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Route 53 bridge in Redding being replaced

A construction project starts in Redding today.

 

The state Department of Transportation will be rehabilitating a bridge over Route 53.  The bridge that carries Route 53 in Redding over a brook between Umpawaug Road and John Read Middle School is being replaced.

 

The bridge was built in 1928 and is 28 feet wide.  A 21-foot section is being rebuilt so that there can be 12-foot travel lanes and 4 foot shoulders in each direction.  Some other minor safety improvements will also be completed. 

 

The project work will be done Monday through Friday 9am to 3pm with alternating one way traffic controlled by flaggers or temporary traffic signals.  The construction is scheduled through September 8th.

 

Dayton Construction Company Incorporated of Watertown Connecticut was awarded the $425,000 contract.



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Mental health care roundtable held in Danbury

A roundtable discussion about mental health prevention, intervention, and treatment has been held in Danbury.  It was hosted by Senator Chris Murphy, who is writing a bill with a Republican from Louisiana to reform the mental health system.  He wanted to learn about the concerns and needs of the Fairfield County mental health advocacy community.

 

In the Danbury region, Murphy says there's a lack of inpatient bed space for someone with a complex psychosis who needs two weeks or a month of care.  Murphy says people get discharged into the community too early because that type of facility doesn't exist in the area.

 

He was joined by mental health professionals, providers, clients, educators, and advocacy groups.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Senator Murphy)



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Boehringer Ingelheim cuts ribbon on new research facility

Boehringer Ingelheim has cut the ribbon on a new research facility. 

 

The Ridgefield-based pharmaceutical company says the Pilot Plant will be used to produce larger quantities of compounds being researched for testing and other uses.  Senator Chris Murphy was among the officials on hand Tuesday for the ribbon cutting.  He says the Pilot Plant will play a crucial role in research and development to bring new treatments to market faster. 

 

The building project was about $65 million and part of a larger overall expansion of BI's U.S. headquarters.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Senator Murphy)



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Danbury High School teacher arrested for sex assault, giving liquor to a minor

A Danbury woman has been arrested for sexual assault and distributing alcohol to a minor.  The incident was first reported to Danbury Police by Danbury High School administrators on February 10th.  The investigation led to a warrant for 24-year old Kayla Mooney.  She turned herself in Tuesday afternoon.  Mooney was released on a written promise to appear in court on April 14th.

 

The Police Public Information Officers could not confirm, and Mayor Mark Boughton would not comment on if the woman is a High School employee.  A message was left for Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella.

 

Mooney was placed on administrative leave after the report to police, but her name was not released because she was not yet charged with a crime.  She was a first year science teacher.

 

An automated message was sent out to parents Tuesday night by the Superintendent informing them of the arrest saying that the incident occurred off campus with a boy late last year.  No other details were provided.



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Former Bethel teacher accused of sex assault released on bond

A former Bethel teacher charged with sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor has been released after posting $250,000 bond.  30-year old Brian Stroh was in court today. 

 

The judge denied a motion to release the former Berry Elementary School first grade teacher on a promise to appear in court.  The Clerk's office didn't immediately have a date for the next scheduled appearance for the New Fairfield man. 

 

Stroh's attorney had filed a motion seeking release saying his client couldn't access mental health treatment.  The victims, 3 boys, were ages 6, 9 and 11.  Stroh was placed on leave February 19th when Bethel school officials learned of a State Police investigation into inappropriate contact with minors.  He resigned shortly after. 

 

In letters to parents, Bethel officials said there was no reason to believe the crimes happened on school grounds.

 



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Monroe Police investigate possible embezzlement of PTO funds

Monroe police are looking into suspicious transactions from a school PTO account. 

 

Officials with the Stepney Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization alerted administrators March 18th, who then turned the matter over to Police.  Monroe Police say the PTO noticed discrepancies in their bank account showing personal and non-PTO expenses. 

 

PTO members are questioning more than $10,000 in expenditures, but police have not determined how much might have been misappropriated. 

 

A letter was sent to parents by the Stepney PTO yesterday about the investigation.  Police obtained a search warrant for a Monroe resident's home and seized a computer and bank statements.  Police did not identify the person's home that they searched.  Bank records from a financial institution have also been requested and a forensic audit will be done to determine wether money has been embezzled or if the expenses were legitimate PTO purchases.



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Conn. man sent to prison for leading mail-theft ring

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Bridgeport man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for running a mail-theft ring that raided mailboxes around Fairfield County for checks and credit cards.

