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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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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation say they're energized by the public's reaction to the recent House of Representatives sit-in and Senate filibuster, promising to not stop pushing for more restrictive gun laws.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson and Elizabeth Esty appeared at the Legislative Office Building on Friday to discuss the recent actions, all spurred by Connecticut delegation members.

While unable yet to pass legislation expanding background checks and denying gun sales to suspected terrorists, Murphy says five years from now this time will be viewed as a ``watershed moment'' in the gun debate. Murphy led last week's 15-hour filibuster.

The lawmakers are heartened by a compromise bill barring guns to some suspected terrorists clearing a procedural Senate vote on Thursday.

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By the end of the summer, Danbury officials are hoping to have a four acre parcel of land open for dogs to run around off-leash. 

 

A ground breaking ceremony was held Tuesday for the fenced in park off Miry Brook Road.  City Council President Joe Cavo, who spearheaded the effort, says it took longer than expected to get to the ground breaking because the City had to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements, and craft an ordinance allowing for dogs to be off-leash. 

 

In order to pay for upkeep of the park, Cavo suggests setting up a Friends of the Dog Park group, and leave envelopes at an information stand. 

 

He also proposing having a park naming contest among City school children.

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Nine regional councils of government are sharing in $4.3 million in grant money.  Governor Dannel Malloy says the goal is to help cities and towns reduce costs and burdens by providing support for their efforts to regionalize services and coordinate essential functions of government. 

 

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, which spans from New Milford and Sherman down to Stamford, has received $254,782 for snow plow routing study and development.  The study would find the optimal route for snow plows, and that information would be disseminated to participating municipalities. 

 

A $200,000 grant has been approved for the Northwest Hills Council of Governments for a Technology and Business Model Study.  Four towns in the northern end of the WestCOG region will also benefit from the Rural Broadband and Mobile Enhancement study.  Those towns are Bridgewater, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman. 

 

The goal is to develop a technology and business model to provide high speed broadband and mobile coverage services.

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A teenager has been arrested on a drunk driving charge.  New York State police stopped a driver in Mahopac Wednesday for speeding.  An investigation determined that 19-year old Patrick O'Keefe Jr. was intoxicated. 

 

He had a Blood Alcohol Content twice the legal limit at .16%.  

 

O'Keefe was charged with Driving While intoxicated.  A felony charge of aggravated unlicensed operation was added when a license check revealed that his driving privileges were revoked due to a previous DWI arrest. 

 

O'Keefe was ordered to appear in Carmel Town Court on July 11th for the traffic tickets.

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Danbury police are looking for a hit and run driver who damaged a house, a car and three mailboxes.  Officers responded Tuesday evening to Sleepy Hollow Drive where they found tire marks going across three lawns.  Two broken mailboxes were in the roadway.  A vehicle parked in a driveway sustained heavy damage.  The right corner of the house had some exterior damage.  No one in the three houses were injured.  There were no immediate witnesses to the accident.  The incident happened before 5:30pm Tuesday.

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There was an accident at a medical building in Danbury today where a car fell into a pit by the building.  The Danbury Police and Fire Departments responded to 67 Sandpit Road around 8:15 this morning.  Fire crews helped the female driver out of her car through a window.  A heavy wrecker with a crane was needed to pull the car from the pit.  The woman sustained minor injuries.

 

 

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A cell phone found by housekeeping at a Danbury hotel leads to child pornography charges being brought against an Oklahoma man.  Danbury Police responded to LaQuinta Inn on Newtown Road late Wednesday night in response to a call from the manager. 

 

A housekeeper getting ready to do laundry said a cell phone fell out of one of the guest room sheets.  Guest Services opened the phone to try to identify the owner, and saw the photos. 

 

19-year old Gerardo Vazquez-Gonzalez later came to the front desk claiming he lost a cell phone.  After speaking with the Tulsa man, Danbury Police identified the phone as his and he admitted to downloading the child pornography images. 

 

Vazquez-Gonzalez was arrested and held on $250,000 bond.

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A New York woman has been charged in Danbury for an ongoing investigation into illegal driveway paving companies.  Danbury Police say 39-year old Jamie Young of Montgomery, New York turned herself in on Wednesday.  She was charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.  Young was held on a court set $10,000 bond. 

 

She was operating in Danbury as Middletown, N.Y.-based Affordable Paving.  The 71-year old victim in the case lost over $5,000.

