Local News Stories

Veterans Walkway of Honor donates to Afghanistan Iraq Veterans Memorial Fund

Veterans Walkway of Honor in Danbury has made a donation to the Afghanistan Iraq Veterans Memorial Fund.  The organization raised funds through brick sales recognizing veterans, collecting about $2900.  The Afghanistan Iraq Veterans Memorial Fund is looking to construct a Connecticut monument that honors veterans of the two conflicts, and locate it in front of the Danbury War Memorial building in Rogers Park.


U.S. Marine Band Concert Tour to make stop in Ridgefield

The 2022 U.S. Marine Band Concert Tour to the Northeast is making a stop in Ridgefield.  The concert is sponsored by American Legion Post 78. The concert is free, but tickets are required and limited to 4 per request.  The Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization.  The concert at Ridgefield High School is scheduled for October 25th at 7:30pm.  Founded in 1798, the band has performed for every U.S. President since John Adams. Known as “The President’s Own” since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the Marine Band’s primary mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  The band’s 17th Director, John Philip Sousa, initiated the concert tour tradition in 1891.


Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company recognized Firefighters of the Year

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company has recognized three members for being Firefighter of the Year. This award ceremony, held by the Exchange Club of Danbury, has been postponed for the last 2 years due to COVID.  They made up for those years during their monthly business meeting to honor the members for their dedication and hard work.  The 2020 recipient is Lieutenant David Bunting, the 2021 recipient is Chief Engineer Matt Gunter and the 2022 recipient is Engineer Chelsea Berg.  Stony Hill Fire officials say they have gone above and beyond year after year and are an integral part of the success of the department. They will be honored with dozens of other honorees at a statewide dinner in a few weeks.


New Fairfield Troopers remind parents not to leave kids unattended in cars

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office is reminding parents of a state law that makes it a crime for a parent, guardian or someone supervising a child to knowingly leave a child under the age of 12 years old in a motor vehicle or unsupervised in public for a length of time that creates a risk of harm to health and safety.  Troopers say even running into a business, daycare or elsewhere just for a minute is a danger.  If a child under 12 years old is watching another child under 12, Troopers say this also creates a significant safety risk. The guidelines indicate that in order for a juvenile to supervise younger children, they must be at least 15 years old.  The ages could be subject to interpretation based on child’s cognitive ability.


Brookfield Officers honored by hospital for toy drive donations

Brookfield Police Officers Kyek and Heller received a Toy Closet appreciation award on behalf of the Department from Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital for the toys the department has donated over the years.   The pair started the toy drive 7 years ago and Brookfield Police estimate they have donated over 30,000 toys.


Danbury bakery to pay back wages to workers

A federal court has ordered three bakeries located in Danbury and in Mount Vernon, New York, along with their owner to pay nearly $1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 74 employees to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found that Pedro Coelho and Padaminas Brazilian Bakery violated the overtime requirements when they paid employees, primarily bakers and counter staff, who worked more than 40 hours per week straight time instead of time-and-a-half their regular pay rates. The employers also failed to keep records of employees’ work hours and compensation paid.  The consent order is for little more than $476,000 in back wages, with an equal amount in liquidated damages.  There's also a $41,500 civil penalty to the U.S. Department of Labor due to what DOL says was the violations’ willful nature.  The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that most employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.


BRT asks Danbury for extension on tax break agreement for Main St. apartments

The Danbury City Council is being asked by BRT for another extension to its tax break agreement.  The developer is building 149 apartments on Main Street across from Kennedy Flats, but says due to unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, they will note meet another deadline for completing the project.  The City Council previously approved a tax deferral package for BRT based on improvements.  After 7 years, the property taxes would be based on the full assessment of the complex.  BRT has received certificates of occupancy for 90 of the 149 units, but the pandemic and supply chain issues caused disruptions to the construction schedule.  The 5 story complex, which also has retail space and a second-floor rooftop pool, will connect via a bridge to an existing BRT development.  Brookview Commons is across the Still River from this new development. 


New Milford marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month

This is Cybersecurity Awareness month.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says when he took office, one of the first tasks was to review the town's IT systems, strengthen IT Infrastructure and put in place new policies and procedures to protect the Network from potential cybersecurity attacks. New Milford has signed on as Champion for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, founded in 2004.  The Champions Program is a collaborative effort among businesses, government agencies, colleges and universities, associations, non profit organizations, and individuals committed to educating of others on online safety.


Jones won't re-take stand in Sandy Hook defamation trial

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — The father of a boy killed at the Sandy Hook elementary school tried Tuesday to describe for a jury the distress he felt when he learned conspiracy theorists planned to dig up his 7-year-old son’s grave to prove the mass shooting never happened.

Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was among the 26 victims, was the final family member to testify at a trial to determine how much Alex Jones should pay for fueling a bogus theory that the massacre was a hoax.

