Its glistening dark eyes stared back at resident Robert Eckenrode as he took a photo of his backyard guest. A barred owl — named “Hootie” or “Daniel,” depending on who in the family is talking — that he first noticed in mid-June sat with its wings at rest. Local landowners are invited to join Mr Eckenrode and Newtown Forest Association member for a program about land stewardship and beneficial practices on Saturday, July 26, between 1 and 3 pm, at Holcombe Hill Preserve in Newtown. A guest forester, native plant specialist, and an organic lawn care professional will be available to answer any questions. Reservations are requested.
Proposed federal education legislation to fund social and emotional learning skills training for teachers would help prevent violence such as mass shootings, the mother of a 6-year-old boy killed on 12/14 said Friday. “Since almost the beginning I had an intuitive awareness that had the shooter in our case had access to social and emotional learning this tragedy would not have happened,” Jesse’s mother, Scarlett Lewis, said at a July 17 news conference with Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Several town officials addressing the Charter Revision Commission July 15, have recommended the panel not rush the final steps of the process simply to get a proposed overhaul of Newtown’s constitutional document on this November’s Election Day ballot. During a public hearing that was attended, as commission chairman Jeff Capeci noted, “by two members of the public,” both Legislative Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob, speaking for herself and not for the council, and First Selectman Pat Llodra, favorably acknowledged more than a year’s collective work over the course of more than 55 meetings. Then, both encouraged charter commissioners to return to the drawing board over the course of the next few weeks or months to carefully consider several issues incorporated into their draft recommendations.
Following discussion and deliberation a week earlier by the Legislative Council’s Ordinance Committee, Chairman Ryan Knapp recommended July 15 that the full council suspend any plans to modify the town’s relatively new Firearms Ordinance. During the full council meeting this week, First Selectman Pat Llodra explained that concerns were raised to members of the Board of Selectmen after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, reminding them about an individual who brought a handgun and shot an official at a 2010 Panama City, Fla., school board meeting.
An off-duty Newtown police officer was involved in a one-car accident on Main Street South early on the morning of July 11. Southbury police said that Michael McGowan, 42, was driving a 2004 Toyota Camry sedan eastward on Main Street Main Street South when he fell asleep at the wheel.
Criticism about the traffic effects and the size of a 74-unit condominium complex proposed for Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Center has resulted in the Planning and Zoning Commission seeking more technical information from the applicant on the project. P&Z members held a public hearing on July 9 on the application from developer/builder Michael Burton of Sandy Hook, doing business as River Walk Properties, LLC, for the project known as The River Walk at Sandy Hook Village.
On July 13, the Board of Finance approved spending a $2.6 million state grant to complete a Toddy Hill Road bridge replacement and re-engineering of the intersection at Berkshire Road )Route 34). While that project is expected to ease weekday morning and afternoon gridlock in the area, the Toddy Hill Road work is among the preliminary, peripheral projects tied to a planned reconfiguration of Route 84’s Exit 11 interchange, according to Public Works Director Fred Hurley. During that same meeting, the board briefly discussed an approximate $45,000 net loss resulting from the School District initially reserving more diesel fuel than was required for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Employees of Aquarion Water Company have been working on a water pipe replacement project. In the coming weeks, the workers will be replacing sections of outdated pipe on Queen Street. During the construction, certain sections of Queen Street lying between its intersections with Glover Avenue and Mile Hill Road will be closed to through-traffic with detours provided for motorists.
Town police have received approval for a $23,800 grant from the state, with that money to be used for police overtime pay for speed enforcement and for the acquisition of speed-detection radar equipment. Newtown police made more than 9,400 motor vehicle stops during a recent 12-month study period. Lieutenant Christopher Vanghele said the town received the enforcement grant approval from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) under the “high-risk rural roads speed enforcement program.” The grant allows the police department to spend up to $4,000 for the purchase of a new radar unit for a patrol car. The grant will also cover $19,800 in police overtime to pay officers who will conduct speed patrols to apprehend violators.
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.