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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Two former Connecticut Supreme Court justices advised Republican state lawmakers in last month's successful effort to reject Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's nominee for chief justice, according to emails and a state lawmaker.

Hearst Connecticut Media reports that former Justices C. Ian McLachlan and Peter T. Zarella aided lawmakers in defeating the nomination of Andrew McDonald, who would have been the first openly gay state chief justice in the country.

The media group obtained emails showing Republican lawmakers asked the former justices about McDonald's legal decisions.

McLachlan did not respond to requests for comment. Zarella says he didn't have any contact with legislators regarding McDonald.

McLachlan's cousin, Republican state Sen. Michael McLachlan, said they and Zarella discussed McDonald's nomination.

Malloy called McLachlan and Zarella ``cowards'' whose action ``undermined'' the judiciary. 

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A group of Western Connecticut State University students are ill from an unknown virus.  About 100 students have come down with similar symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.  Spokesman Paul Steinmetz says the university is working with the Department of Public Health to identify the source of the illness.  Email messages have been sent to inform students of the outbreak, and the school closed one cafeteria and multiple common areas for cleaning over the weekend. 
 
West Conn is closed today as a precaution to protect the university community from further infection and spread of the disease.  Maintenance crews have been sanitizing and disinfecting both campuses. 
 
West Conn officials do not yet know what caused the problem, though they are certain that it is not e-coli.  Only two incidents of e-coli illness have been reported in Connecticut, and not in the Danbury region. 
 
No new illnesses were reported in the residence halls overnight Saturday, and the University Police did not transport anyone to the emergency room.
 
For students who are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea or stomach pain, follow these guidelines:
1. If possible, go home to limit spread to others on campus.
2. Drink plenty of fluids.
3. Clean all surfaces contaminated with vomit or stool with a bleach solution. Launder soiled clothes right away. Students who live on campus should contact Housing and Residence Life staff to assist with room cleaning if necessary.
4. If you become dehydrated, go to the nearest emergency department. (Signs of dehydration include dizziness, dry mouth, decreased urination, headache, muscle cramps, thirst.)
5. You may return to campus 2-3 days after you have recovered.

These tips might help you stay well:
1. Use good hand hygiene and keep your fingers out of your mouth.
2. Don’t share food, drinks, cups, or utensils.
3. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
4. Clean surfaces in your living space frequently with bleach wipes.
 

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration is nominating 72 low-income zones in 27 Connecticut municipalities for a federal community development program. One of the zones is in Danbury.

The Democrat had created an application process for municipalities interested in participating in the Opportunity Zone Program. Each governor must submit a plan to the federal government designating tracts as Opportunity Zones.

Qualified tracts must have a poverty rate of at least 20 percent of the median income that does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

The program provides a federal tax incentive for investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains into these special zones by pooling money with other investors through Opportunity Funds.

Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith says the 72 zones are "ripe for redevelopment." She hopes the designation spurs economic growth. 

 

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A Danbury official is being credited with helping to put out a fire Friday night.  A Jefferson Avenue neighbor knocked on City Health Department Official Joe Mead's door across the street and said there was a fire on the porch.  Mead grabbed a bucket of water, filled it from a nearby stream three times and doused the rear of the house where the fire was extending up the back corner.  Firefighters then finished the job, keeping the fire contained to the outside porch.  The Fire Marshals office is investigating the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported from the scene.

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The annual Clean City Danbury Day is coming up and the Mayor's office is looking for volunteers to sign up to help with the beautification effort.  Volunteers will be tasked with picking up litter in a neighborhood, park or waterway.  Supplies of rash bags, safety vests, and gloves are provided.  Volunteers are also needed at each dumpster location to assist residents in the drop-off process. 

 

Free disposal of unwanted items is being provided to Danbury residents and property owners with the support of Winters Brothers.  But there is one less drop off location this year, the West Conn westside drop off will not be in service this year. 

 

No commercial vehicles or box trucks are allowed. Construction debris, grass clippings, yard debris, hazardous wastes, and electronics are not allowed.  Scrap metal, tires and white appliances containing Freon must be kept separate from other garbage. 

 

Dumpster locations are at Danbury City Hall, Rogers Park, the P.A.L. Building, & the Public Works Facility. Paper shredding will once again be offered during Clean City Danbury Day at the Winters Bros. Waste Systems Recycling Center at 307 White Street.

