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Easton firefighters caution against viral video 'outlet challenge'

The Easton Volunteer Fire Department is calling on parents to talk with their children about the dangers of certain "online challenges" and to recognize the dangerous activity.  The so-called “outlet challenge” video on Tik Tok shows how to partially put a plug of a cellphone charger in an outlet and sliding a penny down the wall onto the exposed prongs.  Easton Fire company officials say this has been causing fires.  The National Fire Protection Association says sparks and damage to the electrical system, and in some cases, injuries and electrocution can occur.  While the search for the hashtag doesn't result in any videos being found, the NFPA says at least one high school student in Massachusetts tried to imitate it.


Danbury lawmakers tour local businesses

Danbury state lawmakers took a tour of some local businesses yesterday. 

The bipartisan delegation visited Hologic.  Officials with the manufacturer say the group has been instrumental in passing legislation that helps women access their latest 3D mammography technology.  Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, who worked in radiology for 7 years, says the technology offers faster and more accurate screenings. 

Hologic employees were joined yesterday by Senator Julie Kushner and Representatives David Arconti, Raghib Allie-Brennan, Stephen Harding and Ken Gucker.

Allie-Brennan visited Danbury-based Praxair with some of his colleagues yesterday.  The worldwide industrial gases company has over 500 employees in Connecticut.

As an energy intensive company, Allie-Brennan says one of their biggest challenges is the cost of energy in the state.  He is Vice Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee and wants to work to address this issue in the upcoming session.


Gun fire reported to Danbury Police turned out to come from FCI

Danbury Police received several calls from concerned residents yesterday after hearing gun shots fired.  Police say the initial call was about the hill behind Home Depot, but there was also one about Stadley Rough Elementary School.  Police say it turned out to be outdoor firing range practice at the Federal Correctional Institution.  FCI Danbury does not need to alert the Danbury Police Department when the range is being used, but police called to see if they were the source of the noise.  Norwalk police were practicing with long guns at the time.  Danbury officers were sent to the school and the area of the business as a precaution. 


Arraignment of former IT Director postponed

Arraignment for New Milford's former IT Director was postponed yesterday to today. 52-year old Kendrick Protzmann is facing 49 counts of cyber and computer crime.  According to the arrest warrant affidavit obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media, Protzmann allegedly downloaded 35 emails to and from high-ranking officials in town, including Mayor Pete Bass and the town's Personnel Director.  After an audit of New Milford's cybersecurity systems by the new IT director, it was determined that someone had accessed town emails without authorization.  Protzmann told police he wanted to see what was going on around town.  Police did not find any downloaded emails on Protzmann’s personal computer.


Funding for streetscaping in CityCenter included in proposed Danbury bond package

Making downtown Danbury look nicer is part of the plan to revitalize the area. The $62-million bond package proposed for a vote on April 28th includes $8.55 million for streetscaping in the CityCenter area. 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the last time the area was beautified, was in the early 90s.  The plan today calls for concrete sidewalks, with a granite inlay, and landscaping. City officials are hoping to attract developers and make the area more walkable.  A previous $4 million streetscape plan, half paid for through a state grant, only covers about half of the sidewalks included in the Transit Oriented Development study.  That money would be supplemented by the latest proposed funding. 

Construction could begin in the spring, if the bond package is approved. 

Boughton says it makes sense to fund the balance of the project now since the workers and equipment will already be on site, an interest rates are at an historic low.  He added that they City wouldn't have to rebid the other half of the work nor have to worry about material not matching.  In response to campaign claims in the fall, Boughton pointed out that they would be reusing granite curbing from the last project. 

The proposed planters will use the kind of trees that won't cause the sidewalks to buckle.

Historically the intersection of West and Main streets, referred to as Concert Hall Square then later City Hall Square, was the center of public life in Danbury. It was flanked by public buildings and buildings providing public programs, concerts, and services.  Potential improvements include the rebuilding of sidewalks as well as a pavement pattern change in the crosswalks.  The intersection used to be cobblestone, and the TOD plan calls for stamped accent paving as a nod to the City's historic look. 

Calitro says the TOD plan incorporates share-a-lanes--shared vehicle and bike lanes.  There is not enough space to put bike lanes on both sides of Main Street and keep four lanes of car traffic going.  The plan also includes installation of solar parking kiosks to get rid of individual meters.


