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Car towed from railroad tracks in Ridgefield

A car has been towed from the railroad tracks in Ridgefield.  Metro North reported the car to police around 5 o'clock this morning.  The vehicle was unoccupied at the Depot Road crossing and stuck in the snow.  MTA Police say there doesn't appear to be damage to the tracks or to the car. 


Ridgefield police say the driver turned off of Portland Avenue onto the train tracks thinking it was the roadway. 


This comes a few days after an empty car was found at the Triangle Street railroad crossing in Danbury.  Danbury police say a driver followed her GPS, turned the wrong way and ended up on the railroad tracks Monday afternoon.  The woman's car got stuck and had to be towed.  There were no injuries reported.



If your car does get stuck on railroad tracks, Metro North officials urge drivers to abandon the vehicle, move away from the tracks and call 911.  Railroad officials also reminded motorists to never drive around downed crossing gates, obey flashing lights and bells, and to never stop on the tracks.

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Danbury man wins $1 million Powerball prize

A Danbury man has won a $1 million Powerball prize.  Jose Medrano of Danbury played the lotto on February 21st, purchasing a ticket at Ed's Cigar Box on Main Street.  Medrano's first five “Quick Pick” ticket numbers were a perfect match, but he missed the Powerball number. 


The odds of winning a Powerball Match 5 prize are 1 in more than 5,000,000. 


Store owner Pritesh Patel says this is their biggest win so far, and they are very happy for Medrano--a regular customer in the shop.  For selling the million dollar prize winning ticket, Ed's Cigar Box will receive a $2,500 check from the Connecticut Lottery.


CT Lottery officials say Medrano did not want to be photographed or interviewed.

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Winter taking a toll on Greater Danbury area towns

The super-freezing weather has done a number on the roads and there are new potholes opening up every time the temperature fluctuates.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says a product called Cold Patch can be put down, but it's only a temporary solution until the asphalt plants open in April.


New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy says they are paying attention to the snow load on municipal and school roofs.  She says it doesn't appear to be a threat.


Murphy says sand and salt supplies are good, but there is a request for more money in the overtime account for snow clearing.  She called the Public Works employees a dedicated group who take pride in their work and have put in a lot of hours.


Danbury's 311 info line in February had more than 50 reports sidewalks not being cleared.  There were more than two dozen calls about snow removal.

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Danbury City Council considers school bond proposal

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has submitted a proposal to the City Council that contains about 61 million dollars for a Danbury High School redesign, along with program and facility upgrades to the Alternative Center for Excellence (ACE).  A new wing at the High School would be created to accommodate the projected increase in the high school population in the coming years according to a presentation made by Boughton during his State of the City address. 


A summary of the projects will be provided to a committee of the Council and during a public hearing session.  Boughton expects greater than a majority of the cost to be reimbursed by state or federal dollars. 


For the past week or so, Boughton says he's been in around the clock meetings with Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella, staff at ACE and students.  There's not a strong consensus on whether building a new building is the right way to go.  The staff has pointed out some intangibles about the current facility, the feel of the building, and he wants to take more time to consider those issues. 


The ACE side of the bond package has been tabled for now.  There's a waiting list every year for ACE of about 25 students.  The faculty had some concerns about relocating up to the high school, so he wants to look at whether the space on Locust Avenue can be reconfigured.  Some renovations inside the building would be required.


He anticipates a June 2nd referendum.


Boughton hopes that the leadership committee looking into the bonding will meet this month, and that most members of the Council will attend.  The matter will then be placed on the Council agenda for the April 7th meeting.  During the budget hearing, a public hearing about the High School will also be on the agenda.  A special meeting for the high school project will be held after the hearing in order to meet statutory deadlines for the vote in June.


The proposed high school project would include the new Freshman academy, a solar power farm, new entrance and a reconfigured cafeteria.  If ACE does move to the High School campus, it would replace the current free-standing auto shop.


