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Monroe Superintendent placed on paid administrative leave

The Monroe Superintendent of Schools has been placed on paid administrative leave.  The Board of Education also placed the district's interim finance director on leave.  The Board hired a firm to investigate “employee-related issues on the budget as well as general performance-related issues.  The Monroe school budget has a projected deficit of $1.3 million dollars.  Jack Zamary was hired in 2017, with a one year contract renewal awarded in June.  Frank Connolly was named interim finance director in May.  Assistant superintendent Joseph Kobza has been named acting superintendent.


Newtown legislative delegation to hold Community Conversation

A Community Conversation is being held in Newtown tonight by members of the town's state legislative delegation.  Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, JP Sredzinski, and Raghib Allie-Brennan and State Senator Tony Hwang will talk about issues and priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session.  The forum is at CH Booth Library from 6:30 to 7:30pm, in the meeting room. The legislators will take questions from people in attendance.


Ridgefield freshman selected as MLK Jr essay contest winner

A Ridgefield High School student has been selected by Senator Chris Murphy as one of the winners of his 4th annual ‘Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay Challenge.’  Among the 4th Congressional District winners was Kavya Podila.  This year, Murphy received close to 1,500 entries from elementary, middle, and high school students from across Connecticut reflecting on Dr. King’s dream and their own aspirations.  Murphy says the essays show that his legacy is still inspiring future generations.


Danbury lawmaker to introduce bills to address climate change

Danbury State Representative David Arconti met recently with the Land Trust Alliance and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. They discussed legislation that passed last session and brainstormed legislative priorities for the upcoming session. As the co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, Arconti says introducing legislation that combats climate change, spurs economic development, and creates career opportunities is a top priority.  The new General Assembly session starts on February 5.


FuelCell Energy: Fiscal 4Q Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) on Wednesday reported a loss of $35.2 million in its fiscal fourth quarter.

On a per-share basis, the Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of 23 cents. Losses, adjusted for asset impairment costs, came to 12 cents per share.

The fuel cell power plant maker posted revenue of $11 million in the period.

For the year, the company reported that its loss widened to $77.6 million, or $1.82 per share. Revenue was reported as $60.8 million.

The company’s shares closed at $2.88. A year ago, they were trading at $6.69.


Councilman remains concerned about homeless shelter operations

A Danbury City Council member continues to be concerned about the City's homeless shelter not operating a full capacity amid reports of people being turned away.  The Mayor and the Director of Health and Human Services have denied the allegations by Councilman Bob Taborsak, saying no one has been denied a bed. 

Taborsak says every bed is used at the overflow shelter.  He volunteers at Dorothy Day and say every bed there is also full.  According to the latest report filed with the City Council, the City Shelter was only 80 percent full. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says he would like Dorothy Day to come to the table and implement the same intake protocol used by the City Shelter.  But he cautioned that he's hesitant to meet with Dorothy Day while the City is under litigation with the facility, noting that anything they say can and will be used against the City.  He added that Danbury can't condone Dorothy Day violating zoning regulations, but using the state as a mediator has been a good practice for working with the organization. 

Health Director Lisa Morrissey says they've discussed better coordination of services.  She says it's not unusual during the holidays to have empty beds because people were staying with relatives for several days at the end of the month. 

If there are no beds available, Boughton says they will be provided a bed somewhere in the region and the City provides transportation so no one is left out in the cold.


DHS Senior credited with helping to discover habitable planet

A Danbury High School Senior is being credited with discovering a habitable planet.  Alton Spencer is working with NASA's planet-hunting mission, TESS, as a researcher.  He and others pointed out an error that initially miscategorized a star as much hotter, which led astronomers to think that the planets orbiting it would be too close and hot to support life. 

Astronomers confirmed their discovery using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope infrared capabilities with follow-up observations. 

CNN reports that the exoplanet the size of Earth is part of a multi-planet system orbiting a cool M-dwarf star about 100 light-years from Earth.  The star is only about 40% of the sun's mass and size, with half of the surface temperature.  The planet is known as TOI 700 d, one of three orbiting the star.  NASA says it's at just the right distance to support liquid water on the surface in the star's habitable zone.  

