casino off tribal land. He says that has opened the door to lawsuits, which could be tied up in court for years. Hwang says Malloy placed a bad bet on a bad bill.
He added that he doesn't want Bridgeport to become the next Atlantic City, citing it's financial ruin. Hwang is part of a coalition that's fighting the expansion of gambling in Connecticut, www.NoMoreCasinosInCT.