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Another area lawmaker is speaking out against an idea being discussed by the panel created by Governor Dannel Malloy to come up with ways to fund his 30-year transportation improvement plan. A so-called mileage fee has drawn criticism from Wilton Senator Toni Boucher. 

 

The fee would be assessed based on the number of miles driven per year, as determined by a car's GPS system. 

 

Boucher says the administration should look at how money currently coming in is spent.  She thinks residents have reached a tipping point with decisions being made by state officials.  She specifically pointed to the decision giving 12% raises to some employees, along with generous benefits to all others, and then turning around and taxing residents more.

 

Boucher says the Republican minority in the General Assembly has proposed ways Connecticut could achieve $500 million more in investments by reprioritizing and reallocating the current bonding capacity the state has for transportation infrastructure improvements.

 

Boucher called this mileage fee even more of an an intrusive invasion of a person's privacy than an EZpass which records where you pay a toll.  She asked those proposing the fee to imaging a device in the car that records every single location, saying it's like having someone following you every single day.

 

Boucher says one of the real problems with even discussing putting another fee on drivers, is that Connecticut motorists currently pay some of the highest fees in the nation.  Gas is already doubled taxed in Connecticut.  Not only is there an excise tax, but she notes there is also 8% more on that same gallon of gas.  She compared this proposal to the gas tax, a consumption-based tax, and said each mile driven would be double or tripled taxed.

 

Boucher says if the panel wanted to be truly honest about it, they could suggest raising the gas tax even further than where it already is.

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While Congress is on a five week recess from Washington, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is using the time to tour the region.  She stopped in Danbury yesterday where she visited the Danbury Mall to see how the fuel cell site installed there recently is working.

 

The 750 kilowatt fuel cell array is providing the mall with more than a third of the electricity used by the 1.3 million square foot shopping center.  The fuel cell project was installed by California-based Bloom Energy.

 

The project was financed in partnership with Washington Gas Energy Services and the Connecticut Low-emission Renewable Energy Certificate Program.  The gas company paid for the fuel cells, and the mall is paying the gas company for the electricity generated from the units.

 

More than 400 solar panels are planned for the central roof of the mall.  The shopping center installed energy efficient exterior LED lighting and a thermoplastic white reflective roof.  In addition to recycling cardboard and plastic, the mall is now composting food waste.

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There is a search underway in the Housatonic River near Lovers Leap State Park on the report of a missing person.  Brookfield Police and fire are helping in the search in New Milford.

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Ridgefield police are cautioning drivers that crosswalk markings and stop bars are being painted tonight.  Cones will be placed at the freshly painted markings so the areas around Ridgefield can dry.  The painting is being done between 7:30 tonight and 4:30 tomorrow morning.

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A boy and girl who just graduated from Danbury High School have been arrested for using the photo and name of a former teacher on a social media account.  Danbury Police launched an investigation in February when the former teacher reported an active Twitter account was portraying her in a defamatory manner.

 

Search warrants were issued and interview conducted over the last several months leading to two Danbury High Schoolers, who were seniors at the time.  Arrest warrants for the former students were granted recently.  On Wednesday, 18-year olds Nickolas Brito and Mikayla Ramos turned themselves into police. 

 

 

 

Each teen was charged with conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and conspiracy to commit harrassment.  Ramos was also charged with making a false statement.  The teens were released on written promises to appear in court on August 18th.

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Danbury police have determined that a rainbow flag burned at a church was criminal mischief, not a hate crime.  The flag was put up outside the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriages should be legal across the country.  A church administrator came to work on July 24th and found that the rainbow flag had been burned. 

 

Reverend Barbara Fast says UU Danbury is proud to be a welcoming congregation that celebrates participation by all people.  Rev. Fast says fire can destroy, but it can also renew.  She says hateful acts never endure.

 

A new rainbow flag will be dedicated on Sunday at noon at the church on Clapboard Ridge Road. 

 

Fast says the rainbow flag is a symbol of the church's commitment to love and justice.  She says the rededication will reaffirm the basic principle that everyone has the right to determine their own path through life.

 

Board of Trustees President Walt Sizemore says burning any flag is a public desecration, and for some in the Danbury community it is more than mere vandalism.  Sizemore says they are recommitted to the pursuit of inclusion of all people. Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Danbury officials say they national association has officials opposed discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people since 1970, and that the organization has called for marriage equality since 1996.

