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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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Area legsialtor questions drone use bill for law enforcement

A legislative committee is considering a bill on the use of drones by law enforcement.  A public hearing Wednesday drew mixed reviews.  Committee member New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith says he understands that reasonable suspicion has been clearly defined by the courts, but is concerned that it's not defined in the bill.

 

He says sometimes reasonable suspicion comes after the fact, from information gained during an investigation.  Smith says he's concerned with these devices being used for the wrong purposes and eroding privacy rights.

 

Smith says today's technology makes you ask "how far do we go?" because the privacy laws developed in the 60s, 70s, and 80s are outdated.

 

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association expressed concerns with only be allowed to operate the unmanned aerial vehicle for a total of 24 hours within a 30 day period under reasonable suspicion.  They requested 30 hours in 30 days.  The group also opposed destroying the information within a 48 hour period.  They instead want the 48 hours to start after 30 days is up so the material could be reviewed.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union called on the committee to amend the bill to require police to obtain a search warrant before using a drone for surveillance purposes, except in emergency situations.



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Classroom Excellence Grants awarded to 7 Dabnury programs

A new round of grants has been awarded by Danbury Education Foundation.  The Classroom Excellence Grants were presented to seven Danbury public school programs and projects during the Board of Education meeting Wednesday night. 

 

Grants were awarded to applicants who requested funding for projects that are unable to be funded in the regular education budget.  At the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 school year all teachers were provided the opportunity to apply for funding.

 

Five grants of $1,500 each were awarded.  They included a Backyard Biodiversity Program at Rogers Park Middle School, a Strengthening our Students Math Base program at King Street Campus and From Egg to Chick program at Shelter Rock School.  An up to $5,000 grant was awarded for an Accessible Theater program at Park Avenue School. 

 

A supplemental grant went to the DHS Hockey Booster & Blueliner Clubs at Danbury High School. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the number and variety of applications received shows that Danbury teachers are enthusiastic about diversifying the programs their students participate in.



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Ridgefield pursues museum honoring Maurice Sendak

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Three years after Maurice Sendak's death, his western Connecticut hometown of Ridgefield is pursuing a museum honoring the author of "Where the Wild Things Are."

 

The town has its sights on a vacant modernist building in walking distance from the village center, a glass structure designed by acclaimed architect Philip Johnson as corporate offices for an oil exploration company that left in 2006.

 

A panel of local arts figures recently received endorsement from the town and Sendak's foundation to explore the proposal. Members say they have found overwhelming support for the idea to honor a man whose influence went far beyond that of a children's book author.

 

"The fact is, he loved the community, and the legacy of supporting all the arts was and is important to him and all those around him," said Lloyd Taft, a local architect.

 

The 45-acre campus of the energy services company Schlumberger, including the proposed museum site, was acquired by Ridgefield in 2012 for $7 million. On Tuesday, town voters approved the sale of 10 of the acres for residential construction, returning $4.3 million to the town. The first selectman, Rudy Marconi, said the sale could help the museum proposal by giving planners flexibility on decisions regarding the rest of the property.

 

Sendak, who died in May 2012 at the age of 83, was born in New York City but spent the last four decades of his life in rural Ridgefield. Best known for the tale of naughty Max in "Wild Things," his work included other standard volumes in children's bedrooms such as "Chicken Soup With Rice," a book about the different months in a year, and "Brundibar," a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother. He also illustrated his own work, created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera "Brundibar."

 

His 18th-century farmhouse is being preserved as Sendak left it.

 

"That is going to stay just the way it is and be a study center and a place for scholars, artists and others to see how Sendak worked during his lifetime," said Donald Hamburg, a New York attorney who is a member of the Maurice Sendak Foundation's board.

 

Some of Sendak's works were housed at the Rosenbach museum and library in Philadelphia. The artwork has been reclaimed based on instructions in Sendak's will, but the request has become tangled in litigation that Hamburg declined to discuss.

 

Given the location of Sendak's home in a wooded area, the foundation has sought a more accessible place for the public display of his artwork, manuscripts and other ephemera.

 

Marconi said the town knew all along it wanted to preserve the Philip Johnson building and an adjoining auditorium, and after Sendak's death, many in the affluent town of 25,000 people on the New York line had the same idea to use it as a Sendak museum. The building has skylights over main circulation areas and despite a few roof leaks is considered to be in decent shape despite being vacant for so long.



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Lawmakers testify on behalf of Heritage Village residents

Representative Arthur O’Neill and Senator Rob Kane have testified in favor of legislation aimed at providing relief to the residents of Heritage Village in Southbury.  The proposal would amend state law to establish a partial property tax exemption for the installation or improvement of public service company infrastructure.

 

Heritage Village residents face a rate increase of 73-percent. 

 

They say many residents are on fixed incomes and the increase would result in annual payment increases of nearly $300 for each resident. O'Neill says the goal of the legislation is to encourage public service company infrastructure upgrades while reducing the costs passed on to ratepayers. 

 

The bill awaits a vote by the committee.



