Monroe is among the municipalities being awarded state funding in the next round of Small Town Economic Assistance Program. Monroe will receive $500,000 STEAP grant to build a headquarters for the volunteer emergency medical services.
The EMS is housed within the Fire Department complex and has grown to need a dedicated space. Officials say the current situation has structural and operational deficiencies including a leaky roof, cracks in the walls and water damage inside the building.
The new headquarters will include garages for emergency vehicles, storage for equipment, training facilities and sleeping quarters.
Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski says these funds will go a long way to pay for a new facility for these public safety volunteers. State Senator Kevin Kelly says when taxpayer dollars are invested, they should be for projects improving key functions of government, such as public safety.
A Bethel polling location has been randomly selected for an audit of the primary vote. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill randomly chose 15 voting precincts from the September 16th primary to have their machine totals audited. There were also five alternate precincts chosen in case the chosen precincts cannot be audited for any reason.
State law mandates that 10% of all voting precincts have their machine totals audited following any election or primary. There were a total of 143 voting precincts where primaries were held.
The machine at Stony Hill Fire House was selected for audit. The first alternate polling precinct chosen was the Berry Elementary School machine.
Bethel Republicans voted that Will Duff would be the First Selectman candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Matt Knickerbocker in November.
Duff, the GOP candidate two years ago, defeated Planning and Zoning Commission chair Pat Rist by 39 votes. In the Stony Hill District 2, the vote was 61 for Duff and 83 for Rist. At the Berry polling location, the tally was 116 for Duff and 92 for Rist.
The Schlumberger Citizens Committee has released a summary of survey findings, and set up a date for an interactive planning workshop about the future of the town-owned site. Vision for 30 acres planning charrette will take place on October 21st with an open house at 6:30pm and a workshop at 7pm at the Ridgefield Recreation Center.
More than 1,400 people responded to the online survey. More than half were aged 35 to 55.
A majority of respondents said they want to keep the property as open space or to increase cultural offerings. Of those aged 55 and older who responded to the survey, increasing the diversity of Ridgefield's housing stock was identified as an important objective. That age group preferred more commercial development, while those under age 55 want the town to pursue more retail and restaurant development.
The survey then came up with specific uses within general topics. When asked about Active Open Space, athletic fields was tops. Walking trails garnered the highest response for Passive Open Space while an outdoor stage was the preferred Civic and Cultural use. If there were to be commercial development, nearly half said it should be niche retail. Single family housing earned the highest support if the property would be developed for housing.
Responses to 'other suggested uses' included a bowling alley, community pool, biking trails, open space, community/teen center and corporate headquarters.
Concerns for the site included traffic. Many of the comments suggested the housing is not a desirable use for the site.
A local lawmaker has received the Children's Champion Award from the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. The presentation was made Monday to Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher during a visit to the YMCA Children's Center in Bethel. The Alliance is a statewide advocacy group that works toward improving outcomes for children from birth to age 8 in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security.
YMCA President and CEO Marie Miszewski says Boucher is an important member of the Bethel community and has always fought for the needs of children in Connecticut.
This is Boucher's fifth time receiving the honor. In accepting the award, Boucher said children and educational quality and access have always been top priorities in her public service work.
Among the legislation passed, a bill that gives early childhood educators additional time to obtain their degrees, a bill that addresses safe sleeping practices for infants, a bill that implements a comprehensive mental, emotional and behavioral health plan; a bill that expands School Readiness seat eligibility by allowing programs to serve children who don’t live in the district; and a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to inform child care centers in emergency conditions.
A Connecticut man is due in court on Friday following his rearrest for not appearing in court when he was supposed to. 23-year old Dennis Marques of Shelton was arrested in May by Monroe Police for allegedly stealing several case of Red Bull energy drink from Big Y in Monroe. Police say surveillance video also showed him at Stop & Shop carrying out a similar theft. He was charged at that time with failure to appear in court on charges from previous arrests in Connecticut, but last Friday he failed to show up for court. Marques was re-arrested and is being held on bond.
20 non-profits are sharing in state funding for cultural and historic sites. The Department of Economic and Community Development is doling out nearly $2 million from the Good to Great Program.
Among those sharing in the funding is the Bethel Historical Society. The group is receiving little more than $69,000 in state funding. The Wilton Historical Society will receive $125,000.
Department Comissioner Catherine Smith says 46 applicants submitted projects that demonstrate a clear vision of how individual sites can improve the customer experience and promote more visitors. They also demonstrated how they tie together local, regional or statewide cultural assets.
The new Sandy Hook School is on track to open at the start of the next school year.
The contractor building the new Sandy Hook Elementary School says work is progressing at the Newtown site. The mid-September update shows work has started to close interior walls of Wing A, the membrane roof of Wing B was completed and started on Wing C. Interior wall framing in those sections continue. The exterior wall framing of Wings C and D was completed. A retaining wall has also been installed.
