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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 tomorrow night. 

 

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. 

 

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



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DOT meeting in Newtown on I-84 bridge replacements

An informational meeting is being held in Newtown Tuesday about a construction project.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky is facilitating the meeting with the officials Department of Transportation to discuss the area around the I-84 bridge replacement and the landscape remediation plans. 

 

The meeting tomorrow is at 6pm in Council Chambers of the Municipal Center. 

 

Residents in the Riverside section of Newtown have brought up concerns in the past about noise, air pollution and other issues surrounding the area because there are no sound barriers along the highway.   Two 100-foot-long I-84 bridges are being replaced in Riverside.



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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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Man charged for allegedly punching person on Ridgefield street

A Ridgefield man has been charged for allegedly punching a random person on Prospect Street this week.  Ridgefield Police charged 20-year old Chase Lasswell with assault.  Court records show that Lasswell was arraigned and released without bond for an April 23rd court appearance. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the victim called police who said a person, later determined to be Lasswell, walked up to him and hit him in the head with a fist.  The suspect was described as a young white male who left after the assault.

 

After canvassing the area, Lasswell was spotted and confirmed by the suspect as the man who punched him.



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Danbury teen charged for pot possession in Tarrywile Park

A Danbury teen has been arrested on drug possession and sale charges after police investigated reports of a suspicious vehicle.  Officers were called to Tarrywile Park in Danbury Tuesday afternoon and could smell marijuana coming from the car where 18-year old Carlos Espinal was a passenger. 

 

Police say packaging material and a scale were also found in the vehicle during a search. 

 

Espinal was charged with possession of a controlled substance, intent to sell, possession within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court on April 6th.



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West Hartford man arrested by Danbury Police for sexually assaulting juvenile

A Connecticut man has been arrested by Danbury Police for sexually assaulting a juvenile.  Danbury Police Special Victims Unit Detectives travelled to West Hartford this morning to arrest 52-year old Pedro Souza. 

 

He was taken into custody without incident. 

 

Souza was charged with four counts of 1st degree sexual assault and eight counts of risk of injury to a minor.  He was held on 200-thousand dollars bond.  No other details about what led to the charges were provided. 

 

Souza is being arraigned today.



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Construction project slated for I-84 exits 5 and 6 in Danbury

Signs will be going up next week along the highway saying that a construction project will be starting soon in Danbury.  The work is scheduled both east and westbound on I-84 by exits 5 and 6, on North Street and Second Avenue.

 

Eastbound, the bridge over Kohanza Street will be widened so the exit 5 off ramp can be lengthened.  Expanding the bridge over Tamarak Avenue will allow the exit 6 on ramp to be lengthened before merging into highway traffic.

 

Westbound at exit 6, the off ramp will be lengthened.  State Department of Transportation Supervising Engineer Matthew Cleary says the whole design of that intersection will be realigned.  I-84 will also be widened headed into the exit 5 off ramp.

 

Route 37, North Street, will be widened so there will be two through lanes in each direction.  Various exclusive turning lanes will also be added.  Two retaining walls will be built along the North Street Shopping Center and the traffic signals will be re-timed.

 

Utility work and drainage on Second Avenue will be done.



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Music teacher accused of sexually abusing 2 students

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) - A Connecticut man is accused of sexually abusing two girls at a Long Island music school where he taught.

 

Nassau County police say the alleged abuse occurred "on numerous occasions" at the Burt School of Music in Hicksville.

 

They say it happened between January 2012 and March 2015 during private lessons.

 

The girls' instructor, 62-year-old Kenton Burt, of Kent, Connecticut, was arrested at the school on Thursday. He faces two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

 

He was set to be arraigned Friday in Hempstead. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

 

The investigation is continuing.



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State Regents raise tuition, fees at colleges, universities

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The state Board of Regents has increased tuition and fees by 4.8 percent at Connecticut's community colleges and regional state universities.

Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, said Thursday his staff discussed ``40 or 50 scenarios'' to grapple with a $48.6 million budget gap next year before agreeing on a tuition increase he called ``appropriate and necessary.''

The Hartford Courant reports that for Connecticut residents, the average increase will be $186 more for community college students and $440 more for university students.

A group of students protested the increase, urging Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature to increase funding.

