The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness has released the results of this year's Point in Time Count of the state's homeless, which was conducted on February 18th. Total homeless population in Connecticut is 4,038 people. Executive Director Lisa Tepper-Bates says the count is the lowest total since statewide counts started in Connecticut in 2007.
Family homelessness showed a decline of 4 percent in shelters and similar facilities from last year. The count found only 80 veterans in emergency shelters, most of whom are engaged in VA services.
The Point in Time count found Danbury 12 homeless veterans, 5 percent of those counted in the state. One was reported as chronically homeless and one was unsheltered. There were 22 unsheltered adults in Danbury on the night of the count.
A Woodbury attorney has been arrested for stealing nearly $2 million dollars from an Oxford woman's estate. 57-year old Peter Clark was charged Thursday with mail fraud for stealing more than $1.8 million from Miriam Strong, who died in 2010.
Clark was her attorney, served as witness to Strong writing the will and was named as a co-executor.
Strong left money, property and other items to a list of individuals, the Town of Oxford, the State of Connecticut, and several religious and other charitable entities. The will also called for the creation of a scholarship fund for college-bound students from Oxford.
Clark was charged with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus in backing a proposed bill to prevent excessive use of force by police in Connecticut.
A legislative committee has stripped a bill of language that would require Connecticut police officers to wear body cameras. The provision likely wouldn't have passed because of the high cost. The underlying bill would require better use-of-force training for police. It also would require prosecutors from other districts to investigate acts of deadly force by police. Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano says it's a needed bill.
A second bill that would create a pilot program for police body cameras is still moving through the legislature. That bill would require participating departments to report back to the legislature in 2017.
Neither bill has been voted on, except in committee.
New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor says mandating body cameras would be "an overreach of the state.'' She said it should be left up to individual municipalities. Some lawmakers also raised concerns about people's privacy rights potentially being violated if they're caught on camera.
The use of body cameras by Ridgefield Police will be discussed by a committee of the Department. The committee formation was prompted by recent incidents across the country involving use of force by police. The discussion would include cost, how long to store footage and when the cameras would be used.
Danbury Police traffic units use body-style cameras that are attached over the ear at eye level to see exactly what the officer is looking at. Patrol officers have cameras mounted in the cars that are forward facing. The officers have microphones that are attached to their shirts.
Wilton Police recently received a donation to purchase 5 body cameras for patrol officers. The Department currently has in-car video capability.
The former treasurer of the Stepney Elementary School PTO in Monroe has been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $45,000 from the Parent Teacher Organization. Monroe police launched an investigation in March after the PTO noticed discrepancies in their bank account showing personal and non-PTO expenses.
34-year old Sarah Chiarelli turned herself in to police today.
PTO members questioned more than $10,000 in expenditures, but police uncovered more than four times that amount went for personal expenses. Police say that included a trip to Disney World. Bank account audits showed 226 illegitimate transactions.
Chiarelli has been charged with larceny, illegal use of a credit card and illegal furnishing of money, goods, or services. Police say she was the only one with access to the accounts and admitted taking money, but underestimated how much was misappropriated.
A new president for Western Connecticut State University has been selected. John Clark will take over from West Conn President James Schmotter who is retiring July 1st after 11 years leading the university.
The Board of Regents for Higher Education made the selection at their meeting this morning.
Clark has been executive director of the City University of New York Office of Business and Industry Relations for the past six years. Clark was one of three finalists previously announced by the Board of Regents. He holds a doctorate degree from Columbia University's Teachers College.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut state board has ruled that Newtown must pay long-term disability to a police officer who developed anxiety and depression after responding to the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
38-year-old Thomas Bean has been out on disability with post-traumatic stress disorder and hasn't worked since the massacre, which left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.
The Hartford Courant reports the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled the police contract requires the town to pay Bean half his salary until retirement, an amount that will total more than $380,000. Newtown's insurance company is paying 50 percent of his salary through June.
Newtown's police chief had recommended firing Bean when he could not return to work but later withdrew the proposal.
WASHINGTON (AP) A government survey finds that public schools have beefed up school security measures with safety drills and parent notification systems in the years surrounding the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The uptick comes during a four-year span that saw an overall decrease in violent crime reported by schools, but one that included high-profile incidents such as the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings in December 2012.
