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An overturned tractor trailer caused some headaches for other drivers in Danbury last night.  The truck driver was in the left lane of I-84 westbound between exits 3 and 2 around 8pm, when he crossed into the median and struck a concrete barrier.  The truck overturned, closing two lanes on the westbound side and the left lane eastbound. Traffic was backed up at least two miles in each direction.  The truck wasn't cleared from the scene until about 1:30 this morning.  The driver, 66-year old Edward Bryan of West Virginia, did not sustain any apparent injury.   Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200.

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Informational sessions have been held in Putnam County about a Shared Services Initiative.  The New York state-wide initiative requires county officials to develop localized plans that find property tax savings by coordinating and eliminating duplicative services.

 

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says video conference court appearances is a concept that the county has embraced.  She says no one is being denied the right to go before a judge through the concept.  Odell says a defendant can get every right available, without any violation while saving taxpayers the cost of wear and tear on vehicles and personnel cost.

 

Odell says not every defendant wants to take the ride or be paraded in front of the public.  Sometimes they prefer to sit and wait and allow the judicial process to take place behind closed doors.

 

Odell noted that sometimes they are transporting up to 14 defendants to different municipalities, which requires man power and the back filling through overtime.  She says it can be anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 depending on how many and where the transports are going.

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An informational session is being held in Bethel tonight about the proposed renovations to Rockwell and Johnson schools.  There are several items that need to be addressed at each school including that they are not ADA accessible, have roofs at the end of their serviceable lives and lack space for educational programs.  District officials say there are some hazardous materials that need to be remediated, security measures to address and site traffic to reroute.  The meeting will be held in the general purpose room in the Municipal Center at 7pm.

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A local lawmaker introduced an amendment to allow the House Republican budget proposal be brought up for a hearing and a vote.  Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill, whose district also includes Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, called it an unprecedented amendment.  But he said the state finds itself in an unprecedented situation as well.  Connecticut is more than three weeks into the fiscal year, with no approved budget plan in place.

 

There is a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years.

 

O'Neill said the fiscal picture is worse than he's ever seen it.  He means that it is not time for business as usual.  O'Neill said the current budget process has broken down and is not working.

 

The Appropriations Committee failed to vote out a plan before the General Assembly session ended in June.  A planned special session to vote on a proposal at the end of last month was called off.  Legislative leaders also declined to vote on a mini-budget, a three month spending plan, offered by Governor Malloy.

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A joint Bethel Board of Selectman/Board of Finance Meeting will be held tomorrow night about the proposed renovations to Rockwell Elementary and Johnson Middle schools.  The meeting will be held in the general purpose room in the Municipal Center at 7pm tomorrow.

 

While the state is having financial issues, the school construction grant program is not a program that has been proposed to be cut. Under the current guidelines, Bethel would recieve 45% reimbursement for eligible costs on a "renovate as new project". Not all costs are eligible for reimbursement. Approximately 40% of the project is reimbursable.

 

Both schools have problems in heating and cooling, and after renovations the buildings will be climate controlled. Neither building has central AC currently.  The bus loop and parent drop off currently presents a safety concern.  The project design separates the bus and parent drop off. The fill removed from the back of Rockwell will be used to expand the playground area.

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Visitors to state parks this summer may have noticed some changes because of Connecticut's financial woes.  A new campground was closed this summer.  Macedonia Brook State Park campground in Kent joined three others on the closure list from last year. 

 

The Putnam Memorial State Park visitor center in Redding is only open on weekends for the second year in a row. 

 

Lifeguards at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and other state swim areas are only on duty Thursdays through Sundays, one less day than last year. 

 

There are also reports of more garbage piling up in some facilities.  Unlike New Jersey, Governor Dannel Malloy opted to keep the parks open during the budget shutdown because the parks bring in their own revenue.

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The Russell Neary Memorial Fund, named for an Easton firefighter killed in the line of duty, supported the Connecticut Burn Camp by paying for a camper to attend the week long Camp.  70 campers attending, all children with burn injuries, participated in events supported by over 100 volunteers.  The memorial fund says this was a favorite charity for Russ, who died in October 2012‚ while assisting residents during the height of Hurricane Sandy.

