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A bill about animal-assisted therapy services is awaiting Governor Malloy's signature.  The bill makes several changes to current law, including to add animal assisted activities to therapy.  It also expands therapy teams beyond dogs. 

 

Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the more government does, the less it does well. 

 

The bill requires these teams get credentials from the state.  It does not specify how DCF will credential the organizations and providers.  Bolinsky fears this will be turned into a money making operation.  He's concerned that many of the care teams are run by volunteers, and would be charged, slowing their response.

 

Bolinsky says having a state agency run this type of program, rather than letting it work as a community response seems like it would create more red tape and delays.

 

Bolinsky asked during debate if there were specific, documented complaints from those who rushed to comfort Sandy Hook residents after 12-14.  He was told there were problems with everyone who wanted to help, being able to participate in giving assistance.  The backer of the bill also said that some people said they would have liked if more Connecticut-based animals were available so there wasn't a gap when those animals had to go back to the states that they came from. 

 

Part of the bill requires the Department of Children and Families Commissioner to identify and mobilize animal-assisted critical incident response teams statewide.  He asked during debate who and how the teams would be identified and screened.  A national organization, Pet Partners, would oversee the program and the teams themselves would be responsible for any certification fees. 

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A terrible tax increase, and an uncertain financial future.  That's how a local lawmaker summed up the state's new two-year budget.  On the day of the Special Session, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan expressed frustration about budget talks being one-sided.  McLachlan was critical of the increased spending.  He says Connecticut needs to start living within its means.

 

The final deficit figure will be determined later this year, after the state's finances are audited.  Estimates are there's a $115 million deficit.  Any red ink will be covered by the state's Budget Reserve Fund.  The so-called Rainy Day Fund has an estimated $519 million saved up.

 

McLachlan, commercial real estate by trade, says he he got a lot of questions from constituents this session about why the General Assembly is not listening.

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WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) Authorities in western Connecticut have identified a man found dead inside a well after an apparent accident.

Watertown police say the body of 58-year-old James McAdam was found in the well on his property by his brother Thursday morning. He was found upside down about five feet down in the 20-foot well.

McAdam's brother went to check on him and their mother, who lived with McAdam, after not hearing from them for several days.

Authorities also found McAdam's 83-year-old mother lying on the kitchen floor of their home after an apparent fall. She didn't appear to be seriously hurt but was taken to a hospital.

The medical examiner's office hasn't yet ruled how McAdam died.

Police believe he was working on the well and fell in by accident.

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The newest member of the Federal Hockey League is going to be known as the Danbury Titans.  Owner Bruce Bennett made the announcement yesterday afternoon.  The Danbury man owns Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton and says he liked the name, but it's a coincidence that the Titan is a new vehicle for Nissan.  It's a diesel powered pick up truck.

Bennett has a 6 year lease with Eagle Ice Sports, owner of the Danbury Ice Arena.

 

Phil Esposito was the head coach of the Danbury Whalers, the last team to play at the Danbury Ice Arena.  The team is inactive after Eagle Ice Sports and Whalers ownership could not come to agreement on a new lease for the Danbury Ice Arena.  He will be the coach of the new Danbury team. 

 

There will be six teams in the Federal Hockey League including the recently announced Stateline Whalers in Brewster.

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Danbury police are investigating a fatal accident last night in Danbury.  Shortly before 9:30 Thursday night, a tan Hyundai Elantra travelling westbound on Lake Avenue hit two pedestrians crossing from Stop & Shop toward Stanziatos pizza. 

 

Police said in a press release that 23-year old Krista Consalva of Brookfield struck the 17 year olds. 

 

Each teen was transported to Danbury Hospital via ambulance.  Rebecca Draper Townsend of Brookfield was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital.  Benjamin Arne of New Fairfield is listed in serious but stable condition.

 

The accident remains under investigation.  Any witness is asked to contact Danbury Police Traffic Unit Officers Lance Brevard or Marcel Kruijs at 203-797-2156.

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Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent remains closed to swimming due to increased bacteria in the water.  The area was closed Thursday.  Water retesting by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection showed results that still had elevated levels today. 

 

Another round of testing is scheduled for Monday to determine when it is safe to reopen.  Results are expected on Tuesday. 

 

After heavy rain, storm water runoff can increase the amount of bacteria in the water.

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Danbury Police have arrested two teens for breaking into a house.  Police say a neighbor called 911 around 5am Tuesday to say that people were seen entering the Whaley Street house, which is under construction.  Police arrived before the 18-year olds had a chance to take anything. 

 

Joshua Castillo and Eric Nunez, both of Danbury, have been charged with felony burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespass.  They made a court appearance Thursday and remain held on bond. 

 

There were also two outstanding warrants for Castillo's arrest.  One for carrying weapons in a motor vehicle, the other for interfering with an officer.

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) A former Mount Vernon police officer has been indicted on charges he used forged prescriptions to obtain painkillers.

