It may have been one of the shortest budget public hearings the Legislative Council has hosted, but its four participants brought the same degree of passion and advocacy for the school district budget proposal as dozens have in previous years. The four residents, plus Interim Superintendent John Reed, spent a total of about ten minutes Wednesday evening relating their support for the district’s spending plan, and calling for the council to move the budget request to referendum with no further reductions. Council members will be considering a spending plan that, according to town Finance Director Robert Tait, provides $111,066,204 to cover town and school services, along with the annual cost for debt service on bonding, which is carried in the Board of Selectmen budget.
One day every year, local parents and people who care about Newtown’s children go back to school to learn about the latest trends, issues and concerns facing families and the community at the Parent Connection’s Parent Empowerment University. This year’s event, presented on march 22 in partnership with Brookfield CARES, was by far the best attended in its history according to Parent Connection Co-Founder Dorrie Carolan. She said she saw more than 220 registered attendees on hand, and at least 100 children tagging along for fun activities.
From prospective tenants to memorial bench locations, Fairfield Hills Authority members this week discussed a grab bag of topics. FHA Chair Thomas Connors first noted the several parties interested in reusing the Plymouth Hall building. “There has been a significant amount of activity,” he said Monday, March 24. While the interest in reusing a campus facility “is a good thing,” he added that there is “nothing on the table” as far as a lease agreement for the space. “But, there are a lot of people looking,” he said. The meeting also covered the possibility of a viability study for the building, continued the discussion of 12/14 memorial benches being placed on the campus, the addition of an online calendar to FHA's website, and the possibility of creating a liasion between FHA and one of the town's newest commissions.
Barry Svigals, a principal at Svigals + Partners, says he has derived much inspiration for conceptual designs of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School from the natural environment of its site, as well as from many ideas revealed during meetings he and his team have arranged with parents, school staffers, leaders, and other community members. Mr Svigals and colleagues Jay Brotman and Elena Konefal appeared before Newtown’s Public Building and Site Commission March 25, essentially doing a rerun of a February presentation to the local Board of Education and members of the Public Building & Site Commission showcasing developing schematic concepts of the soon-to-be-built facility.
The Solarize Newtown initiative was a success, said Sustainable Energy Commission chairman Kathy Quinn.The program, a town and state sponsored initiative aimed to increase residential solar energy use, came to a close in February, but not before doubling the number of households using solar power. In the last year, 42 residents signed contracts that will result in the installation of new solar systems (370 kW’s of new solar), more than doubling the prior figure of 39 residential installations (240 kW’s of power), as stated in a recent release.“We achieved our goal,” said Ms Quinn.With these new installations completed, total solar systems in Newtown will be approximately 1.2 megawatts...
Now that the long, cold winter of 2014 is coming to an end and spring weather is emerging, motorists are driving more. That increase in traffic means that town police are stepping up their motor vehicle enforcement to address the added traffic volume on local roads. The 45-member police department has a specialized traffic enforcement unit that uses a motorcycle and an unmarked white Dodge Charger sedan for traffic enforcement duty. The normal complement of the traffic unit is two people, but it is now staffed with one person because the other member recently was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Police Chief Michael Kehoe said March 18 that he expects to assign another officer to the traffic unit.
First Selectman Pat Llodra has signed on to letters that were sent March 20 to Governor Dannel Malloy and Nicholas E. Neeieyl, executive secretary of the CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) opposing a moratorium on a tree trimming program put in place following a a series of devastating storms in 2011 and 2012. Mrs Llodra joined colleagues whose communities are members of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO) signing on to a statement recognizing that PURA has requested tree trimming efforts by the Connecticut Light & Power Company (CL&P) be scaled back. CL&P has been directed to curtail what is described as "enhanced" tree trimming programs, including removal of entire trees. Mrs Llodra told The Newtown Bee that she has received no complaints from the public concerning tree trimming.
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) Commissioner Dora B. Schriro announced on Monday the restoration of 24/7 trooper coverage at all State Police barracks across the state. Previously, as part of the recent consolidated dispatch project, some troops were closed after normal business hours. “After careful review, I have determined that our State Police barracks need to be open and accessible to the public 24/7,” said Commissioner Schriro. “I have directed Eastern District Major Michael Darcy and Western District Major William Podgorski to implement this plan, effective immediately.”
With votes scheduled Wednesday, Connecticut is poised to become the first state to adopt a $10.10 minimum wage, delivering on an election-year priority of Gov Dannel P. Malloy. The Democratic leaders of the Senate and House plan final votes Wednesday, first in the Senate and immediately following in the House, spokesmen for the two Democratic majority caucuses said Monday. Legislation increasing the $8.70 state minimum to $10.10 by January 2017 was sent to the Senate floor Monday by the Appropriations Committee, the final hurdle before a floor vote. Under legislative rules, the Republican minority could delay a vote in the House until next week, but House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R-Norwalk) said he sees nothing to be gained by a one-week delay. “What’s the point?” Cafero said.
Sandy Hook resident Richard Fenaroli firmly believes an informed taxpayer will tend to be more involved in the budget process. To that end, on March 19 he formally requested the Legislative Council act to publish the entire town roster of employees by name, the position they hold, and the gross amount of income and benefit costs of those employees to taxpayers. He also requested that similar data be posted for all current town pensioners. After some discussion among council members, First Selectman Pat Llodra, and Finance Director Robert Tait, a motion was approved unanimously taking most of Mr Fenaroli’s request into consideration. The council did, however, limit the scope of his request. The list will not include pensioners, it will only identify positions tied to annual payroll figures, and it will not include the names of those employees on the list.