Following more than a year of negotiations, the town and the Newtown Police Union, Local 3153, Council 15, of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have reached a three-year labor contact, specifying the terms of employment for 43 of the 45 sworn officers at the police department. Since last July 1, police have been working without a contract because the previous agreement expired last June 30. Police Union President Scott Ruszczyk told Police Commission members at a May 5 session that the labor pact has been approved by the union and the town. The Board of Selectman unanimously endorsed the pact at a May 4 meeting. Police union members approved the labor agreement in late April.
Charter Revision Commission Chairman Jeff Capeci said after about 45 minutes of discussion April 30, commissioners narrowly voted down a proposal to clarify a 4-3 split designating specific political minority representation on the town’s Board of Education. Commissioners, with only Eric Paradis dissenting, then voted to recommend striking one sentence from the proposed charter revision they agreed clarified “bare minority” representation locally would mirror what is outlined in state statutes. It was previously determined the state statute stipulates a 5-2 party split constitutes a majority.
A 104-page court affidavit, which serves as the basis for the arrests of eight men who have been charged with federal drug offenses, provides information on the drug trafficking investigation known as Operation Juice Box. Among those men are former Newtown Police Sergeant Steven Santucci and Newtown dispatcher Jason Chickos. “The investigation began with an anonymous letter that described the steroid manufacture and distribution of a drug trafficking organization, the head of which was Newtown Police Department Sergeant Steven Santucci, 38, of Waterbury.
Following a presentation to the Board of Selectmen on Monday, May 4, First Selectman Pat Llodra said town Grants Coordinator Christal Preszler’s reporting showed that the local part-time Planning Department staffer has a good grasp on how the town hopes to advance both its applications for and use of nonlocal funding sources for development projects. Mrs Llodra said the latest grant report is evidence that Newtown is beginning to reap benefits following a 2014 restructuring by selectmen, who decided to divide duties formerly handled exclusively by former Community and Economic Development director Elizabeth Stocker.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, and the Board of Education honored 12 teachers at the start of the school board’s meeting on Tuesday, May 5, with the district’s 2014-15 Profiles in Professionalism Award.
This is the first year the award honors local educators, school personnel, and parents.
“It’s an opportunity this evening that the school board has a chance to witness 12 outstanding employees for the town Board of Education,” said Dr Erardi before he named each of the 12 honorees alphabetically. “And I am absolutely certain when I say the 12 employees represent so many others that could be standing with them this evening.”
A Wallingford man will not serve prison time for making harassing calls to Newtown schools claiming 12/14 was a hoax. Thirty-year-old Timothy Rogalski of Wallingford received a suspended sentence Friday in Bridgeport Superior Court and was ordered to have no further contact with the schools.
It appears, at least for this year, state labor unions will not agree to help some of the agencies their own members depend on for support when they are in times of crisis. First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Legislative Council May 6 that a failure to either raise thresholds triggering prevailing wage standards for two key town projects or to waive the standard for certain nonprofits like Newtown Hook & Ladder and the Parent Connection, likely means both agencies will face significantly higher building costs as each develops new headquarters to better serve and protect the community.
Fire Marshal Bill Halstead said May 6 he is investigating the cause of an accidental fire that destroyed a cape-style house at 4 Aunt Park Lane in Hattertown early on the morning of Monday, May 4. The fire did not start due to the presence of compressed propane within two large tanks near the house, but after the fire started, the gas intensified the blaze, fueling the flames, he said.
As state budget cuts threaten to eliminate funding for the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard, efforts to preserve the more than 200-year-old militia unit continue. State Representative Mitch Bolinsky (R-106), said May 4 that the horse guard was either cut from one of several state budget options — a state budget has not yet been finalized — or included as a “zero budget” item. But as in past years when funding was restored at the last minute, he said, “Never say never. Things can change quickly in Hartford.”
Conneticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is forecasting unhealthy air quality for “sensitive groups” Friday, May 8, due to predicted elevated ground-level ozone pollution for northern Fairfield, Northern New Haven, Litchfield, Hartford and Tolland counties. A forecast of “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” indicates increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms and breathing discomfort in active children and adults with respiratory disease, such as asthma, and the elderly. High pressure currently located off mid-Atlantic Coast today and Friday will continue to transport warmer air and pump elevated levels of ozone from downwind air pollution sources into Connecticut, according to DEEP. In addition to transported air pollution, “home grown” pollution will be intensified by the combination of strong May sunlight and later than usual blooming spring vegetation that also contributes to ozone levels at this time of year.