(Photos courtesy: Sandyhook2016.com/)
Site Work began in October 2014.
The new school building is a different shape and size than the former school and will not be located in the exact same area of the school site, but has the same address on Dickinson Drive.
One of Connecticut's two U.S. Senators is calling on Congress to act on a bill that overhauls the nation's mental health care system.
Senator Chris Murphy introduced a bill that would strengthen and reform the mental health care system earlier this year. He says the measure would make critical changes to address a lack of resources, enhance coordination and develop meaningful solutions to improve outcomes for families dealing with mental illness.
Murphy says while there's no inherent link between mental illness and gun violence, increasing the capacity of the mental health care delivery system will make it more likely for intervention to happen before someone makes the decision to turn violent.
The Cassidy-Murphy Mental Health Reform Act will do the following:
Integrate Physical and Mental Health
· Encourages states to break down walls between physical and mental health care systems by requiring states to identify barriers to integration. States would be eligible for grants of up to $2 million for five years, prioritizing those states that have already taken action. States taking part are eligible with additional federal funds to treat low-income individuals who have chronic conditions or serious and persistent mental illness.
Designate an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use
· Elevates the issue of mental health by establishing an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who will be responsible for overseeing grants and promoting best practices in early diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. The Assistant Secretary will work with other federal agencies and key stakeholders to coordinate mental health services across the federal system and help them to identify and implement effective and promising models of care.
Establish New Grant Programs for Early Intervention
· Establishes a grant program focused on intensive early intervention for children as young as 3 years of age who demonstrate significant risk factors recognized as related to mental illness in adolescence and adulthood. A second grant program supports pediatrician consultation with mental health teams, which has seen great success in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Establish Interagency Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee
· Establishes a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Coordination Committee under the Assistant Secretary to ensure documentation and promotion of research and treatment related to SMI and evaluate efficiency of government programs for individuals.
Establish New National Mental Health Policy Laboratory
· New entity will fund innovation grants that identify new and effective models of care and demonstration grants to bring effective models to scale for adults and children.
Reauthorize Successful Research & Grant Programs
· Reauthorizes key programs like the Community Mental Health Block Grants and state-based data collection. The bill also increases funding for critical biomedical research on mental health.
Strengthen Transparency and Enforcement of Mental Health Parity
· Requires the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to conduct audits on Mental Health Parity implementation and issue guidance on how determinations are made regarding comparability mental health services and physical health services.
Improve Mental Health Services within Medicare/Medicaid
· Makes critical reforms to allow for patients to use mental health services and primary care services at the same location, on the same day. Repeals the current Medicaid exclusion on inpatient care for individuals between the ages of 22 and 64 if the CMS actuary certifies that it would not lead to a net increase of federal spending.
Wilton police have arrested a New York man for sending inappropriate photos to two teen girls via Facebook. A New York man has been arraigned on a charge of enticement of a minor by computer for sex. 28-year old John Hurley of Highland Falls was arrested September 24th by Wilton Police and was in court Monday to also face two counts of impairing the morals of a child.
Wilton Police say Hurley used Facebook to talk with two 15-year old girls, sent them pornographic photos of himself and asked that they send him pictures of themselves. He allegedly also tried to have one of the girls meet him for a sexual encounter.
Wilton Police say Hurley turned himself in after learning of a warrant for his arrest. He is free on bond.
Danbury officials have gathered to call on the state to fulfill their financial obligation to the schools. The Danbury Board of Education, City Council, state lawmakers and others held a public information session Monday night about the district being underfunded by some $30 million.
Information provided by the schools says that funding to districts is being given out in lump sums now with the state having suspended the Education Cost Sharing Formula in 2013. School officials say the grants are calculated in a way that higher mill rate towns get more money, and districts with lower costs for special need students or English Language Learners also receiving more funding.
School officials say new funding proposed under the ECS formula, to be reinstated in 2016, cuts what Danbury is entitled to by 50 percent, or $30 million.
The state is being called on by Danbury officials to come up with a more fail-safe funding method for school districts based on students' learning needs.
The School District says Danbury has the 7th lowest per student spending in Connecticut at $12,684, relying heavily on local funding. Danbury contributes $9,061 per student, or 70 percent. The schools say that's nearly twice that of a similar district. Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says the taxpayers need relief, and the state needs to help make sure every child is reaching his or her fullest potential.
A lawsuit has been filed against the Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission's approval of the contractor's yard development on Route 7. The Ridgefield Press reports that 24 neighbors at the Regency at Ridgefield condominiums, located near the proposed facility, filed the suit on Friday challenging the approval. The lawsuit says that the proposed contractor's yard will "negatively impact their property including but not limited to its fair market value...and use and enjoyment of the property." The developer who proposed the facility and its owner were named as defendants in the suit.
