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The Ridgefield Board of Education will not vote on a special appropriation because a projected deficit has been mitigated.  During their meeting earlier this week, it was announced that the spending freeze enacted in September has resulted in savings.  Health benefit claims have also come in lower than previous years.  Ridgefield school officials had been looking at a deficit after 8 new students with special education plan had to be placed out of district, along with 3 other students already enrolled when the budget was crafted.  About a dozen special education related settlements were also a factor. 
 

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A Connecticut man stopped by Ridgefield Police for texting while driving, has been arrested on drug related charges.  35-year old William Garcia-Perez of Stamford was pulled over Tuesday night.  K9 Loki detected narcotics and a search found the 35-year old in possession of 2.5 grams of marijuana and 8.5 grams of crack cocaine.  Garcia-Perez was also cited for driving with a suspended license. He was released on bond for a court appearance on the 24th.

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Western Connecticut State University is participating in the Day of Silence today.  It's  a student-led national event where participants take a vow of silence  to highlight the silencing of LGBTQ+ persons at school.  West Conn's event is hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and supported by the Office of InterCultural Affairs. Day of Silence, last held at WestConn in 2015, is aimed at having participants think about issues still to be tackled and to make West Conn a more inclusive place.

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A local lawmaker is speaking out about some attempts to undercut regionalization efforts that are working, while proposing ideas that won't.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman, was critical of plans to defund the regional fire school in Fairfield. He also says a failed bill proposed taking money from regional Councils of Government to create a new state department to study regional efficiency.

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Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day was held at the state capitol yesterday.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says education is a primary factor in reversing the stigma associated with those who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Bolinsky says inclusiveness and understanding are key to building strength within communities,  He says opportunities for employment, volunteering and socializing are great ways to build great lives.The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Autism Advocacy Coalition. 

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Immigrant students without legal status say they're optimistic legislation making them eligible for institutional financial aid will pass the Connecticut General Assembly. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 30-5 vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where it has not been called for a vote in previous years. This year's version includes some new requirements for applicants.
 
Some students from Danbury High School used part of their spring break this week to lobby state lawmakers for a bill which would equalize access to higher education institutional college aid for undocumented students in Connecticut.   Institutional aid is funded by tuition revenue, and despite paying into the system, undocumented students are currently barred from accessing that aid. 

More than 250 people submitted testimony in support of the bill during a public hearing last month.

Evelin Garcia tried to obtain legalization through her U-S citizen grandfather, but she encountered issues and became undocumented.  Garcia graduated from WCSU in 2017, a recipient of the CSU Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.  The recognition is presented to the top 12 students in the state.  But she says it wasn't easy, because she didn't have access to institutional financial aid.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded that the proposal would have no fiscal impact on the state or on the higher education system.

The bill is supported by WestConn President John Clark.  Connecticut allows the students to pay in-state tuition as long as they have spent at least two years at a Connecticut high school. But they can’t apply for any government money, including the institutional aid.

Opponents have argued that allowing the students to access financial aid would mean less money for those in the country legally.

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A meeting is being held in Ridgefield tonight about proposed rehabilitation of the Norwalk River Great Swamp Dam.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is looking to craft a plan to rehabilitate the dam so it meets current safety, performance, and design criteria.  The dam provides flood protection to residents of the Towns of Redding and Ridgefield and enhances habitat for wetland wildlife. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in the Charter Oak Room in the Ridgefield Recreation Center on Danbury Road. 

 

DEEP will evaluate several options for the dam including taking no action, removing it, rehabilitate the structure or taking non-structural measures.  Federal funding is helping to pay for the planning phase, but none has been secured at this point for the design or construction.  Public input and time to answer questions or concerns will be part of the meeting.  

 

Staff from DEEP, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and their consultants, along with the Connecticut Dam Safety Program, will provide an update on planning activities to date, the reasons dam rehabilitation is needed, and the alternatives being considered.  

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Funding for a turf field has been removed from the revised proposed Bethel capital budget.  The Board of Finance made the change after residents rejected the municipal spending plan and the capital budget during a referendum last week.  A truck was also removed from the capital plan.  The new budget for the town is proposed at $29.5 million, down $325,000.  That portion of the budget was rejected by just 66 votes.  The tax rate would decrease .03 percent.  The cuts came from funding for items the town might have otherwise borrowed for and some road construction money.  A Town Meeting on the revisions will be held Tuesday at the Bethel High School auditorium.

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A New York City man has been arrested for allegedly selling heroin in Putnam County.  The Sheriff's Office launched an investigation into 24-year old Jassell Franco earlier this month.  A deputy arranged to make a controlled purchase from Franco of 150 bags of heroin.  The man was arrested in the Applebee's parking lot off Independence Way in Southeast.  Franco was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.  He was arraigned and  ordered held at Putnam County Correctional facility on bond.

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Two Connecticut men have been arrested after being found with drugs and a weapon in a car during a routine traffic stop.  New York State Troopers pulled a vehicle over on Interstate 684 in Southeast Saturday night for several violations.  Part of a handgun receiver was spotted under the driver's seat.  36-year old Kurtis Leduc of Waterbury was in possession of a loaded Glock 23 semi-automatic pistol.  His passenger, 37-year old Omar Wilson of Waterbury had 4-and-a-half grams of cocaine on him.  The men were arraigned and ordered held on bond for court appearances today.  Leduc faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon and of a firearm.  Wilson was charged for felony possession of a controlled substance.

