Newtown’s legislative delegation — Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, Dan Carter, and J.P. Sredzinski and Senator Tony Hwang — stood with GOP colleagues as Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) made his final, futile remarks before he and 35 colleagues cast their votes narrowly passing the biennial spending plan by a 19-17 margin as their midnight deadline loomed June 3. Following the vote, each local lawmakers expressed dismay over how state Democrats had, as The Connecticut Mirror described it, muscled passage of a much-maligned budget through both chambers in little more than 12 hours on the last day of the statehouse session. Earlier in the day, and following a marathon deliberation session that began Tuesday and ended near sunrise Wednesday morning, Reps Bolinsky, Carter and Sredzinski all cast No votes against the $40.3 billion, two-year package that largely restores deep cuts to social services and expands municipal aid while bolstering tax revenues by almost $2 billion.
Following a successful Community Connections gathering at Walnut Hill Community Church just over a year ago where Newtowners and others affected by 12/14 met with dozens of groups and support agency representatives, organizers are planning another event locally June 11. A number of agencies including Newtown Recovery and Resiliency Team, Newtown Prevention Council, and the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc,are collaborating on the activity, which will be presented in two sessions, on June 11 at Newtown Congregational Church, to help accommodate as many attendees as possible.
Misty Morning Children’s Center, 10 Commerce Road, is collecting for the three Macaroni Kid publishers in Fairfield County’s Diaper Drive, which began on May 15, through June 12. Drop off times are weekdays between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. More than 20 town coordinators between Stamford and Newtown are overseeing the drive. Diapers will be donated to local charities, such as Family & Children’s Aid in Danbury, Operation Hope, The Bridgeport Rescue Mission, The Domestic Violence Crisis Center, The Tiny Miracles Foundation, Homes with Hope, and others.
State Senate Democrats took the extraordinary step in the final hour of the 2015 session Wednesday of threatening to cut off debate to ensure passage of a new state budget that raises tax revenues by $2 billion. With less than an hour until the midnight adjournment deadline, Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney stood to call the question, a move to end debate that is considered the nuclear option in legislative process, to stop a five-hour debate that had morphed into a Republican filibuster to kill the proposed two-year budget. The process was last used at the State Capitol in 1978, also to end a budget debate, according to one senior legislative staff member.
The Board of Selectmen heard presentations by two key town staffers June 1, detailing a number of comings and goings. Brief presentations by Economic Development Coordinator Betsy Paynter and Planning Director George Benson revealed a number of new commercial projects going up or being planned for development, as well as buildings that have or will be coming down after being cited under Newtown’s Blight Ordinance. Ms Paynter also reviewed a new economic development map that has divided the community into seven separate business districts. Those districts, she explained, encompass Hawleyville, Botsford, Dodgingtown, Sandy Hook Village, the Newtown Borough area, Fairfield Hills, and a strip stretching down along South Main Street between the Borough and Botsford.
Anne Scarpa on May 26 thought she saw a dog in her yard from an upstairs window, then realized it was a bear. She and her daughter quickly took pictures as the bear “ate some vegetation, then went through a split rail fence.” She said it went in the direction of Bennetts Bridge. Ms Scarpa described the bear as “very cute and mellow.” She said its movements were slow and it was “doing nothing too destructive.” Ms Scarpa soon learned about a Facebook page, Newtown Moms Unite, where other residents had been posting accounts of bear sightings in late May. Locations for the bear, based on the Facebook posts and inquiries either sent to or shared with The Bee, track its locations in Sandy Hook along roads off Berkshire Road (Route 34) on the Lake Zoar side, from Great Quarter Road, and moving west along the river toward Stonebridge Road, Gelding Hill Road, Founders Lane, Jeremiah Road, and Cider Mill. The young black bear in Newtown most likely is the same bear that state officials tranquilized last month in Shelton and transported to a Newtown forest.
After learning that police held three warrants for her arrest, at about 6 pm on June 1, Kathleen McKinney, 49, of 5 Pomperaug Road turned herself over to police at the police station and was charged with three counts of second-degree failure to appear in court, police said.
The charges stem from McKinney’s failure to appear in March on various pending charges in courts at Bantam, Hartford, and Meriden, police said.
After processing, police released McKinney on an aggregate bail of $8,000 for appearances on June 23, June 24, and June 25 in courts at Bantam, Hartford, and Meriden, respectively. Read more about recent police activity in this week's report.
A facility and enrollment study, presented by Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, at the Board of Education’s meeting on Tuesday, June 2, recommends closing Hawley Elementary School due to declining enrollment. While Hawley Elementary School was the main focus during the presentation, cost estimates were also provided for the closure of the middle school. “This is difficult work, and this is work that makes folks very unhappy,” said Dr Erardi. Added together, the cost savings and cost avoidances, listed in the presentation of the Facility and Enrollment Study Committee, for closing Hawley are roughly $15,387,000. Cost avoidances are listed as Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) and maintenance costs.
Members of the Newtown Police Department and staff members from Garner Correctional Institution are scheduled to participate on Friday, June 5, in the Connecticut Special Olympics Torch Run segment to be held in Newtown. Bethel Police Department members are scheduled to hand off the Special Olympics torch to local runners at about 11:15 am that day at the Dodgingtown Firehouse, 55 Dodgingtown Road.