Lester St. James
Lester St. James
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The Hawk Mornings

Local News Stories

Pedestrian struck by car on I-84 in Newtown

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle in Newtown early this morning.  The accident closed part of I-84.  The pedestrian was struck around 4am.  The eastbound side is closed between exits 11 and 13.  It's unclear how long the highway will be closed for.  Authorities did not release any further details about the incident.

Vigil held in remembrance of two West Conn students killed in car accident

A vigil has been held in remembrance of two West Conn students killed in a car accident in Colchester on Friday. Friends and family gathered to remember 18-year-old Jacob Chapman and 18-year-old Tyler Graham

State Police said two vehicles were traveling westbound on Route 354 in Colchester when one of the vehicles tried to pass the other, left the roadway and collided with a metal guardrail and multiple trees.  

Chapman, who was driving, was pronounced dead at the hospital and his passenger, Graham, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Another passenger, 19-year-old Trey Massaro, also a West Conn Lacrosse player, sustained serious injuries. 

West Conn President Dr. John Clark says the Counseling Center has met with players and coaches.  Clark says counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three lacrosse team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  

Chapman was a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management degree and Graham was a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems degree.  Massaro is a first-year student pursuing a B.S. in Justice and Law Administration-Law Enforcement.

Clark says they plan on having a memorial for Jacob and Tyler on campus soon.  Plans are still being developed. 

Public hearing in Bethel on proposed affordable housing development

A public hearing is being held in Bethel tomorrow by the Planning and Zoning Commission on a proposed affordable housing development at 64 Wooster Street.  The virtual hearing is at 7pm via Zoom. 

The applicant, David Pijnenburgh, would use the state 8-30(g) affordable housing law to create 9 units, with 2 designated as affordable housing.  The three-quarter acre property currently has a home with three rental units and a garage.  There's a parking area at the rear of the existing structure.  The proposal is to construct a new building to the west of the existing one and provide four new one-bedroom rental residential units under 8-30g. Two one-bedroom apartments will be constructed in the existing garage.

Under state statute, at least 15-percent of the units must be affordable for 40 years to families earning 60-percent or less of the median income for the Bethel area, or the State median income, whichever is less.  At least 15-percent must be designated for the same time frame for families earning 80-percent or less. 

Two existing units in the Complex will contain three bedrooms, seven new units will contain one bedroom each.  

17 parking spaces will be provided, with a new one-way driveway into the site to the south of the existing structure.

Bethel First Selectman running unopposed for 7th term

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is running unopposed for another term leading the town.  He notes that the town is growing rapidly, by 9.5 percent since the last census.  The town is in the process of modernizing town government operations and technology.  Bethel plans to use some federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to do more with less.  Bethel is working on an online permitting system, which is 70-percent complete.  Officials are working on website enhancements that will allow more to be done remotely, and internal record keeping to reduce paper and staff time to reduce overtime.

ARPA funding will also be used to make much needed improvements at Town Hall and the High School.  Some parts of the municipal center, like the general purpose room, have never had air conditioning.  Plans call for renovating the locker rooms, which date back to the 1950s, for when the building is used as the town's emergency shelter.  The front entrance improvements include renovating restrooms that are currently closed off.

Knickerbocker says he's excited about a Sustainability Committee being established.  Bethel was one of the leading towns in setting up renewable energy, including a municipal solar farm and installing electric car chargers.  He wants to expand the initiative to other areas including recreational open space and land conservation and management. 

When it comes to adult use of recreational cannabis, Bethel regulations don't currently allow for a dispensary to locate to the town.  The moratorium was passed after a medical marijuana dispensary located in Bethel.  The facility has since moved to Danbury.  Knickerbocker doesn't object to a new dispensary in Bethel, but doesn't think there's any interest in it.

There are only two candidates for the three-member Board of Selectmen, so Democratic incumbent Richard Straiton and Republican Bryan Terzian will be seated. Bethel incumbent Town Clerk Lisa Bergh has been cross endorsed to retain her seat.  Democratic incumbent Treasurer Pat Smithwick is being challenged by outgoing Selectman Paul Szatkowski.

