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Local News Stories

New Milford Fire Marshal suspends burn permits until further notice

The New Milford Fire Marshal has suspended all burn permits until further notice.  Northville Fire Department says this is because Connecticut has been hit with concerning weather conditions - not only a drought but high winds as well. Branches and trees have fallen, leaving dead brush laying around. Normally, the Fire Marshal issues permits allowing residents to burn this brush under certain conditions, but firefighters say Connecticut is not under those conditions, and in fact it's just the opposite.  New Milford's fire departments say they will have a zero-tolerance policy for any outside burning as a result of the permit suspension. Anyone seeing outside burning is asked to call 911, though any questions regarding permits should be directed to the Fire Marshal’s office.

Ridgefield COVID tax deferral programs coming to an end

The Town of Ridgefield deferral program and low interest program regarding taxes, which were implemented in conjunction with the Governor's COVID-related executive orders, are coming to an end.  The Low Interest program is expiring on September 30.  For any balance as of October 1, interest will revert back to the Statutory interest rate of 1-and-a-half-percent per month or part thereof which for the month of October is 6-percent.  Under the terms of the local Ridgefield Deferral program, taxes for the first installment due on July 1st were deferred for three months.  That payment is due by October 1, 2020 without any interest.   The terms were included in the Governor's Executive Orders and cannot be altered by the town.

New Milford Recycling Center to be managed under Public/Private partnership agreement

Starting next Tuesday, the New Milford Recycling Center will be managed under a Public/Private partnership agreement by a New Milford-based family owned business. Three Veterans LLC is owned by Bob Hanna, who managed the center for the town from April 2017 to September 2019.   Under the agreement, Three Veterans will pay about $1,000 each month, and then keep the fees residents pay to use the center.  Any fee increase would be subject to Town Council approval.  The hours will be extended and more types of recyclables will be accepted.  If recyclables become profitable again, the town and Three Veterans will determine how the proceeds will be split.  Mayor Pete Bass says this change was made in order to save money, largely due to the volatile recycling market.  He says the town used to be able to sell some recyclables, but because China has become more restrictive on what they accept, the town has to pay people to take them away.  New Milford will still hold the permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

First established population of Asian longhorned tick identified in Fairfield County

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is reporting the first established population of the Asian longhorned tick in Fairfield County. The state agency is closely monitoring the distribution and human biting activity of this newly discovered invasive tick species, as well as its potential involvement in transmission of exotic and local disease agents. 

Asian longhorned ticks are reddish-brown.

They are a three-host tick species as each active life stage feeds on a different host.  In temperate populations, each female adult Asian longhorned tick can produce offspring—1,000 to 2,000 eggs at a time—without mating.

The invasive species was initially discovered in the U-U on a farm in New Jersey in 2017, raising public and veterinary health concerns, and has now been found in at least 14 other states.  The Asian longhorned tick is native to the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and eastern regions of Russia and China.  It's a major livestock pest in Australia and New Zealand, where it was introduced before 1901.  

The Tick Testing Program at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is a state-supported service offered to State residents since 1990. Ticks are accepted only from residents of Connecticut and should be submitted through their local health departments. Ticks are examined for species, life cycle stage, and engorgement status in addition to pathogen testing.

Referee appealing negligence lawsuit against Newtown

A school referee is appealing a negligence lawsuit against Newtown.  Connecticut Insider reports that the case by Stratford referee Albert Buehler was dismissed last year as Newtown argued that its employees had the right to use their discretion under state law and were immune from most liability.  Buehler claims the town set up the volleyball court and was liable from the faulty stand, which he says opened like a trap door while he was signaling for the server to serve the ball.  The incident happened in 2015 and Buehler argued that he fell 4-and-a-half to 5 feet straight down.  He sued in 2017 and the suit was dismissed last year.  The appeal was filed last month. 

More school students getting access to free breakfasts, lunches

More school students are getting access to free breakfasts and lunches through the Seamless Summer Option and Summer Food Service Program.  The programs for kindergartners through 12th graders, regardless of family income, were expanded and extended by the federal government through the end of the calendar year due to the pandemic.  The state Department of Education says 113 school districts are participating in the Seamless program, including Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Easton, Redding, Region 9.  Some 32 districts are participating in the Summer Food Service Program.  School districts are reimbursed by the U-S Department of Agriculture.  All free meals must meet nutritional criteria.