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Two area towns are receiving Community Development Block Grants under the Small Cities Program.  Bethel will receive $800,000 for the Reynolds Ridge Senior Housing complex.  Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein the Bethel Housing Authority will create two handicapped accessible units, replace interior and exterior doors, replace windows and make energy efficiency improvements at the 80 units.

 

Southbury has been awarded $400,000, and will be undertaking its first Housing Rehabilitation program.  The plan calls for rehabilitating 12 units by replacing roofs, heating systems, and windows.  Lead paint and asbestos removal along with electrical and code upgrades will also be made.

 

Klein says the grants help facilitate projects to enhance a community.  That's done in a number of ways including developing or preserving affordable housing, providing services to the most vulnerable residents in our communities, and creating and retaining jobs. 

 

Klein says Connecticut is making critical investments in housing that will have a lasting effect on individuals, families, and communities.  The CDBG Small Cities program uses federal funds allocated to Connecticut by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Tolls aren't the only way The Governors Transportation Finance Panel has discussed as ways to raise the $100 billion needed for Malloy's 30-year transportation improvement plan.  The panel created by Governor Dannel Malloy has discussed the idea of a so-called mileage fee.  It would be assessed based on the number of miles driven per year, as determined by a car's GPS system.

 

Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan says while it's necessary to look at all opportunities to fund transportation, the ideas so far are all about new taxes.  McLachlan says the idea currently being discussed by the chairman of the panel, former state lawmaker Cameron Staples, couldn't work because not all cars have the technology.

 

McLachlan says a new fee is absurd given that Connecticut has seen the two highest tax increases in state history in the last four years.

 

As cars get better and better milage, revenue from the gas tax gets less and less.  McLachlan says spending should be cut in Connecticut, and the state should "stop spending money foolishly" so that there is money for repair roads.  He says he'd prefer ideas to better allocate the money that's already coming in to Connecticut.

 

The panel is slated to make recommendations late next month.  A final report is due in October. The legislature could come back before the end of the year to approve it.

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A Bridgewater woman has been arrested for illegally collecting unemployment benefits. 

 

45-year old Deborah Wilmot, who is serving a prison sentence for embezzling thousands of dollars from Bull's Bridge Golf Club, was charged Thursday with larceny and unemployment compensation fraud.  Wilmot collected nearly $22,000 in benefits over the course of a year in 2011 and 2012 while she was employed at three different businesses, including the South Kent golf club. 

 

The arrest affidavit says she used an alias, and in one case used a relative's Social Security number so that her employer wouldn't learn of her previous felony convictions for larceny and forgery. 

 

Wilmot will be in court September 1st. 

 

Wilmot previously served three years for a 2004 conviction of embezzling $100,000 from Canterbury School in New Milford.  She allegedly took more than $220,000 from a New York-based computer software company while employed as a bookkeeper in 2008-2009.  Wilmot received a two year federal prison term in 2012 for tax evasion on the funds stolen from Amkai Corporation.

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Danbury Firefighters have responded to two blazes today.  There is a second floor fire at a condo on Candlelight Drive.  Heavy smoke is reported.  An earlier kitchen fire at a home on Chestnut Street was extinguished quickly.  There were no injuries in that fire.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the condo fire was caused by a lightning strike.

 

(Photo: @MayorMark, Twitter)

 

The American Red Cross was helping residents of three damaged condos with temporary housing needs.

Some residents told fire officials that they saw lightning hit the building, and others said they heard a loud noise right before the fire began in an attic.  Fire officials are trying to determine exactly how the blaze began.

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A Connecticut man has been arrested for a home invasion in Weston last month.  42-year old Dylan Garner of Bridgeport is facing an assault charge for the home invasion.  State Police say Garner rang the doorbell of a home on Ten O'clock Lane on June 5th, but the woman didn't answer. 

 

She later reported hearing glass and wood on the back door being broken.  Garner confronted the victim, forced her to the ground and restrained her.  Several pieces of jewelry were taken, and the victim sustained non-life threatening injuries. 

 

Garner was arrested Tuesday and was held on $250,000 bond for arraignment today.  In addition to assault, Garner faces charges of home invasion, larceny, robbery and unlawful restraint.

