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Bethel officials are reminding residents about the town's mailbox replacement policy.  If a mailbox or post is damaged during snow removal operations, it's not the responsibility of the Public Works Department ot make repairs.  The responsibility falls to the property owner, unless the damage is from direct contact with snow removal equipment. 

 

An inspector will determine if the plow operator is at fault. 

 

But Bethel officials cautioned that the majority of mailbox and post damage is the result of improper installation or maintenance.  They says the average number of mailboxes hit by equipment is less than one percent. Non-contact mailbox knockdowns may average more then one hundred or more per snow storm



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New Fairfield Selectman Khris Hall will hold “listening hours” twice a week beginning on Thursday.  She will be at the New Fairfield Library from 5:30 to 6:30pm. every Monday and 10 to 11 am every Thursday, except when the library is closed.  Hall and  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco promised to hold the listening hours during the campaign.



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Water Witch Hose Company in New Milford has announced the passing of Past Chief Patrick Maguire Jr.  Maguire served as a Driver/Pump Operator up until his sudden passing Monday at Yale New Haven Hospital.   He held seats on the Fair Days Committee and the Engine 21 Design Committee.  Calling Hours are on Sunday January from 1 to 4pm at the Lillis Funeral Home in New Milford. A Funeral Service will take place on Monday at 11am at Saint Francis Xavier Church in New Milford.



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An architect presented plans to Brookfield Boards and Commission about what a new police station could entail.  The current department is 12,950-square feet, but a 22,550-square foot police building is proposed.  Brookfield officials haven't decided whether to renovate the existing structure or build a new one.  Initial proposals call for a bigger dispatch center, a firing range and a training classroom.  The current Brookfield Police station was built in 1986 and since then the staff, town population and calls for service have grown.  A separate covered storage bay for cars was also proposed.



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Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams says water level and ice level observers have reported that the Housatonic River has receded by about 50 inches since Saturday.  Adams says the water is still estimated to be approximately 8 feet above seasonal levels. 

 

He cautioned that no one can accurately predict when the ice will move. Kent is in the "wait and see" mode.  The ice jam fell by about 3 feet.  But Adams says the reduction in the overall height of the ice is the result of the ice caving in on itself, not shifting or jarring. 

 

Classes at the Kent School will resume on Thursday.  Boarding students will return Wednesday with dorms opening at 8am.  Local shelters are available in Kent, but none are being used at this time. The Kent Nutritional Center is currently closed. There have been no requests for assistance and/or shelter at this time.

 

Schaghticoke Road in Kent is closed due to water.  There's ice on Johnson Road, forcing it's closure and River Road is closed due to seasonal winter conditions.  Local private schools have offered up to 400 persons to assist in labor activities if needed.  These schools include: South Kent School, Marvelwood School, Highwatch.  Adams says t this time, volunteer assets are not needed.



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Bethel is seeking requests for proposals for construction management and risk services for the Rockwell and Johnson Elementary School projects.  There is a mandatory site visit next Wednesday, with applications due February 5th. 

 

Perkins Eastman is the architectural firm for the projects, which technically are separate works, but will be done concurrently.  They are categorized that way because of the State Office of School Construction and Department of Administrative Services. 

 

Both projects are dependent upon approved state funding and will not go forward to the Construction Phase without approved state funding. 

 

The town will interview short list firms on February 20th and 21st. The Public Sites and Building Commission plans to make a final decision by February 27th and recommend a firm to the Town.



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The Bethel Police Department is hosting a Car Seat Clinic tomorrow.  The Clinic will be held, by appointment only, at the Stony Hill Fire Department, Stony Hill Rd., Bethel. For further information or an appointment time contact the Car Seat Unit at 203-744-7900 Ext. 121 or online, Bethel-ct.gov/police, and select the Services tab to book an appointment online.



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The Newtown Police Department will be hosting its 24th Citizen Police Academy beginning March 25th. The free 10-week academy is open to adults 18 years of age or older and designed to teach people about the various aspects of law enforcement.  Classes will be held on Sundays from 3pm to 6pm.  To sign up for the Citizen Police Academy, by March 15th, visit the Newtown Police Department web page.



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One Brookfield resident and two firefighters sustained minor injuries in a garage fire yesterday morning.  Firefighters responded to Muirwood Court in Brookfield shortly before 10:30 yesterday morning.  The garage was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.  Firefighters were able to stop the blaze from spreading into the house. 

 

(Photo: BVFD)

 

The Fire Marshals office is investigating the cause. 

 

Officials say the home was the scene of another devastating fire in June of 2007. 

 

The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Danbury Fire Department, Newtown Hook & Ladder, Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company, Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department and the Water Witch Hose Co. #2 provided mutual aid.



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New Milford's Mayor has told the Kent First Selectman that the town is available to provide whatever assistance they may need as the ice jam on the Housatonic River persists. If the ice jams proceed down river and cause flooding in New Milford, Kent officials said they would provide assistance as well. 
 