Redding to become part of Sustainable Connecticut

The Redding Board of Selectmen recently voted to apply to Sustainable Connecticut to become a member town.  The program provides municipalities with a range of coordinated, voluntary actions, to continually become more sustainable.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton reviewed the benefits of becoming a member, noting that Redding has already done many of the action items. There is no charge to join but it will require a sustainability team.  The program provides resources and tools to assist municipalities in implementing sustainability actions and advancing their programs for the benefit of all residents.  Brookfield, New Milford and Ridgefield are all certified at the Bronze level.  Bethel recently joined and is not yet certified for their ongoing sustainability achievements.

Redding Police continue to provide fingerprinting services by appointment only

The Redding Police Department continues to provide fingerprinting services for town residents and Easton Redding Region 9 school personnel by appointment only.  There are 3 appointments in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, 7 days a week.  Only one person will be fingerprinted at a time during each of the 15 minute periods. The charge for fingerprinting is $5, cash only and exact change is required. A mask is required. No walk-ins will be accepted.  For firearms permit fingerprinting, Redding residents are asked to call 203-938-3400 and speak to or leave a message for Officer Livingston.

Sandy Hook Promise PSA wins Emmy

A jarring public service announcement created by Sandy Hook Promise has won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial of 2019.  The spot called “Back-to-School Essentials” juxtaposed a back-to-school commercial with a school shooting.  The organization says the goal is to emphasize that school shootings are preventable when people know the signs.  When the PSA was released last year, co-founder Mark Barden said it stemmed from the reality that people were selling bullet-proof backpacks as school supplies.


Brookfield, New Milford Police partner for Child Passenger Safety Week

Two local police departments are teaming up to protect some of the youngest members of the community.  The Brookfield and New Milford Police Departments will be partnering for a car seat program during Child Passenger Safety Week.  More techs will be available to check and install safety seats than normal.  The event is being held on Saturday from 9am to 2pm at the Faith Church parking lot. No appointment is necessary.

ARC's new executive director appealing a misconduct allegation

The Danbury-based Association of Religious Communities, also known as ARC, has hired a new executive director.  Ari Rosenberg was the rabbi at Temple Sholom in New Milford for five years.  He is in the process of appealing a misconduct allegation by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and suspension.  Sections of the ethics code Rosenberg was accused of violating include “financial,” “rabbinic relationships” and “sexual boundaries.”  He is prohibited from providing any rabbinic services to individuals or communities. ARC President Joe Walkovich told the Newstimes that Rosenberg was hired earlier this summer to the $75,000 executive director position, in part based on the strength of interviews the ARC board conducted with Temple Sholom congregants.

Brookfield long term COVID-19 recovery committee seeks out residents in need

Communities across the state have formed long-term recovery committees as coronavirus is expected to be with the state for a while. The committees include government, nonprofit and private-sector partners and work through regional planning emergency teams.  In Brookfield, the group is led by a member of the town's Economic Development Committee. 

First Selectman Steve Dunn tapped his 2019 opponent Mel Butow to chair the Long-Term Recovery Committee.  Butow says they've reached out to the Senior Center, food pantries and various clubs and lodges.  There isn't much of a need currently, but any help that people need is already being met.  

The goal is to reach anyone identified through contact tracing or testing as needing to quarantine or self-isolate.  The committee can provide help with getting food, connectivity or mental and behavioral health activities.  If there's another wave of COVID-19 in Brookfield, Committee member Will Meikle says that may raise the need for assistance. 

The committee can be reached via email or calling 203-775-7317.

WWII tank on the green in New Milford getting a facelift

The tank on the green in New Milford is getting a facelift.  Sandblasting and a full day of cleaning has taken place on the World War II tank.  It's been prepped for the primer and finish coats of paint tomorrow and Friday back to its original color.  The stars and serial number are set to be added next.  The tank was donated to the Town of New Milford in 1947.  A social media campaign asked for donations to help repair the tank, which had peeling paint and some rusted areas.  The project was funded quickly.  Restoration began last week with all the work and supplies donated by local people and businesses.

