Newtown officials and spokespersons for state agencies involved with supporting both immediate victims and survivors of 12/14 responded to queries by The Newtown Bee following testimony last week by two surviving families to the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. The 16-member panel appointed last year by Governor Dannel Malloy heard from Dr Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, parents of 6-year-old victim Avielle Richman, and Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, during a nearly two-hour session at C.H. Booth Library. After reviewing some of the emotional testimony offered on November 14, First Selectman Pat Llodra said there are critical but subtle differences between her outreach to the entire community, and the level of outreach she needs to exercise with the immediate victims of 12/14.
Newtown Action Alliance, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Campaign to Unload announced Wednesday, November 19, comedian Jay Leno’s decision to cancel his appearance at the 2015 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), an annual event sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the gun industry. Mr Leno’s cancellation came just hours after the three gun violence prevention groups had launched a petition Wednesday morning, calling on him to take this action.
Newtown Veterans of Foreign War Post 308 launched its annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program on November 14, when member Dave Silver asked his retirement party guests to bring donations for the annual Christmas campaign. The VFW Post, and more than a dozen other locations in town, will continue receiving Toys For Tots donations until December 19.
Nearly two dozen Newtown families still need help from the public as Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season approaches. According to Women Involved in Newtown (WIN) member Many Monaco, who contacted The Newtown Bee on November 18, there are 20 families still up for “adoption” through the WIN Thanksgiving Basket program. WIN coordinates with Newtown Social Services throughout the holiday season, seeking individuals, organizations, and school groups to “adopt” each family and provide food, toiletries, and paper goods for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.
United Way of Connecticut released, on November 16, a 121-page, statewide report, documenting Connecticut households struggling to afford living expenses that exceed the official federal poverty level of $11,670 for an individual or $23,850 for a family of four. In Newtown, one in five people meet these criteria and live with these daily economic challenges.
After clearing trees and stumps from the footprint of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, site work to make the new foundation area stable will commence in the coming days according to a Consigli Construction spokesperson. At the same time, the State of Connecticut has scheduled the next installment of an approved $50 million in funding by awarding the latest round of grants requested to cover costs related to the construction project. Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced November 19 that the State Bond Commission approved a $5 million grant to finance ongoing planning and design costs for the new school. “The State of Connecticut joins the people of Newtown in their resolve to move forward despite the most challenging of circumstances,” said Gov Malloy. “This project is a necessary part of the recovery process, and will continue to be a priority even after students are attending classes in their new school.”
The Inland Wetlands Commission last week granted a wetlands/watercourses protection permit to the developers of The Preserve at Newtown, a proposed 23-lot residential subdivision in Dodgingtown. IWC members unanimously approved the application on November 12, following several months of review and public hearings on the plans for the 167-acre site. The project is proposed by developers KASL, LLC, and IBF, LLC. The firms are represented by local developer/builder George L. Trudell. The proposed development would be built along Robin Hill Road #2 and off Scudder Road.
Just two weeks shy of her first year in elected office, District 2 Legislative Council Representative Lisa Romano has tendered her resignation to Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia Halstead and Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob. In her brief notice, Ms Romano states, “I have made the difficult decision to focus my energies on professional and career commitments as well as projects in the community where I can make an impact. It has certainly been an honor to serve in an elected capacity with such a dedicated group, and I have no doubt that we will continue to cross paths around both town and issues of concern to the community.”
An industrial firm’s proposal for a zoning rule change, which would allow scrap tire storage and recycling in M-1 (Industrial) zones under the terms of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s special permit process, has drawn stiff opposition from some High Road area residents.
MAAK Environmental Corporation, which lists its address at 40 High Bridge Road, is seeking the zoning rule change. If such a rule change is approved, the firm would then submit a zoning application to the P&Z for a special permit to conduct such scrap tire storage and recycling at 40 High Bridge Road. That six-acre site with M-1 zoning holds a 59,000-square-foot industrial building that was constructed in 1965. About 25 people attended a November 6 P&Z public hearing on the proposed zoning rule change.
Members of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission heard presentations from two area artists during the commission’s regular meeting on November 13, conducted at Newtown Municipal Center. The presentations were at the requests of the artists, said Kyle Lyddy, SHPMC chairman. Mr Lyddy stressed to both David Merrill and Richmond Jones that the commission cannot endorse any plan at this time, and is still heavily invested in gathering information. The commission is charged with determining if a permanent memorial is desired, and if so, the location, nature, and design of any memorial. The commission is also charged with how to fund and maintain any memorial.