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Danbury cancels plans to move to hybrid learning in schools

All in-person classes across the Danbury Public School district have been postponed and the district is continuing with remote learning.  The city experienced 96 COVID-19 cases in a three day span.

At the K-5 level, this means students will continue with their current teacher and their distance learning schedule they have been in since September. At the 6-12 level, students will begin their revised bell schedule as posted in PowerSchool.

Due to school closures, the SAT’s will be cancelled on Tuesday, October 27th.

Breakfast and lunch for students will continue to be available for pick-up on Monday-Friday at all schools from 12 pm - 2 pm.

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says they are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and working with the Mayor, Department of Public Health and medical advisors. 

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day today

The Drug Enforcement Administration National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 am to 2 pm.  Greater Danbury area police departments say the day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating people about the potential for abuse of medications.  A drop box is located in the main lobby of the Danbury, Ridgefield and Wilton Police Departments, which are accessible  24/7 - 365 days of the year to dispose of unused medications.

Public hearing on proposed Brookfield water line postponed

The Brookfield Board of Finance Informational Public Hearing on the proposed Candlewood Lake Road Waterline next week has been rescheduled to Wednesday, November 4th at 7pm.  It will also be a virtual meeting.  The proposed water line will run from the intersection of Nabby Road to 100 Candlewood Lake Road.  Details of the project and projected costs will be discussed, followed by public comment. The current plan is to install the water line within the next 12 months.

Southbury Police mark National Teen Driver Safety Week

Now in its 13th year, National Teen Driver Safety Week is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to prevent teen injuries and deaths on the road. Southbury Police say this grassroots movement is about addressing the number one cause of death for teens in the U.S. – car crashes. According to the UConn Crash Data Repository, the number of teen-related fatal crashes in the first six months of 2020 has more than doubled when compared with the same time frame for 2019.

Car goes through Brewster business in crash

No one was injured in Brewster when a car went through a building yesterday afternoon.  Brewster Fire Department and EMS responded to the Dunkin Donuts on Route 22 for a report of a car into the store. Firefighters arrived to find a vehicle completely inside the business. 

(Photo: Brewster FD)

First Responder Memorial unveiled in Ridgefield

There were a lot of emergency responders on Main Street at Bailey Avenue this week.  They were attending the unveiling of The Town Of Ridgefield's First Responder Memorial.  The memorial was the idea of local scout Shreyas Nandon as his Eagle Project.  He was heavily involved in the process of planning, securing funds, and construction of the monument.  Some funds were donated by the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Local 1739. 

Ridgefield PBA collecting suits for veterans

The Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association is once again collecting gently used formal wear that will be distributed to veterans looking for jobs.  The PBA has partnered with Village Cleaners and Save a Suit for the collection. All donations are tax deductible. This is the 3rd year of the collaboration.  The drive will run through November 6th.

Connecticut has 19 communities with 'red alert' virus levels

Eight more communities, many in southeastern Connecticut, were identified Thursday by state public health authorities as “red alert towns” after their daily rates of new COVID-19 infections surpassed 15 per 100,000 people since last week.

There are now 19 cities and towns on the weekly list that now have the option of rolling back the state’s third phase of reopening. Residents there are also being urged to wear masks, socially distance, frequently wash their hands, stay home if they’re over 65, cancel gatherings and events with nonrelatives, and get tested regularly, even if they’re healthy.

While concerned with these localized spikes, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said there are signs of improvement since state and local health officials began ramping up testing and contact tracing in the region several weeks ago.

For example, the rate of infection in New London was 46.9 infections per 100,000 people in last week’s update and is now down to 43.7, while Norwich was 50 per 100,000 people and is now 40.7.

“So when we bring in the rapid response, over a period of time, I think we are able to get this contained,” Lamont said.

Both communities, however, still have the highest rates in the state.

Two other southeastern Connecticut communities, East Lyme and Preston, were removed from the list, while Groton, Lisbon, Waterford, Plainfield and Salem were added. In other parts of the state, East Hartford, Norwalk, Fairfield, Prospect and Waterbury were identified as red alert communities.

Besides Norwich and New London, Sprague, Windham, Canterbury, Griswold and Montville in eastern Connecticut remained on the list, as well as Hartford and Danbury.

As of Thursday, the statewide positive rate was 2.3%, with 232 people in the hospital, an increase of 19 since Wednesday. Lamont noted that is far fewer than during the height of the pandemic in Connecticut, when there were about 2,000 hospitalizations.

Besides having more hospital capacity now, Lamont noted, patients are spending less time in the hospital and are less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said a quarter of Connecticut’s hospital beds are unused right now, without taking steps such as canceling elective procedures. Also about half of the state’s roughly 1,000 ICU beds are being used.

