May is upon us and the Newtown VFW, Men’s and Ladies Auxiliaries have quite a few activities and events planned. At the most recent Post meeting, James Rebman, who was reelected to a third year as Newtown Post 308 commander, said, “Spring is when everything is renewed along with our commitment to fellow veterans and our country.”
Longtime Newtown resident Anna Wiedemann believes the measure of a person cannot be defined by their political persuasion. So it is fitting that the Democratic Town Committee’s Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey Dinner honoring her for service to the community and its citizens will be open to everyone — regardless of party affiliation. Case in point: Republican First Selectman Pat Llodra said she is eager to attend; she sent in her reservation the minute she heard about the event.
A judge sentenced a Naples, Fla., man on April 23 to three years of probation and 450 hours of community service for illegally possessing stolen firearms silencers. US District Judge Alvin Thompson gave Richard Sleeva, 51, that sentence, according to a statement from US Attorney Deirdre Daly. The firearms case has a link to a Newtown residence. Sleeva formerly possessed the firearms at residences in Newtown and in Pennsylvania, according to the US attorney. According to court documents and statements made in court, Sleeva was a federal firearms licensee and had obtained silencers as a member of Gemtech’s board of directors prior to his removal from that board in 2001.
All Connecticut town clerks are elected. But as far as any other requirement to learn or acquire skills to do a better job on behalf of their communities, there are no further requirements. That hasn’t stopped Newtown Town Clerk Debbie Halstead and members of her staff from striving to pursue higher levels of training and certification. As Newtown’s top administrative official, Ms Halstead recently became Connecticut’s 13th Master Certified Town Clerk. Staffers Aileen Nosal and Renee Weimann are also pursuing added professional development, having recently earned their Certified Town Clerk designations.
While natural disasters may be unavoidable, the severity of their effects in terms of loss of life, personal injury, and property damage, can be lessened through coordinated planning and preventive measures. With that goal in mind, regional and town planners have started formulating the Newtown Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, a detailed document which the town would use for disaster preparedness in acting to reduce the potential damage caused by natural disasters. On April 30, David Hannon, deputy director of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO), met with town officials to discuss formulating the town’s natural hazard mitigation plan. HVCEO is the ten-town regional planning agency to which Newtown belongs. Also, Maryellen Edwards, an environmental scientist with Milone & MacBroom, Inc, discussed the planning project. The consulting firm is working for HVCEO to develop the plan. Once completed, the plan will include comments from residents, business owners, and public officials. It will include hazard mitigation strategies. The draft plan will be prepared for review by the public and municipal officials, after which the plan would be adopted, following its local approval. With the plan in force, the town would then be eligible to seek the FEMA hazard mitigation grants, as needed.
On Saturday, May 10, letter carriers in more than 1,200 branches nationwide will participate in the 22nd annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive. Last year, with the help of thousands of volunteers, letter carriers all across America collected more than 74.4 million pounds of non-perishable food — the second-highest amount since the drive began in 1992, bringing the grand total to just under 1.3 billion pounds. Newtown Social Services, which will benefit from the collection, is counting on residents to make this year’s collection a success.
Marion Blumenthal Lazan, whose mission is to speak to as many students as possible in order that they hear stories of the Holocaust from a survivor, will offer a public program at Congregation Adath Israel on May 18. Mrs Lazan spent six years with her family in a Nazi concentration camp. Today she asks people to be tolerant of others, and encourages positive thinking. Her program will begin at 3 pm. She will provide a moving, firsthand account of the Blumenthal family’s life in Germany from the events preceding Kristallnacht and then imprisonment in concentration camps to liberation in April 1945.
A federal appeals court has ruled that William A. Trudeau, 50, who is a former owner of Newtown Oil Company and a former Norwalk land developer, will have his current prison sentence reviewed. Trudeau is serving a 15 2/3-year sentence for operating a mortgage fraud scheme in Fairfield County. Trudeau was sentenced in February 2013 in US District Court in New Haven following a jury trial. He is serving time at Devens FMC in Ayer, Mass. His current prison release date is in April 2025. The appeals court on April 15 found that Trudeau’s sentencing by US District Judge Janet Hall was “substantively reasonable,” but that one aspect of the calculations on the length of his sentence requires technical review. The review by the trial court may result in a shorter sentence for Trudeau or allowing the existing sentence to stand.
Fire officials from the town’s five volunteer fire companies are reviewing a controversial proposal to move the town’s radio dispatching for 911, police, fire, and ambulance calls from the Newtown Emergency Communications Center (NECC) at Town Hall South to the Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center, Inc, in Prospect. Town Director of Emergency Communications Maureen Will, who heads the NECC, and the two members of a town study panel that is researching possibly having Newtown emergency calls dispatched from the Prospect center -- Jeffrey Capeci and Neil Chaudhary -- attended an April 28 Board of Fire Commissioners meeting. First Selectman Pat Llodra ultimately will make the decision on whether local emergency services radio dispatching should be regionalized.
A changeover for the phone system at Town Hall South is complete this evening, but there are still a few technical issues being worked on, according to Newtown Director of Emergency Communications Maureen Will. “Voicemail is still being worked on, so there may be an issue if anyone calls the police department, Social Services or Parks & Rec tonight,” Ms Will said Wednesday evening. “Have patience, try to leave a message, or remember that everyone will be back in tomorrow morning if you can’t reach them tonight,” she said.