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Thirteen current and former MTA workers were indicted yesterday on charges they cheated on safety tests required to become Metro-North engineers and conductors.

The employees, which include four Westchester County NY residents, are accused of sharing copies of the questions and answers before they took the tests, which help determine how much a candidate knows about critical information including train traffic signals, speed limits and emergency procedures.

Nine of the employees were suspended from their jobs on Friday, and four have been fired. 

Metro-North called the allegations "extremely disturbing," but said it's "confident that the railroad is safe for its customers and employees, and that every engineer and conductor is competent and qualified to do their jobs."

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A Putnam County restaurant owner has been found guilty of groping a waitress. 

 

A jury returned the unanimous verdict against Lani Zaimi, owner of the former Ariano’s Restaurants in Carmel and Mahopac, last week.  The Putnam County District Attorney's office announced Monday that the 45-year old was found guilty of forcible touching and sexual abuse for the January 2014 incident. 

 

Zaimi remains free on bond for an August 26th sentencing date.  Zaimi faces deportation due to a 2nd conviction for a sexual offense. 

 

He also faces a retrial for the rape of another waitress in July 2013.  She was 18 years old at the time.  That trial will start August 3rd.

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Connecticut's top elected leaders are declaring victory in their efforts to see that it does not become easier for local American Indian tribes to obtain federal recognition.

The Obama administration on Monday is announcing changes to regulations that have been criticized as cumbersome and lacking transparency.

Proposed new rules that were first issued in draft form two years ago were seen by officials in Connecticut as clearing the way for three groups that previously had been denied federal recognition to win the prized status.

 

That includes the Kent-based Schagticokes.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut's two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, said at a news conference Monday afternoon that recent revisions will prevent those groups from winning recognition and pressing claims for surrounding lands.

Connecticut has two federally recognized tribes, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says Western Connecticut property owners can breathe a sigh of relief that a casino won't come to Danbury or Kent.  He wrote to the BIA nine months ago, warning that allowing other Connecticut tribes to seek recognition could potentially jeopardize the state's agreements with the Mohegans and Pequots.

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A Shark Tank competition for kids is coming to Bethel.  Based on the reality TV show of the same name, Pro Access Bethel Teen Center is encouraging students in 7th through 12th grades to learn about and come up with a business idea to present to coaches and executives.  Center Director Hilda Maria Valdespino says they are partnering with Junior Achievement for the first time for this event.

 

Teens who want to participate can sign up through July 3.  There is no cost to compete. 

 

Participants will learn the tasks necessary to launch and run a new business, including identifying needs, solving problems and developing products that consumers would want to buy. Students – who can work as a team or individually -- don’t need to have a formal business idea to start the program but will be coached on what it takes to start a business or service for the community.

 

The kickoff and information session will be July 8 at 6 pm with an optional showing of a Discovery Channel documentary on sharks to conclude the evening.

 

The program will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 pm for three consecutive weeks beginning on July 14 and ending July 30. The Shark Tank competition will take place on August 4 when competitors will present their business plans to “The Bethel Sharks,” local business executives, entrepreneurs and community members who have volunteered to judge the contest.

 

Sign up for the competition by the July 3 deadline by contacting Hilda Maria Valdespino at at hilda@bethelproaccess.org.

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The Federal Hockey League has approved a team for Danbury.  Hockey will be back at the Danbury Ice Arena next season with a yet-to-be named team co-owned by Bruce Bennett.  The Danbury resident, who owner Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton, has signed a six year lease with Eagle Ice Sports. 

 

There will be six teams in the Federal Hockey League including the recently announced Stateline Whalers in Brewster.  The future of hockey in Danbury was uncertain after the owner of the Danbury Ice Arena and the now inactive Danbury Whalers failed to reach agreement on the second half of a lease. 

 

The new Danbury team will be coached by Phil Esposito, who resigned as head coach of the Danbury Whalers during that dispute.  The other owners of the Danbury team are a Brookfield insurance agency owner, Edward Crowe, and the owner of the former Berkshire Battalion, William Dadds.

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A Monroe woman is due in court Friday for an incident that happened earlier this month where she allegedly smashed a wine glass against a restaurant wall and locked herself in the bathroom.  Monroe Police were called to Tula on June 6th on a report from a patron saying that a woman wearing a hoodie and pajama pants walked in, sat at their table and drank their wine. 

 

The woman, later determined to be Audra Smith, smashed the glass, left and returned a short time later, locking herself in the bathroom.  Monroe police say she told responding officers that she had a medical condition.  Smith was taken to the hospital as a precaution. 

 

She turned herself in to police on Thursday for charges of breach of peace and criminal mischief.

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A "topping off" ceremony is planned at the new Sandy Hook School Tuesday.  The Newtown Bee reports that the final steel beam will be placed on the structure of the building.  It will be signed by the construction team and marks a milestone in the building process. 

 

The latest photos of the construction site have been posted to the Sandy Hook 2016 website showing exterior and interior progress on the various wings. 