The DHS principal, students, staff, Pascarella, the Board of Education, and the 2020 Committee have seen the concept of the plans and signed off on them.

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Wilton police charge man for practicing massage without a license

A Stamford man is due in Court Friday on charges of sexual assault and practicing massage without a license for an incident in Wilton. 


Wilton Police say 36-year old Jan Adamovic failed to comply with state licensing laws, does not have a company and is not incorporated as an LLC.  Wilton Police say Adamovic allegedly made unwanted sexual contact with the victim while providing a massage to the woman, who he has had appointments with in her home in the past. 


He posted $5,000 bond and will be in Norwalk Superior Court Friday.

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Monroe house fire not believed to be suspicious

The fire this week in Monroe on Settlers Farm Road does not appear suspicious according to the town's Fire Marshal.  The Monroe Courier reports that while the Fire Marshal's office is still investigating, it appears the blaze began in the upstairs master bedroom .  The American Red Cross is helping the family of four – two adults and two children.  They were able to make alternate arrangements for housing.  More than 40 firefighters responded to the fire and there were no injuries.  The family was not home at the time.  Residents reportedly dug out two nearby fire hydrants as firefighters arrived.

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Ethan Allen CEO donates $1 million to WCSU

Western Connecticut State University has received a $1 million donation from a local CEO.  Farooq Kathwari of Ethan Allen Interiors, and his wife, Farida, gave the gift to create an endowment that will support the University’s Honors Program. 


Western President Dr James Schmotter says the program will be renamed the Kathwari Honors Program.  The building that will house the program, formerly Alumni Hall, will be named the Irfan Kathwari Honors House, in memory of the Kathwaris’ son.  Alumni functions, along with development, communications and related departments, will be relocated to another building on campus.


Kathwari said he decided to support WCSU with this gift in part because Ethan Allen has been involved with the university ever since Nathan Ancell moved the company headquarters to Danbury in 1972. The Ancell School of Business is named for the former Ethan Allen CEO.


The Board of Regents for Higher Education acknowledged the gift and approved renaming the program the Kathwari Honors Program.  The Honors Program serves more than 200 high-performing students with extra instruction and service opportunities. With this gift, the program is expected to grow to 500 students.


A celebration of the gift and a building dedication is planned for the spring.


Kathwari emigrated to the United States at age 21 to attend graduate school, at night, at New York University, where he earned his MBA.  While working on Wall Street for Rothschild Inc., where he became CFO at the age of 27, he met Ancell, and they agreed Kathwari would join Ethan Allen, which today has annual sales exceeding $750 million.


Kathwari is a member of the WCSU Foundation Board of Directors.  His first gift to the university in the 1990s was put to use to help students who intended to teach in inner-city schools.

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Cardinal Egan, retired archbishop, dies at age 82

Cardinal Edward Egan, former head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and of Bridgeport, died at a hospital today at the age of 82.  Egan was pronounced dead after going into cardiac arrest.  In 1988, he was appointed the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport by Pope John Paul II.  That Dioces oversees parishes in Fairfield County.


He was appointed Archbishop of New York in 2000 and made a cardinal in 2001.


Egan was archbishop during the Sept. 11 terror attacks during which he anointed the dead at a lower Manhattan hospital and presided over many funerals for victims.

He was a scholar of church law and spoke Latin fluently. John Paul chose him to help with the massive job of reviewing a revised canon law code for the global church.

A native of Illinois, Egan retired as New York archbishop in 2009.

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Conn. man arrested as fugitive from justice

A Connecticut man wanted in New York on outstanding warrants have been arrested.  New York State Police say 46-year old Michael Holt of Ansonia was initially arrested in September 2014 for allegedly stealing more than $2,00 from the Delancy Street Foundation in May 2012.  Southeast Town Court issued a warrant for his arrest when he failed to appear in court. 


Connecticut State Police arrested Holt as a fugitive from justice and turned him over to police from the Brewster barracks on Monday.  He is being held at Putnam County Jail without bail for a court appearance on the 19th. 


