Rich Minor in the Morning
Rich Minor in the Morning
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Rich Minor in the Morning

Local News Stories

Sherman firefighters practice rescues of lost, injured colleagues

This past week, members of the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department trained on rescuing a fellow firefighter in the event that he or she becomes lost, injured, or runs out of air while fighting a fire. The skills that were practiced included locating the down firefighter, removing the firefighter out of the hazardous environment, and then EMS practiced performing CPR using an automatic CPR device.


Moody's updates credit analysis following upgrade of general obligation in Woodbury

Moody's has provided an update to credit analysis following an upgrade of general obligation in Woodbury to a Aa1 rating.  The credit rating agency found that Woodbury benefits from a sound financial position, supported by conservative budgeting and formal policies, as well as stable property tax revenue and significant budgetary flexibility given low fixed costs. The town's tax base is stable, although below medians of similarly rated cities, and wealth and income indicators are strong. Woodbury was cited for having limited reliance on state revenues and very low fixed costs. Factors that could lead to a downgrade include a tax base deterioration, trend of structural imbalance leading to fund balance declines and significant increase in debt or pension burdens.


FirstLight proposed changes to Shoreline Management Plan

FirstLight has made proposed changes to their Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake as part of the required 6-year review.  One is to increase the review to 10 years. 

The report calls for adding administrative fees when residents apply for shoreline uses within the project boundary.  Another is eliminate the requirement for new homeowners to install a vegetated buffer garden following a property sale and annual buffer progress reporting.  There would also no longer be a requirement for homeowners to install shoreline stabilizing and erosion controlling rip/rap instead of new seawalls and eliminates reporting on seawall and rip/rap installation.

The Candlewood Lake Authority is highlighting other proposed changes.  One would eliminate the commitment to share data, particularly of GIS mapping data valuable when evaluating lake health, with municipalities and lake authorities.  The draft moves many requirements to appendices where they can be freely updated by FirstLight without public notice, comment, or approval.  It would also make many requirements that were mandatory, discretionary through the use of the word “may” instead of “will”. 

The draft must be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by March 27th.


Gov. to propose eliminating Business Entity Tax

Governor Ned Lamont will include a proposal in his budget to eliminate a $250 biannual fee businesses are required to pay every other year, along with certain filing requirements.  Bethel state Representative Raghib-Allie Brennan also proposed a bill this session to eliminate the business entity tax.  Lamont hopes these proposals send a powerful message to entrepreneurs, small business owners and CEOs alike: that Connecticut state government wants to be a partner, not a roadblock.


New Milford Mayor hosts Coffee & Conversation this weekend

New Milford residents are encouraged to drop by a Conversations & Coffee with the Mayor on February 16th.  The gathering is from  9:30am to 11am in the E. Paul Martin Room on the second floor of Town Hall.  Residents can share ideas, ask questions or express concerns in a casual setting.


Sherman residents reports receiving phone solicitations purportedly for volunteer firefighters

Several residents have reported to the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department that they received calls from someone soliciting donations in support of Volunteer Firefighters. The Department is not affiliated with the organization and does not receive any funds from them.  Sherman firefighters do rely on donations from the community to provide services and have details about making donations on their website.


Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake up for review

When the Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2013, they established a six-year review period, triggering the current review process. The final draft of the document must be submitted by FirstLight on March 27th. 

There are several proposed changes.  The Candlewood Lake Authority says given the many challenges that the lake faces, the CLA hopes to strengthen the existing plan. 

FirstLight has scheduled a Stakeholder meeting on February 19th where members of the Lake Advisory Committee, including municipal representatives, lake authority representatives, and representatives from other organizations like DEEP, the Fish and Wildlife Service, can submit comments. This will also be followed by a yet to be scheduled public meeting when members of the public can express their thoughts and concerns. 

The CLA has submitted their concerns to FERC and directly to FirstLight.  The company is looking at their suggestions and may make some changes. Since it is a draft document, it's subject to change by FirstLight until the final due date on March 27th.


Attorney: Van Dyke's injuries not serious

CHICAGO (AP) - An attorney for the white Chicago police officer convicted in the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald says the officer told her that another inmate at a Connecticut prison "jumped" him and punched him a few times but that he wasn't seriously injured.

