A story of hope for one World War II veteran this Memorial Day. 97-year old Lou Russo has gotten a judgement in his favor by a Probate Court Judge that he be repaid after claims of mistreatment by a court-appointed conservator. Veteran advocate Dan Gaita of Bethel became involved in Russo's case after hearing of how the man fell at his home, was transferred from the hospital to a nursing home and held there against his will for 16 months.
His conservator, Mark Broadmeyer, allegedly spent Russo's life savings, sold vehicles and rented out his home.
The judge ordered that Russo be repaid $34,000. He is also contesting his nursing home debt, arguing that he should have instead been placed in a Veteran Affairs facility at no charge.
Broadmeyer, who resigned as Russo's conservator in October, has 30 days to appeal the order. Russo remains under probate court control and his new conservator is arguing for a reverse mortgage to pay off the nursing home debt.
Danbury City Councilman Tom Saadi is leading a memorial ceremony this morning in honor of Memorial Day. Saadi, a Major in the Army Reserve, was appointed this month as General Counsel and legislative Director of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. Saadi says Veterans should be remembered not just on holidays, but year round.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is reflecting on a roundtable discussion she hosted this month. It was held at Western Connecticut State University, where she says they have an active veteran group. Esty says she is committed to working towards a smarter, leaner government, and that there is no smarter investment or greater duty than honoring the country's commitment to veterans and military families.
Senator Richard Blumenthal is speaking out on this Memorial Day for better service from the Veterans Affairs Department. He said during a hearing recently that delays in help are unacceptable. A deal has been reached to keep construction underway on a troubled Veterans Affairs hospital in Colorado, even though it's an estimated $1 billion over budget.
Blumenthal has been a vocal critic of the VA's funding request, saying veterans elsewhere shouldn't be forced to sacrifice for the suburban Denver project.
Memorial Day is being marked today. In Danbury, the day started with a service at St. Josephs Church. There are wreath laying ceremonies taking place at several locations throughout the City. The parade begins promptly at 9:30 at the corner of Rose and Main Streets.
Following the parade, Parachutists will descend into the Baseball Field behind the Review stand in Rogers Park. A Ceremonial Service will be held at the Rose Memorial to honor veterans who have died in the past year. All awards will be presented after the services.
Mayor Mark Boughton says there will be the traditional parade where the community can show off their pride in an ethnicity or organization. Firefighters and the Public Works Department will also have equipment on display.
Veterans Hall will also be renamed in honor of the late Patrick Waldron, Danbury's longtime Director of Veterans Affairs.
The summer get away season is off to its unofficial start this Memorial Day weekend.
State Parks Director Tom Tyler says lifeguards are at 10 locations, and they are still looking for some staff members at the designated swim locations.
34 camping cabins are located across the state. The two-room cabins sleep 6 people. Two of the sites that have cabins are Kettletown State Park in Southbury and Lake Waramaug State Park in New Preston. Both of those sites also have designated swimming areas. There is also swim areas at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield.
A 5K Raccoon Fun Run and Kids One-mile Run is being held Saturday morning at Redding Elementary School. The 5K begins at 8:45am, the kids run starts at 10:15. The annual Memorial Day parade in Redding is from noon to 1 pm. Participants line up at Redding Elementary School at 11:30am. A noon ceremony will lead off the parade, which will end at the Memorial Stone in the green at the intersection of Cross Highway and Sanfordtown Road.
On Sunday, Monroe will host its 2015 Memorial Day Parade with a theme of “Honoring our Heroes – Past and Present”. The parade will begin at 2pm. with participants travelling north from Elm Street and Route 111 to the Monroe Green. Local veterans, military groups and the Monroe Police Department will be joined by local and state elected officials and volunteer fire companies. Immediately following the parade, the town’s Memorial Day Ceremony will take place at the War Memorial in front of Town Hall. “Taps” and patriotic songs will be played. There will also be a presentation of the wreaths in honor of fallen heroes.
Also on Sunday, the Brookfield Historical Society's Strawberry Shortcake Festival will be held. The event follows the Town's Memorial Day Parade between 12:30 and 3pm. It will be held outside the Brookfield Museum located at the intersection of Routes 25 and 133 in Brookfield Center. The parade ends near the museum parking lot where strawberry shortcake and soft drinks will be sold to support future public programs of the Society.
Danbury hosts its 2015 Memorial Day Parade on Monday at 9:30am. The parade route runs from Kennedy Park to Rogers Park along Main Street. Following the parade, Parachutists will descend into the Westerner's Baseball field just past the review stand. A Ceremonial Service will be held at the Rose Memorial Garden to honor deceased veterans.
The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is once again participating in the Memorial Day parade on Monday, at 10:45am, with the lineup starting at 9:30. There will be a brief ceremony at Weston Town Hall immediately after the parade. As parade sponsor, the Weston Volunteer Fire Department will offer free refreshments at the firehouse after the ceremony.
The Ridgefield Memorial Day Parade starts at 11:30am Monday at Jesse Lee United Methodist Church and progresses down Main Street.