The planet is thought to be tidally locked, meaning one side is always in daylight.  In a NASA feature from April 2018, Spencer said he doesn't feel like there’s an age restriction when it comes to making great discoveries. He added that citizen science is a way for people in middle or high school to actually make contributions to science despite not being in college or having science careers yet.


Ridgefield could use state money to finish designs for Farmingville Road Trail

Ridgefield could use state money to finish designs for the Farmingville Road Trail along the Bypass Road through the Schlumberger property.  Designs have been underway for several years to extend the existing Rail Trail.  The state reviewed the estimated $2.8 million project and approved a grant. Ridgefield officials say they will be ready to go to work next year, assuming that the bond package is approved by the State of Connecticut.  The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has discussed plans to possibly allow bikes on the Rail Trail portion.  They plan to discussed this in more detail at a future date.


Grief counselors at Immaculate following death of student in highway crash

State Police have identified the driver killed in a fiery accident on I-84 Friday night as 17-year old Liam Declan Devine of Danbury.  The Immaculate High School senior was killed when the car crashed into a tree on the embankment between exits 8 and 9 westbound.  Immaculate postponed midterm exams until next week, but will dismiss students early, as planned.  10 grief counselors, 3 therapy dogs, and a priest have been brought in to help students and teachers.  According to the teen's death notice, Devine loved to play basketball, was in Immaculate’s guitar ensemble and had been accepted into college.  He was planning a career in sports journalism and analytics.


Brookfield officials approve Fire Marshal Fee ordinance modification

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved the revised Fire Marshal Fees & Inspection Ordinance.  Changes were up for a public hearing earlier this month.  Fees for all required inspections will be determined by the Fire Marshal, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen. Instead of the specific fee being written into the ordinance, it will now just list the type of inspection.  This way the ordinance does not need to be changed each time the fee is modified.


State Police ID driver killed in fiery I-84 crash as Danbury teen

State Police have identified the driver killed in a fiery accident on I-84 Friday night.  Police say 17-year old Liam Declan Devine of Danbury was killed when the car crashed into a tree on the embankment between exits 8 and 9 westbound.  The car was registered to his mother.  Devine was a Senior at Immaculate High School.  Family will receive friends tomorrow from 4pm to 8pm at Green Funeral Home on Main Street.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11am on Thursday at St. Gregory the Great Church.  His death notice says that interment will be at the convenience of the family.  In lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations be made in Liam's memory to Immaculate High School.


Putnam County Sheriff Deputy stabbed while responding to disturbance

A Putnam County Sheriff Deputy is recovering after being stabbed while responding to a disturbance at Putnam Valley home yesterday morning.  A man confronted the deputies with a knife.  The subject was taken into custody, while the Deputy was transported to the hospital.  Officials said the investigation is continuing, but there is no threat to the public  Surgery repaired a severed artery, but the Deputy may need to undergo additional surgeries.


Ridgefield firefighters caution residents to thin ice

With temperatures well below freezing yesterday, Ridgefield firefighters practice included Ice Water Rescue training.  Ridgefield Professional Firefighters urge all residents to stay off the ice.  During the drill, they did not cut any holes in the ice, but did fall through  while walking. Although it is very cold out, the ice is not thick enough to sustain substantial weight.


Driver injured Sunday when van crashes down embankment

A driver was injured Sunday in Newtown when their van went off the roadway in the icy conditions.  Firefighters responded to Lakeview Terrace, where the driver reported chest and arm pain.  The full-size van had crossed the roadway and gone down an embankment. The vehicle landed about 10 feet off the roadway.  The driver was checked, and then transported to a hospital.  Traffic was temporarily reduced to alternating lanes while first responders were on the scene due to the narrow, winding roadway.


Congresswoman delivers remarks on MLK Day at Conn. church where MLK worshipped

A service was held yesterday at a church in Simsbury where Dr Martin Luther King Jr worshipped during his time in Connecticut. 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said everyone has to work together in the spirit of hope because hate is too heavy a burden to bear.  She called on those in attendance to reset and commit to keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.  Her 11 year old son spent the day volunteering at Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries food pantry with his friends.  Hayes says she understands even more Dr. King’s wish that his children be “judged by the content of their character.”


