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Three area legislators running unopposed for state seats

There are three legislative candidates in the Greater Danbury area who are not facing a challenge from a major party candidate.  Among them is Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan.  The Republican recently took part in a forum sponsored by the Danbury PTO.  He was asked about the Education Cost Sharing Formula and says one of the big challenges is that the City is scored in a less favorable fashion for more money.


He gave the example of New Britain being a smaller community than Danbury, but receives significantly more money than the City.  He says that's because the demographics of New Britain supposedly demands more money.  But McLachlan pointed out that the 25th most richest person in the United States lives in Danbury and his value in income is averaged in with everyone else's income.


McLachlan says that's not an equitable way to calculate funding. 


New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith says Danbury and surrounding towns are not receiving the funding they should be.  He says the smaller towns are left out because the theory in the ECS formula is that if the schools are performing well, they don't need more funding.


Smith says the formula has been changed every year since 1988.  He calls is a complicated formula that doesn't serve anyone well.  Smith says there are too many unfunded mandates, the formula is also a disincentive for districts to save money.  He says they can't reduce their budget from the prior year unless they get permission from the state Education Commissioner.


Redding Representative John Shaban is also running unopposed.

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Two residents bilked of $2,275 in telephone scams

Two Wilton residents have been bilked out of a combined $2,700 by a telephone scam.  The Wilton Hour reports that one caller, supposedly from the Federal Warrants Division" claimed an Olmstead Hill Road resident failed to report for jury duty and needed to send $500 or face arrest.  The woman was told to buy a Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid card and phone back with the serial number. 


Also this month, Police say a Danbury Road man received a call from someone claiming to be the IRS and that the resident improperly filed his returns.  The man was told to put $2,275 on a Green Dot MoneyPak card or face arrest.  Before the resident had a chance to buy the card police say his phone range with the caller ID saying it was the Wilton Police Department. 


Police said in the published report that it's common to spoof a phone number.  Both victims were in their early 50s.

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Three teens arrested for having pot, alcohol, and knife in vehicle

Wilton police arrested three Norwalk teens this week on drug possession charges.  Police say officers observed a vehicle parked on the causeway on Old Huckleberry Road around 2am Tuesday, and when they approached, could smell marijuana.  Pot was seen on the center console as well. 


Police say 18-year old Jahtavius Derry, the driver, also had a baggie of marijuana in his pocket, and a baggie with broken prescription pills.  19-year old Joseph Delia was found with marijuana and a controlled substance in his backpack, along with a switchblade knife.  18-year old Benjamin Morales had marijuana, packaging supplies and alcohol in a backpack. 


A female teen in the car was not charged.


Derry was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.  Delia was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, and possession of a dangerous weapon.  Morales was charged with possession with intent to sell, and possession of marijuana and of alcohol. 


All three were released on bond and will be in Norwalk Superior Court October 31st to answer the charges.

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'Apple Crunch' marks National Food Day in Danbury

Friday was National Food Day, a movement to promote healthy, affordable and sustainable food.  October 24th was designated by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2011 as Food Day. 


In Danbury, the Danbury Farmers' Market Community Collaborative marked the day with a so-called "Apple Crunch".  Participants gathered at Kennedy Park, picked an apple and all took a bite together.  Officials of the Community Collaborative say apples were then handed out throughout the day. 


Similar Apple Crunches were held by more than 2,000 members of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Sandy Hook panel considers hearing in Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A panel created to develop policy recommendations following the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings is looking into a holding a hearing in Newtown, although commission members cautioned Friday against scheduling such a meeting close to the upcoming second anniversary of the tragedy.


Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Chairman Scott Jackson said it needs to redouble efforts to communicate with victims' families after some complained that not enough information was reaching them. A subcommittee was asked to look into logistics for holding a Newtown meeting to gather input from victims' families and others.


Christopher Lyddy, a commission member and former state representative from Newtown, urged a meeting be held well before the anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre of 20 children and six educators.


"We're approaching an anniversary," he said. "For many people in Newtown, that anniversary starts well before 12/14."


