The adoption of a local anti-blight ordinance this past summer has led to questions about how it will be enforced and the process for filing complaints. Taking into consideration aesthetics, property maintenance, health and safety hazards, abandonment, neglect, and other factors, Director of Planning and Land Use George Benson said that determining blight “is not black and white.” A property “has to rise to a pretty high level to be blight,” he said. Abandonment, broken windows, and “obvious neglect” are all considerations for the designation of a property as blighted, which is a last resort, he said. The issue is not always about maintenance and aesthetics. It is about safety, said the town's top land use official. The new ordinance's language also brings a number of departments — building, zoning, police, land use, health, and fire — under one authorized order. “Because we all have different regulations or codes — this gives us one ordinance or action rather than letters from various departments,” he said, and “makes it easier for our enforcement too.”
Three quickly responding Newtown Police officers were able to rescue two occupants from a burning building at 31 The Boulevard, as all five local volunteer fire companies were dispatched to the residence at 1:11 am Sunday morning. Fire Marshal William Halstead said emergency dispatchers were notified by the occupants of fire and smoke in the home, and they were able to evacuate to an enclosed rear porch where they were found by Officers Officers Matt Wood, Steve Borges, and John McDermott, and "carried to safety." Both unidentified victims were initially transported to Danbury Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, the fire marshal said. One of the victims was subsequently transferred to another medical center for more advanced treatment, he said. An on-scene investigation by fire marshals determined that the fire started when a box of tissues came in contact with a lit candle.
“Love Wins: A Conference Promoting Love, Connection and Community for Every Child and Family” took place Monday, December 2, at the University of Hartford’s Lincoln Theater. The inaugural event of the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers celebrated the life of Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, and inspired the nearly 500 people in attendance to explore effective ways to build community and interpersonal connection to prevent violence and promote recovery. Participants in the December 2 symposium represented the fields of medicine, nursing, education, mentoring, early childhood, mental health, foster care, and the faith community, as well as state and local government.
Following a report from C.H. Booth Library Acting Director Beryl Harrison, at the Tuesday evening, December 3, meeting of the Board of Trustees, the next two hours were focused primarily on a line by line dissection of the library budget, which were to be submitted to the town by December 6. Among the topics covered were fire alarm issues, the library's archival information management project, the amount requested for the building's maintenance, the income line item for annual fundraising, and the search for a new permanent library director.
President Barack Obama has ordered flags lowered to honor Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday at his home in South Africa. In a proclamation issued last night, the President has ordered “that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff ... until sunset, December 9, 2013."
An analysis of the Newtown Police Department’s (NPD) response to the 12/14 shootings at Sandy Hook School has found that Newtown police responded rapidly, positioned themselves appropriately, and followed police department policies concerning such a situation.
A four-member committee of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) prepared the report which was requested by Police Chief Michael Kehoe to clarify the sequence of events on that day. The CPCA is a professional association of 104 municipal police chiefs in the state which seeks to improve the quality of law enforcement.
The committee also produced a graphic timeline depicting the events which occurred on 12/14 from 9:35 to 10 am.
With Depot Day fast approaching, The Newtown Fund still has five families who need to be adopted this holiday season. The Newtown Fund’s Holiday Basket Program provides gifts for all members of a family, food to get through the holidays, and gift certificates for gas, shoes, additional food, etc. The families are kept anonymous, after contacting Social Services. This year’s Depot Day — the day when all items for the annual holiday program are dropped off, organized, and then delivered to the families — is scheduled for Saturday, December 14.
Prior to an open press conference conducted by several elected Newtown officials and community leaders to discuss issues around the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, those individuals sat down with The Newtown Bee for an exclusive video interview with the hope that it would be an opportunity for them to speak directly to residents, readers, and visitors to NewtownBee.com. The 20-minute session December 3 included First Selectman Pat Llodra, along with Cody Foss of Newtown Youth Academy (NYA), Police Chief Michael Kehoe, Interim School Superintendent John Reed, and Newtown Congregational Church Senior Minister Matthew Crebbin, who also leads the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association. Each official discussed what they plan to be doing on Saturday, December 14.
The Newtown Chamber of Commerce will present its 29th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting event at the southwest corner of Ram Pasture on Friday, December 6. The festivities will begin at 6:30 pm, with the tree lighting scheduled for 7. To provide for pedestrian safety at the heavily attended event, Newtown Police will be enforcing special temporary no-parking zones and road closures. The parking/traffic rules will be in effect from 5 to 8 pm.
The Newtown school system has been informed by the Connecticut State Department of Education that Newtown High School is one of the 15 high schools in the state to achieve the highest classification of Excelling based upon the results of the state Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) test, as announced in a press release on Thursday, December 5. “The very significant scores achieved by tenth graders at Newtown High School in the CAPT exam administered last spring are a tribute to the dedication of the teachers in the lower grades who have contributed to student learning and the very strong job the high school has done with its instructional program,” Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed said...