Holt was featured on the New York State Police Facebook Page late in January as part of their "Warrant Wednesday".

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Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation makes 'sunset plan'

A sunset plan has been announced by the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.  The organization was formed after 12-14 as a place to receive and distribute donations from the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.  The foundation has come up with a timeline that would close the group down in 10 years. 


There is a 13 year mark in their sunset plans which corresponds with the high school graduation of the youngest children enrolled at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.  Part of the plan is to partner with various other organizations to sustain long-term recovery needs. 


The Foundation also announced three new board members, including Christopher McDonnell.  His daughter was among the children killed on 12-14.  Isabel Almeida, a Sandy Hook resident who works at the United Way, and Gavin Arneth, a Newtown soccer coach and VP at People's United Bank, were also named to the board.

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Danbury police reporting spike in fake tax returns being filed

The Danbury Police Department has seen an increase of fraudulent tax filing being reported.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says it's been at least 10 a day since the filing season started. 


Police are offering some reminders to residents if they suspect they are a victim, in addition to filing a report with them.  The steps include going to the IRS in Danbury to file an identity theft affidavit, filing a Paper Tax Return and contacting the FTC to file a complaint.  Another step that should be taken is contacting one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. 


The company that is contacted will then alert the other two.

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UPDATED: Tractor trailer hits house in Danbury, driver gets warning

A verbal warning has been issued to a truck driver who crashed into a house in Danbury overnight.  The tractor trailers slid down Wilson Street around 5:30 this morning and hit the front corner of a house on Grand Street. 


The driver, 48-year old Devron Sargent of Pennsylvania was uninjured.  The verbal warning was for speed too fast for conditions.  There was structural damage to the house.  The residents and the building department were notified. 


There was no one inside the home at the time.



(Photos: Twitter, @IAFF801)

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Danbury Mayor Declares Level One Snow Emergency

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has announced a Level 1 snow emergency as of 10 a.m. today  calling for all cars to be removed from the streets.

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Two men sentenced for scheme to bribe FBI agent

Two Greater Danbury area men have been sentenced for a bribery scheme to get confidential information form a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains.  51-year old Johannes Thaler of New Fairfield was friends with Special Agent Robert Lustyik, and an acquaintance of 36-year old Rizve Ahmed of Danbury. 


In pleading guilty, Thaler admitted that he and the FBI agent solicited money from Ahmed in exchange for the internal law enforcement documents. 


Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh, wanted information about a prominent citizen of his home country who was affiliated with a political party opposing Ahmed’s views.  He wanted to locate and harm his political rival and others associated with the intended victim. 


Ahmed has been sentenced to 42 months in prison while Thaler must serve 30 months.  Lustyik pleaded guilty to all five counts against him in the indictment and he is scheduled to be sentenced April 30th.


As part of the scheme, Lustyik and Thaler exchanged text messages about how to pressure Ahmed to pay them additional money in exchange for confidential information.  For example, in text messages, Lustyik told Thaler, “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick . . . .  I will talk us into getting the cash . . . .  I will work my magic . . . .  We r sooooooo close.”  Thaler responded, “I know.  It’s all right there in front of us.  Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . .”


Lustyik learned that Ahmed was considering using a different source to obtain confidential information.  In response, Lustyik sent a text message to Thaler stating, “I want to kill C [Ahmed] . . . .  I hung my ass out the window n we got nothing? . . . .  Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [the victim’s] number and I’m pissed. . . .  I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to [the victim].”  Lustyik further stated, “So bottom line.  I need ten gs asap.  We gotta squeeze C.”

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New Milford house sustains significant damage in afternoon fire

Firefighters have put out a blaze in New Milford that's left a family homeless.  The fire on Grove Street was reported shortly before noon and caused serious damage.  Water Witch Hose Company Number 2 responded to reports of heavy smoke, and put out the fire in less than half an hour.  Volunteer firefighters from three other companies responded with mutual aid.  The Red Cross is helping the two adults and five children with temporary housing, food and warm winter clothing.