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy established the 16-member advisory commission to make recommendations in areas including public safety, mental health and gun violence prevention. It has been meeting since January 2013.


While some commission members said victims' relatives may want to avoid the publicity of an open hearing, Jackson said the commission would accept communication in any form.


Jackson said his commission is not likely to finalize any recommendations until after the release of a report from the Office of the Child Advocate, which has been reviewing the shooter's schooling records.

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Ex-director of youth program banned from schools

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) A former youth program director accused of using vulgar and threatening language to middle school students received a six-month suspended sentence and is banned from all New Canaan schools.

The Advocate of Stamford reports that Andrew Barer, a former youth director of Outback Teen Center, pleaded guilty to second-degree breach of peace.

Norwalk Superior Court Judge William Wenzel agreed to the plea deal Wednesday and allowed Barer to enter an 18-month accelerated rehabilitation program.

The 52-year-old Barer of Easton was arrested Feb. 27 after a police investigation found he used vulgar language in threats against a group of eight to 10 boys at the school cafeteria if they didn't attend the Outback Teen Center.

Barer initially pleaded not guilty on March 12.

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Bethel fire leaves 18 people without housing

An apartment fire in Bethel has left several people without housing.  A fire broke out in the storage area in the basement of 97 Grassy Plain Street shortly before 7:30 Wednesday night.  Bethel Police officers helped evacuate residents and then the fire department put out the blaze.  A smoke detector in the basement alerted residents to the problem. 


Fire officials say the basement sustained extensive fire, heat and smoke damage. 


18 people from 12 apartments were not allowed back into the building because of smoke damage.  The Red Cross is assisting the families. 


The cause of the blaze is being investigated by the Bethel Fire Marshal's office.

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Freshman lawmaker challenged by New Milford Board of Finance member

Republican Cecilia Buck-Taylor was elected in 2012 to the 67th district House seat, having prior experience serving as vice-chair of the New Milford Town Council.  She is a member of the Finance, Environment, and Judiciary committees.  She says there were quite a few bills that were passed last session that's proud of including one dealing with veterans and increasing their employment opportunities.  Buck-Taylor touted her work in bringing grant funding to New Milford for brownfield remediation.


Democrat Gale Alexander has been on the Board of Finance for the past 12 years, has run mayoral and state senate campaigns and holds a teaching certification.


He says the municipal tax system is antiquated, assessment methods from the 18th century.  He says with the new economy, there’s still manufacturing and agriculture, but more businesses without a real property for municipalities to tax.  He says that creates an imbalance between businesses that are heavily capitalized and retail businesses.  He says the current system dealing with property tax is based on a property assessment that doesn’t really represent the people.  He gave the example of retired people who own homes equivalent to their neighbors who may be still working.  He is suggesting an alternate income tax based on the Grand List and mil rate.  He would substitute property value numbers with income value numbers.


Alexander says that would more equitably spread the tax burden across the base.  He says farmers for example would gain from this.  Agricultural land is taxed at a lower rate, but he says a New Milford resident can’t put a building up for his product because his taxes would go up.  Alexander says farmland preservation plays into his push for a change in taxes.


She supported a Task Force being created to review the state's tax structure.  She wants unfunded mandates to be examined as well.  Buck-Taylor says the pension fund is underfunded.  She says the state should live within its means, and that isn't a matter of wanting something and raising taxes in order to get it.  She was also critical of taking money from designated funds to pay for other items and services. 


When it comes to education reforms, Buck-Taylor says there is more to be done and some things that should be undone.  She does not support Common Core, in part because there was no public hearing before it was implemented.  She doesn't believe in having one-size fits all.  She hopes another look at Common Core will be made.  She says the Educational Cost Sharing formula is woefully under funded .  She notes that the formula for children with learning disabilities is not done in an equitable manner.  She believes the state should give the towns the support they need to give education to kids in a fashion the town knows is the right way.