Hit and run accident under investigation in Newtown

A hit and run accident is under investigation in Newtown.  Police are looking for a landscaping vehicle reportedly struck an SUV in the opposite lane and did not stop.  The driver of the Cadillac reported to police that around 1pm on Thursday they were headed south on South Main Street, by Sand Hill Plaza, when a northbound vehicle crossed over the center line and struck their mirror.  Any witnesses or anyone with information is requested to contact Newtown Police.

Brookfield offering Booster Shot clinics

Brookfield has a COVID-19 case rate for the past two weeks of 9-point-3 per 100-thousand population, the same as the week before. The positivity rate is 2-point-3 percent.  Brookfield will be offering Booster Shot clinics at Town Hall starting tomorrow. They will be held on Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm and Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm. There will be no clinics held on Nov 2nd, Election Day, 11th Veterans Day or the 24th. Clinics will be held as long as there is demand, and into December.  Both Moderna and J and J will be administered. Appointments can be made through the VAMS portal. Walk ins will be accepted, but Brookfield officials cautioned that they might not have boosters available if the appointment schedule is full.  Proof of primary vaccination must be provided. Brookfield is not offering Pfizer because of lack of cold storage capabilities, but that booster dose is the same dosage as the primary series. The booster for Moderna is half the dose of the primary series.

Redding hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinic Monday

Redding is hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Monday from 11am to 2pm at the Community Center. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson will be available for first and second doses, and boosters. No appointment is needed.  Redding has Vax Van clinics scheduled for every Sunday through November 21st at the Redding Community Center from 1pm to 4pm.  Both the FDA and CDC support individuals to receive a booster dose that is a different vaccine type than they originally received for their primary series if they choose.

Newtown receives grant for National Diabetes Prevention Program

The Town of Newtown has received a grant from the state Department of Health to deliver a National Diabetes Prevention Program. This grant funds Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Life-Style Programs for the residents of Newtown, Bridgewater and Roxbury who are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes.   According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects over 34 million people; Another 88 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 10 percent are aware they have it.  The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is facilitated by a trained Lifestyle Coach,, providing a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about behavior changes that can improve overall health.  A virtual information session is being held tomorrow at 6:30pm via Zoom. 

Two WCSU students killed in car crash identified

Three members of the WestConn Men’s Lacrosse Team were involved in a deadly traffic accident Friday afternoon.  State Police said two vehicles were traveling westbound on Route 354 in Colchester when one of the vehicles tried to pass the other, left the roadway and collided with a metal guardrail and multiple trees.  The driver, 18-year-old Jacob Chapman, and one of the passengers, 18-year-old Tyler Graham, were killed. Another passenger, 19-year-old Trey Massaro, was airlifted to the hospital.  West Conn President Dr. John Clark says the Counseling Center has met with players and coaches of the lacrosse team and counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  Clark says the University will also do all it can to support their families in this very difficult time. 

Monument being dedicated in Danbury today to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans

A memorial monument is being dedicated in Danbury today to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans.  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says Mayor Joe Cavo and federal VA Health Care Systems Director Al Montoya will join the Danbury Veterans Council and Danbury Veterans Affairs Office Director Danny Hayes at the dedication ceremony. 

The monument was installed last year, but due to COVID-19 the dedication was delayed.  The Danbury Police Honor Guard and Immaculate High School choir will be on hand.  There will be an unveiling, remarks and wreath laying, starting at 11am in front of the Danbury War Memorial building. 

The ceremony is being held on the 38th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut which killed 220 U.S. Marines, 18 U.S. Navy Sailors and 3 U.S.  Soldiers.  Another 183 U.S. Service personnel were wounded in the attack.  Saadi says that was the single largest day loss of life for the U.S. Marine Corp since Iwo Jima and single largest day loss of life for the U.S. Military since the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. 

The Beirut Veterans Memorial is inscribed with the names of the 8 Connecticut residents killed in bombing and two service members who lost their lives in Lebanon in 1958 and 1985.

Rx Drug Take Back Day today

Greater Danbury area Police Departments are participating in the  Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.  Most will have drop off boxes in their lobbies from 10am to 2pm, no questions asked.  The collection is held nationwide twice a year.  In April, about 44-hundred law enforcement agencies participated.  420 tons, about 839-thousand pounds of  expired, unused or unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications were collected.

