On Thursday, December 11, a service of mourning and loving remembrance for all who have fallen victim to the ongoing epidemic of gun violence will take place at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The Newtown Foundation plans to bring families of victims and survivors of gun violence from Newtown and around the country to the vigil at the Cathedral. In order to transport families to Washington, D.C., however, funding is needed.
Kelly Paredes is settling not only into her new position as program manager of Ben’s Lighthouse, but resettling into the community she once called home, graduating from Newtown High School in 1998. Along with her husband, Hernando, and 19-month-old son, Oliver, Ms Paredes moved back to Newtown during the Labor Day weekend, and started her new job on Tuesday, September 2. Named for Ben Wheeler, one of the 20 first grade children killed on 12/14, Ben’s Lighthouse was founded by teachers, social workers, clergy, counselors, parents, and students invested in helping youth deal with post-12/14 difficulties.
Jen and Mike Guman of 38 Main Street, welcomed town officials and residents onto their property for the kickoff to the Memorial Sdewalk Project. The start of construction will be a portion of sidewalk running from the corner of Main Street as far as 3 Church Hill Road, where a section of sidewalk already exists.Newtown Director of Planning and Land Use George Benson said that the first phase of construction would begin in early October. Completion should be within six months, added Rob Sibley, deputy director of Planning and Land Use.
During its regular meeting September 8, the Board of Finance approved contributing $47,185 the school district compiled from dozens of smaller line item surpluses in the 2013-14 budget, to a nonlapsing account earmarked for anticipated security-related “building hardening” expenses. The distribution will act as matching funds to qualify the district for a larger security grant. This new account, which was recently authorized through legislation, will replace a capital nonrecurring account, and will permit the school district to occasionally seek opportunities to transfer similar budget surpluses in the future.
First Selectman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Joseph Erardi, Jr appeared before Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Friday, September 12, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
In addition to receiving presentations from the panel’s Mental Health Working Group, Safe School Design and Operations Working Group, and Law Enforcement Working Group, Mrs Llodra and Dr Erardi, each provided testimony, touching on a wide range of subjects related to Newtown’s recovery efforts post 12/14.
The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is Governor Malloy’s 16-member panel of experts tasked with reviewing current policies and making specific recommendations in the areas of public safety, with particular attention paid to school safety, mental health, and gun violence prevention.
Even Mother Nature joined the Newtown Forest Association’s (NFA) 90th anniversary Sunset Wine Tasting celebration Saturday, September 6. Lightning cut the darkened sky, driving many guests home. Sudden rain pushed others indoors. But moods of remaining guests remained bright. Although initially worried about the weather, NFA Treasurer Guy Peterson, a little damp, but smiling, said, “We had three wonderful hours.”A glance outdoors from the top of Holcombe Hill Wildlife Preserve — Newtown’s highest point — offered a panoramic view of a storming sky. On the hilltop facing heavy rain clouds and waiting for an-other streak of lightning was Connie Widmann. She noted the earlier “great turnout,” and said the evening was a “great event.” Soon joining Ms Widmann to enjoy the stormy view was NFA Secretary Aaron Coopersmith. The two stood near a gazebo on the lawn where several residents ducked out of the weather, but continued their own small celebration. Indoors in a small gallery filled with NFA photos and maps above the garage at the former Josephine Holcombe residence, Evelyn Watts turned her back to the weather and received a sample of wine from server Amy Murphy. With Ms Murphy behind the small wine bar was Isabelle Duval. The buildings at the Holcombe Hill Preserve were once home to Josephine Holcombe, and now belong to the NFA. The site is used as NFA headquarters and is occupied by a caretaker. Although many guests promptly headed downhill shortly after 7 pm to the parking area, others huddled indoors, wine glasses in hand.
Police officials plan to research whether adding more “speed tables” to the northern section of Key Rock Road would solve a motorist speeding problem there. That speeding occurs when westbound drivers on Sugar Street (Route 302), which is a thoroughfare with a 40-mph speed limit, turn left and travel onto southbound Key Rock Road and are moving at speeds faster than Key Rock Road’s posted 20-mph speed limit. Speed tables are broad shallowly-pitched speed bumps designed to hold down travel speeds in the areas where they are positioned. Key Rock Road is a one mile-long north-south residential connector road that links Sugar Street to the intersection of Hattertown Road and Poverty Hollow Road.The presence of speed tables has been a controversial local topic.
The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) convened its hearing on a proposed 23-lot cluster-style residential subdivision in Dodgingtown on Wednesday evening, September 10. About 40 people attended to comment on the project and to ask questions about its development. The commission, however, put off hearing responses from the developers until a future meeting. Roughly the same number of people attended this week’s hearing as attended an August 27 IWC meeting that was set for the same topic, but at the earlier meeting it was learned that, due to a technicality, the hearing would be postponed. All property owners with holdings within 500 feet of a subdivision site must, by law, be formally notified of such a public hearing. That requirement, however, had not been met, so the project’s developer sought on August 22 and then received on August 27 the IWC’s approval to have the public hearing rescheduled to September, so that such formal notification could be fully made.
Newtown taxpayers will foot the $29,000 bill to demolish what is left of a burned-out home, and to clean up the now abandoned and blighted property at 31 Great Hill Road in Hawleyville. The remains of a 3,400-square-foot home and surrounding property littered with debris, owned by Anita Pettengill according to town records, has been the subject of neighborhood scorn and countless complaints since a June 24, 2011, blaze. The issue first came up during a September 2 Board of Selectmen’s meeting when the officials unanimously passed a transfer authorization to move $29,000 from a town contingency fund to the Land Use Department to cover the anticipated demo and cleanup costs.
It appears that a $1.5 million capital allocation that has been pending for several years as the Newtown Hook & Ladder fire company secured and planned to build a new headquarters could be restructured as a grant, with terms. Until recently, officials were describing the assistance being provided so the volunteer fire company to establish its independent headquarters as a “gift.” On September 8, the Board of Finance reviewed language that member John Godin created and labeled as a grant, and unanimously voted to recommend the administrative change to the Board of Selectman and Legislative Council for approval. Town Finance Director Robert Tait explained after the meeting that in the unlikely event the fire company closes or fails to continue operating under its current charter, the town needs a process in place to recover some or all of the funding granted for the development of its new building.