There have been 4,569 COVID-related deaths in Connecticut, an increase of two since Wednesday.

Former Redding state Rep. seeks to take back seat from Democratic incumbent

A familiar name is looking to unseat a freshman state lawmaker representing Easton, Redding and Weston.  Democratic incumbent Anne Hughes is being challenged by Republican John Shaban, who held the position through 2017, but opted not to run for a 4th term as he ran for Congress.  The pair recently addressed the issues during a League of Women Voters forum. 

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hughes says the state has done well in ramping up testing, giving guidance to schools and acquiring PPE.  Shaban says there's been conflicting information on the calendar and rules for reopening.

On transportation funding and infrastructure improvements, Hughes says investments are needed.  She called for truck tolling, with the money dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund.  Hughes also wants more bang for the federal buck.  Shaban sent 6 years on the finance committee and says the Special Transportation Fund dollars were moved time and again.  He says the lockbox was a step in the right direction, but the money can get raided before making it to the STF.  He called for a watchdog to perform oversight duties.

The candidates also discussed Eversource and United Illuminating storm response.  Shaban says it's like deja vu from when he was in office with storms at that time.  He touted a bill passed then that imposed fines for failure to prepare for storms, that utilities were following for years.  Hughes says the Take Back Our Grid Act took huge steps forward to make utilities accountable to ratepayers first, over shareholders.  But she called it a first step.

The pair also addressed the police accountability bill. Hughes called racial justice a concern and called for policies that approach issues from an equitable lens.  Shaban joined the Black and Latino caucus to pass a racial profiling bill that gathered information about traffic stops across the state.  He proposed sentence reforms and drug courts to treat those arrests differently. 

The state's fiscal situation was also discussed.  Shaban says spending is out of control despite record tax increases.  He doesn't think the state needs as many state workers as are currently employed and believes many functions can be privatized.  Shaban opposes rate and rule changes on an annual basis saying it's unfair to businesses.  Hughes says Connecticut is finally paying down the debt of long term pension liabilities and relying on more state employees than ever for unprecedented work.

New COVID-19 cases in Danbury stem from church, gym

While COVID-19 cases had been trending down in Danbury since being placed on the so-called red alert list, the City experienced 37 new cases on Thursday.  There were no new COVID-associated deaths reported yesterday. Mayor Mark Boughton says contact tracing shows infections from people traveling to church in New York, family gatherings, and one gym that is closed and undergoing a deep cleaning.  Boughton said he doesn't know which church, and people commenting on the announcement identified the War Memorial Fitness Center as the other impacted location.  The Danbury School District plans to move to a hybrid model on Monday as planned.  Boughton says the infection rate doesn't meet the red alert level for schools.

More Ridgefield High School students, teachers ordered to quarantine

9 more Ridgefield High School students and 1 teacher have been quarantined due to a new COVID-19 case.  The district's health and safety compliance liaison and coordinator of nursing services, Aaron Crook, says the person participated in the PSATs at Ridgefield High on Saturday.  Crook says they know where the individual was exposed and this case of COVID-19 is unrelated to a previous case.  There was a potential exposure of the players on the girls soccer team at an away game.  Previously, 52 students and four faculty members were asked to quarantine. Ridgefield High School was open as scheduled yesterday with all activities also on schedule.

Water Witch Hose receives grant to help better respond to hazardous materials incidents

Water Witch Hose fire company of New Milford is one of just two recipients of a $10,000 grant.  134 fire departments nationwide applied for the funding from CHEMTREC.  A fire company in Tennessee was the other recipient of the National Volunteer Fire Council HELP Award.  The funds are intended to help the fire departments enhance their response capabilities and increase local preparedness to hazardous materials incidents.  To be eligible for the award, departments must bee all or mostly volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less and have an annual revenue of less than 250-thousand dollars.  The application essay must describe the equipment, resources, and/or training the department would purchase or attend to increase their response capabilities for hazardous materials incidents.

Ridgefield Police participate in DEA Drug Takeback Day

The Ridgefield Police Department is participating in the DEA's Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.  Prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medications will be collected at the Ridgefield Police Department from 10am to 2pm. The Drive-Thru will be set up so people will not have to exit their vehicles. This service is free and completely anonymous. All medications that are collected as part of this initiative are taken to an incineration facility by Officers of the for destruction. Ridgefield Police say a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, to include the family medicine cabinet.  There is a drug take-back box located in the front lobby of Police Headquarters available 24 hours a day/365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

Putnam County movie theaters allowed to reopen today

Putnam County movie theaters will be among those allowed to reopen today as restrictions in most of New York are lifted. County Executive MaryEllen Odell says restaurants, gyms and other businesses that cater to the public are open, so it didn’t make sense to keep movie theaters closed.  She recognizes that people are feeling Covid fatigue and says they should be trusted to make the right decisions to stay safe.  Theaters must limit capacity to 25 percent with no more than 50 people per screen; patrons must wear masks except when seated and eating or drinking; theaters must assign seating and even groups of friends will have to socially distance; air filtration systems and ventilation will have to meet state standards; and additional staff will be required to ensure rules are followed.

