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  • Organizers Hope ‘Shell Shocked’ Screening, Panel Discussion Promotes ‘Bridge Building’

    Organizers of a documentary screening and panel discussion set for Monday, January 20, at 7:30 pm, at The Ridgefield Playhouse hope the event will inspire increased collaboration between urban communities that witness gun violence on almost an hourly basis, and communities like Newtown, whose experience with gun violence on December 14, 2012, continues to attract global attention. Newtown residents are invited to join Shell Shocked producer John Richie of New Orleans, Attorney Monte Frank of Newtown, the Reverend Sam Saylor of Hartford, and the Reverend Henry Brown of Hartford in a screening of the documentary, followed by a CNN segment featuring Mr Frank and Rev Saylor. A subsequent panel discussion on gun violence in America aims to illustrate how urban and suburban communities are joining forces to create a movement to reduce the gun violence epidemic.

  • Foley Courts Gun Owners Without Promising Sandy Hook Repeal

    MIDDLETOWN – Republican gubernatorial contender Tom Foley told the state’s largest gun group Tuesday night that he would block further gun-control legislation if elected, but he has no plans to seek repeal of the sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws approved last year in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “I will promise you this, if I am governor, any further attempts at restrictions on law-abiding residents by our legislature will stop at the governor’s office,” Foley told members of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, who packed the Elks Lodge for their monthly meeting.

  • Volunteer Fire, Emergency Medical Response Companies Not Required To Provide Health Insurance Under Obamacare

    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.

  • NHS Principal Dumais Named Superintendent For Amity Regional School District

    Newtown High School Principal Charles Dumais was chosen unanimously by the Amity Regional School District #5 as that district’s new superintendent of schools at a meeting of that district’s Board of Education Monday, January 13. Just after the news started to spread, Mr Dumais posted an announcement called “Transition” to his blog about the appointment.Mr Dumais started his tenure in Newtown in January 2008. The Newtown Public School District also shared a press release on Tuesday, January 14, from Superintendent of Schools John Reed. "We are grateful for the many contributions Mr Dumais has brought to Newtown High School and for the profound leadership he has provided to staff, students, and families," Dr Reed wrote in the release. "I hope you will join me in expressing gratitude to [Mr Dumais] and wish him well when he assumes his new position." The release also explains that Mr Dumais will assume his new responsibilities for the Amity Regional School District #5 on March 1.

  • Connecticut Plans To Launch Open Data Portal

    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.

  • Brookfield Dispatcher Keeps Job After Newtown Comments

    (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.

  • Foundation Issues Last Call For Survey, Hoping To Hear From More Responders, Young Adults

    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."

  • Demonstrators Protest NSSF’s Firearms Trade Show

    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.

  • Optimism Colors Remediation Progress At C.H. Booth Library

    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.

  • FFH Authority Elects New Chair, Reflects On 2013

    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.