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Ridgefield residents split approval on Charter revisions

Ridgefield residents weighed in on a number of proposed changes to the town's charter during the election last week.  Residents overwhelmingly supported separating the Ridgefield Inland Wetlands Board from the Planning and Zoning Commission.  Five other proposals were approved and three failed.  

Among those rejected were making the treasurer and tax collector appointed positions.  Voters also defeated a question would ave allowed the Annual Town Meeting to reduce budgets before they are sent to referendum only if the meeting is attended by at least 2-percent of registered town voters. 

Under one approved question, the finance board will now be tasked with creating a “master budget schedule” by which the school board and selectmen’s budgets are heard, commented on, and eventually approved by the voters.  Voters decided to allow selectmen and finance board to determine how to spend money left over when capital projects are completed under their approved budget amount.  Residents voted to prevent a candidate from running for more than one office in single election with overlapping terms. 

The charter’s “standards of conduct” section will be deleted after a new ethics code is proposed by the selectmen and adopted by a town meeting.  A series of “technical changes” were approved.  They include having the “Commission on the Disabled” renamed the “Commission on Accessibility.”


Two local Police Chiefs to be sworn in to office

Two new police chiefs in the area will take the oath of office today. 

Ridgefield Police Chief Jeff Kreitz will be sworn in this morning.  The ceremony will be held at the Lounsbury House at 11am.  Kreitz was named the new chief of police on October 26th, replacing longtime Chief John Roche who passed away in late August.  The 39-year old takes over from Major Steve Brown, who has been serving as the department’s acting chief for the past several months. 

The ceremony is open to the public. 

A swearing in ceremony will be held tonight for the new Police Chief in New Milford.  Spencer Cerruto will take the oath of office  November 14th at 19 Main Street at 7pm.  The Watertown Police Lt has over 30 years of police and command experience.  Mayor Pete Bass says he has a strong commitment to community policing. 

The contract for outgoing Police Chief Shawn Boyne was not renewed by New Milford officials. 


Conn. Supreme Court to hear case involving Redding tax appraisal

The Connecticut Supreme Court will be hearing a case involving the Town of Redding today.  The case centers around Redding Life Care, LLC, filing a tax appeal in the trial court to challenge the town's assessment of its property.  The Supreme Court will take up the matter at 10am. 

An appraiser conducted two reviews on behalf of banks considering lending the company money, and the town wanted to compel the appraiser to testify in a deposition.  The appraiser moved for a protective order, noting that he had not been retained by either of the parties to the tax appeal and claiming that Connecticut law prohibited compelling his unretained expert testimony. 

The trial court denied his motion.  The Appellate Court reversed the ruling, holding for the first time that Connecticut law recognizes a qualified unretained expert privilege.

The Supreme Court will consider first whether it has jurisdiction to review the Appellate Court’s final determination.  If the Supreme Court determines that it has jurisdiction, it will next decide whether Connecticut recognizes a qualified expert testimonial privilege permitting an unretained expert to withhold testimony regarding an opinion that the expert has previously rendered and documented in a written report and, if so, what the scope of that privilege is. 


Brookfield zoners consider drive-thru regulations

The Brookfield Zoning Commission took up a proposed rule change on drive-thrus in the Town Center District on Thursday. 

The Commission is looking into an application from the owner of Dunkin Donuts, to move down the road to the old Hearth Restaurant property.  A hearing on the application was continued to November 29th.  A decision must be made by December 13th, though 65 extension days are available. 

The regional planning agency, the Western Connecticut Council of Governments has sent a letter opposed to the change saying that drive-through developments do not foster an active downtown.   Brookfield is aiming to attract mixed-use developments in the Four Corners area by adding sidewalks and other amenities to the area.


Sandy Hook firefighters undergo vehicle training session

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company held a driver recertification training session over the weekend.  Among the challenges at the Rescue Truck station were shifting the truck to engage the generator. For Road Driving, each operator needed to follow the direction of the officer with them, safely driving Engine 441 without incident. Aerial Setup and Operation, and Driving/Backing Maneuvers were conducted at Newtown High School.  The Maneuvers station challenged drivers through a course marked with cones and agreed upon common hand signals. Each time a cone was hit, the driver had to return Tanker 49 to its starting point. If a driver hit more than two cones, they failed that station.


