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Danbury woman not to be charged for leaving child in car

Bethel police say charges will not be filed against a Danbury woman who left her 18-month old in a car Wednesday morning.  Bethel Police were called to the Grassy Plain Street YMCA about a boy in a vehicle with the windows rolled down. 


Police were told by 31-year old Madai Cervantes that she was trying to pick up paperwork to enroll the boy at the YMCA and left the child unattended for about 18 minutes while dropping her 5-year old off at the facility.  The police report says that Cervantes didn't realize how much time had passed while waiting for the school secretary.


Police say the child was not in danger of suffering a heat related emergency because the temperature was about 65 degrees.  But the state Department of Children and Families was contacted because the child was left unattended.


During the police investigation it was determined that Cervantes did not have a valid driver's license and she was issued an infraction for operating without a license.

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Former Conn. man charged for defrauding veterans

51-year old Joseph Morris, of Florida, has been charged with defrauding the co-founders and investors of his Wilton-based company out of $175,000.  The indictment was returned on July 1st, and was unsealed Tuesday during the former Connecticut man's arraignment.


According to the indictment, Morris and two others formed a company in October 2011 to develop business opportunities in Iraq.  The company's initial focus was a pizza restaurant for the U.S. Consulate compound in Iraq, and establishing a business to distribute and install specialty window film on vehicles and at hotels, residences, and government buildings, which would protect windows and windshields from blast and breakage, and provide heat retention, ultra-violet shielding, and privacy. 


Morris was the company's in-country manager in Iraq.


The indictment alleges that Morris made false emails, with photos, to his co-founders that he knew would be relayed to potential investors to induce them to invest in the company.  Morris implied that a lease had been signed to establish the pizzeria, that renovations were underway, and that progress was being made to open the restaurant.  Morris also falsely claimed that an exclusive arrangement has been made with a specialty window film manufacturer to distribute and install the window film in all of Iraq. 


About a dozen investors, most of whom were U.S. military veterans, invested $175,000 in the company.  Morris allegedly diverted large sums of money for his own personal use.


One of the co-founders discovered that the company did not have a lease or an exclusive arrangement in the spring of 2012.


The indictment charges Morris with five counts of wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count.

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Town owned car: Business or personal question raised

A trip to Tennessee by Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley has raised some questions, because he took a town-owned 2013 Ford Fusion.  Former Democratic Selectman Howard Lasser says some town employees approached him concerned that the trip was personal not business.  Lasser filed a Freedom of Information request for milage records that showed the odometer has almost doubled since Tinsley took office in November. 


The first term Republican's mother lives near Chattanooga where he maintains he investigated business development ideas.


The Ethics Board will meet Monday.  The code about proper use of town property will be discussed.  A call to Tinsley for comment was not returned.


Lasser helped craft the town code about proper use of town property.  When the Ethics Board meets Monday, Lasser has asked that they discuss the code about proper use of town property. 


A call to Tinsley for comment was not returned.

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Charter revision public hearing to be held in Ridgefield

A public hearing is being held tonight in Ridgefield for residents to weigh in on recommended changes to the town's charter.  There are 10 policy updates being suggested by the Charter Revision Commission along with seven technical changes.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the changes would appear on the November 4th ballot.


Among the changes are that the town treasurer be appointed rather than elected, the Commission on Aging would get an additional member and any open space donation must go through an environmental review before acceptance. 


Marconi says the Board would like the Parks and Rec Department Director have a reporting process to other town officials.


Any new committee created by the First Selectmen will end a month after the next election of the Board according to one change.  Another would add to alternate members to the Conservation Commission.  Minority representation rules would change for the Board of Finance.  The proposal is to have no more than three of the five members be from the same party, one fewer than the balance currently in the Charter. 


One proposal is that the Selectmen be responsible for organizing the annual town budget meeting rather than appointing a committee to do that and getting rid of attendance record submissions by boards.  Another change involves the Board of Education's out-of-budget expenditure requests.  The Board of Selectmen would have to support the spending in addition to the Board of Finance before sending the request to a town meeting.  An annual summary of activities and accomplishments by town agencies would no longer be required under another proposed change.



