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WCSU to host telescope viewings of Mars

West Conn is hosting special telescope viewings of Mars tonight.  The rooftop observation deck of the Science Building on the midtown campus will be open from 10pm to midnight.  Viewings are also scheduled for July 27th and 30th as well as August 4th.  Mars will be at its closest approach to the Earth and highest magnitude of brightness since 2003.  Mars will shine brighter than any other object in the sky, except Venus and the moon.  Observations will not be offered if significant cloud cover prevents telescope viewing.

Inaugural Medal of Honor Parade today in Carmel

Over 300 flags with the names of Veterans line the shore of Lake Gleneida in Putnam County.  The Row of Honor will remain up through today, when the inaugural Medal of Honor Parade will pass by them. The parade, which begins at 1pm, will launch from Paladin Center on Seminary Hill Road and end at the corner of Route 52 and Fair Street in Carmel.  With a $100 donation, the name of your loved one can appear on a flag. People can sponsor a flag with the name of a loved one and a 100-dollar donation, with proceeds going toward Veterans Peer-to-Peer projects.

Area lawmakers tout open space preservation

New Milford state Senator Criag Miner and Kent Representative Brian Ohler have celebrated the preservation of open space in Norfolk.  The 240 acre Vagliano forest will be preserved. 
26 towns in northwest Connecticut lie within the designated region of the federal Highlands Conservation Act.  The measure represents a sixth of the entire land protection budget of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Between 2008 and 2017, it has brought more than $8 million to Connecticut and saved more than 1,630 acres. Connecticut leverages every federal dollar more than 3 to 1 in matching state, municipal and private funding. 
Tim Abbott and Lynn Werner of the Housatonic Valley Association were praised furing a celebratory check presentation for their commitment to the environment, overall.

NY man arrested for alleged Oxford arson

A New York man has been arrested on arson charges in Oxford.  42-year old Leon Carson of Yonkers was charged by State Police yesterday with burglary, arson, criminal mischief, tampering with evidence, interfering with an officer, reckless endangerment and insurance fraud. 


According to the arrest affidavit, he house was being rented to a woman and her five children, though rent hadn't been paid for 8 months and the tenants were being evicted.  Also in the documents, a Trooper reported that the home's owner reportedly joked with the marshal that she should just set the house on fire because it was insured for $300,000. 


An accelerant was found under a couch and on the curtains.  A partially opened gas container was found in a cabinet under the kitchen sink.  Gloves allegedly used by Carson were tossed out of the car afterward.  There was reportedly a fire at the same home in 2005, when it was insured for $50,000.

Sandy Hook firefighters respond to crash, RV fire

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue had a busy afternoon yesterday.  They closed Jordan Hill Road for a short period of time just after 2pm after a two car accident where a distracted driver crossed over and hit another vehicle. One driver was transported to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries.  Around 5:45pm, they responded to an RV fire on the highway.  The incident was reported between exits 10 and 11 eastbound.  There were no injuries.


(Photo: Sandy Hook Fire)

Brookfield Board of Ed committee discusses school building, renovation

The Brookfield Board of Education Strategic Facilities Committee is suggesting a way forward to addressing issues with the buildings.  The Newstimes reports that the Committee wants to further explore building a new Huckleberry Hill Elementary School and renovations to Whisconier Middle School, turning Center School over to the town.  This would be done by having 5th graders move into the elementary school and pre-k and first grade in Huckleberry.  The current building would be demolished and a new school built on the same site.  The proposal would be a 62-million dollar project.  Whisconier renovations are estimated at 38-point-3 million.  A final recommendation could be made at the Board of Ed's August meeting.

New Milford to install benches, tabletop games leading to riverwalk

New Milford is one of the 129 grantees nationwide receiving funds through an AARP Livable Communities’ grant program.  AARP Community Challenge ‘quick action’ grant awardees will use the money to fund innovative projects to inspire change and improvements.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the town's project will provide park benches and game top tables along a walking route from the downtown to the riverwalk.  Bass hopes this will encourage walking and multigenerational social engagement. 