A Southbury Training School Employee has been charged with Workers Compensation Fraud. 45-year old Carol Griffin of Waterbury is accused of illegally collecting workers' comp benefits while earning thousands of dollars working as a bail bond agent.
According to the arrest warrant, Griffin suffered a work-related injury in July of last year and received $68,000 in benefits through this August. The warrant alleges that Griffin wrote bonds that allowed her to earn more than $126,000 while denying that she had other employment and was collecting workers comp.
She turned her self in on Friday and was released on a written promise to appear in court on the 14th.
Several police canine will be at Wilton High School this week conducting a drug sweep. The Wilton Board of Education approved the use of canines in the spring to ensure a safe school climate. Superintendent Kevin Smith said the first search will be on Friday morning. Notices will be posted to alert students to the search, which will trigger a lockdown drill. Smith says future searches will not be announced. Police, school administrators and other officials will conduct the brief sweep of the school with eight canine units from surrounding towns. Police will also search the parking lots.
REDDING, Conn. (AP) -- A meeting between Connecticut NAACP officials and police regarding the death of a 35-year-old black attorney has been postponed.
Gugsa Abraham "Abe" Dabela was found shot in the head in a wrecked car near his home in Redding last year. Dabela's family and the NAACP are questioning determinations by police and the medical examiner's office that his death was a suicide.
The local state's attorney's office is still investigating. The state NAACP has launched its own investigation.
NAACP members were supposed to meet Monday with Police Chief Douglas Fuchs, but the meeting was rescheduled to Oct. 22 because of concerns about Hurricane Joaquin.
The NAACP says many questions remain about Dabela's death, including why his DNA wasn't found on the trigger of a handgun found at the crash site.
Five ordinances have been proposed by Bethel officials and are the subject of a public information session being held on Tuesday. They were going to be discussed in a public hearing, but First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the information session is a lot less formal, allows for more give and take, and gives the Selectmen more time to make any changes based on feedback from residents.
The Board of Selectmen meeting is at 7:30pm.
A Snow and Ice Removal ordinance is being proposed, and is based on state statute. The proposals says the the town will not be liable to any person injured on property caused by the presence of ice or snow on a public sidewalk, unless the Town is the owner in control of the land or abutting sidewalk . It also requires property owners to clear their sidewalks or be liable if someone is injured. Any effort to recover damages for injury must be made within two years.
A change has been proposed to the Exemption for Veterans. State statute now allows an additional exemption from property tax. 100-percent disabled veterans would be entitled to a property tax exemption equal to three times the amount of the exemption provided for in state statutes. There are some income restrictions listed in the proposal.
An ordinance about overnight parking on town property is being proposed. No cars would be allowed in public parking lots owned by the town between 3am and 6am including the Old Bethel Railroad Station at 5 Depot Place, the Library, the Municipal Center and the Board of Education parking areas. The exception would be in permitted lots. Overnight parking permits are granted for exceptional reasons at the discretion of the Police Chief or the First Selectman. The permits are limited to one 24-hour period.
Vehicles parked in restricted areas without permit for 24 to 48 hours will receive a written warning. A $10 per day fine would be issued for cars parked more than 48 hours but less than 7 days. Vehicles parked in restricted areas for longer than 7 days will be towed at the owner's expense.
A Hazards to Public Roadways ordinance defines some terms and discusses enforcement. Hazards such as snow, leaves and other debris is allowed to be moved into a public right-of-way. If someone received a written warning for violation by the Bethel Public Works Director to remove the hazard and it's not done within 15 days, a $100 fine could be issued. Each subsequent written warning is a new violation and subject to additional fine.
A Noise Ordinance is proposed to deal with excessive noise and disturbances in town. It's also been proposed to protect the safety, health and general welfare of Bethel residents. The law would regulate commercial construction, demolition, excavation and building operation so that it can't take place before 7am during the week, before 8am on Saturdays and before 10am on Sundays. It can't take place after 8pm on any day. Excessive honking and sound amplifying devices in cars emitting excess noise are also not permitted.
Lawn care equipment is allowed to operate between 7am and 9pm without violating the noise ordinance.
Enforcement would be in the hands of the Bethel Police Department. Anyone violating the ordinance could be fined $50 for the first offense, $75 for a second violation happening within 30 days of the first, and $100 for any subsequent violation happening withing 30 days of the second offense.
There are several exceptions including bells or chimes from buildings, permitted recreational or celebratory activities like parades, concerts or fireworks.
