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Sunday is Volunteer Firefighter Day in Connecticut, and kicks off National Volunteer Week.  More than 60 fire departments will hold open houses Sunday from 10am-2pm.  Visitors to the fire houses will be able to talk with volunteer firefighters about the work they do, see demonstrations, explore fire apparatus and turnout gear, get a tour of the fire house, and fill out an application.

More than 80 percent of all fire personnel in Connecticut are volunteers.  Officials say the majority of fire departments throughout the state are experiencing a volunteer shortage.

Volunteer Firefighter Day is part of Everyday Hero CT, a program to increase the number of volunteer firefighters throughout the state.  It's a partnership of the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

 

Below is a list of some volunteer departments in the area:

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company
92 Pocono Road, Brookfield

Easton Volunteer Fire Company
1 Center Road, Easton

 

Kent Volunteer Fire Department
28 Maple Street, Kent

 

Northville Volunteer Fire Department
359 Litchfield Road, New Milford

Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
34 Hawleyville Road, Newtown

Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Department
55 Dodgingtown Road, Newtown

West Redding Volunteer Fire Department
306 Umpawaug Road, Redding

 

Weston Volunteer Fire Department
52 Norfield Road, Weston



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Earth Day is being celebrated in Bethel today.  Bethel Community Earth Day is co-sponsored by the Town of Bethel, Bethel Parks & Recreation, and the First Congregational Church of Bethel.  They are calling on the town to come together to build and support a healthy environment.

 

The Bethel Community Earth Day event, which will be hosted on the lawn of the Bethel Municipal Center, will include local vendors, non-profit organizations, community groups, artists, craftspeople, farmers, animals and animal lovers, and others who are dedicated to environmental awareness and preserving the planet. Throughout the day there will be live music performed by local musicians, a kid’s activity station, and service projects including a town clean-up. 

 

The event is from 9am to 4pm.



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An LGBTQ Pride Parade is being held in Bethel Sunday.  Hailey Gesler and her friend Marcella Antunes are organizing this parade to show support for others in the community that need a place to feel like they can be themselves.

 

About a month ago the 12 year old was tasked by a school project to pick an issue that effects society and write about it. She chose LGBTQ rights. She also said that she wanted to organize a parade for people in the area to come and support people from all walks of life.

 

The parade will officially kick off on main st by the church and end at the municipal center in downtown Bethel.  Several speakers are slated to make remarks.



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Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky participated in the Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter Lobby Day at the State Capitol Wednesday.  Bolinsky, who personally serves as a caregiver, says this disease should not be viewed as a political matter.  He called it a public health priority to find ways to ensure adequate funding for accessible support systems. 

 

Bolinsky says the statewide Respite Care Program is resource for families to create contingent care plans and also offers services for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's and related dementias.  He is advocating for the full restoration of funding in the upcoming budget.  

 

More information on the Respite Care Program can be found by calling the State Department of Aging at 1-866-218-6631.



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Starting next week, there will be a traffic pattern change in Weston.  The state Department of Transportation is rehabilitating the Route 57 bridge over Kettle Creek.  Route 57 in Weston will be open with one lane in each direction on the east side of the road with temporary precast concrete barrier in place to protect the work zone. This is a change from the travel pattern during stage 1 which allowed one lane in each direction on the west side of the road.



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Some firefighters in New Fairfield are taking part in a traditional ceremony today for their new fire engine. 

 

A Wet Down ceremony will be held by Squantz Engine where their new truck will be sprayed with water.  The two other fire companies from New Fairfield will be in attendance.  Assistant Chief Timothy Pfeiffer says firefighters from Sherman, Putnam Lake, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont will also be on hand.

 

Connecticut is one of the last places to hold wet down ceremonies.

 

All of their rigs will be out and opened up for visitors to see.  If there's enough interest, Pfeiffer says they might take people for a ride around the block in the engine. 

 

The wet down ceremony and open house is from noon to 4pm at 255 Route 39.



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Renderings of a proposed roundabout in Monroe have been released.  The roundabout would replace the intersection of Routes 110 and 111.  The stone wall around firemen's field in the rendering will not be included after the state opted instead for natural vegetation. 

 

 

The project is aimed at addressing operation and safety concerns at the intersection of Routes 110 and 111.  The project consists of removing the existing flashing beacon and constructing a modern roundabout. The proposed work includes converting Hurd Avenue to a cul-de-sac, as well as installing sidewalks throughout the project area. Landscaping and other decorative features will also be included. 

 

The estimated construction cost for this project is approximately $4.1 million, anticipated to be undertaken with 80% Federal funds and 20% State funds.



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New Milford Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a suspect wanted for stealing tools. The incident occurred on Bridge Street overnight April 16th into 17th.  The window of a work van was broken in order to gain access.  New Milford Police say a roofing-nailer, a hand grinder and other items were stolen. Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police at 860-355-3133 or the anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000 or by sending an email to TIPS@newmilfordpolice.org.