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New Milford police investigate bank robbery

New Milford police are searching for a man who robbed the Bank of America branch on Main Street this afternoon.  Police say the suspect indicated that he had a gun, though none was shown.  New Milford Police responded to Bank of America around 2pm.  The white man is described as being about 6-foot tall, 30 to 40 years old with a grey goatee.  He was wearing a grey camouflage coat, grey sweatpants and black sneakers with white laces.   Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police at 860-355-3133.



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UPDATED: Steve Harding wins Special Election in 107th District

Unofficial returns show Republican Steve Harding as the next state Representative in the 107th District of Brookfield, Bethel and Danbury.  Harding, a 27-year old, is an attorney at Dean L. Lewis Law Offices in Danbury.  He is currently serving his first term as a member of the Brookfield Board of Education. 

 

Steve Harding received 1,320 votes in Brookfield, Howard Lasser garnered 1,174. 

 

There were two polling districts in Bethel for eligtible voters.  Comined, Harding received 244 votes.  Lasser received 164 votes. 

 

Harding garnered 36 votes in Danbury, Lasser received 12.  There were 655 eligible voters in Danbury.  Participation was less than 1%.

 

 

Harding says while he backs improvements to the rails, there are more pressing needs in the districts.  He says it's important to note that Connecticut has no representation with the MTA board.  He urged caution with over bonding.

 

When it comes to fostering small business in the district, Harding says businesses should work with universities and vocational schools on better internship programs that could lead to job opportunities.  He wants to reduce regulations on small businesses.  He also backs elimination of the corporate entity tax.

 

Harding called the Education Cost Sharing formula patently unfair.  He says the gap needs to be funded, maybe through an incentive-based funding.

 

When it comes to the proposed tax on sugary drinks, Harding says it doesn’t fit in the big picture.  He says while Governor Malloy is proposing to keep liquor stores open longer with lower prices, this kind of tax doesn’t make sense.  Harding was asked if Connecticut needs to revise its gun laws.  He says right now the focus should not be on gun regulation, as opposed to mental health.  He says that’s the real serious issue facing the state at this time.



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Hearing today on bill that would implement border tolls

The Legislature's Transportation Committee is holding a public hearing this morning on a bill that would bring back tolls to the state, but only at the borders.  Nearly 300 people already sent in remarks to the committee via email.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher says the revenue generated by tolls does not outweigh the spending implementation and other related costs.

 

She says the Committee Chairman, who has been pushing this issue for some time, was asked about putting a toll in his District of Rocky Hill.  Antonio Guerrera backed away from that immediately.  Boucher says that seems to be a double standard, and at the end of the day hopes that her colleagues understand that tolls would be political suicide. 

 

Boucher says even the new electronic and high speed tolls can create safety problems.  A family member of those killed in the horrible fiery crash that prompted the removal of tolls from Connecticut roadways, will once again be testifying against the bill.

 

Boucher was travelling recently, and happened to be on city roads around where tolls were on the highway.  She witnessed first hand the massive tie ups that diversionary traffic would cause on local roads.

 

People who can't make it to today's public hearing can submit testimony via email.  The address is TRAtestimony@cga.ct.gov.



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Monroe man arrested for child porn possession

A Monroe man has been arrested for possession of child pornography.  Police launched an investigation last month into 64-year old William Siclari based on a complaint.  A search warrant allowed police to look at the man's computer and they found suspected child pornography "depicting children in sexually abusive sex scenes".  Police say some of the victims were under 10 years old.  Siclari was also charged with promoting a minor in an obscene performance.  He was released on $50,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 4th.



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Intoxicated man hits police car, flees wrong way down 1-way street

An intoxicated man backed into a police cruiser in Danbury early yesterday morning.  Danbury Police officers were helping the driver of a disabled vehicle around 1am when they saw a car pass them erratically.  An officer followed 52-year old Sinvaldo De Oliviera to Maple Avenue, where the man put his vehicle in reverse and hit the police cruiser. 

 

He tried to flee down Patch Street, but hit a snow bank. 

 

De Oliviera was charged with driving under the influence, driving without a license, disobeying the signal of an officer, evading responsibility, travelling the wrong way down a one way street and unsafe backing.  He was freed on $5,000 bond for a March 6th court appearance.



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Routine traffic stop escalates when gun found in car

A routine traffic stop has led to more charges for a Brewster man after a gun was found in his car.  New York State Police stopped 34-year old Francesco Oliveri on Route 6 in Southeast on Friday for a traffic violation.  During the stop, Troopers found a semi-automatic handgun in the car.  A controlled substance that Oliveri didn't have a prescription for was also found.  He was charged with criminal possession of a firearm for not having a valid pistol permit, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.  He was issued a ticket for a court appearance on March 5th.



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Update on flood damage at CH Booth Library

Officials at CH Booth Library in Newtown say it could be weeks not months that the Children's Department is closed for renovations following a burst pipe that flooded part of the department.  The Newtown Bee reports that new carpet and ceiling tiles have been ordered and the books that were not damaged are being stored elsewhere while the repairs are made. 