West Street flooding, railroad grade crossings to be studied in Danbury

Some long standing issues could start to be addressed in Danbury if the proposed bond package is approved in a vote this spring. 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says one of the most important projects is the West Street drainage issue under the railroad crossing.  He called it a complicated issue.  A cross pipe is linked directly into the Still River.  As the river comes up, water is pushed into the road, instead of allowing water on the road to go into the river.  He wants to at least do a survey of the area, do an in-depth investigation and preliminary designs. 

The study will look at what it will take to permit and gain easements to resolve the issue. 

Another project would involve the railroad grade crossings.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the poor conditions along Main Street and Balmforth Avenue means people stop short to swerve around the issue, causing safety issues.  

For the first time ever, Iadarola says the City had a meeting with the District Office of the Federal Transit Authority.  Members came down from Boston last week to discuss the issue.  He says the meeting was held to show there's initiative on the City's part to work with the local railroads to get the work done. 

Some of the money will go to road repairs that were left unfinished in the previous fiscal year.  Boughton says that includes Karen Road, where the drainage is done, but final paving is not completed.  Boughton says Long Ridge Road  is in horrible shape and is on the list.  Backus Avenue in front of the mall is also scheduled for repaving.  He notes that it will cost $1.1 million to pave just that one road. 

A vote on the bond package could be held April 28th, the same day as registered voters go to the polls for the primary.


4th skeleton located in Ridgefield at site of 1777 battle

More skeletal remains have been found in Ridgefield.  State archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni says the remains could also be those of someone who fought in the Battle of Ridgefield in April of 1777. 

The Ridgefield Historical Society says 28 brass buttons throughout his chest and arms, including cuff buttons, were recovered.  All buttons were badly corroded and need to be cleaned in the lab to look for insignia. 

Bellantoni and others continued the excavation, under tunneling for almost three feet to remove the new remains.  The first skeletons were unearthed in December when a homeowner was doing renovations in the basement of a private home. 

Officials are hoping to be able to determine if these men were soldiers, and which side they were on--British or American. 

Forensic experts at the UConn, Quinnipiac University, Yale University, the University of Florida and the University of California-Santa Cruz are involved in the analysis process. The Ridgefield Historical Society has created a Battle of Ridgefield fund to raise donations to help identify and honor the men who died on Ridgefield’s battleground.


New Fairfield seeks to fill vacancies on Permanent Building Committee

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is looking to add members to the Permanent Building Committee.  Applicants should be experienced architects, engineers and construction managers who are registered voters in the Town of New Fairfield.

The Town’s sole building committee oversees and administers all building projects over $250,000, and all maintenance, repair and alteration projects over $25,000.

The Committee will also oversee the design and construction of the new schools through an Owner’s Project Manager.  There are two vacancies and town officials say it's critical for the Committee to be fully staffed as members begin reviewing design documents for the new High School and Consolidated Early Learning Academy. 

Interested New Fairfield residents can send a Letter of Intent and Resume to First Selectman Pat Del Monaco no later than January 31st.


Ridgefield to review open space parcels for state compliance

The State has changed the definition of open space and Ridgefield can no longer count any property that is no longer in its natural state.  The Conservation Commission is looking at the Town’s open space properties to protect ones currently owned by the town.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi recently updated the Board of Selectmen with the Commission's draft.  There was a question of whether the fairway greens at the golf can't be counted, but the woods can. The Town has always counted all the properties, the fairways, the greens, the ball fields, all around the schools.  Ridgefield's open space percentage goal is 30-percent.  The Selectmen said that the modification should still keep Ridgefield focused on achieving that goal, regardless of the state change.


State Police investigating fiery fatal crash

State Police continue to investigate a fatal accident that happened on I-84 Friday night.  Troopers responded to the area between exits 8 and 9 westbound for a report of a car spinning out of control and going into the woods.  The 911 caller said there was also fire spotted on the side of the road.  Investigators determined that the car crossed both lanes of the highway, went up an embankment and collided with a large tree before becoming engulfed in flames.  


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