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WASHINGTON (AP) A George Washington University official says an undergraduate student has been missing since swimming while traveling in South Africa.

Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said in a statement Monday that junior Nicholas Upton from Redding, Connecticut has not been seen since swimming in the East Cape Province on Sunday at about 10:30 p.m. local time.

Konwerski says authorities in Cape Town are searching for Upton and coordinating with the man's family, study abroad program representatives and the U.S. Embassy.

Upton has been studying abroad in South Africa and was traveling during a break from classes.

Upton is a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and the university's rowing team.

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Praxair is looking for a tax break from Danbury on the company's proposed new headquarters.  Praxair, which is currently headquartered at Matrix Corporate Center in Danbury, purchased the former GE building at Berkshire Corporate Park on Riverview Drive for $20 million. 

 

The estimated cost of new construction and improvements that would be subject to the tax deferral is $33 million. 

 

Planning Director Dennis Elpern wrote to the City Council in a memo to be considered at their meeting Tuesday that he received the application for tax deferral from Praxair.  While it appear to conform to all requirements, he hasn't received a copy of plans for the proposed office building. 

 

The company is seeking a seven year deferral on 100 percent of the assessment increase.  The assessed property value is $14.35 million. 

 

Earlier this year, Praxair ditched plans to build a completely new building with the help of state funding.

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Ridgefield Police have arrested two people for vandalizing the ball field at East Ridge Middle School last month.  18-year old Cody Dingee of Florida and 20-year old John Dumke of Ridgefield were each charged this morning with criminal mischief.  Each was released on a written promise to appear in court on September 11. 

 

The damage at East Ridge was caused in July 11th.

 

(East Ridge north field)

 

Officers were called to Shadow Lake baseball field August 2nd and determined that a vehicle or vehicles drove on the field, causing considerable damage.  Police are investigating to determine an exact time frame of when the damage occurred. 

 

Police have not said if the damage is related. 

 

(Shadow Lake)

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the cost to fix each field was about $2,800.  They were covered with top spoil and reseeded.  If the fields were resodded it would have been up to $20,000 to fix them.

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A Carmel teen has been arrested by New York State Police for felony burglary.  Troopers announced this weekend that 18-year old Patrick O'Keefe was charged on August 18th for breaking into a home in the Town of Southeast last month. 

 

Troopers responded to the home on July 26th and found that someone, later determined to be O'Keefe, stole beer from the victim's home. 

 

O'Keefe was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on $1,000 bond.   He is due back in Southeast Town Court on September 15th.

 

A Brewster man has been arrested for burglarizing a home in July.  New York State Police announced the arrest of 32-year old John Martin Junior this weekend.  On July 24th, Troopers responded to a Patterson home to investigate a report of a burglary. 

 

The investigation found that Martin entered the home and stole cash. 

 

He was arrested last Tuesday and arraigned on a felony charge.  He was being held on $20,000 bond and ordered to reappear in Patterson Town Court on September 10th.

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A deadly wrong-way crash caused by a Danbury woman is being investigated by New York State Police.  Troopers responded to a fatal crash on the Taconic State Parkway in Carmel around 3:30 Sunday morning. 

 

Police say their preliminary findings are that 40-year old Melida Espinal of Danbury entered the northbound lanes of the Taconic at Peekskill Hollow Road headed southbound, and crashed less than a mile later into a motorcycle headed in the proper direction. 

 

The motorcyclist, 22-year old Jeffrey Divine of Stormville New York, died at the scene.  Espinal and two passengers were treated for minor injuries. 

 

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.  Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact the State Police Cortlandt Barracks BCI at 914-788-8044 or after business hours at 914-737-7171.

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A Ridgefield man and a woman from from Weston have been arrested by Norwalk Police for breaking into a boat at a Norwalk marina to enjoy a fast food meal and take some selfies while a family of five slept on board.

 

The family was awoken at about 2 a.m. Sunday by the flash from a camera.  One family member confronted the intruders, but they ran away.

Police found a receipt inside a bag of still warm food from Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell and used the receipt to track down 20-year-old Julia Armijo, of Weston, and 23-year-old Renny Isaac, of Ridgefield.