Alexander says he wants to look at changing how high schools are evaluated.  He says technical education system and community colleges play an integral role in the future of Connecticut.  He says there are jobs in manufacturing that are going unfilled because there are no programs to train new workers.  He says these offer an alternative path to success in life.  Alexander says attending college is sort of expected today, but some students end up leaving after a couple of years and a lot of student loans.  He says that leaves kids with tremendous debt, no degree and no prospect to a good job to pay off that debt because of a push toward four-year colleges.  He says one-size does not fit all and there are plenty of jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.


Buck-Taylor says she would support an expansion of Metro North's Danbury branch up to New Milford, and would like to see rail service provided all the way to Massachusetts.  She says Connecticut's roads and bridges are rated as some of the worst in the nation, in part because hundreds of millions of dollars are taken out of the Special Transportation Fund and put into the general fund.  Buck-Taylor says when something reaches desperate conditions, the state bonds for it and then residents will have to pay interest on it.  She says businesses aren't happy with the conditions of the roads and trucks having to use local routes to avoid congestion. 


Buck-Taylor hopes now that the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has had time to review the issues connected to the 2012 shootings in Newtown, she hopes school safety and mental health will be addressed .  Years back the state closed a lot of the mental hospitals in Connecticut and she says people were dumped out onto the streets.  She wants a look taken at that, and also at children who are transferred from one school to another that people know are in trouble.  She was critical of the so-called gun bill being passed by emergency certification with no committee review and public hearing.


Alexander touted constituent service as what he would most like to bring to the district.  He says there has to be a concerted effort to be in touch with the people you represent.  He encouraged people to stay involved and voice opinions on what is effecting day to day life.


Buck-Taylor wants to increase opportunities in the state for veterans, businesses and seniors.  She also wants to educate and protect children in a fiscally responsible manner so that the state can somehow come up with a tax system that relies less on property taxes.  She wants to continue to work to keep farmlands productive and in a low-tax environment.

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Fuel cell to be installed at Danbury Mall

A fuel cell is being installed at the Danbury Fair Mall.  The Mall's owner, Macerich Corporation, will be gathering with business and city leaders this morning for the announcement.  The 750 kilowatt fuel cell program is being powered by Bloom Energy. 


Officials say the project will provide the 1.3 million square foot building with clean, reliable energy while reducing carbon emissions by nearly 3 million pounds each year. 


The Mall recently installed LED lighting outside the facility and will be installing solar panels on the roof next year.

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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' reportedly to serve prison term in Danbury

A federal judge announced Wednesday that she was told "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice will be assigned to a prison camp facility in Danbury, and must report there on January 5th.  She was sentenced to 15 months in prison for bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy. Her husband was sentenced to 41 months. 


The couple pleaded guilty in March, admitting they hid assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitted phony loan applications to get 5 million dollars in mortgages and construction loans. 


Some former infamous Danbury Federal Correctional Facility include Watergate conspirator G Gordon Liddy, hotel mogul Leona Helmsley, Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, singer Lauren Hill and Orange is the New Black author Piper Kerman.

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This is National Teen Safe Driver Week

This is National Teen Safe Driver Week.  Danbury High School students are part of an anti-districted driving contest to win the school a 25-thousand dollar grant by asking people to pledge to drive safely.  State Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman William Seymour is urging parents to talk with their kids about driving safely.


Seymour says they are calling on parents to talk with their kids about not speeding, not to drink and drive, to put the phone down, to buckle up and to only carry one passenger at a time.


The DMV notes that fatalities involving 16 and 17 year old drivers were down 71-percent last year compared to 2007, the year before tougher teen driving laws took effect. 


The Celebrate My Drive contest ends Friday.  Last year Danbury High School was one of the first place winners, receiving the most safe driving pledges.  They were rewarded with a $100,000 grant.  DHS Principal Gary Bocaccio says while they can't win that top prize two years in a row, the school could still win a $25,000 grant.  Glastonbury HS is currently #5 and Danbury HS is currently #18.  They are among nine schools in Connecticut competing with schools across the country. 


The school's safe driving campaign is online at

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Congresswoman to meet with NHS students on gun violence prevention

With little less than two weeks before the election, a member of Congress is coming to Newtown to talk about gun violence.  5th District Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will be meeting with students at Newtown High School this afternoon.  The students from the Junior Newtown Action Alliance at the Student Government are hosting a discussion on gun violence prevention. 