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Redding, The Redding Land Trust and Aquarion Water Company are partnering to preserve 30 acres of open space land near the intersection of Routes 107 and 53.  The property borders the Saugatuck River just before the Reservoir. 

 

The land is priced at $400,000, with Aquarion contributing $60,000.  The Land Trust will spend $170,000 toward the purchase, with the town using a state grant of the same amount.  The grant was awarded to Redding in October. 

 

The Redding Pilot reports that the state will hold an easement over the land, and Aquarion will hold a secondary easement.  Redding and the Redding Land Trust would be the deed owners.

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A second arrest has been made in an animal cruelty case at American Breeders pet shop on Federal Road in Danbury.  One of Richard Doyle’s store managers, 29-year old Kathy Seton of Cold Spring, NY, was charged yesterday with one count of animal cruelty.  Police did not detail the allegations against her. 

 

Doyle was charged Monday with three counts of animal cruelty over allegations he failed to properly care for two dogs and a kitten, requiring two animals to be euthanized. 

 

 

 

A complaint by an employee about animal mistreatment led to an investigation by Connecticut animal control officers. 

 

One of the allegations against Doyle is that he performed a surgical procedure on the eye of a Neopolitan Mastiff when he is not licensed to do so. The female dog sustained severe bleeding after the procedure on an inner eyelid, which Doyle allegedly performed in the rear of the pet shop in March.  The employee provided officers with photographs documenting the dog’s condition. She also said she was often made to treat animals with medication and administer shots although she is not licensed to do so. 

 

Doyle also is accused of confining a critically-ill exotic kitten and failing to provide it immediate veterinary intervention until the animal required euthanization.

 

The Mahopac resident owns two other pet shops in New York. 

 

He is also charged with failing to provide proper care to a sick Shih-Tzu puppy that was in need of immediate medical care in April.  Doyle had brought the puppy to Danbury from one of his New York stores and left it in the care of an employee but without needed veterinary care to treat it for vomiting, diarrhea and coughing. The puppy also was later euthanized by a veterinarian.

 

He was arrested Monday, and released on a written promise to appear in court on August 6th.

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SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) Two people have been hospitalized and the residents of five homes displaced in a fire at a Southbury condo complex.

Officials say crews were called to the Heritage Village condominiums at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday night.

The complex is an active senior community and has more than 3,000 residents. The flames damaged five units, which have been deemed uninhabitable.

Firefighters found people outside of the building when they arrived. No one needed to be rescued but officials say about 10 to 15 residents lost their homes.

Authorities say two residents were sent to the hospital in serious condition, one of them after suffering a heart attack. Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire.

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With Congress on vacation, a local lawmaker is chastising her colleagues for not bringing gun violence prevention legislation to the floor for a vote. 

 

Speaking on the day of adjournment Wednesday, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said Connecticut knows the devastation caused by gun violence, citing the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  But she says just as tragic are the deaths that don't make national headlines.  She pointed to 19 people killed in the capital city of Hartford this year alone.

 

Esty says no person, no community is protected from the problem of gun violence.

 

Esty urged leaders of the House to spend their five week recess thinking about all of the lives lost each year to gun violence.  In March, she introduced a bill to have comprehensive background checks for all commercial sales of guns.  She wants that called for a vote when they reconvene in September.

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A ground breaking ceremony has been held for the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  A four-story, 36,000 square foot building is going up at the former police station site. 

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the new building means permanent new jobs for downtown who will eat in local restaurants and shop locally.  He says the building is going to be beautiful, and represents a $20 million investment in CityCenter.

 

 

Connecticut Institute for Communities CEO Jim Maloney says this is a major step forward in expanding their services.  The building will house pediatric and adolescent medical and behavioral health services, comprehensive women's health services, an on site-blood sample suite, a full service pharmacy, administrative offices for the health center and headquarters for the Connecticut Institute. 

 

A pharmacy will be on site.  Anyone can enroll in the health center at no cost and use the deeply discounted facility.  People without health insurance will be able to cut their bills by about two-thirds.

 

Maloney says existing staff will basically double from about 60 employees, to more than 120.  Maloney expects $6 million a year in payroll for physicians, APRNs, front desk staff, medical assistants, clerical staff, billing, finance, legal, HR and front desk staff.  He says it will be a significant shot in the arm economically for downtown Danbury.

