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Danbury drivers will need to wait a while longer for the I-84 exit 6 westbound off ramp to go back to being two lanes. 

 

Although the State Department of Transportation said they were working to speed up the widening project to take only three weeks because of safety concerns, there have been delays.  The two lanes should be paved within a couple of weeks, putting the re-opening at mid-May.  District Engineer John Dunham says the off ramp will have more capacity at that time.  The DOT will then reevaluate and adjust the traffic signal timings throughout the interchange. 

 

Dunham said at the start of April that the DOT was working with the contractor to expedite the off ramp work, bringing in additional fill material at a higher cost.  The original plan would have taken 3 months to get the ramp back to two lanes.

 

The new traffic pattern on North Street- Padanaram Road where there are lane closures, is expected to be in place until October.  After that, the DOT says there will be further modifications. 

 

The entire widening project is not slated for completion until the summer of 2017.  When it is finished, there will be two lanes in each direction and scattered dedicated turning lanes.

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Two Connecticut men have pleaded guilty to distributing drugs involved in a Weston overdose.  On January 3rd, a 22-year old purchased 30 oxycodone pills from 22-year old Tahir Farid of Hamden for $900.  The man took some of those pills, as well as other substances. 

 

He was found unresponsive at a friend's house in Weston two days later.  According to medical personnel, he remains in a persistent vegetative state. 

 

An investigate revealed that prior to the victim's overdose, 19-year old Ryan Looney of Hamden supplied Farid with the oxycodone pills.  The pair were arrested in February as part of an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury.  Looney and Farid will be sentenced in August. 

 

The Weston and Monroe Police Departments along with the Drug Enforcement Administration's New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the U.S. Marshals Service investigated the case.  The Task Force includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.

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Redding residents are voting on a budget today.  A $47.6 million budget has been proposed in Redding.  It includes little more than $21 million for the schools.  The figure also includes Redding's share of the Region 9 school budget for Joel Barlow High School.  The entire $23.3 million Region 9 budget is also a separate question on the ballot.  The cost is split between Redding and Easton based on school population percentage.  A capital item is also listed on the ballot.  It's nearly $5.5 million for HVAC systems at two of the schools.  Polls are open until 8pm.

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The President of Western Connecticut State University has been nominated to serve as a member of the Danbury Museum Board of Directors.  The City Council will consider the appointment of Dr John Clark to the Danbury Museum Board of Directors tonight at their monthly meeting.  The term runs through May 2019.  In the nomination letter, Mayor Mark Boughton says Clark offers his experience as an administrator in higher education, having also served in the State and City University of New York systems.  Boughton says Clark has a wealth of experience arranging financial support for higher education and health care institutions.  He also has a deep interest in history that has influenced his life and career.

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A fire at the Plumtrees Heights condo complex in Bethel over the weekend has left several units uninhabitable.  One was damaged by the blaze, the others have no power because the electricity had to be cut.  The fire was reported Saturday around 10am on the outside of an end unit on Eagle Rock Hill. 

 

(Bethel Fire Department, Facebook)

 

Fire officials say the crews were able to prevent the fire from extending further into the unit, which suffered smoke, heat and water damage.  The American Red Cross is providing assistance to the displaced residents.  There were no reported injuries. 

 

Mutual Aid was provided to the Bethel and Stony Hill Fire Departments by Danbury.  West Redding and Brookfield Fire Departments provided standby coverage.

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A State Police K9 bloodhound has been able to locate an elderly Woodbury woman three and a half hours after she was discovered missing.  The Woodbury Resident Trooper's Office received notice yesterday evening that a woman, suffering from Alzheimer's, was last seen on Good Hill Road.  The state police helicopter was unable to fly due to inclement weather.  The bloodhound was called in after an initial search for the woman was unsuccessful.  After about 40 minutes, the woman was found a quarter mile from her home in thick brush.  She was disoriented and appeared to be suffering from hypothermia.  She was transported to the hospital for evaluation.  State Police Bloodhounds are used to pick up where patrol dogs leave off.  They can follow older tracks with a higher percentage of success.

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A former Danbury pet shop owner facing animal cruelty charges has closed his New York pet store.  56-year old Richard Doyle was arrested three times in recent months connected to an investigation by state animal control authorities.  He sold his Federal Road pet shop and closed two others in New York.  As of Saturday, he closed the doors to his Mohegan Lake pet shop.  New York State Senator Terrence Murphy previously wrote to the New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets requesting that Doyle's license as a pet store owner be suspended until the legal process concluded any wrongdoing.  Doyle is due in Danbury Superior Court on the 18th.

