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Annual Enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans got under way this week, and ends December 7th.  Brookfield Senior Center officials say letters have gone out and they should be studied carefully to learn about premium and co-pay changes, as well as any changes to the medications the plan may cover.  The center has volunteer experts on hand to help eligible residents find out if there is a better plan for 2018 that can save money.

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The Danbury High School Marching Band will host the 2017 Danbury Marching Band Jamboree tonight.  The event is typically held at the High School, but was moved this year because of the ongoing construction project of the Freshman Academy. 

 

Tonight's jamboree is 6pm to 10pm at the Western Connecticut State University Westside Campus Western Athletic Complex. 

 

Bands from the region scheduled to compete include Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, New Fairfield, New Milford, Norwalk, and Shelton, plus bands from Garden City and Port Chester, NY.  The Danbury Drum Corps will be giving a featured exhibition performance, and the Danbury High School Marching Band will perform their 2017 program, “A Heart’s Journey,” in exhibition.

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New Milford Hospital has launch an Eatingwell program to provide Diebold Family Cancer Center patients with the nutritional benefits of Plow to Plate eating, free of charge. 

 

The healthy meals program for cancer patients is being paid for through support from the community.  $34,000 must be raised annually for the program to continue. 

 

The program promotes local foods and agriculture.  The Eatingwell program will serve 350 meals each month to patients receiving cancer care. 

 

New Milford Hospital doctors say nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment which can be associated with side effects that make eating well challenging.  They say maintaining good nutrition can help cancer patients feel better and stay stronger. 

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New Fairfield upgraded its 911 system this week. It was done as part of a statewide project that enhances the equipment of all public safety answering points across Connecticut.  The new system should provide better inter-operability between towns when transferring calls, a better mapping system, enhanced GPS tracking, and automatic reroute in the unlikely event that the Town system goes down.  New Fairfield officials say all of the dispatchers have received formal training on the new system.  The cost of the training is reimbursable by the state.  The cost of the upgrade to the Town was minimal with the State picking up the bulk of cost.

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Federal law enforcement was in Danbury yesterday to assist Danbury Police in carrying out search and seizure warrants at an Ashwood Valley home.  The warrants were granted in response to neighbor complaints of illegal drug sales in the Danbury area. 

 

While conducting surveillance of 43-year old Keenan Moore, he was stopped on Nabby Road.  Moore was found to be in possession of a substantial quantity of narcotics packaged for sale and associated drug paraphernalia. 

 

Moore was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance within 1500’ Prohibited Place, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500’ Prohibited Place, possession of drug paraphernalia and risk of injury to a child.

 
He was released on $50,000 bond.  

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Bethel Police are cautioning residents to a phone scam.  Some people have reported receiving calls from someone claiming to be from Eversource, saying payment is past due and electricity is about to be shut off.  The caller ID even displays the name Eversource.  Bethel Police advise residents receiving such a call to hang up and call the customer service phone number on your bill.  The scam was discussed at the Bethel Police Commission meeting this week.  The caller has said they have so-called supervisors standing by if needed.  They also tell their potential victims that it's too late to pay by credit card, asks them to purchase gift cards and read the number over the phone.  

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For the second year in a row, the Danbury Police Explorer team won 1st Place overall at the annual Cadet SWAT Challenge.  The nine member Explorer SWAT team competed at the event held this past weekend in Fairfield. Explorer Cadets compete individually and in teams through SWAT challenge stations.  The team was trained by Sergeant John Krupinsky and Special Agent Brianna McNally of the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service.  Three 1st Place finishes for Danbury came in Rapid Deployment, High Risk Stop, and Drug Warrant Execution.  Individual and team ranks of 2nd place in the Officer Down event and 3rd place in the Sniper Challenge were also awarded for Danbury.

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5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has raised the most money last quarter, among Connecticut's incumbent Representatives.  According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Esty raised $295,746 in total contributions last quarter. 

 

She has one challenger for the contest a little more than a year away, Craig Diangelo of New Britain.  He raised about $7,500 this year and has loaned his campaign another $5,000.  

 

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, 4th District Congressman Jim Himes raised $157,395 last quarter.  Himes has no opponent for his 2018 reelection race.  Himes has the largest bank of Connecticut House members at nearly $2.3 million.