“This is so sacrosanct and hallowed a place for my family and to hear that people were desecrating it and urinating on it and threatening to dig it up, I don’t know how to articulate to you what that feels like,” Barden told the jury. “But that’s where we are.”

Jones, who argued outside the courthouse that he has never been linked to threats against the families, was initially expected to re-take the stand Wednesday in the civil trial. But his attorney indicated his client was heading home and the defense would call no witnesses.

A judge last year found Jones liable by default for spreading lies about the massacre that harmed the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who include the parents and siblings of some victims. The six-member jury is now deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems should pay for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

The plaintiffs attorneys said they planned to rest their case Wednesday after about 20 minutes of video testimony.

Barden and his wife, Jackie, were among 15 family members to take the stand in the defamation trial, which is being held in Waterbury, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the site of the school shooting in Newtown.

Those witnesses have testified over several days about receiving death and rape threats, mail from conspiracy theorists that included photos of dead children, and in-person confrontations with people telling them their children or wives or mothers never existed and that they are “crisis actors.”

Jackie Barden testified Tuesday that the hoax believers started harassing them in the weeks after the massacre and terrified her family. Mark became nervous about his surroundings and family’s safety, she said. And their daughter, now a 20-year-old college student, has anxiety and fears being alone in the family’s home.

“It’s terrible to think that your 20-year-old daughter is afraid,” she said.

Francine Wheeler, whose son Ben was killed, recounted an exchange with another shooting victim’s mother at a conference on gun violence in which that woman called her a liar.

She told the jury it has been hard enough to live with the death of her son.

“It’s quite another thing when people take everything about your boy, who is gone, and your surviving child and your husband and everything you ever did in your life that is on the Internet and harass you and make fun of you,” she said.

Relatives said the harassment has not stopped in the nearly 10 years since the shooting.

Jones testified earlier in the trial — a contentious appearance in which he called an attorney for the victims families an ambulance chaser and said he was “done saying I’m sorry,” for saying Sandy Hook was a hoax.

His lawyers had earlier indicated they would call him back to the stand Wednesday to bolster his arguments that the damages awarded to the plaintiffs should be minimal.

But in a sidebar with the judge Tuesday, Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis said his client was leaving Connecticut and had no plans to testify, though he couldn’t say for sure.

“What if (Jones) calls me tonight and says, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’” Pattis said during a sidebar with the judge and the plaintiffs attorneys. “What then?”

Earlier in the day, Jones told reporters outside the courthouse that he believed that if he said what he wanted to during his testimony, the judge might hold him in contempt of court.

“Not because I’m guilty,” Jones said, “but because she said that if I tell the truth, she’ll put me in the Waterbury jail for sixth months. That’s what she can do.”

Because Jones has already been found liable, the judge has sought to limit his testimony before the jury, saying he can’t argue, for example, that his statements were protected free speech. Jones was found liable without a trial by the judge after he repeatedly violated court orders to share financial documents with the plaintiffs.

Jones in recent years has acknowledged the shooting happened, but claims the families are being used to push a gun-control and anti-free speech agenda.


City considers tax deferral for Savings Bank of Danbury office project

A Danbury City Council Committee is recommending that the full Council approve a deferral of the increase in tax assessment for Saving Bank of Danbury's proposed new Main Street building.  This would be subject to construction application approval.  Councilman Duane Perkins is concerned that the replacement building reduces entertainment possibilities in the downtown dining and entertainment district.  The office would replace the Escape to the Arts building and formerly city-owned Tuxedo Junction building.  Tax Assessor Donna Murphy explained to the Committee that the current tax dollars collected on the property and the buildings is $9,000 a year.  She says its so low because of exemptions for the City and the YMCA.  Based on the 2017 revaluation, because the 2022 reval isn't don't yet, SBD will be charged $18,989 on the land.  The real estate taxes are being abated, but there are things inside the building that could be taxed during the deferral years.  The bank has proposed construction of a new, 35,000 square foot 4-story office building at the corner of Main and White Streets.  The new building will house the bank’s non-branch, back office operations.  Savings Bank of Danbury is the oldest continuously operating business in the City, dating back to 1849. The last significant building project in Danbury for the bank was in 1999 with the construction of their location at 35 West Street. 


HRRA Household Hazardous Waste drop-off event this weekend

Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting another Household Hazardous Waste drop-off event this weekend.  Anyone in an HRRA town can bring unwanted fuel, household cleaners, pool and lawn chemicals, paint and electronics to John Pettibone School in New Milford on Saturday, the 8th, from 9am to 2pm.  More details about items that can be brought to the drop off event, and those not being collected can be found on the HRRA website.


