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Accidents both sides of I-84

It's a tough afternoon commute on Interstate 84 today.  Traffic delays were reported starting around 2pm.  There are accidents being reported on both sides of the highway.  The accident eastbound by exit 5 was moved off to the shoulder.  The accident westbound by exit 6 in Danbury is knocking out the right lane.


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Newtown kids to perform with Broadway stars in two productions

Two shows with some Broadway stars and Newtown area kids will be performed in Newtown starting tonight.  The 12.14 Foundation, which was created to promote healing and strength through the performing arts, did a production of Seussical the Musical last year.   Michael Unger says this year A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream has been written especially for Newtown.


The world premiere of A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream is a new musical version adapted by Michael Unger and Eric Svejcar with a score by Mr. Svejcar. Joining the Newtown children in this production are Broadway stars Marla Mindelle (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Sister Act), Clark Thorell (Hairspray, 2012 Annie revival) and Saum Eskandani (Disaster!, A Year With Frog and Toad).


The first show A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream, a world premiere adaptation of one of Shakespeare's favorite plays will be performed on August 1st at 7PM, August 2nd at 2PM and 7PM , August 3rd at 2PM, August 8th at 7PM, August 9th at 2PM and 7PM and August 10th at 5PM.


The Foundation will also be performing The 101 Dalmatians Musical later this summer.  That show has been especially adapted for Newtown as well. 


The venue for both productions is Newtown High School (12 Berkshire Road, Newtown, CT) and ticket prices range from $22.50 to $30.00.


As was the case with Seussical, there are approximately 20 Newtown students apprenticing backstage to learn from the team of Broadway professionals participating in this production. The orchestra will also include Newtown-area parents and students.

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Bethel manufacturer to receive loan from state for expansion

A Bethel manufacturer has been approved for some state bond money.  Memry Corporation, located in the Stony Hill section of Bethel, is embarking on a $7.9 million dollar expansion project.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it includes acquisition of machinery and equipment as well as a 15,000 square foot expansion of their facility.


The state Department of Economic and Community Development calls the company is a leading manufacturer in the shape memory alloy industry. 


The company provides a complete range of nitinol materials and services, including metal fabrication and finishing, and engineering to engineer support in both prototyping and production phases. Memry serves the medical device aerospace and defense, as well as the automotive markets.


Memry Corporation will receive a $2.75 million partially forgivable loan from the Department, if it meets job growth goals.  As part of the expansion project, Memry will add 76 new jobs to its current 153 member workforce by November 2017.


Memry will receive $687,500 loan forgiveness if the company retains its existing employment level of 153 full-time employees and adds 38 jobs within three years. If Memry retains 153 employees and adds 76 jobs in that time frame, $1,375,000 of the loan will be forgiven.

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Elementary school construction projects wrapping up

Several school expansion projects in Danbury are in their final phases of work.  Classes are slated to start in Danbury on August 25th.  Park Avenue School, Shelter Rock School and Stadley Rough School have all had new classroom wings added.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says things will be ready to go for teachers by the middle of the month. 


Park Avenue is going through final inspections.  The fire marshal's office is checking all of the fire alarms to prepare the building for its certificate of occupancy.  Shelter Rock is adding five classrooms and also bathrooms.  Stadley Rough has gained three classrooms in its 5,000 square foot expansion. 


City officials will hold an open house later this month for the new West Side Academy building.

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Mental Health Task Force created in Redding

The Redding Board of Selectmen has approved creation of a mental health task force.  The request for the group was made by the Redding League of Women Voters.  A representative recapped the recommendation at the Selectmen's meeting last Monday. 


Potential membership of the task force was discussed as well as a tiem frame for reporting back to the Board of Selectmen.  The group would include Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs, the Human Services Director, the Chair of the Commission on Aging and members of the Board Selectmen and the League. 


They have been tasked with consulting with members of the school and faith communities to collect information including available resources and websites.

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Fire damages 2 cabins at vacation camp

Two cabins suffered heavy damage, but nobody was injured in a fire at a vacation camp in Kent.

