On Saturday, May 31, more than 200 Newtown community members gathered at the Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel with approximately 45 members from communities across the country who have been affected by acts of mass violence to discuss their experiences of loss, healing, and post-traumatic growth. The event, titled “Community Connections: A Day of Shared Experience,” brought together a variety of perspectives of people impacted by school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, and in the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Penn., to share stories of resilience in the aftermath of tragedy. The day was organized and hosted by a group of coordinating charities in an effort to educate the community on the many service providers available and to offer an opportunity to forge connections through shared experiences of trauma.
Around this time of year, the energy level in the town assessor’s and tax collector’s offices begins to peak. That is because in the next couple of weeks local auto and residential tax bills will start going out, with the anticipated flood of tax reimbursements beginning to flow back in a few weeks later. Tax Collector Carol Mahoney told The Newtown Bee this week that residents should anticipate receiving their annual tax bills by early July, and that payments are due by August 1 on the first round of residential and all auto taxes.
A local man, who is a former National Football League player, is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday, June 17, in Danbury Superior Court, following his May 30 arrest on two counts of illegal sale of narcotics. Authorities allege that Gennaro L. DiNapoli, 39, of White Oak Farm Road, in April and May sold potent prescription painkillers at his home to an unidentified person working on behalf of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). DEA agents accompanied by town police served an arrest warrant against DiNapoli on May 30, charging him with the two drug offenses. DiNapoli is free on $150,000 bail.
About three dozen town residents listened, watched, and interacted with a large group of project and design professionals who are part of the Sandy Hook School design team during an information forum held June 5 in the lecture hall at Newtown High School. The 90-minute session was the latest in a series of public meetings and focus groups held as the new school project continues to gain traction. It served as an opportunity to unveil a number of building renderings and plans created by members of the project architectural firm Svigals + Partners, and Diversified Project Management, which is coordinating on the initiative. During the first half of the session, various members of the design team took turns relating some points of local history and geographical inspiration that helped them develop the project to the point where it stands today. They also shifted back and forth projecting hand painted renderings of exterior and interior aspects of the planned facility, along with various elevation drawings illustrating the building layout from a bird’s-eye perspective.
The town is a step closer to welcoming a new director for C.H. Booth Library. The library Board of Trustees convened a closed session Tuesday night to discuss a recommendation from the board’s Director Search Committee, which has been seeking candidates. After an hour of private discussion, the board resumed its regular public meeting, and at the end of the evening unanimously agreed to accept the search committee’s recommendation subject to a meeting with the candidate, possibly as soon as next week. Following personnel protocol, however, the candidate was not identified.
Prompted by the release of a thorough nationwide survey on pedestrian safety, a local traffic and behavioral expert suggests that Americans today may be better off if they just stay inside their motor vehicles. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downplaying pedestrian fatalities, especially considering the strides we’ve made in vehicle occupant protection over the years,” Dr Neil Chaudhary said. “But there’s no similar program initiative for pedestrians. Unfortunately, we can’t make heads any harder.” Dr Chaudhary, who holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology, is a researcher and analyst specializing in traffic safety with Preusser Research Group.
On May 21, dozens of town officials, business leaders and interested potential tenants gathered at Fusion 25 for an “open house” promoting a planned commercial/office development at 146 South Main Street called the Summit @ Newtown. But the use of that development recently shifted to a somewhat precedent-setting mixed commercial/residential use after a zoning regulation was changed permitting limited residential uses in certain commercial zones.
Land Use Director George Benson told The Newtown Bee June 10 the Planning & Zoning Commission authorized the zoning language change after he reviewed current regulations and realized developments on smaller lots, like the Summit project, had very limited opportunity to include any residential options. The update to the regulations will now allow developers to apply for second floor residential use in business zones using up to 50 percent of a building for apartments.
As Sandy Hook Promise reaches out beyond the borders of Newtown and even Connecticut, more volunteers will be needed, said office and volunteer coordinator Betsy Gaier. Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization founded by community members, as well as parents and spouses who lost loved ones on 12/14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since its formation in January 2013, volunteers have provided support and staffed the office. “We have had as many as 40 volunteers working with us,” said Ms Gaier. Lifestyle and job situation changes have created a drop in the number of volunteers available to assist the organization, though. Additional volunteers will be needed within the next four to six weeks, she said, as the new Promise Communities program begins to open across the country. Eight to ten volunteers, some local and some willing to travel, will assist the self-led Promise Communities formed to promote gun responsibility, Ms Gaier said.