A new Police Chief has been appointed in Danbury. Mayor Mark Boughton has selected Stratford Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour to take over for the retiring Danbury Chief Al Baker. Ridenhour is a 28-year law enforcement veteran. He started with the Waterbury Police Department before being hired as Deputy Chief in Stratford, where he was eventually promoted to Chief in 2012.
Boughton says Chief Ridenhour has worked successfully to improve labor relations, increase staffing, rotate assignments, increase leadership training for supervisors, expand the department’s use of technology, and most importantly, increase police outreach to the community.
Boughton says Ridenhour shined throughout the rigorous hiring process. He continued the announcement by saying it's his firm belief that as Chief Ridenhour takes the helm of one of the best departments in the country, Danbury will benefit from out-of-the-box thinking and continued great service from Danbury's finest.
The Mayor’s appointment is subject to City Council approval.
Chief Ridenhour holds a Certificate in Criminal Justice Education from the University of Virginia, a Bachelor’s Degree from Charter Oak State College, and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College. A graduate of both the FBI National Academy and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar (LEEDS) in Quantico, VA, he currently serves as the CPCA representative to the State of Connecticut’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (REDCJS), and is also an Executive Board member of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).
“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the next Chief of the Danbury Police Department. I would like to thank Mayor Boughton for this tremendous opportunity to serve such a growing and diverse community. I look forward to working with the mayor, the men and women of this great department, and the entire Danbury community,” said Ridenhour.
New Milford voters will have to cast ballots a second time for a budget for the coming fiscal year. There was low voter turnout yesterday, and the Board of Education portion of the spending plan was rejected by 18 votes. Even though the municipal budget was approved, both have to be voted on again. The Town Council will have to meet to discuss revisions.
The proposal voted on yesterday included $62.2 million for the Board of Education, a $1 million increase over the current year.
Mayor David Gronbach proposed a municipal budget with no spending increase, but the Board of Finance added $448,000, bringing the proposal to 36-point-6 million. The state budget ended up sending about $500,000 less to New Milford than projected.
The municipal budget, and $1.6 million for capital projects, gained approval by an approximate 200 vote margin.
Newtown Hook and Ladder responded on the scene of an overnight fire on Castle Hill Road. Firefighters were originally called for a brush fire around 2am, but it was actually a vacant home. The house partially collapsed, and was destroyed by the blaze. Portions of the road remained closed through the early morning rush hour.
Firefighters encountered intense heat and flames. The fire was mostly under control within two hours, though firefighters remained on scene to put out hot spots.
Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company, Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue and the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual assistance.
(Photos: Stony Hill Fire)
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man who spent 48 years on the lam after escaping from prison has been hospitalized.
An attorney said Tuesday that 71-year-old Robert Stackowitz is in a hospital for kidney failure.
Stackowitz was arrested May 9 at his home in rural Sherman after his Social Security application turned up a fugitive warrant. He escaped in 1968 from a prison work camp in Carrolton, Georgia.
Attorney Norman Pattis said at the time of Stackowitz's arrest he suffers from heart failure, bladder cancer and other ailments and sending him back to Georgia to serve the remainder of his sentence would amount to a death sentence.
Pattis has asked Georgia officials to commute Stackowitz's 17-year robbery sentence.
An extradition hearing was scheduled last week for June 6.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Environmental officials in Connecticut have determined that a black bear found dead last week in Roxbury had been shot.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Tuesday its investigation revealed that the bear's carcass was likely dumped on the Roxbury Land Trust property. A necropsy confirmed the male adult bear was shot.
The bear was found adjacent to Upper County Road at about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The DEEP says it is still trying to determine where the bear was shot and by whom.
In Connecticut, black bears are protected species, and bear hunting is illegal. Officials say a bear can only be killed if it's acting in a threatening manner or poses harm to a person.
The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is getting an update tonight from the Schlumberger Citizens Committee about what they proposed for the remaining 30 acres of land purchased by the town several years ago. 15 of the acres were sold to two developers for housing developments. The group has been working for months to come up with viable ideas.
