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Newtown High School graduate waives hearing, pleads not guilty to murder

TOLLAND Conn. (AP) — A 23-year-old University of Connecticut student who is accused of killing two men and committing numerous other crimes while leading authorities on a six-day search, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges.

Peter Manfredonia, who is being held in lieu of a $7 million bond, waived his right to a probable cause hearing on the murder charge during a hearing in Superior Court. He is due back before a judge on October 2. He elected to have a jury trial.

“It’s really a procedural step at this point,” Michael Dolan, his attorney, said outside the courthouse.

Manfredonia also is charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, assault, home invasion, kidnapping with a firearm, robbery, larceny, stealing a firearm and assault on an elderly person. Additional charges are expected.

The murder charge stems from the death of Ted DeMers, of Willington, who police said was killed with a Samauri sword outside his home on May 22.

It’s not clear why Manfredonia was in DeMers’ neighborhood. But a female acquaintance of Manfredonia’s who lives near DeMers’ home told police she stopped seeing him after learning on March 18 that he had hacked into her social media accounts, police said. She had considered getting a restraining order against Manfredonia, police said.

According to state police, the University of Connecticut senior then went to another man’s home, held him hostage for about 24 hours, stole his guns and truck and drove about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest to Derby.

On May 24, police found Manfredonia’s high school friend, Nicholas Eisele, 23, shot to death in his Derby home. Authorities believe Manfredonia killed him and then forced Eisele’s girlfriend into her car and fled the state.

Manfredonia was captured on May 27 in Maryland.


Danbury School District releases draft re-entry plan

A draft document has been released by the Danbury Public School District.  There will be a zoom meeting tonight about the school re-entry plan.  Information about how to join the Zoom meeting at 5pm can be found on the district's Facebook page. 

The draft document includes protocol checklists for reopening in several areas including: Health and Wellness, Facilities and Operations, Instruction, Social/Emotional Growth, Transportation, Technology and Pandemic Response.  

Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says schools may look a little different in the fall and procedures to ensure the health and safety of all in the building may feel strange, but he hopes that returning to learning in the classroom will bring students comfort.  Whether  in school, a hybrid learning environment or through remote learning, Pascarella wants educators, parents and others to work together to ensure that all students are continuing to learn and develop to their highest potential.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hHF_Y5fpbWpjU5vQ-tTJj70ZCM-Vx1aHrDTjWzQG0t8/edit


Richter Park Authority repays Danbury for cash advance

The Richter Park Authority has repaid the City of Danbury for a $150,000 cash advance approved by the City Council in February. The line of credit was meant to address their temporary cash flow needs during the off season.

Danbury Finance Director David St Hilaire says the poor weather conditions shortened this past season and it negatively affected their reserve cash levels.  But Mayor Mark Boughton says the Richter Park Authority is now $400,000 into the positive because of a good spring, driven by nice weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.  He says there were a lot of people with nothing else to do for months but play golf. 

Richter is averaging 180 to 220 golfers per day. 

Their strategic plan calls for putting surplus funds aside for winter and to pay back another loan.  The City Council approved a $1.5 million refinancing loan for 15 years at a 2.5 percent interest rate in November 2015.  Another $600,000 was approved last year for the driving range project.  St Hilaire says the range, completed last April, is bringing in residual benefits for Richter Park operations. 

The current loan balance is $1.7 million. 


Mailbox thefts, vandalism investigated in Newtown

A rash of mailbox thefts and vandalism is being investigated in Newtown.  Police received several reports of mailboxes being removed from their posts in the overnight hours of Monday into Tuesday.  Police say most of the mailboxes were recovered, but some have yet to be located.  The damage and vandalism happened in the area of Taunton Hill and Taunton Ridge roads.  Newtown Police are asking that anyone who normally walks or jogs in that area to keep an eye out for the missing mailboxes, and turn over any that are located to police so they can be returned to the owners.  Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to contact the Newtown Police Department at 203-270-4255.


Remington ordered to provide certain information to 10 Sandy Hook families

A judge has ruled that Remington must “act in good faith” to provide certain information to 10 Sandy Hook families as part of their wrongful death lawsuit against the gunmaker.  Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled Tuesday that the information is fair game for the families to discover whether the defendants met their obligations.  Remington objected to naming every person the company has contacted for “any statements, documents, and/or communication concerning the shooting on 12-14, including statements, documents, and/or communications concerning responses to the shooting and/or the shooter”.  The lawsuit rests on whether Remington used reckless marketing, in violation of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.  Bellis previously allowed the families’ attorneys to question the gunmaker’s executives under oath about its internal organization and procedures — which Remington considered invasive and improper.  70 separate requests for documents to date has resulted in production of tens of thousands of documents, consisting of more than 100,000 pages.