Esty will be joined by California Congressman Mike Thompson, whom she says is an avid hunter and gun owner, and chairs the U-S House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  They are looking for feedback from students and will discuss federal efforts to prevent gun violence. 


Esty is in a contentious race against Republican challenger Mark Greenberg.  During the first debate he said he would support universal background checks, something he thought would take his NRA "A" rating down to an "F".  The NRA has now done just that. 


The "A" rating was based on a 2012 survey when Greenberg was making a run for the seat, but he says the shootings at Sandy Hook School changed his views and he never filled out the 2014 NRA questionnaire.

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Former bus driver arraigned on sexual assault charges

A former school bus driver has been arraigned on charges of sexually abusing a child and possessing child pornography.  68-year old Michael Cunningham of Brewster was arrested in July following an investigation of abuse of a 6-year old child. 


Cunningham has been charged with 8 counts of sexual assault, both felonies and misdemeanors, as well as one count of endangering the welfare of a child.  When his Brewster home was searched, police found child pornography and 5 additional charges were filed. 


Cunningham was arraigned last Wednesday and is being held on $100,000 bail.  A restraining order has also been issued to protect the victim and the victim’s family.

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Political newcomer challenges 6-term incumbent in 138th district

State House and Senate positions are on the ballot in November.  WLAD is profiling the candidates running in the 138th state House District of Danbury, Ridgefield and New Fairfield.  Six-term Republican incumbent Jan Giegler is seeking reelection.  She is being challenged by Democrat Henry Hall. 


Giegler says she has a leadership role in the GOP caucus, has worked in a bipartisan manner and worked with constituents to cut through the red tape of state bureaucracy .  She says during the last session, it was a challenge being in the minority.  But she thinks a lot was accomplished by working across the aisle on the Public Safety Committee.  Giegler says she has always tried to be an advocate for fiscal responsibility and to keep Connecticut a place that people want to call home.  But she says the state has been going in the wrong direction when it comes to creating jobs and being a competitive business environment.


Hall is a 30 year Danbury resident who worked for GE Capital, and United Health among other companies.  Hall says he decided to run to giveback to the community and try to make a difference.


Jobs, transportation and public safety are his key platforms.  He says historically the biggest industries in Connecticut have been insurance, finance, precision manufacturing and defense.  He notes that they are not hiring as fast as they used to, and he would like to expand what the state is known for.  Hall says more must be done to bring in jobs in the biosciences, digital media and renewable energy.


Giegler says the Transportation Committee has dealt with a number of issues in the past year.  One was the issue of border tolls.  She says they are not the answer and the Danbury area would be unfairly impacted by their implementation.  Metro North has been a big issue.  She says there is no representation from Connecticut on the Metro North board, so there is no local control of decision that are made in New York.  But she says with the new President of Metro North, there’s been a more open dialog.


Hall says the problem with Metro North is that it’s run out of New York and Connecticut doesn’t really have a say in what is being done.  He would like to see other contracts looked into.  There are things that can be done about congestion, he says including ridesharing, shuttle services and opening the existing railway that runs into Brewster.  He says transportation dollars need to be brought to this side of the state because I-84 is well above capacity.  He says the wear and tear on the roads caused by truck traffic can be reduced by increasing freight rail.


The 138th is a multi-town district stretching from Ridgefield through Danbury up to New Fairfield.  Giegler says having the district redrawn two years ago, she’s working with a priority school district in Danbury and other schools that aren’t.  When it comes to funding for the communities, Danbury as a city is entitled to certain bond money where Ridgefield and New Fairfield can use Small Town Economic Assistance Program grants.  She says there are different concerns when it comes to policing as well because New Fairfield has a Resident State Trooper office.


Giegler says there’s been a push for regionalization at the state capital, including the attempted closing of the Southbury State Troopers Barracks on weekends.  She fought against that.  But she touted the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials regional planning group in their efforts working together.


