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Brookfield budget proposal holds taxes even

A proposed budget has been sent to the Brookfield Board of Finance from First Selectman Bill Tinsley.  The combined education and municipal budget is proposed at $61.3 million, a 1.8 percent increase in spending.  But Tinsley says the budget holds property tax rates at the current level. 


The $39.5 million for education, a year over year increase of 2.4 percent, takes into account a declining school-aged population.  The $21.98 million for municipal operations is a year over year increase of .75 percent.  Tinsley says the plan replenishing the fund balance for the 1-point-2 million dollars overspent by the Board of Education in 2012 and 2013.


There are still some questions on state funding.


Tinsley hopes that Capital projects can be voted on during the budget referendum.  There's funding for roads and reserves for fire/ambulance.  The four year proposal calls for replacing some Highway Department trucks, converting the Board of Education financial system to MUNIS, and a police vehicle replacement program.  The long term debt is for school roofs, the Town Hall roof, a library room and flood abatement fixes in the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood.

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Two public hearings scheduled tongiht in Brookfield

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is meeting tonight to set a date for the budget vote.  One of the items on the agenda tonight is to schedule a Town Meeting and referendum on the budget for the coming fiscal year. 


The Board has proposed holding a Special Town Meeting on April 1st in anticipation of the Board of Finance taking action on the 2015-2016 Capital Projects.  That meeting would be when a referendum date is set. 


Also on the agenda tonight in Brookfield is a public hearing about the 2015 Community Development Block Grant Program, and about creating a post-Employment Benefits Trust Ordinance.  The hearings start at 6:45pm with the Selectmen's meeting scheduled to start at 7:30.

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Workplace fight involving knife lands two under arrest

A workplace fight involving a knife has resulted in the arrests of two men.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reported on Thursday that a Yonkers man and one from New Jersey were involved in an altercation at a Patterson business earlier in the month. 


Deputies responded to R and V Flooring on February 9th.  Two workers fought over how a truck was being unloaded and one man displayed a knife, both said they feared for their personal safety.  48-year old Garfield Barnett of Yonkers was charged with 2nd degree menacing for brandishing the knife.  47-year old Noel Rivera of New Jersey was charged with 3rd degree menacing. 


Each were processed at the Putnam County Correctional Facility and held pending arraignment.

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Driver without valid license causes crash in Patterson

A New York man driving without a valid license has caused an accident, and was charged.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office responded to a report of an accident, with property damage, at the intersection of Route 311 and Interstate 84 in Patterson on Wednesday afternoon. 


Deputies determined that 43-year old Arsenio Ortiz of Putnam Valley had a suspended license. 


He was charged for that misdemeanor, processed at the scene and released without bond for a future court appearance in Patterson.  If found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, Ortiz could face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

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Civilians now in charge of 911 dispatching in Danbury

A group of civilians have moved into the Danbury Police station. 


Today is the first day that dispatching at the 911 center will be handled by someone who is not a police officer or firefighter.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says the civilians have all been trained by the state of Connecticut Emergency Medical Dispatching, so there will be a smooth transition.  A certified dispatcher and certified police supervisor will be monitoring things for the first two weeks.


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says civilian dispatching represents a $1 million-per-year increase of proactive policing for the community. He says residents will see quicker response times by police, more traffic enforcement, and a greater emphasis on quality-of-life enforcement.  Danbury Police foot patrols on Main Street are also making a comeback because of this change.


(Photo Courtesy: @MayorMark)


Financially, after an initial two-to three-year up-front investment, Boughton says taxpayers will see a significant savings.  That will be driven by a reduction in overtime, and a reduction of staffing through attrition.

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Arrest made for fatal 2014 ATV accident

An arrest has been made in the case of a fatal ATV crash last year in Monroe.  Randall Pippa has been charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor and three counts of reckless endangerment.  Police spokesman Lt Brian McCauley told the Monroe Courier that the 36-year old allowed 29-year old John Compton of Bridgeport to drive his ATV with two children on board, and none of them wore helmets. 