West Redding firefighters train with new air packs

West Redding Volunteer Fire Department has some new equipment.  On Monday night, members drilled on the new 3M Scott Fire & Safety X3 Pro SCBA Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, to become familiar with the new packs.  The firefighters were assisted with their training via Zoom by Shipman's Fire Equipment Company.   The West Redding firefighters used the modular training prop to simulate any sized room, or hallway.  The facility has doorways and windows which allow firefighters to practice tactics like Vent Enter Isolate Search.  They practiced search methods while breathing on the new air packs, and had the building filled with artificial smoke to provide blackout conditions for firefighters.


Danbury Police identify homicide victim

Danbury Police have identified the Waterbury man killed on Sunday night.  

Police say 39-year old Raymond Irvin Simmons had several ties to Danbury.  He sustained multiple gunshot wounds.  Simmons was transported to Danbury Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

A preliminary investigation indicates that he was attending a candlelight celebration of life vigil for a deceased friend at Beaver Street near Elm Street shortly after 10:30pm when he was shot and killed.  Police say the incident is not believed to have been indiscriminate, and the general public is not currently at risk by the assailant.

The investigation remains ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Kupchok at 203-797-2168 or the anonymous tips line at 203-790-8477.


Danbury firefighters rescue cat from tree

Danbury firefighters responded to a different type of call yesterday.  During the storm on Saturday, a cat went up a tree in the city.  The family put food at the base of the tree, but after a few days and the cat hadn't come down, they called 911.  Truck 1 arrived and was able to reach the cat, and bring her down to the two young girls.  Danbury Fire officials say the cat is doing fine.

(Photo: DFD)


CT Food Bank Truck returns to Danbury tomorrow

The Connecticut Food Bank Truck will be at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury tomorrow morning.  There will be no contact food distribution for people in need starting at 10am.  Volunteers will put food directly into recipient's trunks.  Volunteers are needed to help from 9am to 11am. Email Anne Mead at meadan@danbury.k12.ct.us to volunteer.


Danbury Officers, Boy Scouts help single mother move out of bad living situation

Danbury Police Officers responded to a landlord/tenant dispute type complaint on June 30.  They learned that the single mother of four was moving to a new address in the city, but struggling to find a way to move her belongings due to monetary issues.  The responding officers, taking it upon themselves, stepped up to help.  About a week ago, Officers Hildebrand, Elste, Russotti, Lavallee and Det. Kupchok; along with some of their family members and members of the Danbury Boy Scouts; volunteered their time and successfully moved the woman and her children out of what police say was a bad living situation and into a new home.


More services resume at Bethel Library

Bethel Public Library is offering more in-person services.  Appointments can now be made by library card holders for computer use, printing, copying, scanning and use of reference materials.  Appointments will be 45 minutes long.  Masks are required. Work stations are cleaned between appointments.  The book drop is open for returns on material, which can be picked up curbside.

 


Wilton Selectmen consider reopening tax deferral application period

The Wilton Board of Selectmen will consider the reopening of the application period for the COVID-19 Tax Deferral Program for taxes due on August 3rd.  The original application deadline was June 15th, but about half a dozen residents called the town saying they wanted to file, but didn’t know about the deadline. If approved at the special Board of Selectmen meeting tonight, the application period would start tomorrow and be open until July 31st.  Tonight's meeting is at 8pm.


Nuvance Health suspending collections of plasma

Another sign of how well Connecticut has done in controlling the spread of COVID-19, Nuvance Health is suspending collections of plasma, which has been used to fight infection.  The health system, which includes Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon hospitals, says the Plasma Donation Centers have more than 600 units of plasma stored for future use. 

302 patients were treated with convalescent plasma across the Nuvance Health system.  

Nuvance tapped the New York Blood Center and the American Red Cross to get plasma donations at the start of the pandemic, but opened its own collection sites in April. 

More than 2,100 people have been registered in the Nuvance database as potential donors.  The registry will remain open if cases start to rise.  Nuvance says one or more of the donation centers could reopen for research purposes. 

Plasma contains antibodies that medical experts say can potentially help critically ill patients fighting COVID-19.