Jennifer Blagg said Thursday that Jason Van Dyke told her and another appellate attorney during a phone call that he had been assaulted shortly after he was transferred from a state prison in Illinois to a federal prison in Danbury.

She said Van Dyke told her that he's since been moved away from other inmates for his protection. The federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that an assault happened on Feb. 7 resulting in "minor injuries." It provided no other details.

Earlier Thursday, Van Dyke's wife spoke at an emotional news conference where she demanded to know why precautions weren't taken to keep her husband safe.


Local lawmaker calls for creation of a state Cybersecurity Czar

A local lawmaker has introduced a bill to create a state Cybersecurity Czar position.  A public hearing was held yesterday on the proposal from Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown. 

Just last month, Apple users were alerted to a glitch in the FaceTime app allowing anyone calling to gain access to the recipient’s microphone and even a live feed of the recipient’s front-facing camera, even if they decline the call.  Hwang says the breach of privacy highlights the need for government and private sector to coordinate on individual user privacy.

The Cybersecurity Czar would be part of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and broaden the scope of the current Chief Cybersecurity Risk Officer beyond the Department of Administrative Services.  The new position would also focus on National and State Homeland Security including security of utilities and infrastructure.


Southbury Police report phone solicitation scam

Several Southbury residents have reported to police that they have received solicitations from people that appear to be someone in their contacts list requesting Google Play gift cards be purchased for a fundraiser or charity. The scammer requests that the person then email a picture of the PIN number.  No legitimate charity will request Google Play gift cards. 


Himes introduces The Reclamation of War Powers Act

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has introduced The Reclamation of War Powers Act.  The bill would explicitly return the power to declare and wage war back to Congress, as the Constitution requires.  He says sending young men and women into harm’s way is a decision that should be made by the direct representatives of the people and families making the sacrifice.  With open conflict in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and the potential for conflict in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, Himes says they must establish both who has the authority to commit the military and establish objectives in any military endeavor. 


Infowars host ordered to sworn deposition in Sandy Hook case

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has ruled that Infowars host Alex Jones must undergo a sworn deposition in the defamation case brought against him by family members of Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

Discussions on Jones' web show have called the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and lawsuits by families of eight victims and a first responder say they've been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones' followers.

The superior court judge also ruled Wednesday that the families can depose several other defendants in the case, including those critical to Infowars' business operations.

Jones has defended the discussions on his show. He has cited First Amendment rights and says he believes the shooting happened.

 


Wife says Chicago officer assaulted in Connecticut prison

CHICAGO (AP) - The wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Tiffany Van Dyke says Jason Van Dyke had been placed in the prison's general population before being assaulting. She told the newspaper that she and others "are all petrified and in fear for Jason's life."

She says her husband "was never supposed to be in general population" and that she wants the situation "rectified immediately."

The newspaper says Van Dyke was transferred Feb. 5 from Rock Island County Jail in Rock Island, Illinois, to the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.

A spokesperson for the Connecticut prison wasn't available for comment Wednesday night.

Van Dyke had been kept out of the Illinois jail's general population.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in October for McDonald's 2014 shooting.


WCSU professor names plant in honor of wife

It's an uncommon Valentine from a veteran West Conn biological and environmental sciences professor.  Tom Philbrick has been researching and studying aquatic flowering plants, and discovered a number of newly identified species during his field studies in Central and South America.

The Newtown resident recently discovered a riverweed species from Brazil, and named it in honor of his wife Paula, a biologist and faculty member at UConn-Waterbury.  Philbrick says only another biologist would be so touched by a new species being named for them.  He says Paula continues to be one of his most trusted scientific advisers. 

(Photos: WCSU)

Rhyncholacis paulana was found last year while Philbrick explored a small stream about the size of the Still River in Danbury.  The stream in Amapá, Brazil, just north of the mouth of the Amazon River, flows under a bridge next to a small farm.  The plant is common, covering outcrops throughout the stream.  There are 20 or so genera of this family in South America, but distinguished itself by its simple pinnately lobed leaf, which is fleshy and undulate. 

Philbrick has named 10 to 15 new plant species during his career.


