Newtown Public Works crews spent the majority of Saturday working to clear the town’s roads of a quick snowstorm that dropped approximately 6-8 inches of snow and a small amount of freezing rain on Newtown before the storm cleared by late morning. Now it looks like the same employees who spent up to 15 hours working on January 24 need to get ready for a second storm, and this one may be very serious. The National Weather Service this afternoon has upgraded a Winter Storm Watch that had included most of Fairfield County to a Blizzard Warning. Snow is expected to arrive by Monday afternoon and continue well into Tuesday. Portions of the state may be buried by more than two feet of snow, the NWS is reporting. Newtown and the area covered by this Blizzard Warning may receive up to 30 inches of snow.
Readers, groups and individuals with events planned for Saturday — or even Sunday, if this storm hangs around — that will be affected due to the weather are invited to contact Bee Associate Editor Shannon Hicks with this information. Owners of businesses that will be opening late or closing early are also welcome to contact Ms Hicks, who will also help get that word out.
Members of The Distribution Committee of The Sandy Hook School Support Fund, part of The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, have the responsibility to solicit input from the public as to the ongoing needs of all of those who have been affected by 12/14. According to foundation Executive Director Jennifer D. Barahona, LCSW, this input is necessary in order to make well informed funding recommendations. The public is being invited to participate in an online survey, which the committee hopes to close by February 6.
Frigid temperatures and frozen ground have slowed progress on a Memorial Sidewalk project — its first section leading from the top of Church Hill Road downhill to an existing stretch of walkway. Work stopped at the very top of Church Hill Road several weeks ago, when cold weather set in. Since then, many drivers and pedestrians have passed by the site where ground moving machinery is still parked on an already excavated area, the earth eaten away where a retaining wall will go, and overturned wheelbarrows sit waiting. Bright orange cones mark off the work zone on Church Hill Road just below the flagpole. “Frost has really set into the ground and it’s too hard to dig,” said contractor Rob Manna of LRM Landscape Contractors. Waiting for temperatures to hit above the freezing mark to resume work, Mr Manna said this week he hopes to get a crew back to the site soon.
Following lengthy discussion at a heavily attended January 15 Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, commission members unanimously approved a new set of zoning regulations that would cover high-density, multifamily housing complexes that include an affordable housing component.
After several reminders from Chairman Kyle Lyddy that Newtown’s Permanent Memorial Commission is not discouraged by low turnouts at their public information forums, Lions Club President Robert Schmidt suggested that there may be a good reason why so many seats in the high school lecture hall remained empty January 20. “The diversity of your group inspires trust,” Mr Schmidt said. “Maybe that explains why not a lot of people are here tonight — they trust you.” Neither that observation, nor the elementary questions about how many memorials might be planned, where those tributes to the 26 who lost their lives on 12/14 might be located, or when the committee planned to complete its work seemed to faze Mr Lyddy or the commissioners in attendance.
Volunteer firefighting is not a simple task. During all types of weather and at any time of day or night, an emergency call may sound, summoning firefighters from wherever they may be, and whatever they may be doing to respond to the scene of an emergency. For the past half century in Newtown, Bill Halstead has been among those who showed up to help. On January 18, 1965, the day he turned 16, Mr Halstead volunteered as a Sandy Hook firefighter. He has been fighting fires and responding to emergencies ever since in Sandy Hook, in adjacent fire districts within Newtown, and on mutual aid calls out of town. He has worked his way through the ranks and has, since 1978, been serving as Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue's chief since 1978.
A storm system that has already dropped heavy snow on parts of the southern Plains will continue to develop as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard late Friday into Saturday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). “The system has the potential to bring a wintry mix of precipitation to the Mid-Atlantic and New England [regions], though it is not expected to be a major snow producer,” NWS had posted on its website Friday afternoon. Newtown schools have already responded to the expected weather, canceling a number of Saturday events due to the expected storm.
Facing several television crews and reporters from a number of news bureaus, the Legislative Council quickly and unanimously voted January 21 to authorize the Board of Selectmen to move forward with plans to demolish the home of 12/14 shooter Adam Lanza. Finance Director Robert Tait said that the cost for demolition is coming from a special insurance fund set up with designated donations to the town following 12/14. Mrs Llodra said based on another recent residential demolition the town underwrote, she is estimating it will cost about $29,000 to demolish and remove debris associated with the 3,162-square-foot dwelling. In other business, the council set its anticipated budget calendar Wednesday evening.
An anticipated $37 million in grand list growth before any assessment appeals, along with savings from bond refunding, incremental cuts in select operating allocations, and level state aid reimbursement is expected to result in a Board of Selectmen 2015-16 budget proposal that will fortify local road repair plans, increase the town’s fund balance, and enable key hiring while delivering no tax increase and a reduction in next year’s mill rate.