Dayquan Jackson was sentenced Monday in New Haven federal court to four years and seven months in prison.

Authorities say he and others used the stolen checks to purchase cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles listed for sale on the Internet. The losses to financial institutions and individual victims amounted to more than $170,000.

Jackson was arrested in August and he pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud.

Police in Greenwich, Fairfield, Wilton and Bridgeport aided federal authorities in the investigation.



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Newtown Commnuity Center info meetings cancelled

Planned informational sessions about the proposed Communtiy Center project have been called off.  At the latest info session, residents were critical of the plans for Phase 1 to be a senior center and aquatics center, saying children and other sectors of the community were left out. 

 

Newtown's attorney says the $15 million donation from GE doesn't need voter approval from residents.  Newtown Patch reports that there's no technical requirement for the acceptance of the gift, except that a financial contract statement be filed. 

 

David Grogins said in the report that the only required step is for the town to enter into a donor agreement, which was done last November. 



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Improvements to Newtown Road in Danbury proposed by DOT

Proposed improvements to Newtown Road in Danbury have been discussed during an informational meeting.  The state Department of Transportation gathered public input last night on the proposals to widen Newtown Road and to realign some intersections among other work. 

 

The project is in the preliminary design phase and would not be started until 2017. 

 

Project Manager Michael Calabrese says the four lane section that ends at Plumtrees Road would be continued to Old Newtown Road.  The shoulder would also be widened by the Public Works Complex to allow drivers to bypass people waiting to make a left turn there.  A new driveway providing access to the Public Works Complex and future commercial development is proposed on its south side. 

 

A raised median is planned for a section of Newtown Road running from Old Newtown Road to Industrial Plaza Drive. 

 

Designated left turn lanes would be added at a realigned Old Shelter Road Road.  The intersection would form a "T"-shape.  Traffic signals would also be installed.

 

The estimated construction cost for these projects is approximately $11.3 million.  This project is anticipated to be undertaken with 80% federal funds and 20% state funds.  The targeted start time will be based on funding availability.



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Projects in Brookfield, New Milford receive state Department of Housing grants

More than $60 million in state funding is being distributed to 14 affordable housing projects across the state.

 

One is the Brookfield Village project at Route 202 and Station Road.  Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein says a 48-unit mixed-use, mixed-income development will be created with 43 of the units restricted as affordable housing.  The project will consist of two three-story buildings.  The site is also adjacent to a local HARTransit bus stop with service to New Milford and Danbury.

 

The Department will provide up to $4.5 million and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will provide $4.6 million in tax exempt bond financing to Brookfield Village, LLC.  43 of the 48 units will be restricted as affordable housing in this community and will be targeted to families with 25%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income. 

 

New construction and renovations at East Street Apartments in New Milford will receive some funding.  Dakota Partners will work with National Park Service historic guidelines to create 38 apartments.  30 of the units will be available to people with incomes less than 60-percent of the area median income.  Sustainable design features include measures to reduce impact on the town's storm drains and make use of new natural gas infrastructure. 

 

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority has awarded $6.2 million in 9% LIHTC equity and the Department of Housing will provide up to $4.2 million in state capital funds.

 

After 15 years, the development will be converted to condominiums and tenants will have rights of first refusal to purchase their units.  Relocation assistance will be provided for tenants who choose not to purchase.



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Bond set at $1 million for babysitter accused of burning child

Bond has been set $1 million for the Danbury woman who allegedly intentionally burned a child in her care.  Danbury Police were called late Friday night by a woman who said her 3-year old daughter had been assaulted by the nanny that day.  When the woman arrived home from work, she saw 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her daughter's hands and leg. 

 

The nanny, 31-year old Lidia Quilligana, said the child accidentally touched the hot stove while she was tending to the other children.  The girl was treated by her doctor. 

 

That night, the mother watched video from a hidden nanny camera which was recently installed.  The mother saw that the injuries were intentionally inflicted on the child by the nanny. 

 

Quilligana was charged with assault, criminal mischief and risk of injury to a minor.  The investigation is ongoing, and has been referred to the Special Victims Unit for follow up.

The case has been continued to April 22nd.  WVIT-TV reports that if Quilligana is able to post bond, she will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and surrender her passport.



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Ridgefield lawmakers gather for meeting with constituents

Ridgefield lawmakers are getting together for a meeting with town residents Tuesday.  The meet your legislators event is being held at Ridgefield Library. 

