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The situation in Kent overall is calm and coordinated, according to emergency response officials as the town center remains flooded due to an ice jam on the Housatonic River. There is no immediate threat to life or property. 

 

Warmer temperatures are expected this weekend and Kent officials are hoping that the ice jam on the Housatonic River will thaw gradually, over many days.  They say, ideally, a slow thaw combined with a small amount of precipitation should be enough to nudge the jam south.  State Representative Brian Ohler says time and cold temperatures are helping them to gauge the overall severity and predictability of this ice jam.  

 

The Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security are providing assistance to the town.  An incident command system is now in place for Planning and Logistics.  

 

Bringing in a Coast Guard icebreaker is not an option on the Housatonic River in Kent as a massive ice jam persists.  There had been speculation over mechanical intervention, but the river is narrow and there are other obstacles that don't make it likely. 

 

Ohler says logistical support and equipment allocations are ongoing.

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Registration for kindergarten in Danbury has started for the coming school year.  Any Danbury child who will be five years old by January 1st 2019, is eligible to attend kindergarten.  More information can be found no the school district's website. 

 

The Western Connecticut Academy for International Studies, Danbury's magnet elementary school, is now accepting applications from students in Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, and Redding. 

 

Applications will be accepted through Friday, with selection made through a lottery process.  The lottery will be held January 25th and families must confirm acceptance by February 15th. 

 

The kindergarten through fifth-grade school of global studies is located on Danbury's Westside.  AIS engages students in a curriculum and a structure that encourage them to develop and use a global perspective early in their education.

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The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission will hold an extra meeting a month this year.  The last Tuesday of every month will be used to discuss planning issues.  Newly submitted zoning applications will not be discussed at these additional meetings and hearings will not be held.

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Caraluzzi's has submitted an application to the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission for an expansion, and to construct a mixed use building nearby.  The Newstimes reports that the existing Food Mart would be expanded by 1,630 square feet.  The 18,000-square-foot new building on the corner of Greenwood Avenue, Chestnut Street and Nashville Road would have retail on the first floor and office and apartment space on the second floor.  The plans would require a special permit and zoning changes.  A public hearing will be held February 27th.  The plan would include parking, streetscape, and egress improvements.  3 homes on South Street would be demolished and rebuilt as part of the plan.

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A Danbury man has been nominated to serve as Commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs.  Tom Saadi has been filling the role of Acting Commissioner since October.  He says it's been an honor to fulfill the mission of "Serving Those Who Served" and looks forward to continuing that work.

 

Saadi says there is a great team at the department, and it's been an honor to work with statewide veteran organizations, the DVA Board of Trustees, state and federal partners, and volunteers.  He wants to serve with compassion and professionalism.

 

Saadi is a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve serving with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  He joined the DVA in May 2015, first as its General Counsel and then as Chief of Staff.  Immediately prior to that, he served as an Assistant Attorney General and Special Prosecutor, during which he was responsible for litigating numerous cases and supervising investigations to stop false and deceptive practices and recover funds for the State of Connecticut.

 

The 48-year old says he is humbled to serve, not because of the title, but because of the work he gets to do at the DVA.

The mission of DVA is to provide care for the approximately 200,000 veterans living in Connecticut and their dependents.

 

Prior to his current assignment as Chief Legal Officer of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, Saadi served in the 4th Legal Operations Detachment, providing legal support at active duty installations domestically and abroad.

 

Saadi's appointment still requires legislative confirmation.  He took over for former Commissioner Sean Connolly, who is seeking the Democratic Party's endorsement for governor.

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Governor Dannel Malloy says he is very familiar with the stretch of Route 7 in Kent currently shut down because of flooding and an ice jam on the Housatonic River.  He says the flooding is not unusual, the duration and extent of the issue is what's unusual.

 

Malloy says this portion of the river is more difficult to handle because it's more narrow at that point.  It's more adversely impacted because of the rapid drop in temperature.  The flood water froze in place, which makes the situation unusual.