Miscalculation in salaries will lower proposed New Milford school budget

New Milford school officials are recalculating teacher salaries after an error was discovered.  The Connecticut Post reports that the miscalculation in certified teacher salaries will lower the proposed 66 million dollar budget by thousands of dollars.  It's not clear if it was a computer or human error.  Officials said the teacher steps got reordered and redone.  The proposed budget is 3-percent more than the current year, mostly due to new hires planned at the elementary schools.  Those positions include a special education teacher and three part time paraprofessionals at Northville and Hill and Plain Elementary, and bilingual teachers and a coordinator.  The published report says state law requires a bilingual teacher at a school if there are at least 20 non-native English speakers who speak the same language.  About 15 percent of New Milford’s students are Hispanic.  Board of Education members have requested more details about a proposed line item of 25-thousand dollars for an armed school security guard or school resource officer.


Newtown to schedule 'debt vacation' in 5 year capital plan

A five year Capital Improvement Plan has been finalized by the Newtown Board of Finance and the Legislative Council.  The plan includes a moratorium on bonding in the 2025 fiscal  year.  Similar to Governor Lamont's 'debt diet', Newtown officials are calling this a 'debt vacation.'  According to the Newtown Bee, Town Finance Director Robert Tait said taking a single year off from borrowing not only saves approximately $900,000 in debt service, but creates an opportunity to shift about a half-million dollars into the municipal capital nonrecurring account.  The plan calls for creating a pay-as-you-go scenario by planning a savings schedule to build earmarked funds in the capital recurring account.


Applications being accepted for Newtown Police 25th Citizen Police Academy

The Newtown Police Department will be hosting its 25th Citizen Police Academy beginning March 22nd.  The free academy is open to adults 18 or older. The deadline for sign up is March 15th.  The 10 week program for residents of Newtown and surrounding towns is designed to teach people about the various aspects of law enforcement. Classes will be held on Sundays from 3pm to 6pm.  Program leaders say the Citizen Police Academy is a great way to interact with local law enforcement and discuss current issues facing the field of law enforcement.  More information about the Citizen Police Academy can be found on the Newtown Police Department web page.


UPDATED: Danbury man charged with possession during routine traffic stop

A routine traffic stop has led to drug possession charges for a Danbury man. 

State Police conducting traffic enforcement by exit 4 spotted a vehicle with no license plates and pulled the driver over Tuesday afternoon, on Route 7 by the mall.  The driver was identified as 32-year old Nathanael Collado. 

57 Klonopin pills and a digital scale were located in his jacket pocket. 

Collado was placed in the cruiser and secured.  K-9 Favor, without being directed to do so, entered the compartment where Collado was seated and placed her nose on his waistband alerting to the presence of additional contraband.  Troopers informed Collado that K-9 Favor was a trained narcotics canine and asked what was in hid possession. Collado said two bags of cocaine were hidden in his pants.

Collado was charged with possession of a controlled substance, sale of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He will be arraigned on February 4th.

(Photo: CSP)


DHS students fundraising for Wounded Warrior Project

Some Danbury High School students enrolled in the Peer Leadership class are fundraising for Wounded Warrior Project as part of their community change project.  The students will be holding a dodgeball game March 6th at the DHS gym.  The event is only open to high schoolers and there will be an entry fee when they make a team.  An optional donation slip from the players will also be available.  The students are also looking for outside donations to raise more money and help the Wounded Warrior Project.


Bethel elementary schools to offer more vegetarian, plant-based options

During the month of February, Bethel elementary schools will be offering additional vegetarian and plant-based options.  Each Monday, in addition to the regular chicken menu item, they will offer a 'Meatless Monday' option of Falafel, Hummus & Wheat Pita.  On Wednesdays, in addition to the regular menu item, a Veggie Burger on a Wheat Bun will be offered.  A baked Breaded Cod Fish filet on a Wheat Roll will be added each Friday during Lent.  In order to gauge interest in these items, Bethel School officials say they will need to be specifically ordered by the student on the day of the menu choice.  Officials say tha'ts being done because they are expensive, and the district doesn't want to waste any food.  If the items are popular, they will be incorporated into future menus.


Putnam County Sheriff Deputy stabbed Monday released form hospital

The Putnam County Sheriff Deputy stabbed during a response to a domestic incident Monday has undergone another surgery.  Sheriff Robert Langley says the damage was more extensive than originally thought, but both surgeries went well.  The Deputy was discharged from New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital yesterday with a good prognosis for a full recovery.  Members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, local law enforcement, K9s and a helicopter fly over from the Westchester County Police stood by.


