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10 acres of Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford burned in a fire Friday night into Saturday.  While there is no active investigation at this point, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Spokesman Dennis Schain says it is believed that fireworks could have sparked by blaze.  Schain says it would be difficult to track this back to a particular person or persons, but that EnCon police along with New Milford Police are keeping an ear open for any leads. 

 

The fire danger was listed as high, due to lack of significant rainfall, the high heat and low humidity.  Campfires and open burns are not permitted during high fire danger periods. 

 

Two fire fighters suffered minor injuries, one from heat exhaustion and the other a rolled ankle.  Lovers Leap was closed Saturday and Sunday.

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There is a public hearing in Danbury tonight on a number of topics.  One is about a tentative lease agreement between the Richter Park Authority and Bay Communication to place a cell tower on their 180-acre property.  The proposal for the monopole structure would be 150 feet, and located by the maintenance area. 

 

Two appropriations are also being considered.  One is $10 million in bonding for improvements to the Waste water treatment plant and facilities system.  The other is $10 million in bonding for various other public improvements. 

 

The public hearing is at 7pm at Danbury City Hall.

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The state Department of Transportation is proposing a fare hike for Metro North riders along the New Haven Line.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the legislature's Transportation Committee, says the hits keep coming for commuters and serves as a disincentive for people to stay in Connecticut. 

 

There are several public hearings in September about the proposed fare hike, though none in the Greater Danbury area.  The closest is Waterbury on September 13th. 

 

The DOT has not yet listed an email address for the public to comment on the fare hikes without attending one of the hearings.

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Western New England Greenway's 'Heritage Ride 2016' Bikeway Tour will see cyclists riding from National Historic Site Weir Farm in Wilton today on their way up to Massachusetts before riding on to Vermont and Canada.  The tour ends in Montreal on July 31st.  

 

It's about 6 miles across from Weir Farm to the route at the Saugatuck reservoir, then on to New Milford, passing the Still River Greenway along the way.  Stops include the New Milford River Trail, through the covered Bull’s Bridge then on to Cornwall Bridge. 

 

The Western New England Greenway is a bicycle route in progress, connecting the East Coast Greenway at Norwalk to a Route in Quebec Province, Canada.

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Newtown Police are investigating a string of residential burglaries.  Police say the five break ins occurred in Sandy Hook between Thursday and Friday.  Newtown Police say one home was equipped with a video surveillance system which captured images of the suspect inside the home.

 

The suspect is a white male, bald, wearing a white baseball cap with blue on the edge of the brim, a horizontal striped shirt, and khaki shorts.   Police say the suspect might be driving a black pick up truck and frequent the Waterbury area. 

 

 

Newtown Police say windows or doors were broken in order to gain entry.  Anyone with information please contact the Newtown Police Department at 203-426-5841.  All calls will be kept confidential.

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The Clean Start Program in Danbury has been under way for about two months now.  The initiative puts homeless people to work for the City, and provides participants with gift cards.  About 20 participants are performing litter control twice a week, along with getting job mentoring from coaches.  Mayor Mark Boughton says there's demand for at least another 20, but they're looking for more volunteer to partner with the people participating in the program.

 

Boughton says the initiative has been really successful, and the City looks cleaner.  He says the participants will soon be expanding into other projects that they'd like to get to, but sometimes just can't get to.  That includes fire hydrant painting and fence painting.

 

Volunteers interested in helping someone who is less fortunate can contact Jericho Partnership, and they will be led through a brief and minimum training program.

 

Boughton says the participants are working to make themselves better and be on track to re-enter the workforce. He notes that if someone excels in the program, and received the right kinds of services, they could be moved into a paying job like a part-time recreation maintenance worker.  Boughton hopes by cleaning up the city, participants will also clean up their lives.

 

In the latest Point in Time Count, chronic homelessness in Danbury had dropped 30-percent from the year before. Chronic homelessness among veterans in Danbury has been completely eliminated.

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The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is being urged by members of the legislature's Environment Committee to consider alternative revenue sources.  A recent $10 million cut in funding resulted in changes in the operation of state parks and museums. 

 

Litchfield state Representative Craig Miner, who is running for the 30th Senate District which includes New Milford, says the long term viability of public opportunities needs to be sustained.  Right now, he says what the public sees is less hours, less lifeguards and closed parks.  He says that may be needed in the short term, but if they don't rethink that model, it will be less forever.

 

Connecticut is 1 of 3 states which relies exclusively on General Fund Revenue.

 

Miner says DEEP is on the defense, but should be on the offense.

 

DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen says the Department has considered sponsorships, but past efforts haven't yielded the robust response they were looking for.  But she says they will keep trying.  She says certain protections have to be in place so the regulatory side of the agency doesn't get mixed up with the operational side.

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The Democratic National Convention is being held this week in Philadelphia.  Among the delegates from Connecticut is 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  This is her first convention, and says she is looking forward to the whole experience.  She notes that the convention is much more than just the prime time speeches, there are a lot of policy meetings that go on during the day.