Joseph Russo, of Patterson, was arraigned Thursday in Westchester County. His attorney, Andrew Quinn, said he's optimistic that all of the charges will be dismissed.

Prosecutors say that between March 2011 and March 2012, Russo used prescriptions bearing a forged doctor's signature to get at least 1,470 hydrocodone pills from five pharmacies.

They say he covered some of the cost by filing insurance claims. The insurer contacted police.

He is charged with 18 counts of possession of a forged instrument.

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WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) Authorities say a man looking for his missing brother found his body inside a well in western Connecticut.

Police say the man searched his brother's property in Watertown on Thursday after not hearing from him for several days and discovered the body.

Officials say it appears the 58-year-old victim was working on the well when he fell in and became trapped about five feet down. There were no signs of foul play.

The name of the man who died hasn't been released. Authorities say it appears his body was in the well for several days. An autopsy will be performed.

Police say the man lived with his 83-year-old mother, who was found lying on the kitchen floor and brought to a hospital. Her condition hasn't been released.

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The Danbury Fire Marshal tipped off state police on Tuesday to illegal fireworks at a Danbury home.  An investigation was launched, and search and seizure warrants were carried out yesterday.  State Police spokeswoman Trooper Kelly Grant says the search of the home and a storage barn in Danbury uncovered possession, storage and sales of an extraordinary amount of illegal fireworks, explosives and IEDs, including M-Class devices.

 

Thousands of illegal product items were seized. Narcotics and cash in excess of $3,600 were also seized.

 

Four trailer loads of product were transported from the home in Danbury by Bomb Squad personnel.

 

It is estimated that the street value of the illegal fireworks and explosives is nearly $250,000.

 

Several felony arrests of multiple suspects are anticipated as the investigation continues.  Grant says the address of the home will not be released until arrests are made.

 

The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office, the Danbury Police Department, FBI–New Haven, the Connecticut State Police Emergency Services Unit Bomb Squad, and Detectives from the State Police Western District Major Crime Squad each played a role in the investigation.

 

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A New Milford man has been charged with larceny and unemployment compensation fraud.   Authorities say 46-year old Louis Hollister was arrested Wednesday for allegedly illegally collecting almost $13,000 in unemployment compensation benefits.  According to court documents, Hollister was employed, and collected the benefits he was not entitled to between November 2013, and April of the following year. 

 

The New Milford man was released on $10,000 bond for a court appearance on Tuesday. 

 

The case was investigated by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit of the Office of the Chief State's Attorney following a complaint from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

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Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies will be conducting periodic security checks of religious facilities, train stations, commuter parking lots, bus routes, shopping centers, and public parks.  Sheriff Donald Smith says the increased uniform presence is not because of a renewed safety threat, but rather part of the department's counter-terrorism strategy of continued vigilance.  Putnam County Sheriff's deputies will be out in force starting tomorrow morning, and ending Sunday night.

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Comments from Governor Dannel Malloy on Tuesday after signing a new two-year state budget into law, has drawn the ire of a local lawmaker.  Malloy said that hospitals had their best year in Connecticut history last year, with more people who are appearing at hospitals with a level of health care coverage. 

 

Bethel state Representative Dan Carter disagreed.  He says the hospitals have worked to reduce costs, including consolidation.  But he says the state has increased their property taxes, decreased Medicaid funding for them, and reduced reimbursements they get for uncompensated care.  Carter says for Malloy to say that is irresponsible at best.

 

Carter also cited the newly adopted budget including the second largest tax increase in Connecticut's history.  It's behind only the increases included in the previous budget Governor Malloy signed into law.  Carter says a lot of companies will decide in the next three to four years if they're going to stay in Connecticut.

 

He called Malloy "out of touch with reality".  Carter also accused the Governor and others of playing chicken with major corporations in the state who threatened to relocated because of proposed business tax increases.  Carter says these companies didn't issue statements lightly during budget negotiations.

 

Carter says the administration will have to answer that next year, and come up with something to help people keep their jobs.

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The start of the new fiscal year has ushered in new taxes and new laws in Connecticut. 

 

Car washes will now collect a sales tax.  The cigarette tax has gone up 25 cents, and in 2017 that will rise again.  Clothes and footwear costing less than 50 dollars used to be exempt from sales tax, but that’s no longer the case.  The state’s corporate tax structure is also changing. 

 

A three year rolling capital improvement plan for the state's technical high school system is being put in place.  That's an update from the current five year rolling plan mandate.  Renovations and repairs that each technical high school is expected to need, including to, athletic fields, heating and ventilation systems, and roofs are to be taken into account.  The state Board of Education must make recommendations for energy efficiency improvements to each school, and the specific equipment each technical high school is expected to need, based on the useful life of existing equipment and projections of changing technology.

 

The cost of textbooks for college students could soon be lowered.  The Board of Regents for Higher Education and The University of Connecticut are being ordered to establish an open-source textbook pilot program.  Digital open source textbooks are books made available on a web site to be used by students, faculty and members of the public on an unlimited basis at minimal or no cost.  The measure was approved by both the House and Senate unanimously. 

