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A bill setting standards for school officials searching student cell phones and other electronic devices has been approved by the state House.  One opponent suggested that students not bring a phone to school or to leave it in a locker.  Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey told the Courant that the thinking is an outdated approach to technology.  He said smart phones, iPads and other devices are sometimes used for legitimate purposes during the day.  The bill prevents school officials from taking a personal electronic device unless they have reasonable suspicion the student violated school policy.  The bill also limits any subsequent search.  The measure now moves to the Senate.



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Blue-green algae blooms are likely this summer.  That warning from the Lake Zoar Authority.  Exposure in high levels is a suspected cause of illness as severe as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The authority says the neurodegenerative disease can be fatal to pets and livestock.  Runoff from fertilizer, chemicals and waste elevates the blooms.  They float on the surface of the water and look like green paint.  A dry season intensifies the toxicity whereas a rainy climate dilutes the presence of the bacteria-like growth.  



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Members of the now-closed New Milford Sports Club who didn't get a chance to remove personal items from the lockers earlier this month will have another opportunity tomorrow.  New Milford officials have worked out an agreement with the landlord to allow more time to reclaim property.  People must bring their membership cards to enter the building Tuesday between 4pm and 7pm.  State Police arrested business owner Dominick Donofrio Jr earlier this month on behalf of the Department of Labor, which received more than 50 complaints from New Milford Sports Club employees about not being paid. 



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There was a rollover accident on I-84 Eastbound between Exits 4 and 5 in Danbury this morning. The right and center lanes were closed shortly before 11am.  Traffic was backed up beyond exit 2 because of the emergency response.  The accident was cleared around 11:45am.  

 

(I-84 E exit 4 on ramp)

 

Danbury Fire Department Deputy Chief Bernie Meehan found that a driver was trapped in his Oldsmobile. Danbury firefighters, utilizing the "Jaws of Life" tool, cut away the roof of the vehicle so the operator could be removed and taken care of by Danbury Paramedics. The sole occupant of the vehicle was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

 

(DFD)



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One man injured in a motorcycle accident in the Town of Washington over the weekend has died.  State Police say 25-year old Thien Truong had been airlifted to the hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries. 

 

The East Hartford man lost control around a curve on Route 109 near Popple Swamp Road around 8pm Saturday.  He flipped his bike and hit a guardrail. 

 

A motorcyclist following him also lost control on the curve.   30-year old Michael Masser of Hartford was thrown from his bike and transported by ambulance to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.



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A Brewster man is due in court today on DWI charges stemming from a hit and run accident.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received calls of an erratic driver in Brewster May 7th.  The driver nearly hit a car in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts, almost hit the building and then almost caused an accident while pulling out onto Route 22. 

 

Deputies spotted the car hit another vehicle in traffic on Main Street and then drive off.  The driver, later determined to be 28-year old Obdulio Mendez-Perez, stopped for police. 

 

He was charged for driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and half-a-dozen other infractions for the alleged erratic driving. 

 

No injuries were reported in the crash.



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Newtown Police are asking for the public's help in solving a January motorcycle accident.  Police continue to investigate the crash that killed 42-year old Michael Defusco of Southbury on January 19th.  The accident happened on Mount Pleasant Road near Reservoir Road.  The motorcycle was found down an embankment on the southbound shoulder of the roadway around 3pm.  While some witnesses have been interviewed, Newtown Police say more information is needed.  Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or arrived shortly after the accident is asked to call Newtown Police.



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About 200 acres of Schaghticoke Mountain burned in a brush fire last week before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.  17 departments helped keep the blaze contained in a remote area near the Appalachian Trail in Kent. 

 

The fire, which broke out Wednesday, disturbed the dens of the Timber rattlers, and well over a dozen snakes were spotted fleeing the heat, including one that slithered between the legs of a firefighter. 

 

 

Now that the fire is out, wildlife experts will go in looking to rescue any injured snakes.



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Graduation ceremonies were this weekend for a number of higher education institutions in Connecticut, including for Western Connecticut State University students. 