 

Esty says one of the events taking place outside of the convention center will be a breakfast meeting about congressional efforts to promote gun violence prevention, including the recent filibuster and sit in. 

 

She is also taking part in an Innovation Panel Wednesday.  It includes people from the business community and innovation experts from Harvard Business School.  She says she is exited about sharing ideas with people from around the country.

 

Esty says she looks forward to hearing from former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly.  Senator Christ Murphy and Erika Smegielski, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung.  There is a rally Tuesday on gun safety and gun reform efforts.

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The news that Governor Malloy skirted TSA airport boarding protocols by carrying his son's backpack without going through security, is drawing reaction from Republican 5th District Congressional candidate Clay Cope. 

 

The Sherman First Selectman says there is a double standard in Hartford and Washington.  He says every day rules apply to everyday people, but politicians use their positions of power to evade them. 

 

He compared it to Hillary Clinton setting up a personal email system at her home while serving as Secretary of State.  Cope says Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is part of the double standard.  He cited the sit-in on the House floor which bypassed protocols about food and cameras in the chamber.

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Greater Danbury area veterans have been presented with Quilts of Valor.  The quilt presentation at New Milford Senior Center is of items created by the Quilters of New Milford.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was on hand to present the quilts to Mike Zacchea and Robert Madorran.  Esty says this is relatively new to New Milford, but is a national effort that started in 2003. 

 

Former Mayor Pat Murphy, who is a veteran, urged the quilters to join in this movement.

 

Zacchea is a retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Iraq War, was severely injured in the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.  Madorran is a veteran of the U.S. Army, who was injured while deployed in Afghanistan in 2010.

 

The quilters draped the men with the gifts.  The men then spoke about how touched they were.  They said there were times when they were serving, that any bit of home was a meaningful comfort to them.

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Firewood transportation is a concern to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  DEEP says that could spread the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long Horn Beetle.  Forester Chris Martin says the statewide policy is for people not to travel long distances with firewood, but to purchase it at the park campgrounds themselves or local vendors.

 

While the Emerald Ash Borer is already in Connecticut, Martin says they want to keep the Asian Long Horn Beetle out of the state.  It's been found in New York and Massachusetts.

 

Martin says the Emerald Ash Borer has resulted in many dead ash trees, especially in Western Connecticut.

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There was a large brush fire in New Milford last night.  It broke out around 11pm near Lovers Leap State Park/Indian Ridge Road.  The first crews on the scene said two acres were burning.  Mutual aid was called in from Northville, Gaylordsville, Brookfield, Washington because the fire was still spreading after about an hour. 

 

The fire danger yesterday was listed as high.  That was due to lack of significant rainfall, the high heat and low humidity.  That all made for dried out underbrush.  Campfires and open burns are not permitted during high fire danger periods.

 

Water Witch Hose Co. #2 says an aggressive attack was made into the remote and steep terrain accompanied by man power from Northville and Gaylordsville Fire Departments, but the volunteer firefighters faces limited access and total darkness. The fire was fought through the night while crews awaited the support of state Department of Energey and Environmental Protection crews.

 

(A view from Indian Ridge rd shortly after the fire was Dispatched)

(Photo: Water Witch Hose via Litchfield County Fire/EMS group)

 

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says two fire fighters suffered minor injuries, one from heat exhaustion and the other a rolled ankle, while working the brush fire last night. 

 

Lovers Leap will likely be closed Sunday as well as today. Gronbach says preliminary reports are that fireworks started the blaze.  He says negligent conduct has real world impacts on the people that have to respond.

 

Marine 25 from Candlewood Company (Brookfield) attempting to gain access to the steep cliff side via the neck of Lovers Leap gorge.

(Photo: Litchfield County Fire/EMS group)

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A party earlier this summer at a house up for sale in the town of Washington resulted in more than $100,000 in damage, and now an arrest has been made.  State Police say 18-year old James Bentley of Kent was arrested Tuesday while at his job at the YMCA in Brookfield. 

 

He was charged with burglary, criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of alcohol by a minor.  State Police say more arrested are likely, but that Bentley planned the party and provided the alcohol. 

 

Police say more than 100 people were at the party on Lower Church Hill Road on May 14th.  State Police used posts on social media sites to identify the party goers.  The teens reportedly broke into the home, smashed doors and windows, tore holes in the ceiling and broke light fixtures.  Police reported several bottles of wine from the cellar were smashed and found littered around the house.

 

The 11,500 square foot home, located a considerable distance from the road, is on the market for $3 million.  The home underwent an extensive restoration as it was prepared for sale.

 

Bentley was released on bond for an appearance in Bantam Superior Court on August 1st.  He also faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana within 1,500 feet of a school/daycare facility.

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There have been several car break ins where windows were smashed in Ridgefield.  Police say the larcenies happened between Sunday and Thursday of this week. 