(Photo: Mayor Pete Bass)

Political signs reported stolen in Bridgewater

A notice has been sent out to Bridgewater residents about political signage after some signs were stolen over the weekend.  With the upcoming election in early November, First Selectman Curtis Read is reminding residents that people have the right to show support for their preferred candidates by putting up signs and flags on their property. This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment.  He says vandalism or theft of these signs is considered a crime and that is what happened this past Saturday night in Bridgewater. Signs supporting Joe Biden’s candidacy were stolen from front yards along Northrop and Christian Streets.  He notes that these incidents have been reported to the police for further investigation.

Annual Veterans Stand Down program in Connecticut adds local events

The annual Veterans Stand Down program in Connecticut has changed a bit this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Online presentations and regional resource access sites have been added.  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says the two-day outreach event this week will for the first time be held statewide AND locally to support veterans.  The official event starts tomorrow morning at the DVA Rocky Hill Campus and will be broadcasted on social media. Staff will be in Danbury, Bridgeport, Norwich and Rocky Hill on Friday to provide benefits information, pro-bono legal services, free flu shots and free COVID-19 testing. Only a certain number of individuals will be allowed to enter at certain scheduled times due to social distancing restrictions. The Danbury services are offered at the Patrick Waldron Veterans Hall on Memorial Drive, registration is required. Virtual information sessions on housing, employment, education, veteran caregiver support and more will follow.

Wilton High School student died suddenly Monday

A Wilton High School student died “suddenly and unexpectedly” on Monday night.  Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith sent a letter to parents yesterday, but did not name the student, who was later identified as football team member George DiRocco, a junior.  DiRocco played football and baseball as a freshman.  Smith wrote in his letter that the school community feels deeply the incomprehensible loss of a person so young and so filled with promise.  The Wilton district and high school crisis response teams have responded with counseling and support services available to all students and staff.  Support centers have been set up in the high school and outdoors on the north side of the field house.

Draft Transportation Improvement Program for the Greater Danbury area updated

The draft Transportation Improvement Program for the Greater Danbury area is being updated.

The Housatonic Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization has a list of all highway and public transit projects proposed over the next 4 years using federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration funding.  The draft will be voted on during the organization's meeting on October 15th.  Residents are urged to voice concerns and opinions on the plan.  The Public Comment period ends at noon on October 9th. 

The draft 2021-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program documents are available at Comments should be directed to Ms. Maribeth Wojenski, PO Box 317546, Newington CT 06131.

State lawmaker apologizes for sexist social media post about opponent

A longtime state lawmaker has apologized to his November opponent for what he called a distraction and flippant social media post.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky's Facebook page featured a post over the weekend that said seniors didn’t need a “pretty face and promises” but “a man of action” to represent them in Hartford. 

The 4-term Republican is being challenged by Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites, who narrowly lost the 2018 match up. 

Bolinsky blamed the message on an agency piece making an old-fashioned John Wayne reference and told The Newstimes it the wrong thing to say.  He also pulled a similarly worded campaign flyer and said from now on he would approve everything done by the campaign agency, which he did not name. 

Harriman-Stites is a Board of Education member and is a small business owner.

Monroe firefighters remind of proper fireplace ash disposal

Monroe Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire in the woods over the weekend caused by discarded fireplace ashes.  Fire official says this is the time of year to remember to properly handle disposing of fireplace or wood stove ashes.  They should be cool before disposal, but firefighters caution that they can stay hot for several days.  The ash should be placed in a covered metal container, doused with water, and not stored within 10ft of the house or other combustibles. Ashes should never be placed directly into the trash can.

New Fairfield Fire Marshal warns of fire danger

Today’s fire danger is VERY HIGH.  The New Fairfield Fire Marhsal's office notes that a permit is required for open burning, but all burn permits are suspended today.  Residents are asked to be aware of potential sources of ignition such as discarded smoking materials, outdoor cooking, fireworks, and the like. New Fairfield fire officials say a very quick and easy way to improve overall safety is to make sure a house number can be quickly and easily identified in case of emergency. Numbering the mailbox, and home with reflective numbers that are at least 3 inches  is important. The quicker first responders can identify the address of an emergency, the Fire Marshal says the quicker they can mitigate the situation.






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