They face charges of breach of peace, burglary, criminal attempt to commit larceny, criminal trespass, and conspiracy to commit burglary.

Armijo told police that neither she nor Isaac had ever been on a boat and only wanted to take some pictures.

 

Both were ordered to appear in court on September 10th.

 

A Norwalk Police spokesman says the female boat owner saw Armijo holding her husband's wallet, which had been in a backpack.  The woman's husband tried to subdue Isaac, and they struggled.  The pair dropped the wallet on the dock as they fled.  It was found by the boat owner, who determined that nothing from it was missing. 

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Improvements to Federal Road in Brookfield are being planned.  The designs for southern Federal Road from White Turkey Road to Route 133 call for 11-foot travel lanes, 5-foot shoulders, 5-foot sidewalks, pedestrian cross walks, new signals and bicycle detection at signalized intersections. 

 

Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley says the top priority addresses the need for north and southbound turn lanes and traffic signals at the ShopRite/Chick-fil-A traffic signal. 

 

Since Federal Road is technically Route 202, a state road, Department of Transportation funds will be used for the work.  The improvements are planned over the next five years.

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With the last summer days of swimming fast approaching, the number of lifeguards at state park swim areas will be significantly reduced.  This weekend and Labor Day weekend, there will only be lifeguards on duty at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and Hammonasset in Madison. 

 

Parks Director Tom Tyler says many lifeguards are leaving their positions to return to school.

 

Most of the state park swimming areas are unguarded weekdays from now through Labor Day. Swim areas will be posted with signs where there are no lifeguards on duty.

 

Tyler encourages visitors to enjoy the outdoors, but use sound judgment when swimming at Connecticut's state park beaches.  He asks that visitors stay within designated swimming areas, reminds parents to watch children, and don't drink alcohol then swim.

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A massive motorcycle ride is taking place tomorrow in the Greater Danbury area.  The 15th annual CT United Ride on Sunday features thousands of motorcyclists riding to remember 9/11.  The event begins in Norwalk with a ceremony at 10:30 tomorrow morning.  The riders start off at 11:30 and end at Seaside Park in Bridgeport.  Riders will drive down Route 58 in Bethel under a huge 50-foot flag at Sunset Hill, placed by Bethel’s volunteer fire departments. 

 

The motorcyclists will have a police escort and they do not stop for lights. Various intersections will be blocked off for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. 

 

Ride Information courtesy of CT United Ride’s Website:

 

  • Motorcade from Norden Park to Rte 136
  • to Rte 33 through Westport
  • to Wilton Rte 7
  • to Rte 107 Georgetown
  • to Rte 58N Redding
  • to Rte 302 Bethel
  • to Newtown Rte 25 through Monroe
  • to Main Street Trumbull
  • to Old Town Rd
  • to Park Ave in Fairfield
  • continuing into Bridgeport and straight down to Seaside Park with Bpt’s Fire Rescue 5 leading the Motorcade.

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A breach of contract lawsuit has been filed by former Brookfield Superintendent Anthony Bivonah seeking to be reappointed as head of the school district. 

 

The lawsuit was filed August 18th in Hartford against the Brookfield Board of Education.  It was received in Brookfield on Tuesday.  In addition to reinstatement as Superintendent, Bivonah is seeking monetary damages in excess of $15,000 and other relief.

 

He was hired as Superintendent in 2007, but fired before the June 2016 end of his contract amid accusations School Finance Director Art Colley overspent the district budget by $1.2 million. 

 

There were five "just cause" provisions in the contract that would allow the school to terminate him.  Bivonah argues that he regularly received pay increases from the Board of Education and that during his tenure the Brookfield School system was recognized both by the state and nationally.  He also says that the Board's Finance Committee and previous auditors didn't find any wrong doings.  A new audit firm was hired in 2013 and uncovered the irregularities.

 

Bivonah says the Board of Education denied him a termination hearing in executive session, and that when a hearing was held it was wrought with procedural irregularities.