New Milford has a traffic plan in place for areas that may flood once the ice jam breaks up. The car dealers on Route 7 by Veterans Bridge were notified that their inventory should be moved in case of flooding.  The Maxx on one side of the bridge and Sarah Noble School on the other side of the bridge will act as shelters if needed. 

 

Mayor Pete Bass attended the emergency management meeting in Kent Wednesday night, along with State Representative Bill Buckbee, Police Chief Shawn Boyne, and the leaders of the volunteer fire departments.  Bass also met with the New Milford Emergency Management Team yesterday.

 



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The ice jam along the Housatonic River in Kent remains largely intact and firmly in place.  But Route 7 was able to reopen yesterday afternoon.  Schaghticoke, Johnson and River Roads remain closed due to water on the roadway.

 

Worse case scenario in Kent with the persistent ice jam on the Housatonic River is that it doesn't thaw until the end of March or early April.  That from State Representative Brian Ohler who says cautioned that there are some ice blocks in very close proximity to the roadway along Route 7.  An Eversource field crew has inspected in-place power poles and overhead lines and reported that there is no visible damage within passable areas of Route 7.

 

Emergency Management officials say Kent needs a minimum of three days with an average high of 42 degrees and a little precipitation to break the ice jam.  Right now, there's still an air gap between the river and the ice jam.  The water needs to rise to a level that the ice can break up in smaller pieces.  The conditions could be right over the next few days.

 

Officials at the Kent School say they will take things day by day, but they've been able to do some education online while students are evacuated.



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A Danbury woman is seeking the Democratic nomination for state Senate in the 24th District.  Julie Kushner says the district, which also includes Bethel, New Fairfield and Sherman, deserves someone devoted to fighting for fairness and progress for hard working families. 

 

The seat is currently held by Republican Mike McLachlan. 

 

Kushner is co-chair of the Connecticut Working Families Party, a member of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee and director of the UAW union Region 9.  She helped 2,200 UConn teachers and research assistants to organize for adequate and accessible healthcare in a program that's been so successful, it's now offered to all graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.



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Comments on the Long Ridge Road Realignment Project can be submitted until February 16th.  Redding officials say after the comment period has closed, the state Department of Transportation and engineers from consulting firm Milone and MacBroom will appear before Redding's boards and commissions for local permits and approvals. 

 

The work will reconstruct and realign Side Cut Road, Long Ridge Road, and Simpaug Turnpike in the area of the grade crossing.  It's meant to better accommodate low clearance vehicles, improve sight distances and address localized flooding. 

 

Construction is slated to begin in the Spring of 2019, based on the availability of funding. The estimated construction cost for this project is $2 million, with 90-percent paid for with Federal Funds. 

 

Eversource and Frontier are reviewing design plans for moving utility poles.  The work will impact the railroad tracks so Metro North is being consulted.



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Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to contact the Secretary of Homeland Security on behalf of a New Fairfield father of two facing deportation to his native Guatemala. 

 

A rally was held yesterday in support of Joel Colindres, who is married to a U-S citizen.  His wife Samantha received approval in 2015 to sponsor her husband, but additional steps must be taken before he is able to adjust his status. 

 

Blumenthal says his heart breaks as Colindres fights another cold and callous attempt to break apart his family.  He says deporting Colindres would violate the spirit of Secretary Nielsen’s assurances to him in this week’s hearing that the Department's focus would be on criminals, not people like Joel who have paid taxes, contributed to communities, and lived here for decades, without any criminal record. 

 

Colindres got a last minute stay in August, but was told during a weekly meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on December 27th, that he must leave the country by the end of the month.  The 33-year old came to America in 2004, but a paperwork error prompted today's legal situation. 



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A seven-year local property tax abatement, a one-year sewer and water fee abatement and a land lease for an airport hangar were not enough to sway Amazon to locate its second headquarters in Danbury.  Amazon is narrowing the list of cities under consideration to 20, with the largest concentration in the Northeast. 

 

Amazon, based in Seattle, plans to invest $5 billion in the new headquarters and could employ as many as 50,000 people in and around the city it chooses.

 

Danbury paid a local printer $426 to print 13 copies of the application and for graphic design work. Another Danbury company was paid $750 for a video shoot and edit. A Vernon web development company was paid $1,500 for online advertising.  The City's application included a map of the region highlighting the Matrix Center - and its proximity to sites such as Candlewood Lake, the Danbury Municipal Airport, Interstate 84, Western Connecticut State University campuses, the New York state line and the Brewster train station.

 

The list released on Thursday by Amazon of the finalists includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County in Maryland, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto and Washington D.C.



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There are potential fundraising scams cropping up as a result of the ice jam on the Housatonic River in Kent, which has closed part of Route 7 for almost a week.  State Representative Brian Ohler is reminding residents to be vigilant when asked to donate to recently created fundraisers on sites like GoFundMe. While many are legitimate, there are many instances where it's not the case.  Ohler says unfortunately there are people out there who are eager to exploit these types of situations for their own financial gain.  The Kent Chamber of Commerce noted yesterday that Kent is open for business. While it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings, they say the ice jam shouldn’t scare people away from the center of town.



