Some candidates for state legislature are taking part in a meet and greet with voters during a forum at Western Connecticut State University tonight.
The forum is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County. The organization invited candidates in races for the towns they cover which are: Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Sherman and Danbury.
Tables will set up around the room, labelled by district, and the candidates will respond to two general questions from the League. Voters will then have a chance to ask their own questions.
The forum is 7pm to 8:30pm at Warner Hall on WestConn's midtown campus.
Candidates from House Districts 2, 107, 108, 109, 110 and 138 along with Senate districts 24, 26 and 30 were invited to attend. The confirmed candidates as of Wednesday afternoon are as follows:
2nd Raghib Allie-Brennan
108th Richard Smith
109th David Arconti
110th Bob Godfrey
138th Jeffrey Tomchik
A list of endorsements has been released by the political arm of the National Rifle Association.
The NRA's political arm did not make any endorsements in Connecticut's congressional races. Democratic incumbent 4th District Congressman Jim Himes and GOP challenger John Shaban received F grades. The NRA was able to grade Shaban, a State Representative for Redding, in part for his vote in favor of the gun control bill approved following the shootings at Sandy Hook School.
Democratic incumbent 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty garnered an F while her Republican challenger Clay Cope wasn't scored. The Sherman First Selectman reportedly did not return the questionnaire.
Democratic incumbent Senator Richard Blumenthal received an F grade. Republican challenger Dan Carter of Bethel got a B .
All of the challengers in state House races in the Greater Danbury area were scored with a "?" for not returning the questionnaire. The NRA's political arm only made a handful of endorsements. One of them went to Craig Miner who is the Republican candidate for the open 30th District Senate seat, which represents New Milford. The Democratic candidate, David Lawson, was not scored.
State Senate - District 24
(C-) Michael A. McLachlan, Incumbent R
(?) Kenneth M. Gucker D
State Senate - District 26
(F) Toni Boucher, Incumbent R
(?) Carolanne Curry D
State Senate - District 28
(F) Tony Hwang, Incumbent R
(F) Philip Dwyer D
State Senate - District 30
(A) (NRA Endorsed) Craig A. Miner R
(?) David A. Lawson D
State House - District 2
(?) William I. Duff R
(?) Raghib Allie-Brennan D
State House - District 67
(?) William J. Buckbee R
(?) Mary J. Lundgren D
State House - District 106
(F) Mitch Bolinsky, Incumbent R
(?) Eva Bermudez Zimmerman D
State House - District 107 *no challenger
(F) Stephen G. Harding, Incumbent R
State House - District 108 *no challenger
(D) Richard A. Smith, Incumbent R
State House - District 109
(?) Veasna Roeun R
(F) David A. Arconti, Jr., Incumbent D
State House - District 110
(?) Emanuela L. Palmares R
(F) Robert D. Godfrey, Incumbent D
State House - District 111
(?) John H. Frey, Incumbent R
(?) Joseph N. Dowdell D
State House - District 112 *no challenger
(B) J.P. Sredzinski, Incumbent R
State House - District 135
(?) Adam W. Dunsby R
(?) Bonnie E. Troy D
State House - District 138
(?) Michael S. Ferguson R
(?) Jeffrey A. Tomchik D
State House - District 143 *no challenger
(F) Gail Lavielle, Incumbent R
The former Brookfield school district finance director charged with larceny has been sentenced.
Art Colley was ordered today to serve three years probation and to pay $1,000 to the district's activity fund in each of those years. A court clerk said Colley was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service in each of the three years of his probation. He has paid $76,000 in restitution to Brookfield.
Colley resigned in early 2014 amid accusations he overspent the district budget by $1.2 million.
His assistant was granted accelerated rehabilitation this summer, a probation program which would eventually have the charges erased from her record. Elizabeth Kerekes paid $26,000 restitution to Brookfield.
During an assembly in Danbury on Friday, students at Pembroke School were recognized by members of Sandy Hook Promise for their commitment to reaching out to isolated students and creating a safe and inclusive school environment.
Eight schools out of nearly 600 schools nationwide participating in the February Sandy Hook Promise “Call-to-Action” week were recognized, including Pembroke. Broadview Middle School was presented with a $10,000 check for being named the top school in the nationwide initiative.
Pembroke students have been participating in the "Start with Hello" program, an initiative aimed at addressing social isolation which can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior.