Sen. Blumenthal visits Ridgefield for launch of composting initiative

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Ridgefield yesterday to celebrate a $2 million grant for Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  HRRA will launch a local composting system aimed at improving local food waste management and reducing the carbon footprint. This will be the first municipality-based self-sustaining closed loop system to manage food waste while utilizing the end-product for community and agricultural use.  Blumenthal says only five percent of food is composted in the U-S and as a result, uneaten food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste.  Blumenthal says 160 billion pounds of food goes to waste every year in the U.S.

Nuvance lost over $300 million in net patient revenue due to COVID

According to reports to the state, outpatient emergency room volume at Danbury Hospital declined 20 percent in fiscal year 2020.  An audit by Ernst & Young for Nuvance Health found that the system, which includes 7 hospitals, lost over $300 million in net patient revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic in fiscal year 2020 and faces a net loss of more than $130 million last fiscal year. The system also experienced price increases in and use of medical supplies, particularly personal protective equipment. Nuvance President and CEO Dr John Murphy earned more than $14 million in salary and fringe benefits last year, including a contractually obligated payment based on his years of service and employment agreement.

Two WCSU students killed in car crash

Three members of the WestConn Men’s Lacrosse Team were involved in a deadly traffic accident Friday afternoon.  Two students died in the accident. A third was airlifted from the scene to a hospital. West Conn President Dr. John Clark did not yet have information on his condition and the school was withholding the names of all three for the time being.  The Counseling Center has met with players and coaches of the lacrosse team and counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  Clark says the University will also do all it can to support their families in this very difficult time. 

Danbury area COVID-19 test positivity rate higher than state rate

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's infection rate dipped down a bit from last week to 2-percent.  Brookfield's rate went up a fraction to to 2.3 percent.  Newtown's infection rate is 2.4 percent 

Danbury has 6.4 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 1.8 percent.  Redding's current case rate per 100,000 is 13.3 and the positivity rate is 3.8 percent.  New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate held steady from last week at 2.5 percent.   New Milford's rate increased about a percentage point to 4.5 percent.  Ridgefield's infection rate decreased from 2.3 percent last week to 1.8 percent this week. 

The state's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate yesterday was 1.67 percent.  410 positive confirmed or probable cases were detected out of more than 24,000 tests.  There 2 fewer patients in the hospital with COVID yesterday.  The inpatient total is 224. 

14 people have died in Connecticut over the past week from causes related to COVID-19. 

As of yesterday, 16,760 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified, a .7 percent breakthrough rate.  

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire holdingĀ open house, fire safety day

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company is holding an open house and fire safety day on Sunday from 11am to 1pm.  Residents are urged to check out the station and meet the local fire & EMS volunteers. 

The weekly free food distribution event at Danbury High School is back tomorrow.  The United Way and its partners will be on hand 10am to 1pm.  Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines will also be administered. 

All three brands of COVID-19 vaccines will be available at Rogers Park from 2pm to 7pm tomorrow.

Danbury DTC to host Unity Rally

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Governor Ned Lamont, and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz will be in Danbury tomorrow for the Democratic Town Committee's Unity Rally.  The event outside City Hall is from 9:30am to 11.  Also in attendance will be State Representatives Raghib Allie-Brennan, Ken Gucker, Dave Arconti, and Bob Godfrey.  All Danbury residents are invited to attend.



Bridgewater Fall Bulky Drop-off Day underway

In Bridgewater, the Fall Bulky Drop-off Day is underway.  Large dumpsters will be at the Town Garage on Hut Hill Road, where Bridgewater residents may drop off bulky household items through Friday from 7:30AM to 3PM, and on Saturday Oct 23 from 9AM to 12:30 PM.  No household garbage, hazardous waste, construction debris, or concrete will be accepted.  Several items are accepted year round at the Town Garage and should not be put out for pickup, such as tires, appliances and electronics.  Bridgewater residents may bring those items to the garage.  Tires are accepted for a fee.  One free pickup truck load or two carloads per household is being provided. Additional pickup loads will cost $25 per household.  1-3 ton truckloads will cost $50 per additional load, with a maximum of 3 total loads per household.

New Milford Mayor challenged by descendant of one of town's founding families

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is seeking a 3rd term in office.  The Republican is being challenged by Democrat Ted Hine.

