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A New Milford man is due in court today in connection to a shoplifting incident.  New Milford Police responded to Kohl's Department store on February 6th on a report of a larceny.  21-year old Brody Dalessio of New Milford was identified as the suspect.  He was also charged with having narcotics not in their prescription container, possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.  Dalessio was released on bond for today's appearance in Bantam Superior Court.



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A lost hiker was rescued from the Paugussett State Forest in Newtown this weekend.  The elderly male didn't know where he was and unable to provide rescuers with accurate information.  Officers Schoen and Harold started their search at the state boat launch.  They spent over two hours in the woods, in snowy and icy conditions, looking for the man before locating him.  Officer Lorancaitis went to the police station to disseminate GPS location data to help the officers on the scene.  Sandy Hook Fire, Newtown Hook and Ladder, and Newtown Ambulance also responded to the scene and assisted.



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The Bethel Fire Department responded to two calls in the past two days with an unusual response. 

 

On Sunday, a child needed to be extricated from a shopping cart.  A firefighter cut the child from the cart with a set of bolt cutters.  The child was unharmed. 

 

Yesterday afternoon, both Bethel and the Stony Hill fire departments responded to a report of a stove fire on Elizabeth Street.  The fire was extinguished using a water can.



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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) -- Nelba Marquez-Greene believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which killed her 6-year-old daughter, could have been avoided if more had been done years earlier to address the social isolation and mental health problems of the shooter, Adam Lanza.

To help other vulnerable youths, Marquez-Greene, a family therapist, is working with a Connecticut school system on a program to help students connect with one another.

"I want people to remember that Adam, the person who did this, was also once 6 and in a first-grade classroom, and that if we had reached out earlier then maybe this could have changed," Marquez-Greene said.

Marquez-Greene's Ana Grace Project foundation, named for her slain daughter, is working with four elementary schools in New Britain, a city just west of Hartford, to teach empathy, combat bullying and help socially isolated children. Her Love Wins campaign, created with a local teacher, builds on the existing curriculum and also brings therapists into the schools.

She is one of several people touched by the December 2012 shooting inside Sandy Hook who have become involved in the broader movement to incorporate social and emotional learning in American schools.

Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was among the 20 children killed, was involved in pushing for a 2015 law that allows federal funds to be used by schools for such things as recognizing the early signs of mental illness and crisis-intervention training. She has a foundation that has developed its own social-emotional learning curriculum and is being used on a pilot basis in four schools: Rippowam Middle School in Stamford; Ka'elepulu Elementary School in Kailua, Hawaii; Washington Elementary School in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Mission Achievement and Success Charter School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"I believe this is an urgent matter," Lewis said. "I believe it would have saved my son's life, as well as the lives of other victims across the United States and reduce bullying."

In the years before the 20-year-old Lanza carried out the massacre, he spent long stretches of time isolated in his mother's home and had psychiatric ailments that went without treatment, according to investigators, who never pinpointed a motive for the shooting.

Marquez-Greene connected with the New Britain school district after she received a letter of condolence from Craig Muzzy, a teacher at Chamberlain Elementary School in New Britain.

Marquez-Greene and Muzzy together developed the program for city schools. Muzzy already had been taking pointers from the Ana Grace Project's website, making a reading-comprehension assignment, for example, about a student who moves into the area from a different country, and leading discussions about how to make people feel welcome.

On Valentine's Day, Muzzy's students took part in "Friendship Day" activities, which included making bracelets and cards for exchange. Marquez-Greene attended and helped introduce a new student, Jaden Garcia, to Muzzy's class. She showed students how to get to know him better by asking about his favorite food (pizza), his pets (he has a cat) and his favorite sports (soccer).

Araceli Buchko, 10, made a bracelet for a friend by using similar conversation starters.

"I wanted to try it out and see if they would like me," she said. "I tried one person and it was good. We found out we had a lot in common, and she became my best friend."

A federal grant covers the $48,000 that New Britain schools spend annually on the Love Wins campaign in the four elementary schools.

The New Britain school district spends $48,000 per year to implement the Love Wins campaign in the four elementary schools. That money comes from a federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant. The Ana Grace Project and a private nonprofit agency provide another $40,000 per year.

School officials say they believe the Love Wins campaign is helping. They say there are fewer reports of bullying, and fewer office referrals for fights.

"But you really know it's working when you see the children interacting with one another, when they spontaneously go over to a classmate and say, 'How are you feeling? You look sad today,'" said Jane Perez, the Chamberlain principal. "You see it in how they work with each other now and collaborate with each other."



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A pedestrian remains in critical condition after being struck by a car in New Milford this weekend.  New Milford Police say the man, 45-year old David Antonio Ramirez, was crossing Route 7 near the Big Y plaza around 8pm Sunday.  He was struck by a car in the southbound lane, driven by 23-year old Melanie Fay.  Ramirez was transported to Danbury Hospital.  The road was closed for several hours while police investigated.  Anyone who saw the accident is asked to call New Milford Police at 860-355-3133.



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There was a scare at Danbury Municipal Airport recently with a drone being flown in the landing path.  City Councilman Fred Visconti thanked the Airport Administrator and Danbury Police for taking care of what he called a dangerous situation.

 

They found the drone in a tree in Tarrywile Park.

 

Drone operators are required to notify the airport or air traffic control tower prior to using the unmanned craft. Danbury Municipal Airport is within five miles of most of Danbury and parts of many surrounding towns.

