The Connecticut General Assembly is again debating whether to require workers' compensation insurance to cover post-traumatic stress for first responders. Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski is currently a 911 center Dispatch Supervisor, has been in the field since 1999 and previously worked as a volunteer on the ambulance.
The police officer, firefighter or emergency medical worker would have had to witness the death of a person or the immediate aftermath of such a death while in the line of duty. Sredzinski says the diagnosis would have to be certified, and made by a Board approved mental health professional.
The Public Safety Committee has approved a version of the bill.
A similar bill is being considered in the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Committee leaders say there will likely be negotiations in the coming weeks about which employees to ultimately cover under such legislation and whether the state and municipalities will pick up the tab.
Organizations representing municipalities are opposing the bill, arguing claims could range from thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars, depending on the duration and scope of treatment.
Last year, Newtown police Officer Thomas Bean appeared before lawmakers and spoke about experiencing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts since responding to Sandy Hook School on 12-14. He said he couldn't return to work and was receiving about half his base pay through Newtown's long-term disability insurance plan. If he were receiving workers' compensation benefits for his PTSD, he'd receive more than 66 percent of his net pay, including an average of overtime pay, tax-free.
The issue of workers' compensation coverage for PTSD also came up in 2010 when a police officer who responded to a brutal chimpanzee attack in Stamford described experiencing "a depression beyond depression." Frank Chiafari told lawmakers his supervisors filed a workers' compensation claim on his behalf for post-traumatic stress the night of the attack. But five days later, he was notified the claim had been denied because state law only applies to police shootings of people.
Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, the committee's co-chairman, said he will support the legislation "no matter what the cost is to our municipalities." He spoke about working as a first responder and having to pull a friend's dead son from a car that had struck a telephone pole.
"I still see that in my mind, years later," he said.
A Ridgefield man has been charged for allegedly punching a random person on Prospect Street this week. Ridgefield Police charged 20-year old Chase Lasswell with assault. Court records show that Lasswell was arraigned and released without bond for an April 23rd court appearance.
The Ridgefield Press reports that the victim called police who said a person, later determined to be Lasswell, walked up to him and hit him in the head with a fist. The suspect was described as a young white male who left after the assault.
After canvassing the area, Lasswell was spotted and confirmed by the suspect as the man who punched him.
A Danbury teen has been arrested on drug possession and sale charges after police investigated reports of a suspicious vehicle. Officers were called to Tarrywile Park in Danbury Tuesday afternoon and could smell marijuana coming from the car where 18-year old Carlos Espinal was a passenger.
Police say packaging material and a scale were also found in the vehicle during a search.
Espinal was charged with possession of a controlled substance, intent to sell, possession within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was released on a written promise to appear in court on April 6th.
A Connecticut man has been arrested by Danbury Police for sexually assaulting a juvenile. Danbury Police Special Victims Unit Detectives travelled to West Hartford this morning to arrest 52-year old Pedro Souza.
He was taken into custody without incident.
Souza was charged with four counts of 1st degree sexual assault and eight counts of risk of injury to a minor. He was held on 200-thousand dollars bond. No other details about what led to the charges were provided.
Souza is being arraigned today.
Signs will be going up next week along the highway saying that a construction project will be starting soon in Danbury. The work is scheduled both east and westbound on I-84 by exits 5 and 6, on North Street and Second Avenue.
Eastbound, the bridge over Kohanza Street will be widened so the exit 5 off ramp can be lengthened. Expanding the bridge over Tamarak Avenue will allow the exit 6 on ramp to be lengthened before merging into highway traffic.
Westbound at exit 6, the off ramp will be lengthened. State Department of Transportation Supervising Engineer Matthew Cleary says the whole design of that intersection will be realigned. I-84 will also be widened headed into the exit 5 off ramp.
Route 37, North Street, will be widened so there will be two through lanes in each direction. Various exclusive turning lanes will also be added. Two retaining walls will be built along the North Street Shopping Center and the traffic signals will be re-timed.
Utility work and drainage on Second Avenue will be done.
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) - A Connecticut man is accused of sexually abusing two girls at a Long Island music school where he taught.
Nassau County police say the alleged abuse occurred "on numerous occasions" at the Burt School of Music in Hicksville.
They say it happened between January 2012 and March 2015 during private lessons.
The girls' instructor, 62-year-old Kenton Burt, of Kent, Connecticut, was arrested at the school on Thursday. He faces two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
He was set to be arraigned Friday in Hempstead. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
The investigation is continuing.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The state Board of Regents has increased tuition and fees by 4.8 percent at Connecticut's community colleges and regional state universities.
Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, said Thursday his staff discussed ``40 or 50 scenarios'' to grapple with a $48.6 million budget gap next year before agreeing on a tuition increase he called ``appropriate and necessary.''
The Hartford Courant reports that for Connecticut residents, the average increase will be $186 more for community college students and $440 more for university students.
A group of students protested the increase, urging Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature to increase funding.