Compton lost control of the ATV, struck a curb and it rolled over.  Compton died of his injuries, and it was later determined that he had an elevated blood alcohol level. 


Both children, one of whom is Pippa's daughter, were hospitalized. 


Pippa will be in court Wednesday.

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Many line up in opposition to tolls, 1 local official favors them

There were hours of testimony given during a legislative hearing held this week on a proposed bill that would create tolls at the state's borders.  Hundreds of people also submitted written testimony.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says there is one big outstanding question in the proposal.  The bill doesn't say how much it would be.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says it would have to be $3 minimum, but even that is unrealistic.


Not all of the testimony was in opposition ot the proposal.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi's testimony is titled How barrier-free tolls can save Connecticut.  He supports tolling for three reasons, two of which he says will attract new businesses to Connecticut. 


He says tolls would reduce congestion on the highways.  By charging higher tolls during peak hours, commuters will move to alternative schedules, and public transportation.  Marconi says tolls would be a good way to fund transportation projects.  He says revenue from tolls will allow the state to add capacity, most importantly on the rails.  His explanation is that improved commuter train service will foster business growth along transportation corridors and protect rural areas from sprawl. 


Marconi also said tolls in Connecticut is about fairness. While no one likes to pay a toll, he says drivers do so in the neighboring states of Massachusetts and New York.


In his testimony, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said tolls should not be used "as a thoughtless stopgap measure simply to try to fill a budget hole".  Boughton said installation of a toll system is very permanent and a perennially costly undertaking that remains in place, potentially forever.


Among those submitting testimony is opposition are Danbury Registrar of Voters Mary Ann Doran, Danbury State Representative David Arconti, Probate court Judge Dianne Yamin, Danbury City Councilman Tom Saadi, former Bethel Board of Education chairman Larry Craybas and Ridgefield businessman Bill Starbuck.

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Minors found drinking at two Danbury bars

An inspection of three establishments in Danbury Thursday night to ensure compliance with state liquor laws, found two in violation by selling alcohol to minors.  Members of the Connecticut Department of Liquor Control and Special Investigation Division, and members of the Danbury Police Community Conditions Unit carried out the inspections. 


When inspecting Club Z on Railroad Place, four minors were found drinking at the bar, several others were found loitering in the cafe.  While inspecting Square One Bar & Grill on Mill Plain Road, one minor was found drinking alcohol and three were found loitering. 


An inspection at Mambo's Cafe on Elm Street found no violations. 


No enforcement action was taken that night by Danbury Police, but the Connecticut Department of Liquor Control will be following up with enforcement action.

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Meeting held in Bethel about investigatory process

About 4 dozen parents attended an informational meeting Thursday night in Bethel about how the schools investigate allegations of wrong doing and ways to talk with their children if they suspect something has happened.  The informational meeting was prompted by last week's resignation of a Berry Elementary School staff member.  No new information on the alleged inappropriate activities with minor children.  Bethel Police are not investigating, it's a state police matter.  Though Superintendent of School Dr Christine Carver has said Police have given them no reason to believe anything inappropriate took place at the school itself.

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Most needed records found to prevent $7M tab in Brookfield

The issue of $7 million in state grants that auditors were demanding back unless Brookfield could find missing paperwork from subcontractors, is nearly resolved.  This was in connection with the high school renovation project, completed in 2008.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley says most of the missing documentation was found in the files of former Superintendent John Goetz.


The state Department of Administrative Service had set a deadline of Friday for Brookfield to provide the missing subcontractor bids and receipts, or repay the money.  The deadline was extended to March 6 for the final documentation to be found.  Brookfield has reached out to the project's general contractor for that paperwork.


Tinsley says paperwork likely got misplaced in the change of leadership in the district recently.