 

The 119th Commencement was held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport on Sunday.  More than 1,200 undergraduates, 112 masters and 8 doctoral degrees were awarded.  This is the third consecutive year that the ceremony will take place at the Fairfield County venue.

Graduating senior Madiha Khan, of Danbury, delivered the Keynote Address.  During the ceremony, Khan received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Biochemistry option. She is one of two WCSU students to receive this year’s Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

 

Presidential Medals were awarded to WCSU alumnus Attorney Robert Yamin and Danbury Probate Judge Dianne Yamin.



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The Danbury Police Department will be conducting a Click It or Ticket Campaign heading into the summer driving season.  The increased enforcement will take place starting today and continuing through June 4th. 

 

The Danbury Police Department will ramp up patrolling and be on the lookout for seat belt violations.  With Memorial Day weekend approaching, the department intends to promote safe driving and increase protection for motorists. 

 

With more vehicles on the roadway, Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says this means more potential for more crashes and more fatalities.  He says wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to save your life while on the road.



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Manufacturing & Technology Day was held at the State Capitol this week. 

 

Bethel state Representative Will Duff met with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.  BI has three business areas; human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing.  Duff called Boehringer Ingelheim an essential economic engine in the Greater Danbury region, providing over 2000 jobs and indirect employment to thousands more. 

 

New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee met with several businesses and organizations related to state manufacturing.  He discussed the industry and its role in the state's economy.  Buckbee said manufacturers face a unique set of issues, stifling regulation and off-shore competition.  He wants to offer more incentives for locally manufactured products to be used in state projects relating to aerospace, defense, and infrastructure.

 

More than forty Connecticut manufacturers exhibited their products and services at the State Capitol as part of a Manufacturing & Technology Day celebration.  According to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, more than one-half of the top 100 companies headquartered in Connecticut are manufacturing firms.  



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Newtown Youth and Family Services held an open house event this week showcasing recent renovations to the facility.  State Representative Mitch Bolinsky visited and noted that the community depends on the services and programs offered at NYFS. 

 

He touted the organization for coordinating with other community resources and outside-the-box therapy disciplines, in addition to their regularly-scheduled preventative interpersonal and safety programs. 

 

(Photo: Bolinsky speaks with Matt Ariniello, NYFS Operations and Development)

 

The recent renovations will provide more space for NYFS to administer the programs and services.  NYFS is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families by providing programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.



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Danbury Day was held at the state Capitol this week.  Legislators set up a reincarnation of the Danbury State Fair to celebrate the Hat City's history.  Freshman lawmaker Michael Ferguson volunteered to organize the annual event that in addition to featuring fair food, honored four community members and the principals of Danbury's schools of distinction. 

 

 

Representative Bob Godfrey presented General Assembly citations to Danbury NAACP President Glenda Armstrong and Danbury Nurses Union President Mary Consoli for their lifelong dedication to the improvement of Danbury.  Senator Mike McLachlan presented General Assembly citations to CityCenter Danbury founder Frank Capiello and Rizzo Companies founder and CEO Anthony Rizzo Sr. for their years of service to the city and its residents. 

 

Representative David Arconti said he hopes those who attended the event will be motivated to visit and learn more about Danbury.  Attending his first Danbury Day at the Capitol, Representative Will Duff said the event was an opportunity to showcase the positive aspects Connecticut’s seventh largest city and celebrate its diverse culture  Representative Stephen Harding touted Danbury for its rich history, culture, and economy. 

 

Representative Richard Smith said he hopes that having six city schools named as Schools of Distinction will show businesses that Danbury is committed to education and can provide the workforce they need.  The schools and principals honored are Ellsworth Avenue School with Dr. Anna Rocco, Hayestown Avenue School with Stephanie Furman, Mill Ridge Primary School with Dr. Mary Cronin, Morris Street School with Bill Santarsiero, and South Street School with Heather Pellicone. A sixth school, Park Avenue School with principal David Krafick was not present to accept a citation.



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A Danbury student has been selected to receive the 8th Grade Excellence in Citizenship Award from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  Broadview Middle Schooler Charlie Wimer was chosen for his  volunteer service to the community, involvement in citizenship or character building organizations, good scholastic record, and leadership ability to motivate others to act to benefit the community. 

