Just two days after making a case based on Newtown’s adherence to new financial management policies and evidence that new commercial development will be supplementing the community’s grand list in the coming years, officials learned February 12 that Standard & Poor’s awarded the community a AAA bond rating.Town officials also learned February 19 that Newtown’s rating from Moody’s Investors Service will be maintained at its current Aa1 status, the agency’s second highest rating.A group of officials including First Selectman Pat Llodra, Finance Director Robert Tait, Community Development Director Elizabeth Stocker, and Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze traveled to Boston February 10 for presentations to S&P and Moody’s.Their trip comes ahead of Newtown offering a $6.5 million bond initiative, which is expected in early March,
Newtown residents who have been receiving financial assistance from the local Lions Club to help offset out of pocket costs for post 12/14-related mental health and counseling services can continue receiving assistance uninterrupted. Robert Schmidt, a spokesperson for the local unit of this global service club told The Newtown Bee February 17 that money in a special Lions fund set up to help local individuals afford counseling for themselves or family members since the Sandy Hook shootings is running out. But the Lions have teamed with the local Rotary Club and the Newtown Memorial Fund to help ensure residents tapping support services aren't forced to stop because of the burden of out of pocket expenses for counseling.
First Selectman Pat Llodra is seeking residents to fill several opening on local appointed boards and commissions. In some cases the appointments are required to be affiliated with a specific political party, while in other cases unaffiliated voters are encouraged to consider serving. Current openings exist on The Library Board of Trustees, Economic Development Commission, Hattertown Historic District, Inland Wetlands Commission, Sustainable Energy Commission, Lake Lillinonah Authority, and Design Advisory Board.
The Police Commission has formed a subcommittee to pursue creating a new police station to better meet the space needs of the 45-member police department. Police Commission members at a February 4 session named commission members James Viadero and Andrew Sachs to serve on that panel. The formation of that unit, formally known as the Newtown Police Department Facilities Subcommittee, comes on the heels of the recent formation of a private fundraising group of volunteers, which is seeking to raise $18 million toward the construction of a new police station. That group, which is headed by resident Scott Cicciari, is known as the Newtown Police Building Fund.
Local officials and residents attending a state Department of Transportation (DOT) informational session on planned improvements for the eastern end of Sugar Street (Route 302), including bridge replacement, have told DOT staffers of the need for sidewalks there, as well as better protection for adjacent electric utility lines that power the town center. The DOT held the February 11 session at Newtown Municipal Center to explain the project and hear comments and suggestions on the work planned the for the section of Sugar Street that extends about 400 feet westward from its signalized four-way intersection with Main Street, Glover Avenue, and South Main Street. DOT officials said the construction work may start as soon as the fall of 2015 and be completed within 12 months. If initial work does not start in the fall of 2015, it would begin in the spring of 2016. Comments from residents and local public officials during the session noted the proximity of the proposed project to a pair of pristine properties in the center of town, the needs of pedestrians and bicyclers in configuring the project, the wish for sidewalks and crosswalks in the area, and concerns over possible traffic jams during the project's construction.
Snow and ice have been repeatedly blanketing Newtown since late fall, pushing the Public Works Department’s winter maintenance budgets into the red in recent weeks. But a transfer of $116,106 that is expected to be approved by the Legislative Council February 19 will put those well-tapped budget lines back in the black according to Public Works Director Fred Hurley. The transfers have already been approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, but they also require endorsement from the council because the money is originating from the town’s contingency fund, Finance Director Robert Tait told The Newtown Bee. The transfers break down to $27,420 for overtime; $2,098 for Social Security contributions tied to overtime payments; $22,064 for sand; and $64,524 for road salt.
Spokespersons from the Newtown Public Works and Police Departments are cautioning Newtown Drivers to continue to drive carefully and slowly as crews continue to work clearing local roadways. Neither the police nor highway department reported any serious accidents or incidents overnight, although by Friday morning police were dealing with a coupe of tractor trailers getting stuck on steep hills. "Thankfully we haven't seen any accidents so far," said Sgt Aaron Bahamonde Friday around 9 am. "But our roadways are narrower because of the snowbanks, so drivers, especially on the back roads really need to slow down and be careful."