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UConn Foundation says open records would hurt fundraising

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The University of Connecticut Foundation has told state lawmakers any law forcing records to be opened to the public would make it harder to raise money.

Representatives of the fundraising organization of the state's flagship university said at a legislative meeting Thursday that negative consequences of requiring open records would apply even if donors' names are excluded.

Josh Newton, president and chief executive of the foundation, said if its records become public, donors may fear the state will rely on foundation money to replace state funding.

Kent state Representative Roberta Willis said the foundation is the same as a public agency and should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The foundation drew criticism for certain spending such as $250,000 to Hillary Clinton for a lecture and $300,000 toward UConn President Susan Herbst's compensation.

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Argument at NY gas station leads to DWI charge for woman

An argument at a gas station has led to drunk driving charges for a New York woman.  New York State Police said Thursday that Ashlee Cerutti of Lake Peekskill was issued traffic tickets for the incident that took place on Sunday.  Troopers were called to help Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies with a verbal dispute at the Shell Gas Station on Danbury Road involving the 28-year old. 


Police determined that Cerutti drove to the gas station while intoxicated.  The Breathalyser test showed that she had a Blood Alcohol Content more than two times the legal limit. 


She was arrested for aggravated driving while intoxicated and will be in Southeast Town Court on March 24th to answer the charge.

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Store clerks charged with selling beer to a teen in compliance checks

A Ridgefield man and one from New York have been charged for selling alcohol to a minor.  New York State Police conducted an underage drinking enforcement operation on Saturday in northern Westchester County using an 18-year old volunteer to try to purchase alcoholic beverages. 


Plain-clothed investigators and uniformed Troopers were on hand for the effort to curb alcohol abuse and DWI incidents among teens. 


72-year old Jay Goldstein of Ridgefield, who works at Salem Wine and Liquor in South Salem and 19-year old Noah Sklarin, who works at Goldens Bridge Wine and Spirits were charged with misdemeanor of Prohibited Sale of Alcohol to a person under 21 years of age.  Each will appear in court at a later date. 


Their employers face possible civil penalties imposed by the State Liquor Authority.

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Two men plead guilty to defrauding employers

A Southbury man and another have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud their employers of more than half a million dollars.  According to court documents, 43-year old Adam Meyers identified projects with profit margins that could be diverted without his boss's knowledge. 


He allegedly submitted purchase orders to 43-year old Jason Torrance of East Haddam, who sent them to an unnamed co-conspirator, who in turn billed Meyers' boss.  Torrence's company also billed Meyers' company.  The co-conspirator kept 10-percent and hand delivered a check for 90-percent to Torrence and Meyers. 


No products on the purchase orders actually shipped to the customer.  The victim companies lost more than $600,000. 


Sentencing is scheduled for May 18th.

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Man pleads guilty to road rage shooting on Interstate 84

SOUTHEAST, N.Y. (AP) Prosecutors say a New York man faces three years in prison for shooting another driver's car during a road-rage incident on Interstate 84 last summer.

The Putnam County District Attorney's Office says a motorist called state police on July 30 to report that a man had been driving aggressively on I-84 in the town of Southeast and brandished a handgun before shooting at the victim's car and hitting a wheel rim.

No one was injured.

Troopers later stopped a car driven by 27-year-old Masey Moshref of Wappingers Falls in neighboring Dutchess County. Police say they found a Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun hidden in a secret compartment under his car's dashboard.

The victim said Moshref had cut him off and became enraged when he blew his horn at Moshref.

Moshref pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.

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Police officer saves woman from train accident

An accident clogging up the highway diverting cars on to local roads, an SUV caught between railroad crossing gates, and a Metro North train on the way.  In Valhalla, it led to a fatal crash earlier this month.  On Tuesday in Norwalk, a similar tragedy was likely prevented by a quick thinking cop.  A Danbury branch train came through the crossing just seconds after the officer leapt to action.