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The Weston Board of Education has approved a Memorandum of Understanding to hire a School Resource Officer.  The Weston Police Commission must next vote to approve the 3-year agreement.  The School Resource Officer will be for Weston High School and will be a current Weston patrol officer, who carries a firearm.  Whichever officer is selected, they will have to go through a training course to become a School Resource Officer.  A new patrol officer will then be hired.  The School Resource Officer position was not included in the current fiscal year's budget.

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The Danbury Fire Department has been awarded federal grant money to purchase portable radios.  The nearly $337,000 from FEMA is part of the Assistance to Firefighter Grant program. 

 

Senator Chris Murphy says firefighters work diligently to keep the community safe, putting their lives on the line and these funds will help improve communications.  Senator Richard Blumenthal says this grant will help ensure that members of the Danbury Fire Department can continue to do their jobs effectively and safely.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the Assistance to Firefighter Grant has helped firefighters and other first responders since 2001 to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources. 

 

Fire Chief TJ Wiedl called the funding much needed.  He says replacement of aging equipment will allow firefighters to focus on emergency situations at hand with renewed confidence in their radios, their lifeline.

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A 22-year old Brewster  man who agreed to serve as a designated driver is going to prison for a drunken-driving crash that hurt three passengers, including one who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy says Michael Skalaski was impaired by both alcohol and marijuana during the March 2014 crash in Southeast, New York.

 

After smoking marijuana throughout the day, Levy says Skalaski joined three friends at an area pub and drank for several hours.  Before the bar closed, Skalaski and his friends were asked to leave.  He drove up to 80 mph as his passengers begged him to stop and let them out. The vehicle slammed into a tree off Milltown Road.

He's pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including aggravated vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated.  Levy announced Thursday that Skalaski faces 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison when he's sentenced on Oct. 21.

 

Despite being properly seat belted at the time, the front seat passenger spent several months in the hospital and in rehab centers, and has permanent, life-altering physical injuries.

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There will be a lot more traffic on Lake Avenue and White Street in Danbury today and this weekend.  Students are moving into their dorms at Western Connecticut State University.  Dean of Students Walter Cramer says Welcome Week activities kick off at 1:30 this afternoon with their annual Entering the Gates Ceremony.

 

Cramer says it's symbolic as well as a physical entering of the university.  It starts off the academic year as new students are ushered through the picturesque wrought-iron main gates by alumni, faculty and returning students.

 

In addition to orientation events geared toward helping freshmen adjust to college live, there are workshops for parents about the transition of sending their children to college.

 

Cramer says this weekend is a chance for freshmen to get to know other new students and upperclassmen.  The big event is Clubs Carnival on the quad of the Midtown campus.  Students can get a sense of what's available in campus life for them.

 

With the opening of the Honors House in the old Alumni Hall, the University is looking to renovate the basement of the Midtown Student center to create a performance space.  The Coffee House and other events will be moved there.  he says that will be a great place for commuter students to hang out as well.

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A study about the future of Branchville is underway.  The Branchville section of town runs along Route 7, has a train station, and has been called a second town center.  The study is being paid for by a $356,000 state grant.  Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc. of Hartford, a transportation planning firm, is looking for resident input on the vision for Branchville. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says Branchville is the future for the community.  It represents a quaint village, an opportunity to develop it in a way that serves the people in that area.  He called it a "golden opportunity" that they want to make sure it done right.  The First Selectman, Planning Director, Town Engineer and representatives from the Branchville area are part of a small committee studying the issue.

 

The committee has reviewed the scope of work and come up with an outline that involves an opportunity for people to look at the conceptual drawings and plans, and how it exists today.

 

There are some obstacles in developing the area, including that it is a low-lying area prone to flooding.  There are also no sewer lines there.  One proposal is to allocate an area for a small building that would process the sewage, and have septic fields.  He compared it to a residential home not on town sewers.

 

An online survey has also been added to the study.  It is available until September 18th.  Some of the survey questions include how much parking there should be, both on-street and off-street parking, as well as how tall buildings should be.

 

A workshop is being held on September 16th in the Main Function Room of Ridgefield Library.

