Visible from Old Castle Drive is a panoramic view looking down on the flagpole, church steeples. and rooflines along Main Street. Sitting just off the curb and facing this iconic scene is a small bench perched at the top of a rise that was once a sweeping meadow, but in more recent years has become overgrown and filled with invasives. Newtown Forest Association, which owns the property, has begun a large reclamation project to restore the meadows and fruit tree orchard, trails, and natural beauty once found there.
Town officials this week again tackled the thorny issue of traffic problems at the flagpole intersection, the five-legged intersection in the town center that holds the 100-foot-tall landmark flagpole where Main Street, Church Hill Road, and West Street meet. The flagpole, which is not shielded by barriers, stands squarely in the intersection. The massive pole holds several round yellow-and-black traffic signs, informing motorists to “Go Right” around the pole while negotiating the intersection, which has a high accident rate. Long a historic focal point and an enduring symbol of the town, public discussion of traffic safety at the flagpole occasionally resurfaces at public meetings.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed January 5 to recommend to the Legislative Council that the 36 Yogananda Street residence once occupied by Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza be demolished. The residence was also the site where Lanza murdered his mother, Nancy, before traveling to the local elementary school and perpetrating one of the worst school shootings in US history. Residents have offered different to First Selectman Pat Llodra concerning the property and its dwelling, which is now town-owned land. Funds from a special insurance fund set up after 12/14 will more than cover the demolition costs.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, presented a $72,399,186, proposed operating budget, a 1.48 percent increase over this year’s budget, to the Board of Education on Tuesday, January 6.
The meeting was the first of multiple budget sessions for the school board to look over the proposed superintendent’s budget, deliberate it, and make possible changes. The budget is set for adoption by the board during a planned February 5 meeting.
Dr Erardi explained that the proposed operating budget was the culmination of dozens of meetings and a team effort.
There currently is no receptacle available in the police station lobby at 3 Main Street for the proper disposal of unwanted prescription drugs, including expired drugs and prescription drug packaging. Newtown police ask that residents who want to properly dispose of such substances do so at a neighboring police station.
The Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association (NEOA) has scheduled a presentation on Thursday, January 8, at 7 pm, at Newtown Middle School, 11 Queen Street, for middle school and high school parents from Newtown. The event will be held in the school’s auditorium. Newtown Public Schools, the Newtown Police Department, and the Newtown Prevention Council have partnered with the NEOA to bring parents the workshop on teen substance abuse.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is inviting the greater Newtown community to participate in two open forums this month on the topic of a permanent memorial to honor the 26 lives lost on 12/14. The open forums will take place at the Newtown High School lecture hall on Tuesday, January 20, and Thursday, January 29. Both will begin at 7 pm. The commission has completed the first two phases of information gathering, which included initial and ongoing outreach to the 26 families who lost loved ones on 12/14. The commission has heard from 18 of these families through open forums, in person meetings, and surveys.
UPDATED 4:50 pm: First Selectman Pat Llodra and the town’s Emergency Management Office are urging residents to be prepared for severe cold weather, reminding residents of local warming centers, and asking that residents keep an eye on each other. || Governor Dannel P. Malloy has activated the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol in anticipation of temperatures in the teens and single digits and wind chills below zero over the next few days and nights. The protocol is effective beginning today, January 6, and will remain in effect through Saturday, January 10. “We must continue to protect the most vulnerable during these severe cold weather outbreaks,” said Gov Malloy. “I urge anyone in need of shelter to call 211 and encourage local communities to consider opening warming centers or other facilities to assist people in need.” While Newtown is not expected to have extended periods of extremely cold temperatures, First Selectman Pat Llodra said the local health department is preparing for this week's weather.