 

About 10,000 books were destroyed when the sprinkler pipe burst last Tuesday.  The damage was in the children's non-fiction, biography and p-through-z sections. 

 

The last time there was a pipe burst, January of 2014, the Library was closed for nearly three months.



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Ridgefield residents approve Schlumberger land sale

Ridgefield residents have approved the sale of 10 acres of the town-owned former Schlumberger site off Sunset Lane for $4.3 million.  The sale was approved with 1,114 Yes votes, with 450 residents voting in opposition.

 

Charter Group Partners LLC has proposed building up to 54 condo units. The so-called coach houses would cost around $450,000. Charter Group constructed the 120-unit Newbury Village in Brookfield and plans to create a similar development in Ridgefield. 

 

Ridgefield purchased the 45 acre property in 2012 for $7 million.



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Malloy speaks with Biden about tribal issues

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is continuing to voice concerns about proposed changes to rules granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes.

Malloy told The Associated Press Monday he met privately with Vice President Joe Biden about the issue for about 45 minutes during his four-day visit to Washington, D.C.

Malloy and other state officials are worried about making it easier for groups petitioning for federal recognition to gain acknowledgement.  Malloy said he wanted to ensure Biden "understood that our state is a state that could be adversely impacted.''  Some of the concerns are about the Kent-based faction of the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe.

 

The existing federal regulations overseeing the federal recognition of tribes were originally adopted in 1978. They've been updated once in 20 years.



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Youth charged for threatening note found at Newtown High School

A juvenile has been arrested for threatening and falsely reporting an incident at Newtown High School in connection with the suspicious note found there Monday.  Police allege the youth under age 18 wrote the note which resulted in the lock-in open security status being put in place for several hours.  Both charges against the boy are felonies, and the teen will be in juvenile court on March 9th.  The boy's name was not disclosed because he is a minor.



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Motorist pleads guilty in death of bicyclist, leaving scene

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A New Milford man has pleaded guilty to fleeing an accident that killed a cyclist in 2013.

The News-Times reports that Alexander Lee entered his plea in state Superior Court in Danbury to charges of misconduct with a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and evading responsibility leading to death.

The 22-year-old Lee is set to be sentenced March 20.

Court records say Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, a Weston cyclist, was killed after he collided with the passenger side of Lee's car on Oct. 20, 2013. A second car hit the 59-year-old Steinert-Threlkeld as he was on the ground.

Authorities say the second driver stopped, but Lee drove away.

He was arrested Dec. 4, 2013. Authorities say he tried soon after the accident to get a dent in the car repaired.



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Feds: Damage from NY train-car collision cost railroad $3.7M

NEW YORK (AP) Federal investigators say the fiery collision between a commuter train and an SUV that killed six people in the New York City suburbs cost the railroad about $3.7 million.

The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report into the accident was released Monday. It says about 480 feet of third rail was damaged in the crash, as well as the lead railcar.

The Metro-North train crashed into a Mercedes SUV on Feb. 3 at a grade crossing in Valhalla. The impact sparked an explosion and fire that burned out the first car of the train and sent pieces of third rail through the passenger area. The SUV driver and five men on the train, including one from Danbury, died.

Such preliminary reports from the NTSB rarely include major disclosures or conclusions. Those could be several months away.



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Special Election today in 107th state House District

Polls are open in Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Danbury to elect a new state Representative in the 107th House District to replace David Scribner.  The Democratic candidate is Howard Lasser.  The Republican is Steven Harding.

 

Lasser backs the widening of Interstate 84 in the region, expanding rail service up to New Milford and electrifying the existing line all the way down to Norwalk.  Lasser says analysis needs to be done to show the economic impact of these projects will be worth the investment.

 

Harding says while he backs improvements to the rails, there are more pressing needs in the districts.  He says it's important to note that Connecticut has no representation with the MTA board.  He urged caution with over bonding.

 

When it comes to fostering small business in the district, Harding says businesses should work with universities and vocational schools on better internship programs that could lead to job opportunities.  He wants to reduce regulations on small businesses.  He also backs elimination of the corporate entity tax.

 

Lasser says the biggest impediment to a small business in the state is the personal property tax.  Before someone even starts a business, there is a tax on the equipment.  He wants to eliminate or abate them for the first few years that a small business is open.  He says the state is essentially taxing the means of production rather than the results of production.

 

As for the state's new law raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, Lasser says the conversation should be about a living wage.  He says income hasn't kept up with the level of growth in corporate profits. 

 

Harding says the mandate could drive small businesses out of the state or could cause layoffs.  He called it a noble idea, but not a real job growth initiative.

 

The idea of legalizing marijuana for recreational use was discussed. Harding says he's probably the only 27 year old who doesn't support the idea.  He questions whether it's a gateway drug.  Lasser doesn't support the idea.  He wants to see how the three states where it is legal resolves the issues surrounding the legalization. 

 

Harding called the Education Cost Sharing formula patently unfair.  He says the gap needs to be funded, maybe through an incentive-based funding.  Lasser says ECS has never really been fully funded.  He says it was created to equalize spending in all municipalities.  He says high property values around the lakes could be throwing off the average.



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