Flu, COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled in region

The state Department of Public Health mobile COVID-19 vaccination team will be in Weston and Roxbury today.  Yellow minivans will be at Weston Intermediate School from 3pm to 6pm for a walk up clinic for those 6 months and older, and at Roxbury Senior Center until 4pm for those 12 and older.  Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will also be available at all clinics.

 

The City of Danbury Department of Health & Human Services is hosting a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic next weekend.  No appointment is needed for the clinic at Danbury High School on Saturday the 15th from 10am to 2pm.  There is no cost for the flu shot.  All insurances will be accepted.  COVID-19 Boosters will also be available.


Monroe Police officer promoted

Monroe Police Officer John McAulay has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  He has been with the department for over a decade and during that time has served as a firearms instructor, a K-9 Handler and an Operator, and Assistant Team Leader on the regional Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team.


Kent Streetscape Project more than halfway complete

The Kent Streetscape Project is more than halfway complete.  With the leaves starting to change and more people driving in the construction area, officials are reminding motorists to slow down.  First Selectman Jean Speck says increased pedestrian traffic and unfamiliar traffic patterns increase the potential for accidents. She says getting through town will continue to take a little longer and drivers should plan to sit in line while the flaggers are routing traffic. There is also increased traffic in the area of Bridge and Elizabeth Streets at Kent Center School drop-off and pick up times.


Region 12 hosts college reps for meetings with juniors, seniors

The Region 12 School District last month hosted 16 college and university admissions representatives for information session in the College and Career Center.  Juniors and Seniors engaged in the post-secondary planning process, learning about a variety of programs and asking questions directly to the representatives who review applications.  The Shepaug Valley High School counselors plan to host more info session with admissions representatives this month and next.  Students can view the schedule for college visits and register for the sessions through their school accounts. Once registered, all students should get a pass from guidance prior to the session and check in with their classroom teacher for approval.


FirstLight seeks to stop some annual reporting to FERC

FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic has filed a 2021 critical habitats management plan annual report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and requested to discontinue future annual reporting requirements at the Housatonic River Hydroelectric Project Falls Village.  In the letter, FirstLight said changes to the annual report were discussed with stakeholders over the last two years, but FERC noted that the filing does not provide documentation of consultation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service.  FERC asked that FirstLight consult with the agencies on the proposal, providing them a month to respond to the request and send the information to FERC.


Ribbon has been cut at Caraluzzi's new market in Danbury

The ribbon has been cut at Caraluzzi's new market in Danbury. Officials gathered at the Mill Plain Road location yesterday for the ceremony. Specific to the new Danbury location are features like traditional wood fired pizzas, expanded café offerings of soft serve ice cream, acai bowls, and smoothies to compliment gelato and a variety of specialty brewed coffees and teas.


DOT cancels planned closure of I-84 exit 11 ramps

The state Department of Transportation has cancelled a planned closure of the Interstate 84 Exit 11 ramps scheduled for later this month.  The closure of the on and off ramps was slated for the weekend of October 28th, having already been delayed from the 14th.  The DOT says the cancellation is due to a new construction sequence, details to be finalized this week.  This is part of a larger project to improve the ramps and the surrounding area.  Crews this week are paving at the intersection of Route 34 and Wasserman Way, and at the ramps.  They are also installing new curbs and sidewalks along Wasserman Way.


New Fairfield Fire Marshal's Office to mark Fire Prevention Week

The New Fairfield Fire Marshal's Office is marking Fire Prevention Week October 9-15.  Officials say having a home escape plan  critical in an emergency, with families sometimes having  as little as two minutes to escape the from the time a fire alarm sounds.  Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out safely. Smoke alarms are required in every bedroom, outside of sleeping areas, and on each level of the home.  Anyone who needs help setting up a home escape plan is encouraged to contact the New Fairfield Fire Marshal’s office at 203-312-5731.  The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week since 1922.  The national observance is the longest-running public health observance in the country. It's observed this particular week in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8th 1871, killing more than 250 people, leaving 100,000 homeless, destroying more than 17,400 structures, and burning more than 2,000 acres of land.


Special Town Meeting scheduled in Redding on ARPA projects

A special town meeting is planned in Redding for residents to vote on American Rescue Plan Act project funding.  The Board of Selectmen previously approved the items to present to residents.  The ARPA allocations include $100,000 for improvements to the Redding Easton Boys and Girls Club, nearly $93,000 for pickleball courts, $200,000 for Mark Twain Library's proposed patio project, and $150,000 for improvements to Topstone Park.  The Special Town Meeting on October 20th is at 7pm at the Redding Community Center.
Other ARPA projects are:
--Georgetown Signs, $15,000
--Redding Grange, $45,000
--Heritage Center, $60,000
--ER9 LOTS Program, $83,000
--New Pond Farm Restoration of Wetlands Project, $200,000


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