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There's a public hearing at the state capital today about a bill that would move money around to provide for electrification and upgrades on the Danbury Branch line of Metro North.  Previous bills to accomplish that have failed, but Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle believes this measure has a chance.  She says it would reallocate already authorized bond money for transportation infrastructure projects.  Lawmakers from districts along the Danbury Branch are all backing the bill.  The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee will hear testimony on the bill on Friday at 11am.



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The Danbury Police Department has received several reports of a person posing as a "health inspector" for the city of Danbury and charging business for inspections. The male caller has contacted unsuspecting businesses and demand credit card prepayments over the phone for an inspection that will be performed the following day.  The caller is targeting nail salons.

 

All City of Danbury Health Inspectors have official city of Danbury ID Badges. They will also provide official written documentation of all inspections.  Danbury Health Inspectors do not call ahead to schedule an inspection because they are all done unannounced.  City of Danbury Health Inspectors do not take cash or credit/debit cards.  The business owner would be contacted via certified mail of any fees assessed or due.  Letters for license renewal are always sent out only in the month of May.

 

If in doubt, Danbury Police say you can verify health inspector status by contacting the Danbury Health & Human Services Department at 203-797-4625.



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Some Danbury High School students staged a walk out Thursday morning.  It was done because of what they see as a weak response to harassment on school grounds.  

 

An allegedly intoxicated man, who was a passenger in a car picking up a student after school on inauguration day, waved a Trump campaign sign and yelled at students about being kicked out of the country.  There was no arrest made after the courts rejected an arrest warrant application. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says students belong in class, but he understands and respects their passion for this issue.  The court decided that there wasn't enough evidence to issue a warrant to arrest the man.  He says it's time to accept the court decision and move on.  Boughton says some steps have been taken by the Danbury High School administration to make sure the campus is safe and secure. 

 

He reiterated that he understands the frustration of some students, but at the end of the day the prosecutor declined to issue a warrant.



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Some 300 Danbury High School students walked out of class Thursday morning in protest of what they see as a weak response to harassment on school grounds on Inauguration Day.  Danbury Police were dispatched to the school shortly after 9:30am and say the walk-out and sit-in were non-eventful.  The protest was contained to the football field and bleachers.  After about 30 minutes, most of the crowd dispersed.  Patrol units remained at Danbury High School until about 11:45am when things had calmed down. 

 

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Glass says they heard rumblings Wednesday night that there might be a protest Thursday.  As a precaution, the district contacted the Danbury Police Department to have an extra presence on campus. 

 

Glass called it a peaceful, organized protest that moved from the front of the school to the football field.  Between 50 and 100 students sat on the bleachers while the rest returned to class.  The Principal and the rest of the administration listened to the concerns of a handful of students who spoke on behalf of the student body.  They met for almost an hour.  Glass says their voices were heard.  He says the administration handled the situation well, but noted that there are still some bad feelings among some students and their families over the January incident.

 

Glass says they were impressed with how respectful students were on Thursday.  He added that they would have rather had the students in class, but the protest happened in the best possible way.  There were no arrests and no injuries reported.

 

The only disciplinary action being taken by the school is to mark the students absent for classes they missed.



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A New Milford woman and two New York men have been arrested for burglarizing a Dutchess County home.  On Monday, New York State Police arrested 25 year old Dwayne Robbins, 25 year old James Moore, and 23 year old Kelsey Vincent for their involvement in a Dover Burglary.

A resident reported seeing suspicious activity.  People entering a residence, two males removing items and placing them into a vehicle.

While enroute to the call, Troopers saw a vehicle matching the description. The three occupants were known to Police. The suspects had salvaged the proceeds from the burglary at Southeast Auto Recycling where they were all taken into custody. 

 

  

(Vincent, Robbins, Moore)

 

The vehicle, operated by Vincent, had a forged inspection sticker, the wrong license plates and no insurance.  Vincent was operating with a suspended New York State Driver’s license.

Moore, Robbins and Vincent were all charged with felony burglary and and felony criminal possession of stolen property.  Vincent was also charged with possession of a forged Instrument. 

The three are scheduled to appear in Court on March 13th.



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A public hearing was held by a state legislative committee yesterday on a proposal to repeal the 2013 law allowing undocumented Connecticut residents to get drive-only licenses.  The Department of Motor Vehicles has estimated that nearly 28,000 drive-only licenses have been issued, more than 1-percent of all registered Connecticut drivers.  The DMV says the law has made the roads safer.  Danbury organizers from Connecticut Students for a Dream say the law has allowed them to go to work to raise money for school tuition.



