The Children's Department reopened to the public, Friday, March 13, after burst pipes and flooding shut it down for nearly a month. “Yes, we’re back,” said Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison. New carpet tiles were in place, ceiling tiles replaced, and all was “cleaned and freshened up,” she pointed out. Looking over the shelves located near the check out, all appeared as it was prior to the flood. Moving toward the rear corner of the room, though, the loss of 10,000 books to water damage was apparent.It will take time, said Ms Bennison, before gaps in the collection are replaced. She had ordered 1,800 books the day before, but patrons must understand that replacement is a process of many steps.
Newtown residents Christine Rowan and Kerri Williams spoke before the state’s Appropriations Committee on Friday, March 6, sharing concerns, private stories, and fears regarding the proposed 2016 and 2017 state spending plan presented by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on February 18.
If proposed cuts to the state’s Department of Developmental Services Voluntary Services Program are approved in the budget, Ms Rowan and Ms Williams are fearful of the consequences for their families and others who use these services.
The DDS Voluntary Services Program, according to the department’s website, “supports children and adolescents who are clients of DDS and have emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs that result in the functional impairment of the child and substantially interfere with or limit the child’s functioning in the family or community activities.”
Newtown’s two registrars of voters were unable to catch the “Checks and Balances Express,” a bus full of Fairfield County registrars and voting rights supporters, as it carried opponents of a proposal to eliminate elected registrars to a hearing on Monday, March 9, in Hartford. But Democratic Registrar LeReine Frampton and Republican Registrar Joanne Albanesi stood with their colleagues in spirit, while providing written testimony against SB1051, legislation proposed by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill which eliminates the balance of power between two registrars of opposite parties, in favor of an appointed administrator.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to consider a range of topics at its March 19 meeting, including the planned Hawleyville sanitary sewer system expansion project. The panel also is slated to discuss some open space acquisition proposals, plus three sets of proposed changes to the zoning regulations. The session is scheduled for 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 19, at Newtown Municipal Center.
Opponents of a large multifamily housing complex proposed for a 35-acre site near Exit 10 of Interstate 84 are urging the Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) to reject a developer’s dual requests to provide the project with sewer service and to designate certain wastewater treatment capacity for its use.
Plans for a community center, which would begin with a Phase I senior and aquatic center construction, are cause for concern to former Commission on Aging chairman Ross Carley. Plans to accept a GE Foundation gift of $15 million — $10 million of which is for the design and construction of Phase I — is slated for a vote at the April 28 annual town budget referendum. Phase II and III are intended to build a connector to the NYA Sports & Fitness Center in Fairfield Hills, where the new senior and aquatic center will stand. Phases II and III could also include building additional space on the site, or purchasing the NYA facility.The remaining $5 million of Phase I is intended for use over five years to help toward operating expenses.
Police report that a four-vehicle accident occurred about 4 pm on March 11 at the four-way intersection of Berkshire Road (Route 34), Bennetts Bridge Road, and Grays Plain Road in Sandy Hook. The collision resulted in three people being transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Also, the incident created extensive travel delays during the evening rush period. The driver of one vehicle involved in the accident needed to be extricated from the wreckage by Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company. The accident caused travel delays on the heavily used Berkshire Road during the evening rush. Firefighters were on the scene for nearly 90 minutes before clearing from the accident scene; police remained on the scene for an additional 30 minutes before the final vehicle was towed away.
The United Way of Western Connecticut hosted second annual Hometown Heroes Benefit Dinner at the Ethan Allen Hotel on Saturday, March 7. The event honored local businesses and community individuals who distinguish themselves through philanthropy and volunteer volunteerism, and make a difference in the lives of others. Among this year’s 14 Hometown Hero honorees was Newtown resident Robert Geckle.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr., offered an overview of the proposed 2015-16 budget during an evening Community Forum on Tuesday, March 10. Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander also spoke at the event, and time was set aside for parents to ask questions. The superintendent first presented his proposed budget during a school board meeting on January 6, and the Board of Education adopted its planned 2015-16 budget at a meeting on February 5. As of March 4, Dr Erardi explained changes to the district’s self-funded medical account further decreased the budget proposal to $71,915,679, or a 0.8 percent increase over the 2014-15 spending plan. Once the Board of Finance completes its inspection of the budget, it will be passed along to the Legislative Council for review before it goes to referendum on April 28.
For the third consecutive year, a group of 26 hearty cyclists will pedal their way from Edmond Town Hall to the US Capital in Washington, DC, to support a number of what the team describes as “common sense legislation to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our nation.” The group — dubbed Team 26, representing those killed on 12/14 — and their support team, is the brainchild of Sandy Hook resident and world-class competitive cyclist Monte Frank. Mr Frank is kicking off this third ride on the morning of March 28 along with fellow Newtowner Bill Muzzio. Team 26 consists of professional and top amateur and masters cyclists from the Northeast. The riders invite all Newtown residents to join together sending off the team March 28 with an 8 am rally that will also welcome US Senator Richard Blumenthal and US Representative Elizabeth Esty.