 

 

The Public Building and Site Commission's meeting this month gave approval to two playgrounds for the site.  The construction project is being paid for with a $50 million grant from the state.

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In Danbury ....A fire weekend is still under investigation .   

A fire on the first floor of a condominium on Crows Nest Lane was quickly extinguished Saturday afternoon.

The fire at Birchwood Condos began about 12:30 p.m. in a bathroom. 

 Asst. Deputy Chief Mark Omasta said the blaze was contained to one unit and was quickly put under control. Omasta said there was nobody home during the fire. The cause is under investigation.

A neighbor who smelled and saw the smoke called 911.

The assistant chief said firefighters “made an aggressive attack” and knocked down the fire before it could spread to neighboring units.

However, there was some structural damage to the floor between that unit and the one above it so both families had to spend the night elsewhere.

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Ridgefield Police say a car chase ended Saturday night when a woman crashed a stolen van into Tony’s Corner Deli on Main Street.

19 year old Giselle Rivera of the Bronx led New York and Ridgefield police officers on a chase through the downtown area about 8 p.m. Saturday. 

Police officers from Lewisboro, N.Y., noticed Rivera was driving erratically and followed her into Ridgefield on Route 35. Ridgefield police officers tried to help the Lewisboro officers stop Rivera, but she “fled and drove recklessly” northbound on Main Street before crashing into the deli. 

Rivera has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, interfering with an officer, engaging in a pursuit, and operating without a license. 


She was held on $10,000 bond.

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A bill about animal-assisted therapy services made it through the legislative session which ended this month and was sent to Governor Malloy last week for his signature.  The bill requires the Department of Children and Families commissioner to develop a protocol to identify and mobilize animal-assisted critical incident response teams statewide.  That's a change from just a canine crisis response team. The bill extends the deadline for this requirement to January 1st 2016.

 

It requires the teams to be available to provide animal-assisted activities, not just animal-assisted therapy. As under current law, the teams must operate on a volunteer basis and be available on 24 hours' notice.  The team is defined in the bill's new language as a team of registered handlers and therapy animals that has been identified by DCF and can provide animal-assisted activities to individuals during and after traumatic events.

 

State Representative Diana Urban says this bill stemmed, in part, from the response to Newtown on 12-14.  She says Allen's Angels, Canine First Responders, Soul Friends and Tails of Joy among others. 

 

The bill also requires the DCF commissioner to develop a protocol by that deadline to identify and credential animal-assisted activity organizations and animal-assisted therapy providers in the state.  The bill does not specify how DCF will credential the organizations and providers.

 

The DCF Commissioner must also develop and implement training for certain department employees and healthcare providers on the healing value of the human-animal bond for children, value of therapy animals in dealing with traumatic situations, and benefits of animal-assisted activities and therapy.

 

The measure passed the Senate unanimously. 

 

There were just 9 votes in opposition in the state House.  Several of those voters came from Greater Danbury area lawmakers.  They are Newtown Representative Mitch Bolisnky, Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford, Danbury Representative Dan Carter, Richard Smith of New Fairfield and Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski.

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Retiring Western Connecticut State University President James Schmotter was celebrated at an event Friday night in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal issued proclamations in recognition of Schmotter's work.  Western also made a presentation.  The James W. Schmotter Student Assistance Fund is being created with proceeds from the event.

 

The fund is being developed as a resource for seniors on the cusp of graduating, who may not be able to do so because of unexpected costs. 

 

University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says students who run into some kind of financial trouble during the semester will be able to look to this fund to help them out.  He gave the example of if they need last minute money for books.  There is nothing like this currently at Western.  Schmotter specifically wanted to direct the money from Friday's event to this concept.

 

Steinmetz says a lot of students also work and there's not a lot of margin for error if something bad happens, like if their car breaks down, and they need financial help or they drop out of school.  That's something that Western is trying to address with this fund.

 

Schmotter joined Western from Western Michigan University, where he was dean of Haworth College of Business and professor of management. His teaching career started at Northwestern University and he first became an administrator at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He also served at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management and was dean of the College of Business and Economics at Lehigh University.

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State lawmakers are headed back to the capital for a special session.  The two-year, $40 billion Democratic budget narrowly passed the General Assembly on the final day of the legislative session, and included controversial business tax increases.  Southbury Republican state Senator Rob Kane thinks the budget should be vetoed by Governor Malloy.

 

Kane says Republicans and others have the votes to back the Governor up if he decides a complete overhaul is needed.

 

Kane says he will carefully watch the budget implementors, and go line by line, to ensure "there's no funny business taking place".  He wants to make sure there's no pet projects added in at the last minute, considering how close the budget vote was and how late in the session it came. 

 

Those bills will be acted on during a special session next week.

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Due to the inclement weather, the Danbury Town Park Fireworks have been postponed to a date to be determined. The Sunday forecast calls for the possibility of afternoon showers with a 40 to 60% chance of rain in the evening.

