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A breach of contract lawsuit has been filed by former Brookfield Superintendent Anthony Bivonah seeking to be reappointed as head of the school district. 

 

The lawsuit was filed August 18th in Hartford against the Brookfield Board of Education.  It was received in Brookfield on Tuesday.  In addition to reinstatement as Superintendent, Bivonah is seeking monetary damages in excess of $15,000 and other relief.

 

He was hired as Superintendent in 2007, but fired before the June 2016 end of his contract amid accusations School Finance Director Art Colley overspent the district budget by $1.2 million. 

 

There were five "just cause" provisions in the contract that would allow the school to terminate him.  Bivonah argues that he regularly received pay increases from the Board of Education and that during his tenure the Brookfield School system was recognized both by the state and nationally.  He also says that the Board's Finance Committee and previous auditors didn't find any wrong doings.  A new audit firm was hired in 2013 and uncovered the irregularities.

 

Bivonah says the Board of Education denied him a termination hearing in executive session, and that when a hearing was held it was wrought with procedural irregularities.

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The Weston Board of Education has approved a Memorandum of Understanding to hire a School Resource Officer.  The Weston Police Commission must next vote to approve the 3-year agreement.  The School Resource Officer will be for Weston High School and will be a current Weston patrol officer, who carries a firearm.  Whichever officer is selected, they will have to go through a training course to become a School Resource Officer.  A new patrol officer will then be hired.  The School Resource Officer position was not included in the current fiscal year's budget.

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The Danbury Fire Department has been awarded federal grant money to purchase portable radios.  The nearly $337,000 from FEMA is part of the Assistance to Firefighter Grant program. 

 

Senator Chris Murphy says firefighters work diligently to keep the community safe, putting their lives on the line and these funds will help improve communications.  Senator Richard Blumenthal says this grant will help ensure that members of the Danbury Fire Department can continue to do their jobs effectively and safely.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the the Assistance to Firefighter Grant has helped firefighters and other first responders since 2001 to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources. 

 

Fire Chief TJ Wiedl called the funding is much needed.  He says replacement of aging equipment will allow our firefighters to focus on emergency situations at hand with renewed confidence in their radios, their lifeline.

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A 22-year old Brewster  man who agreed to serve as a designated driver is going to prison for a drunken-driving crash that hurt three passengers, including one who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy says Michael Skalaski was impaired by both alcohol and marijuana during the March 2014 crash in Southeast, New York.

 

After smoking marijuana throughout the day, Levy says Skalaski joined three friends at an area pub and drank for several hours.  Before the bar closed, Skalaski and his friends were asked to leave.  He drove up to 80 mph as his passengers begged him to stop and let them out. The vehicle slammed into a tree off Milltown Road.

He's pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including aggravated vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated.  Levy announced Thursday that Skalaski faces 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison when he's sentenced on Oct. 21.

 

Despite being properly seat belted at the time, the front seat passenger spent several months in the hospital and in rehab centers, and has permanent, life-altering physical injuries.

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There will be a lot more traffic on Lake Avenue and White Street in Danbury today and this weekend.  Students are moving into their dorms at Western Connecticut State University.  Dean of Students Walter Cramer says Welcome Week activities kick off at 1:30 this afternoon with their annual Entering the Gates Ceremony.

 

Cramer says it's symbolic as well as a physical entering of the university.  It starts off the academic year as new students are ushered through the picturesque wrought-iron main gates by alumni, faculty and returning students.

 

In addition to orientation events geared toward helping freshmen adjust to college live, there are workshops for parents about the transition of sending their children to college.

 

Cramer says this weekend is a chance for freshmen to get to know other new students and upperclassmen.  The big event is Clubs Carnival on the quad of the Midtown campus.  Students can get a sense of what's available in campus life for them.

 

With the opening of the Honors House in the old Alumni Hall, the University is looking to renovate the basement of the Midtown Student center to create a performance space.  The Coffee House and other events will be moved there.  he says that will be a great place for commuter students to hang out as well.

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A study about the future of Branchville is underway.  The Branchville section of town runs along Route 7, has a train station, and has been called a second town center.  The study is being paid for by a $356,000 state grant.  Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc. of Hartford, a transportation planning firm, is looking for resident input on the vision for Branchville. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says Branchville is the future for the community.  It represents a quaint village, an opportunity to develop it in a way that serves the people in that area.  He called it a "golden opportunity" that they want to make sure it done right.  The First Selectman, Planning Director, Town Engineer and representatives from the Branchville area are part of a small committee studying the issue.