Tonight's public hearing is at 6:30 at Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Danbury teen arrested for sexual assault of 14-year old

A Danbury teenager has been arrested for sexual assault.  Police say 19-year old Johnny Zaruma had been under investigation since February.  The Special Victims Unit received a report of a pregnant 14 year old girl and launched the investigation which determined that Zaruma was the father. 


An arrest warrant was carried out on Monday at his Stillman Avenue home.  He was also charged with risk of injury to a minor and illegal sexual contact to a minor. 


Zaruma is being held on $5,000 bond.

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Utility taps Danbury company for expansion

United Illuminating has tapped a Danbury-based company to supply electricity to substations.  Fuel Cell Energy says the installation sites will be in Bridgeport and New Haven.  The Danbury company will build two fuel cell power plants to provide environmentally friendly distributed power to residents. 


Fuel Cell officials say distributed power generation like this installation increases the power supply while producing virtually no pollutants, have a low-noise profile, and only modest space requirements.  The power provided at both sites is enough to power about 5,600 homes.  FuelCell Energy will install the power plants and operate and maintain them under long term service agreements. 


Both sites are expected to be operational in early 2015.

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Unusal rescue effort launched by Danbury firefighters on Main Street

An unusual distress call resulted in a large scale rescue operation in Danbury Wednesday morning.  Danbury firefighters were called to a parking lot off Main Street on a report of a distressed duck, walking around and squawking.  It turns out 11 ducklings were walking through the lot and fell through a sewer grate.  All 11 ducklings were rescued by firefighters from the sewer lines under Main Street.  The 12 animals were then relocated to Rogers Park Pond.

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Danbury investigates opening additional small learning academies

As Danbury gets set to open its new STEM academy, school officials are looking at what other specialized choices for Middle School students can be offered.  The West Side Middle School Academy will house the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program as well as the a Global Studies Academy.  Mill Ridge was closed in 2010 and is being retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.


Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr Bill Glass says they're looking at the possibility of opening three small learning academies at the two middle schools.  They would be in the fields of health and bio science performing arts, and environmental science magnet academies.


Glass says they are studying whether to open a performing arts magnet academy at each middle school because there's a lot of interest in the field.  Western Connecticut State University is currently constructing a new performing arts center.  Glass says this would be a naturally occurring opportunity to build on the connection that already exists between Danbury Public Schools and Western.


Glass says a health and bio science academy at Broadview Middle School with an environmental studies academy at Rogers Park Middle School are possibilities being studied.  Danbury Hospital has expressed an interest in working with the City on the Broadview academy.  Rogers Park is near an old quarry, nature preserve, Tarrywile Park, a pond and organic gardens.

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Grant applications filed for wheelchair accessible vans

Applications have been sent to the state for grant funding of wheelchair accessible vans serving seniors and persons with disabilities.  At a recent meeting of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, regional rankings were given to certain programs that provide van services. 


Using the state Department of Transportation's criteria evaluation system, HART helped the regional planning group make the rankings.  Four grant applications to purchase wheelchair accessible vans are available this year.  The applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability, New Milford Wheels, the City of Danbury and Chestnut Grove Senior Housing Complex in New Milford. 


There are also Three grant applications available to fund projects and activities that support those services.  Applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability so they can implement GPS technology for door-to-door service, Rides for Ridgefield mobility Management services and SPHERE to support operations of the bus service in Ridgefield.

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Construction started in Wilton on natural gas pipeline expansion

Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan says the town has reached an agreement with Yankee Gas to expand natural gas distribution in the Wilton Village and school areas.  He says the end of July, early August was chosen for construction because it's traditionally the time of the lowest level of traffic and pedestrian activity.  The pipeline is being installed in the Center Street-River Road area. 


Brennan says the goal is to have construction completed in that area by August 22nd.  Work near Wilton High School should be completed around the same time, since classes are slated to resume on August 25th.  There will also be a construction crew working on Wolfpit Road West from Route 7 across the Norwalk River and the train tracks to River Road. 