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Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company does not solicit donations over the phone.  There are scam calls circulating Fairfield County by people claiming to be from local volunteer fire companies.  Anyone receiving such a call should not give out personal financial information.  Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue will begin its annual fund drive soon. Those who live within the district will receive a letter in the next few weeks.  In late July or early August, firefighters will be doing an annual door-to-door appeal.  The firefighters will be wearing shirts with the company logo as well as photo ID tags at that time.

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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took part in a forum this afternoon to discuss how to improve school safety.  She and others focused on three major areas including gun violence prevention, intervention, and school security measures.   Esty and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are cosponsors of the STOP School Violence Act, which was recently signed into law as part of the federal government’s omnibus funding bill. The law calls for investing in programs to train school personnel, students, and law enforcement to identify signs of potential violence and prevent it before it happens. It also makes key investments in reporting and threat assessment systems for schools, as well as security equipment.  Nicole Hockley, whose son was killed on 12-14,  and Lauren Alfred of Sandy Hook Promise attended the forum.

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The Candlewood Watershed Initiative's Annual Soil Testing Day takes place on Saturday.  Lawn and garden soils are being accepted for lab analysis of nutrient content to determine if fertilization is necessary and, if so, in what quantities and with which nutrient supplements.  Residents from throughout the Candlewood Lake Watershed can drop by one of two sites to receive a free Soil Testing Kit and directions on its use. 

 

The distribution will take place in New Fairfield at Stop & Shop and at the Sherman IGA, 9am to 3pm. 

 

The Candlewood Lake Authority says two-thirds of those participating in the past found that no additional phosphorus was needed.  The CLA says it's a significant finding in light of the potential harm that can result if storm water transports excess nutrients and pollutes lakes and streams.  The nutrients can contribute to the growth of algae, milfoil and other invasive aquatic plants and do similar damage to the ecosystem.

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The City of Danbury has started work to expand the Library parking lot.  Preliminary work began this week, closing the drive-up drop box area.  Library patrons are asked to park in the upper lot. Normal parking is expected to resume tomorrow.

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Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is alerting residents to a phone scam circulating Fairfield County.  People claiming to represent local volunteer fire companies are solicitating donations over the phone.  Brookfield fire officials say it's a phishing scheme for personal financial information, and not to give out those details.  Make note of the phone number the person is calling from, and any other Caller ID informaiton, and then hang up.  Any Brookfield resident receiving such a call should Contact Brookfield Police or Connecticut Better Business Bureau and report what happened.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Candlewood Company begin annual fund drive June 10th and 11th door to door, mailings have already gone out.

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The chairman of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has stepped down.  Kyle Lyddy joined the newly formed group in 2013.  He told the Newtown Bee that he is unable to commit fully to the project at this time, which would not be in the best interest of representing this Commission.  Lyddy continued by saying that the group is at a critical juncture, but he is confident in the groundwork that has been set.  Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal led Commission's meeting on Thursday to review public input on designs.  The Commission has selected a property for the memorial and narrowed down design submissions from 188 to 13.

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A New Milford man has withdrawn a lawsuit against former Mayor David Gronbach over his use of funds from  the Landfill Settlement Fund to turn the former John Pettibone School into a community center.  Michael Barnes told the Newstimes that the current administration would have had to pay legal costs to continue the court fight, but the new members of the Town Council basically upheld his arguments.  The Council recently declared two documents null and void, which Gronbach had used to prove he could spend money from the Fund without Board of Finance approval.  

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A resignation agreement between the Ridgefield Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Karen Baldwin did not find evidence of wrongdoing or misconduct in her performance.  The report was signed last week and obtained by The Ridgefield Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.  The Board did not request her resignation, according to the agreement.  Portions of a letter Baldwin sent to parents following the Florida school shooting contained passages from a communication sent by West Hartford's superintendent.  Baldwin's resignation takes effect June 30th.  Director of Technology and Operations Robert Miller is acting superintendent.  A search committee is looking for a new superintendent.

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Danbury has begun annual hydrant flushing.  Work is being done this week in the North Street, Hayestown, Ives Street areas and Great Plain/Stadley Rough/Nabby roads region.  Anyone who experiences discolored water, should run the cold water tap until it clears. During periods of discoloration,  postpone washing clothes and limit your use of hot water until the cold water clears. 

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The families of two children slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have filed lawsuits against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for claiming the shooting did not happen.

The defamation lawsuits were filed in Texas. That's the home state of Jones' media company, Infowars.

Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, the parents of Noah Pozner, filed separate lawsuits seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Jesse and Noah were among the 20 first-grade students gunned down inside the school in Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012. Six educators were also killed.

The lawsuits allege that Jones' insistence that the shooting was staged led others to make death threats against the victims' families.  

 

Jones said Tuesday in a YouTube video that the families are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media, and that he believes Sandy Hook ``really happened.''  In the video, Jones invited parents who lost their children to his show to have a ``real discussion'' about guns. He also says he believes the lawsuits will be thrown out.  

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