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The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is urging people to get outdoors this summer.  DEEP has launched their second annual Sky is the Limit Hiking Challenge.  DEEP says it's a friendly competition where participants will receive a medallion for hiking at 10 state parks and forests, if they meet the requirements. 

 

Last year, hundreds of people hiked to 14 of Connecticut’s high peaks and received prizes for their efforts.  This year's challenge highlights bodies of water: lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, canals, and wetlands.  

 

Hikers need to take photos at two designated locations in each of the participating properties, and once 10 are completed , email them to DEEP.  Among the state parks participating, are Collis Huntington in Redding, Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and Black Rock in Watertown. 

 

Residents have until December 9th to email photos to claim a prize.

 

To receive a medallion and certificate, email your photos (a picture of yourself at ten of the “A” and “B” locations listed above), along with your name and home address , to deep.stateparks@ct.gov or mail to CT DEEP State Parks, Sky’s the Limit, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106. Entries must be received by December 9, 2016.

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In Danbury...four elderly men were charged with indecency exposure this week for having sex in a commuter parking lot off Mill Plain Road. Police say the four men were taken into custody after a several day investigation that began after receiving “numerous” complaints from area residents about activity in the area of the Mill Plain Road commuter parking lot and the Farrington Woods Recreational Park, a public park that includes hiking trails as well as canoe and kayaking opportunities.

 

Police said members of the city’s Community Conditions Unit set up surveillance to monitor the area in question and during the course of several days arrested four men for engaging in sexual activity in a public place.

 

All four were charged with public indecency. Those charged were 77 year old Patsy Barbato of Somers, 85 year old Michael Melnick of Brewster, 72 year old Stuart Sherr of Ossining and 67 year old Jay Doyle of New Milford. All of the men were released from custody on $500 cash bonds or written promises to appear in court.

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Danbury Police say their is a live wire down near 78 Deer Hill Ave. and Garfield and Whitlock St. Eversource Energy has been called to the scene.

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State Police have released details about a year old fireworks possession case which resulted in $250,000 worth of explosives being seized in Danbury. 

 

The Danbury Fire Marshal tipped off state police July 1, 2015 to illegal fireworks at a Danbury home.  State Police obtained search warrants for the home at 1 Deer Run Trail, and a storage barn at 96 South Street.  Possession, storage and sales of an extraordinary amount of illegal fireworks, explosives and IEDs, including M-Class devices, was discovered. 

 

Four trailer loads of product were transported by Bomb Squad personnel.  Contraband, narcotics and more than $3,800 in cash were also seized. 

 

 

 

At the time, State Police had yet to take anyone into custody.  Police now say two Florida residents were arrested in September. 

 

On September 17, 58-year old Joseph Stellato and 47-year old Frank Stellato were each charged with illegal possession of explosives, storage of explosives and blasting agents, conspiracy and reckless endangerment.  They were also charged with sale, use and possession of fireworks.  In addition, Frank Stellato was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

 

Each are free on bond and due back in Danbury Superior Court next June.

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In order to gather feedback from those who have contact with the Ridgefield Police Department, Citizen Survey has been opened.  The Ridgefield Police Department is conducting a Citizen Survey in order to gain insight into the public's experiences with the department. 

 

This survey is done every three years to also give residents the chance to make suggestions to the Ridgefield Police Department. 

 

Respondents are asked to rank priorities of several areas including Burglary, Domestic Violence, Drugs, DUI, Larcenies, Motor Vehicle Violations, Underage Drinking, Vandalism.  Residents are also asked to rate initial contact with dispatch, officer response time, overall impression of the department and officer professionalism and courtesy as above average, average or poor. 

 

The survey is open until July 8th.

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 An attorney for former Danbury  High School teacher Kayla Mooney said Wednesday that her client made a mistake in befriending a student, but never had sex with the boy. The News Times reports Attorney Audrey Felsen, co-council representing Mooney, made the assertion during her opening arguments in the trial against her client in the state Superior Court of Danbury.

 

Mooney, who was a first year science teacher at the school, is charged with three counts of second degree sexual assault for having sex with a 17 year old boy in her class. Her attorney says Kayla made the mistake of befriending a student. Students are students, not friends and Kayla should have known better. This is not one of those salacious teacher sex cases, this his her life.

 

She didn’t have sex with the student. State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky, however, painted a different picture during his opening remarks of a friendly relationship that began to turn sexual during the fall of 2014. Sedensky claimed that Mooney had sex with the student on two occasions in late 2014, and that she had called the student to tell him that, “all you use me for is sex, A’s and alcohol.” Sedensky said the evidence that you will hear will show that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Shortly after the opening statements Wednesday, the student who police said Mooney had sex with was the first witness to take the stand.

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There are a couple of area blood drives coming up.  There is a blood drive at the North Salem firehouse from 2 to 6pm this afternoon, and a blood drive at Newtown Congregational Church next Tuesday. 

 

Summer typically is a tough time for the Red Cross to collect blood, mainly because of vacations.  In order to meet just the basic needs of area patients, the Red Cross has to collect 650 units of blood each day to supply the 31 hospitals in Connecticut. 

