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A stove fire was reported yesterday in Brookfield in a row of attached townhouses.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to Pondview Trail and called in mutual aid.  Firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions in the kitchen and dining room area and were on the scene for about two hours.  There were no injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.  The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Water Witch Hose Co. #2 of New Milford, and the Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company #1 provided assistance. 

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The New Milford Police Department is investigating an evading responsibility crash that happened earlier this month on Aspetuck Ridge Road.  A driver headed south near Sand Road on February 7th, around 3:15pm, collided with the concrete bridge.  There was light snow falling at the time and the road was snow covered.  The car eventually collided with a wooden fence.  The female driver of the dark colored, small SUV got out and retrieve the scattered vehicle parts.  New Milford Police are asking that anyone who can identify the vehicle or suspect to contact them at 860-355-3133. 

 

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Three police officers walked the hallways at New Milford High School on Wednesday, joining safety monitors and the administration, after a threat was found written on a bathroom wall.  The investigation into the threat is still ongoing, but Superintendent Joshua Smith says students of interest have been identified and leads are being pursued.  Police do not feel that the threat is viable, but they are taking it seriously as a precaution. 

 

Smith says guidance counselors are available to speak with any students who are concerned or need help coping with any fears or anxiety the current climate has fostered. 

 

Smith sent out an updated letter to parents yesterday after he says misinformation was spread on social media about an incident in nearby Dover, New York.  He says the written threat found on a bathroom wall this week was in no way connected to that in Dover. 

 

On Tuesday evening, New York State Police and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office began receiving calls concerning a Snapchat posting that stated “…I heard they are suppose to shoot up both dover and new milford high school tomorrow at 12” It was posted by a 16-year-old Dover High School student, who New York State Police say had no malicious intent. New York State Police determined there is no known credible threat concerning any schools in the Dover Union Free School District.  

 

There was also a reference to an incident at "SMS," according to Smith.  But he says it was Southern Middle School in Southern York County Pennsylvania, not Schaghticoke Middle School.  Smith encourage students to speak to an adult if they hear anything, and to challenge their peers on threatening language. 

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A Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Forum has been held by state lawmakers.  One of the speakers on alternate energy was from Danbury-based FuelCell Energy.  Senior VP and General Counsel Jennifer Arasimowicz testified in support of the industry. 

 

The company has 450 employees and exports their product to three continents.  While their headquartered in Danbury, they also have a manufacturing facility in Torrington.  FuelCell Energy's supply chain includes companies in 97 Connecticut towns.  In the last three years, she says the company has spent more than $75 million with those businesses. 

 

Arasimowicz says the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has awarded no bids for fuel cell projects when looking for alternate energy sources.  She notes that the four projects FuelCell bid would have paid $42 million in state and local taxes.  Unlike solar and wind, she notes fuel cells are not sales tax exempt.  She added that the projects would have supported 322 direct jobs and 106 indirect jobs. 

 

FuelCell Energy opted to expand in Connecticut, growing their manufacturing facility.  Arasimowicz says a critical factor was the supportive energy policy environment, but that doesn't match DEEP action.

 

Greater than 75-percent of the megawatts in the selected projects are located outside of Connecticut.  She says that's more than $1.5 billion of out-of-state investment by Connecticut ratepayers to purchase energy that will never flow into Connecticut.  Arasimowicz called it a massive lost opportunity for jobs, taxes and grid resiliency.

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A former Mayor of Meriden has announced his candidacy for the 5th Congressional District.  Manny Santos declared his intent at Danbury City Hall yesterday.  Santos served one term as mayor of Meriden, the first Republican in the role there since 1983.  Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty is also being challenged by Republican Craig Diangelo of New Britain.  Esty has raised the most campaign funding among the state delegation in a district which has flipped between parties several times.  Esty was first elected in 2012.

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As Congress prepares to return to Washington next week, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal along with Representatives Elizabeth Esty and Rosa DeLauro are hoping their colleagues will take action to protect schools from gun violence.  The 4 are meeting today with Ridgefield High School sophomore Lane Murdock, who helped start the National School Walkout movement, and Sandy Hook Promise Founder Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed on 12-14. 