Regionalization has a lot of advantages including for many services.  He says it can help reduce costs when it comes to road salt, dispatch services and the like.  But he notes it’s not a panacea.


Hall says every Connecticut resident needs to be provided with the opportunity for quality affordable education from pre-k through the workforce years.  He says the forecast for the economy over the next 25 years predicts that people will have two or three careers.  He says that shows a need for continuing education.  He calls education one of the cornerstones of a prosperous Connecticut.  Hall would like to see scholarship programs increased.  He also suggests low-interest loans would be helpful to reduce the cost of a college education.


She is interested in tackling some broad priorities if elected to another term.  One is to reduce the state’s deficit.  Another is getting businesses in the state on track to growth again.  In a wrap up message, she asked that constituents understand the issues and how people vote on a particular bill.  She notes that there are bills that have pieces she would like to vote on, but other parts that would be detrimental to the community.  She cited budget bills, in order to implement them, there are a lot of last minute add-ons that unnecessarily inflate spending.

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New daytime shelter opening for Danbury homeless

A new “day shelter” for the city’s homeless will conduct an open house to introduce downtown Danbury business, nonprofit and community leaders to the program.

The Good Samaritan Center’s overnight seasonal shelter will be open year round once it opens next month. The shelter provides beds for 14 men amd previously was operated during the winter by the Jericho Partnership.  This new daytime shelter is housed in the seasonal overnight shelter on Maple Avenue in Danbury, across the street from the Good Samaritan Mission. 


Executive Director Mark Grasso says it provides a place for the homeless to connect with community providers, activities and housing, along with faith-based counseling. 


The open house is November 5th from 4 to 6 pm.

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Danbury High School student now stable

A 16-year-old Danbury High School student who jumped off a parking garage last week remains at Yale-New Haven Hospital, but her condition has been upgraded from critical to stable.

The girl sustained multiple fractures after jumping from the top of Danbury Hospital's four-story garage. She was treated for those injuries at the hospital, but also suffered less obvious internal injuries that required further treatment at Yale-New Haven.

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New Sandy Hook School site work has begun

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Site work has begun for construction of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School replacing the building where 20 children and six staff members were fatally shot nearly two years ago.

Consigli Construction Co. officially received the job and a Newtown building permit on Tuesday.

Architect Bob Mitchell said an official groundbreaking was not scheduled partly to protect the privacy of the Sandy Hook community. He expects the community will be invited to visit the site.

Construction will begin in March.

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Fatal accident in Danbury

A Norwalk man was killed Tuesday in a one-car collision that occurred at the intersection of Eagle Road and Executive Drive after the vehicle he was driving was found off the shoulder on the embankment.

Police found the driver.. 66 year old Thomas Proulx slumped behind the wheel. the accident ocurred around 2:30 pm.

At the scene, Proulx was determined to be in critical condition and was taken by ambulance to Danbury Hospital where he was pronounced dead soon after his arrival.

Police ask  any witnesses to contact the department traffic investigation division. 

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Ridgefield police to investigate High School hazing

A police investigation has been launched into alleged hazing incidents last week involving Ridgefield High School students.

Principal Stacey Gross said the alleged hazing involved a small number of athletes and non-athletes last Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The incidents did not occur on school grounds. The incidents occurred during Ridgefield's Spirit Week, a series of themed days held at the high school to boost and express school pride.

Gross read a letter Thursday to students over the intercom, stating she had learned that "a number of incidents of hazing, bullying and intimidation have taken place in association with some of  the  athletic teams involving athletes and non-athletes." The letter was also sent home to parents.


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'Row of Honor' display to return to Carmel

An annual display to honor veterans will be opened soon in Putnam County.  The opening date for this year’s Veterans Day Row of Honor in Putnam County will be announced in the afternoon.  The display recognizes those who have served in the military. 


The Row of Honor installation consists of American-made flags that border Gleneida Avenue on the shores of Lake Gleneida in Carmel.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says it's assembled each year to give residents the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank those who have served their country.


Funds are also raised to support programs run by the Joint Veterans Council.



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