 

Blood donations are divided into three parts: red cells, plasma and platelets.  People undergoing chemotherapy need platelets, burn and shock victims need plasma, and incidents where trauma results in blood loss- red cells are needed. 

 

Red Cross officials say 44-percent of people are universal donors, meaning their O-positive blood type can be given to anyone.  The Red Cross is reminding potential donors there is no artificial substitute for blood, they are the only way to give the gift of life.

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Longtime Former Danbury Mayor Gene Eriquez in Danbury Superior Court on domestic violence charges Tuesday  has been ordered to have substance abuse treatment . The former Democratic party leader was facing charges of domestic violence based on a May incident where he is accused of striking his wife while intoxicated. An incident that Eriquez, through his attorney, has apologized for in an earlier court appearence.

 

Eriquez court date comes after the cancelation by Ted Kennedy Jr, to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic Fundraiser next month, based on Eriquez legal problems.

 

States Attorney Sharmese Hodge says that because this is Eriquez first offense, there was no objection to moving his case to family court. Eriquez announced last month he was leaving his oversight position with the Democratic party to focus on his personal life. Eriquez case will resume on September 29th.

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The trial of 25 year old Kayla Mooney, a former Danbury High School science teacher starts today. She is accused of a sexual relationship with a 17 year-old student. Mooney has pleaded not guility to three counts of second degree sexual assault and serving alchohol to a minor. She was accused last year after she went to school officials complaining that the boy's girlfriend had been harrasing her. Police say the 17 year old boy involved revealed the sexual relationship; evidence cited were emails between Mooney and the boy. Mooney was fired in April for lack of her maintaining her certificate. The trial by jury is being held at Danbury Superior Court.

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Former longtime Mayor and Danbury Democratic Party leader Gene Eriquez will answer misdemeanor domestic violence charges Today in Superior Court. Eriquez was accused of beating his wife after coming home drunk on May 15. He told the judge through his attorney in a May court appearance that he was “extremely embarrassed” and “extremely remorseful” about the incident.

 

His appearance follows a cancellation last week of a speaking engagement by state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., who was supposed to deliver the keynote address at the Danbury Democratic Party fundraiser in mid July. Kennedy said he would only speak at the fundraiser if Eriquez resigned.

 

Eriquez in May announced he would “step aside” from party leadership duties to focus on his personal life and the criminal case against him.

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Families of those massacred in an Orlando nightclub earlier this month are weighing whether to follow the Sandy Hook families that have filed a lawsuit against makers of assault rifles like the one used in the Sandy Hook Tragedy .

 

In 2014 a group of Sandy Hook families sued the maker of the AR-15 assault rifle used in the attack, Bushmaster Firearms International, its parent company Remington Arms, and the gun shop that sold the gun that killed 26 people in Newtown.

 

 

The lawsuit already has proceeded further than similar suits, giving hope to shooting victims and their families who want the makers of assault rifles to pay for selling military-grade weapons to civilians like the Sandy Hook shooter and the man who killed 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on June 12. Lawyers representing some Orlando victims have had preliminary talks with those representing the Sandy Hook families.

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The New Milford man who held police at bay in a standoff Sunday was arrainged yesterday. Court documents reveal that 47 year old Kevin Mohan, a security guard and part-time magician, called 911 about 2:30 p.m. and threatened to “blow his head off.

 

When police arrived at the Candlewood Lake South condos , his roommate met them outside and warned them that an intoxicated Mohan intended to commit “suicide by cop.” Mohan was charged Monday in Bantam Superior Court with first-degree assault, threatening in the first degree and assault on a police officer. He is being held on $500,000 bond.

 

Friends who have known Mohan through the Danbury Top Hatters Magic club said the Mohan they know “would never harm anyone,” although he had been going through some difficult times lately such as a divorce and medical problems from an accident. Mohan managed to get off a shot that grazed one of the officers ankles. The office Charles Cochran was treated and released from New Milford Hospital. Mohan has been a security guard at the Canterbury School and most recently at New Milford Hospital.

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Road work in Bridgewater next week will force a closure of Route 133.  The state Department of Transportation says Route 133 in Bridgewater will be closed beginning July 5th.  The closure is expected to be in place through the 19th in order for utility work to take place in advance of a project on their calendar next year. 

 

The project includes the upgrade of guide railings along Route 133 in the area of the Lake Lillinonah Bridge.  About 3,000 feet of the road will be fully reconstructed, while the remaining section of the road will be milled and paved.  Drainage will be upgrade throughout the area as well. 

 

The closure in July is needed so that 3,000 feet of conduit and various utility vaults can be replaced.  25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable will also be installed. 

 

Route 133 traffic will be detoured to Route 67 through New Milford following Route 202/7 south to Route 25 in Brookfield and back to Route 133.

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A New Milford man who police said shot an officer during a stand off at a local condominium complex was released from New Milford Hospital Monday morning and is being processed by authorities.