 

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DOVER, N.Y. (AP) -- What started out as a joyful reunion of a young woman with her birth parents soon turned sour, then shocking, and finally deadly.

A young woman named Katie married her birth father, had a baby with him and, after she decided to leave him, lost her life to him along with that of their child and her adoptive father. All three were laid to rest this weekend in upstate New York.

"We're all still in shock," said Shirley Mann, a neighbor of Katie's adoptive parents in Dover. "It's crazy. I don't know what else to say. It's horrible."

Katie, whose last name was Fusco at the time, had no idea before she moved in with Steven Pladl and his wife in August 2016 that he had an explosive temper, a history of abusive behavior and owned at least four guns.

A VERY NORMAL LIFE

In 1995, Steven Pladl was 20 when he met a 15-year-old girl named Alyssa on the internet. She soon became pregnant and gave birth to a girl they named Denise.

Alyssa Pladl told The Associated Press in an interview last week that they put the girl up for adoption when she was 8 months old. They were young and poor, she said, but she also believed Steven Pladl physically abused the baby. In her interview, she did not elaborate.

"It was so hard to give her up," Alyssa said, "but I had to because I wanted her to live and be happy."

For most of what was to be her short life, she was. Tony Fusco and his wife, Kelly, adopted the girl they renamed Katie and raised her with their biological daughter in Dover, about 80 miles north of New York City.

"They had a very, very normal life," said Cary Gould, Kelly Fusco's brother. "My nickname for Katie was Pac-Man. She was always eating. She loved animals. She was a vegetarian."

Katie was an aspiring artist known at Dover High School for drawing comic strips. She planned to attend college and pursue a career in digital advertising.

"A pen and something to draw on became a safe place for me," she wrote in a blog post. "Ink became my weapon against rules and regulations. ... To be short; for me, a life without art is no life at all."

After turning 18 in January 2016, Katie, who Gould said had been told she was adopted, found her birth parents and messaged them. The Pladls were happy to reunite with her.

Instead of going to college in August 2016, Katie moved in with the Pladls in Henrico County, Virginia, that month. Tony and Kelly Fusco were apprehensive, Gould said, but they thought Katie was old enough to make her own decisions and supported her.

All was not well in the Pladl home. Steven and Alyssa had already decided to separate and were sleeping in separate rooms. Alyssa Pladl said she had suffered emotional and verbal abuse by her husband for years.

"I was always on eggshells, whatever his mood was, everybody knew, and that mood was often not happy, a lot of yelling, a lot of things smashed in the house, in front of our kids," she said.

Alyssa Pladl told Katie privately that Steven Pladl had abused her as a baby and that a major reason for the adoption was her own safety.

Katie, according to Alyssa, didn't appear to be concerned.

'WE'RE IN LOVE'

Steven Pladl's behavior changed after he met Katie, Alyssa Pladl said. He began wearing skinny jeans and form-fitting shirts. He shaved his beard and let his hair grow long. About six weeks after Katie moved in, Steven Pladl one night slept on the floor in her room.

It immediately concerned Alyssa. After he did it again the next night, she confronted him. He said it was none of her business and stormed out of the house with Katie.

Alyssa Pladl finally moved out in November 2016, and she shared custody of the two children with Steven Pladl.

In May 2017, she learned from her 11-year-old daughter's journal of the incestuous relationship and Katie's pregnancy. Her daughter wrote that she and her sister were told by Steven Pladl to refer to Katie as their stepmother.

"I started to become hysterical, and I called him," she said. "I said, 'Is Katie pregnant with your baby?' He just said, 'I thought you knew. We're in love.'

"I started screaming," she said. "I was just cursing him out: 'How could you? You're sick. She's a child.'"

Then she called the police.

INCEST CHARGES

On July 20, 2017, two months after his divorce from Alyssa was finalized and amid the police investigation, Steven Pladl married Katie in Parkton, Maryland. They lied on their application, saying they were unrelated, according to records.

Katie's adoptive parents posed for a photo on the wedding day along with Steven, Katie and Steven's mother. Katie wears a short black dress.

Tony and Kelly Fusco thought there was nothing they could do and had decided it was best to support Katie, Gould said.

Katie gave birth to Bennett on Sept. 1. She and Steven moved to a house on a cul-de-sac in Knightdale, North Carolina, just east of Raleigh, but wedded bliss did not last long. They were arrested on incest charges in January. A judge ordered them to not contact each other, and Steven Pladl's mother has custody.