He advises motorists that the construction will cause temporary traffic congestion.  Officials estimate that the whole installation should be completed in four months by the end of November. 


Brennan says natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, creating less emissions which will contribute to the Town's long range environmental objectives.  The town has already locked in a natural gas price for three years.

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WCSU scholarship created to honor slain Airman

TJ Lobraico Jr. was a carefree 10-year-old boy when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  A dozen years later on an early September evening in Afghanistan, Lobraico made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country during his second tour of duty with the New York Air National Guard as a participant in Operation Enduring Freedom.


TJ attended community college before his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2010-11, and then transferred to Western to pursue a degree in Justice and Law Administration. TJ volunteered for his second deployment in 2013, this time to Afghanistan.  He died at the age of 22 after saving several members of his squadron when they were ambushed on September 5, 2013.


His family has started a scholarship at Western as a way for his memory to live on.


Lobraico’s mother Linda Rohatsch, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and WCSU graduate, commands the 105th Medical Group at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York, the same base that TJ was assigned to, and served a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq. TJ’s father, Todd James Lobraico, is an Air Force veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who serves as a master sergeant with the 105th Security Forces Squadron. He also is a Stamford police officer.


The scholarship is for a student entering their junior year studying Justice and Law Administration who, like TJ, had demonstrated active participation in community service and held a part-time job.  Rohatsch says by having the scholarship designated for a junior, it's a student who has shown they are dedicated to getting through their four years and typically the junior year is the hardest to get through. 


Qualified applicants are required to submit a short essay that answers the question, “What does service above self mean to you?”  The TJ Lobraico Memorial Scholarship will provide a $5,000 scholarship annually, beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.


The goal is to raise $120,000, which is the minimum to be endowed.  It will then be self sustaining through a foundation.  They are almost half way to that goal.


Rohatsch says the community, the state, the air base and everyone else has been so kind.  She says she is very thankful for people's genuine kindness.  On behalf of the whole family, she says there really are not enough words for how much they appreciate that.

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Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) A Connecticut teacher who helped save students' lives during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has a book deal.

G.P. Putnam's Sons announced Tuesday that ``Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Your Life's Darkest Hour'' by teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will be released next spring. The publisher says the book will be a ``poignant account of personal triumph over unbearable tragedy.'' Robin Gaby Fisher is co-writing it.

Roig-DeBellis hurried 15 first-graders into a bathroom upon hearing gunfire at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, saving their lives. The gunman eventually shot himself to death after gunning down his mother, six teachers and 20 children.

Last year, Roig-DeBellis founded Classes 4 Classes, a nonprofit that advocates teaching children that all lives are connected.

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Woman forgives husband who left son in hot car

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman whose 15-month-old son died this month after her husband left him in a car on a hot day says she forgives him.

Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, of Ridgefield, says that her husband, Kyle Seitz, was extremely distraught after bringing their son to a hospital. She says she told her husband she loved him and made sure he looked at her.

Rogers-Seitz, who also has two daughters, said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that her family is grieving together.

Police say the father was supposed to bring Benjamin to daycare but went to work and left his son inside the car on July 7 for ``an extended period of time.''

A police investigation is continuing. The official cause of death has not been determined.

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Brookfield police ID teen killed in crash

The name of the driver killed in a two car crash on Saturday in Brookfield has been released.  Police say 19-year old Amanda Sarapochiello of Brookfield was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital. 


Police say Candlewood Lake Road was closed around 11am Saturday because a car travelling northbound, driven by Sarapochiello, crossed the double yellow line and collided with a vehicle travelling in the other direction.  Police say that other car was being driven by a 16-year old Brookfield resident, who was not seriously injured.  The other teen was also transported to the hospital. 


The road was closed for about 3 hours Saturday.

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Public hearing in Redding tonight held by Connecticut Siting Council

An application has been made to the Siting Council for a telecommunications facility to be constructed at the Redding Ridge Fire Department on Black Rock Turnpike.  Weather permitting today, the Council will conduct a public field review starting at 2pm, with the applicant flying a balloon to simulate the height of the proposed tower.  The 150 foot cell tower will be managed by Message Center Management and the fire district.  AT&T would be the primary carrier but Verizon would also use the facility.  Nextel is the only carrier on the existing 80-foot tower.  