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A public hearing is being held in Brookfield tonight.  The Board of Selectmen will be taking public comment on the proposed snow and ice removal ordinance and assessment of benefits for sidewalk improvements. 

 

The proposed ordinance is about snow removal requirements and enforcement of those requirements.  It gives the Board of Selectmen the ability to create a benefit assessment for abutting property owners for certain improvements in the Town Center District, or any other property owner for lands abutting or fronting a sidewalk.  The sidewalk needs to be kept in safe condition and repair. 

 

The public hearing is at 7pm at Brookfield Town Hall in meeting room 133.

 

The Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield is set for tomorrow night.  The Board of Finance's final budget recommendation for the coming fiscal year will be reviewed.  A recommended May 17th referendum date will be presented. 

 

There is about a 2.5 percent tax increase proposed in the Brookfield budget for the coming year.  The Board of Education portion of the budget is $40.4 million, and includes a new math program, elimination of pay-to-play and a filling several teaching and administrative positions left vacant since the recession.  The $22.8 million municipal budget proposal includes hiring a community development specialist and a purchasing agent and buying portable classrooms for Huckleberry Hill Elementary School. 

 

The annual town meeting is at 7pm tomorrow at the Brookfield High School auditorium.

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BOSTON (AP) Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is helping the Boston Pops kick off its spring concert series.

The 42-year-old actor and filmmaker will be the orchestra's opening night guest on Friday. He'll be singing a selection of popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s, according to the ensemble.

The New England native is no stranger to the orchestra: He also appeared with them over the summer.

MacFarlane was born in Kent, Connecticut, and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

Founded in 1885, the Boston Pops consists of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and generally plays popular music.

The following week, composer John Williams is slated to lead the orchestra in selections from ``Star Wars,'' ``Jaws,'' ``Indiana Jones'' and other movies he's scored.

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The Richter Park Authority in Danbury has reached a tentative agreement to place a communications tower on the 180-acre property.  The Richter Park Authority is looking to have Bay Communications place a 150-foot cell tower near the golf course to improve service in case of emergency, and to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan. 

 

The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range.  Richter House also needs a new roof and other maintenance work.  The City has helped with weather-tightening on the house, but more work is needed. 

 

The proposed lease is for 30 years--a 10 year license with options to renew.  A committee of the City Council will consider the tentative agreement. 

 

In making the case for approval, Mayor Mark Boughton previously noted that the Richter Park Authority has done the responsible thing and tried several ways to generate revenue for upkeep instead of asking city taxpayers for funding. He noted that they no longer give unlimited passes to seniors for golf and offer afternoon specials to bring in out of town revenue.  But he says there are less golfers, fewer people have five hours during the day to take off from work to golf.

 

Boughton said there aren't enough golf revenues to improve the park, and they don't want to raise fees because that would chase more people away leaving the Authority with less money. 

 

The granddaughter of the woman who donated the land to the City in 1968 has granted a partial waiver on the deed restrictions imposed on the City to allow for construction of a cell tower.  The deed restricted use of the property to recreational purposes only.

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The Danbury City Council has approved a lease for the Candlewood Lake Concession Stand.  Greater Danbury area residents may be looking ahead to summer recreation now that it's May.  The City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement at their most recent meeting for the Candlewood Lake Concession Stand. 

 

It's a five year lease with Luis Bautista, who was the leasee over the previous five years.  Parks and Recreation Department Director Nick Kaplanis told the Council that Bautista proved to be a reliable partner with the City, and that his experience in the food service industry and background is well suited to operate this entity. 

 

The value of the total lease is $8,550.

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Do you have questions about economic terminology?  A public service lecture is being provided in Danbury tonight by Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute.  Some of the topics to be covered include how the city calculates mill rate, what is bonded money, and what is a tax deferral.  City Councilman Andrew Wetmore, who is also Ridley-Lowell’s admissions representative, will lead the discussion. 

 

Wetmore says he's been surprised by how many people don’t understand what the Probate Court does, what inflation and deflation mean, or what bankruptcy is. Everyday economic terms regarding government, taxes, investing and borrowing, he said, are often misunderstood.

 

The lecture is not intended to provide financial advice, but to provide a better understanding of basic language used in economics and how it applies to the average person.

 

The free lecture is from 5:45 to 7:30 pm.

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The Annual Town Meeting in Ridgefield is being held Monday night at the Ridgefield Playhouse.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi will make a budget presentation, followed by information from the Boards of Education and Finance.  A vote on capital items under $100,000 will also be held.  The Annual Town Meeting is set for 7:30pm Monday. 

 

Some of the capital items include guard rail replacements, equipment such as a plow with sander and rotary mowers, Wellness Center improvements and work on the golf course. 