Tips from residents about Kenny's Wine & Spirits in Danbury selling alcohol to high school age kids has led to citations for the teens and an investigation for the permit holder. Danbury Police conduced surveillance of the Federal Road store on Friday. Over several hours, officers saw several teenagers enter the store and exit with purchased alcohol.
One car load of teens were later stopped by marked patrol units. Police verified their ages, notified their parents and seized their alcohol. Five teens from Brookfield and one from Danbury were issued infractions. Two of the teens had fake IDs, but only one said they had to use the ID to make the purchase.
Investigators later entered Kenny’s Wine & Spirit to talk with the permit holder and a store employee, both of whom were believed to have made illegal sales to the minors. Danbury Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says it was alarming that several of the teens were warned by an employee when they were sold the alcohol that police were in the area.
35-year old Heidi Salcedo will be referred to the state liquor commission for administrative action and further police action will follow.
A few area lawmakers are being recognized by an advocacy work for their efforts during the legislative session. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has announced its “2016 Legislators of the Year”. 14 Connecticut lawmakers were recognized for their contributions toward preventing drunk driving tragedies. Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding, New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith and State Senator Tony Hwang were honored for their work on two different laws. One was to create a law beefing up the penalty for impaired drivers who have child passengers. Another creates a diversionary program for underage drinking and motor vehicle violations.
Sentencing has been postponed for a Danbury man accused of running a Ponzi scheme. Ian Bick, who was charged when he was 19, was due to be sentenced on Friday but that's been delayed. A new sentencing date for the Tuxedo Junction owner has not yet been set. He violated the conditions of supervision by repeatedly traveling out of Connecticut without approval of his Probation Officer. Bick has reportedly continued to raise money for his so-called business ventures and under false pretenses. In addition to prison time, prosecutors are seeking nearly half a million dollars in restitution for his 27 victim-investors.
A committee of the Danbury City Council continues to work on amendments to the ordinance about pensions for non-union employees. The committee was formed in January and will be meeting at least once more. They gathered on Monday night to talk about what changes are being recommended. The group is also tasked with coming up with a separate ordinance for people hired after a certain date for entry into a deferred contribution plan. Mayor Mark Boughton says these changes would provide a more secure and balanced future retirement planning for the City.
He suggests a mechanism for employees to opt-out of the current defined benefit plan. Boughton says the fewer people in the system down the road will reduce the administrative costs among other expenses. He says that also gives employees the ability to control the destiny of their own retirement and how they structure it.
Boughton says he wants some of the complexity in the system to be reduced. He notes that there are sections in the ordinance that no longer exist. The eligible retirement age in Danbury for non-union civil servants is reached by the so-called rule of 85. It's an addition of the employee's age and the number of years they have worked.
Over the years though some employees have pointed out other parts of the ordinance which weren't clear. Some people retired at age 54 and there was a question of if they could do that. In trying to be a good employer, Boughton says the City agreed to various terms that were never clear and end up setting a precedent.
A local lawmaker has ben named Legislator of the Year by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. Monroe State Representative J.P. Sredzinski, whose district also includes part of Newtown, was recognized by the group for his work on behalf of law enforcement during the 2016 General Assembly session. The organization specifically honored Sredzinski for his work on the Public Safety Answering Points consolidation legislation.
Sredzinski serves as the Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor for the Town of Stratford. He's been a 911 dispatcher since he was 19-years old.
The bill originally called for regionalized dispatch centers as a cost saving measure, but Sredzinski and other opponents argued that this law punished smaller towns. The bill ultimately was not brought up for a vote in the House of Representatives.
Sredzinski says the bill was well intended, but would have required municipalities to regionalized if they had under 40,000 people or were under a threshold of 911 calls taken per year. He says that would have reduced the number of public safety entry points.
Many of the towns already have a regional system, but for those towns that couldn't regionalized would have been penalized by the state. Sredzinski says the legislation would have shorted funding for 911 equipment and for training. An early version of the bill, which was changed several times, would have taken the authority of monitoring the 911 system out of that town's control.
The New Milford Town Council did not approve a proposed ordinance to continue providing town health insurance coverage to employees of the Children's Center. Mayor David Gronbach says a compromise previously negotiated with the Children's Center for subsidized private health insurance will be put in place in January. Gronbach opposed continuing to offer town health insurance policies to non-town employees. He instead suggested a compromise that included a cash payment to subsidize their health insurance at a Platinum level plan.
Security was tight at Hofstra University for the first debate of the 2016 presidential election featuring Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. It was so secure, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who was not credentialed to be on campus, was escorted away by police after completing scheduled interviews. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was not on the debate stage either. The Commission on Presidential Debates requires minor party candidates to have at least 15% in five national polls.
There were some 2,000 protestors gathered at the designated free speech area, several blocks long. Police say there were about two dozen arrests, most for disorderly conduct
Classes had been cancelled for the day, but students were out in force marching and chanting for various causes. They also displayed their candidate of choice on tshirts and signs. Debate viewing parties were held in locations in the student center and in dorms across campus.
Some students were in the debate hall. The first 350 students were given commemorative tickets for the event, but they spelled Hillary Clinton’s name wrong, leaving out one "L". University officials say they will reprint the tickets for the students who won the lottery to be inside the debate hall.
More than 700 journalists from around the globe gathered in the media filing center to cover the debate.
In a first, one of the candidates came into the Spin Room after the debate. Trump was joined by his wife and children.
Surrogates for each of the candidates came into the Spin Room before and after the debate to talk up their candidate. Mark Cuban, a Clinton supporter, and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence did media interviews.
4th District Congressman Jim Himes was at Hofstra early Monday morning. He said the volleyball team was playing in the parking lot with some journalists. The pep band also played in the media gathering area into the early morning hours Wednesday.
Many members of the New York congressional delegation were in attendance. Partly because the event was held on Long Island, but also because the two candidates live in New York.
Governor Dannel Malloy was at the debate in support of Clinton. He says there was no comparison on issues and temperament between the two candidates.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano says Trump did well. He noted that Trump hit the nail on the head when he said that Clinton has been in politics for 30 years and the country is in serious trouble.
Jury selection started today for a Danbury man charged with murder and assault. 20-year old Emanuel Harris will be tried as an adult even though he was 17 when he was accused of stabbing another teen in 2013. Harris and 17-year old Luan Pitol attended a dance at the Harambee Youth Center and their two groups of friends got into an argument after a soda can hit the ground near one another. Each group went on their way, but police said at the time that the two group then came together on Wooster Street. Harris allegedly stabbed Pitol and another teen in the backs. Harris remains held on $1 million bond.
There was a minor car accident involving a school bus this afternoon in Danbury. A car rear ended a bus from St Joseph School on Main Street near Garamella Boulevard shortly after noon. Police say the car became wedged under bus. There were no reported injuries to the 8th graders who were on board at the time.
There is a water main break in Danbury. The state contractor working on the North Street expansion project hit the main, flooding the exit 6 on ramp. Mayor Mark Boughton says the break has sent millions of gallons of water into the street. The break happened shortly before noon. The repair is expected to take 6 to 8 hours. This is the second time in recent months that the contractor has struck a water main in the project area.
New York State Police have conducted an underage drinking enforcement detail. On Saturday, Troopers along with an underage volunteer, conducted the checks in North Salem, Somers, Pound Ridge and Lewisboro. There were 10 stores checked, and all of them were found to be in compliance with New York State Alcohol and Beverage Control Laws. No violations were observed during the checks.
In Danbury... a 64-year-old man was arrested this week for sexually assaulting a teenage girl earlier this summer. Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carrochio says Nelson Cassiano was taken into custody by police this week on an arrest warrant charging him with second-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. Cassiano was arrested for the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old-girl. He was held on a $200,000 bond after his arrest.
In New Milford... fire department crews were able to contain a fire that broke out at Staples on Route 7 this morning. Dispatchers say several engines responded to the retail store after a report of an electrical fire in the building. Customers were evacuated while crews responded to the fire. Authorities say the fire appeared to be under control around 10:30 this morning and no major structural damage to the retail store resulted from the blaze. There were no injuries.
Instead of cutting the ribbon on a new Danbury Fire Department training building, the Jaws of Life cut through a metal pole. Danbury Fire Department training used to be done in a construction trailer. Since April, members of the Danbury Fire Department have been taking classes in their new 6,000 square foot facility on Plumtrees Road. The new facility has been 10 years in the planning, since the rebuilding of the burn tower, which is also located on the property.
The new training classroom is also being used by 30 other fire departments around the region.
Maura Juan, principal architect at 72Architects, worked with Chief TJ Weidl and Assistant Cheif Mark Omasta on the interior layout, free of charge. She then shared the information with Friar Associates who continued the design work. Hawley Construction and Nozzle Construction also worked on the project. The overall cost was about $1.1 million.