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New Fairfield's next school Superintendent will be retiring Region 12 Superintendent Pat Cosentino, replacing Alicia Roy whose contract expires June 30th.  Cosentino's term at Region 12 ends the same day and she'll started in New Fairfield on July 1st.  Cosentino served as principal of Bethel High School for six years and previously taught in New York.  Outgoing Superintendent Roy has faced criticism over the last two years over a perceived lack of communication in the district.

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Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky is part of the legislature's Animal Welfare Caucus.  He says there's evidence that people who commit violence acts on animals today are most likely to become abusers of women and children tomorrow.   He called the cruelty a red flag that could prevent abuse and violent crime.  Bolinsky called for a searchable registry of those found guilty of animal abuse.

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Eversource Energy is currently conducting aerial inspections of high-voltage electrical equipment on rights of way throughout Connecticut. The semiannual inspection is an effort to prevent outages before they happen.  The work involves the use of a low-flying helicopter equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology which can detect potential equipment issues.  The aerial inspections will continue through February 28th. Weather permitting; flights will take place from 8am and 4pm.  Utility rights of way will be inspected in Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, Monroe, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Washington, Wilton, and Woodbury.  The blue and silver helicopter has tail # N1431W.

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A threat was found written on a bathroom wall at New Milford High School yesterday morning.  Superintendent Joshua Smith said in a letter to parents that school administrators and police are investigating the situation .  Police did determine yesterday that the nature of the threat did not pose an immediate danger to students, which is why the school day was not altered.  Smith said they take student safety very seriously so an increased Police presence was in effect at New Milford High School during the investigation.  There will be an increased presence through at least today.  Smith noted that the additional Police support at all schools will continue. 

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There was a fatal accident on I-84 in Brewster yesterday.  New York State Police Troopers are investigating the motor vehicle crash on Interstate 84 westbound east of exit 20, the ramp for 684.  It happened around 3:30pm.  Police did not disclose how many cars were involved.  The entire westbound side was closed for some time, while one lane was closed for 4 hours.  Any witness or person with information about the crash is asked to call Troop K Headquarters at (845) 677-7300.

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Danbury is one 35 finalists in the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge.  There were 320 applicantsin the a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. Danbury is looking for a solution to the lack of affordable childcare options for low-income families.  The United Way of Western Connecticut says nearly 1,000 children attend unlicensed daycare facilities, because their parents have no other affordable alternative.  Danbury will start a six-month testing phase of prototypes with grant funding of $100,000.

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Newtown Police are trying to figure out who has been dumping medical waste on the side of the road.  Complaints have been filed about the waste on Plumtrees Road in the area of Taunton Hill Road, near the Bethel town line.  The littering has been taking place over the past year, on at least 7 separate occasions.  While the waste has been dumped by one home, Newtown Police say it does not appear that the complainant is a target.

 

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A Newtown man who was arrested twice in one day is due in court today.  24-year old David Cortina was charged by State police in the early morning hours of January 28th for a highway car crash.  He was arrested about an hour later by Newtown Police for a domestic disturbance. 

 

Cortina allegedly drifted into an SUV on I-84 by exit 9.  He was cited for failure to maintain the proper lane and taken to the hospital for evaluation. 

 

Newtown Police responded to a local home and charge Cortina with driving under the influence, evading responsibility, and violation of a protective order.  He was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

 

Cortina was being held after the court did not set bond.  He was previously arrested by newtown Police January 24th on charges of DUI and possession of marijuana.  He had been released on bond on those charges, but then was arrested a few days later.

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New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has started making staff reductions he announced last week in response to state budget cuts.  The assistant police chief, the assistant director of Parks and Recreation and the Public Works project manager have been laid off.  Bass says they received six weeks of severance and health insurance until April 30th, more than legally required.  He says the decisions were not made lightly, but were necessary to not put the entire burden on taxpayers.   