The survey found that 88 percent of public schools had a written plan of how to respond to an active shooter, and that 7 out of 10 had drills to practice the plan. About three-quarters of schools reported using security cameras.
The findings come from the National Center for Education Statistics based on a survey of principals in the 2013-2014 school year.
WOLCOTT, Conn. (AP) The town of Wolcott has a new 911 system that will allow police to pinpoint the location of emergency calls made from cell phones.
The Republican-American newspaper reports the town today becomes the first in the state to use the next-generation system in a pilot program that eventually will include the New Britain, Wilton, Enfield, Newington, Valley Shore, Fairfield, Middletown, Mashantucket and Shelton police departments .
Under the old system, police could find the location of a wireless 911 call within a quarter-mile radius. The new system shows dispatchers the caller's location within a 50-foot radius.
Police chief Eward Stephens says callers won't notice any difference when making an emergency call.
Officials say about 80 percent of 911 calls come from wireless phones.
The regional planning agency for Fairfield County is reviewing disaster management plans. A draft plan to cover 2016 through 2021 has been created to detail risk, preparation, mitigation and response to natural disasters. The Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan was crafted by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.
It outlines the response for the towns of Wilton, Weston and 6 other lower Fairfield County towns. Potential impacts from flooding, blizzards, dam failures and other possible dangers are examined.
The current Hazard Mitigation Plan was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Administration in 2011. Once the new plan is approved by FEMA, the municipalities will be eligible for various federal funding to help with implementation including for flood control projects, bridge repair and utility protection.
Chief elected officials across the Greater Danbury are getting an update on transportation matters. The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is holding their monthly meeting Thursday in Newtown. The featured speaker will be state Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redecker.
The agenda for the regional planning agency, which stretches from New Milford down to Stamford calls for discussion of Housatonic Area Regional Transit bus agreements, the Branchville Transit Oriented Development study and overall transportation planning agreements.
Area mayors and First Selectmen are also slated to discuss a legislative update about what's taking place in Hartford as the General Assembly nears their adjournment deadline. The legislative session is scheduled to end June 3rd.
Police are cracking down on traffic violations this Memorial Day Weekend. Connecticut State Police, local police departments and even the Western Connecticut State University Police Department will work to promote safe driving this summer. Law enforcement agencies will be out on Connecticut's roads enforcing the State Occupant Protection laws and issuing citations to those who are unbuckled.
The West Conn PD will work with Danbury Police this long holiday weekend to help spread the “safety belts save lives” message.
Police are also working to raise awareness of the dangers of not buckling up. This is part of the overall Click it or Ticket campaign.
A Bridgewater man is due in court next month for assaulting a person with a baseball bat. Brookfield Police say officers were called to the Goodwill Store on Federal Road on May 9th on a report of an assault. The suspect, 40-year old Peter Suarez, drove off, but his car was later found. Police say he was uncooperative and confrontational. Suarez has been charged with felony assault, breach of peace and interfering with an officer. He is due in court on June 4th.
A Danbury man has been arrested by New Milford Police on a warrant charging him with sexual assault. Police say 34-year old Matthew Bigbie was arrested Monday following an investigation by the state Department of Children and Families. Bigbie also faces a charge of risk of injury to a minor. New Milford police have not disclosed what led to the investigation. He is free on $10,000 bond and due in Bantam Superior Court next Wednesday.
The state Department of Transportation has scheduled some bridge rehabilitation work in Southbury and Weston. The bridges that carry Route 57 over Kettle Creek in Weston and Route 188 over a brook in Southbury will get a face lift . New culvert installations will take place in Weston and a pipe lining in Southbury will be replaced. At least one lane of traffic will be kept open on each roadway during the construction . The work is scheduled to be completed over the next 3 years.
The Medical Marijuana Board of Physicians has recommended adding new conditions to those that can be treated with medical marijuana. Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris will draft regulations to add ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Fabry Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis to the list.
Earlier this year sickle cell disease, psoriatic arthritis, and recurring back pain after surgery regulations were drafted. The Board voted unanimously against adding Tourette's Syndrome.
The proposal still needs to be sent to the Attorney General for review, and then moved to a Legislative Committee. Patients do need to be approved by a participating physician to obtain a prescription. There are only six licensed dispensaries in the state. One is in Bethel.