 

 

A Public Hearing and Special Town Meeting are being held in Ridgefield Wednesday night.  At 7:30, changes to the Ridgefield Code of Ordinances about Citations and Open Space Use will be discussed.  There will also be a public hearing about A System Site Lease Agreement for Farmingville Elementary School Solar Panels.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A bill that that would allow minors with certain debilitating conditions to use Connecticut's medical marijuana program has cleared its final legislative hurdle.

 

The Senate late Friday voted 23-11 in favor of the bill, which already passed in the House of Representatives. It now moves to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk.

 

Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican from Wilton and a chief opponent, spoke at length against the bill, voicing concerns about children using "mind-damaging substances," saying the harm could be worse than their underlying conditions.

 

But proponents say they heard from many anguished parents about their children's suffering from conditions such as extreme seizures being eased by the drug.

 

Under the bill, medical marijuana dispensaries could not provide qualified children any marijuana product that is smoked, vaporized or inhaled.

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The White House has released a report outlining a research and development strategy to expedite real-world deployment of smart gun technology.  The report was ordered by President Obama in a January memorandum as part of the administration’s executive actions to curb gun violence.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said the release also aims to improve the quality of mental health records input into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  She says the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database has incomplete data, allowing felons, people convicted of domestic abuse, and other dangerous individuals to illegally buy firearms.

 

Esty says smart-gun technology shows great promise to stop guns from falling into the wrong hands and reduce gun accidents that kill and injure thousands of Americans every year.  She says using federal purchasing power is similar to incentivizing life-saving safety advancements in automobiles.

 

But she says the President's steps alone are not a substitute for Congressional action.

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It's looking like state lawmakers will be called into special session after their mandated adjournment passes on Wednesday.  The General Assembly has yet to come up with a budget plan, negotiated with the Governor, to erase the nearly billion dollar deficit.  Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey of Danbury says they are tired of trying to wrestle with factors out of their control.

 

Godfrey says no one has been able to predict what revenues are going to be in a very long time.

 

Democrats balked at a revised budget offered by the governor, opposing his cuts to hospitals, social services, education funding and property tax relief efforts. Malloy's administration is also continuing to issue hundreds of state employee layoff notices.

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A New Milford woman is seeking a state House seat in November. Democratic  Town Councilwoman Mary Jane Lundgren, who has served on the board for 14 years, has announced her candidacy for the 67th District position.  The seat is currently held by Republican Cecilia Buck-Taylor who previously announced that she would not be seeking a third term. 

 

The 68-year old Lundgren recently retired from 45 years of nursing service.  She most recently served in the intensive care unit at New Milford Hospital. 

 

Lundgren is also a member of the New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council, the Aging Commission, Housing Partnership and the Northville Residents Association.  She says public health related topics would be a focus for her.  She would also like to see the New Milford Bike Trail completed and bring development to the riverfront.

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The 10 member Republican state convention delegation from Newtown is backing Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope in his bid for the 5th Congressional District.  Cope announced in an email this week that the group considered several other candidates, two of who are from Newtown, but decided that Cope's principles most closely aligns with theirs. 

 

At the end of serious deliberations on the merits of all of the candidates, the Newtown GOP delegation decided unanimously to stand with Cope.  The delegation said that Cope has a proven track record of campaigning, winning elections and serving his constituents.

 

Among those seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty, are Matt Maxwell and Bill Stevens of Newtown.  John Pistone of Brookfield is also looking for the GOP nomination for the 5th Congressional District. 

 

The Connecticut Republican Party will hold its State Convention on May 9th.

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NEW YORK (AP) Authorities say a Connecticut man has been arrested after they discovered he was carrying a loaded handgun during a security screening at LaGuardia Airport.

John Rodrigues was arrested Thursday and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the charge. Calls to numbers listed for the 52-year-old Monroe, Connecticut, man weren't answered Friday.

A Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police spokesman says officers noticed the handgun in Rodrigues' laptop bag. He says the Ruger .380 semi-automatic pistol was loaded with six rounds.

Spokesman Joe Pentangelo says Rodrigues was arrested without incident and there was no disruption to the airport's operation.

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Four youths have been charged with criminal mischief after allegedly breaking into a vacant house in Newtown.  Police received a complaint last Saturday night about four teens also breaking into the adjacent barn on the Old Farm Road property owned by the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation. 

 

Police responded and found the juveniles who were identified as the suspects who broke a barn window.  The youths were not identified by police because they are under the age of 18.  Each was charged with criminal mischief and trespassing. 

 

The foundation is planning to create a wildlife sanctuary at the site to honor namesake, Catherine.  She was one of 20 children killed on 12/14.

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