 

The committee has reviewed the scope of work and come up with an outline that involves an opportunity for people to look at the conceptual drawings and plans, and how it exists today.

 

There are some obstacles in developing the area, including that it is a low-lying area prone to flooding.  There are also no sewer lines there.  One proposal is to allocate an area for a small building that would process the sewage, and have septic fields.  He compared it to a residential home not on town sewers.

 

An online survey has also been added to the study.  It is available until September 18th.  Some of the survey questions include how much parking there should be, both on-street and off-street parking, as well as how tall buildings should be.

 

A workshop is being held on September 16th in the Main Function Room of Ridgefield Library.

 

Fitzgerald and Halliday will conduct the workshop in coordination with the Town of Ridgefield and the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.  The workshop on September 16th is for residents to share thoughts about what improvements are needed in the Branchville area and what type of development the Town should consider for the future of Branchville.

 

An open house is also scheduled for September 17th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.  On September 18th, a second open house is scheduled for 10am to 4pm.  That will be followed by a presentation from 4pm to 5pm.

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A state of the art training classroom is being built in Danbury for the Fire Department.  Training Officer Steve Rogers says the career Fire Department, the 12 volunteer companies and those from surrounding towns will be able to do their classroom work and specialized training in a new building, hopefully by the coming Spring.  He says this won't be specifically just for the Fire Department, it could be opened up to local police departments as well.  Ground was broken Thursday.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Captain Bernie Meehan)

 

Rogers says there will be two classrooms, a computer room, conference room and offices.  Smart board and other technology will also be included.  The optimum class size for firefighter training is about 25, but right now the Danbury Fire Department classroom can only accommodate about 10 people. 

 

Rogers says there are National Fire Protection Association and OSHA requirements, with mandatory classes.  Some of those happen annually, others are as frequently as each month.

 

Hawley Construction is building the exterior of the facility.  A request for proposals is going out for the interior work.  Bids for Phase 2 of the project will be accepted through September 10th.

 

 

Rogers says this new classroom will help the Department to stay proficient in all skills.  He notes that firefighting is a small part of what the Department does.  They also respond to emergency medical situations, car accidents, special rescues and other incidents requiring specialized skills.  Rogers says these specialized skills have to be kept fresh, otherwise they start to degrade over time.

 

While no equipment will be housed at the site, there will be two bays.  One will be fore a fire engine, one for a tanker truck.  The bays will face the burn tower so firefighters can practice getting their gear on and out the door headed toward an emergency situation.

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Route 25 in Newtown is getting a facelift.  The state Department of Transportation has announced that the road will be milled and repaved during the evening hours.  The four mile stretch of Route 25 will be resurfaced between Mile HIll Road and the Monroe Town Line.  Drivers should expect various lane closures on Route 25 from 8pm to 5am on Sundays through Fridays.  The project is starting tonight and is expected to be wrapped up by September 21st.

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The beach and swim area at Kettletown State Park in Southbury and at Indian Wells in Shelton remain closed due to blue green algae.  The algae can emit toxins possibly harmful to people and dogs.  The effects from exposure include a skin rash, nausea or even liver or nervous system effects if large amounts of the algae are ingested.  The swim area at Kettletown has been closed for 9 days.  Blue green algae has been spotted in several other water bodies in the Greater Danbury area over the past two months, but the beach closures haven't been as long as the one at Kettletown.

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State Police are setting up roving DUI patrols and checkpoint during this second to last weekend of summer.  State Police say they decided to add an extra weekend of patrols because of an anticipated increase in drivers.  With many classes back in session and final vacations, Troopers want to keep the summer driving season a safe one.  There will be roving patrols on I-84 and Route 7 in the Greater Brookfield and Danbury areas today through next Wednesday.  There will also be a Sobriety Checkpoint set up on Lake Avenue tomorrow by the highway ramps.  This is being done in conjunction with the Breath Alcohol Testing Mobile Unit.

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A Danbury man has been arrested for grabbing a man off the street that he thought was homeless and feeding him.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio said in an emailed statement that officers responded to a West Wooster Street home shortly before 6:30 last night and officers were told the bizarre story. 

 

A 77-year old man said he was pushing a shopping cart with cans and bottles down Lincoln Avenue when a man, later determined to be David Pope, grabbed him by the arm and insisted that he follow.  Pope brought the man to his nearby home.  His dog bit the victim on the leg.  Pope fed the man, who was eventually able to leave without being seen.  That's when the victim called police. 