The original 11 medical conditions set forth in Public Act 12-55 include:
Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
Positive status for HIV or AIDS
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A new national report shows Connecticut is the 8th most expensive state in the country for rental housing. The Danbury area is 10th most expensive jurisdiction on the list overall. The Stamford-Norwalk area is the 2nd most expensive in the US, behind only San Francisco.
Connecticut Housing Coalition official Jude Carroll says someone making the $9.15 an hour minimum wage in Connecticut would have to work 84 hours a week to rent a one bedroom or 106 hours for a two bedroom apartment.
Carroll says a household needs to earn $24.29 an hour to be able to rent a typical 2 bedroom, or $19.28 an hour for a typical 1 bedroom apartment.
A film is being screened at Bethel Cinema tonight about human trafficking. SOLD is based on the international best seller of the same name. SOLD tells the story of one girl who becomes a victim of human trafficking, and is set in India and Nepal. There will be a question and answer session with Director Jeffrey Brown.
The screening comes as the Connecticut legislature considers a bill that would strengthen protection for victims of human trafficking. Bethel Representative Dan Carter says the proposal also increases criminal penalties for offenders. The bill, passed by the House unanimously, also requires the state Department of Public Health to provide human trafficking victims the same services provided to certain sexual assault victims. The bill is awaiting Senate approval.
SOLD stars Gillian Anderson and David Arquette. Tonight's film screening at Bethel Cinema is at 7pm.
Brookfield residents have overwhelmingly approved a budget and the three capital items on the ballot. Unofficial numbers show the education budget of $39.5 million was approved 1,711 to 506. The $21.7 million municipal budget was approved 1,700 to 508. Residents voted that the education plan was too low and the municipal portion was adequate.
There is no proposed tax increase. There is a less than 1-percent decrease in the municipal budget and a 2.5 percent increased proposed for the schools.
Almost 20 different maintenance and repair projects are planned for Brookfield High School and Whisconier Middle School, representing $2.6 million in spending. Residents voted 1,655 to 524 in favor of the projects.
About $2 million for an emergency Flood Drainage Diversion project was approved by a vote of 1,385 to 776.
$2.1 million for improvements at Town Hall, the Library and volunteer fire houses along with road reconstruction was approved on a vote of 1,451 to 728. That funding request also includes equipment purchases for various departments.
Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley says there's conservative management of the town's debt. He says borrowing was done to save some capacity for big projects on the horizon. There is a likelihood that significant investment will be needed soon for the ageing Huckleberry Hill and Center Elementary Schools.
The town's pension obligations are fully funded.
Tinsley says the Fund Balance level is critical to future bond ratings and borrowing costs. Brookfield ended fiscal year 2013 by uncovering $1.2 million in unauthorized spending by the Board of Education. The town did a refunding bond last year to lower the debt service cost for the Brookfield High School expansion and renovation project. As a result of that, the town will receive an $830,000 benefit, which will be used to partially rebuilt the general fund balance.
While there is a declining enrollment at Brookfield schools, education spending was increased in the budget by 2.5 percent.
About $1.5 million is needed per year to maintain roads in Brookfield, and a few short years ago there was no money in the operating budget for roads. Tinsley says about $250,000 has been added annually to the operating budget for road maintenance, and borrowing the rest. The plan is to continue to add to the operating budget until the $1.5 million mark is reached.
A Connecticut man has had his court case pushed back. 30-year old Timothy Rogalski was in Danbury Superior Court Monday for making harassing phone calls to several locations in Newtown. His next appearance is scheduled for June 4th. He was given a suspended sentence and probation last week for similar charges in Monroe for calls to Sandy Hook School.
The Wallingford man was charged with interfering with an officer, failure to comply with a fingerprinting request, and four counts of harassment. Rogalski accused Sandy Hook staff of faking the events of 12/14, which left 26 children and educators dead.
He also called Hawley School and Newtown Middle School, the Board of Ed office and a Newtown business.
A Danbury man has been arrested in New Jersey for a road rage incident. Police tell NJ.com that 57-year old John Gannon of Danbury brandished a firearm in the direction of, but not at the driver of another vehicle on Friday.
New Jersey Police responded to a report of an erratic driver and road rage incident. Police say Gannon pulled the gun in order to intimidate the other driver, but did not detail what prompted the move.
The Danbury man was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and held in Sussex County jail in lieu of bail.