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Kent has declared a state of emergency due to flooding caused by a mile-long ice jam.  Waters from the Housatonic River rose and then froze, covering many of the town's roads.

 

Due to public safety concerns, state and local officials are restricting access to select roads and recreation areas.  Enforcement action will be taken for illegal entry into restricted areas.  While this is a rare phenomenon, officials say this is not a time for sight-seeing.

 

Four homes have been evacuated. The emergency shelter is open, but all evacuees have found other housing.  The Kent Volunteer Fire Department is responding to numerous basement flooding calls.

 

(Photo: KVFD)

 

The Kent School, a private boarding school with 580 students,will be closed through at least Sunday.  Kent Center School is closed today, Tuesday.  There will be no HVRHS/OWTS bus runs in or out of Kent today.

 

This declaration opens an uninterrupted line of communication with regional, state, and federal partners.  This will also allow the Town of Kent to – if necessary - request public safety & public health resources, from a large selection pool.

 

There is no imminent threat to public safety. However, the movement of this ice jam and its lifespan is unknown. 

 

Public roads/recreation areas that are closed or have limited access include:
- Route 7 between Route 341 and Bulls Bridge
- Schaghticoke Road
- River Road
- Bulls Bridge Recreation Area
- First Light Recreation Area
-The Housatonic River in these restricted areas

 

If you do reside near the river or in a low-lying area, you should always be monitoring water levels and ice buildup. If you do have an emergency, dial 911.  If you have any non-emergency questions contact Susie Rundall, Kent Emergency Management Director, at (860) 706-3833.

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A Public Informational Meeting is being held tonight in Redding about the proposed realignment of the Long Ridge Road railroad-highway grade crossing.  The meeting at Redding Town Hall is at 7pm, with a snow date of the 23rd. 

 

The work will reconstruct and realign Side Cut Road, Long Ridge Road, and Simpaug Turnpike in the area of the grade crossing to better accommodate low clearance vehicles.  The project will also improve sight distances. 

 

A utility coordinator meeting was held at Redding Town Hall December 7th about the traffic congestion easement project near the post office.  Eversource and Frontier are reviewing design plans for moving utility poles.  The work will impact the railroad tracks so Metro North is being consulted. 

 

The design will address localized flooding as well. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2019, based on the availability of funding. The estimated construction cost for this project is $2 million, with 90-percent paid for with Federal Funds. 

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Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding will seek a 3rd term in office.  He plans to officially announce his candidacy next week.  Harding won a special election in February 2015 and was reelected in 2016.  He represents the 107th District, which also includes parts of Bethel and Danbury.  He is on the Environment Committee, Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee, and Judiciary Committee.  Harding runs a law practice in the Danbury area. He also served on the Brookfield Board of Education from 2013 to 2017.

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Students from each of Connecticut's 5 congressional districts have been selected as the winners of an essay contest sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.  In the 5th District, Kenneth Miller, a student at Sandy Hook School, Karl Miller, a student at Newtown High School, and Kyler Kumi, a student at Rochanmbeau Middle School in Southbury won.  This was the 2nd annual essay challenge.  Some 700 students submitted essays.  The winning ones will be displayed in Murphy’s office.

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The Danbury Police Department is looking to fill more vacancies and is specifically looking for applicants who are already police officers in Connecticut.  Applications will be accepted from January 22nd through February 12th.  People will have to take physical and written exams.  The written test will be held February 17th.  CT P.O.S.T. Certified Police Officers must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, have a valid driver’s license, and be a U.S. citizen.

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A local state of emergency has been declared in Kent.  Some roads that lead to the Housatonic River and recreational areas will be closing. 

 

Flooding is reported on several swollen Connecticut rivers, causing problems around the state.

In Kent, officials said ice jams on the Housatonic River caused the waters to rise onto a private boarding school campus and froze in place. The school's ice rink was surrounded by frozen water.  Kent School Safety Director says they are sending all boarding school students home because of uncertainty with the flooding and ice jams.  They have approximately 520 boarding students and 60 other students.  The school won't reopen until at least Sunday. 

 

The Kent Senior Center is open as a shelter for residents who might be displaced by the flooding. 

 

 

(Photos: KVFD Assistant Chief Gary Hock, Facebook)

 

The weather service says there's also flooding on the Shepaug River in Roxbury due to ice jams.  The high waters are making some roads impassable, and officials are warning people not to drive on flooded roadways.

 

The weather service says the Connecticut River is also flooding, and communities including Hartford, Glastonbury and Portland are either experiencing flooding or being told to expect it.

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New York State Police are investigating the suicide of a Connecticut man.  Troopers located a deceased person inside a vehicle at the Stormville rest area, on Interstate 84 westbound yesterday afternoon.  The name and age of the person is being withheld, pending notification to family members.

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The first designs have been reviewed by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  Evaluation of the 188 submissions will continue this week.  Of the first 30, only one was unanimously approved to move forward. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that the proposal includes a “Sacred Sycamore Tree,” with the sacred soil beneath it,  and a manufactured pool with names of the victims carved in stone surrounding it.  There are concerns with the cost of the project. 