Brookfield zoners consider drive-thru regulations

The Brookfield Zoning Commission took up a proposed rule change on drive-thrus in the Town Center District on Thursday. 

The Commission is looking into an application from the owner of Dunkin Donuts, to move down the road to the old Hearth Restaurant property.  A hearing on the application was continued to November 29th.  A decision must be made by December 13th, though 65 extension days are available. 

The regional planning agency, the Western Connecticut Council of Governments has sent a letter opposed to the change saying that drive-through developments do not foster an active downtown.   Brookfield is aiming to attract mixed-use developments in the Four Corners area by adding sidewalks and other amenities to the area.


Kent Library, Social Services to host Medicare Open Enrollment event

Kent Library and Kent Social Services will host a Medicare Open Enrollment event Saturday, November 17th at th Library, from 10am to 1pm.  Peter D’Aprile of Kent Station Pharmacy will review Part D prescription plans. Hugh Hill, a licensed insurance agent and Kent resident, will review attendees current Medicare Supplement Plan and/or Medicare Advantage Plan. Participants should bring their current insurance cards, list of current physicians, and list of current medications. No appointment necessary.


Danbury Fire Department holds promotion ceremony

The Danbury Fire Department is holding a promotion ceremony this afternoon.  Officer Rui Fernandes will be promoted to Sergeant. Lieutenant Heather Anderson is getting promoted to Deputy Fire Marshal. Deputy Fire Marshal Eric Handau is getting promoted to Captain. Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is touting Handau's promotion, as Handau is a longtime volunteer member.  He has been a career firefighter with the City of Danbury for over 25 years. He is also a part time Paramedic in Brookfield.  


34th annual Run for the Turkeys 5K in New Fairfield this weekend

The New Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the 34th annual Run for the Turkeys 5K road Race/Health Walk this weekend.  There will also be a Kid’s Fun Run around the high school track for children 12 years and under.  There will be digital timing, positional placing, raffle prizes and trophies to the top runners in each division.  The event will be held on Sunday, November 18th.


First-responder DNA an issue in lawsuit over lawyer's death

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The father of a Connecticut lawyer found shot to death in an overturned SUV is trying to obtain DNA samples from first responders as he seeks to disprove the police conclusion that his son killed himself.

Dr. Abraham Dabela has subpoenaed several Redding police officers and firefighters for DNA samples as part of a lawsuit against Redding police. He says he is trying to determine the source of unknown DNA found on the trigger of his son's gun at the crash site.

Thirty-five-year-old Gugsa Abraham ``Abe'' Dabela was found dead in an overturned SUV near his Redding home in April 2014.

First responders are asking a federal magistrate judge in Hartford to reject the subpoenas. A court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.


Brookfield starts to trim, remove dangerous trees

Brookfield has set aside $50,000 in the budget to identify and remove or trim every dangerous tree in town.  This project includes storm clean-up and normal annual maintenance. 

After a complete review of every town street, town officials are in the process of removing or trimming trees marked with an ‘x’. The priority is to first remove those marked most dangerous, with the rest taken care of as part of work ongoing through the year. 

Brookfield can only work on trees in the town right-of-way. If a tree is on private property, it is the responsibility of the property owner. 

Anyone who sees a tree they consider dangerous is asked to notify the town, and Public Works will assess the situation.


Johnson School PTO to hear renovation update tonight

The Bethel School Superintendent will be attending the Johnson School PTO meeting tonight to provide an update on the Construction Schedule and Timelines. Environmental Specialist Jim Twitchell and the Construction Manager will be available to answer any questions about construction and/or environmental abatement.  Bethel received approval last month from the state Office of School Construction to go out to bid on the renovation project.  The PTO meeting is at 7pm at Johnson School.


Bethel to hold hearing on Clarke Park expansion proposal

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is hosting a public hearing tonight about expanding Clarke Business Park.  Trowbridge Drive, a cul-de-sac on the southern edge of the park, would be extended by 16 acres.  As many as 4 businesses could be added. 

