A growing number of officials believe that helping residents better understand the relationship between declining student enrollment and the amount school leaders will ask taxpayers to underwrite next year could help pass the annual budget referendum sooner.
Providing additional evidence to taxpayers that town and district leaders are working collaboratively, and with mutual support for each other’s spending proposals, could also go far toward propelling a first-round budget vote to passage, some officials believe.
These were early stage issues emerging following a multiboard budget orientation session held with members of the Legislative Council, and the Boards of Education, Selectmen and Finance
Momentum is building, literally, as more than a half-dozen capital projects move toward completion, or begin shifting from the drawing board to their respective construction phases in 2014. While the reconstruction of Sandy Hook School is certainly one the the community, the state, and, in some respects, the entire world is waiting to see commence in the new year, Newtown residents also expect to see a groundbreaking for a new headquarters for Hook & Ladder on Church Hill Road, solidified plans for a new recreation center, a new headquarters for Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and work on a Newtown Parent Connection base of operations.
All town offices and agencies will be closed from noon on Tuesday, December 31, and remain closed until Thursday, January 2, for New Year’s. Additional special hours for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are announced for Newtown Senior Center, C.H. Booth Library, public schools and the offices of The Newtown Bee.
Allen G. Breed & Michael Biesecker, Associated Press
• News •
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Adam Lanza was fascinated with chimpanzees because of their capacity for empathy, but could show little or none himself. He could write stories that struck horror into a teacher’s heart, then turn around and craft a poem so beautiful it moved listeners to tears. As a kid growing up in Connecticut, he rode bikes, played baseball and saxophone, and kept hamsters. As a man, he taped black garbage bags over his bedroom windows, retreating into a world of violent video games, guns and statistics on mass murder. Despite the release Friday by Connecticut state police of thousands of pages of interviews, photographs and writings, the man who gunned down 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, remains an enigma. The picture most people have of Lanza is the skeletal, blank face from photographs released by police following the massacre. Childhood photos show a smiling boy who could look into a camera, but signs of trouble — if not violence — emerged early.
Among the more than 7,000 images, audio files, videos and documents released by the Connecticut State Police last Friday, is a nondescript subfile marked "0030290." It contains three multi-page documents that have received little or no attention compared to reams of investigatory data from the 12/14 crime scenes, incident responders, witness testimonies, and about the shooter himself. The "0030290" file contains a letter from Brookfield resident Steve Kohlhase, sent to State Police investigators about six weeks after the shooting, reflecting his conviction that a low frequency audio phenomenon he believes is generated by a nearby high volume gas pipeline, could have had something to do with the behavior the shooter was exhibiting in the months, days and hours leading up to that devastating event.
With the end of 2013, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is stepping back momentarily to regroup and refocus its efforts, according to member and former Newtown state representative Christopher Lyddy, who sits on the panel. The panel met for the final time this year on December 20 to review details from the recently released state prosecutor’s report on the events of 12/14. The commissioners adjourned that meeting after calling for more information about shooter Adam Lanza’s mental state, and what level of access he had to treatment, before any substantial recommendations concerning mental health policy can be tendered. Mr Lyddy said members are regrouping "to really refocus on what we've learned ... [are] in the process of dialoguing about priorities, and what the charge is in terms of what kind of report or recommendations we out to make." The commission, he continued, is at a point where its members are starting to sift through information "to decide what kind of recommendations are on the table."
Connecticut State Police have notified the media that an exhaustive report of "several thousand pages" concerning the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School will be released electronically at 3 pm Friday, December 27. A notice from Lt. J. Paul Vance states the report will be redacted according to law, but he also indicated it contains text, photos and 911 calls received by the State Police on 12/14. The release of the 7,000-plus page report indicates that the State Police investigation is officially closed. According to one source, the school district notified staff Thursday that the report was expected to be published.
Newtown Police are investigating a tractor trailer versus car crash that occurred at approximately 6:20 am on Friday morning, December 27 near the busy intersection of Mount Pleasant and Sawmill Roads. Hawleyville Fire and Rescue Chief John Basso, who handled command supervision at the scene, credited more than 20 volunteers from his department and Hook & Ladder for responding quickly to the scene. Utilizing heavy equipment from Hook & Ladder's Rescue apparatus, firefighters conducted a complex extrication of the single occupant of the car that was involved. "We had to basically take the car apart around the driver," Chief Basso said.
An organization composed of Medal of Honor recipients traveled to Newtown on December 23 to honor the six educators killed on 12/14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society said it chose Rachel D’Avino,Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto to receive its Citizen Honors Medal, the highest award it gives to a civilian, after receiving dozens of nominations for their actions during the shooting. The organization also planned to honor every other member of the school’s staff with a Certificate of Commendation.
An exhaustive body of reporting by the Connecticut State Police (CSP) resulting from investigations following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, was released by the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) shortly after 3 pm December 27. The collection of data includes approximately 7,000 pages of written reports, as well as photographs, video recordings, and audio recordings. Tens of thousands of hours were spent by investigators from across the country, tracking down leads, processing evidence, and "doing everything within their collective ability to provide answers for the questions that remained in the wake of the terror of that morning," DESPP Commissioner Reuben F. Bradford wrote in a letter that accompanied the reports.