Brookfield officials caution residents to phone number spoofing calls

Brookfield officials have received reports again recently of telemarketing solicitation calls with a “caller ID” of the Town of Brookfield.  Officials are cautioning residents to be aware and careful about any calls received. 

This is a relatively new form of robocall called spoofing where scammers and telemarketers can make it seem like they're calling from a local phone number. 

Town officials urged residents to take care of their personal information, and use resources like the FCC's information guides to stop unwanted calls, or the National Do Not Call Registry when applicable. 

There were also reports of door-to-door solicitation about companies that had no prior authorization from the town of Brookfield.  Businesses are required to first visit town hall and submit their identification to apply for a solicitation permit. If someone cannot or will not show a permit, residents are being asked to report them to Brookfield Police using their non-emergency line.


Home improvement loan program launched in Brookfield, New Fairfield

A home improvement loan program is being launched in Brookfield and in New Fairfield.  The towns were awarded $400,000 each from the state Department of Housing for zero-interest indefinitely deferred loans to eligible low and moderate income residents.  The loans can be used for health and safety improvements including roof or window replacements, new furnaces, septic repairs, insulation, lead remediation and ADA modifications.  The money could also be used for siding, and plumbing and electrical upgrades. Low- and moderate-income homeowners must have an annual income that does not exceed $52,550 for a single household or $75,000 for a household of four;  have 10% equity in the home; and, be up to date on municipal taxes.  The application and more information can be found on the website of each town.  Applications will be accepted through August 1st.


Special Town Meeting in New Fairfield on transferring funds

There is a special Town Meeting in New Fairfield tonight.  Residents are being called on to vote on transferring funds for three different uses.  Nearly $25,000 of the current year's budget is being requested to be moved to the Fire Company Reserve.  $55,475 is needed for a Boat Dock Replacement Lock Box.  $60,000 would be put toward Public Works Trucks and Equipment.  Tonight's meeting is at 7:15pm in the New Fairfield Community Room.


Local lawmaker wants to eliminate gasoline zone pricing

A Public Hearing is being held today by the Connecticut legislature's Transportation Committee about a bill to eliminate gasoline zone pricing.  Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says gasoline distributors have long operated under proprietary zone pricing maps, that arbitrarily designate relative prices of gasoline based on where people live.  He says the zones lead to increased prices in high-cost areas of the state, and can vary as much as 60-cents per gallon.  Hwang says the practice stifles competition and prevents new potential retailers from entering the market.


Ridgefield First Selectman, Gov. discuss issues in morning meeting

Before the snow arrived yesterday, Governor Ned Lamont and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi met to discuss a number of topics. 

One was teachers Pension.  Marconi says the unfunded teacher pension concerns municipalities, in particular about the possible allocation of some of the debt to cities and towns.  The pair also talked about Health Insurance, which Marconi says is the most significant uncontrollable costs for municipalities. 

Another topic was the restoration of the Small Town Economic Assistance Program or STEAP grants. 

Marconi talked about the need for greater implementation of the medically assisted treatment model when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic.  Marconi says all rehabilitation facilities should be required to follow this protocol.  Many facilities have had the time to implement it, but have not. 

Marconi also called for creation of an office of drug policy with a director who will coordinate all state efforts.

The pair discussed school regionalization.  Marconi voiced major concern and opposition about the bill proposed by Senate President Martin Looney. Lamont said that he is not in support of this bill.  But discussions have taken place about the possibility of consolidating back office functions such as accounting and payroll.  Marconi also talked with Lamont about the roles that Council of Governments can play in creating efficiencies on regional basis.


Bill introduced to exempt houses of worship from gas fees

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut legislator has introduced a bill to waive demand fees that churches and other houses of worship pay for natural gas.

The Republican-American reports that the bill would make facilities with rooms that occupy 25 percent of the total square footage and are used one day a week or not more than 200 hours a year exempt from the fee, applied for spikes in usage.

Republican Rep. Arthur O'Neill, of Southbury, says churches operate on thin margins, and most hold services once a week during nonpeak hours for gas usage.

Rabbi Eric Polokoff says synagogue B'nai Israel in Southbury paid nearly $6,000 in demand fees last year.

An Eversource spokesman says while the utility is still reviewing the bill, it is aware of proposals that may shift costs to other customers.


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