 



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The New Fairfield Board of Finance has signed off on a no-increase budget for the towns and schools.  But town officials caution that pending cuts in state aide could add 4-percent to tax bills.  The proposed school budget was reduced by $1.5 million.  The Newstimes reports that 6 new employees will not be hired by the Board of Education and two restoration projects will be put on hold.  Those two changes account for $670,000 of the needed reductions.  The municipal budget is pegged at $10.91 million.



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A Wilton resident's appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission decision has been dismissed by a superior court judge.  William and Eliot Patter filed a suit in 2015 about an artificial turf field being installed at Middlebrook School.  The Wilton Bulletin reports that the application by Wilton Youth Football's application for an amendment to a special permit and for their sight plan approval.  They claimed the commission arbitrarily and illegally decided because Wilton Youth Football lacked standing to submit the application.  The judge reportedly decided that because the has been actively running youth football programs there, it had sufficient interest in the property.



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Two more men who claimed to be victims of a Danbury-based human trafficking ring that preyed on men with mental illnesses are looking to join a lawsuit against two of the men arrested last month.  The Newstimes reports that a motion was filed Thursday to add the new plaintiffs to the suit against 72-year-old William Trefzger of Westport and 63-year old Bruce Bemer of Glastonbury, who were charged with patronized a trafficked person. 

 

The lawsuit seeks to freeze about $10 million in assets from the two defendants.

 

There were at least 15 victims.  Authorities say the men coerced into prostitution had severe psychological disorders and were addicted to drugs.  Danbury Police say the men were plied with drugs and money and delivered to wealthy clients to have sex for money after they had built up substantial drug debts.

 

A third man, Robert King of Danbury, is the accused ring leader.  More arrests are expected. 



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The 7th Annual Conversations with Extraordinary Women event was held in Danbury last night. The discussion hosted by the Women's Business Council of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce featured Gretchen Carlson.  She became the face of sexual harassment in the workplace last year and is now promoting having a safe work environment for all women.

 

Motivational speaker Holly Dowling says there’s a good way for women to feel empowered in the work place, and noted that it’s something that is cross cultural. She believes women should give themselves permission to stand up for and fall in love with who they are. Dowling said it’s not about waiting for the world to hand you something, it’s about standing up for yourself.

Moderator Christine Palm is the head of the state Commission on Women, Children and seniors. She was asked if it’s been a challenge to oversee the merged Commission. Palm noted that the biggest legislative initiative this session is paid family leave, which affects all three groups. She notes that women are still the primary caregivers of children and elderly parents. She says this is a turbulent time right now and a lot of women’s issues have been brought to light. Palm noted that the two speakers have experienced the yin and yang of corporate life. Palm says it was a powerful message about how everyone can take ownership of their own destiny and affect policy.

 

(Gretchen Carlson, Holly Dowling, Christine Palm, Women's Business Council Director JoAnn Cueva)

 

 


Carlson, just named to TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2017, started the Gift of Courage Fund this year. It empowers young girls by helping them build self-esteem and instill them with confidence. When she sued Fox News leader Roger Ailes for sexual harassment last year, she heard from thousands of women who had similar experiences with sexual harassment. She felt like she had to do something. Besides advocacy, that was setting up a fund to financially support existing organizations that do the same work.

 

Carlson spoke with several members of Congress recently about the issue of arbitration clauses, which are prevalent in business contracts now. She says people are basically signing away the 7th amendment rights. In many cases that go to arbitration, the perpetrator would stay in their job and nobody would ever find out about it because it’s done in secret. Carlson added that 9 times out of 10 the woman has to leave her workplace. She says what’s happened in 2017 is that we’re fooling our culture into believing that we’ve made advances in combating sexual harassment because there’s less talk about the cases. But it’s because many are being forced into secrecy in arbitration.

 

 

Changing the workplace culture should not just be on the shoulders of women, according to Carlson.

 


If it’s just one or two women speaking up, it’s hard to make a change. She encouraged everyone who’s been a victim of sexual harassment in the work place to speak out. But she also encouraged men to be part of the equation. As long as men are still in power in 95-percent of Fortune 500 companies, they need to understand this issue. Carlson called on men not to label women who speak out as “trouble makers” and to celebrate women who come forward. Carlson suggested that the way in which sexual harassment cases are reported may need to be taken out of the hands of HR and instead placed in an outside, independent group that people can feel comfortable going to.

Carlson says he life has worked in mysterious ways. She never expected to be the face of this issue, but the one constant is that she never gives up. Carlson says that’s the one thing that everyone should wake up with, that whatever the challenge—find the strength to never give up.



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Danbury-based Praxair has been named to Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2017.  This is the fifth consecutive year Praxair has been recognized by this publication.

Praxair was acknowledged for its leadership and achievements based on the company’s performance in seven categories: environment, climate change, human rights, employee relations, governance, corporate philanthropy & community support, and financial. 