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State lawmakers are being briefed over the next few days on details of a tentative bipartisan state budget plan, with a vote possible sometime next week.  Lawmakers have been at odds over how to balance a roughly two-year budget that's projected to be $3.5 billion in deficit. 

 

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding says municipalities haven't been able to plan for next year, because they've been focused on the current year.  He acknowledged that changes to the education cost sharing formula are needed, but opposed the deep cuts and funding eliminations in Governor Malloy's executive order.

 

Lawmakers and staff confirmed the following highlights of proposal, stressing they could still change.

- Property taxes on vehicles: The state would continue capping the tax rate that cities and towns can charge on vehicles in local property taxes in the first year of the two-year budget and then entirely scrap the tax in the second year. Lawmakers have not yet decided how to make up the lost revenue to cities and towns, but stressed they would be somehow compensated.

Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said her organization worries the proposal "will simply shift more of the property tax burden to homeowners and businesses, discouraging investment in real estate and undermining our local economies."

- Taxes: Connecticut's cigarette tax would increase by 45 cents in the first year, to a total of $4.35 a pack. Currently, the budget package does not include higher income taxes or sales taxes. Earlier ideas, such as a proposed state property tax on seasonal homes, a 25-cent fee on ride-hailing services and a cellphone surcharge are not part of the tentative agreement.

As it stands, the plan would limit the state's $200 property tax credit against the personal income tax to only seniors and people with dependent children.

- Teacher pension: The blueprint does not shift the cost of funding the state teacher pension plan to cities and towns, as proposed by Malloy. However, it requires teachers to contribute 1 percent more of their income to the fund starting in January 2018. They currently pay 6 percent. The compromise maintains a 25 percent personal income tax exemption for teacher retirement pay. The state's largest teacher union, the Connecticut Education Association, opposes the proposal, calling it tax increase.

 

 

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The state Board of Regents for Higher Education has approved a plan to allow West Conn students from New York and New Jersey to pay in-state tuition.  This applies to both current and new students and will be reviewed in two years. 

 

West Conn has seen a drop in enrollment over the last few years and previously extended in-state tuition rates to Putnam County residents.  That pilot program included six other nearby counties and increased the number of New York students at West Conn more than 200-percent. 

 

In-state students pay $10,418 in annual tuition at Western, while out-of state students pay $23,107. 

 

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian also presented his plan at the meeting for consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges into one institution.  He plans to hold three briefings around the state on the proposal and wants feedback by November 20th.

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The state Supreme Court heard arguments this week in the case of the state versus Lorenzo Adams, which was tried in Danbury Superior Court.  The high court is deciding whether there was sufficient evidence to support conviction for a breach of peace charge stemming from an alleged shoplifting incident. 

 

Surveillance video from the Marshalls department store showed Adams take several items and carry them to a corner of the store obstructed from the camera's view.  The defendant was then spotted again on video taking a large, full bag to the store exit without paying.  After a physical struggle with two loss prevention officers, he dropped the bag and fled. Loss Prevention Officers claim $979 worth of merchandise was in the bag. 

 

The Appellate Court reversed the larceny conviction because the surveillance footage did not show Adams entering the store or placing the items into the bag.  The Appellate Court said it's possible Adams had entered the store with the bag and that the items were from somewhere else.  The Court upheld the breach of the peace conviction. 

 

In the state's appeal, the justices will consider whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the evidence was insufficient to support the attempted larceny conviction.  

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100 baggies of heroin have been seized in New Milford and three men are now facing charges.  Police stopped a driver early yesterday morning for speeding on Bridgewater Road.  K9 Kira sniffed out drugs and a searched turned up the heroin and paraphernalia.  25-year old Jordan Leighton of Easton and his passengers, 26-year-old Kenneth Farber and 45-year-old Brian Lashomb, were charged with drug possession.  Leighton was also cited for speeding.

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After months of no court action, a lawsuit against New Milford Mayor David Gronbach will be coming before a judge.  Mike Barnes, who is chair of the Republican Town Committee, sued as a New Milford taxpayer saying that Gronbach bypassed the Board of Finance.  The Newstimes reports that Barnes is arguing that using money for the Community Center from the Waste Management Fund is illegal.  Gronbach previously said that if everyone can sue the mayor, it would grind government to a halt.  The case will be heard Monday.