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Municipal advocate agency spots flaw in state aid formula in new budget

Governor Malloy's overall proposed budget holds towns harmless, but The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says there's a shift in some grant distributions that could cause 70 municipalities to get less state aide.  CCM spokesman Kevin Maloney says this is an issue for both small and large towns.  Newtown could lose about $45,000.  Redding stands to lose $11,000 while Sherman could miss out on $1,200 the town receives in the current formula.  CCM is calling on state lawmakers to address the issue.

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Feds approve Spectra pipeline expansion

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a natural gas pipeline expansion project in the region.  Spectra Energy received approval Tuesday and opponents have a month to file an appeal. 


Spectra plans to replace a pipeline segment with a larger one, starting at the Southeast Compressor Station and extending into Danbury near the Still River and Mill Plain Road.  It would end at an existing Algonquin site located east of Clapboard Ridge Road. 


The proposed construction work area would be located within 50 feet of 337 residential structures and 95 non-residential structure.


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Partial roof collapse reported in Bethel

There was a partial roof collapse this afternoon in Bethel at the Clarke Industrial Park off Route 53.  A man was on the roof attempting to clear snow when the structure gave way.  He declined medical attention.  The collapse happened shortly after noon.


According to White Pages, Gymnastics Revolution, Handyman Connection and Contractor Services are also among the businesses at that address.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it was over a business that houses a moving and storage area and there was some equipment damaged.


Everyone was safely evacuated from the building.  Structural engineers must certify the building to be safe before people are allowed back in.


(Photo Courtsey: Matt Knickerbocker, Twitter)

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Danbury Public Works asks for more money for snow response

The Danbury City Council is set to act on an emergency appropriation request by the Public Works Department.  Mayor Boughton says the City is racking up overtime in snow response because of the timing and duration of the storms.  The Department needs $160,000 from the contingency account.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the storms have taken a toll on vehicles, completely depleting several vehicle maintenance line items. 


Additional funds that are required for snow and ice related line items will come out of a state of Connecticut road grant.  Boughton says the below zero temperatures followed by above freezing has caused a lot of  ice control materials to be used.


Boughton adds that the timing of the storms has not been good.  Most of the snow has been on weekends and overnights. 


A balance of more than $280,000 would be left in the Contingency Fund after this appropriation.


Iadarola says because of the bitter cold, the schools and public buildings HVAC equipment has been impacted, $45,000 of the request would go toward that.  $90,000 of the request will be to maintain and repair snow removal equipment, $13,000 is for tires, $10,000 for lubrication and $2,000 for equipment communication.

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Newtown lawmaker hopes to add highway signs to quiet trucks

A bill is being considered by the state legislature that would allow the Department of Transportation to install signs along portions of the highway in an effort to alleviate a noise and vibration problems.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky introduced the bill on behalf of a neighborhood with no sound barriers.


Bolinsky says two bridges in the last three years were recently replaced in the Riverside section of Sandy Hook creating loud construction noise.  He's also been trying to put sound barriers in that area for years, but there's no state or federal program right now to do that.


Bolinsky's bill would give the DOT the authority to place yellow warning signs in downhill stretches of the highway that display a message such as “Residential Area - Do Not Engine Brake".  "Jake-Braking” is a common transportation term for the use of a supplemental brake retarder which Bolinsky says can be quite loud and accompanied by heavy compression-wave vibrations.  


Bolinsky called it a quality of life issue.


"Jake Brake" is a genericized trademark of Jacobs Vehicle Systems, used to describe many such truck braking systems.


DOT Commissioner James Redecker testified that the company has told him the noise often associated with so-called Jake Braking results when trucks have modified and often illegal exhaust systems.  He expressed concerns with a ban and suggested better enforcement of existing state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and state Department of Motor Vehicles regulations.

"Suburban Funk"

A parody of "Uptown Funk"





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