The fire broke out Thursday morning in a guest cabin and spread to another at Club Getaway, a 300-acre camp located on Leonard Pond.


Seven children and counselors were inside the cabin that caught fire.  One firefighter suffered a minor injury and was treated at the scene.  State police say a total of 12 children were checked by medics.

Camp officials said in a statement that staff members were able to evacuate the cabins shortly after the fire was reported, and guests staying in the buildings were evaluated at the scene and released.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire. Crews from several towns responded and used water pumped water from the nearby lake.

The camp bills itself as a destination for sports and adventure programs, weddings and corporate events.

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Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies at 90

SHARON, Conn. (AP) Documentary pioneer Robert Drew has died in Connecticut at age 90.

His son Thatcher Drew confirms he died Wednesday morning at his home in Sharon.

In ``Primary'' and other movies, Drew mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and schooled a generation of influential directors including D.A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles.

``Primary'' was made in 1960 and is widely ranked among the most important political documentaries. In 1990 it was entered into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry for historic works. It follows presidential candidates and fellow Democrats Sen. Hubert Humphrey and Sen. John F. Kennedy as they campaigned in Wisconsin.

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Club Getaway Fire in Kent suspicious

The state fire marshal is responding to Club Getaway in Kent to investigate a suspicious fire.

The fire caused heavy damage to two cabins and guests in those cabins were evacuated.

Litchfield county fire dispatchers say several fire departments responded and ambulances were sent. 

Guests were evaluated at the scene and released...

The club specializes in camps and sports and adventure programs.

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Danbury woman not to be charged for leaving child in car

Bethel police say charges will not be filed against a Danbury woman who left her 18-month old in a car Wednesday morning.  Bethel Police were called to the Grassy Plain Street YMCA about a boy in a vehicle with the windows rolled down. 


Police were told by 31-year old Madai Cervantes that she was trying to pick up paperwork to enroll the boy at the YMCA and left the child unattended for about 18 minutes while dropping her 5-year old off at the facility.  The police report says that Cervantes didn't realize how much time had passed while waiting for the school secretary.


Police say the child was not in danger of suffering a heat related emergency because the temperature was about 65 degrees.  But the state Department of Children and Families was contacted because the child was left unattended.


During the police investigation it was determined that Cervantes did not have a valid driver's license and she was issued an infraction for operating without a license.

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Former Conn. man charged for defrauding veterans

51-year old Joseph Morris, of Florida, has been charged with defrauding the co-founders and investors of his Wilton-based company out of $175,000.  The indictment was returned on July 1st, and was unsealed Tuesday during the former Connecticut man's arraignment.


According to the indictment, Morris and two others formed a company in October 2011 to develop business opportunities in Iraq.  The company's initial focus was a pizza restaurant for the U.S. Consulate compound in Iraq, and establishing a business to distribute and install specialty window film on vehicles and at hotels, residences, and government buildings, which would protect windows and windshields from blast and breakage, and provide heat retention, ultra-violet shielding, and privacy. 


Morris was the company's in-country manager in Iraq.


The indictment alleges that Morris made false emails, with photos, to his co-founders that he knew would be relayed to potential investors to induce them to invest in the company.  Morris implied that a lease had been signed to establish the pizzeria, that renovations were underway, and that progress was being made to open the restaurant.  Morris also falsely claimed that an exclusive arrangement has been made with a specialty window film manufacturer to distribute and install the window film in all of Iraq. 


About a dozen investors, most of whom were U.S. military veterans, invested $175,000 in the company.  Morris allegedly diverted large sums of money for his own personal use.


One of the co-founders discovered that the company did not have a lease or an exclusive arrangement in the spring of 2012.


The indictment charges Morris with five counts of wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count.

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Town owned car: Business or personal question raised

A trip to Tennessee by Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley has raised some questions, because he took a town-owned 2013 Ford Fusion.  Former Democratic Selectman Howard Lasser says some town employees approached him concerned that the trip was personal not business.  Lasser filed a Freedom of Information request for milage records that showed the odometer has almost doubled since Tinsley took office in November. 


The first term Republican's mother lives near Chattanooga where he maintains he investigated business development ideas.


