A unanimous town meeting vote that approved the appropriation of $750,000 in funds from the state for planning and design work for a new Sandy Hook Elementary School was over in 11 minutes. A full parking lot and line out the door at a crowded Newtown Center Wednesday found attendees packing the building’s Council Chamber, where the meeting took place. Many residents stood, while others remained in the hallway unable to find a seat or even standing room inside. After calling the meeting to order, First Selectman and moderator Pat Llodra asked for a motion. Resident Christine Wilford moved to appropriate the sum, seconded by Kathy (Fetchick) Hamilton. When the 150-plus residents in the room soon voted on the motion it passed unanimously.
President Obama likes it, as do top congressional leaders, but Connecticut’s Democratic senators -– Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy -– say they can’t sign on to a deal that would reverse a sharp rate hike in a popular student loan. “It’s hard for me to get my head wrapped around the idea that the federal government is going to continue to make millions of dollars in profit from the student loan program,” Murphy said. Blumenthal is even more critical.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced his “Television Consumer Freedom Act” back in May, but Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut became the bill’s first Democratic co-sponsor Tuesday. The legislation would give Americans more control over what they watch on television by allowing them to buy individual television channels, instead of having to purchase the packages of channels offered by their cable providers.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new headquarters of Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps will be on Monday evening, July 29, at 6 pm. The event will be held at Fairfield Hills campus at the garage’s new location, across from Reed Intermediate School. The new building’s design has taken into consideration the need for increased integration with other Newtown-based health and wellness organizations, with a second floor devoted to education. Features of the building will include individual crew-member bunk rooms, office space for the executive board and the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Association Inc, three double-long garage bays, and technologically advanced electronic and security systems.
During a sobriety checkpoint held on South Main Street on the night of Friday, July 19, and early morning hours of Saturday, July 20, police charged three motorists with driving under the influence, according to Newtown Police Sergeant John Cole. Police set up the eight-hour checkpoint on the section of South Main Street just south of its intersection with Borough Lane, using a large commercial parking lot there as a location for investigations. Police estimate that about 550 drivers passed through the checkpoint. All motorists driving in both directions on the road were stopped and briefly interviewed by police to determine whether they were driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
John McKinney, Newtown's state senator and the Republican Senate Minority Leader, announced he is running for governor in 2014, saying he hopes to restore fiscal prosperity to Connecticut. The eight-term Fairfield lawmaker announced his candidacy Tuesday morning. ‘‘Over the coming weeks, we'll work to build support and a statewide organization to help put Connecticut back on the right track,’’ Sen McKinney said. He criticized Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s approach to rebuilding the state’s economy, saying the first-term governor ‘‘by almost every measure’’ has taken Connecticut’s economy in the wrong direction.
Newtown Republican Town Committee Secretary Carey Schierloh released the names of residents seeking local office or reelection following an RTC caucus at Edmond Town Hall on Monday, July 22. First Selectman Pat Llodra won her renomination handily, as did her running mate, Selectman Will Rodgers. The GOP Board of Finance nominees were incumbents John Kortze, Joe Kearney, Harry Waterbury, and John Godin, who previously chaired two recent Charter Revision Commissions. Republicans hope to fill a two-year opening on the Board of Education with newcomer David Freedman, while candidates for the four-year openings include incumbent Chair Debbie Leidlein, Keith Alexander, and former Legislative Council Education Committee chair Kathy (Fetchick) Hamilton.
Newtown's Democratic Town Committee announced its choices for November 's ballot following a caucus July 23 at Edmond Town Hall. The DTC is not planning to recruit a candidate to oppose Republican First Selectman Pat Llodra. Former First Selectman Herb Rosenthal, the DTC's candidates committee chair and an incumbent candidate for ZBA alternate, said after a challenging recruitment period, nearly two dozen "good people" stepped up to serve. "We were fortunate that most incumbents said they would run again," Mr Rosenthal said. "It was hard to find people to run this year, so we needed these good people."
UPDATE: Azryah Rhoden has reportedly been found, safe, in Bridgeport. Rickardo Rhoden has been taken into police custody. Sarah Burton's whereabouts are unknown, but she is reportedly safe, according to family members. ||| An 11-month old girl and her mother are believed to have been kidnapped from their home in New Haven this afternoon. An Amber Alert for the two has been issued. Police say the child and her mother, Sarah Burton, were taken from the home by Rickardo Rhoden, earlier this afternoon. Azryrah has brown hair, and brown eyes. She is black, weighs approximately 20 pounds, and is approximately two feet tall. Rhoden may be operating a blue 2002 Buick Century with Connecticut marker plates 410-ZVD. He is a black male, approximately 5’8” tall. Anyone with information should call 911 immediately.
Connecticut’s U.S. senators called Friday for an independent audit of more than $11 million in donations received in response to the Newtown school shooting to determine what donors wanted done with the money. The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation released a plan this week to give $7.7 million to the families and survivors and to have committees decide on uses for the rest of the money. A spokesman said decisions on how to spend the money were based on donor intent and the foundation tried to balance short-term and long-term needs. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy wrote a letter calling for the foundation and United Way of Western Connecticut, which helped raised the money, to implement an audit to determine how to divide the money based on donor intent. They said they appreciate the complexity of the issue and the good intentions of those who worked with the foundation, but share concerns that the determination that 70 percent of the money was meant to benefit victims’ families was not reached through a verifiable, comprehensive analysis of contributions.