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Danbury firefighters responded to Scuppo Road this morning on a report of a dryer fire.  When they arrived, firefighters found smoke coming from the home.  Flames were contained to the machine.  Firefighters determined that some clothing got into parts of the dryer causing a malfunction.  While this wasn't the case, Danbury fire officials say the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.  An estimated 2,900 home dryer fires happen every year, causing 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.

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Winterizing work is being done on Walnut Hill Road in Bethel on Saturday.  An anti-skid treatment is being applied to the road surface on the hill near the Hoyt Road intersection.  The road was recently repaved.  Drivers are asked to avoid Walnut Hill on Saturday from 8am to 4pm.

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Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has signed a power purchase agreement with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative to supply power to the U.S. Navy Submarine Base in Groton. 

 

Cooperative CEO Drew Rankin says the project will ensure the U.S. Navy has long-term, cost effective power delivered on the Base for critical infrastructure. 

 

Captain Paul Whitescarver, the commanding officer of the submarine base, says energy expenses are the single largest cost for Navy installations.  It's about 28 percent of Navy's shore budget.  The fuel cell plant is part of a multifaceted plan to provide new power resources and support the Department of Defense's request to add resiliency and grid independence to key military installations.

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The Women's Center of Greater Danbury will hold the 1st annual "Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance" tonight.  The vigil will feature the Silent Witness exhibit, a collection of statues that represent those who have lost their lives to domestic violence.  It's being held at the Danbury Library plaza from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. 

 

Local victims of domestic violence will be honored as their names are read aloud.  The Women's Center asked that people wear purple or purple ribbons to honor victims experiencing domestic violence, celebrate those who have survived and remember those who lost their lives to domestic violence. 

 

The Putnam/Northern Westchester Women's Resource Center is marking October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Purple t-shirts were sold to County employees through department representatives, with proceeds benefitting the Center.  A group photo was taken on the steps of the Historic County Courthouse this afternoon to draw attention to the subject of domestic violence in Putnam. 

 

The Putnam Northern Westchester Women's Resource Center provides advocacy, education and services to the community to create a safe, supportive environment that eliminates violence against women and children and promotes gender equality.

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NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - A 55-year-old Connecticut man has been arrested following a fatal boating collision on a local lake.

Police say they have charged Mark Rudzinski, of Newtown, with failing to keep a proper lookout and reckless boating in the first degree.

Authorities say Rudzinski was operating a ski boat on Lake Zoar in July when he struck a pontoon boat. The operator of the pontoon, 52-year-old Randall Pineau, was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

His wife, Katherine, was treated for minor injuries at the hospital and later released.

A total of six people were on the two vessels.

Rudzinski is scheduled for a court appearance Oct. 31. It's unclear if he has any representation.

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The City of Danbury has started a transit-oriented development study to in an effort to revitalize the Downtown area.  Residents are being asked for their input in creating recommendations on how to grow and strengthen Downtown Danbury.  City officials are looking to turn the area into a more welcoming, vibrant place to live, work, and learn. 

 

The study started in February.  It's estimated to take a year to complete.

 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says they want to hear from people what they like about downtown, how they get downtown and what's missing downtown.  She says the end goal is to have a more walkable, inviting area while also incentivizing private investment.

 

The presentation and input session tonight is from 6 to 8pm at Danbury City Hall.  The proposal will have to be approved by the City Council.

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A tribute to the 26 children and educators killed on 12-14 is being moved out of Newtown. 

 

Rock of Angels was donated in 2013 and has been located behind St John’s Episcopal Church, but the church has closed and the property is being sold.  The Newtown Bee reports that the the several-ton granite memorial is headed for Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center horse farm in Bristol, located on diocesan property. 

 

None of the 26 families were consulted on the design of the Rock of Angels, created by Florida resident Richard Gray with the help of craftsmen in Maine.  They are involved with the Permanent Memorial Commission. 

 

The Board of Selectmen affirmed at a meeting this year that they are committed to having one memorial, approved through the commission.

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