 

One eighth-grade student from each participating school is selected who demonstrates the qualities of active participation in civic or community activities, good scholarship and school involvement. 

 

School officials say Wimer has been a leader the Unified Sports program where he exemplifies the qualities of acceptance, kindness and inclusion. He has prepared and presented schoolwide events and grade-level assemblies for the programs of the Sandy Hook Promise.  He was a key organizer for the Danbury Middle School Leadership Conference. He is also a straight-A student.



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Following a minor Metro North train derailment on the New Haven line yesterday, officials are renewing their calls for implementation of Positive Train Control. 

 

A dozen people were injured when 5 of the train cars left the tracks around 5:15pm in Rye, New York as the passengers traveled to Connecticut.  Four people were hospitalized for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.  Eight others refused medical attention. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says it's been nearly a full decade since Congress first mandated the basic technology.  He called on Metro North to investigate if PTC could have prevented or mitigated this latest incident.  Blumenthal also wants Metro North to explain how a train in a low-speed area jumped the tracks, injured passengers, and triggered delays throughout the system.  The railroad is facing a December 2018 deadline to install the technology. 

 

PTC was first urged by the National Transportation Safety Board in 1970 after a train collision in Darien. It's a GPS-based system designed to prevent certain types of train accidents caused by human factors.  In 2008, Congress mandated railroads install PTC by the end of 2015; however, Congress extended the deadline to 2020 last year.



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A Stranger Danger class is being held in Monroe elementary schools following an incident earlier this week in which a Stepney School student just getting off the bus was approached by a couple in a minivan.  Monroe Police say a Stranger Danger class was held this past fall.  The next round will begin next week.  The Detective Division continues to investigate leads in the case while the patrol division remains on the lookout for the couple.  Monroe Police are reminding residents to talk with their child about strangers.



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The 2017 Mothers Against Drunk Driving awards have been presented.  This is the 2nd year in a row that Monroe Officer Michael Johnson has been a recipient for his efforts to keep drunk and drugged drivers off the roads.  Redding Officer Michael Livingston was honored for his DWI enforcement activities during the midnight shift.



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Homelessness in Danbury has dropped 12-percent over the past year.  The result was part of a report by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness on their annual Point in Time Count.  110 people were determined to be homeless in January during the the count.  This is the third year in a row that homelessness has gone down in Danbury. 

 

Coalition Executive Director Lisa Tepper-Bates says a separate count of homeless youth in Connecticut was also conducted.  4,396 people under the age of 25 are homeless, or facing severe housing instability.  She noted that the practice of couch surfing is very dangerous, and this is an issue they hope to address soon.

 

Tepper-Bates says coordinating resources and ending duplicated efforts by municipalities and non-profits has led to the overall decline.



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New Fairfield officials have scheduled a special town meeting to decided on a proposed ordinance aimed at stopping a plan to use herbicides in Candlewood Lake.  The meeting is set for 7pm on May 30th. 

 

The group Candlewood Voices filed two petitions calling for a townwide vote whenever chemicals were proposed to go into the lake.  The Board of Selectmen met yesterday on the revised petition, after calling the first one unlawful and not subject to an ordinance that would have triggered a special town meeting. 

 

New Fairfield scaled back its plans to only add a milfoil-killing herbicide to 10 acres at Shelter Harbor Cove, down from a proposed 60 acres. 

 

Candlewood Voices co-founder Carolyn Rowan says even that plan sets a bad precedent for use of chemicals in the lake.



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A brush fire is still burning in Kent.  The blaze broke out Wednesday in a remote location near the Appalachian Trail on Schaghticoke Mountain.  The fire consumed more than 60 acres by yesterday afternoon. 

 

The fire had spread to some rattlesnake habitats and officials say the displaced snakes made for a challenge to an already difficult response.  Firefighters have to carry in water to try to contain the flames.  The timber rattlesnakes are venomous, but there have not been any reports of bites.  

 

Four firefighters have been injured while fighting the blaze. 

 

The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.