 

State Representative John Frey and Senator Toni Boucher will be in attendance.  The lawmakers say this is their chance to hear what's happening locally.  They often hear a variety of issues from residents during these get togethers and also about resident's concerns.  The lawmakers will also tell residents about what's happening at the Capital. 

 

Tuesday night's event at the Ridgefield Library is from 7 to 9pm.



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United Way starting social service grant review process

Volunteers are being sought by the United Way to serve on a grant allocation committee.  The committee run by the United Way of Western Connecticut is for Danbury's social services grant review process. 

 

There is a lump sum of funding in the Danbury budget each year for social service agencies and the committee vets which organizations receive how much funding.  The volunteers must be over age 18, a Danbury resident and willing to volunteer approximately 20 to 25 hours from the beginning of April through early June. 

 

Presentations are made by various groups, agency proposals are reviewed, and then discussions are held about funding recommendations.  There will be a Volunteer Training/Orientation held on April 6th from 9am–10:30am at United Way of Western Connecticut's conference room on West Street in Danbury.

 

The recommendations are also approved by Danbury officials. 

 

Contact Melissa Hannequin at Melissa.Hannequin@uwwesternct.org for more information on how to become a volunteer for this process.



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Regional Hospice launching Veterans program, seeks volunteers

Regional Hospice and Home Care is looking for volunteers.  The nonprofit agency is hosting Training Sessions for New Volunteers this week and next.  Regional Hospice is starting a new program called We Honor Veterans, which will match the Veteran volunteers with Veterans in the care of the hospice.

 

Some positions are located in the new Center; others include visiting some patients in their homes or other residences, such as assisted-living facilities and hospitals. 

 

Some of the attributes the organization says suit the candidates are being a good listener, the capability to brighten someone's day and enjoys being around people.  Training includes information on the hospice philosophy in general, as well as the specific services provided by the Regional Hospice team. The death and dying process is also reviewed in detail.

 

Volunteers are needed in a number of capacities, including Family Support, Pet Partners, Pet Peace of Mind, Lobby Greeters at the new Center, Community Bereavement Volunteers, Children’s Bereavement Volunteers, Kitchen Volunteers, Administrative Volunteers and Fundraising/Chapter Volunteers.

 

Anyone interested should contact Mary Beth Hickey, volunteer manager, at 203-702-7415 or by email at mhickey@regionalhospicect.org for an interview and to fill out an application.



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Zero tolerance for school threats legislation advances

A legislative committee has advanced a bill to increase the penalties for threatening when the threat involves a preschool, school or an institution of higher education.  The legislation was introduced by Newtown Representative JP Sredzinski, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher and freshman State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes a part of Newtown.

 

Hwang says he understands the long-term effects the Sandy Hook tragedy had on the community, and he wants certain school threats treated as felonies.

 

Hwang says they are trying to ensure that post-traumatic fallout from the Sandy Hook shootings is not continually exacerbated by individuals who initiate threats resulting in lock-ins, evacuations, and other disruptive reactions at local schools, as well as in other school districts across the state.

 

The Judiciary Committee on Friday voted 35 to 7 to send the bill to the next step.  Among those voting in opposition was New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor.  Greater Danbury area lawmakers on the committee voting in favor of the measure include Boucher, Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey, Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan, Redding Representative John Shaban and New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith. 

 

Sredzinski says this bill will send a powerful message to those who seek to traumatize Connecticut children.  Representative Mitch Bolinsky says each threat represents a serious setback to his community's healing.  He says not only is there an emotional toll, but each one hits the municipal and school budgets.

 

Testimony was submitted to the Committee by Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi.  He says there's been an uptick in frequency and intensity in threats over the past several years.  Erardi has been a Superintendent in Connecticut for the last 16 years.  He feels the perpetrators have a "catch me if you can" attitude.

 

Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said in written testimony that because of the hypervigilance of school communities, these threats activate security plans, notification and response.  He says that activation has caused fear, anxiety and disruption that lasts long after it's determined to be a threat or not an actual event. 

 

MacNamara added that as the threats continue, it makes it more difficult for first responders and teachers to discern what is a real event, and overtime the doubt will slow their ability to react appropriately to identify when a true emergency is happening.



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Bullet hole found in 3rd parked, unoccupied car in Ridgefield

A 3rd car with a bullet hole in it has been reported to Ridgefield Police.  Officers increased their presence in the Bennetts Farm Road neighborhood since the first report Monday that bullet holes were found in two cars parked in a driveway. 