On average, state residents pay $3,786 in tuition and fees annually at the state's 12 community colleges and $9,169 in tuition at the four state regional universities.
A bond package totalling $53.5 million is being considered in Danbury for a new wing at the High School. A committee of the City Council met this week to talk about the plan to accommodate an increase in enrollment. The full City Council takes up the idea on April 7th.
The proposed design would essentially give the 9th grade their own building, creating the Freshmen Academy. Part of the plan calls for enclosing the current canopy at the cafeteria to accommodate the increased student population. A redesigned front entrance along with parking and bus expansions are also planned. The bond proposal also includes a new roof, which will be outfitted with solar panels.
The cost covers the addition, reconstruction of the current autoshop building and construction of a new facility to house the autoshop program. 62-percent of the project will be paid for by the state.
Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the proposed autoshop replacement building would include enhanced equipment. He says the existing building and equipment are antiquated based on what's currently being taught based on some of the electronics cars today have.
Alternative proposals to accommodate increased enrollment were more costly. One option was split sessions, similar to those held in the 70s, but that required a lot of buses and more logistics to organize. Another option was to bus students to other towns where there is declining enrollment, but no one district could take 100 to 150 students in one grade level without having to hire more staff.
Vision 2020 Committee Phase One work was to renovate the elementary schools and open the new middle school. The next phase is to accommodate increased enrollment at the high school level. There are 3,000 students currently enrolled at DHS, and that's anticipated to grow to about 3,450 over the next five years.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Several congressional members called on the U.S. Interior Department Thursday to slow down an overhaul of the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes, saying more study is needed of problems that could result from lowering the bar for the coveted status.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican who recently became chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter with four other lawmakers outlining their concerns to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
"We do not support the sweeping changes that have been proposed to the criteria," the lawmakers wrote.
Federal recognition has been granted to 566 American tribes, and is sought because it brings increased health and education benefits to tribal members in addition to land protections and opportunities for commercial development.
Tribes have been pushing for years for Congress or the Interior Department to revise the process. The overhaul would be the first in two decades.
In Connecticut, the governor and the entire congressional delegation have spoken out against the rule changes, which could make it easier for three small tribes to win recognition and revive long-simmering land claims. Two Connecticut Democrats, Rep. Joe Courtney and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, are among the lawmakers who signed the letter. The Kent-based Schaghticoke Indian Tribe has been seeking federal recognition for years.
The lawmakers say other states may not grasp the significance of the changes proposed for the recognition process that has been criticized as slow, inconsistent and overly susceptible to political influence.
"We are concerned that the Department's proposed rules fail to address many of the issues that have been identified and could create new problems that lead to unintended and unjustifiable outcomes," the lawmakers wrote.
One of the more controversial changes is a new requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934, where they previously had to show continuity from "historical times."
Supporters of the rule change say it helps to remove unfair burdens. Advocates say that some tribes have been denied recognition because records were lost or burned over hundreds of years, and any tribe that was still together by 1934 had overcome histories of mistreatment.
The letter urges the Interior Department to hold off on putting out final regulations until issues with recognition can be evaluated more thoroughly. The other congressional members who signed the letter are Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, and Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat.
A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said the agency is reviewing the letter.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed the new rules in 2013 to make tribal acknowledgment more transparent and the process more efficient. The department, which has held hearings around the country and received hundreds of comments from the public, proposed formal changes last May that were expected to be finalized soon.
A Danbury man has been arrested in New York for being in violation of his probation. The Putnam County Sheriff's office was advised by Connecticut authorities that 38-year old Marc De Benigno was believed to be in New York. He was located in the Peach Lake Road area of Southeast on Tuesday and taken into custody.
De Benigno is awaiting extradition to Connecticut.
The Danbury man was convicted on charges of Burlary, Larceny, Possession of Narcotics, Illegal Possession of a Weapon, and Credit Card Theft, and had been sentenced to probation. De Benigno was prohibited from leaving Connecticut without written permission from his probation officer.
A bill to allow more state residents to participate in Alzheimer's respite care program services is moving through the legislative process.
Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky voted in the Aging committee to approve the bill. It would increase the annual income limit for participants in the Respite Care Program, which provides respite for caregivers who care for people with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders. The annual income limit for participants in the Respite Care Program would increase from $43,846 to $50,000.
The Legislature's Appropriations Committee, another committee on which Bolinsky serves, will be the next to consider the measure.
The asset limit is $116,567. Current income and asset limits are set by Department of Aging policy. The law requires the department to annually increase these limits to reflect social security cost of living adjustments.
Last year, the Connecticut Statewide Alzheimer's Respite Program provided direct services for 713 Alzheimer's patients. Services included nursing, home health aides, companions, Adult Day Centers and Meals on Wheels. Sometimes, a family caregiver was not available. Almost 1,000 families received information, referrals and counseling to help them with the difficult job of family caregiving.
Two Danbury residents have been arrested for shoplifting from Walmart. Video surveillance showed 32-year old Jose Raul Sandoval and 28-year old Danielle Barto removing items from the shelves of the Danbury Walmart on Tuesday, then leaving the Newtown Road store without paying for the merchandise.