 

Praxair officials says their customers just in the last year were able to avoid more than twice the greenhouse gases than were emitted in all of the company's operations and to provide safe drinking water to more than 125 million people globally.



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Danbury officials are looking for volunteers to help with the second year of the Clean Start program.  The initiative is a joint effort with Jericho Partnership to offer help to the city's homeless population. 

 

Each team of participants is led by volunteers/job coaches.  Jericho Partnership is actively searching for more volunteers to lead teams this summer.  Approximately 1,000 hours were spent on beautification projects by program participants in exchange for gift cards.  Four people found jobs during the program.

 

Last year, participants worked with CityCenter Danbury to clean streets downtown, with the Danbury Department of Public Utilities to paint fire hydrants, with the Danbury Housing Department to clean streets and yards, with Tarrywile Park to widen walking paths and landscape, and with the Danbury Parking Authority to clean and paint.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the initiative to combat the issue of homelessness helps get people involved in the community and begin a pathway to employment.

 

Each volunteer would lead either a two or a four hour shift twice a week, Monday & Wednesday or Tuesday & Thursday between 9am-1pm.

 

To volunteer or to find out more information, contact Harry Pugner at Jericho Partnership, 203-791- 1180 / harry@jerichopartnership.org.



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When Bethel residents went to their voting place Tuesday, there was a new computer in place for people with sight impairment.  The state is rolling out the Accessible Voting System for people who have difficulty filling in the ovals on the ballot. 

 

The system involves headphones to hear the ballot questions, a keypad to select responses and a touch screen tablet to send the responses to a printer which marks the ballot.  The paper ballot is then placed by the voter into the tabulator, just like all other ballots.  

 

There are no electronic ballots, and there is no electronic record of who used the system and how they voted.  Registrar Tim Beeble explained in a written statement that the tablet system is not linked to the internet. 

 

The vote data is not recorded or stored on the tablet.

 

(Photo: Bethel Registrar's Office, Facebook)

 

 



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Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested a man who was making an appearance in Danbury Superior Court on a sexual assault charge.  ICE took 23-year old Jonathan Rubio into custody yesterday for an immigration violation.  The Newstimes reports that the Department of Homeland Security did not detail his country of origin. 

 

Rubio was out on bond for a January 2014 incident in which he allegedly drugged a 15-year old girl with a form of Ecstasy and had sex with her.  He was due in court for a pre-trial hearing. 

 

Last month ICE agents took a 22-year old Ecuadorian citizen into custody on the day he was scheduled to be in court on a sex assault charge.  Julio Virgilio Paida-Morquencho had already pleaded guilty. 



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A teenager has been arrested for driving while their ability was impaired by drugs.  New York State Police say a Trooper stopped a car in Brewster for failing to signal and to stay in the lane of travel on Oak Street late Sunday night.  The 18-year old, whose name was not released because of age, was also cited for endangering the welfare of a child because there was a 17-year old passenger in the car.  The passenger was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. 



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A former Newtown man serving a federal prison sentence has been given jail time in a state case.  William Trudeau was in Danbury Superior Court yesterday on a charge of violating probation.  A court clerk says the 53-year old was sentenced to five years in prison, to run concurrently to the 16-year federal sentence. 

 

Trudeau, the former owner of Newtown Oil, was sentenced in 2008 to probation for taking $262,000 in payment from elderly customers, but never delivering their fuel.  The 25 year prison sentence was suspended so he could make restitution. 

 

In 2010, federal authorities charged Trudeau in a mortgage fraud scheme, violating his probation in that state case.



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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) The woman charged with sending death threats to a man whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, has returned to court in Florida.

Court records show 57-year-old Lucy Richards made a brief appearance Wednesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale where she was ordered held without bail. Richards was arrested in the Tampa area after failing to show up at a March 29 hearing for a planned guilty plea and sentencing.

She was to plead guilty to a charge of interstate transmission of a threat to injure for threatening Lenny Pozner, the father of Noah Pozner who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Prosecutors said she told them she believed the shooting was a hoax.

No other court dates have been set.



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A former Brookfield volunteer firefighter driving through Danbury yesterday afternoon saw a fire and took action to extinguish it.  Danbury Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says a 911 call was made about a porch fire on Cel Bret Drive and firefighters were dispatched. 

 

(Photo: Mark Omasta, DFD)

 

In the meantime, passersby Drew Osgood grabbed a neighbor's garden hose and held the fire in check until firefighters arrived.  The flames were starting to spread toward the attic area of the single family home.  The house suffered damage to the rear deck, along with the outer layers of the house and into the edge of the roof area. 

 

There were no injuries.  The Danbury Fire Marshals Office is investigating.  The Ridgefield Fire Department responded with mutual aide. 

 

Deputy Chief Bernie Meehan credits Osgood with quick thinking that prevented a certain disaster.



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