 

There was a bit of a controversy over whether the laying off the Assistant Parks and Rec Director was legal or not.  According to the town charter, the Commission gets to vote on employee terminations, but Mayor Pete Bass does have the discretion to lay off employees.  The Parks and Rec Commission is looking into what cost-cutting measures can be taken to save enough money to keep the position. 

 

Bass is proposing a $101.8 million budget, with a decrease of about $8,600 on the town side and an increase of about $868,000 for the schools.  But the school funding is about $600,000 less than the increase the Board of Education is calling for. 

 

New Milford is facing projected revenue declines in Building Department permit fees and Parks and Recreation program and park fees.  Bass says there's a $50,000 reduction included in his budget for the Commission on Aging to fix what he says is a transportation grant that was double counted. 

 

The New Milford budget includes $55,000 for a grant writer.  Bass says the employee will be in charge of eliminating a deficiencies in the most recent Audit, with a focus on obtaining new grants to increase revenues.

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Danbury High School is hosting a 2018 Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday.  The event is also hosted by Westside Middle School Academy and the Western Connecticut Chinese Association, along with Huaxia CT Chinese School.  The event is from 2 to 3pm with performances scheduled from 3 to 5pm.  Performances include folk dances, traditional instruments, and Chinese calligraphy, among others.

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A Brewster man was arrested twice in three days by New York State Police.  32-year old Alfred Dajanaj was stopped on Saturday on Route 22 in Southeast for a traffic law violation.  He was also stopped on Monday in the same area.  Investigations revealed that he was impaired by alcohol both days and was arrested. 

 

New  York State Police in the Putnam and Westchester areas removed two dozen drunk drivers from the roadway during the Presidents' Day holiday weekend. 

 

Among those stopped for traffic violations and determined to be impaired on Saturday was 31-year old John Taveras Espinal of Danbury.  He was stopped on Route 6 in Southeast.  

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump is declaring that more must be done to protect America's children.


With a Florida community grieving over the latest school shooting, Trump is directing the Justice Department to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year's Las Vegas massacre.

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump is hosting parents, teachers and students for a ``listening session'' that will include people impacted by the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the shootings in Columbine, Colorado, and Newtown.

 

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

 

Sen. Chris Murphy said Trump's directive on bump stocks suggested the president was aware of fresh energy on the issue and called it a sign that "for the first time" politicians are "scared of the political consequences of inaction on guns."

A bipartisan legislative effort to ban bump stocks last year fizzled out. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced in December that it was reviewing whether weapons using bump stocks should be considered illegal machine guns under federal law.

 

The federal background check bill was developed in response to a mass shooting last November in which a gunman slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church. It would penalize federal agencies that don't properly report required records and reward states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences. The measure, which is pending in the Senate, was drafted after the Air Force acknowledged that it failed to report the Texas gunman's domestic violence conviction to the National Criminal Information Center database.

The GOP-controlled House paired the background checks bill with a measure making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines. The concealed carry measure would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons.

Murphy said any attempt to combine background checks with concealed-carry provisions would significantly jeopardize the chances of passing bipartisan reform of the background checks system.

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A Patterson man has been arrested for sexually abusing a child.  New York State Police launched an investigation in August of reported abuse by 61-year old Anthony Marino of a child under age 13. 

 

An investigation determined that Marino engaged in sexual conduct with a child multiple times.  He was arraigned and ordered held on $50,000 bond. 

 

Marino was charged with sexual conduct with a child, sexual misconduct, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child.

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A Danbury man has been arrested after leading state police on a highway chase that topped 100 miles an hour yesterday afternoon.  A Trooper by exit 6 on I-84 westbound observed a motorcycle travelling 85 miles an hour, and began to follow with lights and sirens activated.  The driver, later determined to be 29-year old Gary Lessard, sped to over 105 miles an hour.  State Police say the trooper stopped the chase when Lessard started driving in the right shoulder.  A DMV search of the plate led to Lessard at his work place.  He was charged with reckless driving, engaging in a police pursuit, passing on the right and operating without a motorcycle endorsed license.  He was held on bond.

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