On average, state residents pay $3,786 in tuition and fees annually at the state's 12 community colleges and $9,169 in tuition at the four state regional universities.



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Danbury High School improvements discussed by City officials

A bond package totalling $53.5 million is being considered in Danbury for a new wing at the High School.  A committee of the City Council met this week to talk about the plan to accommodate an increase in enrollment.  The full City Council takes up the idea on April 7th.

 

The proposed design would essentially give the 9th grade their own building, creating the Freshmen Academy.  Part of the plan calls for enclosing the current canopy at the cafeteria to accommodate the increased student population.  A redesigned front entrance along with parking and bus expansions are also planned.  The bond proposal also includes a new roof, which will be outfitted with solar panels.

 

The cost covers the addition, reconstruction of the current autoshop building and construction of a new facility to house the autoshop program.  62-percent of the project will be paid for by the state.

 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the proposed autoshop replacement building would include enhanced equipment.  He says the existing building and equipment are antiquated based on what's currently being taught based on some of the electronics cars today have.

 

Alternative proposals to accommodate increased enrollment were more costly.  One option was split sessions, similar to those held in the 70s, but that required a lot of buses and more logistics to organize.  Another option was to bus students to other towns where there is declining enrollment, but no one district could take 100 to 150 students in one grade level without having to hire more staff.

 

Vision 2020 Committee Phase One work was to renovate the elementary schools and open the new middle school.  The next phase is to accommodate increased enrollment at the high school level.  There are 3,000 students currently enrolled at DHS, and that's anticipated to grow to about 3,450 over the next five years.



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Lawmakers urge more study of US tribal recognition changes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Several congressional members called on the U.S. Interior Department Thursday to slow down an overhaul of the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes, saying more study is needed of problems that could result from lowering the bar for the coveted status.

 

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican who recently became chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter with four other lawmakers outlining their concerns to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

 

"We do not support the sweeping changes that have been proposed to the criteria," the lawmakers wrote.

 

Federal recognition has been granted to 566 American tribes, and is sought because it brings increased health and education benefits to tribal members in addition to land protections and opportunities for commercial development.

Tribes have been pushing for years for Congress or the Interior Department to revise the process. The overhaul would be the first in two decades.

 

In Connecticut, the governor and the entire congressional delegation have spoken out against the rule changes, which could make it easier for three small tribes to win recognition and revive long-simmering land claims. Two Connecticut Democrats, Rep. Joe Courtney and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, are among the lawmakers who signed the letter.  The Kent-based Schaghticoke Indian Tribe has been seeking federal recognition for years.

 

The lawmakers say other states may not grasp the significance of the changes proposed for the recognition process that has been criticized as slow, inconsistent and overly susceptible to political influence.

 

"We are concerned that the Department's proposed rules fail to address many of the issues that have been identified and could create new problems that lead to unintended and unjustifiable outcomes," the lawmakers wrote.

 

One of the more controversial changes is a new requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934, where they previously had to show continuity from "historical times."

 

Supporters of the rule change say it helps to remove unfair burdens. Advocates say that some tribes have been denied recognition because records were lost or burned over hundreds of years, and any tribe that was still together by 1934 had overcome histories of mistreatment.

 

The letter urges the Interior Department to hold off on putting out final regulations until issues with recognition can be evaluated more thoroughly. The other congressional members who signed the letter are Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, and Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat.

 

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said the agency is reviewing the letter.

 

The Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed the new rules in 2013 to make tribal acknowledgment more transparent and the process more efficient. The department, which has held hearings around the country and received hundreds of comments from the public, proposed formal changes last May that were expected to be finalized soon.



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Wanted Danbury man apprehended in New York

A Danbury man has been arrested in New York for being in violation of his probation.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office was advised by Connecticut authorities that 38-year old Marc De Benigno was believed to be in New York.  He was located in the Peach Lake Road area of Southeast on Tuesday and taken into custody. 

 

De Benigno is awaiting extradition to Connecticut. 

 

The Danbury man was convicted on charges of Burlary, Larceny, Possession of Narcotics, Illegal Possession of a Weapon, and Credit Card Theft, and had been sentenced to probation.  De Benigno was prohibited from leaving Connecticut without written permission from his probation officer.



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