 

Police identified the man as 47 year old Kevin Mohan as the man who shot Officer Charles Cochran during a 30 minute stand off Sunday afternoon on Candlewood Lake South. Police responded to the condo after receiving reports of a suicidal subject and that several rounds had already been fired. State Police Spokesman Lt. Kelly Grant Mohan was being held on a $750,000 bond. Streets in the neighborhood were closed for several hours while detectives processed the scene.

 

The Police officer was shot in the ankle and treated and released from New Milford Hospital. 

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Ct. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty presented the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury with a new Pride flag to replace the one stolen in May. Congresswoman Esty says this is personal for her... her brother is a gay .

 

The 5th District Congresswoman says the person who stole the flag should not be punished but educated. Esty has been trying to present the new flag for several months. When she learned it was the Rev. Barbara Fast’s last Sunday with the congregation, she pushed the trip to the top of her list.

 

Rev. Fast says its been quite the ordeal with the previous Flags being stolen and burnt in the past. Last June, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury decided to fly a rainbow flag outside of its site to show everyone is welcome. Since then, the flag has been burned twice and stolen a few weeks ago. But instead of deterring the congregation from hanging another in its place, an outpouring of donated flags came in from individuals and faith communities.

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Tragedy in Torrington .. A child has drowned at a State Park in Torrington. Police responded Sunday afternoon to a report of an unconscious child in the swimming area of Burr Pond State Park.

 

Officials say the 4-year-old boy from the Bronx was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. There were life guards on duty.

 

A woman from Waterbury , LaLa Baptista , was near Burr Pond when the drowning ocurred.She said it happened very fast and they were praying for the child and his family.

 

Veronica Cologne of New York was heartbroken..and said people have to watch their kids.

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In New Milford ...a police officer was shot yesterday afternoon by a man involved in a standoff at a condominium at 30 Candlewood Lake Road South. The officer has been released from the Hospital. Officers responded to a call for a suicidal subject Sunday afternoon after receiving reports a man had fired several rounds in his condo.

 

New Milford Police Lt. Larry Ash says a stand-off between police and the 47-year old man lasted about 30 minutes before he walked out of the condo with a handgun, and New Milford police officer Charles Cochran used a stun gun on the man.

 

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach said it’s unclear if the gun went off before or after the stun gun was used, but the man’s gun went off and a bullet grazed Cochran’s lower leg. Officers were able to take the man into custody. New Milford Police Lt. Larry Ash says Officials were concered the shooter’s apartment was booby-trapped, requiring the involvement of the State Police bomb squad. The condo was not booby trapped . Gronbach said the incident is being investigated as a potential attempt of “suicide by cop.”

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The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is working to bring together all related agencies and department to focus on a response to the opioid abuse crisis.  WestCOG has come up with some recommendations and actions to combat the crisis. 

 

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says there is no denying that Connecticut, and the country is in the grips of a significant public health crisis, which shows no signs of abating.  Llodra says there were 13 fatal overdoses among Newtown residents from 2009 through 2014.  She says data will show even more such events from 2014 through today. 

 

The data was collected from the Connecticut Medical Examiner's Office.  In Danbury during that time, there were 37 fatal overdoses.  New Milford recorded 20 and there were 10 in Bethel.

 

Llodra says the opioid addiction crisis is robbing municipalities of young and not-so-young people who are imprisoned in a habit of drug use that threatens their lives and creates emotional pain for their loved ones.  She called for all residents to get informed, get involved and help propel the issue to public consciousness.

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There will be fewer lifeguards soon at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says their budget was reduced by about $10 million for the coming fiscal year, so they've had to take several steps to reduce costs. 

 

DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee says they can lower operating expenses through some efficiencies.  The moves now will result in about $1.8 million in savings. 

 

Among the changes being rolled out soon after Independence Day weekend is an adjustment in days and hours of operations and services at campgrounds, beaches and museums.  Squantz Pond and other inland parks will have life guard coverage between three and five days per week, including weekends, as opposed to the current seven day a week guard coverage. 

 

Putnam Park in Bethel/Redding will soon see the Visitors Center open only on weekends. 

 

At less visited sites, there will be less frequent lawn mowing and other maintenance work.  Klee says they are continuing to analyze park operations to identify more potential savings, and expect to take additional cost cutting steps in next Spring.

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Two Danbury men have been arrested for selling illegal drugs from Danbury Commons housing complex.  The Danbury Police Special Investigations Division carried out search warrants Wednesday for 29-year old Warner Nunez in response to complaints from concerned residents. 

 

Based on surveillance, drug trafficking activity was detected. 

 

Nunez and 45-year old Edwin Castillo were seen in a car driven by a woman in the parking lot of Danbury Commons.  They were found with powder cocaine packaged for sale. 

 

 

(Nunez, Castillo)

 

Each were charged with possession of narcotics and possession within 1,500 feet of a housing complex.  Nunez was also charged for possession with intent to sell and possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a housing complex.

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Barely Missing Subway

  

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July issue of "American Way"

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