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HAZMAT situation cleared at Danbury Hospital parking garage

A Hazmat situation closed the Danbury Hospital Parking Garage for a time Friday afternoon and evening.  Danbury Fire fighters and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded around 4pm to the hospital.  The initial reports were that there was an irritating chemical in the area.  Fire officials believe some sort of pepper spray was discharged, and the hazmat response was a precaution.  The hospital was not effected.  There were no reported injuries.

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26 victims or 27? Newtown panel considers role of Lanza mom

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut panel developing a report on the Newtown massacre debated Friday whether the victims counted in the dedication should include the shooter's mother, a woman who has been faulted for contributing to the tragedy by fostering his fascination with guns as he grew increasingly socially isolated.


The gunman, Adam Lanza, began his rampage on Dec. 14, 2012, by killing Nancy Lanza inside their Newtown home before gunning down 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then killing himself.


A draft of the dedication for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission's report references 26 victims, but commissioner Harold Schwartz asked at a hearing Friday why Nancy Lanza should not also be considered a victim. He suggested mentioning her name at least in a footnote.


"I'm not certain it is morally right to not acknowledge her as a victim," said Schwartz, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.


The role of Nancy Lanza, who often took her son to shooting ranges and purchased the rifle he would use the school massacre, has been a vexing question in Newtown. While friends have said she did her best raising a troubled son, a report by the state's Office of the Child Advocate concluded she contributed to his isolation as she kept him at home where he was surrounded by an arsenal of firearms and spent long hours playing violent video games.


The commission chairman, Scott Jackson, said it is impossible to know how much responsibility Nancy Lanza bears.


"I think that's why number 27 is always so difficult, because there's so much we don't know," said Jackson, the mayor of Hamden.


The advisory commission, created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the wake of the shooting, plans to issue its report soon with dozens of policy recommendations in areas including law enforcement and emergency response, school design and mental health and wellness.


Several commission members said they had no objection to leaving the dedication intact for the 26 people killed at the school. Commissioner Adrienne Bentman asked how other victims' families might feel about seeing Nancy Lanza's name on the same page with those of their loved ones.

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Ridgefield attorney sentenced for tax fraud

A Ridgefield attorney has been sentenced to 6 months in prison for filing false tax returns.  55-year old Timothy Griffin must also serve one year supervised release and pay a $1,000 fine to the U.S. Treasury as restitution.  The IRS says Griffin didn't file income tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004. 


He then prepared a false return for two of the years.  Griffin was also ordered to pay more than $153,000 in restitution for the taxes due on income he didn't report. 


Griffin has two pending cases in New York state.  One over his alleged embezzlement of nearly $2-million from the United Hebrew Cemetery and the other for his alleged embezzlement of $750,000 from seven clients.

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Redding, Ridgefield police investigating threatening letters

A new scam is being warned about by Redding Police.  Chief Douglas Fuchs says a Redding resident this week received a typed letter in the mail demanding payment in exchange for the safety of the family.  The letter said if the payment was not made via Bitcoin transaction, the resident and their family would be killed.  The letter also threatened to carry out the violence if the resident went to police. 


Ridgefield Police say the envelopes are postmarked from different locations in the United States. 


Bitcoins are a currency purchased online and stored in a so-called wallet, with the names of the buyers and sellers not revealed.  Police are attempting to identify the owner of the “wallet”.  The Redding Police Department is currently attempting to identify the owner of the so-called Bitcoin “wallet”. 


Ridgefield police said in an emailed statement that personal data can easily be obtained through various internet searches.  Police believe the letters are a scam, but the incidents are being thoroughly investigated.


Anyone receiving similar threats is asked to contact Redding police at 203-938-3400.

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Connecticut legislature approves NRA-opposed judge nominee

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly to confirm a state judge nominee who was opposed by the National Rifle Association and other groups because she supported a gun control bill approved in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

The House voted 125-18 and the Senate voted 30-4 Friday in favor of attorney Auden Grogins, a Democratic former state representative from Bridgeport. Grogins will serve as a Superior Court judge.

The NRA asked members earlier this month to urge lawmakers to reject Grogins' nomination because she co-sponsored stricter gun control legislation that passed in 2013 in response to the killings of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Gun control supporters asked their backers to urge lawmakers to approve Grogins' nomination.