 

Last weekend, Danbury Police went to the Rockland County Correctional Facility in New Yok to pick up 34-year old Dean Cooper of Kentucky, who was wanted on the same charges.  The arrests stemmed from a joint investigation with the Connecticut Consumer Protection Department into an illegal driveway paving company. 

 

Danbury Police say additional arrests are expected.

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A kitchen fire was quickly extinguished last night in Danbury.  The Fire Department responded to a multi-family home on Bell's Lane shortly before midnight.  Most of the fire and heat damage in the three story wood frame house was contained to the kitchen area. 

 

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says the other three apartments in the building did not sustain damage. 

 

An infant and the four adults in the affected apartment were able to evacuate before firefighters arrived.  No injuries were reported. 

 

Restoration work is needed to the apartment, and the residents have been displaced.  The American Red Cross was called in to find temporary housing for the five occupants. 

 

The Fire Marshall's Office is investigating the cause of the kitchen fire.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by casino developer MGM Resorts International challenging the constitutionality of a Connecticut law creating a process for a possible third casino along the Massachusetts border.

In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson agreed with Connecticut officials that MGM did not "adequately allege an injury" from the new law and therefore does not have legal standing to sue.

MGM, which plans to open a $950 million casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, calls the ruling incorrect and says it will seek an expedited appeal.

Connecticut's Office of the Attorney General says it's prepared to defend the case against an appeal of the suit, which was originally filed in August 2015. The Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is also challenging the casino law in a separate lawsuit being partly financed by MGM.

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The Danbury Democratic Town Committee announced a fundraiser this week featuring State Senator Ted Kennedy Junior, but Republican Town Committee Chairman Jack Knapp called yesterday for Kennedy to cancel the July fundraiser while Democratic Party Chairman Gene Eriquez remains under investigation for domestic violence. 

 

Kennedy responded that he will cancel his appearance, saying that there is no place for violence against women.  Eriquez previously stepped aside from his role as chairman while nominations were being made for state legislative races. 

 

Knapp said in an emailed statement that he finds it outlandish that Eriquez is still the chairman of the Democratic Party while he is under investigation. 

 

Eriquez is due in court on Tuesday.

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A Danbury Board is trying to make a decision based on speculation about approvals made more than 30 years ago.  The Zoning Board of Appeals closed the public hearing last night about a cease and desist order issued to Dorothy Day Hospitality House, to bring the emergency shelter into compliance with zoning regulations. 

 

The Board did not make an immediate decision on whether to uphold the order issued by the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  Members accepted briefs from Attorney Neil Marcus, and the attorney representing the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  All parties agreed to stop the clock so that the briefs could be analyzed. 

 

In response to neighbor complaints about quality of life issues raised this winter, Dorothy Day submitted a request to the Planning Commission to renew the permit from 1984.

 

Marcus made several arguments about why the Danbury Planning Commission issued one-year renewable permits back in 1983 and 1984.  He said one reason Dorothy Day stopped applying was because there were several retirements in the Planning Department at that time and no one gave them notice in subsequent years that they had to apply.  Marcus also said in the years that followed, the City Fire Marshals and the City Health Department visited every year for inspections, which led them to believe that there was a valid permit.  Marcus believes the one-year renewable conditions were put on the permit back in 1983 because there were concerns about the emergency shelter being co-ed.  There was no precedent at that time to know what Dorothy Day was talking about when they said they wanted to open an emergency shelter for the homeless.

 

Part of the ambiguity, since the issue dates back more than three decades, is that there are vague and sparse records.

 

Marcus has filed a mandamus brief with the Superior Court which would in essence make the Danbury Planning Commission hear Dorothy Day’s arguments, because the present day Planning Commission has said on-year renewable permits are not within their jurisdiction. 

 

Attorney Dan Casagrande told the Zoning Board of Appeals in his brief that the Zoning Enforcement Officer has been trying to work with Dorothy Day and doesn’t want to see them suddenly closed.  The Zoning Enforcement Officer has asked, several times, that Dorothy Day apply to the Planning Commission for a Special Exception Use to allow the emergency shelter to remain open under a valid permit.  Casagrande also said that the reason the City Shelter on New Street received a permit that didn’t have a time restriction was because zoning laws had been changed before it opened in 1991.  Had Dorothy Day applied for a new permit each year as required, he says they could have been grandfathered in.