More than 1,400 people responded to the online survey. A majority of respondents said they want to keep the property as open space or to increase cultural offerings. The recommendation is that the site be turned into a cultural center with an outdoor amphitheater, leasing out the former Schlumberger theater and converting the Philip Johnson building into a museum. The former Skydome Building could be used as a warehouse for private collectors.
Concerns for the site included traffic. Many of the comments suggested the housing is not a desirable use for the rest of the site.
The survey then came up with specific uses within general topics. When asked about Active Open Space, athletic fields was tops. Walking trails garnered the highest response for Passive Open Space while an outdoor stage was the preferred Civic and Cultural use. If there were to be commercial development, nearly half said it should be niche retail. Single family housing earned the highest support if the property would be developed for housing.
A committee of the Danbury City Council has reviewed a tentative lease agreement between the Richter Park Authority and Bay Communication to place a cell tower on their 180-acre property. The Richter Park Authority wants to improve service in case of emergency, and to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan.
The Richter Park Authority is submitting three locations to the Connecticut Siting Council, with a preference of the lot located by the maintenance area. The City Planning Director had some questions, but didn't see anything in the agreement that looks to be standing in the way of approval on the City's end.
The proposed lease is for 30 years--a 10 year license with options to renew.
The proposal for the monopole structure has an estimated height of 150 feet. It would not be disguised as a tree, and would look like a pole. Typically lighting is not needed, unless the pole is over 199 feet.
If the entire City Council advances the agreement, there will need to be a public hearing and approval by the Connecticut Siting Council. The Connecticut Siting Council also needs to approve the lease.
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.
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.
Members of the Authority say Danbury hasn't given money to Richter Park since 1986, with the exception of a loan. Richter had a loan with an interest rate from a bank of over 5%, and is now instead paying the City 2% interest. The other exception was capital improvement money to fix the roof.
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.
A Bethel Democrat will be running for state Representative in the 107th District, following a failed bid at his party's nomination in the 2nd District. 26-year old Thomas Burke lost the nomination to 24-year old Raghib Allie-Brennan.
Burke's parents have a house in the 2nd District, which covers part of Bethel, Redding, Danbury and Newtown. The 107th District includes Brookfield and the Stony Hill section of Bethel. Burke says he plans to move to the district this summer, and that his family has a home on Wooster Street. He is currently studying at Yale University and living on campus.
The Marine veteran says instead of dividing the party by forcing a Democratic primary in the 2nd state house District, he was offered the chance to run for the 107th. He will challenge 1st term Republican Stephen Harding, a 28-year old attorney.
Even though Burke received enough support during the nominating caucus to automatically qualify for a primary, there was a question on if he was eligible to be a candidate. Burke recently switched his party affiliation and there is state statute dictating time frames for eligibility.
Allie-Brennan will be running against Republican Will Duff for the open seat being vacated by Dan Carter, who is challenging U-S Senator Richard Blumenthal.
New photos show progress on the construction of the new Sandy Hook School in Newtown.
Site walls and sidewalks are being installed, wood siding has been put up and a glass installation is in place. Finishes were being installed in the gym, kitchen and various other locations in the building.
More exterior work is also coming together. The building will have one long so-called main street corridor. There will be three wings off of it for different grade level classrooms.
The facility is slated to open in time for the start of the new school year in the fall. Consigli Construction broke ground in October for the new 87,000 square-foot Sandy Hook School.
An Easton man has pleaded guilty to avoiding paying income tax.
64-year old Paul Carpenter entered the plea on Friday and waived his right to indictment. Carpenter operated a chiropractic practice in Bridgeport. According to court documents, he intentionally mischaracterized personal expenses as deductible business expenses, including college tuition and numerous personal retail purchases.
For two tax years, Carpenter took false deductions resulting in a tax loss of $187,594.
Sentencing has been set for September 7th. Carpenter faces a maximum term of imprisonment three years. He has paid all back taxes, plus interest and penalties.
A so-called Border to Border Buckle Up detail has been conducted along Route 35. The Ridgefield and Lewisboro Police Departments patrolled the area yesterday, the first day of a Buckle Up campaign.