Bass is looking to continue some long term projects and keep moving New Milford Forward. Bass is touting the completion of 62 miles of road paving, nearing the completion of the library renovation and expansion project, and that crime is down again.  He notes that New Milford has saved millions on health insurance and the town is working on school roof replacements.  He's most proud of riverfront revitalization.  Young's Field will remain a greenspace, but Bass says there will be an expanded skate park, tennis court, playgrounds, and a bandshell.  A proposed splash pad will double as an ice skating rink.

Hine is a lifelong resident and comes from one of the oldest families in the town.  Hine worked GE Capital before retiring in 2018 and served on several nonprofit boards.  He says a lot of industry has been lost in the town over the years and New Milford has an aging population.  He wants to take on affordable housing issues, update zoning regulations and improve broadband infrastructure.

When it comes to the continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hine says he wants to look at the analysis from the Long-term Recovery Commitee, which was required by the state of every municipality.  Bass sees a continued need to hold vaccine clinics in the near-term.  He's proud of the 72-percent vaccination rate among town residents.  The town is looking into how to spend the federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation New Milford received.  Some of that money has been approved.  Bass says money went to a business loans and grants program, foreclosure rental assistance, funding for nonprofit and arts organization, and new refrigeration for the Food Bank.  The Town Council also approved fire packs for the Fire Marshal, software to tie in all fire departments, an electronic speed sign and a police deescalation simulator--one of the first in the area to offer that technology.  New Milford also created new position of Family Crisis Domestric Violence Advocate, one of the first in the state.

Hine says traffic around New Milford is an issue and should be addressed through a Master Plan.  Bass says sidewalks will be installed along Route 7, down from Canterbury School to downtown, Grove Street and Route 202.  When streets flooded after Hurricane Ida, Hine said it showed the need for a plan to address the long standing issue.  Bass says he's worked with First Light to drawdown the Housatonic River before storms hit so they can take a proactive approach to prevent flooding before it happens.

Bass says he's waiting on the Zoning Commision to weigh in on where cannabis facilities could be located, if the Town Council chooses to go that route, but they are also looking at an ordinance to prohibit recreational use on town property.  Hine called it a prudent action that the Town Council prohibited the use of marijuana on town property, but was shocked to find out that the town hasn't restricted tobacco smoking on town property.

When Bass first ran for office, he was critical of the proposed cost to John Pettibone School into a Community Center being very different than initial estimates.  He notes that there's a lot of use there now, and has been helpful as a vaccination site.  He wants to look at what the future of the clinic will look like and if it will be a long-term use.  Hine says he supports the designation remaining.  He says it proved a critical resource to getting through the current public health crisis. He notes that moving Social Services, Parks & Rec and other departments into a centralized locations, they were able to better serve New Milford.  He wants the town to start maintaining the property properly and called for an oversight committee to figure out how to finish the build out and fill the empty space.  Hine called for a plan for the future of East Street School.  Bass says the Board of Ed administration building is still East Street, and the town is waiting for them to turn it back over to the town.

Hine says town employees are telling him that they're voices aren't being heard and are afraid to speak out.  With his corporate experience, Hine says he would listen to employees because they know what the issues are, and what the solutions are.  Bass says he's proud of how town employees have risen to the occasion of serving the public throughout the pandemic. 

New Milford moves into state Red Zone for COVID-19 community spread

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has held relatively steady since the last reporting period and is at 1.8 percent.  76 cases have been reported to the state between October 3rd and 16th.  That's 6.4 cases per 100,000 population. 

New Milford has moved up into the Red Zone when it comes to the state Department of Public Health's levels of COVID-19 community spread with 16.5 cases per 100,000 population.

Newtown remains in the Orange Zone for having between 10 and 14 cases per 100.000.  There were 45 cases reported in the last two weeks.  Redding moved up to Orange from Yellow, with 13.3 cases per 100,000.  Ridgefield dropped down into the yellow zone with 8 cases per 100,000. 

Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Wilton are all in the Yellow zone with 5 to 9 cases per 100-thousand.  Sherman, Kent and the Region 12 towns are in the grey zone, for having fewer than 5 cases over the last two weeks reported. 

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Lester St. James
Lester St. James
6:00am - 10:00am
The Hawk Mornings