Following 12/14, when people worldwide offered solace to the community in the forms of stuffed animals, comfort pillows, and quilts, Newtown was left with a surplus of lovingly donated items. In March 2013, America Responds With Love, Inc, a national nonprofit organization, offered its assistance to help the Town of Newtown. In particular, America Responds With Love offered to help find homes for products donated, but that were not needed within Newtown or neighboring communities. Richard McDonough, president and CEO of the organization, recently provided The Newtown Bee with an update, summarizing how the thousands of items have been distributed to date.
It is our tradition for our Christmas week edition to publish a seasonal illustration on our cover.
This year’s illustration is once again by local artist Kim Proctor. It depicts an old lamplighter plying his trade in the new streetscape of Sandy Hook Center, which in this rendering includes the new village Christmas tree at the corner of Washington Avenue and Riverside Road.
Ms Proctor explained that this year’s illustration is “dedicated with great admiration to Pat Llodra for her compassionate leadership.”
The faculty and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School have come together to write a thank you letter to express their gratitude to those from around the world who took the time during the past 12 months to reach out to the school. "The outpouring of love, kindness, and support shown to us over the past 12 months has been extraordinary and we would like the opportunity to say thank you,” an email said in part when the letter was submitted to The Bee. The letter has been signed on behalf of the entire staff.
Danbury Superior Court Judge Robin Pavia last week sentenced John Heath, 70, of Bridgewater to serve a 50-year prison sentence for murdering his wife, Elizabeth, 32, in April 1984, at their Poverty Hollow Road home in Newtown. Following the murder, Mr Heath concealed his wife’s body in a dry well located beneath the floor of a barn at the 89 Poverty Hollow Road property. It was not until April 2010, when the current owners of the property were renovating the barn, that Ms Heath’s skeletal remains were discovered wrapped in bedding inside the dry well. A 12-member jury of eight men and four woman convicted Mr Heath on October 16, following a three-week trial at which the prosecution presented more than 30 witnesses.
Members of Governor Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission said on December 20 they need more detailed information about the killer’s mental state. Members also want to know his access to treatment before they can make any substantial recommendations concerning mental health policy. Dr Harold Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, said he was distressed by the amount of information on 20-year-old Adam Lanza’s mental health issues that was not included in the investigative report into the massacre, released last month by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III. The commission is hoping to gain access to additional documents, and would also like to meet with the killer's father.
State officials announced new school construction protocols Friday in response to the Newtown tragedy, including exterior surveillance, blast-resistant entryways and classroom door locks -- all features that might have stopped or slowed Adam Lanza's assault on Sandy Hook Elementary a year ago according to a December 20 report at CTMirror.org. The new standards must be met to qualify for the $600 million spent annually by the state to build and renovate schools, a local responsibility that is subsidized by the state based on local wealth, with an upscale suburb like Avon qualifying for 20 percent and a city like New Britain getting 80 percent. The standards will apply to all new school construction approved for funding by the legislature after June 2014.
Four days after the December 12 National Vigil for Gun Violence Victims in Washington, DC, conducted in remembrance of all lost to or affected by gun violence, Newtown Foundation spokesperson Dave Ackert was still emotionally moved by the event.Two buses sponsored by the Newtown Foundation had left from Newtown early Wednesday morning, December 11, carrying 90 people. Two buses sponsored by the Newtown Foundation left from Newtown early Wednesday morning, December 11, carrying 90 people. An additional bus followed, populated by clergy from Newtown and Hartford. More than 100 other people from across the nation met up with the Newtown area contingent that afternoon, and two days of volunteerism and acts of kindness began. The actions preceded a late afternoon vigil held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on Thursday.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe has reversed an earlier position and decided against pursuing job termination against Police Officer Thomas Bean, a town police officer who responded to the 12/14 mass shooting incident at Sandy Hook School and subsequently has been off work since then due to a medical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a brief December 5 letter to Police Commission Chairman Paul Mangiafico, Chief Kehoe wrote that he is withdrawing his previous recommendation that Officer Bean be terminated. In the letter, the police chief did not explain his reason for withdrawing the termination recommendation. Police Commission members endorsed the police chief’s letter at a December 17 session, Mr Mangiafico said.
As childhood friends, Riverside Road resident Susan Oberstadt and her future husband, George, used to play in the cow fields that were eventually developed to build Sandy Hook School.
She became one of the first students to attend that new school back in the 1950s. Ms Oberstadt never dreamed that six decades later she would be sitting in a packed town council meeting fighting to keep her homestead from being taken by eminent domain so the town could enhance the development of a new Sandy Hook School. But after hearing some impassioned pleas from neighbors, some the Oberstadt family never met, as well as a lengthy testimonial from the long-time property owner herself at a December 18 meeting, the Legislative Council unanimously rejected the notion of taking the property.