Easton Police investigate political sign thefts, street spraypainting

The Easton Police Department is investigating numerous reports of theft of political signs, and vandalism with political messages painted on the streets.  Officials are asking the people responsible to stop because it's taking time and valuable resources away from the police department, and the availability for officers to serve the community.  Chief Richard Doyle says this behavior also puts a strain on the Public Works Department in both time and money trying to remove the acts of vandalism. Anyone caught will be arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief.

New Fairfield Library Board of Trustees has a vacancy.

The New Fairfield Library Board of Trustees has a vacancy. The six elected volunteers help the appoint a qualified Library Director, advocate in support of the library, are involved in planning and development activities,   fundraise, and oversee expenditure of monies granted for library use.  Anyone interested  in volunteering  on the New Fairfield Library Board should send a letter of interest to the New Fairfield Board of Selectmen, who will fill the vacancy.

State Senate candidate works to address food insecurity

24th state Senate district candidate Susan Chapman has been working with Walnut Hill Community Church on food distribution since the pandemic began in order to help address food insecurity.  The Republican former New Fairfield First Selectman yesterday secured a $50,000 donation for a refrigerated truck to rescue food along the Route 7 corridor for distribution.  Food rescue involves collecting items that otherwise would have gone to waste from restaurants and grocers, and distributing it to hunger relief agencies.

Incumbent picks up endorsements in 24th Senate district

24th state Senate district incumbent Julie Kushner has picked up a new round of endorsements.  The Danbury Democrat is being backed by the Realtors, and now The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. Kushner received a 96% on their Environmental Scorecard and serves as Vice-Chair of the Environment Committee.

Southbury zoners clear way for breweries, wineries, distilleries

The Southbury Zoning Commission has approved amendments to regulations clearning the way for breweries, wineries, distilleries and similar businesses.   A special exception permit will allow farm breweries, farm wineries and farm distilleries are permitted in all zones. Definitions were also added for “brewery, “distillery,” “microbrewery,” “microdistillery,” “microwinery” and “restaurant-brewery.”  Those are only allowed in certain zones.

106th state House district race in Newtown features 2018 rematch

In a 2018 rematch, Newtown residents will see familiar names on the ballot when they cast a vote for the 106th House district.  Republican incumbent Representative Mitch Bolinsky is again being challenged by Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites. 

They recently participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Newtown Bee and discussed several issues.  The focus was on how to make Newtown a more livable community for its aging residents, the recently approved police accountability bill and the future of development at the Fairfield Hills campus. 

Bolisnky is seeking a 5th term in office.   Harriman-Stites is on the Board of Education, co-founded the Everwonder Children's Museum and is a social worker. 

Fairfield Hills issues are on the local ballot, and not really under the purview of the state.  Harriman-Stites says she would like to see any housing proposal before support it.  Bolinsky says proposals from developers should be entertained.  Both say there should be some limits on density.

Bolinsky says the police accountability bill was quickly cobbled together and done in a punitive way.  He relayed conversations with officers he says are retiring.  He says without public safety, there cannot be a thriving community.  Bolisnky called defunding the police an absurd concept.  Harriman-Stites responded that the bill does not defund the police.  She notes that there are many police officers in her family and she has great respect for the role they play in society.  But Harriman-Stites say the bill came from a cultural crisis around racial equality.

Newtown has an aging population.  Bolinsky says the Friends of Newtown Seniors has been doing admirable work to make it a senior-friendly community.  He wants to help people age in place, whether it's housing costs or improved public transportation.  Bolinsky called for controls on retirement and social security income taxes.  Harriman-Stites says the Board of Ed and parent groups were working to bring seniors and school children together for learning and community building, and noted that the work of the senior center is admirable.  She called for property tax reforms.

Both candidates agree that cost of prescription drugs is too high and support the public option introduced by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo.  The each touted his work in saving the state money on health care and prescription costs.  Bolinsky co-sponsored the bill, which stalled in the pandemic-shortened session.  Harriman-Stites says she knows about health care costs, noting that it forced her to sell her business and the cost for her non-profit went up 8-percent this year.


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