 

Zoning Board of Appeals member Herb Krate said that there can only be speculation about what the Boards and Commissions of 1983 were thinking.  But he said they could assume there was a one-year renewable restriction put on the permit because there was some apprehension about the impact a shelter would have on the community.

 

Spring Street residents are asking Danbury officials to relocate Dorothy Day to a non-residential area.  They, along with CityCenter advocates, are calling for Dorothy Day to work with the Continuum of Care and have police or private security monitor and control client behavior.  They say Dorothy Day has severely out-grown the location, as well as creating an out of control situation.

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Fire Chief TJ Wiedl requested additional funding from the city for a volunteer firefighters pager system.  He says the pagers are necessary due to infrastructure changes to the City's radio system.  The $40,000 will come from the City's Contingency Account.  After this allocation, the fund is left with about $184,000.  Wiedl told the City Council that the pagers have a five year service contract.  He was asked if the radios are damaged due to negligence, who is responsible.  Wiedl said the individual companies are going to assign the pagers, and they will be handled like any other equipment.

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A concert entitled "Our Reply to Violence" was held in Ridgefield last night as a way to help heal, honor and remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.  The event at the Ridgefield Playhouse featured The Ridgefield Chorale, The Ridgefield Symphony, Debbie Gravitte and former Yankee Bernie Williams among others.  The concert was named "Our Reply to Violence" based on a quote from Leonard Bernstein following the assassination of JFK.  He said that sorrow and rage would not inflame retribution, rather inflame art and that while music will never again be quite the same, the reply to violence is to make music more intensely, more beautifully and more devotedly than ever before.

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Two Somers High School students have been arrested for vandalizing school buses in January.  On Tuesday, graduation day, New York State Police arrested 18-year old Jonas Moseby on a felony criminal mischief charge.  An 18-year old was arrested June 10th on a misdemeanor charge, and released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date. 

 

Moseby was released on $10,000 bail for a court appearance on the 27th. 

 

On January 4th, Somers school bus staff arrived at the garage to see that 43 school buses had been vandalized.  Some had their tires slashed, windows were shattered and fire extinguishers had been discharged to spray graffiti, including a swastika and profanity. 

 

The damage was over $29,000.

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A Carmel woman pulled over for a routine traffic violation has been arrested for driving under the influence.  New York State Police say Troopers stopped 35-year old Catherine Giuliano on the Sprain Brook Parkway Monday for having a front headlight out. 

 

It was determined that she was driving while her ability was impaired by drugs.  A license check revealed that her driving privileges were revoked due to a previous DWI related arrest.  Giuliano was charged with felony unlicensed operation and misdemeanor operating while impaired. 

 

She is scheduled to appear in court on July 7th.

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Erratic driving in Bethel has led to drug possession charges for a Ridgefield man.  Bethel Police received 911 calls from the Route 53 area around 5pm Tuesday about a driver hanging out of the pick up truck window, yelling and waving.  The driver, later identified as 23-year old Paul Denis, would speed up and suddenly brake. 

 

Police found the vehicle in question and tried to stop the driver, but there was a low-speed pursuit through downtown Bethel.  During that time, officers say Denis was still hanging out the window yelling incoherently.  He pulled into Overlook Park abruptly and officers stopped him from backing out. 

 

Denis resisted arrest and tried to flee on foot, but he was eventually taken into custody.  Bethel Police say he remained uncooperative and continued shouting incoherently. 

 

He was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation because officers were concerned about what substance he may have been under the influence of. 

 

He was charged with DWI, engaging in pursuit, reckless driving, evading responsibility, failure to stop at a stop sign, operation under suspension, interfering with an officer and possession of marijuana.  Denis was released on bond for a court appearance July 1st.

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A machete wielding Bethel woman has been arrested.  Bethel Police responded to Greenwood Avenue early Sunday morning for a disturbance. 

 

Officers determined that 47-year old Maria Medina had been in an argument with another person.  She allegedly starting hitting the other person and threatened to kill them.  Police say at one point during the dispute, Medina got a machete out of a car and began swinging it wildly. 

 

She damaged the inside and outside of the vehicle. 

 

Medina was arrested for breach of peace, criminal mischief, assault and threatening.  She was arraigned and released on bond for a court appearance July 20th.

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