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DOT crews have been attempting to dislodged massive ice blocks that have been covering Route 7 in Kent for the past five days.  State Representative Brian Ohler says the clean up process will continue for the coming days. Once the thawing process is complete and the clean up is over, DOT officials must then inspect the roadway for its strength and integrity. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty connected with Kent officials yesterday for an update on the damage from floods and ice jams on the Housatonic River. She put them in touch with a federal ice expert from the National Weather Service, who delivered a brief presentation to local officials at a meeting in Kent last night.  Esty commended the elected officials and schools leaders for their efforts in the face of an unprecedented situation.

 

52 individuals, representing local and statewide emergency management personnel, law enforcement officers, fire/ems officers, state and federal elected officials, school administrators, and a National Weather Service analyst attended the briefing last night.  Freezing temperatures over the past four days have held this ice jam in the same position that it has been since Saturday. 

 

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department has been receiving numerous phone calls about volunteer opportunities.  While they say the offers are appreciated, at this time they are not in need of volunteers.



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Senator Richard Blumenthal says a report by the Violence Policy Center that ranked Connecticut as one of the lowest states in the nation for gun deaths in 2016 proves strong gun laws save lives.  But he says guns continue to cross state lines seamlessly, and gun violence knows no state boundaries. Connecticut was among a handful of states that are seeing a decline in the rate of gun deaths.  Legislation was adopted after the shootings at Sandy Hook School banning some types of guns and limiting magazine capacity.



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Ice jam observers were deployed yesterday to Kent to evaluate depth markers that have been placed in various positions along the Housatonic River. It was been determined that since Saturday afternoon, peak-flooding time, the water has receded approximately 30 inches.  DOT crews have been removing ice from Route 7. 

 

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams says there's been speculation and concern about the strength and integrity of the Route 341 Bridge.  While there is a large amount of ice surrounding the pillars, he says a DOT Inspector concluded that it was not compromised.  Kent received 7 inches of snow yesterday, but there is a warm up coming, with rain possible Monday, and Adams hopes this will increase the volume of water in the river to a level that is necessary to break up the ice jam.

 

Kent Center School reopened today.  The Kent School remains evacuated. Their campus is still encompassed by a large amount of water and ice.  The Incident Command team has been in constant contact with administrators from Kent Center, which sits at a much higher elevation than their Kent School neighbor.  There are contingency plans in place if and when Kent Center School ever needs to evacuate.



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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's Supreme Court has rejected a claim by a coalition of municipalities, parents and students that the state's educational funding formula is unconstitutional.

A divided court overturned a lower-court judge who had ordered state officials to develop plans for an overhaul of the state's public education system, citing a huge gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns.

The high court, in a ruling released Wednesday, found that while there is an educational achievement gap between poorer students and "their more fortunate peers," that gap alone does not violate the equal protection provisions of the Connecticut Constitution.

"The plaintiffs have not shown that this gap is the result of the state's unlawful discrimination against poor and needy students in its provision of educational resources as opposed to the complex web of disadvantaging societal conditions over which the schools have no control," Chief Justice Chase Rogers wrote for the court.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2005 against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a nonprofit group that includes cities, towns, local boards of education, parent groups and public school students. More than 50 parents and students also were named as plaintiffs.

 

Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the case.

The coalition argued during a months-long trial that the state isn't providing adequate education funding to cities and towns and isn't meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students with adequate educations. It cited the vast differences in test results, graduation rates and other factors between rich and poor towns as proof that the funding system isn't fair.

The ruling overturns Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher, who had ordered the state to submit proposed reforms to the court to revamp its formula for providing education aid to cities and towns, develop a statewide high school graduation standard such as a test, make eighth-graders show they have acquired the skills to move on to high school, and replace what he called a weak statewide system of teacher evaluation and compensation.

"Courts simply are not in a position to determine whether schools in poorer districts would be better off expending scarce additional resources on more teachers, more computers, more books, more technical staff, more meals, more guidance counselors, more health care, more English instruction, greater preschool availability, or some other resource," Rogers wrote.

In a statement Wednesday night, the coalition said it was disappointed with the ruling and that it would "pursue all legal remedies" to have the decision in the case "reconsidered and overturned."

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the decision ends the landmark case regarding education funding, but not the need to distribute more educational dollars where there is the greatest need.

"We continue to believe that the state is obligated to ensure that funding is distributed in a rational manner based on student need, reflecting student poverty and demographic shifts in our communities," he said, adding how not enough progress has been made to improve the state's major education funding distribution formula.

Three of the seven justices involved issued a partial dissent, saying they would have ordered a new trial in the case, rather than simply ruling in the state's favor.

 

CCJEF is expressing "deep disappointment" with the decision.  The Coalition says it will "pursue all legal remedies" to have the decision overturned.



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