Brookfield Craft Center receives $143,000 in grant funding

The Brookfield Craft Center has received $100,000 in grant money. Executive Director Howard Lasser says a foundation, which wanted to remain anonymous, committed to the same donation in each of the next two years.  The Craft Center also received $43,000 in other donations for several initiatives.  Some of the overall funding will be used to fund a position that is part "Artist in Residence" and part Education Director. 
The "Center for Modern Craft" will also be outfitted to provide classes in 3D printing, digital photography and other digital skills.  Other grant funding will pay for a patio in front of the Mill building.  Money will also go toward scholarships and youth programs. 
The $43,000 in donations comes from Iroquois Gas Transmission Systems, Maximillian E. & Marian O. Hoffman Foundation Inc., Give Back Brands Foundation, The Womens Club of Danbury / New Fairfield, Savings Bank of Danbury, and Lions Club of Brookfield.  The State of Connecticut Supporting Arts Grant program also contributed to the funding pool.

Brush removal in New Fairfield ahead of schedule

Storm debris pick up in New Fairfield is again ahead of schedule.  Crews will begin working through the Ball Pond area today.  It's designated as the brown zone on a map released by the town.  New Fairfield officials asked that residents have brush within the right-of-way for pick up.  A copy of the map with colored zones for pick up can be found on the New Fairfield town website or by clicking this link.


Aquatic Invasive Species inspections on Candlewood Lake this weekend

Connecticut will mark its third Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Weekend by partnering with the Candlwood Lake Authority on education and inspection sessions.  DEEP is encouraging boaters this weekend to take steps to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals.  DEEP staff will be at the Lattins Cove and Squantz Cove boat launches on Candlewood Lake, educating boaters about clean and safe boating practices and conducting Aquatic Invasive Species inspections.


DEEP staff will be at the launches from about 7am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday. 


Many aquatic invasive plants form dense mats just under the water surface, which can be hazardous to recreational boaters and swimmers.  Zebra mussels, a problematic invader, have colonized several lakes and ponds in Western Connecticut. 


DEEP encourages boaters to use the Clean, Drain, Dry method to help prevent the spread of invasive species among water bodies.  The method involves a boat inspection to remove aquatic plants and animals as well as mud or other debris from the vessel.  Boaters should then drain any water collected from that water body.  The boat should then dry for a minimum of 1 week in hot/dry weather or 4 weeks in cool/wet weather. 


Fishing gear and shoes should also be put through these steps.

CityCenter Danbury names new executive director

CityCenter Danbury has named Betsy Paynter as the new executive director of the downtown development district. She has been economic and community development manager for the town of Brookfield for the past year. Before that, the Danbury native held the economic development job in Newtown. Paynter starts on August 1st and will report to the CityCenter Board of Commissioners. She was touted for her experience in relationship building, event planning, grant writing, small business development, creative management and marketing outreach.  Paynter is credited with being a central player in Brookfield’s development of the new Town Center retail and residential development to revitalize the area known as the Four Corners. She takes over for PJ Prunty, who now leads the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.

Redding residents weigh in on poll about plastic bag ban idea

Redding residents voting in a poll on the town's Facebook page overwhelmingly said they would support a ban on plastic shopping bags.  The week-long poll garnered more than 700 votes, with 76-percent in favor and 24-percent opposed. 


First Selectman Julia Pemberton said in the posting that it was being conducted as a way to gather feedback from a large number of people. 


Westport was the first to ban plastic bags in Connecticut, followed by Greenwich--though there is an exception for grocery stores.  Pemberton noted that paper may have more of a carbon footprint, but plastic has long lasting impacts and there is no one right answer. 


She says Redding has been at the forefront of the environmental movement with open space preservation and a commitment to clean water.  Permberton noted that most businesses in town use paper.  She added that businesses would have to be part of the future discussion because town officials don't want to make it more costly to do business in Redding.

Lakes Awareness Week marked in Connecticut

This was Lakes Awareness Week in Connecticut.  Danbury State Representative David Arconti requested the proclamation from the State. 


He says in western Connecticut and across the State, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs are some of the most important natural resources.  Arconti says it's important to find more ways to support them and groups like the Connecticut Federation of Lakes, who advocate on behalf of inland water resources. 


The Candlewood Lake Authority hosted an on-the-water meeting yesterday.  Representatives from several lakes briefed Arconti and New Milford State Senator Craig Minor on the current status of these issues and on the efforts locally to address them.


Candlewood Lake turns 90 this year.  The man-made lake was created in 1928. 


The Connecticut Federation of Lakes says often AIS are introduced into Connecticut lakes by boaters that unknowingly transport invasive aquatic plant fragments on boat propellers, in bilges, or on trailers. 


CLA Chairman Phyllis Schaer says shoreline development and recreational uses contribute to added stress that can affect water quality and the health of lakes.  But she noted that this can be counteracted by good lake stewardship practices to minimize erosion and restore shoreline vegetation where ever possible.  