The Ethics Board will meet Monday.  The code about proper use of town property will be discussed.  A call to Tinsley for comment was not returned.


Lasser helped craft the town code about proper use of town property.  When the Ethics Board meets Monday, Lasser has asked that they discuss the code about proper use of town property. 


A call to Tinsley for comment was not returned.

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Charter revision public hearing to be held in Ridgefield

A public hearing is being held tonight in Ridgefield for residents to weigh in on recommended changes to the town's charter.  There are 10 policy updates being suggested by the Charter Revision Commission along with seven technical changes.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the changes would appear on the November 4th ballot.


Among the changes are that the town treasurer be appointed rather than elected, the Commission on Aging would get an additional member and any open space donation must go through an environmental review before acceptance. 


Marconi says the Board would like the Parks and Rec Department Director have a reporting process to other town officials.


Any new committee created by the First Selectmen will end a month after the next election of the Board according to one change.  Another would add to alternate members to the Conservation Commission.  Minority representation rules would change for the Board of Finance.  The proposal is to have no more than three of the five members be from the same party, one fewer than the balance currently in the Charter. 


One proposal is that the Selectmen be responsible for organizing the annual town budget meeting rather than appointing a committee to do that and getting rid of attendance record submissions by boards.  Another change involves the Board of Education's out-of-budget expenditure requests.  The Board of Selectmen would have to support the spending in addition to the Board of Finance before sending the request to a town meeting.  An annual summary of activities and accomplishments by town agencies would no longer be required under another proposed change.



Tonight's public hearing is at 6:30 at Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Danbury teen arrested for sexual assault of 14-year old

A Danbury teenager has been arrested for sexual assault.  Police say 19-year old Johnny Zaruma had been under investigation since February.  The Special Victims Unit received a report of a pregnant 14 year old girl and launched the investigation which determined that Zaruma was the father. 


An arrest warrant was carried out on Monday at his Stillman Avenue home.  He was also charged with risk of injury to a minor and illegal sexual contact to a minor. 


Zaruma is being held on $5,000 bond.

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Utility taps Danbury company for expansion

United Illuminating has tapped a Danbury-based company to supply electricity to substations.  Fuel Cell Energy says the installation sites will be in Bridgeport and New Haven.  The Danbury company will build two fuel cell power plants to provide environmentally friendly distributed power to residents. 


Fuel Cell officials say distributed power generation like this installation increases the power supply while producing virtually no pollutants, have a low-noise profile, and only modest space requirements.  The power provided at both sites is enough to power about 5,600 homes.  FuelCell Energy will install the power plants and operate and maintain them under long term service agreements. 


Both sites are expected to be operational in early 2015.

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Unusal rescue effort launched by Danbury firefighters on Main Street

An unusual distress call resulted in a large scale rescue operation in Danbury Wednesday morning.  Danbury firefighters were called to a parking lot off Main Street on a report of a distressed duck, walking around and squawking.  It turns out 11 ducklings were walking through the lot and fell through a sewer grate.  All 11 ducklings were rescued by firefighters from the sewer lines under Main Street.  The 12 animals were then relocated to Rogers Park Pond.

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Danbury investigates opening additional small learning academies

As Danbury gets set to open its new STEM academy, school officials are looking at what other specialized choices for Middle School students can be offered.  The West Side Middle School Academy will house the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program as well as the a Global Studies Academy.  Mill Ridge was closed in 2010 and is being retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.


Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr Bill Glass says they're looking at the possibility of opening three small learning academies at the two middle schools.  They would be in the fields of health and bio science performing arts, and environmental science magnet academies.


Glass says they are studying whether to open a performing arts magnet academy at each middle school because there's a lot of interest in the field.  Western Connecticut State University is currently constructing a new performing arts center.  Glass says this would be a naturally occurring opportunity to build on the connection that already exists between Danbury Public Schools and Western.


Glass says a health and bio science academy at Broadview Middle School with an environmental studies academy at Rogers Park Middle School are possibilities being studied.  Danbury Hospital has expressed an interest in working with the City on the Broadview academy.  Rogers Park is near an old quarry, nature preserve, Tarrywile Park, a pond and organic gardens.

