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A New Milford man arrested after a well-being check is facing new charges for urinating in his prison cell.  New Milford Police responded to Michael Bennett's home last Monday and tried to make contact with the 29-year old during the welfare check. 

 

Officers could see a bullet on the floor of the home, and because Bennett is a previously convicted felon, he is not allowed to have a gun.  He was charged with criminal possession of a firearm and held on bond. 

 

While being held at the New Milford Police Department, Bennett urinated on his cell floor and stuffed garbage into the toilet in an attempt to clog it.  Bennett was charged with criminal mischief.  He remains held on bond for court appearances on March 8th. 

 

Bennett was sentenced in November for evading responsibility and larceny, and ordered to three years probation for the April and July incidents.  Bennett was also arrested last month for operating with a suspended license.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court on March 15.



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The state's financial woes are putting a project on hold in Bethel.  Plans to install a turf field at Bethel High School, the only high school in Fairfield County without access to a turf field, have stalled because school officials are unsure how much of a cut in funding the district faces. 

 

43,500 dollars has already been spend for designs and related work.  Bid specs were completed as the Governor announced his intention to restructure how the state allocates funding to schools across Connecticut.  While the preliminary work could be used in the future, the project might have to go out to bid again. 

 

Bethel planned this project, in part, because the district has had to rent facilities and buses for indoor practices.  Other games and practices have had to be cancelled because of weather.  Bethel also can not host state championship games on a grass field.



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Beginning this week, Eversource will be conducting aerial inspections of high-voltage electrical equipment on rights-of-way throughout Connecticut.  The work involves the use of a helicopter equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology which can detect potential equipment issues before they occur.  Spokesman Frank Poirot says this semi-annual inspection is part of how the utility tries to provide reliable electric service and reduce the frequency and duration of power outages.

 

Weather-permitting, the aerial inspections will continue through March 1st. They will take place from 8:30am until 4pm.  A blue and silver helicopter with tail # N1431W or a blue and white helicopter with tail # N411DD will be flying low over the region.

 

The inspections will cover 98 municipalities including Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, Monroe, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Salisbury, Washington, Watertown, Wilton and Woodbury.

 

Some of the transmission lines and equipment are located upwards of 100 feet in the air.  Poirot says aerial inspections help engineers detect potential problems in advance, allowing the company to schedule necessary maintenance and upgrades before reliability issues arise.



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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Maryland man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a scheme to bilk Connecticut homeowners facing foreclosure out of thousands of dollars by falsely promising to buy their homes and pay off their mortgages.

Bradford Barneys, of Odenton, Maryland, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He faces up to two decades in prison when he's sentenced in June.

Federal prosecutors say Barneys and Timothy Burke, formerly of Easton, Connecticut gained control of the homes and rented them out to tenants. Many of the properties were ultimately foreclosed upon.

Prosecutors say Barneys participated in dozens of meetings with Burke and homeowners at Barney's law office in Bridgeport, Connecticut from about 2011 to 2014.

Burke pleaded guilty last month and awaits sentencing.



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Two leases for portions of the former Schlumberger property in Ridgefield will be voted on tonight by Ridgefield residents.  A Special Town Meeting is being held on the leases for the Philip Johnson Building and the structure known as the auditorium. 

 

The lease for the Philip Johnson Building is with New Canaan-based design firm BassamFellows.  It's $1 a year for 13 years, with the tenant paying a $600 a month common area maintenance fee.  There are two renewal options, through 2046, with rent rising from $8,495 a month to $10,780 per month. 

 

The Schlumberger theater lease is also for $1 a year, and is with ACT of Connecticut.  The non-profit theater group was founded by four Ridgefield residents: Katie and Bill Diamond, Daniel Levine, and Bryan Perri.  The lease calls for a $400 a month common area maintenance fee.  ACT of Connecticut's lease is for five years, and renewable in five year increments for up to 20 years.  The rent would increase to $2,000 a month for the final five year renewal option.  The tenants would each be responsible for their own utility costs and liability insurance. 

 

Ridgefield officials say the tenants could invest $1 million in renovations. 

 

The town bought the 45-acre property in 2012 for $7 million.



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A Popeyes location is currently under construction in Danbury.  The restaurant will be going into one of three buildings going up on Newtown Road, next to Stop & Shop.  Restaurant Brands International says it's buying Popeyes for $1.8 billion, bringing the chicken chain under the same corporate umbrella as Burger King and Tim Hortons. 

 

The second building under construction on Newtown Road is for a Texas Roadhouse restaurant.  The last building will be home to a dental office and an urgent care facility.

 

Popeyes has more than 2,600 locations globally.

 

Restaurant Brands was created after Burger King, controlled by Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, bought Tim Hortons in 2014. Since then, the company has been striking deals with local operators to open additional locations around the world. 

 

Restaurant Brands has more than 20,000 locations globally.



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4th District Congressman Jim Himes held a "Coffee with Your Congressman" event in Ridgefield yesterday afternoon.  There was a standing room only crowd at Founders Hall, and many in attendance urged Himes to bring their messages back to Washington. 

 

 

Himes then went on to hold a Town Hall style meeting in Norwalk. 

 

While acknowledging problems with the Affordable Care Act, Himes said it has brought insurance to 20 million Americans, including persons with pre-existing conditions.  He expressed his disappointment in the election result, but reiterated a willingness to work with President Trump on infrastructure improvement projects in Connecticut, including rebuilding bridges and enhancing rail service. 

 

Himes said he represents a "purple district" and hopes he represents his constituents in a fairly moderate way.  Some people expressed concerns over women's rights protections and issues around immigration.



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Working with community leaders and tree wardens throughout Connecticut, Eversource’s team of licensed arborists has developed a tree trimming plan for 2017.  Spokesman Mitch Gross says the plan carefully balances the need for electric reliability while maintaining community aesthetics.   It was created by community leaders, tree wardens and Eversource's licensed arborists. 

 

In an effort to reduce tree-related power outages, Gross says Eversource will invest $75 million this year pruning trees that threaten the electric system.

 

Identifying and removing drought-stressed trees remains a priority for Eversource arborists this year due to  the lasting effects of the recent drought continuing to plague the region.  Eversource will be trimming trees along more than 4,200 miles of overhead lines around the state.

 

Among the 131 communities where tree trimming will be performed this year, some of the most extensive work will be done in Wilton along 132 miles of electric lines.  Pruning will be completed in Ridgefield and four other municipalities.  Eversource notifies customers in advance if trimming is necessary on their property.



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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.