 

According to minutes of the review session, Commission members were looking for designs that were accessible for navigating the property; had some sort of kiosk or shelter and the inclusion of the sacred soil in a meaningful way, but not as the central focus of the memorial.  They also agrees that there should be a distinct place for the victims’ names, instead of scattered around the property.

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A Town Meeting will be held in Sherman on Saturday about funding for emergency communications equipment.  Residents will be deciding on no more than $147,000 from the Capital Non-Recurring Fund to bring the Simulcast system to Sherman.  Originally, the proposal was much higher, but existing infrastructure will be used, dropping the costs.  The town meeting on the 20th is at 10am.

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An Easton Veterinarian who previously owned a horse believed to be abandoned in Newtown in October has been caring for the animal.  The Newtown Bee reports in the follow up that Dr Sherif Lawendy adopted the horse out, but the new owner did not sufficiently care for her.  The horse was found wandering a farm on Poverty Hollow Road.  Lawendy reclaimed the pet and intends to adopt the horse out again in the spring.

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A Danbury man has been arrested for repeatedly punching a pregnant woman while she was driving.  New York State Police say a victim drove into the parking lot of the Brewster barracks on Thursday evening to report the crime. 

 

Troopers took the passenger, 35-year old Allen Bredbenner, into custody and launched an invesetigation.  It was determined that Bredbenner repeatedly hit the woman in the face and stomach with a closed fist.   

 

The victim was taken to Putnam Hospital for evaluation. 

 

He was charged with assault and reckless endangerment.  Bredbenner was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Jail on bond.

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A New Milford man has been arrested for burglarizing a home in Dover, New York.  State Police Troopers began investigating a burglary in August 2016 where two metal detectors, a chainsaw, and a Ruger .357 handgun were reported stolen. 

 

A piece of torn latex glove recovered at the scene and a lab analysis revealed a DNA match to 36-year old Brent Latham. 

 

He was incarcerated in Connecticut.  Latham was arrested as a Fugitive of Justice Thursday and extradited to New York State.  Latham was arraigned and ordered held at Dutchess County Jail. 

 

Latham was arrested by Connecticut State Police in October 2016 on a burglary charge and sentenced in June 2017 to one year in prison.

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A man has been sentenced for his role in a steroid manufacturing and distribution conspiracy case.  Alex Kenyhercz was part of a ring headed by former Newtown Police Sgt. Steven Santucci.  Kenyhercz was ordered Friday to two years probation.

 

Wiretap interceptions, along with physical surveillance of various steroid sales, revealed that Santucci was supplying steroids to Kenyhercz, which he would then distribute to others.  He also illegally distributed prescription medication, including Roxicodone, Oxycodone, Suboxone and Opana. 

 

Kenyhercz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.

 

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized hundreds of vials of steroids, approximately 600 grams of raw testosterone powder, approximately 350 grams of powder cocaine, and four long guns.

 

Santucci was sentenced in August 2016 to 16 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release. He must serve six months of home confinement and perform 120 hours of community service while on supervised release.

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An unoccupied car stopped on Topstone Road in Redding shut down part of the Danbury branch of Metro North Friday night.  Railroad officials say the accident happened just north of the Branchville station shortly before 11:30pm.  No injuries were reported.  Service was restored around 2am Saturday.  A car was struck at the Topstone Road crossing in December, sending the driver to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

 

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Mark Twain Library in Redding will reopen today. 

 

The library was forced to close on January 2nd when the boiler exploded.  A new furnace has been installed and heat is returning to the building.  Library board and staff say they escaped the further damage because no pipes froze and leaked. 

 

They took precautions and rented large propane heat blowers, covered the collections and electronic equipment with 600 feet of plastic sheeting and added hundreds of gallons of glycol to domestic plumbing and HVAC pipes to keep them from freezing. 

 

All fines for overdue items will be forgiven.  Mark Twain Library will remain open until 8 pm Monday through Thursday for students who want to study there.  Staff is celebrating the reopening with hot beverages and treats.

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The Housatonic River has frozen over part of Route 7 in Kent. There is an ice jam, with the river frozen over for half a mile.  Large pieces of the ice jam are now frozen together because of the overnight temperatures dipping down into the single digits. 

 

Route 7 from Route 341 to Bulls Bridge will remain closed until further notice. 

 

State Representative Brian Ohler says the floodwaters are starting to recede.  Once the waters fully recede, the state Department of Transportation must inspect the entire roadway to determine its strength and integrity.  Drivers are being directed to South Kent Road, to Bulls Bridge, and then back onto Route 7.  

 

The Kent Resident State Trooper cautioned people from getting to close to the ice jam.  The Housatonic River is flowing from Cornwall back northward and that large volume of water is creating some intense pressure on the jam point in Kent. 

 

Several people have been displaced from their homes due to flooding.  There was also significant flooding reported at Kent School.

