Fire Marshal Bill Halstead has announced that the annual open burning season is scheduled to start Saturday, November 1. Open burning permits, which are required for the activity, will start being issued Wednesday, October 29, at the fire marshal’s office at Newtown Municipal Center. Permits are $5 each, and are for the burning of brush only.
A rough path at the end of Old Farm Road leads to the top of a hill overlooking a property filled with beds of past-season goldenrod, milkweed pods exuding feathery seeds, and waist-high grasses. Jenny Hubbard, Monica Roberto, and Harmony Verna pause there. They are looking beyond the overgrown brush to a vision they have held close to their hearts for the last year and a half. It is here that they hope The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary will rise from the ground, providing a safe and healing space for domestic and farm animals, people, and as a place honoring the land itself.
A private environmental protection group has informed the first selectman that it is concerned about development that has occurred at a 34-acre site at Fairfield Hills, near the environmentally sensitive Deep Brook, without the developer first having secured a wetlands/watercourses protection permit for such work from the town. In an October 21 letter to First Selectman Pat Llodra, Stephen Zakur, the president of the Candlewood Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, raises the environmental protection issue about the land which the state has donated for creation of The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.
Middle Gate Elementary School entered “lock-in” mode for about 45 minutes on Wednesday, October 22, while police investigated the circumstances surrounding the presence of an unidentified man who was spotted on the school grounds. There were no injuries in the incident, police said. An adult male who was on school grounds "left abruptly," according to Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi Jr, after being approached by school staff members. The incident led to the lock-in closed protocol being used, which prohibits visitors from entering the building and also requires that all students and staff be inside the building. Through their probe, police determined that situation amounted to “a misunderstanding,” said police Sergeant David Kullgren.
For the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, as well as the 60,000 American victims of gun violence since December 2012, The Newtown Foundation will join Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to to Prevent Gun Violence, Washington National Cathedral and allies from across the United States in a vigil service of mourning and remembrance for all those who have fallen victim to the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America. The vigil service will take place at the Washington National Cathedral on Thursday, December 11. Gun violence victims and their families from across the country have been invited to attend the vigil in Washington, D.C. Vigils will also be held December 11-14 in cities and towns nationwide.
An hour-long informational meeting will be held on Thursday, October 30, at 7 pm, in the auditorium of Newtown Middle School, 11 Queen Street, to discuss the School Based Health Center set to open in January 2015. The Board of Education unanimously approved in September a grant-funded school-based health clinic for the middle school last month.
With more than 15 years of service to the town and a volunteer dedicated to land preservation, Conservation Commission Vice Chairman Joe Hovious is stepping down. Having served as chairman of the Open Space Task Force since 2003, Mr Hovius continued as chairman when that group later became the Conservation Commission in 2006. Considering the past years on the Conservation Commission, Mr Hovious said, “We certainly acquired property and increased our acres, but resources to maintain it have gone down.” The town has nearly 1,700 acres of open space, he said, but “very little budget to support it.” While money goes toward purchases, he said, he would like if the town “got serious” about its maintenance. Invasive species are a problem throughout town. He said, “Those first green signs of spring are mostly barberry — invasives.” Existing trails need upkeep, and certain locations such as a parcel on Pond Brook are not accessible, he said. Current Commission chair Ann Astarita called Mr Hovius's dedication and expertise "invaluable and he will be sorely missed by all. He resigned, but I don’t think he’ll ever retire."
At the Thursday, October 9, meeting of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission, said Chairman Kyle Lyddy, the group heard from sixth grader Ben Paley and Sandy Hook School art teacher Leslie Gunn. Ms Gunn and Ben presented a plan for a small monument honoring the events of 12/14 and those who died that day. Ben was a fourth grade student at the time of the SHS shooting.In an e-mail to The Newtown Bee, Mr Lyddy praised the young man for his courage in stepping before the 12-member panel to discuss what he called “an incredibly sensitive topic."
With the hiring of two new police patrol officers, the police department is now up to its full complement of 45 sworn members. Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia Halstead gave the oath of office to both officers in ceremonies held on October 2 at Newtown Municipal Center.
The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a three-lot residential subdivision for the west side of Taunton Lane, about 650 feet south of Mt Pleasant Road. Following a recent public hearing, P&Z members approved the project for 10 Taunton Lane for a firm known as Ten Taunton Lane, LLC, which owns the 11.8-acre site. The site currently holds one house.