 

Malloy says the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is on the scene and standing by.  He notes that they are keeping a closer eye on the issue today because of the snow storm.

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A New Fairfield man who got a last minute stay of deportation to his native Guatemala in August, has been told that he must now leave the country by the end of the month.  During a weekly meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on December 27th, Joel Colindres was told of the deportation order.  The 33-year old father of two is married to a U-S citizen.  He came to America in 2004 and a paperwork error prompted today's legal situation.  A rally is being held tomorrow for the Colindres family by CT Shoreline Indivisible and Action Together CT.  The rally in Hartford at the Abraham A. Ribicoff Federal Building will begin at 11am.

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Danbury Fire Department spokesman Jamie Gagliardo recently attended a ground and flight school drone operations course.  It was hosted by Fisch Internet Solutions and SkyFire Consulting. This 16 hour course trained participants on best practices of Public Safety Aircraft Operators and the use of drones in Public Safety. There was classroom training followed by a hands on flight training, which included advanced maneuvers such as dropping a life jacket to a stranded victim.

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The Bethel Metro North train station parking lot expansion project is nearly complete.  The $2.3 million project added 130 parking spaces.  Signs and a parking kiosk need to be installed.  Daily parking is free in the numbered spaces until the kiosk is set up.  Once the technology is installed, parking will be 25-cents an hour, the same as before the expansion project. 

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As the Ridgefield School District tackles a projected budget deficit, money they hoped to save on energy costs likely won't be realized.  Superintendent Dr Karen Baldwin told the Board of Ed that the cold snap prevented them from turning down the thermostats at night.  There were also water main breaks affecting Barlow Mountain Elementary and Ridgefield High school.  One Barlow Mountain classroom, was damaged and the break at the High School happened on New Year’s Day.  The deficit is projected at just over a million dollars, but Baldwin believes most will be offset by the freeze put in place in September.

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Ridgefield Police are offering some internet safety advice for people on social media sites.  Police say users should be aware of commenting on posts that ask questions such as "Who was your 1st grade teacher?", "What was your first car?" "Who was your childhood best friend?" and the like.  Ridgefield Police say they may be fishing for password recovery answers because those questions are asked when setting up account security information. Hackers can use the information to get into current accounts or open up new ones in your name.  Not all of these types of posts are scams, but Police say it's good practice to remain vigilant.

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Kent has declared a state of emergency due to flooding caused by a mile-long ice jam.  Waters from the Housatonic River rose and then froze, covering many of the town's roads.

 

Due to public safety concerns, state and local officials are restricting access to select roads and recreation areas.  Enforcement action will be taken for illegal entry into restricted areas.  While this is a rare phenomenon, officials say this is not a time for sight-seeing.

 

Four homes have been evacuated. The emergency shelter is open, but all evacuees have found other housing.  The Kent Volunteer Fire Department is responding to numerous basement flooding calls.

 

(Photo: KVFD)

 

The Kent School, a private boarding school with 580 students,will be closed through at least Sunday.  Kent Center School is closed today, Tuesday.  There will be no HVRHS/OWTS bus runs in or out of Kent today.

 

This declaration opens an uninterrupted line of communication with regional, state, and federal partners.  This will also allow the Town of Kent to – if necessary - request public safety & public health resources, from a large selection pool.

 

There is no imminent threat to public safety. However, the movement of this ice jam and its lifespan is unknown. 

 

Public roads/recreation areas that are closed or have limited access include:
- Route 7 between Route 341 and Bulls Bridge
- Schaghticoke Road
- River Road
- Bulls Bridge Recreation Area
- First Light Recreation Area
-The Housatonic River in these restricted areas

 

If you do reside near the river or in a low-lying area, you should always be monitoring water levels and ice buildup. If you do have an emergency, dial 911.  If you have any non-emergency questions contact Susie Rundall, Kent Emergency Management Director, at (860) 706-3833.

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A Public Informational Meeting is being held tonight in Redding about the proposed realignment of the Long Ridge Road railroad-highway grade crossing.  The meeting at Redding Town Hall is at 7pm, with a snow date of the 23rd. 