Kushner to seek reelection to state Senate

State Senator Julie Kushner has announced she is seeking reelection.  The freshman lawmaker is running for a second term representing the 24th District, which includes Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman.  Her goals for a new term include lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, improving public education and protecting the environment.  Kushner serves as Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, Vice Chair of the Environment Committee, and is a member of the Appropriations, Education, Housing, and Executive & Legislative Nominations committees.


Break ins reported at businesses in Marbledale, Depot neighborhoods of Washington

The Town of Washington has had several break ins at businesses in the Marbledale and Depot neighborhoods.  Money was taken from safes and cash registers. 

The break ins happened January 20th and 22nd, in the early morning hours, believed to be between 3am and 5:30am. 

The suspect is believed to be travelling on foot and is familiar with the area.   The suspect appears to be a white man with a thin build, about 5-foot-9 to 6 feet tall.  The suspect was wearing a hoodie, with face covered, but his eyes were visible. 

(Photo: CSP)

The businesses were identified by police as 202 Tavern, Country Wine & Spirit, Marty's Cafe, Washington Cleaners, The Hen's Nest and Fine James.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Washington Resident Troopers Office at 860-868-9671.  State Police Troop L in Litchfield is also investigating.


Newtown Police investigating rash of mailbox vandalism, car theft

Newtown Police are investigating a rash of crimes, including car theft. 

Police say a 2015 black Jeep Rubicon was stolen from the driveway of a Julia Court home late Saturday night.  The keys were left in the vehicle in the Walnut Tree Hill Village. 

A Honda CRV that was stolen last week was recovered yesterday in Bridgeport. Detectives responded and processed that vehicle for evidence. 

The Newtown Police Department is also investigating mailbox vandalism that occurred during the late Sunday night into early Monday morning this week. Several dozen residents have been identified as victims.  Investigators have identified at least three suspects and say they are confident that arrests will be forth coming in the next few weeks.


Bethel man arrested for alleged baseball bat attack in Danbury

Danbury Police have arrested a Bethel man for allegedly attacking a man with a baseball bat on Main Street Friday afternoon.  The Newstimes reports that 34-year old Faisal Sadiq is accused of hitting a 20-year old man outside a mosque, near the police station, around 3pm.  He was charged with assault and breach of peace on Friday and will be arraigned a week from today.  Police say the victim called 911 to say he was assaulted and the man was following him.  He was located in the nearby Taco Bell, bleeding from the head.  Police say the incident appeared to be related to a domestic dispute.


Teen driver caught with large number of THC/Marijuana vape cartridges

A teenager has been arrested in Newtown on drug related charges following a routine traffic stop.  Newtown Police pulled a vehicle over Tuesday night for not having a front license plate.  The driver, 18-year old Andrew Geriak of Stratford, had a large quantity of THC/Marijuana vape cartridges in the vehicle. Geriak was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and failure to display registration plates. He was released on bond for arraignment on February 5th.

(Photo: NPD)


Drainage project at Rogers Park in Danbury underway

A drainage project is underway at Rogers Park in Danbury.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they are rebuilding some outfields, among other associated work.  The funding for the improvements was approved last year.  He says an outside company has been hired to do the grading work with lasers, which the Danbury Department doesn't have.  Iadarola says a brook runs through the area and the drainage is shallow.  The infrastructure is an infiltrating drain, and the goal is to get the water in there.  It takes a while now, which is what has caused delays for games scheduled at the fields.


New Milford plans regular risk assessments of computer network

New Milford officials plan to conduct regular risk assessments of the town's computer network.  Mayor Pete Bass says the checks will be done by different consultants to look for any vulnerabilities in the network.  The audits of digital defenses would be done annually.  New Milford's former IT Director, Kendrick Protzmann, was arrested for computer crimes earlier this month.  He is set for arraignment today.  The 52-year-old plans to enter a plea of not guilty.  When the crimes were uncovered, Bass said information of town employees who switched to state insurance plans last year was released online.  School employees who switched were not affected.  New Milford is offering free credit monitoring for two years for anyone who might have been impacted.


Monroe Superintendent placed on paid administrative leave

The Monroe Superintendent of Schools has been placed on paid administrative leave.  The Board of Education also placed the district's interim finance director on leave.  The Board hired a firm to investigate “employee-related issues on the budget as well as general performance-related issues.  The Monroe school budget has a projected deficit of $1.3 million dollars.  Jack Zamary was hired in 2017, with a one year contract renewal awarded in June.  Frank Connolly was named interim finance director in May.  Assistant superintendent Joseph Kobza has been named acting superintendent.


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