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Grant applications filed for wheelchair accessible vans

Applications have been sent to the state for grant funding of wheelchair accessible vans serving seniors and persons with disabilities.  At a recent meeting of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, regional rankings were given to certain programs that provide van services. 


Using the state Department of Transportation's criteria evaluation system, HART helped the regional planning group make the rankings.  Four grant applications to purchase wheelchair accessible vans are available this year.  The applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability, New Milford Wheels, the City of Danbury and Chestnut Grove Senior Housing Complex in New Milford. 


There are also Three grant applications available to fund projects and activities that support those services.  Applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability so they can implement GPS technology for door-to-door service, Rides for Ridgefield mobility Management services and SPHERE to support operations of the bus service in Ridgefield.

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Construction started in Wilton on natural gas pipeline expansion

Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan says the town has reached an agreement with Yankee Gas to expand natural gas distribution in the Wilton Village and school areas.  He says the end of July, early August was chosen for construction because it's traditionally the time of the lowest level of traffic and pedestrian activity.  The pipeline is being installed in the Center Street-River Road area. 


Brennan says the goal is to have construction completed in that area by August 22nd.  Work near Wilton High School should be completed around the same time, since classes are slated to resume on August 25th.  There will also be a construction crew working on Wolfpit Road West from Route 7 across the Norwalk River and the train tracks to River Road. 


He advises motorists that the construction will cause temporary traffic congestion.  Officials estimate that the whole installation should be completed in four months by the end of November. 


Brennan says natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, creating less emissions which will contribute to the Town's long range environmental objectives.  The town has already locked in a natural gas price for three years.

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WCSU scholarship created to honor slain Airman

TJ Lobraico Jr. was a carefree 10-year-old boy when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  A dozen years later on an early September evening in Afghanistan, Lobraico made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country during his second tour of duty with the New York Air National Guard as a participant in Operation Enduring Freedom.


TJ attended community college before his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2010-11, and then transferred to Western to pursue a degree in Justice and Law Administration. TJ volunteered for his second deployment in 2013, this time to Afghanistan.  He died at the age of 22 after saving several members of his squadron when they were ambushed on September 5, 2013.


His family has started a scholarship at Western as a way for his memory to live on.


Lobraico’s mother Linda Rohatsch, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and WCSU graduate, commands the 105th Medical Group at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York, the same base that TJ was assigned to, and served a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq. TJ’s father, Todd James Lobraico, is an Air Force veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who serves as a master sergeant with the 105th Security Forces Squadron. He also is a Stamford police officer.


The scholarship is for a student entering their junior year studying Justice and Law Administration who, like TJ, had demonstrated active participation in community service and held a part-time job.  Rohatsch says by having the scholarship designated for a junior, it's a student who has shown they are dedicated to getting through their four years and typically the junior year is the hardest to get through. 


Qualified applicants are required to submit a short essay that answers the question, “What does service above self mean to you?”  The TJ Lobraico Memorial Scholarship will provide a $5,000 scholarship annually, beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.


The goal is to raise $120,000, which is the minimum to be endowed.  It will then be self sustaining through a foundation.  They are almost half way to that goal.


Rohatsch says the community, the state, the air base and everyone else has been so kind.  She says she is very thankful for people's genuine kindness.  On behalf of the whole family, she says there really are not enough words for how much they appreciate that.

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Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) A Connecticut teacher who helped save students' lives during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has a book deal.

G.P. Putnam's Sons announced Tuesday that ``Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Your Life's Darkest Hour'' by teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will be released next spring. The publisher says the book will be a ``poignant account of personal triumph over unbearable tragedy.'' Robin Gaby Fisher is co-writing it.

Roig-DeBellis hurried 15 first-graders into a bathroom upon hearing gunfire at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, saving their lives. The gunman eventually shot himself to death after gunning down his mother, six teachers and 20 children.

Last year, Roig-DeBellis founded Classes 4 Classes, a nonprofit that advocates teaching children that all lives are connected.


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