The project is expected to cost around $1 million, and residents will need to sign off on the spending, which will also pay for extending the sewer, water and utility lines.  Plans call for the town borrowing the money, with the Economic Development Commission paying back the loan using proceeds from the expansion.  Bethel did receive state grant money for the design and some unused funds, along with more potential grant money could offset the cost. 

The hearing is at 7pm in Bethel Town Hall.


Discussion on compassion to be held in Ridgefield

Swastikas have been found around Ridgefield over the last two years and some students have reported stress from bullying.  In response, Project Resilience has invited Dr. Christopher Kukk to speak this week.  The founding director of The Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation at Western Connecticut State has been instrumental in helping other communities develop a “Cities of Compassion” initiative. He wrote a book about titled The Compassionate Achiever: how Helping Others Fuels Success- a 4-step Program for Cultivating Compassion.  His talk on Wednesday is at 7pm at Scotts Ridge Middle School.


Ridgefield officials to discuss ban on door-to-door sales

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is meeting tonight and will discuss a proposed ordinance revision aimed at preventing door-to-door soliciting.  The current ordinance would eliminate a permit process that allows people to legally pursue door-to-door sales.  Some 1st amendment issues have been raised by Comcast of Connecticut.  Comcast has been seeking a peddling permit since February and objects to delays in acting on the application.  Tonight's Selectmen meeting is scheduled for 6:30pm at Ridgefield Town Hall. 


Checks presented to vet organizations from Veterans Walkway of Honor in Danbury

Checks were presented yesterday to two veteran organizations, from proceeds raised during the final phase of the brick sales from the Veterans Walkway of Honor in Danbury.  The Danbury War Memorial donated a thousand dollars each to the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs and the Friends of Fisher House Connecticut.  Project Organizer Lee Teicholz says the Veterans Walkway of Honor has raised more than $83,000 since 2013, of which more than $47,000 went to support programs at the Danbury War Memorial and nearly $16,000 more for area organizations serving veterans.


Danbury schools mark Veterans Day

Students at the King Street Campus gathered early Friday morning to give thanks to the veterans for their service. Tom Saadi, who serves on in the Danbury City Council, spoke to students. Saadi is a Major in the U.S. Army Service and is Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Some sixth- and seventh-grade students at Rogers Park Middle School had the opportunity to write letters to men and women currently serving in the U.S. military. 

Broadview Middle School students hosted a breakfast Friday morning to honor the men and women who serve or have served. Every student in the school participated in the event from coloring posters that hung in the school’s cafeteria, to handwriting invitations and making gift bags with handwritten cards.


Bethel School Start Time Committee meets tonight

A Parent Information and Feedback Session is being held in Bethel tonight about the final School Start Time options. The committee is recommending three tiers.  High Schoolers along with St. Mary’s, Nonnewaug, and Abbott Tech start times around 7:45am, the Middle School at 8:20 with Berry, Rockwell and Johnson schools at 9am.  The school district says the cost impact will be minimal with students gaining about 10 minutes in the morning.  A challenge would be to share resources between Bethel High and Middle schools, with increased community stops for the middle school.


Danbury, Ridgefield Police looking into burglaries at nursing homes

Danbury Police are investigating thefts from assisted living facilities.  Police are searching for a woman dressed in a nursing uniform targeting elderly residents of at least two nursing homes in the city.  The suspect allegedly stole items from purses last week.  During Thursday's City Council meeting, Councilman Ben Chianese mentioned the incidents.  The accountant for Filosa Nursing and Rehabilitation and Hancock Hall says Glen Hill Center warned them about the incidents.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour said that was the first he heard of the incidents and would look into it.  Ridgefield Police are also investigating a similar incident. 


Clean up of storm damage at New Fairfield Cemetery starts today

Clean-up of the New Fairfield Cemetery will begin this morning.  Parking will not be available in the lot in front of the cemetery, and travel on Brush Hill Road will be reduced to one lane at times to accommodate a crane and other necessary equipment.  The cemetery, across the street from Town Hall, suffered significant damage in the May 15th storm.  The estimate for clean up and repairs, including tree removal, was $14,000.  Multiple headstones were damaged, at least three large trees were uprooted and other trees sustained damage.  Headstones in the cemetery date back to the mid-1700s.


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