The Healing Hearts Center for Grief & Loss is the featured charity for Stew Leonard's Wishing Well, until October 22. The spare penny or two tossed into the Wishing Well at the front of Stew Leonard's stores adds up with more than 400,000 customers entering the stores each week.
Healing Hearts Center for Grief & Loss is the only program of its kind to service Western Connecticut and nearby New York and is solely funded by donations. Healing Hearts has provided support to thousands of families for 20 years. Their mission is to bring hope and meaning back to families lives. Healing Hearts program manager Joanna DeNicola says through education, support groups and workshops, children and families have a safe place to begin healing. She says they begin to understand their feelings as they face the challenge of rebuilding their lives with meaning and hope.
DeNicola says they have different groups for adults based on the type of loss they've suffered. The groups include the loss of spouse, an infant, a child of any age, and then a general loss group for those grieving a parent, sibling or someone else close to them. A survivors of suicide group is also offered.
The Wishing Well is located in all four Stew Leonard's locations, and each store features a local charity that changes on a weekly or monthly basis. Customers and their children are invited to toss in their spare change as they exit the store.
A forum on the future of Connecticut’s highway and rail system sponsored by the West Conn and the League of Women Voters of Greater Danbury will be held Wednesday night. State Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker is the keynote speaker. The forum, from 5:30 to 7 pm in Warner Hall on the Midtown campus, will also feature Thomas Maziarz, chief of the Department of Transportation Bureau of Policy and Planning, and Oz Griebel, a member of the Governor’s Transportation Finance panel.
The state Legislature this year approved a $2.8 billion bonding package to improve Connecticut transportation, the first part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s long-term plan to transform the state’s highways and rail system.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff of Norwalk, and Republican Senator Toni Boucher of Wilton, a ranking member of the legislature's Transportation Committee, will discuss legislative perspectives on the plan.
Redeker says “It is essential that we continue to improve transportation options and service in Connecticut. Improving our transportation system also makes Connecticut a more competitive, sustainable and livable state.”
League member-at-large coordinator Judy Greensman says the forum will give residents an opportunity to ask questions of government officials and political leaders on this crucial topic.
A man acting suspiciously in a car parked at the Brewster Ice Arena earlier this month has been arrested on a number of charges. The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reported the arrest Friday. When a Deputy approached the car just after midnight on September 16th, the man was trying to hide something.
The smell of marijuana was coming from inside the car.
The man, later identified as 18-year old Austin Garafola of North Salem, was found with pot, a switchblade knife and a fake Maryland drivers license. Garafola was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and of a forged instrument as well as unlawful possession of marijuana.
He was released on bond for a future appearance in Southeast Justice Court.
A New York man is facing domestic violence related charges. Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies were called to a Putnam Valley home early on Tuesday morning on a 911 report of a dispute. Deputies determined that 35-year old Sergio Lamouth had punched a woman in the face during an argument. The man was charged with assault and harassment. Lamouth was held at Putnam County Correctional Facility for arraignment.
Legislation is going to be introduced next week by Connecticut's two U.S. Senators that would bar gun sales until background checks are completed. The current practice is that sales go through if background checks are pending beyond 72 hours.
A similar bill was already introduced in the U.S. House by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. She called the loophole the "yellow light theory". Esty says it's like seeing the yellow light turn to red "so quick give them a gun now because we can't sort out if they're a felon or not". She called it a dumb and crazy system. Esty says Congress can and should fix it.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said it's a tragic and sad coincidence that this press conference fell the day after another mass shooting at a school, but that it had been scheduled days ago. Blumenthal says there have been 142 shootings in schools since Sandy Hook. He says this press conference could have been scheduled any week and the day before there could have been a shooting.
Their bill would close a loophole in the Brady Handgun Violence Act.
Blumenthal says the time for expressions of regret is over, it's time for action. He says this country has responded to other public health crises whether it's a disease epidemic or carnage on the roads that led to seatbelt requirements or drunk driving prohibitions. He notes that this country knows how to deal with public health emergencies, and must deal with this one.
Senator Chris Murphy says the silence by Congress condones these murders. He says those whose minds are beginning to come unhinged think they have been given an endorsement to go forward with their plans. He was critical of his colleagues who were all talk and no action.
"I don't care how many members of Congress send out tweets saying they're sorry, or they extend their sympathies. You aren't sorry, you aren't truly sympathetic if you're not willing to act."
Murphy responded to claims that a good guy with a gun is the way to take down a bad guy with a gun. He says there are thousands of other gun free zones where there aren't mass shootings, so the fact that a shooting happened in one , doesn't mean that gun free zones aren't effective. Murphy says to suggests laws and rules don't work all the time is an invitation for anarchy.
The Congressional delegation members say this isn't a tragedy like an earthquake which couldn't be predicted or stopped. They called gun violence a man-made tragedy which could likely be prevented.