As a result of the enforcement efforts, 47 Uniform Traffic Tickets were issued, including 12 for not wearing a seat belt, 9 operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone, and 26 other Vehicle and Traffic Law violations.
Two Unlawful Possession of Marijuana arrests were made during the detail as well.
The Clean Start Program has begun in Danbury. It's an initiative that was proposed by Mayor Mark Boughton in December as a way to put homeless people to work for the City. The program provides homeless people with gift cards for supervised litter collection.
Danbury has teamed up with Jericho Partnership for the effort.
Boughton says the participants in the program are working to make themselves better and be on track to re-enter the workforce. He notes that if someone excels in the program, and received the right kinds of services, they could be moved into a paying job like a part-time recreation maintenance worker. Boughton hopes by cleaning up the city, participants will also clean up their lives.
Homeless people who volunteer in the program are given mentoring and paid with a $35 gift card after each half-day shift. As long as they want to show up in the morning, Boughton says the City will find a way to keep them employed so they can pull themselves out of despair and give them dignity again.
In the latest Point in Time Count, chronic homelessness in Danbury had dropped 30-percent from the year before. Chronic homelessness among veterans in Danbury has been completely eliminated.
A number of Greater Danbury area state lawmakers are retiring leaving open races in November. Among them is Republican Clark Chapin of New Milford who has decided not to seek re-election in the 30th Senate District. The district includes New Milford, Brookfield, Kent, Canaan, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Cornwall, Morris, Warren, Goshen and Litchfield, as well as part of Torrington, Winchester and Lakeville.
Litchfield Republican state Representative Craig Miner is seeking the position. Democrat David Lawson has been nominated by the Democrats at their caucus Monday night.
Lawson, a high school teacher, is chairman of the New Milford Board of Education. He says there are a number of issues in the northwest corner, and he wants to be their advocate in Hartford.
Lawson cited the economy. He wants to see vocational technical opportunities expanded. He also wants to make college affordable, stop unfunded mandates on municipalities and redo the Education Cost Sharing formula. Protecting waterways and preserving farms were also mentioned as priorities.
With the Connecticut General Assembly in adjournment, now is the time for campaigning to begin for state lawmakers. Danbury Republicans have nominated candidates for a couple of state House positions. Danbury's 109th and 110th Districts are currently represented by Democrats, David Arconti and Bob Godfrey respectively. They will be challenged by Veasna Roeun and Emanuela Palmares.
State Senator Mike McLachlan is seeking reelection. Danbury Democrats last night also nominated Ken Gucker to challenge McLachlan for state Senate.
Michael Ferguson previously announced his candidacy for the 138th District. It's an open seat with incumbent Republican Jan Giegler having been elected as Danbury Town Clerk.
Registrar of Voters and Justices of the Peace were also nominated.
Danbury Republicans will be nominating candidates tonight for the November election. Among the positions is the 110th District, currently held by Democrat Bob Godfrey. Republican Emanuela Palmares is looking to unseat the 14-term Deputy House Leader. Republicans will also nominate a candidate for the 109th District, Registrar of Voters and Justices of the Peace. The nomination caucus will be held at 7 o'clock tonight at Danbury City Hall in Council Chambers.
Redding Police and other law enforcement agencies are launching their annual ``buckle up'' campaign. State troopers, will be joining local law enforcement officers to make sure motorists are using their seatbelts as the summer travel season gears up.
The two-week, zero-tolerance enforcement campaign starts today and lasts through June 5th. Redding Police will be looking for drivers and passengers who aren't buckled in properly.
Chief Douglas Fuchs says belt use rate in Redding has gone down, according to state researchers who have been tasked to make those observations. Fuchs says it's such an easy way to help prevent injuries and save lives.
A local lawmaker has issued a scathing letter to the Secretary of the State over an agreement that could lead to automatic voter registration by August 2018.
Eligible citizens in Connecticut will eventually be automatically registered to vote when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles for license or state-issued identification services. Officials from the DMV and the Secretary of the State's Office announced last week that they reached an agreement, but that a plan still must be developed.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says Connecticut is the first state to introduce automatic voter registration through this type of agreement, saying it will enhance voting rights and opportunity. Merrill had pushed for similar legislation this year in the General Assembly but it ultimately did not pass.