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Ridgefield police have arrested four people on criminal mischief charges after two cars were damaged.  Police officers were called to a Great Hill Road home Wednesday afternoon by a woman who said her son and a friend went to a Walnut Grove Road home in retaliation for her car being attacked with baseball bats and had her tire slashed. 

 

Police say a man at the second home was hit in the leg with a 2x4 during that incident and was treated by emergency medical responders.  While at the Walnut Grove Road home, police found two grams of cocaine packaged in five bags, and 25 grams of marijuana. 

 

19-year old Daniel Benoit and 18-year old Matthew Obernier, both of Ridgefield, were released from custody.  20-year old Jason Mayerman of Ridgefield was also charged with assault and released. 

 

18-year old Joseph Santoro of Danbury was also charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, and possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana.  He was held on bond for a July 25th court appearance. 

 

The other three are due in court on July 22nd.

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Candlewood Lake, the largest lake in Connecticut, has been stocked with nearly 4,000 sterile grass carp.  This is the single largest stocking of its kind in the history of the state.  A ceremony to mark the occasion was held Friday morning at the New Fairfield Town Beach by the Candlewood Lake Authority, with representatives of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and elected officials.

 

The grass carp are being used to better control Eurasian watermilfoil, an aquatic invasive species that has plagued the shoreline for years.  Milfoil can clog boat engines and be hazardous to swimmers, who can become entangled in the plant. 

 

It was a day-long stocking event of the sterile grass carp, which can live up to 20 years.

 

The Authority, with the backing of the five municipalities surrounding the Lake, applied for and was awarded a grant from the state for the program.  CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano says the amount of carp that can be stocked depends on how much acreage of milfoil is on the lake. 

 

(Allen's Cove)

 

The program also includes water quality monitoring, weed mapping and analysis.

 

In years when there is a shallow drawdown of the water, there can be as much as 500 acres of milfoil, and during a deep drawdown it's about half that amount.  Marsicano hopes that these carp will help keep every year in that lower range.

 

The CLA is not stocking so many that they will eat everything, but hoping it's enough to keep milfoil at a management level.  Grass carp have been successfully used in other water bodies across the country, including Ball Pond in New Fairfield.

 

(Turtle Bay Aerial)

 

Marsicano says it could have a profound impact for many different groups, not just recreational users but for Lake owner, First Light Power, as well.  If this stocking program is successful, the question may come up in the future of if there is a need for a deep drawdown any more.

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A Patterson woman has been arrested for drunk driving following a car crash.  New York State Police Troopers were dispatched to a two-car collision on Fairfield Driver in Brewster Monday, but found one driver had fled the scene.  45-year old Michelle Drummond was located a short time later, and determined to be intoxicated.  The investigation revealed that she had a previous DWI conviction last year.  Drummond was arraigned and released.  She is due back in Patterson Town Court on July 9th.

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An Easton man has accidentally won a $30,000 lotto prize.  Bob Sabo says rather than waiting in line at the counter of a Fairfield Stop & Shop to purchase his lotto tickets, he used a nearby instant ticket vending machine for what he though were two $20 tickets. 

 

But he didn't have his glasses on and actually bought a 30X Cash ticket for $30.  When he got home and scratched off the ticket, it was a winner.  He says the spur of the moment choice paid off. 

 

The Stop & Shop location will receive a $300 check from the Connecticut otter for selling the top prize winning ticket.

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A driver using a cell phone caused an accident during Thursday morning's rush hour drive, sending one person to the hospital  The accident happened on I-84 eastbound in Newtown around 7:45 am. 

 

State Police say an Akron Ohio man, Mohammed Aldousari, was travelling in the right lane and lost control striking a Ford Explorer in the left lane.  The SUV spun out across the highway and into the metal beam guardrails off the right side of the highway.  Aldousari's car continued into the center median and struck the metal guard rail there. 

 

A passenger in the Ford, a 17-year old boy from Carmel New York, was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  Both vehicles were towed from the scene. 

 

Aldousari was given a ticket for failure to drive in the proper lane, and operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device.

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A local lawmaker is calling for state agencies to review Eversource Energy's performance in getting power restored in Redding after Tuesday's storm.  More than half of the town was left without electricity, and 12 sections of primary high voltage lines along with several damaged utility poles had to be repaired. 

 

16 electric crews and 16 tree crews responded. 

 

Redding State Representative John Shaban says the response time and coordination from Eversource could have and should have been better.  He says that's expecially in light of the lessons learned and reforms put in place following the last two October storms.

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A Seymour man has been arrested for assaulting Danbury first responders.  Danbury Police responded to a report of an unconscious man on Main Street  Tuesday afternoon.  According to the report, the man woke up and assaulted fire and medical crews.  He reportedly kicked the firefighters and emergency medical personnel.  

 

44-year old Abraham Muniz then ran away through a parking lot where Danbury police officers caught up with him.  The Seymour man was taken into custody without further incident. 

 

Muniz was charged with two counts of assault on emergency personnel.

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Boy is confused by weird object.  What is it?  It's a pay phone.

 

 

NOOOOOOO!!  Where's the spell check?

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