Nearly three dozen residents from the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Penn., were in Newtown last Friday. The group spent about nine hours in town, offering support from an unfortunate point of view. These were people who were also affected by an act of violence that took the lives of five children while they were at school. The incident has forever put the name of Nickel Mines into a category that Sandy Hook joined 13 months ago, that of communities rocked by gun violence. Invitations had been extended to some of those who were most affected by the events of 12/14, according to Newtown Congregational Church Senior Minister Matthew Crebbin. The day was organized so that the participants had the opportunity for private conversations. It was important for all parties involved to know that the Amish were not coming to tell anyone how they should be responding, or feeling. They were not giving advice, said Rev Crebbin, they were just offering to listen and share their stories.
(AP) An expert told a commission looking into the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Connecticut on Friday that there is no data linking autism with increased violent criminal behavior. Documents recently released by the state police show a Yale professor had diagnosed Lanza in 2006 with profound autism spectrum disorder, "with rigidity, isolation, and a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications," while also displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is considering whether Connecticut's mental health programs, particularly in the schools, are adequate, among other things.
With a short list of topics to run past the Board of Finance Monday evening, First Selectman Pat Llodra started with the wintry weather. Joking that “we want a mild winter, on Friday through Monday,” she had her eye on the town’s recent snow removal costs. Weekend pay is time and a half on Saturdays, and double time on Sundays. She told the Board of Finance that the town was already experiencing a drain on its budget this winter season. The board on January 13 also covered potential sewer extensions in Hawleyville, including the costs associated with that and how it would affect land with development potential within the Hawleyville district.
A public informational meeting has been scheduled by the State Department of Transportation for Tuesday, February 11, on its plans to replace an antiquated bridge and to alleviate a traffic bottleneck on the section of Sugar Street just west of its signalized intersection with Main Street, South Main Street, and Glover Avenue. The session is scheduled for 7 pm at Newtown Municipal Center. As part of the Sugar Street improvement project, a 14-foot-long Sugar Street bridge, which carries that road over an unnamed stream near Elm Drive, will be widened from its current width of 28 feet to 43 feet. The bridge, which was built in 1929, carries approximately 8,800 vehicles daily. That bridge, which becomes a traffic bottleneck during the morning and evening rush periods, currently has one eastbound lane and one westbound lane. The bridge replacement project will result in two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane on the bridge. One of those two eastbound lanes on the bridge will be a “left-turn-only” lane, thus alleviating the traffic bottleneck there.
A charity formed after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been unable to account for $73,000 it raised through marathon running, one of its co-founders said January 10. The FBI, the attorneys general in two states, and the IRS are all looking for the co-founder of an organization that raised funds for those affected by 12/14. Ryan Graney, of Nashville, Tenn., said only $30,000 of the $103,000 taken in by the 26.4.26 Foundation was used for the organization’s purpose. That money was presented last January by co-founder Robbie Bruce to the nonprofit NYA Sports & Fitness Center in Newtown. Mr Bruce has since disappeared, as has another $73,000 received by the foundation through donations and other fundraising.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay summarily rejected the state's request January 16 for a lengthy postponement of an education-funding lawsuit over whether the state is meeting its constitutional responsibility of providing a “suitable education” for every child in Connecticut.
The attorney general's office had asked the judge to reschedule a trial now set for July 1 until October 2015, a move that the plaintiffs, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, claimed was intended to delay the proceedings until after the 2014 gubernatorial election.
The Newtown Board of Education unanimously voted to name Joseph Erardi, Jr, as the school district's new superintendent during a special meeting held on Friday, January 17. According to a press release from the school board, read by BOE Vice Chair Laura Roche during the meeting, it is anticipated that Dr Erardi will begin his new position as early as the spring. Dr Erardi has been the superintendent in Southington for the past eight years, according to the release, and has served as a superintendent in three districts, including Southington, for 14 years.
Scott Lavelle, property manager for Divivo-Vona, LLC, confirmed Thursday morning, January 16, that an eviction is proceeding against Make A Home Foundation, located at 40 High Bridge Road in Newtown. Make A Home Foundation was established in Sandy Hook in 2010, and originally operated out of offices at 87 Church Hill Road. Its stated intention at that time was to provide free furniture, appliances, clothing, and other items to veterans, families, and other individuals who are homeless, either due to temporary circumstances or those problems that are ongoing. Founders Anita Pettengill and Dan Telesco moved the charity business to the 56,000 square foot High Bridge site in 2011. In June 2012, Ms Pettengill told The Newtown Bee, “Mario Divivo, the owner of the warehouse, has provided the warehouse to us, rent free, for one year. But in August, we will have to start paying rent.” The eviction is due to nonpayment of rent on the space for the past year and a half, said Mr Lavelle.
At their January 7 meeting, Police Commission members accepted the retirement of sergeants Darlene Froehlich and John Cole. In her letter of resignation, Sgt Froehlich cited a “cruel work environment” and “hatred” within the department as prompting her decision to retire.
Ms Froehlich, 55, joined the police department in July 1984. Mr Cole, 52, joined the organization in January 1989. The full-pension vesting period for town police officers is 25 years.
In a December 26 e-mail to Carole Ross, the town’s human resources director, Ms Froehlich retired from the police department, effective January 6.
The Newtown Police Department will again sponsor its Citizen Police Academy, a free educational program intended to inform residents about law enforcement issues and, more broadly, about the criminal justice system.
The annual program was not offered in 2013, in the aftermath of the December 2012 shooting incident at Sandy Hook School, but is now resuming.
This year’s session marks the 18th time that the police department has offered the program. Patrol Sergeant David Kullgren is the program coordinator.