New Fairfield state Representative Richard Smith, a ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, says he was surprised to read that a Memorandum of Agreement had been entered into between the Secretary of the State and the DMV. He says that was in direct defiance of the action of the Legislature. He said surprise is a gross understatement.
Naturally people are frustrated with the DMV, and steps are being taken to ease wait times and other issues. But Smith says to add more work right now seems to be ludicrous. Smith says he is not in favor of the Agreement, nor a unilateral action.
He said in a letter to Merrill:
"I am not sure what makes you feel you are above the protocol of the legislative process. If you are allowed to act at your own whim without oversight and approval by the Legislature, why have the Committee process at all."
Smith called for a copy of the Agreement for review and comment, along with how much it would cost to implement the system.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities submitted testimony during a public hearing about the bill. CCM said while the group understands the intent of the proposal, the requirements may become difficult to implement by local registrar of voters.
Currently, the DMV collects voter registration information, however CCM says there hasn't been a reliable mechanism to provide local officials with this information. In particular, local registrar of voters do not have the technology to implement this type of system. If implemented, it would likely require new technology to be purchased. CCM says that could be an added expense on cities and towns.
A 1993 federal act, known as the motor-voter law, encourages voter registration at DMVs.
The final four police chief candidates in Danbury were interviewed on Thursday. Mayor Mark Boughton says the selection of a new chief will be made over the coming days. Five internal candidates and three from outside the Danbury Police Department applied for the job.
Chief Al Baker's retirement was announced at the end of January. Baker planned to leave June 10th, but Boughton says he has agreed to make himself available for a few weeks after that to help with the transition.
The candidates have just completed a rigorous testing process. Boughton says it will be a tough decision because there was a strong pool of candidates. He says they all have strong credentials in law enforcement and are highly qualified.
A new Police Chief will be on the City Council's June agenda for ratification. The Chief is required to be or become a Danbury resident, living in the City for the duration of their term as Chief.
Boughton says they are looking for a results-oriented administrator who stays calm under pressure and thinks critically and strategically. Experience in policy review and development including such things as "use of force" and discipline was also on the list of qualifications. A strong background in labor relations and negotiations was recommended. The salary is $120,000 to $130, 000 annually, commensurate with experience.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York's U.S. senators are urging the federal government to halt the expansion of a gas pipeline project that runs beside a nuclear power plant.
Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand want the Algonquin pipeline project halted until independent health and safety reviews are completed. The two Democrats say the project poses a threat to the quality of life in the region and doesn't come with any long-term benefit to the communities it would affect.
Both senators are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to approve any proposal until a thorough, independent review of the project's potential impacts is completed.
The project would nearly double the size of the current natural gas transmission line on a route that travels through Rockland, Putnam and Westchester counties in southeastern New York.
70-percent of New Fairfield public school teachers cast a vote of no confidence in the Superintendent.
New Fairfield Education Association President Keith Conway announced the results of last week's vote at Thursday's Board of Education meeting. 160 teachers voted no-confidence against Superintendent Dr. Alicia Roy. 25 teachers voted in favor of Roy, and 42 did not vote. Conway called for Roy's resignation. An online petition by parents has 530 signatures, also expressing no-confidence in Roy.
Conway says they took such a drastic measure because teachers and parents have been coming to Board meetings for months to talk about specific performance issues, with little to no response from the Board.
Conway called Roy tone-deaf. He said she doesn't have the respect for her staff to come to a faculty meeting to have an open and honest discussion. The Association stopped meeting with Roy. He says that's because while she may listen, she doesn't hear.
During the Superintendent's report time of the meeting, Roy addressed the crowd. Roy said the teachers are truly remarkable, which is why this action is so devastating to her personally.
She pledged to work harder to regain the trust of the teachers, and said she knows improving their relationship will require increased communication, flexibility and listening on her part. Roy also said she felt bullied these past few months by people's relentless negativity.
One of the items on the Board of Education's agenda was the Superintendent's evaluation. The Board approved Roy's evaluation, but didn't discuss it.