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."
Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps members have moved in to their new headquarters at 6 Washington Square. The building went into service at 1 pm Saturday, October 11, and the corps has already responded to a number of calls from the new location, as well as begun a series of EMT classes. Grand opening ceremonies have been set for Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19. Town officials and local medical staff have been invited for the formal ribbon cutting and dedication on Saturday. The following day will host a pair of receptions: first responders have been invited to visit from 2 to 4 pm, and the public is invited from 4 to 6 pm.
For the past week, Rick and Stacy Hirst have been keeping a close eye on their newest neighbors. What appears to be a mother bobcat and her two youngsters have been making regular appearances at their 16 Scudder Road property, at various times of the day. “I first saw them a week ago,’ said Ms Hirst on Thursday, October 16, “but my husband thinks there was evidence of them in the yard two weeks ago, and has seen one near the pine tree by our driveway.” That tree is close to the road, and in waiting for the school bus one morning, her son heard suspicious rustling coming from beneath the tree. At 6:18 in the morning, it is completely dark.
As a preview to The Newtown Bee’s annual Candidates Forum Tuesday, October 21, the Newtown Action Alliance held a scaled down session that featured four individuals running for state offices in districts that include or overlap the community. The 90-minute forum served as a promotional event for the Alliance, formed in the weeks following the tragedy at Sandy Hook School, as well as a showcase for participating political veterans and newcomers to articulate their feelings on issues from gun safety and common core standards for educators, to taxation and same-sex marriage. At several points during the event moderator and Newtown High School history teacher Jason Edwards broke from the questions and answers to read material about several aspects of the Alliance, including its foundation and Junior Alliance, many of whose members attended.
Newtown Parks & Recreation programs that were scheduled at Newtown High School today and tomorrow may be affected due to a pair of NHS programs. Anyone planning to present or participate in a Parks & Rec event should note that a big football game tonight and the annual Grasso Festival tomorrow night means Parks & Rec events that had been planned at the high school have been cancelled.
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.