 

Officers responded to Pope's house.  He refused to put his dog away, and showed signs of being intoxicated.  Pope told police he thought the other man was homeless and was offering him food. 

 

Pope was charged with interfering with an officer, reckless endangerment, kidnapping and disorderly conduct.  He was held on bond for a court appearance today.

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Ground has been broken on a new Fire Training Classroom building in Danbury.  The 6,500 square foot facility on Plumtrees Road is costing about $1 million.  It will be on the same property as the Department's burn tower, which was rebuilt in 1992.  The tower has had some upgrades and renovations since that time. 

 

 

Classroom training is currently run out of a single-wide trailer.  It can only accommodate 15 firefighters.  Most of the state certification courses and the classes held by the Department require classroom time.

 

 

The new building will have two classrooms, a computer room, conference room and offices for the Training Division in the new building.  Infrastructure for training activities around the building will also be installed.  While no fire engines will be housed at the site, there will be two bays.  One will be for a fire engine, one for a tanker truck.  The bays will face the burn tower so firefighters can practice getting their gear on and out the door headed toward an emergency situation.

 

12 volunteer fire companies in Danbury also train at this site.

 

 

Hawley Construction is building the exterior of the facility.  A request for proposals is going out for the interior work.  Bids for Phase 2 of the project will be accepted through September 10th.

 

(Chief TJ Wiedl, Mayor Boughton, Drill Master Steve Rogers, former Chief Geoff Herald, Deputy Chief Mark Omasta)

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says this is not only about better training and providing better public safety services, but also about being aregional leader in training.  While he hopes they never get called, Boughton says when the Fire Department does get called to an incident, they'll be prepared.

 

Chief TJ Wiedl says this is something that they've been looking forward to for a long time.  He notes that this is a City wide effort.  He says this will be state of the art classrooms by Spring of next year.

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A Patterson man has been arrested for stealing copper from cell towers in Putnam County.

 

38-year old Brian Windover is accused of breaking into three cellular communications tower site shelters and stealing several copper grounding bars from inside the facilities at the end of last month and earlier this month.  He allegedly committed the break-ins at a cell tower located along Concord Road in Patterson on July 23rd, at another tower along Route 301 in Kent on July 27th, and at a third tower along Ludingtonville Road in Patterson on August 14th

 

Windover's vehicle was captured on a security camera recording July 27th.  On August 14th, a Sheriff’s Investigator saw a vehicle matching the description enter a cell tower property. 

 

Windover was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and possession of burglar’s tools.  He was arraigned and remains held in the jail on bond as of Wednesday. 

 

Investigations into other similar thefts of copper fixtures from cellular towers in the area are ongoing.

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The federal government is claiming to be exempt from Ridgefield blight ordinances when it comes to a dilapidated property on Catoonah Street owned by the Post Office. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says this property is a prime example of why a blight ordinance was adopted.  The town's attorney agrees with the interpretation that the post office is exempt from zoning ordinances.  The landlord's attorney says the Post Office's immunity has transferred to the landlord. 

 

Marconi says the town will continue to pursue a solution. 

 

He says it's disappointing that the government would leave this house to fall into a state of disrepair.  The windows are boarded up, the grass is high, it's only 10 feet from the abutting homeowner's dwelling and is a fire hazard. 

 

One proposal was to sublease the property, but the Post Office is opposed to that option saying they will never get the property back.  Another idea discussed by the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is to make it a historic property, offer to take the structure down and then see who would be willing to buy the land. 

 

The demolition estimate, including cleaning up the property, is $52,000.  Some of the neighbors have offered to help offset the cost.

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5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty paid a visit to the YMCA of Western Connecticut Children's Center in Bethel on Wednesday.  She says nonprofits are under stress and strain, so she wanted to find out what she can do to help.

 

Esty says YMCAs are the number one child care provider in the country.  She says they provide critical social services in a variety of ways.  She also noted their commitment around fitness, an issue vitally important to long term health and vitality of all people.

 

There are about 150 kids at the Bethel preschool center.

 

YMCA President and CEO Marie Miszewski says there was one aspect in particular they wanted to show off.  The work they're doing to close the achievement gap in the Greater Danbury area.  While the Y is generally known for swimming, gym, and fitness Miszewski says they're doing a lot of work to combat diabetes and youth obesity.

 

The achievement gap work stems from school readiness programs, which are federally funded.  Miszewski says it makes a huge difference in those kids lives, and the lives of their parents.  Because of their success in school readiness, the YMCA has gotten some grants.  Miszewski says the grants allow them to follow through with students all the way through first grade.

 

Miszewski cited research showing that if kids have a solid foundation through second grade, the odds of graduating from high school improve dramatically.

 

Miszewski says they also have a technology room with smart boards, iPads and computers.  The YMCA afterschool program is one of two Kahn Academy sites in the state.

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The Fairfield Ridge Apartment complex in Danbury is receiving some state funding for rehabilitation efforts. 

 

The State has awarded nearly $18 million in loans and grants to ten affordable housing developments.  Department of Housing Deputy Commissioner Nick Lundgren says the grants are part of a 10-year state-sponsored Housing Portfolio Revitalization Initiative.  The portfolio is made up of over 340 properties at which approximately 19,000 people reside.

 

Fairfield Ridge Housing Associates is receiving $2.5 million, paired with $6.3 million from the Connecticut Housing Financing Authority and the Low-Income Housing Tax-Credit Program.

 

 

Fairfield Ridge Apartments is moderate rental family housing with a mix of 45 two-bedroom units and 13 three-bedroom units in duplex and ranch style homes.

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A Newtown liquor store employee has been charged by police for selling alcohol to a minor.  Newtown Police were conducting patrols last week in an effort to enforce underage drinking laws.  A teen was seen coming out of Sandy Hook Wine and Liquor last Wednesday with a case of beer.  Police approached the 18-year old who was given an infraction.  the clerk, 21-year old Nicholas Heron was charged for sale of alcohol to a minor.  He was released on a written promise to appear in Danbury Superior Court on September 1st for arraignment.

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Two fields vandalized in Ridgefield over the summer have been repaired in time for the start of the new school year this week. 

 

Vandals drove on the fields at Shadow Lake and East Ridge Middle School in late July and early this month, causing considerable damage.  Officers have identified two people responsible for the damage caused to the East Ridge ball field and applied for warrants in that case. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the cost to fix each field was about $2,800.  They were covered with top spoil and reseeded.  If the fields were resodded it would have been up to $20,000 to fix them.

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5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is hosting her 2nd annual Community Resources Fair today in Danbury.  The event last year was held at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.  Representatives from over 30 federal and state agencies will be at Western Connecticut State University this afternoon. 

 

The gathering is aimed at giving residents the opportunity to address individual issues – such as delayed Social Security payments, veterans’ benefits, tax refunds, or immigration services – with federal, state, and local agencies.

 

The event is being held at the Westside Campus Center, in The Grand Ballroom from 2pm to 5pm.

 

In the Greater Danbury area, Esty says more than 470 households have helped by her office since she was elected.  She says 3,100 people have contacted her office for help, with over $5.8 million returned to people through Social Security benefits, disability benefits for veterans, medicare, IRS refunds or small business loans.

 

Below is a complete list of attending agencies:

 

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Connecticut Fair Housing Authority

Connecticut Passport Agency

CT Housing Finance Authority

Danbury Vet Center

Department Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS)

Department of Banking

Department of Children and Families (DCF)

Department of Consumer Protection (DCP)

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Department of Insurance

Department of Labor Office of Veterans Workforce Development

Department of Social Services (DSS)

Department of Transportation - CT Rides

Department of Veterans Affairs, Hartford Regional Office (VBA)

Department on Aging

Department Public Health (DPH)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

IRS Taxpayer Advocate Office

Office of Higher Education

Office of Protection & Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities

Office of the Health Care Advocate

Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA)

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Social Security Assistance Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Homeland Security -FEMA Region I

U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. Small Business Administration

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

VA Connecticut Health Care System (VHA)

Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging

Workers’ Compensation Commission

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55-year old Richard Doyle has pleaded not guilty to three counts of animal cruelty stemming from allegations he failed to properly care for two dogs and a kitten at American Breeders pet shop on Federal Road.  Two of the animals had to be euthanized.  Doyle also owns two other shops in New York. 

 

A complaint by an employee about animal mistreatment led to an investigation by Connecticut animal control officers. 

 

The Mahopac resident was not held on bond.

 

One of Doyle’s store managers, 29-year old Kathy Seton of Cold Spring New York, was charged with two counts of animal cruelty.  Seton has also pleaded not guilty.

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