The Newtown PTAs and PTSA hosted an informational forum for Board of Education candidates running for election November 3 in the Newtown High School’s Lecture Hall on Wednesday, October 14.
Republicans Andrew Clure and David Freedman, and Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites took turns answering questions both prepared by the PTAs and PTSA and submitted by community members during the one-hour event. Candidate and Democrat John Vouros could not attend the forum, but a statement by Mr Vouros was read near the end of the event.
Moderator and NHS Social Studies Department Chair Gary Franklin welcomed attendees, and introduced the candidates seated before them.
On Thursday, October 15, a demolition crew from BesTech ripped into the first Fairfield Hills “white house” to be razed in the coming days. The next phase of demolition on the town owned campus involves taking down all the deteriorating former staff homes that dot the western corner of the property adjacent to Mile Hill Road South, as well as an adjacent collapsing green house.
The Legislative Council dug into a package of ordinances, and received a brief report on the status of town spending on major planned road and drainage projects during the first meeting of the month on October 7. Public Works Director Fred Hurley informed the full council on the status of Town road projects, including the status of gas line installations at Sandy Hook School and a similar project next year at Middle Gate. He also distributed and discussed a report on projects and costs. Following a public hearing on amendments to the ordinance related to Newtown’s Sustainable Energy Commission, and another ordinance governing local administration of tax abatements to totally disabled veterans, the council acted to pass both.
What do residents want in a community center? The primary appeals during Tuesday’s public forum about a community center included space to house arts, senior activities, a pool, an ice rink, and a general gathering place. But with those interests came questions: could a center be all of those things, and how far will the $10 million gift for center construction from The GE Foundation be able to stretch? Newtown Community Center Commission are using the Q&A forums to help understand the public’s opinion on what should be offered at a community center, which is now in planning stages following a $15 million grant from General Electric in the wake of 12/14. Ten million is intended for construction. The remaining $5 million is to support programming at $1 million a year for five years.
The Police Commission’s plans to hire a person to fill vacancy for a police patrol officer position have been delayed, with that hiring now expected to occur in January. The person would fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Steven Santucci. Police officials had expected to hire a person this month, but those plans fell through, Police Chief Michael Kehoe told Police Commission members last week.
Trinity Episcopal Church hosted a conversation on racial equality and racial justice on October 11. The speaker was Bishop John L. Selders Jr, the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford, and a leader of the Moral Monday CT movement. At the end of the evening Bishop Selders suggested that those in attendance who truly want to make a difference “start local,” and stand in front of the church showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as a first step to opening up conversation and dialogue with the wider Newtown community. On Monday, October 12, members of Trinity did just that.
To promote open communications with members of the public, the Police Commission has scheduled a special meeting for later this month at which the only topic on the agenda will be “open public dialogue.” That session is slated for 7 pm on Monday, October 26, in the lower level conference room at Town Hall South.
In an ongoing, phased traffic safety review of town roads, the Police Commission, in its role as the local traffic authority, has endorsed speed limits for 18 local residential roads and is seeking state Department of Transportation approval for those speed limits on both sides of the affected streets.