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Lawmakers issue congratulations recognizing Hospice's opening

Regional Hospice and Home Care cut the ribbon this week on their new facility in Danbury.  State Senator Mike McLachlan read an official citation from the General Assembly, introduced by the Danbury delegation, congratulating the Center for Comfort Care and Healing in recognition of the opening.


Regional Hospice has been serving the area since 1983 with bereavement support and end of life care.  The organization served 500 patients and their loved ones in 2014.  1,200 people took part of their free bereavement programs last year.


Former Brookfield State Representative David Scribner, who also served on the Board of Directors for Regional Hospice said it was a long road to this opening.  The construction of the Center was funded entirely by donations and grants to cover the approximately $12 million cost.  They expect patients will come to the new hospice center from a 50-mile radius surrounding Danbury. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says the staff do more than just a job, they get up every day with a smile and make people comfortable.  He called them angels of mercy who people face at the worst moments of their lives--whether it's with a dying loved one or as a patient.  Danbury is providing free sewer service to the facility.  A cost of about 5-thousand dollars a year that the Center will not have to budget for.



The all-private suite facility has a palliative-care trained medical director, physicians and APRN’s are available 24/7.  The Center for Comfort Care and Healing will also house the Healing Hearts Center for Grief & Loss, a program of Regional Hospice that provides grief support services to the community at no charge, bringing all of Regional Hospice’s programs and services under one roof for the first time.

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5 clerks fail Putnam County liquor compliance checks

Liquor sale compliance checks in Putnam County have landed five clerks under arrest.  22 stores in Putnam County were checked by a 19-year old volunteer working with New York State Police and the state Liquor Authority.  The compliance operation was carried out last Thursday.  Five clerks sold beer to the volunteer. 


They were then arrested and charged with prohibited sale of alcohol and unlawfully dealing with a child.  The clerks were all issued tickets to appear in court at a later date.  The establishments face possible civil penalties from the State Liquor Authority. 


New York State Police routinely conduct underage drinking enforcement operations to curb alcohol abuse and DWI incidents among teens. 


The following persons charged during the operation:
Mayra Venegas-Roque, 33, of Brewster, employed at Mobil Gas Station, 978 Route 22, Brewster.
Gregorio Galindo-Baizan, 37, of Brewster, employed at La Guadalupana Deli, 70 Main Street, Brewster.

Sambhu P. Gurung, 38, of Carmel, employed at BP Gas Station, 89 Gleneida Avenue, Carmel.
Jospeh Padamadan, 51, of Carmel, employed at Shell Gas Station, 966 Route 6, Mahopac.

Ishfaq Ahmed, 54, of Bronx, employed at Gulf Gas Station, 634 Route 6, Mahopac.

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Mixed reviews this week for Metro North from local lawmaker

Metro-North is winning praise for its performance during the winter storm.  Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher says she'd give the commuter railroad an `A.'  But her praise of the railroad was short lived. 


Metro-North has faced strong criticism in the recent past after two derailments, one of which was fatal, and the death of a track worker in Connecticut.  There was another small derailment last night at Grand Central Terminal. 


Boucher says passengers shouldn't have to worry about their safety every time they board the train.  She says it did not end in tragedy, but it very well could have.


U-S Senator Richard Blumenthal  says he appreciates that the Federal Railroad Adminsitration has begun an investigation into the incident.

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NY man violates protective order, steals woman's license plates

A Mahopac man has been arrested for violating a protective order.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reported today that that a woman walked into their headquarters earlier this month to report that she has an order of protection against 45-year old Julio Vasquez, but he came to her house. 


She told Deputies that Vasquez removed license plates from her car.  Police called the Mahopac man and he agreed to turn himself in. 


Vasquez has been charged with criminal contempt, petit larceny and criminal tampering.  He was arraigned a released for a future court appearance on the misdemeanor charges.  A new temporary order of protection was issued for the victim.

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DWI for Conn. man in one car crash

A Connecticut man has been arrested for drunk driving following a one car crash in Putnam County.  New York State Police say troopers were called to Interstate 84 in Southeast on Monday where there was a oner-car crash with injuries.  Troopers determined that 32-year old Jack Wessells of Bridgeport was intoxicated.  The Brewster Fire Department and EMS also responded to the scene to transport Wessells to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  He was issued traffic tickets and ordered to appear in Southeast Town Court on February 12th.