 

A resident on the street called police Thursday night about a possible bullet hole after checking their vehicle following reports Monday of the other incident.  Authorities believe the third car was also hit on the 23rd.  

 

The first cars struck on Bennetts Farm Road were located near Old Stagecoach Road.  This one was near the intersection with Bates Farm Road. 

 

Police are asking residents to call police at 203-438-6531 if they notice suspicious activity.  Anyone with information or who lives in the area and has outside surveillance cameras is urged to call Ridgefield police detectives at 203-431-2794 or submit an anonymous tip by calling 203-431-2345.



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Police body camera bill clears Connecticut committee

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A bill that could lead to Connecticut police officers wearing body cameras is moving through the General Assembly.

The Judiciary Committee on Friday narrowly passed a bill, 22-to-19, requiring various police officials to determine when body-worn recording equipment should be used by officers and in what manner. The bill awaits further action in the Senate.

Sen. Gary Winfield of New Haven said having such a law on the books will help build trust between public and police departments, especially in Connecticut's cities.

But Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford said mandating body cameras across the state would be ``an overreach of the state.'' She said it should be left up to individual municipalities.

Some lawmakers also raised concerns about people's privacy rights potentially being violated if they're caught on camera.

 

Among the 19 on the committee voting against the bill were Buck-Taylor, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan, Redding Representative John Shaban, and New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith.  Among the 22 in support of the bill was Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey.



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Connecticut bill protects people who rescue kids in cars

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are considering new legal protections for people who try to rescue children from hot or cold vehicles.

The legislature's Judiciary Committee on Friday approved a bill unanimously providing civil and criminal immunity to people who forcefully enter vehicles to remove children from imminent danger. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Cromwell Rep. Christie Carpino says there was a case in February when a child was left unattended inside a car in freezing temperatures. The incident was reported by employees of a business, but the child remained inside the vehicle until authorities arrived. She says the bill would help avoid such situations.

A 15-month-old Ridgefield boy died last summer after being left alone in a hot car. His father took a plea deal and awaits sentencing.



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Danbury officials to study ACE school improvements

There are many challenges at the Alternative Center for Excellence on Locust Avenue in Danbury, one of which is a constant waiting list.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton's proposed bond package initially included $12 million to $15 million to construct a new building for ACE at the High School campus.  Several school officials felt ACE would be better separated off the grounds of DHS, that's part of the reason the kids enroll in ACE.  It's so they're not in a big building.  There is money in the new proposed bond package to study ACE and how to accommodate the 30 or so kids on the waiting list.

 

Boughton says ACE currently represents a transportation challenge.  All of the students go to DHS and there's a second bus that then transports them to ACE.  If an ACE student wants to take a program at DHS, they have to be transported up to Clapboard Ridge somehow.  Boughton says they want to encourage students to take programs that can't be offered at ACE because of computers and other logistics.

 

If DHS sends a staff member to ACE to teach one period, they have to be offered a travel period to do that.  He says there are efficiencies created if ACE was located 50 feet from DHS.  Just that piece of the puzzle is $70,000 to $80,000 a year.

 

Boughton says there are also some issues with the Locust Avenue building itself,  It burns a lot of oil and takes a lot of maintenance.  It's also on the National Historic Registry so there are some restrictions on improvements.

 

When moving ACE from Locust Avenue up to DHS was taken off the table, the plan changed to turn the current autoshop area into a blackbox theater.  Boughton says the small performance and digital arts space will better serve the one person plays, poetry readings and small recitals.  Currently the whole High School has to be opened up no matter the scale of the performance because that's the only stage that's really available.  The autoshop program would move to a new building to be constructed at the High School.



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Team 26 bikes from Newtown to D.C. for gun control reforms

Team 26 is riding from Newtown to Washington DC to call attention to the need for federal gun violence reform.  They are leaving from Newtown on Saturday at 8am.  The kickoff point is Edmond Town Hall.  There are stops in Ridgefield and elsewhere in Connecticut.  The event, now in it's 3rd year, is organized by Newtown resident and avid cyclist Monte Frank. 

 

He says they will ride until Congress passes stronger gun safety legislation.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes again rides with the group from Newtown down to a rally in Greenwich.

 

There are several rallies being held along the 400 mile route to the U.S. Capital.  Franks says they want to to build bridges to the urban environment because gun violence is a problem in inner cities and the suburbs.



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