The 3pm hearing at the Redding Community Center will provide the applicant and intervenors an opportunity to cross-examine positions.  The purpose of the hearing is to hear evidence of a public need for this tower outweighing any adverse environmental effects that would result from the construction, maintenance or operation of a tower, access road and ground equipment. 


The 7pm hearing will be reserved for the public to make brief comments on the record.  Cross-examination of all parties will resume if necessary after all comments have been entered into the record.

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Conn. man arrested at WCSU for unemployment compensation fraud

A Connecticut man working at Western Connecticut State University has been arrested for using someone else's Social Security Number to illegally collect $68,197 in Unemployment Compensation.  38-year old Mauricio Perez of Meriden was arrested Friday while working as an independent flooring contractor at the new visual arts building being constructed on the West Side Campus. 


He was charged with larceny, identity theft, and felony unemployment compensation fraud.  According to the arrest warrant, Perez used a California resident's Social Security number to collect the benefits from 2002 to 2013 when he wasn't legally authorized to work in the United States. 


He is being held on $20.000 bond for a court appearance on the 14th.

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Lake Waramaug poor water quality continues

The swimming area at Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent has been closed since Thursday and remains closed today.  Environmental officials say the rain last week caused elevated bacteria levels.  The water was tested again on Friday and the results came back the same.  State officials say water quality will be tested again early this week.  The tests are used by public health and environmental protection authorities to evaluate the potential for contamination in water bodies.

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Lawmaker calls for Metro North Danbury Branch advocate

An area lawmaker has written to Governor Malloy asking him to push Metro North to appoint more rail advocates.  On word that the Waterbury Branch Line Advocate was appointed last week, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher questioned why the railroad didn't also appoint one for the Danbury Branch.


Boucher says Danbury area rail riders have what she called "complaint fatigue", feeling Metro North is not listening to their concerns and complaints.  She says commuters on that line are frustrated, with good reason, but so are commuters on the Danbury Branch.


Boucher retold the story of a veteran commuter who is considering finding a new job or moving away because the deterioration of Metro North service has been maddening.  Earlier this year especially, commuters were telling officials they weren't sure if they would make it to work on time or get home safely because of the numerous issues the railroad is having.


Over the years, Boucher says the branch lines have been more neglected than the main line.  She notes that often times the branch lines can't be used and commuters will clog the highways by driving to other stations.  In addition to road congestion, Boucher says it worsens an already tight parking situation in other towns.

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Compromise on help for veterans dealing with health care delays

Senator Richard Blumenthal is pleased with a bipartisan compromise agreement reached over the weekend by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen to improve delivery of health care services. 


Blumenthal calls the legislation long overdue and called for immediate passage.  Recent data has shown a worsening of wait times for Connecticut veterans to get care at the two V-A hospitals and six clinics in the state, including the one in Danbury.  


The compromise calls for $5 billion in emergency funding for the hiring of more doctors and facility upgrades.  It also includes $10 billion for private health care for veterans who waited too long to receive treatment.

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Parking violation fines hiked in Ridgefield

Connecticut has raised the maximum fine for parking in a fire lane and illegally parking in a handicap parking space.  That means Ridgefield has now taken action to raise the rates set by the town, to match the state fine.  A town meeting and public hearing was held Wednesday to approve the changes. 


The ordinance change was recommended by the Ridgefield Parking Authority.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the change was made to streamline the process.  Any time the state raises the fine and the town decides to follow suit, only Board of Selectmen approval would be needed.  Previously a public hearing, town meeting approval process was also needed.


Marconi and other Board members feel strongly, particularly when it comes to illegally parked cars in handicap spaces.  If people are just walking into a store quickly to pick something up and they don't have a permit, it's still a violation.  Marconi says the stiff fine is a reminder that people shouldn't park there.


The fine for parking in a handicap space has increased from $86 to $150.  Parking in a fire zone has gone from a $50 fine to a $92 ticket.


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