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Unexpected problem causes delay in Route 133 bridge project between Brookfield and Bridgewater

A significant issue has been found with the Route 133 bridge replacement project between Brookfield and Bridgewater.  The state DOT contractor says the way the bridge deck was constructed 20 years ago, causes a problem now on how to demolish it.  Engineers developed an underdeck support system to be installed this week.  The delay, which is about a month long, is to allow for engineering and adjustments to the contract costs.  The DOT expects the contractors to complete only 2 stages with weekend closures and by-passes before the Bridgewater Fair weekend. The last weekend closure may be as late as the November. 


Safe storage bill introduced in Congress

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is touting introduction of a bill by Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro about responsible storage of firearms.  It's a federal version of Ethan's law.  The Connecticut House overwhelmingly passed legislation stemming from the death of a Guilford teen who accidentally shot himself in the head with a handgun owned by a friend's father.  The Connecticut bill requires both loaded and unloaded firearms to be safely stored in homes where there are minors.  The measure awaits state Senate action.


Fire Department from 37 miles away came to help Bethel Sunday

Redding Fire & EMS officials say a tactic relatively new to the fire service, strike team and task force responses assigned to large scale incidents, was used in Bethel on Sunday. The intent is to not deplete one local area of its resources, so those from pre-determined and scattered communities are requested.

Prospect Volunteer Fire Department, 37 miles from Bethel, helped on scene and maintain operational readiness.  The nine hour blaze included more than 150 firefighters and more than 750,000 gallons of water. 

While Redding Fire & EMS was committed in Bethel, Easton and Long Hill Volunteer Fire companies were staffing the Redding Center fire station.


Stepped up enforcement at Rogers Park

Each summer noise complaints and related quality of life issues pop up in Danbury, specifically around Rogers Park.  That was the case this weekend and Police stepped up patrols.  Mayor Mark Boughton says Monday evening enforcement from Rogers Park included 12 Speeding tickets issued, 3 drivers cited for operating without a license, 1 failure to wear a seatbelt and 1 failure to obey a stop sign.  There was 1 unregistered motor vehicle, 2 cars towed and 1 driver arrested for operating with a suspended license.  Boughton says Danbury Police will continue to enforce laws around Rogers Park.


Changes made at Danbury schools to keep closer check on students at dismissal time

Some changes have been made in Danbury schools to keep a closer eye on student whereabouts after an elementary student left school on his bicycle at dismissal time instead of waiting to be picked up.  According to a newsletter sent to district residents, staff and safety advisers will be stationed at the correct places with ample time for arrival and dismissal.  Students are assigned to various rooms for dismissal if they are walkers or get picked up and district officials say there will be closer supervision when they are moved.  A new security system, called Raptor, was implemented Monday where all visitors must present proper identification to a security guard at the front desk.  A visitor badge is printed, and guests must check out before leaving the building.


Conn. man admits to Subway, bank robberies

A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to bank robbery.  56-year old Alvin Robertson of Bridgeport also admitted to committing three bank robberies and robbing two subway stores last year. 

Last May, Robertson robbed a sandwich shop on Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield.  He brandished a knife, pointed it at the store clerk and demanded money with a threat to kill the clerk.  Last July he indicated he had a gun while robbing a Subway in Monroe. 

Robertson also robbed a People’s Bank branch in Monroe last August, one in Watertown in September, and one in Berlin. 

He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date.  Robertson has prior federal and state bank robbery convictions.


Ridgefield, Lewisboro Police conduct seatbelt checkpoint on Rt 35

Ridgefield Police, along with New York State Police and the Lewisboro Police Department conducted an occupant safety checkpoint on Route 35 Monday.  

A total of 16 tickets were issued during this targeted enforcement period, five of which were for seatbelt/passenger restraint related violations.  One arrest was made for Driving While Intoxicated. 

To help prevent crash fatalities, police across the country have stepped up enforcement, through June 2nd, to ensure that motorists are wearing their seat belts. In 2017, there were more than 10,000 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States.  


House votes to bar single-use polystyrene food containers

Connecticut restaurants and caterers would no longer be able to provide customers with single-use expanded polystyrene food containers under legislation that has cleared the House of Representatives.

The proposed ban, which passed Tuesday on a 121-23 vote, would take effect July 1, 2021. It now awaits Senate action.

Proponents say the legislation is needed to discourage the use of the containers and reduce litter, noting expanded polystyrene containers can take 200 years to break down in a landfill. Some noted that many restaurants have already begun to swap out these products with greener options.

