Newtown’s post 12/14 recovery and resiliency efforts are about to accelerate with the hiring of a team of mental health experts and case managers, and the distribution of funds to underwrite outreach and support programs being coordinated through several separate town agencies. First Selectman Pat Llodra wasted no time in recent weeks following the delivery of $7.1 million in federal Department of Justice grants, delivering allocations to Kevin’s Community Center, Newtown’s public health clinic, Newtown Prevention Council, Parent Connection, and Newtown Police Department.
Mrs Llodra said she has also set aside funds from part of the grant designated for school security and facility hardening, and has completed hiring a dedicated recovery team that is being headed by Melissa Glaser, MS/LPC. That team will soon begin its work and interacting with members of the community.
With Board of Finance approval July 14, and anticipated Legislative Council endorsement, top donors including Newtown’s Draper family, as well as town and borough of Newtown officials are poised to complete a critical link to a planned “Memorial Sidewalk” that supporters hope eventually connect Main Street to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. Following the finance board action, the council is expected to take up and approve a special appropriation July 16 of $193,005 from the Sandy Hook Special Revenue Fund and designated donations made through the Parks and Recreation Department. Newtown-based LRM Landscape Contractors won the bid for the project, and will be ready to begin work this fall.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy on July 17 announced that the application process will begin next week for the next round of the School Security Grant Program. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will be sending application packets to eligible public and private schools beginning the week of July 21. The program was originally created as part of the historic 2013 legislation on gun violence prevention, mental health and school safety. Including the July 17 announcement, the state has made $43 million available for school security since 2013.
Work is progressing on the town’s project to replace the Poverty Hollow Road bridge that crosses the Aspetuck River near the parking lot entrance to Centennial Watershed State Forest. Town Engineer Ronald Bolmer said this week said that the target date for project completion is August 15. Work started on June 9. Mr Bolmer said the town has received no complaints about the detour which has been created to divert through-traffic away from road section where the new bridge is being constructed to replace a bridge that was built about 80 years ago. Fortunately, work crews found that the construction area has good quality sandy, gravelly soils which lend themselves to such projects, Mr Bolmer said.
Running Bamboo is a nuisance, according to an ordinance passed by the Borough Board of Burgesses. On July 8, the borough unanimously approved measures regulating bamboo “so that it does not invade or infest properties within the borough." The board is at the forefront of a movement that echoes state legislation enacted last month, and will likely be followed by town officials. Land Use Agency Director George Benson said, “We will look into it [and] will consider an ordinance too. When the borough passes something we often mirror and do the same.” Conservation Commission member Mary Gaudet-Wilson was also happy with the news, saying, “I am very pleased that the borough has taken the initiative to address this problem. Running bamboo can quickly spread and become a serious threat to neighboring property, rights of way, etc. Having some government control will reduce the likelihood of neighbors having to sue neighbors, which is not good for the community. The Board of Burgesses was squarely in favor of the new ordinance and should be commended for their positive action.”
Residents interested in learning about the state’s plans to make travel safety improvements along one of the most congested and accident-prone sections of roadway in town can attend a meeting on the construction project slated for next week. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has scheduled a public informational session on its project to create a conventional four-way signalized intersection of Church Hill Road (State Route 6), Commerce Road and Edmond Road for Tuesday, July 22, at Newtown Municipal Center. DOT officials will be available to discuss the project with the public starting at 6:30 pm. A presentation on plans to improve traffic flow in the project area is slated to start at 7.
The Board of Education unanimously voted to hire David Roach of Southbury to fill a vacant assistant principal position at Newtown High School during its meeting on July 15. Mr Roach has been working for the past decade-plus as a social studies teachers at neighboring Pomperaug High School, where he has also served as the head football coach for three years.
Also on Tuesday the school board voted to name Keith Alexander as its new chair, filling the position vacated by Debbie Leidlein two weeks earlier. A member of the board for 3½ years, Mr Alexander was nominated for the position by Ms Leidlein, who pointed out Mr Alexander's ability to work well with others, gain support, and respect the opinions of others during his tenure.
After 24 years working to promote business and community growth in Newtown, Director of Community and Economic Development Elizabeth Stocker has accepted a new position heading up the Norwalk Economic Development Agency. Her last day on the job locally will be August 8. On July 15, the same day she tendered her resignation to First Selectman Pat Llodra, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling announced Ms Stocker would be taking over as that city’s economic development director. More than 50 candidates applied and showed great interest in Norwalk according to the mayor. The position generated applications from within Fairfield County and as far away as Texas, Colorado, and Nevada. Ms Stocker, a Milford resident, has played a key role guiding Newtown’s economic and community development activities with grant administration, managing marketing strategies, and redevelopment activities. She was responsible for business attraction, retention, and expansion, working directly with businesses and town leaders.
A federal judge in Connecticut ordered a psychiatric assessment Wednesday of a Venezuelan man charged with making threatening phone calls to Newtown residents in the days following the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Wilfrido Cardenas Hoffman, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted, was arrested last month at Miami International Airport while traveling to Mexico from Venezuela.
During the evening of Saturday, July 19, and early morning hours of Sunday, July 20, town police plan to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on a local road to check on whether motorists are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. One supervisor and seven police officers will conduct the special enforcement project. Motorists driving in both directions on the road will be stopped and will be briefly interviewed to determine whether they are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.