Long before the first environmental contractors started reporting higher than expected levels of lead, asbestos and PCBs in construction debris at Sandy Hook School, a panel of town officials and residents in a subsequent referendum had already endorsed razing and replacing the aging elementary school building. According to Public Building & Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell, the town and its residents made the right choice. Mr Mitchell said in a facility update he planed to deliver to his commissioners December 3, that had the town decided to reoccupy the school on Dickinson Drive, it would have faced a daunting and possibly insurmountable challenge regarding the presence of hazardous materials. The expense for identifying, removing and processing the heightened amount of materials found during demolition required nearly double what was originally budgeted for that aspect of the project.
Beginning with the next application period, local seniors applying for town tax relief will likely be asked to sign an asset affidavit. The decision was made following a brief question-and-answer session with Tax Collector Carol Mahoney and Finance Director Robert Tait during the the November 25 Board of Finance meeting. The issue of gaining more clarity regarding applicants’ assets first came up during public discussion last February when finance board Vice Chairman Joseph Kearney asked the town to consider requesting applicants to sign an affidavit promising they are not holding assets that would otherwise be hidden from officials verifying income from candidates’ tax returns. During this week’s meeting, Mr Kearney said the generous town senior tax relief program is not an entitlement, and that if even a few applicants were disqualified based on the amount of assets they possess, it would free up additional funds for more people who legitimately need the benefit.
HARTFORD (AP) — With a deadline fast approaching, a Connecticut task force charged with reviewing ways to balance victim privacy with the public’s right to know on Wednesday began discussing proposals offered by members, some hoping to reach a consensus on what to recommend to the General Assembly. One suggested possible compromise is the creation of a new archive or central repository at the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission where sensitive or graphic information about crimes, such as photos and video, could be reviewed but not recorded or removed. The task force was created earlier this year by the legislature in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The group must report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1. The legislation creating the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know says the panel terminates that day or when it submits its report, whichever is later.
Newtown’s police department will review its response to last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to the police chief, who said a report released this week by the lead investigator showed his officers acted properly. The summary report by State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said that nearly six minutes passed between the arrival of the first officer outside the school and the time officers entered the building, but it also said police were operating under the belief there may have been more than one shooter. Police Chief Michael Kehoe said his officers had to make sure several unidentified people encountered outside the school did not pose a threat to police or others.
NEW BRITAIN (AP) — A Connecticut judge has ordered the release of the 911 recordings from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but the tapes will not be immediately unsealed. The state’s Freedom of Information Commission ruled in September that the recordings should be provided to The Associated Press, but State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III asked for a stay while he appeals that order. New Britain Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott denied his request Tuesday, November 26, but the tapes remain sealed until December 4 to give the prosecutor a chance to appeal.
Fifteen of Newtown’s businesses are hosting US Marine Corps Toys For Tots collection bins this holiday season. Residents are invited to donate a new, unwrapped book or toy for the annual campaign, now in its 66th year. Drop-off of new and unwrapped toys needs to be done regular business hours. All toys will be collected and distributed to the needy in the area by members of the United States Marine Corps Reserve Detachment of Ridgefield. All those helping the program are volunteers.
Foundry Kitchen & Tavern has designated its Warner Loft as a drop-off and donation center to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Connecticut and The Newtown Fund and help children and families in need have a brighter holiday season. The restaurant will be accepting donations of unwrapped toys and gifts for children ages 6-18, daily, between 11 am and 8 pm, through December 10. Items appropriate for kids ages 10-14 are in most need specifically, board games, sports equipment and movie gift cards. In addition, the restaurant will be accepting monetary donations in support of The Newtown Fund Holiday Basket program. All donations will be forwarded to the fund, to be used to support Newtown families in need during the holiday season with food, fuel assistance, utility bills, rent and medical expenses.
The town has constructed a large berm at a commercially zoned vacant property at 75 Church Hill Road where a locked gate will soon be added to control vehicle access to the 1.1-acre site in a high-traffic location. First Selectman Pat Llodra said this week last week that the site at the corner of Church Hill Road and Edmond Road has posed various problems over the years, including unapproved large-vehicle parking and littering, among others. Various vehicles had been left parked on the property for days at a time without the property owner’s approval to do so. Also, vehicles with For Sale signs affixed to them have been left there by people seeking to sell autos, the first selectman pointed out. The site is in a B-2 (Business) zone. It formerly was the location of Highway Cleaners, a dry cleaning business that closed more than 25 years ago.
(AP) A newly elected school board member in Brookfield has apologized for saying on Facebook that he’ll observe the anniversary of the Newtown shooting by distributing ammunition. Gregory Beck of Brookfield was referring to a tribute known as “26 Days of Kindness,” which began November 19 and runs through December 14. Beck said last week his comment was not intended to be malicious and that he recognizes it was insensitive and indefensible.
Connecticut Yankee Council’s 21st Annual Greater Danbury Good Scout Award luncheon honored two outstanding leaders in the greater Danbury area: Peter D’Amico, chief executive officer and president of SCB International; and Mark Principi, president of Caldwell and Walsh Building Construction, Inc. Both gentlemen were recognized for their understanding of the importance of setting an example, investing in, and giving leadership to programs for young people in the local community. Special recognition was also given to the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company for their 75 years of service to the community. The event was held Monday, November 4, at The Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury.