Volunteer fire departments and emergency medical responder companies will not be required to provide health insurance for their members or face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act, the US Department of Treasury announced on January 10. The announcement was made after close scrutiny by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service into IRS codes and proposed regulations, following comments received from firefighters and officials across the country in recent months. Leaders of volunteer companies had expressed concern about the financial impact of having volunteers fall under new regulations announced with the unveiling of Obamacare. The IRS also heard from at least five members of Congress with constituents in Connecticut.
Every time an inmate enters or leaves a correction facility in Connecticut, a database is updated so the state has an accurate count of its incarcerated population. And each day, those numbers are used to produce a chart on the state’s website. It’s one of the few state “datasets” that is updated daily for the public. But it takes persistence to find the chart because it’s buried on the website of the state’s Office of Policy and Management (OPM), and it exists nowhere else, including on other government websites with state criminal justice data. Also, the feature to download the raw data is broken. These types of problems are common even in the best government data, which can be hidden in various corners of the Internet, and is often in formats that range from user unfriendly to unusable. In short, data is difficult to gather and analyze. Following the example of 39 states and 43 cities and counties, Connecticut is planning to launch an online data portal in February or March. The project is being run out of the governor’s office, with OPM doing much of the planning.
The final Fairfield Hills Authority meeting of 2013 indicated changes to come for 2014. In reflecting on the previous 12 months, FHA Chair James Bernardi said he felt "the campus is achieving goals slowly but surely." Donations and grants have made certain projects possible, other groups are looking to move onto the campus permanently, and demolition work for one building is moving ahead, he pointed out. In addition, the role of chairman has passed from Mr Bernardi to authority member Thomas Connors.
Representatives of Trinity Episcopal Church, which plans to sell land to the Newtown Hook & Ladder volunteer firefighting organization for construction of a new firehouse, have explained church members’ thinking in terms of their recent decision to sell the land. Several months ago, the fire company approached the church about a land purchase for firehouse construction. The church owns eight acres at 36 Main Street, of which the fire company would buy three acres which have vehicle access from the south side of Church Hill Road. In a statement issued last week, Rick Haylon and Bart Geissinger, the wardens for Trinity Episcopal Church, explained church members’ views in deciding to sell land to the fire company for a new firehouse.
(AP) A public safety dispatcher in Brookfield is being allowed to keep his job despite an outcry over a comment he posted on Facebook about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Gregory Beck is a dispatcher in Brookfield and lives in town. Referring to a tribute called “26 Days of Kindness” in honor of the 20 children and six adults killed on 12/14, Beck wrote on Facebook in November that his kindness would be distributing ammunition to his friends. He later apologized. Brookfield’s Board of Ethics decided Thursday, January 9, to take no disciplinary action against Beck, who posted the comment from his personal cellphone while on the dispatcher job. The board could have recommended discipline ranging from reprimand to termination.
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.
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.
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.