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Fire in Bridgewater barn quickly extinguished

A fire in a Bridgewater barn has been extinguished.  The fire was reported around 12:30 this afternoon on Town Line Road.  The property is owned by the Bridgewater Land Trust and farmed by former First Selectman Bill Stuart.  Mutual aid was provided by Roxbury, New Milford and Brookfield.  A tractor inside the barn has been deemed a total loss.  The barn was reportedly salvaged.

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Slushy road blamed for overturned truck accident

Slushy roads from this week's snow storm is being blamed for an accident Wednesday morning that closed I-84 westbound for more than 6 hours.  State Police say 33-year old Vincent Fragola of Newtown was driving in the left center lane of the highway by exit 3 when he traveled across the split, spun clockwise several times and was hit by a box truck travelling in the right center lane just behind him. 


The truck driver, 55-year old David Shuda of Wallingford, tried to swerve to avoid the car, but spun and overturned in the left lane.  Shuda and his passenger, Rober Shuda of Milford, were both transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. 


(Photo: Local 801 IAFF, Twitter)


Both vehicles were towed from the scene, a fuel spill was cleaned up and the guard rail was repaired.  Fragola found at fault fro the crash and ticketed for failure to maintain proper lane. 


The road was reopened shortly before 4pm.


(Photo: Local 801 IAFF, Twitter)

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission to host public forum

A second public forum is being held tonight in Newtown by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  A little more than a dozen people attended the first gathering last week to hear from the commission member on their progress and to give their opinion on the matter. 


Commission chairman Kyle Lyddy says the memorial is to honor the 26 lives that were lost at the school and to honor what is best for the Newtown Community.  Lyddy says some families still need time and he hopes that the community will be patient with the Commission through the process.  They do not have a deadline. 


At the first forum, resident George Osuch asked how a final decision would be made and was told that the Commission wants to find one memorial to provide comfort to those who loved and were touched by the children and women.  Lyddy says this is not about the event, but about the lives lost. 


The Commission has an inventory of everything that's come to Newtown since 12-14.  While fundraising has not yet started, Lyddy says $80,000 so far has been earmarked in donations for a Memorial. 


A subcommittee for locations has been set up.  Property owned by the town, the state and the Newtown Forest Association are being considered.  A philanthropist may be willing to donate land as well.  The subcommittee is working with the Zoning Department on potential sites and will survey them in the spring.  Their focus is on a place that can be a destination , not something people would have to drive past daily. 


The Commission has heard from 18 of the 26 families.  He hopes once a few locations suggestions are set and they have something solid to present to the families, they will reengage. 


Tonight's public forum is at 7pm at Newtown High School.

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Brookfield GOP candidate applies for campaign fincancing in special election

One of the two candidates running in the special election next month for the 107th state House district seat has qualified for public campaign financing.  Republican Stephen Harding is seeking to fill the seat left vacant in Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Danbury. 


The requirement is to raise at least $3,750 in small contributions from a minimum of 113 people in the district.  He raised over $4,000 in small contributions from more than 150 people in the district.  Harding submitted his application to the state for a $20,000 grant.  Harding is a Brookfield Board of Ed member. 


He faces Democratic former selectman Howard Lasser in a February 24th election.

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Local lawmaker proposes amendment to hate crime statutes

A bill to give more protections to public safety personnel has been introduced by an area lawmaker.  Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski's proposal would include law enforcement and other first responders in the state's hate crime statutes.  Sredzinski says the bill would make crimes a hate crime if committed maliciously or with intent to intimidate or harass someone because of their actual or perceived occupation as an emergency responder. 


The bill enhances the penalties for repeat offenders and could lead to participation in anti-bias programs. 


Sredzinski says the recent execution style murders of two NYPD officers shows that an already dangerous profession, could be a target for even more danger.

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Wilton police investigating lotto ticket theft

Wilton police are investigating the possible theft of lottery tickets from Caraluzzi's market.  Police say a clerk was helping a customer with another lottery ticket manner, and the woman paid for her tickets, which were placed on the counter.  Wilton Police say the woman took those tickets, as well as an unopened package of scratch off lotto tickets valued at 600-dollars.  Police are investigating to see if the woman accidentally took the tickets when she picked up the ones she purchased.

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Medical presentation scheduled at Southbury Senior Center today

A presentation is being made today at the Southbury Senior Center about new technology being used in robotic joint replacement surgery at Danbury Hospital.  Dr. John Dunleavy says Danbury Hospital is the first hospital in the state to perform MAKOplasty Partial Knee Resurfacing and Total Hip Replacement.