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Connecticut State Police say in a new report on the shooting at Sandy Hook School that unnecessary personnel potentially contaminated the crime scene by stepping on bullet casings and glass shards before they were collected for evidence.

 

State police released a report Friday that reviewed their response to the 2012 shooting.

 

The report concludes state police handled the response effectively, but it makes numerous recommendations about crime scene integrity, how to deal with victims' families and other issues.

 

For example, one of the challenges noted in the report was the inability to communicate with other first responders due to limited cell capability.  DESPP is working on behalf of the state to implement a broadband network for first responders, which will give priority and preemption for communication for first responders and emergency management during catastrophic incidents.  

 

One recommendation is limiting access to the crime scene to authorized personnel. The report says uninvolved police officials and "dignitaries" were allowed in and disrupted the crime scene.

 

The report does not specifically address why it took more than five years to complete.  Feedback was solicited from dozens of individuals notably, responding troopers, agency support personnel, other state and local agencies, and family members of victims.

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A bank employee who wrote the word 'HELP' on the fogged up glass door to Wells Fargo on Church Hill Road has been cited for creating a public disturbance.  A person saw the word and thought that someone inside was in trouble.  Responding officers saw people in the area conducting business as usual. 

 

Police knocked on the locked main entrance, and the bank manager let them in.  She said an employee, Alexis Barry, wrote it as a joke to other employees.  The 31-year old Newtown resident was cited for creating a public disturbance for the potential panic caused to the general public. 

 

Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says "obviously this type of prank puts the general public, other bank employees, and responding officers at an unnecessary risk, especially in the times and community we live in."

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Communities across Connecticut are hoping drone footage, video greetings and promises of tax incentives and land can lure Amazon's planned second headquarters.

The state submitted an application in October that includes sites in the Hartford and Stamford areas. At the same time, several cities submitted separate applications.

The Associated Press sought details of those proposals from cities and states around the U.S., including the money spent to develop them, through public records requests. The state, along with Danbury and New Britain, are among only a small group of places around the country to release their proposals to the AP.

New Haven has not yet responded to AP's request for documents concerning their application and Bridgeport has asked for additional time to comply with the request.

A look at some details from the Connecticut submissions:

--

STATE OF CONNECTICUT

Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith said the state's submission, which includes a video greeting from Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was a multi-faceted effort.

"Throughout this process, people came out of the woodwork to provide creative ideas, sign letters of support, and roll up their sleeves to help out," she said in October.

The department said it did not provide any details about the financial assistance offered in its proposal to "preserve the ability to enter into direct negotiations." But DECD said the package will include "direct incentives for Amazon" as well as "funding to support needed investments in communities benefiting from Amazon's growth."

The state was billed $35,000 by a Glastonbury company to provide renderings and drone imagery, and to coordinate and produce diagrams and supply video. The state was also billed $5,250 by a Connecticut-based web developer to design CTisPrime.com .

--

DANBURY

Danbury is offering a seven-year, 100 percent abatement of local property taxes on real estate and personal property. It's also providing a one-year, 100 percent sewer and water fee abatement, and a land lease for an airport hangar.

A local printer was paid $426 to print 13 copies of the application and for graphic design work. Another Danbury company was paid $750 for a video shoot and edit. A Vernon web development company was paid $1,500 for online advertising.

Emails show there was a lot enthusiasm among Danbury officials about the cover of the city's application to Amazon. It features the familiar Amazon cardboard box and company logo.

There's a map of the region highlighting the suggested location - a former conference and banquet center - and its proximity to sites such as Candlewood Lake, the Danbury Municipal Airport, Interstate 84, Western Connecticut State University campuses, the New York state line and the Brewster, New York, train station.

"The box was a phenomenal idea!" wrote one official.

--

NEW BRITAIN

Documents show New Britain is offering a 30-year tax deferral on parcels Amazon uses and the city also proposes giving Amazon 25 acres of land it owns.

The site is zoned for a "technology park" and is adjacent to I-84. The application also promises the city will be "completely transparent, aggressive with incentives and considerations to make your business our number one priority."

Records show New Britain paid a local printer, Sir Speedy, $389 to print five binders for the Amazon application. There were also expenses for drone footage of the community but the amount wasn't listed.

An email containing a draft letter from New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart to Amazon indicates the Republican hopes her relative youth sways the company.

"Dear Amazon, Erin Stewart here from the great city of New Britain, CT. I'm 30 years old and I'm the youngest female mayor in the United States of America," the letter read. "New Britain is a pretty cool community - 75,000 people sitting in only 13 square miles but chock-full of things to do." 

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A Newtown family was displaced by a fire last night.  Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue responded to Charter Ridge, after the homeowner reported heavy smoke in the basement.  The occupants self-evacuated, without injury. 

 

The fire was knocked down within 30 minutes. Firefighters ventilated the single-family home.  According to fire officials, damage was estimated at approximately $100,000. The fire caused some structural damage to the building; it was nonhabitable following the fire. 

 

Approximately 50 firefighters responded to the scene. Firefighters used about 7,500 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.  Roadways near the scene were closed to through-traffic for part of the incident.

 

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