Officer Neil Robertson was in the opposite lane to stopped traffic, when an SUV stopped with its rear axle on the tracks.  The officer got out of his car and signaled to others in the line of traffic to move up, allowing the woman to clear the tracks just before the train came through. 


When stuck in heavy traffic around railroad crossings, Metro North officials say motorists should not drive onto the tracks, unless there is enough room to fully cross.  That's regardless of if the lights, bells and gates are activated.


Robertson has been with the Norwalk Police Department for four years.  Another driver captured the final seconds of his actions on a cell phone camera and posted it to Youtube.  A witness also called the incident to the attention of Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik, who praised the officer’s actions.

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Danbury continues search for Veteran Affairs Director

Danbury is still searching for a new Director of Veteran Affairs.  Longtime Director Patrick Walrdon passed away in October at the age of 81.  Since that time, Mayor Mark Boughton's Chief of Staff has been filling the role.


Boughton says Waldron did such a great job and had so many procedures that he just knew about, it's going to be a big learning curve for the next person coming in. 


The City will work closely with the state and federal VA departments to provide a seamless approach to services offered to veterans.  He wants to work with the next Director to streamline the services provided and make delivery of those services more efficient.


Boughton says the City suffered a major loss with the passing of the 37-year Director.  He said Waldron fought relentlessly to help veterans, serving generations of veterans.  Waldron help generations of veterans, their widows and dependents.

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Informational meeting in Bethel follows staffer's resignation

An informational session is being held tonight in Bethel for parents about the investigatory process at the schools when an incident arises.  This follows two letters last week from the Superintendent about a Berry Elementary School staffer who resigned over allegations of inappropriate activities with minor children. 


Dr Christine Carver said in a letter to parents Saturday that State Police have given them no reason to believe anything inappropriate took place at the school itself.  No additional details from the investigation are being shared tonight.


Tonight's meeting will also cover how to talk to your child if you suspect something has happened.  DCF, Greater Danbury Family and Children's Aid, and the Bethel Police Youth Officer will make presentations. 


The meeting is at 6:30 at Bethel Middle School.

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Border communities balk at Connecticut tolls proposal

State lawmakers to business representatives appeared Wednesday before the legislature's Transportation Committee to oppose bills resurrecting tolls.  Among them was Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan who talked about shifting the burden of road repairs from over usage--to the municipalities.  He says it's similar to truckers, who go as far north as Route 55 in Sherman, to avoid the weigh station.


Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce president Steve Bull says Interstate 684's hairpin turn to I-84 is one of the most dangerous areas and would have to be fixed.  Bull says it's not surprising that people try to go through Ridgefield or other areas to avoid highway congestion, and more would do so in an effort to avoid a toll.


Bull says tolls along the state's borders would discourage out-of-state shoppers from coming to Connecticut. He said Danbury stores generate more than $5 billion in retail sales annually. The region reports $8 billion.  He says it's not just the mall that draws shoppers, it's the people coming to the big box stores like Walmart and Target or the wholesale stores like Costco and BJs, which aren't located in nearby Putnam County.


Bull says the bill an unsound effort to make someone else pay, in this case out of state travellers.  He says it unfairly catches Greater Danbury residents and businesses who must use the road on a daily basis.


Some lawmakers called border tolls an unfair burden on local taxpayers. One bill would provide them an income tax credit.

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Pair arrseted on prostitution related charges in Danbury

Plain clothed officers in Danbury saw suspicious activity Tuesday morning on Stevens Street and ended up arresting two people on prostitution related charges.  Danbury police officers in the Community Conditions Unit were driving an unmarked car when they saw 25-year old Anjelica Miraglia of Danbury waving down passing vehicles. 


The officers followed a van she got into, and then saw that she and 60-year old Michael Edwards of Brookfield were engaging in a sex act. 


Miraglia was charged with prostitution and possession of a hallucinogen and of drug paraphernalia.  Edwards was charged with patronizing a prostitute and possession of marijuana.

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