Dunleavy says it's a minimally invasive surgical treatment option for patients suffering osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.  MAKOplasty preserves healthy bone, surrounding tissue and ligaments thus delivering better results and minimizing recovery time.


Board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, General Orthopedics, Dr. Robert Deveney received his Doctor of Medicine from the State University of New York – Downstate completed his fellowship training in adult reconstructive surgery from Piedmont Hospital/Emory University School of Medicine.


Board certified, Dr. John Dunleavy received his Doctor of Medicine from Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed a fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University.


Dr. Sanjay Gupta serves as Director of the Joint Replacement Program at Danbury Hospital.  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and completed a two year fellowship in adult hip and knee reconstruction at the Hospital for Special Surgery and Lenox Hill Hospital.


The presentation at the Southbury Senior Center on Main Street South is at 2 pm.

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Danbury fire officials ask for help in keeing City safe

Danbury Fire Department spokesman Steve Rogers says it would be a huge help if people could clear snow from around fire hydrants on their property.  He wants to make sure can get all the way around the hydrants.  Rogers notes that if there's a three foot clearance, firefighters can hook up the hose and get water to a fire if needed.  Rogers says they appreciate everyone's help in keeping Danbury safe.

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Regional Hospice opens new Center in Danbury

Regional Hospice and Home Care has opened the state’s first and only nonprofit, all-private-suite, family focused hospice center.  The ribbon was cut at the Center for Comfort Care and Healing on Monday.  President and CEO Cynthia Roy says this has been a long journey, and just when they thought there couldn't be one more thing to endure, there was.


The drapery installer last week accidentally drilled into the sprinkler system and caused three patient rooms to get flooded.  It was 20 minutes before the SWAT team of 100 Danbury Police Officers were set to be there for an emergency drill.  Roy says the Center survived, and the place now looks fantastic.


Roy says she is perplexed when people ask her why they built such a beautiful place for people who are dying.  She believes that death is like birth, a sacred moment that families will never forget.  She notes that people remember where they were, what time of day and the last words of loved ones when they pass.  Roy says the loss of a life changes the world of all who knew that person.  She hopes this center is a place that is sacred, to honor, witness and be thankful for the love and life of that person. 


During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Roy also honored their former colleague, 23-year old Rachel Sack of Bethel.  The young mother was killed by a hit and run driver in November on South Street in Danbury.  Her family was on hand for the ceremony.  Roy said it was strange to do the opening without her, but she is always in their hearts.  Her picture hangs in the new center.


Roy says she is proud of what the staff has built collectively.  She says each person has given of themselves and given financially.  As hospice workers, Roy says they are welcomed into families lives at a very difficult time.


The Center is set to open the first patients in February.

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Local officials pleased with storm response

The statewide travel ban has now been lifted, but police and fire officials are urging continued caution on the roads. 


Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says gas stations and grocery stores are open, some restaurants are opening for the day.  Many officials say if you don't have to go out, it's best to stay in and let the clean up continue.  Knickerbocker says they are thankful that people have not hit the roads, which made for easier clean up.  He reported no power outages in Bethel.  There was only one ambulance call, which Knickerbocker says turned out to not be a serious problem.


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says people listening to the travel ban made the job of snow removal much easier for highway crews.  He noted that there were no major incidents overnight in Danbury.  Property owners have to have sidewalk cleared two hours after the end of the storm, but Boughton says the City does give them some leeway.


Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley says the roads still need some clean up work.  The wind gusts are blowing the snow back onto the roads creating some treacherous driving conditions.  But Tinsley says there are not a lot of accidents to report through Tuesday afternoon.  There are also no major power outages.


Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he is grateful that there were no power outages and that the region was spared the brunt of the storm.  He says the worst part of this storm was that the snow was light and the wind was fierce, so the snow was blown back into the roads once it was cleared.  Marconi says the storm gave Ridgefield an opportunity to practice getting the phone banks up and ready, to get the Emergency Operations Center prepared to open up and to get large crews ready.  So he says the blizzard bust has not been a waste, but is glad to not be looking at a major clean up and hundreds of outages.


Hong Kong rang in 2015 with a massive fireworks show.


Almost here..."Fifty Shades of Grey"

In theaters 2/14/15

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