There are exceptions for pre-packaged food, raw meat and seafood.  Violators would face fines.

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding backed the bill, but had concerns about the cost to businesses.  He says this product has a very negative impact on the environment. But he says mom & pop restaurants and delis use the product because they can get it at such a reduced rate compared to alternatives.


Brookfield, New Milford budgets approved by residents

Brookfield residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year. Residents approved $44 million for the schools, $26 million on the municipal side. It's a 5 percent spending increase over the current year and raises taxes by 2.87 percent. There is a $3.5 million capital budget. The funding would go toward paving at the schools and replacing various department vehicles.

The New Milford budget was also approved yesterday.  The municipal spending plan was approved on a vote 1,655 to 741.  The The school portion of was approved about 1,500 to 900. 

Health costs are lower, but New Milford will add a police officer and a civil engineer.  New Milford is allocating more for tree removal, chip sealing, and stormwater and drainage projects to address icing.  The tax rate would go up by about 2 percent.


Senate defeats bill to expand farmers' ability to kill bears

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Senate has defeated a bill that would have expanded when farmers can kill nuisance wildlife, including bears, which destroy crops.

Tuesday's bill was a scaled-back version of legislation that originally authorized regulated bear hunting in Litchfield County.

Instead, the Senate approved a second bill Tuesday that requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to provide the General Assembly with a report on non-lethal ways to control the bear population. That report is due no later than February 1, 2020.

New Milford Sen. Craig Miner of Litchfield, who supports a bear hunt, says his constituents already use non-lethal management practices, but it's not enough.

Republican Sen. Kevin Witkos of Canton says he's "in fear" it will take a human mauling or death for lawmakers to ultimately pass tougher legislation.


Woman who had hot wax dropped in her eye settles for $400K

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut woman who got hot wax dropped in her eye at beauty spa has settled a lawsuit against the now-closed business for $400,000.

Frank Bailey, an attorney for 61-year-old Gail Gianpalo, of Monroe, says his client suffered permanent eyes injuries from the botched eyebrow wax and incurred about $4,700 in medical expenses.

The settlement was first reported by the Connecticut Law Tribune .

Gianpalo went to the Fairfield spa in July 2016 to get her eyebrows waxed. According to the lawsuit, while the salon's manager was in the process of applying wax to Gianpalo's eyebrows, he got into an argument with another customer and dropped hot wax into her right eye.

The settlement was reached with the help of a mediator.


Appliance cord suspected of igniting cardboard box in Bethel Middle School fire

Bethel Middle School reopened today, a day after because closed due to a weekend fire in a custodial storage room.  District officials say they next have to figure out when the last day of class will be for middle schoolers.  The decision will be made within the week. 

The Fire Inspector determined that a cord to an appliance may have overheated, igniting a cardboard box. The sprinkler system was activated, which kept the damage to a minimum.  The flames and water damaged two electrical panels, which are being repaired. 

School officials thanked  volunteer firefighters and the Fire Marshall for their quick responses.  


Annual Brookfield Strawberry Festival to benefit Brookfield Museum coming up

The Annual Brookfield Strawberry Festival will take place on Sunday, May 26th outside the Brookfield Museum at the intersection of Routes 25 and 133.  The Memorial Day parade ends near the museum parking lot where strawberry shortcake and soft drinks will be sold to support future public programs of the Society.  The Billy Michaels’ Jazz for Juniors band will be in the park behind the Historical Society building.  A display of antique and vintage automobiles will also featured in the parking lot.  The event is from 12:30 to 3PM.


Vacancies on Newtown Commissions need filling

There are some openings on local boards and commissions in Newtown.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is looking for residents to volunteer to fill a vacancy on the Public Building & Site Commission.  The alternate position is available to a Republican or an unaffiliated voter.  The Commission on Aging has an alternate position available to a Democrat or unaffiliated voter.  Candidate recommendations are due by June 3.


Local lawmaker critical of minimum wage increase bill

A local lawmaker is critical of the minimum wage bill headed to the Governor's desk.  Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says there will be significant negative effects on small and mid-sized businesses, municipalities and nonprofits.  He says raising people out of poverty through a livable wage is a noble goal, but forcing employers to increase wages is not a responsible way to do so.  Hwang says it ignores market realities and called it counterproductive.  Hwang says the cost of doing business in this state is already too high and believes this bill won't put more money in people’s pockets.  Instead, he says it will increase unemployment, increase prices, and hinder growth in an already fragile economy.