 

People who were born and adopted in Connecticut and are at least 18 will now have a chance to see their birth certificate. To be eligible, the adoption has to have been finalized after October 1st 1983.  The bill was voted on in 2014.  There were five votes opposed in the Senate , including Mike McLachlan of Danbury, Toni Boucher of Wilton and then-state Senator John McKinney.

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A Danbury man who was supposed to have an ignition interlock device on his car because of a DUI charge, has been arrested for drunk driving again.  Danbury Police say an officer on patrol Sunday night saw a vehicle without its headlines on and tried to pull the driver over. 

 

The car eventually stopped a short distance away and officers could smell alcohol on the breath of the driver, later determined to be 57-year old Juan Galeas-Garcia. 

 

The Danbury man was released on an earlier written promise to appear in court, provided he didn't drive without an ignition interlock device.  Galeas-Garcia was charged Sunday with DUI, driving with a foreign license, failure to drive right, failure to have lights illuminated, and illegal operation of a motor vehicle without an interlock device.

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A cell tower is being erected in Ridgefield.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Ridgebury cell tower was being brought to the site off Ledges Road Tuesday in pieces, but the truck was too big for the access road.  Workers transferred the equipment to a smaller truck to be brought in to the site. 

 

Residents initially rejected the town purchasing open space land and building the tower, but the deal went through with a private buyer. 

 

The cell tower will help improve police, fire and town emergency radio equipment, upgrades that were approved by Ridgefield voters in May for $3.7 million.

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A power outage hit 99 Per cent of Ridgefield customers this morning , but officials say it shouldn’t be a repeat of last week.

Deputy Emergency Manager Dick Aarons said the outage was mostly caused by Eversource Energy  transmission problems.

The outages started at 5:30 a.m. and peaked at 10,630 by 6:15, but that number quickly dropped to 6,600 by 6:30.

Last week’s storm did massive damage in Ridgefield  and full recovery of power took from Tuesday to Friday morning around 4 a.m.

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says there was flooding in the city in the usual  places  that tend to flood.

 

 

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Roadwork being done at the Redding-Weston town line will likely effect traffic.  Route 57 in Weston near its intersection with Route 53 will be closed to traffic beginning today for a bridge replacement.  Most traffic will be diverted down Cobbs Mill in Weston, while trucks will be turned around in Redding.  Alternate ways around the closure are Route 7 or Route 53.  A Redding Police officer will be posted at Route 57 near the Weston town line to turn around all truck traffic.

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Ridgefield Police are urging people to be careful on social media sites following a scam incident reported by a town resident.  Ridgefield Police were recently informed that a resident was almost lured into sending money via a fake Facebook account. 

 

Police say while there was no money lost in this incident, it does serve as a reminder to know who you are dealing with online before disclosing personal information. 

 

A woman reported that a friend request was sent to her using the name and picture of someone she knew, and they began chatting.  The person seemed to know basic information about the woman's job and told her about a grant, sending a link to the application.  The woman was tipped off when the link requested a $1,500 down payment to process the application. 

 

Police say they should be contacted if residents believe they are the victim of a scam, and to notify Facebook or other sites about suspicious accounts.

 

Profile pictures as well as basic personal information can be easily obtained online and scammers can set up an account using Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, dating sites, etc. impersonating others very easily. 

 

Other reminders including to verify your security settings on Facebook and check them regularly to make sure they have not been changed, and to never provide any personal information or credit card information.

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The Second Chance Society legislation, proposed by Governor Malloy and approved by lawmakers in special session this week, is being criticized by a local lawmaker.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding, an attorney, opposed the measure, saying that substance abuse treatment on a second arrest is already practiced.  He says by the time someone gets an actual conviction on a drug possession crime, they've gone through three, four, or five diversionary programs.

 

Harding says there's a drug education program, a community service labor program--which can be used twice--and a treatment program where someone can once again walk out of court without anything on their record.

 

Harding says this could have an indirect impact on drug sale laws, if not a direct effect.  He gave the example of a plea negotiation for someone charged with sale or intent to sell, gets convicted of possession of narcotics, and walking out with a misdemeanor conviction.

 

Harding says laws should be created to deter people from using drugs rather than pardoning it.

 

He says there are many other aggravating factors for those in jail on a simple drug possession conviction.

 

Connecticut officials and policy experts say the state's drug laws will transform from some of the most draconian in the country to some of the most lenient this fall. That's when most drug possession crimes will become misdemeanors instead of felonies.  The changes include eliminating a mandatory two-year prison term for possessing drugs within 1,500 feet of a school.

State officials estimate the new law will save Connecticut about $19 million in prison costs over the next two years by decreasing the prison population.

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Trailer for "Boulevard"...Robin Williams' final on-screen performance.

 

 

Prince George kisses sister Princess Charlotte at her christening.

(Photo courtesy Duchess of Cambridge)

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