 

All drones weighing more than about a half-pound need to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, even if only used a toy.  Drones over 55 pounds need to be registered as a different class of aircraft.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton offered an apology in jest, saying he got the great little gift on Amazon for Christmas.



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A lake preservation bill got mixed reviews public hearing at the state capitol.  The bill, proposed by Brookfield state Representative Stephen Harding and Danbury Representative David Arconti, asks that Connecticut lake authorities receive financial assistance to fund efforts for combatting invasive plant and animal species.  Harding says this bill could benefit both Candlewood and Lillinonah.  The bill would distribute the funds from the Community Investment Account.  That account already funds grants to lake authorities to maintain water quality and native species of aquatic flora and fauna.

 

Connecticut Land Conservation Council Executive Director Amy Blaymore Patterson opposed taking money from that Account, calling it an already strained funding stream.  She says invasive species proliferation is a very serious problem, but urged lawmakers find other money for the cause.

 

She called stewardship and management is a critical element of land conservation, and a priority for CLCC.

 

Patterson said they are concerned about the slippery slope of adding a new program to the Community Investment Account.  She says the effectiveness of the Account would be diluted the point where it won't work any more.

 

One option Patterson suggested is allowing municipalities to institute a program, using a conveyance fee on buyers, to be used for stewardship.  There was an appropriation created by former state Senator Clark Chapin to battle invasives that could be used as a model, but recognizing the significant budget issues facing the state Patterson says it might not be feasible this year.



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Brookfield Police are warning of a telephone scam.  Some residents have received phone solicitations from people claiming to be affiliated with the Brookfield Police Department, asking for donations. 

 

Brookfield Police never make phone calls asking for money. 

 

If someone has questions about those representing themselves as Brookfield Officers on the phone, hang up and call the non-emergency number (203-775-2575) for verification. 

 

Some residents have also reported receiving calls from people purporting to be from the Danbury Police Department and Bethel Fire Department.  Police say the sam advice applies, call non-emergency numbers of those agencies to verify.



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Bethel has once again been designated as a "Heart Safe Community".  The Office of Emergency Management thanked various organizations for their work to provide improved cardiac response and care to the residents and visitors.  Many town and School employees are trained in CPR, and  most town buildings and schools have automatic defibrillators available in the event of an emergency.  The Office thanked Bethel Fire & EMS , Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Bethel Police Department Bethel Parks and Recreation, WCHN/Bethel Paramedics, Bethel Public Schools and private agencies.



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Since early January, there have been at least a half dozen near-hits or actual collisions with emergency vehicles on Connecticut’s interstates, including on Route 7 in Brookfield.  The latest coming last night.  In the wake of these incidents, AAA Northeast is urging motorists to be aware of Connecticut’s Slow Down, Move Over law, that requires drivers to slow down and, if possible, move over, when they see emergency vehicles parked on the road’s shoulder. 

 

Fines range up to $2,500 if injuries are caused; up to $10,000 if deaths result. 

 

A public hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee is scheduled Wednesday to hear three bills calling for the strengthening and expanding of the state’s existing Slow Down, Move Over law.



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A Bethel woman has been arrested for shoplifting from Target and fighting with security personnel.  Bethel Police responded to the Stony Hill Road store Friday afternoon by security who was attempting to detain a female shoplifter. 

 

The woman, later identified as Rocchina Pasqualone, left the scene in a car that was traced to a home in the neighborhood.  Police stopped the vehicle and tried to speak with the 60-year old, but she was uncooperative. 

 

She attempted to drive away from the officers who had to break the vehicle's window to stop her.  The stolen items were located in the car. 

 

Pasqualone was charged with larceny, disorderly conduct and interfering with police.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court on the 28th.



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The Danbury Police Department has seen an increase of victims reporting phone calls from the “IRS”. The callers are informing victims that the “IRS” has a warrant for their arrest and that if the victim pays the “IRS” that it will remove the warrant. 

 

But Danbury Police are reminding residents that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment and never call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.  The IRS will never demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. 

 

The IRS will also never require a specific payment such as a prepaid debit card or I-Tunes Gift Cards. 

 

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS--do not give out any personal information.



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A local lawmaker has proposed budgetary changes that start with the General Assembly.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher has introduced a bill about retirement and health care benefits for certain state employees, including the Governor and all state legislators. 

 

The bill realigns non-union state employee benefits to private sector levels. 

 

Boucher says employee compensation makes up almost 40 percent of state spending.  Under the existing defined benefit plans and retiree health care plans, the state faces more than $50 billion in future unfunded liabilities because taxpayers must assume the risks of actuarial underperformance.  If the General Assembly is serious about solving the state’s fiscal crisis, she says her colleagues must recognize that the state can no longer afford these generous benefit packages. 

 

The bill would require non-union state employees to convert to 401K style pension plans and participate in a high-deductible health care plan.  Unionized state employees and retirees would continue receiving the benefits spelled out in their pre-existing union contracts.



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A detour is being put in place for work on the Route 133 DOT project in Bridgewater.  Route 133 will be closed from Route 67 in New Milford to Route 25 in Brookfield starting March 13th.  The detour will be in place for about four months. 

 

Route 133 will reopen at the end of July. 

 

The detour will follow Route 202/7 south to Route 25 in Brookfield.  Northrup Street is closed to all truck traffic except local delivery. 

 

5,200 feet of roadway will be resurfaced.  3,300 feet of roadway will be realigned, along with other safety improvements. A new 750 foot retaining wall will be built on the west side of Route 133.  Richards Corporation was awarded the project last August, at a cost of $5,681,777.  It's scheduled to be completed in August 2017.



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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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