Boehringer Ingelheim launches first US Primary Care Patient Registry to Improve COPD Care

RIDGEFIELD, Conn., May 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Boehringer Ingelheim and Optimum Patient Care today announced the creation of a new patient registry, APEX COPD (Advancing the Patient Experience in COPD), to better understand COPD and how it can be typically treated in primary care offices. This registry will be the first-of-its-kind, specifically designed to improve the management of patients with COPD, all in the primary care setting, which reflects the reality of the COPD patient experience.

This new registry will report findings and insights to be shared in academic journals and medical congresses. In addition, the registry will provide real-time, patient-reported information as well as relevant information from the electronic medical record (EMR) in a structured format to physicians at the point-of-care. This information will aid physicians in making a clinical judgment.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death, affecting more than 1 in 20 adults in the United States.1,2 Despite its high prevalence, only a fraction of people with COPD have been diagnosed and some diagnosed patients may not be getting the treatment they need.3 Primary care physicians treat the majority of COPD patients - more than pulmonologists or any other type of health care provider. However, recent research suggests greater awareness is needed among primary care physicians to ensure a more timely diagnosis and appropriate management of this chronic condition.

The registry, which will eventually enroll 3,000 COPD patients who are being treated by a primary care physician, will retrospectively and prospectively collect EMR data for patients and supplement these data through patient-reported information.


Delegation introduces DEBRIS Act to try to get FEMA funding for individuals

The one year anniversary of the devastating macroburst was just last week, and some Greater Danbury area families still cleaning up. 

Members of Connecticut's federal delegation are trying once again to get FEMA funding for individuals.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and Senators Murphy and Blumenthal have introduced the Diversifying Emergency Benchmarks for the Recovery of Individuals after Storms Act. 

The DEBRIS Act would end the ban on federal disaster relief aid to homeowners for fallen trees and debris.  The bill would be retroactive to May 1, 2018. 

Clearing fallen trees from a major disaster can be costly and homeowners insurance does not typically cover removal of trees and debris that has not caused damage to a structure. While Connecticut is receiving federal disaster aid to cover public expenses in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, individual property owners have been left to fend for their own. 

Murphy met with homeowners impacted by the supercell storms and saw firsthand the devastation.  He says the federal government should be stepping in to make sure families have the tools they need to respond to a natural disasters.


Small fire extinguished as building destroyed by blaze Sunday

There was a small flare up in Bethel at Clarke Business Park yesterday afternoon in the building gutted by a fire on Sunday.  Bethel Volunteer Fire Department officials say black smoke was seen coming from the side of the building, and firefighters were able to extinguish the flames in about 10 minutes. 

On Sunday, firefighters from across the region spent more than 8 hours battling a fire in the commercial building.  

3 firefighters were transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  The Bethel and State Fire Marshals are actively investigating the fire. 

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says crews attempted an interior attack but were forced out by the extreme heat.  The water system in the immediate area wasn’t supplying enough water to battle the fire.  A regional tanker strike team was activated and tankers brought water to the scene from a remote source. 

Responding departments included: Brookfield, Danbury, Newtown, Monroe, Shelton, Trumbull, Weston, Redding, West Redding, Georgetown, Ridgefield, Southbury, Middlebury, Wolcott, Prospect, Beacon Falls, and Roxbury.


Brookfield budget vote today

Brookfield residents are voting on a budget today. The plan for the coming fiscal year is $70-million. Residents will be asked to decide on $44 million for the schools, $26 million on the municipal side. It's a 5 percent spending increase over the current year and would raise taxes by 2.87 percent if approved. There is a $3.5 million capital budget. The funding would go toward paving at the schools and replacing various department vehicles. Polls are open until 8pm.


New Milford budget referendum today

New Milford residents are voting on a budget today. 

A slight increase in spending is being proposed for the coming fiscal year.  The plan calls for $103 million, about $1.4 million more than the current year.  Municipal spending is pegged at $39 million.  Health costs are lower, but New Milford will add a police officer and a civil engineer.  

The school portion of the plan is $64-million.  The overall budget represents a 1.35 percent increase over the current year.  The tax rate would go up by about 2 percent.

Bass is restoring the town's contribution to the fire department’s capital fund, which was cut in half this year.  New Milford will also allocate more for tree removal, chip sealing, and stormwater and drainage projects to address icing.


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