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The Danbury Zoning Commission is considering an amendment clarifying drive-in and drive-thru facilities in a zone along Mill Plain Road.  The amendment would prohibit drive-thrus for facilities that dispense food, beverages, and similar products.  There is an exception for licensed pharmacies dispensing prescriptions.  The amendment does not apply to other uses, like a bank or dry cleaner, providing a service rather than a product.

 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says food and beverage drive-thrus generate a significant number of traffic trips.  She says increased traffic generation can result in safety and congestion issues.  Public policy has been to prohibit uses with these characteristics in this zone.

 

This particular zone was created in 1984 to restrict development in the Mill Plain area in order to curb traffic congestion and preserve the character of an arterial roadway.  The zone starts just past the Shell station on Lake Avenue, so the McDonald's is not in the zone.  The other end of the zone is at the corner of Mill Ridge Road.  Dutchess is a pre-existing, non-conforming use.

 

In 2013, the Zoning Commission denied a petition allowing a Starbucks with a drive thru.  Calitro says conditions haven't improved since then to the point where changes would be deemed acceptable.  As for economic impact, she says this clarification will not negatively impact it.  She notes that there are many other opportunities for fast food restaurants with drive thru windows.

 

Attorney Neil Marcus was hired by a convenience store which has a petition before the Planning Commission.  The applicant is seeking to have a drive thru window.  Since the application was submitted before the Zoning clarification was proposed, it would be grandfathered in.

 

Much of the public hearing was about debating what is considered fast food.  An argument was made that it's not what an establishment sells, it's how the items are sold.

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The New Milford Zoning Commission is meeting tonight. One of their agenda items is a proposal to install solar panels on Candlewood Mountain.  A subsidiary of Ameresco wants to put up an array of solar panels next to the Candlelight Farms Inn and the airport.  The panels could generate 20 megawatts of power for the New England grid, fed through the Rocky River power station.  Tonight's Zoning Commission meeting is at 7pm in New Milford Town Hall.  The Connecticut Siting Council must also sign off on the proposal.  Some concerns have been voiced by neighbors already, including about tree clearing and glare interfering with air traffic.

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The state House and Senate overturned Governor Dannel Malloy's veto of changes to affordable housing statutes.  Brookfield officials previously said that their zoning board's hands are tied by the regulations. 

 

In his veto message, Malloy said some portion of police, firefighters and teachers should be able to live in every community they work for. Malloy says Brookfield found a way to meet the requirement, Darien and New Canaan have found ways to make progress.

 

The resurrected legislation essentially revamps the nearly 30-year-old law to make it easier for municipalities to reach a threshold of having at least 10 percent of their housing considered affordable, by expanding the unit types that count toward the threshold.

 

During the regular legislative session, the bill garnered wide, bipartisan support.  Proponents argued that "predatory developers" are misusing the law to skirt local zoning authorities in certain communities. They also maintain the vetoed bill would ultimately lead to more affordable housing opportunities once cities and towns have more control over affordable housing projects.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Metro-North Railroad officials say they'll review safety recommendations made by federal investigators after a commuter rail crash that killed six people, including a Danbury man, in a New York City suburb in 2015.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Monday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators have concluded an unusual rail design contributed to the death toll. The official says about 340 feet of electrified rail pierced a Metro-North train after it struck an SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, New York.

The official wasn't authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to the AP on Monday on the condition of anonymity.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates Metro-North. Spokesman Aaron Donovan says the agency looks forward to the NTSB's findings being presented at the board's meeting Tuesday in Washington.

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Eversource was slated to continue conducting aerial inspections today of high-voltage electrical equipment on rights of way throughout Connecticut, but the rain has changed that plan.  The aerial inspections started Wednesday and were scheduled to last one week. Weather permitting, flights will take place tomorrow and Wednesday from 7am to 5pm.  The semiannual inspection involves the use of a helicopter equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology which can detect potential equipment issues before they occur.