Danbury Fire Department receives donation of ATV

The Danbury Fire Department has received a donation of an all-terrain vehicle for search and rescue operations.  The ATV was donated by Enbridge, which owns  the Algonquin natural gas pipeline that runs through Danbury.  Fire officials say they realized the need for this type of equipment after an avid mountain biker went missing in Farrington Woods and was founded dead after a day of searching.  Another fire department loaned their ATV to Danbury for the search.  The ATV can hold four passengers and performs better than the department's John Deere Gator, which works best on flat surfaces.  It also can hold several gallons of water for response to brush fires, and is equipped with GPS tracking and a communications system.

Partial bridge replacement project underway in Danbury

The Danbury Public Works Department is doing a partial bridge replacement along Jefferson Avenue.  The bridge was inspected and it was determined that the decking was in poor condition.  A contractor is removing the poured slab deck and a new one will be poured. 


Director Antonio Iadarola says there are no hydraulic opening issues and the current size will be maintained.  The project has to be done within 120 days and the department is confident that it will be done in a third of that time. 


Councilman Duane Perkins asked if there's been any major flooding in that area and if the Department plans to do any other engineering work around the bridge as part of the project. Iadarola says the rubble retaining walls on either side of the bridge are in good shape so the restoration work there will be minimal.  He didn't address whether or not there has been a flooding issue.

Report: Independent Party court battle could determine gubernatorial endorsement

Two factions of Connecticut’s Independent Party have been fighting in court for the last two years over a number of issues, including cross-endorsements.  The Courant reports that a state Superior Court Judge is expected to rule soon on a 2016 lawsuit about leadership, rules and candidate nominations.  The leader of the Waterbury wing led by Michael Telesca, call the Danbury faction a  kangaroo caucus, run only by Mayor Mark Boughton.  The GOP endorsed gubernatorial candidate denied the claim.  The Independent Party has been a way for Republicans to counter the second ballot line of Democrats cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.  Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who didn't get enough petition signatures to be on the primary ballot, told the Courant he could seek the Independent Party's endorsement.  The party has about 25-thousand registered members.

Substance in Pootatuck River deemed nontoxic

Some Newtown residents alerted officials about a milky substance in the Pootatuck River last week.  The Newtown Bee reports the small bloom was determined to be nontoxic and not harmful to the trout stream.  The milky substance was spotted near Commerce Road last Tuesday.  Deputy Director of Planning Rob Sibley told the Bee that the small plume came up after nontoxic substances were forced out of a blocked curtain drain at St Rose of Lima Church during a storm water system replacement project.  The pumped out and discolored water ran into the river.

Newtown Planning Commission considers Curtis Corporate Park proposal

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a meeting about a proposal for Curtis Corporate Park at their July 19th meeting.  A Bethel firm has proposed an industrial building for four tenants on a one acre lot at 3 Turnberry Lane.  The lot is within the town’s Aquifer Protection District so the application will be examined to see whether an aquifer protection review is required.  The single-story 8,300-square-foot structure would be served by two driveways off Turnberry Lane and include about two dozen parking spaces.  The meeting is set for 7:30pm at Newtown Municipal Center.

Family sues companies over worker's electrocution

WILTON, Conn. (AP) The family of a utility contractor who was electrocuted on the job has filed a lawsuit claiming his employers failed to follow safety guidelines.

The Hour reports that Marco Silva's family sued in Superior Court in Danbury last week. The family alleges his employer, KTI Utility Construction & Maintenance LLC, and the energy company Eversource didn't follow regulations. Nara Rodrigues-Feitosa is seeking more than $15,000.

Silva was killed in June 2016 when his equipment contacted a transmission line during a project in Wilton. KTI later met with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and agreed to pay a $2,000 fine.

Silva's family claims Eversource should have de-energized the lines.

KTI didn't return a request for comment.

An Eversource spokesman said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation. 

Boughton gubernatorial ad features officers named in civil lawsuit

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mayor Mark Boughton has released a new campaign ad, as he faces a primary challenge from four other GOP hopefuls.  The ad is being questioned for featuring two City Police Department members, who were named last week in a federal civil rights lawsuit.  Moore Bail Bonds owner Yvonne Perkins claims five department members conspired to put the company out of business and steer clients to the company’s competitors.  The city intends to ask that the case be dismissed.  Perkins told The Newstimes that when she brought up the alleged harassment, she was told by the Mayor and Chief to sue.  Boughton denied that.  The paper asked Boughton about the ad, and he said it was a complete coincidence that it was those officers who were featured.  





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