Greater Danbury area lawmakers are hosting flag collections this Memorial day weekend. Torn or tattered flags will be collected at sites throughout the region through June 11th. Brookfield REpresentative Steve Harding says they are working with the Danbury Council of Veterans and various VFW posts for this effort.
Flag retirement codes suggest the tattered flags be burned during a special ceremony. The Veterans Department of Affairs suggests the flags be folded in a customary triangle and while it burns, individuals at the ceremony should salute or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. A moment of silence is typically held and the ashes are buried.
The Danbury Council of Veterans, Catholic War Veterans Post #1042, VFW Bethel Post #935 and Joseph W. Tarrent, Jr. Memorial American Legion Post #100, are working in cooperation with the lawmakers for residents to retire their worn American Flags.
Danbury City Hall, Danbury War Memorial, Bethel Municipal Center, and Brookfield Town Hall are among the collection sites.
A bill is being considered by the state legislature to protect consumers by requiring home improvement contractors to obtain liability insurance coverage and pass a written examination or course of study.
The House voted 140-2 in favor of legislation, which awaits Senate action.
The course must be consumer protection commissioner approved and based on information the department publishes. Under the bill, the proof of insurance must be provided to the Department of Consumer Protection and the municipal building department in each municipality where the applicant or contractor submits building permit applications.
Redding Representative John Shaban, a commercial litigator, with an emphasis on construction disputes, was told that the insurance would not have to cover work done be subcontractors, just the general contractor. He says often times that becomes the dispute, who is at fault. If the subcontractor does sub-par work, Shaban said the fault depends on the contract, what insurance coverage each has, and if the policies are even valid.
Shaban says the bill is a step in the right direction in terms of scrutiny. But he says it could produce a false sense of security.
While he likes the concept, he thinks the result could be a step backwards in terms of consumer protection. Shaban says he doesn't want homeowners to think that they will be covered if a municipal building department signs off on the contractor's insurance.
The bill includes exemptions from the examination and course of study requirements for registered contractors who have continuously held a valid registration in Connecticut for five years before the application or renewal or $30,000 or less in gross annual receipts. It also requires the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to conduct a study and report on enforcement and complaint procedures involving registered home improvement contractors.
New Milford has advertised for bid requests to demolish the former Century Brass mill building. The Town Council earlier this month heard from Mayor Pat Murphy that bids are due June 18th and that she would like to see the 320,000 square foot building torn down by the fall.
All interested bidders are being required to do a walk through of the site on Tuesday.
New Milford received a $2.5 million grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development last year for environmental remediation work and the demolition cost. Century Brass closed the mill in 1986 and New Milford took ownership of the 72 acre site in 1999 following a tax foreclosure.
The liability for Newtown taxpayers over a ruling that Newtown must pay long-term disability to a police officer will be substantially less than the $380,000 settlement . The Newtown Bee reports that Social Security disability payments and other possible future earnings for Thomas Bean will make the local taxpayer liability no more than $31,000.
Among the other factors cited was if the 40-year-old officer decides to receive pension benefits.
Bean developed anxiety and depression after responding to the shootings at Sandy Hook School and hasn't worked since 12-14. The town was ordered this week to pay Bean half his salary until retirement.
The net cost would be about $289 per month for nine years.
A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly slashing a man in the stomach during an argument. Officers were called last night for a report of a verbal argument that escalated.
Police say 31-year old Oscar Giovanni Reyes went to a Stadley Rough Road home to collect money for landscaping work and the fight broke out. The victim was slashed with a knife and is being treated at Danbury Hospital for non-life threatening wounds.
Reyes was located and charged with assault, breach of peace, carrying a dangerous weapon and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A federal judge says former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland can remain free on bail while appealing convictions in a political consulting scam that resulted in a 2.5-year prison sentence in March.
Rowland was to report to prison June 16. But federal Judge Janet Bond Arteron in New Haven ruled Thursday that he can remain free while appealing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.
Arteron said some of Rowland's appeal issues could lead to a reversal of the convictions or a new trial.
The Republican former governor was convicted of charges including conspiring to hide payments for consulting on the failed 2012 5th congressional district campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley.
Rowland resigned as governor in 2004 during a corruption scandal that sent him to prison for 10 months.
The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness has released the results of this year's Point in Time Count of the state's homeless, which was conducted on February 18th. Total homeless population in Connecticut is 4,038 people. Executive Director Lisa Tepper-Bates says the count is the lowest total since statewide counts started in Connecticut in 2007.
Family homelessness showed a decline of 4 percent in shelters and similar facilities from last year. The count found only 80 veterans in emergency shelters, most of whom are engaged in VA services.
The Point in Time count found Danbury 12 homeless veterans, 5 percent of those counted in the state. One was reported as chronically homeless and one was unsheltered. There were 22 unsheltered adults in Danbury on the night of the count.
A Woodbury attorney has been arrested for stealing nearly $2 million dollars from an Oxford woman's estate. 57-year old Peter Clark was charged Thursday with mail fraud for stealing more than $1.8 million from Miriam Strong, who died in 2010.
