Frigid temperatures and frozen ground have slowed progress on a Memorial Sidewalk project — its first section leading from the top of Church Hill Road downhill to an existing stretch of walkway. Work stopped at the very top of Church Hill Road several weeks ago, when cold weather set in. Since then, many drivers and pedestrians have passed by the site where ground moving machinery is still parked on an already excavated area, the earth eaten away where a retaining wall will go, and overturned wheelbarrows sit waiting. Bright orange cones mark off the work zone on Church Hill Road just below the flagpole. “Frost has really set into the ground and it’s too hard to dig,” said contractor Rob Manna of LRM Landscape Contractors. Waiting for temperatures to hit above the freezing mark to resume work, Mr Manna said this week he hopes to get a crew back to the site soon.
Following lengthy discussion at a heavily attended January 15 Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, commission members unanimously approved a new set of zoning regulations that would cover high-density, multifamily housing complexes that include an affordable housing component.
Volunteer firefighting is not a simple task. During all types of weather and at any time of day or night, an emergency call may sound, summoning firefighters from wherever they may be, and whatever they may be doing to respond to the scene of an emergency. For the past half century in Newtown, Bill Halstead has been among those who showed up to help. On January 18, 1965, the day he turned 16, Mr Halstead volunteered as a Sandy Hook firefighter. He has been fighting fires and responding to emergencies ever since in Sandy Hook, in adjacent fire districts within Newtown, and on mutual aid calls out of town. He has worked his way through the ranks and has, since 1978, been serving as Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue's chief since 1978.
A storm system that has already dropped heavy snow on parts of the southern Plains will continue to develop as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard late Friday into Saturday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). “The system has the potential to bring a wintry mix of precipitation to the Mid-Atlantic and New England [regions], though it is not expected to be a major snow producer,” NWS had posted on its website Friday afternoon. Newtown schools have already responded to the expected weather, canceling a number of Saturday events due to the expected storm.
Facing several television crews and reporters from a number of news bureaus, the Legislative Council quickly and unanimously voted January 21 to authorize the Board of Selectmen to move forward with plans to demolish the home of 12/14 shooter Adam Lanza. Finance Director Robert Tait said that the cost for demolition is coming from a special insurance fund set up with designated donations to the town following 12/14. Mrs Llodra said based on another recent residential demolition the town underwrote, she is estimating it will cost about $29,000 to demolish and remove debris associated with the 3,162-square-foot dwelling. In other business, the council set its anticipated budget calendar Wednesday evening.
An anticipated $37 million in grand list growth before any assessment appeals, along with savings from bond refunding, incremental cuts in select operating allocations, and level state aid reimbursement is expected to result in a Board of Selectmen 2015-16 budget proposal that will fortify local road repair plans, increase the town’s fund balance, and enable key hiring while delivering no tax increase and a reduction in next year’s mill rate.
Several months after a resident suggested during a Board of Finance meeting that the town create a database so taxpayers could review the salary details of every town employee, Finance Director Robert Tait presented the report to the Legislative Council January 21. First Selectman Pat Llodra told the council that virtually every public document generated through her office “is likely to find its way to the [town] website.” Mr Tait told the council he wanted to make the annual salary report as short and simple as possible considering the massive amount of data it contains. The report ranks staff positions and their corresponding salary figures from highest to lowest, and in cases where multiple staffers all share the same salary, those in the positions are grouped.
As the only state representative whose district lies completely within the borders of Newtown, Mitch Bolinsky appropriately readied for his second term in the statehouse by going back to those very constituents for suggestions for bills to propose in the current legislative session. Those constituents responded in earnest, providing input for most of the 27 proposals Rep Bolinsky is either authoring, co-authoring, or sponsoring this year.
After several reminders from Chairman Kyle Lyddy that Newtown’s Permanent Memorial Commission is not discouraged by low turnouts at their public information forums, Lions Club President Robert Schmidt suggested that there may be a good reason why so many seats in the high school lecture hall remained empty January 20. “The diversity of your group inspires trust,” Mr Schmidt said. “Maybe that explains why not a lot of people are here tonight — they trust you.” Neither that observation, nor the elementary questions about how many memorials might be planned, where those tributes to the 26 who lost their lives on 12/14 might be located, or when the committee planned to complete its work seemed to faze Mr Lyddy or the commissioners in attendance.
The 2015-16 school calendar unanimously passed the Board of Education during its meeting on Tuesday, January 20.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, said the 2015-16 school calendar presented to the school board this week represents community input and responses to concerns voiced by school board members.
“Most important, you never lost sight of what the calendar should represent, and that is [what’s] best for students,” said the superintendent.
Dr Erardi also highlighted a few things in the calendar, including a before-school professional development pilot in October and a changed plan for November conference dates, which were moved to earlier in the month away from the Thanksgiving break.