 

Fitzgerald and Halliday will conduct the workshop in coordination with the Town of Ridgefield and the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.  The workshop on September 16th is for residents to share thoughts about what improvements are needed in the Branchville area and what type of development the Town should consider for the future of Branchville.

 

An open house is also scheduled for September 17th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.  On September 18th, a second open house is scheduled for 10am to 4pm.  That will be followed by a presentation from 4pm to 5pm.

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A state of the art training classroom is being built in Danbury for the Fire Department.  Training Officer Steve Rogers says the career Fire Department, the 12 volunteer companies and those from surrounding towns will be able to do their classroom work and specialized training in a new building, hopefully by the coming Spring.  He says this won't be specifically just for the Fire Department, it could be opened up to local police departments as well.  Ground was broken Thursday.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Captain Bernie Meehan)

 

Rogers says there will be two classrooms, a computer room, conference room and offices.  Smart board and other technology will also be included.  The optimum class size for firefighter training is about 25, but right now the Danbury Fire Department classroom can only accommodate about 10 people. 

 

Rogers says there are National Fire Protection Association and OSHA requirements, with mandatory classes.  Some of those happen annually, others are as frequently as each month.

 

Hawley Construction is building the exterior of the facility.  A request for proposals is going out for the interior work.  Bids for Phase 2 of the project will be accepted through September 10th.

 

 

Rogers says this new classroom will help the Department to stay proficient in all skills.  He notes that firefighting is a small part of what the Department does.  They also respond to emergency medical situations, car accidents, special rescues and other incidents requiring specialized skills.  Rogers says these specialized skills have to be kept fresh, otherwise they start to degrade over time.

 

While no equipment will be housed at the site, there will be two bays.  One will be fore a fire engine, one for a tanker truck.  The bays will face the burn tower so firefighters can practice getting their gear on and out the door headed toward an emergency situation.

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Route 25 in Newtown is getting a facelift.  The state Department of Transportation has announced that the road will be milled and repaved during the evening hours.  The four mile stretch of Route 25 will be resurfaced between Mile HIll Road and the Monroe Town Line.  Drivers should expect various lane closures on Route 25 from 8pm to 5am on Sundays through Fridays.  The project is starting tonight and is expected to be wrapped up by September 21st.

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The beach and swim area at Kettletown State Park in Southbury and at Indian Wells in Shelton remain closed due to blue green algae.  The algae can emit toxins possibly harmful to people and dogs.  The effects from exposure include a skin rash, nausea or even liver or nervous system effects if large amounts of the algae are ingested.  The swim area at Kettletown has been closed for 9 days.  Blue green algae has been spotted in several other water bodies in the Greater Danbury area over the past two months, but the beach closures haven't been as long as the one at Kettletown.

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State Police are setting up roving DUI patrols and checkpoint during this second to last weekend of summer.  State Police say they decided to add an extra weekend of patrols because of an anticipated increase in drivers.  With many classes back in session and final vacations, Troopers want to keep the summer driving season a safe one.  There will be roving patrols on I-84 and Route 7 in the Greater Brookfield and Danbury areas today through next Wednesday.  There will also be a Sobriety Checkpoint set up on Lake Avenue tomorrow by the highway ramps.  This is being done in conjunction with the Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile Unit.

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A Danbury man has been arrested for grabbing a man off the street that he thought was homeless and feeding him.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio said in an emailed statement that officers responded to a West Wooster Street home shortly before 6:30 last night and officers were told the bizarre story. 

 

A 77-year old man said he was pushing a shopping cart with cans and bottles down Lincoln Avenue when a man, later determined to be David Pope, grabbed him by the arm and insisted that he follow.  Pope brought the man to his nearby home.  His dog bit the victim on the leg.  Pope fed the man, who was eventually able to leave without being seen.  That's when the victim called police. 

 

Officers responded to Pope's house.  He refused to put his dog away, and showed signs of being intoxicated.  Pope told police he thought the other man was homeless and was offering him food. 

 

Pope was charged with interfering with an officer, reckless endangerment, kidnapping and disorderly conduct.  He was held on bond for a court appearance today.

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You think Donald Trump is entertaining? Check out Josh Groban singing his tweets on Jimmy Kimmel!

 

 

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