Clark was her attorney, served as witness to Strong writing the will and was named as a co-executor.
Strong left money, property and other items to a list of individuals, the Town of Oxford, the State of Connecticut, and several religious and other charitable entities. The will also called for the creation of a scholarship fund for college-bound students from Oxford.
Clark was charged with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus in backing a proposed bill to prevent excessive use of force by police in Connecticut.
A legislative committee has stripped a bill of language that would require Connecticut police officers to wear body cameras. The provision likely wouldn't have passed because of the high cost. The underlying bill would require better use-of-force training for police. It also would require prosecutors from other districts to investigate acts of deadly force by police. Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano says it's a needed bill.
A second bill that would create a pilot program for police body cameras is still moving through the legislature. That bill would require participating departments to report back to the legislature in 2017.
Neither bill has been voted on, except in committee.
New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor says mandating body cameras would be "an overreach of the state.'' She said it should be left up to individual municipalities. Some lawmakers also raised concerns about people's privacy rights potentially being violated if they're caught on camera.
The use of body cameras by Ridgefield Police will be discussed by a committee of the Department. The committee formation was prompted by recent incidents across the country involving use of force by police. The discussion would include cost, how long to store footage and when the cameras would be used.
Danbury Police traffic units use body-style cameras that are attached over the ear at eye level to see exactly what the officer is looking at. Patrol officers have cameras mounted in the cars that are forward facing. The officers have microphones that are attached to their shirts.
Wilton Police recently received a donation to purchase 5 body cameras for patrol officers. The Department currently has in-car video capability.
The former treasurer of the Stepney Elementary School PTO in Monroe has been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $45,000 from the Parent Teacher Organization. Monroe police launched an investigation in March after the PTO noticed discrepancies in their bank account showing personal and non-PTO expenses.
34-year old Sarah Chiarelli turned herself in to police today.
PTO members questioned more than $10,000 in expenditures, but police uncovered more than four times that amount went for personal expenses. Police say that included a trip to Disney World. Bank account audits showed 226 illegitimate transactions.
Chiarelli has been charged with larceny, illegal use of a credit card and illegal furnishing of money, goods, or services. Police say she was the only one with access to the accounts and admitted taking money, but underestimated how much was misappropriated.
A new president for Western Connecticut State University has been selected. John Clark will take over from West Conn President James Schmotter who is retiring July 1st after 11 years leading the university.
The Board of Regents for Higher Education made the selection at their meeting this morning.
Clark has been executive director of the City University of New York Office of Business and Industry Relations for the past six years. Clark was one of three finalists previously announced by the Board of Regents. He holds a doctorate degree from Columbia University's Teachers College.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut state board has ruled that Newtown must pay long-term disability to a police officer who developed anxiety and depression after responding to the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
38-year-old Thomas Bean has been out on disability with post-traumatic stress disorder and hasn't worked since the massacre, which left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.
The Hartford Courant reports the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled the police contract requires the town to pay Bean half his salary until retirement, an amount that will total more than $380,000. Newtown's insurance company is paying 50 percent of his salary through June.
Newtown's police chief had recommended firing Bean when he could not return to work but later withdrew the proposal.
WASHINGTON (AP) A government survey finds that public schools have beefed up school security measures with safety drills and parent notification systems in the years surrounding the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The uptick comes during a four-year span that saw an overall decrease in violent crime reported by schools, but one that included high-profile incidents such as the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings in December 2012.
The survey found that 88 percent of public schools had a written plan of how to respond to an active shooter, and that 7 out of 10 had drills to practice the plan. About three-quarters of schools reported using security cameras.
The findings come from the National Center for Education Statistics based on a survey of principals in the 2013-2014 school year.
WOLCOTT, Conn. (AP) The town of Wolcott has a new 911 system that will allow police to pinpoint the location of emergency calls made from cell phones.
The Republican-American newspaper reports the town today becomes the first in the state to use the next-generation system in a pilot program that eventually will include the New Britain, Wilton, Enfield, Newington, Valley Shore, Fairfield, Middletown, Mashantucket and Shelton police departments .
Under the old system, police could find the location of a wireless 911 call within a quarter-mile radius. The new system shows dispatchers the caller's location within a 50-foot radius.
Police chief Eward Stephens says callers won't notice any difference when making an emergency call.
Officials say about 80 percent of 911 calls come from wireless phones.
The regional planning agency for Fairfield County is reviewing disaster management plans. A draft plan to cover 2016 through 2021 has been created to detail risk, preparation, mitigation and response to natural disasters. The Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan was crafted by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.
It outlines the response for the towns of Wilton, Weston and 6 other lower Fairfield County towns. Potential impacts from flooding, blizzards, dam failures and other possible dangers are examined.
The current Hazard Mitigation Plan was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Administration in 2011. Once the new plan is approved by FEMA, the municipalities will be eligible for various federal funding to help with implementation including for flood control projects, bridge repair and utility protection.