Steven Pladl's lawyer, Rick Friedman II, said there was never an allegation that Steven Pladl pressured Katie into a relationship.

"This case is an 18-year-old girl who shows up at the doorstep of a 40-year-old man who's going through difficult times with his wife," Friedman said. "They have a bond because they're biologically related, but they never knew each other before they had a sexual relationship. He was head over heels in love with her, so much so that that outweighed the issue of them being biologically related."

After the arrests, Katie moved back with Tony and Kelly Fusco, who declined to comment for this article. Every Tuesday and Thursday, she would travel to her adoptive grandmother's home in Waterbury, Connecticut, Gould said.

On April 12, a Thursday, Katie and Tony Fusco left the Dover home for Waterbury. In a minivan nearby, Steven Pladl watched them leave, surveillance video shows.

Minutes later in nearby New Milford, witnesses reported someone opening fire. Katie and Tony Fusco, 56, were fatally shot. Steven Pladl was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot back in Dover.

Shortly after the New Milford shooting, Steven Pladl's mother called 911 to report her son had told her he killed the baby, Katie and her adoptive father.

"I can't even believe this is happening," Steven's mother told authorities, according to a 911 call transcript from which her name was redacted. Her son, she said, was upset because Katie, by then just 20, had broken up with him.

Police found the baby dead and alone in Katie and Steven's home.

Alyssa Pladl struggles to make sense of it all.

"I'm grieving. I'm sad. I'm upset," she said. "But I also want to have something good come out of this. If it's to get truth out there, to open people's eyes to incest."

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers want to learn more about the future plans for the state's cable TV and online public affairs network.

Danbury Rep. Robert Godfrey and West Hartford Sen. Beth Bye, both Democrats, plan to hold an informational hearing Monday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., on the status of the Connecticut Television Network. The meeting will be held in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Godfrey has voiced concern about the editorial independence of the network, known as CT-n, following deep budget cuts made last year by lawmakers.

The network's future appeared in doubt last year after its independent, nonprofit operator announced it was terminating its contract, citing the budget cuts and "encroachments on our editorial independence." CT-n is now being operated by the General Assembly's Office of Legislative Management.  

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Ridgefield Representative John Frey says he's heard from a number of constituents who are concerned about the reduction of State and Local Tax  exemption at $10,000.  He co-sponsored a bill in response to that concern, which essentially allows taxpayers to reclassify their property tax payments as charitable donations. This would allow municipalities like Ridgefield to set up charitable organizations so taxpayers can continue to write off the full amount of their local property taxes.

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The town of Redding has scheduled a number of events in celebration of Earth Day today.  The town will once again by building Mt. Trashmore on the town green.  It's a place where volunteers will display all of the roadside trash collected during the one-day event.  A light bulb exchange will also be held.  Vest, gloves, and garbage bags will be distributed from 9am to noon at the Redding Town Green.  Garbage drop off will be open until 3pm.  The light bulb exchange, with a 4 bulb limit, is from 9am to noon. 

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The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting an electronic waste recycling event today in Brookfield from 9am-1pm.  The collection will take place in the Center School parking Lot off Obtuse Hill Road.  The collection is open to residents of the HRRA towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman.  Items accepted include televisions, monitors, computers/laptops, printers, copiers, scanners, power cords, rechargeable batteries, stereo equipment, DVR/VCR/Blue Ray and tape players, radios, telephones, video game equipment, remote controls and microwaves.

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A local lawmaker has co-sponsored legislation that would require anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault to wear a GPS device until sentencing.  Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding says those convicted of aggravated sexual assault would be required to pay for their monitoring while they await sentencing.  The bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee in a unanimous vote.  A similar bill seeking the same protections was approved unanimously in the state Senate, but the House ran out of time for a vote on the measure.

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The inaugural New Milford Day was held at the State Capitol yesterday.  The event showed off New Milford's local businesses and services to the legislature.  Representatives Bill Buckbee and Richard Smith were joined by Senator Craig Miner and Mayor Pete Bass.  Buckbee says New Milford has a lot to offer locally, from major manufacturing to farming to youth services.

 

Goatboy Soaps brought in two baby goats that were born recently, and one named Billy Mo was introduced on the House Floor. 

 

(Billy Mo, Rep. Buckbee, Rep. Smith)

 

The event was planned to fall on Roger Sherman's birthday.  He was one of New Milford’s most influential residents on American Politics, and also former State Representative.

