One of the graphics Newtown’s recently hired technology director Al Miles projected during a February 24 Board of Finance meeting illustrated why he was advocating for the quick hire of an additional full-time staffer for his department.In the months before Mr Miles was hired to replace departing IT boss Scott Sharlow, the backlog of work began accumulating and overwhelming the remaining, single full-timer left on staff to support and maintain the 500 computer devices Newtown’s government and public safety departments depend upon.At the same time, that industrious but outmatched staffer, Dennis Lawler, had to keep an eye on potential security threats, spam e-mail outbreaks, and a dozen other technology issues beyond the day-to-day functionality of all the town’s computer systems and networks (the school district has its own dedicated staff).
National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry based in Newtown, announced recently that 1,000 manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, ranges, hunter safety instructors, and conservation groups have joined in promoting Project ChildSafe, a national program to encourage responsible firearms ownership and provide safety materials to all gun owners. “Proper storage is the number one way to prevent firearm accidents,” said Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF. “The more we can get this message out, the more we will continue to see firearms accidents and misuse decrease.”
The extended period of extremely cold weather is believed to have caused several water main breaks in town, the most recent one occurring this week on Church Hill Road, just east of its intersection with Wendover Road. Water lines on Queen Street and Pine Tree Hill Road have also failed within recent weeks.
A 40 minute drug sweep at Newtown High School the morning of February 27 resulted in the arrest of three students and the issuing of an infraction to a fourth, according to a release from the Newtown Police Department. Police say a "drug sniff" involving 12 passively trained K-9 narcotics teams was conducted monitoring the high school building and the adjacent parking areas. The activity was invited by school administration according to the release, utilizing law enforcement resources from several departments as well as the State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force. Reached by The Bee while traveling, Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi Jr emailed a response for comment about the activity, saying the sweep was handled in partnership with the Newtown Police Department and Newtown Prevention Council.
Following detailed review during the past several months, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members have conditionally approved The Preserve at Newtown, a planned 23-lot residential subdivision on 167 acres in Dodgingtown. Notably, about half of the subdivision site would be preserved as undeveloped open space land which will be open to the public and reserved for low-intensity passive forms of recreation, such as hiking and nature study.
Lieutenant Richard Robinson, who heads the police department’s detective unit, has a watchword for crime prevention: vigilance. Staying watchful and being alert to danger or trouble goes a long way toward preventing property crimes such as burglaries and thefts from occurring, he explained this week. Vigilant people serve as a “force multiplier” for police by expanding police’s ability to respond to problems, he said.
Newtown officials offered constructive comments along with members of the local legislative delegation at a public hearing in Middletown Tuesday, February 24, urging lawmakers in Hartford to grant municipalities relief from having to hire workers under a nearly quarter-century-old threshold that mandates prevailing wage consideration on most large municipal or state subsidized construction projects. With increasing concerns about unfunded state mandates, the recent escalation of unemployment costs, and budget constraints on local and state levels, Representatives Mitch Bolinsky and J.P. Sredzinski testified in support of state prevailing wage reform. They were joined by Newtown Legislative Council member Ryan Knapp, who was speaking on behalf of the town, and First Selectman Pat Llodra, who had to attend a local budget hearing that evening, but submitted written remarks.
The late Judith Beaudreau, a very active registrar of voters from Vernon and longtime mentor of Newtown’s Democratic Registrar LeReine Frampton, often referred to those local elected officials as the “gatekeepers to democracy.” But those Democratic and Republican gatekeepers may be losing their posts if a new election reform measure from Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is successful.
Ms Merrill is proposing transforming the office of registrar of voters from a local elected official handpicked by town political committees to a municipal employee appointed locally to administer elections as a nonpartisan professional. Ms Frampton, her Republican counterpart Joanne Albanesi, and First Selectman Pat Llodra all reacted to the proposal shortly after it was announced February 25.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr., in partnership with the district’s PTA presidents, is set to hold a community forum, “An All-School Parent Conversation Focused On Teaching, Learning, and the Proposed 2015-16 Spending Plan,” on Tuesday, March 10.