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5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is praising  the advancement of legislation to provide Amtrak with over a billion dollars in funding next fiscal year.  The Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee says a 21st-century economy can not be run on a crumbling 20th-century infrastructure.  She called on Amtrak to make long-overdue upgrades and repairs, expand passenger rail service to underserved communities, and lay the groundwork for future high-speed rail.  The Amtrak funds were included in a government spending bill covering the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban development.

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Ground was broken on Friday in New Milford for the senior center expansion.  Members of the Commission on Aging were on hand.  Mayor David Gronbach credited the Senior Center staff for helping get to New Milford to this point and for helping Seniors navigate the construction and transition. 

 

The Richmond Center was built as New Milford High School around 1910.  In 1931, a new high school was built on East Street and this building became the Main Street School for elementary students.  It was repurposed as a senior center in 1984. 

 

The expansion is being paid for by a grant from the State and from the Town's Waste Management Settlement fund. 

 

Gronbach thanked Mike Zarba, Dan Stanton, Al Russo, Michael Boucher, and Bob Rzasa and the Public Works crew who helped prep the site, saving the Town significant dollars.  Gronbach added that Silver Petrucelli developed a design that will mesh well with the existing building.

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The Stepney Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call yesterday about a tree that had fallen onto a Monroe house. The homeowner was not there at the time it fell, and nobody was injured.  Firefighters were on scene for a little under a hour and assessed for any hazards while Eversource shut off power to to the home.

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Area residents have been taking advantage of the summer weather and getting outdoors, but that also comes with some risks.  The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at West Conn reported last month that sampling for deer ticks reached the highest population level recorded since field monitoring was initiated in 2011. 

 

Danbury City Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi recently praised the City Health Department tick testing program.  His family took advantage of the program.

 

Residents can submit ticks, for a $5 fee, to the Department for Lyme Disease testing, with results returned in writing from the state Agricultural Experiment Station. 

 

Saadi says there was some anxiety until the negative results came in.

 

After being outdoors, people should check all exposed skin, bathe shortly after outdoor activity, and dry clothes on high heat after outdoor wear.

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The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved some proposed charter revisions be sent to the voters.  Brookfield residents will have a chance to weigh in on the recommended changes on the November ballot. The Board rejected a proposed amendment to increase the their group from three members to five. Three charter revision recommendations were forwarded by the Board. They include requiring town boards to wait at least 10 days before appointing replacement members, increasing the amount of money the Boards of Selectmen and Finance can reallocation without going to a town meeting and clarifying the authority of the Board of Ethics.

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Senior tax credits and deferrals will be examined in Brookfield.  The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved an Ad-Hoc Committee to study the current tax credits and deferrals available to senior citizens. The group was also tasked with recommending changes. The Commission on Aging requested the Ad-hoc committee. The Commission has received input that the tax credit program is not adequate and wants the policy compared to other towns in the area. They suggest that a small group of people, with some experience in finance review the tax credit programs.

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A meeting is being held tonight about the proposed off track betting facility in Danbury.  CityCenter property owners, stakeholders and others are being called on to attend the informational session about the proposed OTB parlor at Two Steps. 

 

The meeting is aimed at clearing up what advocates say are misconceptions about the project.  The plan was approved by the Zoning Commission in May, but there was a technicality and the group has to revisit the approval. 

 

Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and proposed the facility. 

 

Tonight's informational gathering is at Two Steps at 6pm.

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Danbury officials are considering setting up an E-Commerce Exchange Areas.  The spaces are meant to provide a known, well-lit and secure location at which to conduct their private business.  This is not in response to any particular incident, but rather as a proactive measure to provide citizens with a location where they can feel safe to conduct their private and legal business, as e-bay and Craigslist style transactions become more common. 

 

The Brookfield and Ridgefield Police Stations are considered E-Commerce Safe Zones. 

 

When conducting sales or purchases on Craigslist and other similar online sites, people can can request the buyer or seller to meet at the designated areas.  If the other person declines, Police say it may be a sign the transaction is questionable. 

 

Tonight's City Council ad hoc meeting is at 8:30pm on the 3rd floor of Danbury City Hall.

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