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In wake of President Trump's executive order on immigration, Governor Dannel Malloy has issued recommendations to Connecticut school superintendents and police chiefs about how they should deal with requests from Homeland Security and ICE.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was critical of that move.  He called the directives nothing more than political grandstanding, and fear mongering.

 

Boughton says the City already helps ICE and will continue to do so.  If further orders from the federal government, circumstances could change in Danbury.  He noted that federal law superceds state law.

 

Danbury Police officials say they will work with ICE if requested, but that they don't make the first call under a 2014 state law called the TRUST Act.



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Some Danbury High School students have staged a walk out.  It's being done because of what they see as a weak response to harassment on school grounds.  Several students have posted video on social media of the activity, which now includes a protest outside the school. 

 

District officials say the Deputy Superintendent and others are responding to the high school. 

 

There were some 300 students participating.  They were protesting in front of the school, but were told to go inside.  They then moved to the football field instead.

 

(Hatters Herald, DHS student news paper, Twitter)

 

An allegedly intoxicated man, who was a passenger in a car picking up a student after school dismissal on inauguration day, waved a Trump campaign sign and yelled at students about being kicked out of the country. 

 

There was no arrest made after the courts rejected an arrest warrant application.  Three students were suspended at the time for allegedly fighting with the man.



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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other Connecticut officials are providing police chiefs and school superintendents with guidance on how to respond to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration matters and subsequent memos from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

Law enforcement officials are being told they should not take action solely to enforce federal immigration law, noting how the federal government cannot mandate states to investigate or enforce actions that have no connection to the enforcement of Connecticut laws.

For schools, officials are suggesting any requests from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer for student information or access to a student should be referred to the district's superintendent's office.

 

Connecticut Students for a Dream Campaign and Policy Manager Camila Bortolleto, of Danbury, says Governor Malloy's memo to Police Departments makes it clear - state and local law enforcement agencies are not required to enforce federal immigration law. If local law enforcement agencies choose to enforce federal immigration law, she says it will undermine community safety.

 

Bortolleto says the group will continue organizing to win sanctuary spaces and build deportation defense networks so people brought to this country as children can live a life without fear.



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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are throwing support to legislation that would require Connecticut to join a group of states wanting to pool their Electoral College votes for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote.

Both argue every American's vote should be counted equally.

Wednesday's announcement by Malloy and Wyman comes as lawmakers hear testimony on numerous bills that would have Connecticut join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which 11 states have signed onto since 2006. There's also a bill that would endorse the current Electoral College system.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan called it troubling and says the bill interferes with the constitution.  He said if advocates want to change how the Constitution operates, they should propose a constitutional amendment.

 

McLachlan introduced a bill to protect the sanctity of the electroal  college process as is.

Some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have voiced frustration with seeing another candidate secure the presidency without winning the popular vote.  Wolcott Republican Representative Rob Sampson says he worries candidates would only focus on large population centers.



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Two leases for portions of the former Schlumberger property in Ridgefield have been approved by Ridgefield residents.  A Special Town Meeting was held last night on the leases for the Philip Johnson Building and the structure known as the auditorium, and more than 100 people were in attendance. 

 

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. 



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WalletHub has conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Most & Least Culturally Diverse Cities.  Danbury ranks 39th overall and 10th among small cities in terms of cultural diversity.

 

The personal-finance website's data team took a snapshot of America's current cultural profile, comparing 501 of the largest U.S. cities across three key indicators of cultural diversity.  The data was used to determine the most multifaceted of the group.   Each city was examined based on ethnicity and race, language and birthplace.

 

Analyst Jill Gonzalez says the U.S. today is a melting pot of cultures, thanks to rapid ethnic and racial diversification of the past four decades.  If the trend continues, she says America will be more colorful than ever by 2044, at which point no single ethnic group will constitute the majority in the U.S. for the first time.

 

Danbury's cultural diversity was scored in three categories, where 1 is the most diverse and 250 is the average:

117th – Ethnoracial Diversity
15th – Linguistic Diversity
128th – Birthplace Diversity

 

Ethnoracial Diversity includes indicators from linguistics to ethnicity to where the population was born.

 

About 26-percent of Danbury's population is Spanish-speaking, 15-percent speak other indo-European languages and 4-percent are Asian or Pacific Islander language speakers.

 

20-percent of the population of Danbury was born in the Northeast and 3-percent born in the South.  Another 3-percent of the population was born outside the United States, but in a territory like Puerto Rico.  32-percent of the population was foreign-born.



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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.