After nearly three hours of responding to a room full of raised hands inquiring and commenting about a community center project, March 24, First Selectman Pat Llodra continued the discussion this week with The Newtown Bee. Residents have concerns about the funding, use of space, and how well the facility would serve Newtown. Many who attended Tuesday's info session were particularly concerned that the project, aside from the aquatic center, was mostly for senior citizens and not a true community center.
As Connecticut lawmakers consider whether to fund a pilot program to help local police agencies acquire body cameras, Newtown’s local police department is in the final stages of completing its first elementary study on the new technology. Police Chief Michael Kehoe told The Newtown Bee this week that his department is always looking for new ways and technologies to improve citizen-law enforcement relations. “Education both ways is always good,” Chief Kehoe said regarding the prospect and possible detriments to employing body cameras. He said many citizens believe that officer body cams, as the devices are generically called, are an extension of the dashboard cameras already in operation in all Newtown patrol vehicles. But they are not. The chief said the department is in the final stages of its first study, which in part will identify optional body cam models, implementation, and possibly ways to begin integrating the technology along with all the other equipment being used day to day by local officers.
Karyn Holden and Kinga Walsh, co-chairs of the Newtown Education Advocacy Group (NEAG), were the sole representatives of more than 6,000 Newtown taxpaying households at this week’s annual Legislative Council public hearing on the 2015-16 budget proposal. Ms Walsh, reading from a prepared statement, took a little more than two minutes to relate the group’s collective advocacy for the education budget request, and the session adjourned a few moments later with nobody else in the sparse audience opting to come to the microphone. “Our message is simple,” Ms Walsh said. “Please support the proposed education budget as is, and pass it through to the voters.”
State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Mitch Bolinsky, and representatives from The Arc Connecticut will attend an information session at C.H. Booth Library on Thursday, April 9. The discussion will concern proposed cuts in the 2016 and 2017 state spending plan that were presented by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on February 18, to the Voluntary Services Program, within the Department of Developmental Services. While the forum is designed for the developmentally disabled community, all area residents are welcome to attend.
Following discussion at a March 19 session, Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously endorsed the town’s plans to expand the municipal sanitary sewer system in Hawleyville, a project which is intended to stimulate economic development, especially in the area near the Exit 9 interchange of Interstate 84. P&Z members decided that the sewer expansion project is consistent with the purpose and intent of the 2014 Town Plan of Conservation and Development. The town plan is a long-range planning document that lists a broad range of municipal goals and objectives.
The Newtown Republican Town Committee is calling all party members who may currently, or at some point in the future, consider serving their community in an elected or appointed capacity. And for the first time, the GOP is actively recruiting unaffiliated voters who may have expertise or knowledge they can contribute by filling Republican vacancies on appointed boards. Newly elected RTC Chairman Jeff Capeci and Vice Chair Dan Wiedemann told The Bee that local Republicans are holding an open house and Meet & Greet event Sunday, March 29, from 2 to 4 pm, at the home of Legislative Council Vice Chair Neil Chaudhary
At the Newtown Prevention Council meeting on Thursday, March 19, members reviewed a workshop conducted in January and worked on ways to continue its efforts to foster a resilient community. Prevention Council Vice Chair Donna Culbert said the January event involved 75 people gathering to work on the effort, “and there was a lot of really thoughtful discussion and a lot of concrete suggestions and ideas that were shared.”
The Board of Finance was expected to approve $205,000 in internal Highway Department transfers at its March 26 regular meeting. That meeting was scheduled to occur shortly after this week’s edition of The Newtown Bee went to print. But Town Finance Director Robert Tait said beforehand that such transfers are routine, particularly when the funds come from other lines within the same department. A transfer request memo between Mr Tait and Public Works Director Fred Hurley includes existing account shortfalls and anticipated needs, and identifies sufficient internal funds to cover the needs in the highway and the transfer station’s current budget.
Psychiatric hospital developers have submitted a formal letter of intent for a land lease to establish a roughly 100-bed facility at Fairfield Hills, which the campus authority members moved to accept Monday. Speaking with the Fairfield Hills Authority this week was CBRE First Vice President Randy Eigen, who introduced himself as the real estate broker representing Richard Kresch, MD. Dr Kresch is the CEO of US HealthVest, a behavioral health care venture.
The Planning and Zoning Commission held its annual election of officers last week, naming Republican Robert Mulholland of Sandy Hook to a second one-year term as the agency’s chairman. Mr Mulholland had served as the panel’s vice chairman before first becoming its chairman more than a year ago. Also named to a second one-year term as vice chairman was Republican Michael Porco, Sr. Additionally, the membership named Democrat Don Mitchell to a second one-year term as the agency’s secretary.