The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation is almost ready to close out and begin analyzing the results of an online survey it published in mid-December. The foundation's grant distribution committee hopes to review survey findings to learn about unmet needs, and how its members can assist individuals and specific groups with the remaining $4.3 million. After an initial distribution to survivors' families and victims, the remaining funds have been set aside to respond to both short and long-term concerns. In an interview Monday with The Newtown Bee, Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Barahona, LCSW, said committee members hope to close the survey on or around January 22. "The distribution committee is unique in that its 11 members are already able to share perspectives from various groups that were impacted by the tragedy," Ms Barahona said. "The first charge of the committee has been to solicit public input through this public survey as well as through soliciting feedback from impacted groups through committee members and myself."
Several dozen demonstrators who favor strengthened gun control conducted a news conference on Monday morning, January 13, across the street from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) on Mile Hill Road to endorse tighter gun controls, a cause energized by the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook School, in which 20 first-graders and six school staff members were killed.
The news conference, which was sponsored by the Newtown Action Alliance, also attracted a few supporters of the NSSF, which is a Newtown-based lobby group for the firearms industry. The alliance is a group that seeks to reduce gun violence through stronger gun control laws and cultural change.
Following flooding on January 4 at C.H. Booth Library from sprinkler pipes that froze and burst, sending a deluge of damaging water through the first and second floor sections of the 1998 addition to the historic building, cleanup continued on Monday, January 13. Much of the initial remediation work by professional property damage specialists J.P. Maguire was finished, said C.H. Booth Library Acting Director Beryl Harrison. Electricians and technical support people have worked methodically to return power and connectivity to the Main Street building, evaluation and recovery continues, and employees are hoping to get a timeline for restoration some time this week.
HARTFORD (AP) — The father of the 20-year-old gunman who committed the Newtown school shooting said Friday he is willing to help provide his late son's medical records to the state commission reviewing the massacre and attempting to make recommendation on changes to mental health policy. The Associated Press reported January 10 that Errol Cockfield, a spokesman for Peter Lanza, issued a statement saying the perpatrator's father had already informed law enforcement that he would "approve the release of any medical records he has the authority to release" and that he has informed the chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission that "he is willing to meet with him towards reaching that goal." The commission was created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to review the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting. Some mental health experts who sit on the commission have said they want to see Adam Lanza's records, including any behavioral assessments conducted at schools Lanza attended, to determine if there were any gaps in treatment and to gain insight into the shooter and the state of his mental health. They've expressed disappointment in the lack of original documents released by the prosecutor and state police from their investigation.
Noting that a number of residents are “looking for a gesture from the town,” regarding additional tax relief, Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze stressed that he wanted his board members to have a dialogue during a January 7 special meeting. Could they make a recommendation to the Legislative Council to enact non-income-based relief programs, age-based programs, or other initiatives? Board members and First Selectman Pat Llodra considered several ways to bring added relief to senior taxpayers in Newtown. No formal motions resulted from the discussion, however.
Senator Chris Murphy is calling for the Internal Revenue Service to open an investigation into a Nashville, Tenn. charity formed in the wake of 12/14 that has been unable to account for more than $70,000 it raised through marathon running. On January 10, 26.4.26 Foundation co-founder Ryan Graney said only $30,000 of the $103,000 taken in has been used for the organization’s purpose. That money was presented last January by co-founder Robbie Bruce to the nonprofit NYA, a youth sports center in Newtown. Graney said Bruce was in charge of the organization’s finances but Bruce has cut off contact with her. On Tuesday, January 14, Senator Murphy sent a letter to John Koskinen, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to call for an immediate investigation into the foundation. Graney said she noticed something was amiss last spring, when she discovered suspicious charges to the foundation’s PayPal account. Graney says she filed reports about the missing money with the FBI and local officials after Bruce was unable to explain where it went.
The Ladies Auxiliary of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co., has for years been called upon to offer aid to the members of their host company during emergencies. This week the women have stepped forward to help others affected by a fire. The women are collecting items for the families who were displaced following a major fire in Shelton during the overnight of January 5-6. They are hoping that by offering a central donation point, Newtown residents will be able to offer aid to others as well. While clothing is no longer needed, according to Shelton firefighters coordinating a recovery effort, everything else to rebuild a home it. At least one member of the Sandy Hook ladies auxiliary will make a second trip to Echo Hose Hook & Ladder company's station on January 15, with supplies from the residents of Newtown.
Following a report by Board of Education Vice Chair Laura Roche, the school board voted unanimously on Tuesday, January 7, to allow its Communications Committee to send budget newsletters on behalf of the board. Ms Roche explained the procedure was used last year, but the Communications Committee wanted the school board, with new members, to vote on it for this year. “We’ll be sending letters out on key points,” said Ms Roche. “We’re going to send one out before the budget process starts. Then there is three weeks when we have a total of six workshops, so after each of these we will send a summary on that week’s happenings… Then we would do a summary letter after we finish with the Board of Finance. Then… once the budget referendum is set we’re going to then rely, hopefully, on the PTAs." Once a referendum is set, Ms Roche said, the school board cannot use tax dollars to advocate or speak about the budget. The only information the board can share, Ms Roche said, is the time, date, and place of a budget referendum. Ms Roche said she has arranged meeting with PTA leadership.