 

The work will reconstruct and realign Side Cut Road, Long Ridge Road, and Simpaug Turnpike in the area of the grade crossing to better accommodate low clearance vehicles.  The project will also improve sight distances. 

 

A utility coordinator meeting was held at Redding Town Hall December 7th about the traffic congestion easement project near the post office.  Eversource and Frontier are reviewing design plans for moving utility poles.  The work will impact the railroad tracks so Metro North is being consulted. 

 

The design will address localized flooding as well. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2019, based on the availability of funding. The estimated construction cost for this project is $2 million, with 90-percent paid for with Federal Funds. 

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Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding will seek a 3rd term in office.  He plans to officially announce his candidacy next week.  Harding won a special election in February 2015 and was reelected in 2016.  He represents the 107th District, which also includes parts of Bethel and Danbury.  He is on the Environment Committee, Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee, and Judiciary Committee.  Harding runs a law practice in the Danbury area. He also served on the Brookfield Board of Education from 2013 to 2017.

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Students from each of Connecticut's 5 congressional districts have been selected as the winners of an essay contest sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.  In the 5th District, Kenneth Miller, a student at Sandy Hook School, Karl Miller, a student at Newtown High School, and Kyler Kumi, a student at Rochanmbeau Middle School in Southbury won.  This was the 2nd annual essay challenge.  Some 700 students submitted essays.  The winning ones will be displayed in Murphy’s office.

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The Danbury Police Department is looking to fill more vacancies and is specifically looking for applicants who are already police officers in Connecticut.  Applications will be accepted from January 22nd through February 12th.  People will have to take physical and written exams.  The written test will be held February 17th.  CT P.O.S.T. Certified Police Officers must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, have a valid driver’s license, and be a U.S. citizen.

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A local state of emergency has been declared in Kent.  Some roads that lead to the Housatonic River and recreational areas will be closing. 

 

Flooding is reported on several swollen Connecticut rivers, causing problems around the state.

In Kent, officials said ice jams on the Housatonic River caused the waters to rise onto a private boarding school campus and froze in place. The school's ice rink was surrounded by frozen water.  Kent School Safety Director says they are sending all boarding school students home because of uncertainty with the flooding and ice jams.  They have approximately 520 boarding students and 60 other students.  The school won't reopen until at least Sunday. 

 

The Kent Senior Center is open as a shelter for residents who might be displaced by the flooding. 

 

 

(Photos: KVFD Assistant Chief Gary Hock, Facebook)

 

The weather service says there's also flooding on the Shepaug River in Roxbury due to ice jams.  The high waters are making some roads impassable, and officials are warning people not to drive on flooded roadways.

 

The weather service says the Connecticut River is also flooding, and communities including Hartford, Glastonbury and Portland are either experiencing flooding or being told to expect it.

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New York State Police are investigating the suicide of a Connecticut man.  Troopers located a deceased person inside a vehicle at the Stormville rest area, on Interstate 84 westbound yesterday afternoon.  The name and age of the person is being withheld, pending notification to family members.

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The first designs have been reviewed by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  Evaluation of the 188 submissions will continue this week.  Of the first 30, only one was unanimously approved to move forward. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that the proposal includes a “Sacred Sycamore Tree,” with the sacred soil beneath it,  and a manufactured pool with names of the victims carved in stone surrounding it.  There are concerns with the cost of the project. 

 

According to minutes of the review session, Commission members were looking for designs that were accessible for navigating the property; had some sort of kiosk or shelter and the inclusion of the sacred soil in a meaningful way, but not as the central focus of the memorial.  They also agrees that there should be a distinct place for the victims’ names, instead of scattered around the property.

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A Town Meeting will be held in Sherman on Saturday about funding for emergency communications equipment.  Residents will be deciding on no more than $147,000 from the Capital Non-Recurring Fund to bring the Simulcast system to Sherman.  Originally, the proposal was much higher, but existing infrastructure will be used, dropping the costs.  The town meeting on the 20th is at 10am.

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