 

Participants of the event included:

Kimberly Farms
Goatboy Soaps
Kimberly Clark
Full Circle Promotions
The Makery
New Milford Girl Scouts – Troop 40232
New Milford Hospital
Pratt Nature Conservancy
New Milford Youth Agency
Community Credit Union of New Milford

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Ridgefield's annual Rid Litter Days take place this weekend in celebration of Earth Day.  Trash bags and safety vests are available at the Parks and Rec building and at the Chamber of Commerce for volunteers.  There are several drop off locations for litter picked up in neighborhoods and parks in Ridgefield.  They are: Farmingville School, East Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield High School and Fox Hill Lake Beach area.

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A prescription drug take back event is taking place next weekend.  Residents can bring unwanted, unused prescription meds to local drop off points on the 28th, from 10am to 2pm. 
 
One location is the Easton Library Lot, where pills will be collected by the Easton Police and destroyed by the DEA. Easton Police Cadets will be assisting citizens as they simply drive up and hand safely packaged medication to them for disposal.
 
Ridgefield Police says prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications will be collected at Bissell Pharmacy on Governor Street. 
 
There is a prescription drug take-back box located in the front lobby of Ridgefield Police Headquarters available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

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The Newtown Town Clerk will hold special absentee voting hours Saturday from 9 am to noon on the budget.  The proposal calls for $41-million for the town and $ 76-million for the schools.  It's a 2.35-percent increase.  Two bond questions will also be on the ballot.  The referendum in Newtown will be held Tuesday.

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Police have arrested  the treasurer of the Wilton High School Parent Teacher Student Association for alleged embezzlement.  Police received a complaint in January from the PTSA about unauthorized withdrawals from their checking account.  42-year old Crismari Feliz of Norwalk allegedly used 24-thousand dollars from the organization for personal credit card and car lease payments.  She was charged Wednesday and released on bond for an April 30th court appearance.

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Two Danbury residents have been arrested on drug related charges following neighbor complaints of illegal drug sales in the Osborne Street area.  Danbury Police carried out a search warrant yesterday at the home of Oliver Joan Ubiera.  He was spotted stuffing suspected drugs into his pants.  Daritza Rivera-Nunez was found in a bedroom of the home she shared with Ubiera.  A substantial amount of crack cocaine, powder cocaine and heroin was seized, along with drug paraphernalia and several hundred dollars in cash.  Ubiera was a convicted felon previously deported to the Dominican Republic who illegally returned to the United States.  The pair were charged with operating a drug factory and other offenses.

 

  

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A construction company hit a gas line yesterday afternoon in Southbury, closing I-84 and Route 188 in the area of Judd Hill Road.  The gas leak prompted an evacuation of the Wyndham Southbury hotel.  Eversource Energy says a third party construction company was doing work around 1pm, but the utility did respond to the scene.  The gas line to Pomperaug High School was hit, and the school was closed for spring break.  A gas station and a deli off the highway were closed as a precaution.  There were no injuries reported to the construction crew

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The United Way of Western Connecticut is launching a $1 million program over the next several years to support new family childcare centers in Danbury.  The Cora's Kids program was announced yesterday as one way for Danbury to address childcare challenges facing the city.  Other solutions are being advanced as part of a larger grant initiative where Danbury was awarded $450,000 from the Boston Federal Reserve's Working Cities Challenge.  Cora's Kids will offer incentives for up to 15 new licensees per year to keep childcare costs down and increase availability of home-based childcare centers.  United Way officials say childcare accounts for more than 25-percent of a household budget on average.

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Ridgefield High School students are participating in a protest today against gun violence.  Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.  Sophomore Lane Murdock launched the National School Walkout after the February shooting at a Florida high school.  Participating students will walk out of class at 10am to a rally on campus, opening with a moment of silence. 
 
There will also be an open mic portion of the event, and Murdock says second amendment supporters will be able to voice their opinions. 
 
Ridgefield High School Principal Stacey Gross told the Ridgefield Press that the police department agreed to cover the cost of providing security for the protest.
 
Plans for Friday's walkout began only hours after the Parkland shooting, when Murdock teen started an online petition calling for protests on the anniversary of Columbine. She then gathered a few other students at Ridgefield High School to orchestrate the national protest.

"We're walking out to remember every single young person who has been killed by American gun violence," Murdock said in a statement Thursday. "We're walking out to talk about the real problems our country is facing, and the solutions that our leaders are too scared to dream up."

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