 

On Sunday around 6pm, a car in the Parks and Rec lot on Danbury Road had its window smashed and various items reported stolen.  Last night between 6:45pm and 7:20pm, a car in the same lot was burglarized.  Around the same time, a car in the parking area of the Dog Park had its window smashed and various items reported stolen. 

 

Ridgefield Police are reminding people not only to lock car doors, but to remove valuables from the vehicle. 

 

Anyone with information about the incidents or sees any suspicious activity is encouraged to call the Ridgefield Police Department at 203-438-6531.

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman charged with embezzling her local parent-teacher organization is headed to trial after rejecting a plea deal in a dispute over just how much she allegedly stole.

A lawyer for Sarah Chiarelli said in court Thursday that his client does not deny stealing money from the Monroe Parent Teacher Organization when she was treasurer, but she does deny embezzling $45,000, the amount she would have to repay under the deal.

Under the deal, Chiarelli would have not served any prison time if she repaid the $45,000 in full.

The Connecticut Post reports that a judge warned her that if she went to trial she risked a prison sentence.

Authorities say she used the stolen money to pay for personal expenses, including a trip to Disney World.

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The Department of Children and Families called Danbury Police about a disturbance involving an irate parent on Tuesday.  On Tuesday afternoon, Danbury Police Officers were told that an irate parent was in the 71 West Street building, and that two DCF employees had locked themselves in an office to avoid confrontation. 

 

Police found a woman walking and shouting outside the building.  37-year old Jennifer Walker was demanding to know where her son was. 

 

Police say Walker appeared to be highly intoxicated and had a strong odor of alcohol on her breath.  She was also found in possession of a small amount of marijuana. 

 

She was charged with possession, risk of injury to a child, and breach of peace.  Walker was released and made a brief court appearance Wednesday. 

 

The case was continued to August 12th.

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A Connecticut man has been arrested in Danbury on a warrant for risk of injury to a minor.  27-year old Michael Morning was arrested Wednesday by Danbury Police on a warrant charging him with risk of injury for an incident that happened in July 2014. 

 

Police say officer responded to a condo complex on Padanaram Road by a neighbor who said that a 6-year old girl knocked on the door around 11pm.  The neighbor brought the child back to her apartment and found a 4-year old sleeping.  The neighbor waited with the children for more than an hour before contacting police. 

 

Morning was held Wednesday on $1,000 bond. 

 

He was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to six months in prison on a misdemeanor assault charge.  He also has previous convictions for criminal mischief and burglary.

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A Danbury firm has been awarded the bid to conduct an analysis of the Octagon House.  Seventy2 Architects will assess the historic home to see what kind of restoration work is needed on the dilapidated building, now owned by the City.

 

The vacant house, which was in foreclosure, was purchased for $135,000 as a community improvement and neighborhood restoration project. 

 

The blighted property has attracted vandalism and squatting in recent years, and the area has become a magnet for drug dealers and prostitutes. Mayor Mark Boughton estimated the building needs $200,000 to $300,000 worth of work because it's fallen into disrepair. The yard also needs some upkeep, and the parking would have to be reconfigured.

 

Boughton wants to house the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team and a police substation on the property.  He says the bike patrol and other related officers would likely operate out of the substation.  He wants to convert the upstairs into a community room for residents to use. The backyard would become community garden monitored by a non-profit.

 

Seventy2 Architects work includes the Crown Point apartments in Danbury and the expanded worship space and gathering area of Walnut Hill Church in Bethel.

 

The Spring Street building is one of only a handful of 8-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1852.  It was eventually converted to apartments, and abandoned by its owner in 2008.

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A dispute between the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and First Light Hydro Generating Company is continuing.  FirstLight wants to expand West Cove Marina on Lake Lillinonah from 25 slips to 136 slips.  DEEP rejected a November proposal to expand to 160 boat slips. 

 

At that time, DEEP wrote that they would support a smaller expansion of the marina if the applicant were to provide historical documentation about the maximum authorized operating size.  First Light supplied newspaper clippings about the permitted slips.  While it appears 75 slips were to be placed and that 100 existed, DEEP says the 1991 article was written before the slips were actually installed. 

 

DEEP again called for proof in the form of  rental documentation, slip assignment records, receipts and the like about the largest operation capacity of the marina, and when it was at that capacity.

 

A letter from DEEP to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that this branch of Lake Lillinonah is very narrow and based on current conditions there have been a number of documented reports of conflicts between rowers and motorboats in this particular section of the lake.  The state says in the interest of navigation safety and to avoid traffic congestion, the department does not support the expansion of the marina. 

 

DEEP also said there is a long history of conflicts between rowers and motorboats in this particular area of the lake.

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Aquarion Water Company has issued a message to customers in Newtown.  Due to high water demand, Aquarion says some customers may be experiencing low water pressure.  The company is again requesting that people limit outdoor watering to hand-held watering.  The request will remain in effect until Tuesday evening.

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