The Newtown government beat was a busy one throughout 2014, with developments like the new community center competing with continued recovery and resiliency efforts as the community moved through its second year post-12/14. It was a year that also saw several parents and survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, as well as government officials, step into the public eye, offering informative, courageous, candid, and often heart-wrenching testimony to Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Commission. The year also brought the planned departure of three critical General Electric loaned executives who had been supporting the community, the first selectman’s office, and the Board of Education since shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A new Charter Revision Commission was also seated in 2014, charged with one of the most comprehensive overhauls of Newtown’s constitutional document since it was first framed. And the year saw a couple of new faces elected to represent Newtown in Hartford, along with the reelection of a couple of familiar incumbents.
2014 was a positive planning year for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. Consigli Construction oversaw the demolition of the old Sandy Hook School in the fall of 2013, and by 2014 plans for the new building were taking shape, following community input and work between the town and design team, led by Svigals + Partners. By autumn, ground had been broken. Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck offers a look at the past 12 months of this major project.
In early 2014, the updated Town Plan of Conservation and Development, as well as the updated Fairfield Hills Master Plan, took effect, providing the town with a set of planning guidelines for the coming years on local growth and resource conservation, both in the town at large and at the town-owned 185-acre Fairfield Hills core campus. The town plan is updated decennially. The Fairfield Hills plan is updated as needed. These projects were two of a number of land use related stories that were covered during the past year by The Newtown Bee.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy is reminding residents that Connecticut’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase effective January 1, from the current rate of $8.70 an hour to $9.15 per hour. The increase is the result of a new law Governor Malloy signed earlier this year that requires a series of modest increases through 2017. Following this week’s increase, there are two more scheduled under the adopted law: it will rise to $9.60 on January 1, 2016, and then to $10.10 on January 1, 2017.
Newtown Boy Scout Troop 270 will be picking up Christmas trees from residences again this year as a fundraiser. Members will be doing pickups Saturdays and Sundays, January 4-5 and 17-18; and Saturday, January 10. A $10 donation per tree is requested.
First Selectman Pat Llodra is seeking residents to fill several opening on local appointed boards and commissions. In some cases the appointments are required to be affiliated with a specific political party, while in other cases unaffiliated voters are encouraged to consider serving. Inquiries should be made through Sue Marcinek, Executive Assistant, Office of the First Selectman, 3 Primrose Street, or call 203-270-4203.
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) says it is considering modifications to key provisions of proposed new permit requirements for the management and oversight of municipal stormwater systems — while still allowing the agency to achieve important environmental objectives. The announcement came following testimony and correspondence from numerous public officials from across the state, including Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra. DEEP officials said they are already discussing with local leaders changes to language now in the draft permit and will circulate a revised version of that draft permit by January 26.
The final week of the year brought Newtown’s Water and Sewer Authority together for a brief meeting to discuss proposed changes in regulations to both local sewer use regulations and the community’s water pollution control plan. After some discussion on December 29, the authority approved sending the proposed changes to a public hearing on January 8.
Republican Registrar of Voters Karin Aurelia has retired from her elected post after 12 years of service. She was honored on her last day, December 18, with a small reception at the Newtown Municipal Center, where she was also presented with a state proclamation by State Representative Mitch Bolinsky. Ms Aurelia was serving as a volunteer poll worker before she was recruited by former registrar Shirley Laurenson to be a deputy registrar, a post she held for 17 years.