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."
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.
The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a three-lot residential subdivision for the west side of Taunton Lane, about 650 feet south of Mt Pleasant Road. Following a recent public hearing, P&Z members approved the project for 10 Taunton Lane for a firm known as Ten Taunton Lane, LLC, which owns the 11.8-acre site. The site currently holds one house.
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.
Police Commission Chairman Paul Mangiafico has told Police Commission members that the superintendent of schools has commended Newtown Police Department command staff members for their work following the October 1 bomb threat received at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Monroe. At an October 7 Police Commission session, Mr Mangiafico told the four other commission members that he had met with School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, for a discussion. The superintendent had documented in a letter his appreciation for the police department command staff’s help following the bomb scare, Mr Mangiafico said.
A Danbury firm hired by the town has demolished a Great Hill Road house that was heavily damaged by a June 2011 fire of undetermined origin. The demolition eliminates the previously hazardous conditions at the property, which had drawn concerns from some of the residents in the neighborhood. During the week of October 6, All Star Welding & Demolition of Danbury used its heavy equipment to tear down the fire-scarred single-family house, attached garage, and swimming pool shelter, among other objects, at 31 Great Hill Road, near its intersection with Castle Hill Road. Town Director of Planning George Benson that that the town playing for the demolition of privately owned property is unusual. Public safety hazards led the town to choose the option of paying for the demolition and removing the hazards, he said.