 

The financing package involves a mix of public and private funding.  The state is providing a $4 million grant.  Governor Dannel Malloy was on hand for the ground breaking.   

 

(Photo Courtesy: Governor Malloy)

 

There's private commercial mortgage financing totalling $6 million dollars and $5 million dollars from three federal New Market Tax Credit program investors.

 

Governor Malloy said, “We are pleased that the state can help move this project forward-- it will both enhance community health care in the Danbury area and also provide a major economic boost  to  the  city’s  downtown.  Connecticut  is  making progress  every  day,  driving unemployment to a seven-year low as we create tens of thousands of jobs.  As we do that, we’re expanding health care access like never before.  It  is projects like this that demonstrate  how we’re accomplishing both of those goals.”

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Animal cruelty charges have been brought against a Danbury pet shop owner.  55-year old Richard Doyle faces three counts stemming from allegations he failed to properly care for two dogs and a kitten at American Breeders pet shop on Federal Road. 

 

Two of the animals had to be euthanized. 

 

A complaint by an employee about animal mistreatment led to an investigation by Connecticut animal control officers. 

 

One of the allegations against Doyle is that he performed a surgical procedure on the eye of a Neopolitan Mastiff when he is not licensed to do so. The female dog sustained severe bleeding after the procedure on an inner eyelid, which Doyle allegedly performed in the rear of the pet shop in March.  The employee provided officers with photographs documenting the dog’s condition. She also said she was often made to treat animals with medication and administer shots although she is not licensed to do so. 

 

Doyle also is accused of confining a critically-ill exotic kitten and failing to provide it immediate veterinary intervention until the animal required euthanization.

 

The Mahopac resident owns two other pet shops in New York. 

 

He is also charged with failing to provide proper care to a sick Shih-Tzu puppy that was in need of immediate medical care in April.  Doyle had brought the puppy to Danbury from one of his New York stores and left it in the care of an employee but without needed veterinary care to treat it for vomiting, diarrhea and coughing. The puppy also was later euthanized by a veterinarian.

 

He was arrested Monday, and released on a written promise to appear in court on August 6th.  Charges of animal cruelty are also pending against one of Doyle’s store managers, Kathy Seton.

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A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for a Torrington teen who made verbal threats of violence against Danbury and Stratford schools last February.  19-year old Natalie Carpenter was arrested in 2014 on charges of conspiracy to commit assault and criminal attempt to commit assault. 

 

At a court appearance yesterady, the case was continued to August 25th. 

 

According to court documents, Carpenter had applied to purchase a gun.  During her arraignment it was revealed that police found evidence of plans to shoot or use a weapon at schools.  The arrest warrant however was ordered sealed by the courts so no other details are available. 

 

Carpenter remains held on $300,000 bond.

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A brief court appearance was made this morning by a former Bethel Berry Elementary School teacher charged with sexual assault.  30-year old Brian Stroh of New Fairfield will have a pre-trial hearing on September 4th. 

 

He faces three counts each of felony risk of injury to a minor, felony illegal sexual contact and misdemeanor sexual assault.  Stroh has been ordered to not have unsupervised contact with minors and not to contact the boys in the case against him. 

 

Stroh is free on $250,000 bond. 

 

The charges stem from incidents on February 15 and May 1, 2009. 

 

Officials have said the contact did not happen on school grounds. Stroh was employed by the Redding Parks and Recreation Department from June 2013 through the summer of 2014.  Redding officials said at the time of his arrest that Stroh had no disciplinary actions in his personnel file and no reports from staff claiming to have witnessed any inappropriate behavior.

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A Danbury High School science teacher facing charges of sexually assaulting one of her students made a brief court appearance this morning.  25-year-old-year-old Kayla Mooney had the case continued to August 26th upon the request of her attorney. 

 

She was charged in March after an investigation into a complaint she made to school officials that she was being harassed by the boy's ex-girlfriend.  Police say the boy involved told them about the sexual relationship and they confirmed parts of his story after obtaining emails the he and Mooney exchanged. 

 

She was placed on administrative leave in February, but failed to maintain her certification and was let go.

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Trailer for "Boulevard"...Robin Williams' final on-screen performance.

 

 

Prince George kisses sister Princess Charlotte at her christening.

(Photo courtesy Duchess of Cambridge)

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