Dorothy Day cease and desist case moves back to Danbury court

The case of the City of Danbury versus the Dorothy Day Hospitality House has been transferred back from Hartford Judicial District to Danbury Superior Court.  The state Judicial District also ordered the sides to submit a new timeline for all remaining dates in the cease and desist order case.  Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty and the Roy Estate, Dorothy Day and the Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to the defendants' briefs being rescheduled for August 14th, the reply brief on September 15th and the hearing date October 15th.  Dorothy Day had a permit back in 1983 for temporary use on an annual basis.  It was renewed for one year, and it was never renewed again.  A virtual status conference has been scheduled for July 23rd.


Wilton cites young people, travel for rise in COVID-19 cases

Over the last few days, Wilton has had 4 new cases of COVID-19 reported.  First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says statewide there's a larger share of younger residents who are testing positive.  She says travel to more than one of the states impacted the quarantine travel advisory is also being cited.  During the height of the pandemic, Wilton's "case per person" rate lagged neighboring communities.  Now, Wilton leads non-urban neighbors with a rate of 1 case for every 81 residents.  In Ridgefield, it's 1 case for every 109 residents and in Weston it's 1 for every 152 residents.


All Ridgefield residents to vote in one polling location for primaries

Despite all registered eligible voters in Connecticut receiving an absentee ballot application for the upcoming primaries, the polls will be open for in-person voting on August 11th,  All three Ridgefield districts will vote at East Ridge Middle School from 6 am until 8 pm.  CDC guidelines will be followed for poll workers as well as voters. Face coverings will be required and surface sanitizing will occur regularly throughout the day.  Residents who choose to vote by absentee ballot must complete the application and mail it to the Town Clerk. Those who submitted applications will receive a ballot in the mail beginning next week.   A complete absentee ballot must be billed out using black ink so it can be read by the scantron machine.  The completed ballot should then be placed in an enclosed envelop, sealed and sign.  That signed parcel is placed in an outer envelope and mailed to the Town Clerk or deposited in the official ballot receptacle located at the Bailey Avenue entrance of Ridgefield Town Hall. All ballots must be received by 8 pm on August 11th.


New Milford School officials to release draft reopening plan

New Milford school officials are expected to release a draft plan on Friday about reopening school buildings this fall.  The Envisioning the 2020-21 School Year Advisory Team, a group of over 70 school and community stakeholders, has been working with administrators to develop a plan for a “full, safe, and appropriate” reopening.  New Milford School Superintendent Kerry Parker says parents and community members should give regular feedback and suggestions concerning the plans to reopen and the phase-in of all aspects of school life.  Zoom virtual meetings will be scheduled in the next few weeks to discuss the draft of the Plan, answer questions, and gather feedback.  The state Education Department's guidelines says districts should plan to have all students, in all schools, return to school houses for full-time instruction at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, so long as public health data continues to support this model. The model also supports mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment, and class cancellation plans.


Southbury Police investigating shoplifting incident

Someone shoplifted from Old Navy in Southubry.  Police are investigating a larceny that happened at the 100 Main Street North location yesterday around 6:30pm.  The suspect is a black female, who was  wearing a pink dress, multicolored sandals and a multicolored head scarf.  The woman left the store with a blue tote bag of unpaid items.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police Officer Pierce at (203) 264-5912.


Newtown Congregational Church to host blood drive

Newtown Congregational Church is hosting a blood drive at the end of the month.  More than 30,000 planned blood drives have been canceled since the lockdowns began in mid-March, which the American Red Cross says has resulted in critical blood shortages.  Donations typically decline during the summer months.  The Red Cross says there's a 30% increase in demand from hospitals as elective surgeries and procedures resume.  Blood donations are needed from eligible healthy individuals of all blood types.  All blood drives comply with COVID-19 precautions. Each donor must wear their own mask or get one from the Red Cross.  Appointments can be made on the Red Cross website.  The blood drive at Newtown Congregational Church is July 30th from 10am to 3pm.


Aquarion Water facility in New Fairfield to be upgraded, expanded

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission has approved a special permit application for work at Aquarion Water Company’s Heron View Road pump station.  The facility will be expanded and upgraded according to the application, through a well station addition.  Three wells and a pump station treat and distribute water from the site near The Woods at Dunham Pond condominium complex.  Underground piping will be added in order to increase system reliability.  An  underground storage tank will be removed, though that needs a separate approval. 


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