Wiedl says in a time when other communities are making cuts in training and in facilities, they are blessed to have a community that takes care of the Fire Department. He added that the Department will never let the community down.
Omasta says a major drainage project doubled the useable size of the property.
In the old construction trailer classroom, Training Officer Steven Rogers had to use a projector and could only teach to 10 students at a time. Now there is state of the art technology, including a touch screen interactive smartboard. In theory, the Fire Department could take a picture of every building in Danbury and use it for training purposes by adding a virtual fire and discuss how to tackle it.
Rogers says they are constantly training to keep up on skills. Once they stop practicing, they start to lose a safety factor.
25 students are currently enrolled in the Firefighter 1 training class.
Rogers says a $400,000 federal grant allowed the Department to purchase all new emergency radios.
Lt. Nick Cabral says 30 years ago, turnout gear was just rubber boots, a long coat and orange rubber gloves that stuck to skin in a fire. It only let firefighters get a few feet in the door. Today’s gear covers the entire fighter from a hood and helmet to coat, pants and boots. Cabral says this allows them to push into a building, make more rescues and get more people out to safety. The gear is fire resistant and can withstand 2.5 seconds of direct flame contact. Today’s house fires burn at about 800 degrees.
The radios and turnout gear represent about $3,500 worth of equipment. Cabral says the gear they have now is innovative for its time because it’s considered “athletic”. It’s designed to fit the firefighter perfectly and not leave skin exposed if they reach up or down. The turnout gear is also lighter than it used to be. The helmet is about 6 pounds, 30 pounds for the breathing apparatus and 25 pounds in bunker gear.
In addition to classroom training, the firefighters can practice a number of practical skills. There are bailout trainings so that firefighters can safely evacuate from a building.
Besides the training classroom building and the burn tower, there are donated vehicles which firefighters can practice using the Jaws of Life tool. They now open battery-operated tools. There is a burnt out car on the property with a fire that can be controlled remotely. Firefighters can use that to train on what to look for when there is a vehicle fire.
A structure on the property can be used to train on how to fight fires in attics. There are built in rafters and a section of the roof that can be cut away for firefighters training to ventilate the roof of a home that’s on fire. The saw that the department uses is specially designed to be able to cut through nails and hardwood. Firefighters are also trained on how to “sound the roof”. They constantly test roof strength for collapse.
Danbury has more than 2,000 fire hydrants, and yet that doesn’t cover the entire city. Firefighters are also trained on how to use the tanker trucks, which pump water into a pool that can be used to supply water to fire hoses.
Danbury’s HAZMAT truck is a regional asset paid for with state and federal funding. It can be called to 43 towns in Northwestern Connecticut. 30 HAZMAT technicians undergo annual training. They can respond to radiological, chemical and biological emergencies. A “rad seeker” allows this specially trained unit to identify a radiological source and determine whether it’s a weapon of mass destruction, or medical radiology. The state doesn’t have one of these tools, when the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection response to an emergency, they borrow Danbury’s tool. The HAZMAT Unit is like a rolling warehouse with enough protection suits for 20 members of the units can go out on call.
A heavy rescue truck has tools for responses in confined spaces, trench rescues and ropes. The Danbury Fire Department responds to Tarrywile Park to rescue hikers on average once a week.
A jury has found a Monroe massage therapist not guilty on a sexual assault charge. 60-year old Bruce Smith was acquitted of the charge by a jury on Wednesday. The claim against him was filed in 2014 by a client who told police that she was inappropriately touched. Smith maintained his innocence. He said in an emailed statement that his life was completely destroyed by the unfounded allegations of one individual and will never again be able to practice his profession due to all the negative publicity that followed.
A Danbury man accused of stealing a purse from a car on Main Street was caught quickly. Danbury Police responded to a report of a larceny early Friday morning. The victim, who parked her car and went into a restaurant to buy food, said she returned about five minutes later to find her purse had been stolen.
Witnesses described a man they saw near the vehicle. He was later identified as 23-year old Lucas Viganor. Officers later observed Viganor down the road in the parking lot of Walgreens, carrying two shopping bags.
Viganor admitted to stealing the purse and using the victim's credit card to charge about $2,000 of merchandise. He was charged with larceny and held on $10,000 bond.