Police say while the pair was in store custody, Sandoval tried to get rid of 30 packets of heroin. He's been charged with larceny and possession of a controlled substance. He was held on $10,000 bond.
Barto was charged with larceny and held on $2,500 bond. She was also wanted on two other active warrants. Court records show the charges include failure to insure a motor vehicle and failure to appear. One of the case records is sealed.
Another informational session has been held in Newtown about the proposed Community Center. GE donated $15 million to the town, with a proposal that $10 million be spent to build a facility and $5 million be used to operate it for several years after completion.
There was some strong opposition voiced during the meeting on Tuesday. Several residents objected to the idea that it would basically be a senior center and aquatics center, feeling the rest of the community was left out. Several people spoke about kids not being served by the center.
A vote is slated for April 28th on accepting the donation. There are now questions on if the item will remain on the ballot.
A father accused of accidentally shooting his 11-year-old son in the face while putting away his handgun has had his assault case continued in Court. 44-year old Vincent Pizzolato appeared in Bridgeport Superior Court Wednesday and the case was continued to April 28th. Pizzolato was also charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge.
His lawyer said his client is disappointed that charges have been filed. He called the shooting a "terrible accident." The bullet from the 9 mm gun shattered the boy's jaw, knocking out many of his teeth.
Pizzolato has not yet entered a plea.
A prostitution sting in Danbury has landed four women under arrest. The sting was part of an ongoing effort to curb prostitution. effort was carried out in the Elm Street, Stevens Street, Spring Street, Beaver Street area. Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says an undercover officer was offered sex for money Wednesday.
50-year old Donna Walker, 33-year old Patricia Gibson, 29-year old Jodi Davenport and 23-year old Paige Kummerer were all charged with prostitution and held on $500 bond.
Gibson, Davenport and Kummerer were also charged for possession of drug paraphernalia.
(Donna Walker, Patricia Gibson, Jodi Davenport, Paige Kummerer)
Photo Courtesy:Danbury Police
AMENIA, N.Y. (AP) Police say they've charged a Connecticut man in the hit-and-run death of a 36-year-old mother of two who was struck while getting into her vehicle after attending an in-home merchandise party in eastern New York.
The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office says Wednesday that 57-year-old Randy Miles of Kent, Connecticut, turned himself in to detectives on Tuesday, a day after investigators tracked him down. His vehicle was found Saturday.
Miles was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
Deputies say Miles hit Concetta Eastman of Copake in Columbia County last Thursday as she was leaving a product-selling party held at a home in the town of Amenia, on the Connecticut border. She later died at Sharon Hospital in Connecticut.
Miles is being held in the county jail. Police didn't know if he has a lawyer.
Breaking a window at a downtown Danbury bar has landed a City man under arrest. Police say 31-year old Wilson Yuqui was arguing with another patron at Fajitas & Margaritas on Main Street late Sunday night when they took the dispute outside. In an effort to prevent the pair from coming back in as the bar was trying to close for the night, employees locked the door. Police say Yuqui tried the door and when he couldn't get in, punched out a glass window. He was treated at Danbury Hospital for minor injuries. Yuqui was charged with breach of peace and criminal mischief.
A South Salem man has been arrested for beating a robbing another New York resident. New York State Police were called to Oak Ridge Commons Condo complex in South Salem on Monday night.
The 27-year old victim told police that he was dropped off at his home by a friend and the suspect, identified as 21-year old Wyatt Gilchrist, forcibly pulled him from the car. The victim told police that he was punched several times and then Gilchrist took off his leather belt to continue assaulting him. Troopers determined that Gilchrist also took the victim's wallet before driving off.
He was charged with assault and robbery, arraigned and held in jail on 50-thousand dollars bond. Gilchrist is due back in court on Monday.
The victim was transported to Norwalk Hospital for treatment of cuts to his head and face.
A Brewster man on parole, who has a long criminal history, has been arrested on a number of felony drug charges. The Putnam County Sheriff's office launched an investigation into 42-year old Daniel Durden in January on a tip that he was selling prescription medication, cocaine and heroin from his residency at a local motel.
Controlled drug purchases were made by deputies.
Last week, members of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit arrested Durden. A search of his motel room turned up narcotics and drug transaction records. The Brewster man was charged with four counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and three counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance.
He was arraigned and is being held without bail. Durden was on parole for a 2011 drug sale conviction. If found guilty, he could face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to 30-thousand dollars for each charge.
An informational hearing was held last night in Monroe about a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Route 110 and Route 111. The state Department of Transportation made a presentation about the project to address operation and safety concerns at Shelton Road and Monroe Turnpike.
The proposed project includes removing the existing flashing light and constructing a roundabout. Hurd Avenue would be turned into a cul-de-sac and sidewalks would be installed in the area.
Construction on the estimated $4.1 million dollars project could begin in the spring of 2017. 80-percent of the construction would be covered by federal funds.