Local officials and residents attending a state Department of Transportation (DOT) informational session on planned improvements for the eastern end of Sugar Street (Route 302), including bridge replacement, have told DOT staffers of the need for sidewalks there, as well as better protection for adjacent electric utility lines that power the town center. The DOT held the February 11 session at Newtown Municipal Center to explain the project and hear comments and suggestions on the work planned the for the section of Sugar Street that extends about 400 feet westward from its signalized four-way intersection with Main Street, Glover Avenue, and South Main Street. DOT officials said the construction work may start as soon as the fall of 2015 and be completed within 12 months. If initial work does not start in the fall of 2015, it would begin in the spring of 2016. Comments from residents and local public officials during the session noted the proximity of the proposed project to a pair of pristine properties in the center of town, the needs of pedestrians and bicyclers in configuring the project, the wish for sidewalks and crosswalks in the area, and concerns over possible traffic jams during the project's construction.
The Police Commission has formed a subcommittee to pursue creating a new police station to better meet the space needs of the 45-member police department. Police Commission members at a February 4 session named commission members James Viadero and Andrew Sachs to serve on that panel. The formation of that unit, formally known as the Newtown Police Department Facilities Subcommittee, comes on the heels of the recent formation of a private fundraising group of volunteers, which is seeking to raise $18 million toward the construction of a new police station. That group, which is headed by resident Scott Cicciari, is known as the Newtown Police Building Fund.
Spokespersons from the Newtown Public Works and Police Departments are cautioning Newtown Drivers to continue to drive carefully and slowly as crews continue to work clearing local roadways. Neither the police nor highway department reported any serious accidents or incidents overnight, although by Friday morning police were dealing with a coupe of tractor trailers getting stuck on steep hills. "Thankfully we haven't seen any accidents so far," said Sgt Aaron Bahamonde Friday around 9 am. "But our roadways are narrower because of the snowbanks, so drivers, especially on the back roads really need to slow down and be careful."
Snow and ice have been repeatedly blanketing Newtown since late fall, pushing the Public Works Department’s winter maintenance budgets into the red in recent weeks. But a transfer of $116,106 that is expected to be approved by the Legislative Council February 19 will put those well-tapped budget lines back in the black according to Public Works Director Fred Hurley. The transfers have already been approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, but they also require endorsement from the council because the money is originating from the town’s contingency fund, Finance Director Robert Tait told The Newtown Bee. The transfers break down to $27,420 for overtime; $2,098 for Social Security contributions tied to overtime payments; $22,064 for sand; and $64,524 for road salt.
Newtown has issued its second CodeRED message of the current winter storm. Those who signed up for the notifications are receiving a message this morning from Newtown Director of Emergency Communications Maureen Will. "Following the governor's directive, we are also asking all non-essential personnel to stay home today," Ms Will said in the brief message. "Newtown Municipal Center will be closed today. Stay home until after the storm has passed, and we will see you all tomorrow morning," she said.
BOSTON — The Newtown Bee was recognized among hundreds of New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) members February 7 and 8 for its editorial and photographic work during the period of August 1, 2012, to July 31, 2013. The awards were presented during NENPA’s annual New England Newspaper Conference.
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks was named Photographer of the Year (Weekly), along with receiving first place awards for Spot News Photo, for her iconic image of young students being led from Sandy Hook School by law enforcement responders; Photo Series, for the series of photos taken in the first few grim moments following the horrific attack, when local, state, and federal first responders were pouring into the scene and the evacuations of Sandy Hook Elementary School continued; and Reporting on Religious Issues, for her coverage of a controversy that erupted within the Lutheran Church following a post-12/14 interfaith memorial service that was attended by President Barack Obama.
Just two days after making a case based on Newtown's adherence to a variety of financial management policies and evidence that new commercial development will be supplementing the community's grand list in the coming years, officials learned February 12 that Standard & Poor's awarded the community a AAA bond rating. A group of officials including First Selectman Pat Llodra, Finance Director Robert Tait, Community Development Director Elizabeth Stocker, and Board of Finance Chairman John Kortze traveled to Boston February 10 for presentations to S&P and Moody's Investors Service. Their trip came shortly before Newtown goes to the market with its latest bond initiative, which is expected to occur in early March.
An approaching winter storm is expected to impact the tri-state region during the next few days. The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings for the entire state of Connecticut. The warning covering northern Fairfield County will be in effect from midnight tonight until 6 am Friday, February 14. Snow accumulations are predicted to reach between 8 and 12 inches. Winds will be northeast 10 to 20 miles per hour, with gusts up to 30 mph. Temperatures will be in the upper 20s. Visibilities will be one-quarter of a mile or less at times. Snow will develop late tonight and continue during the day Thursday before tapering off Thursday night. Some sleet may mix with the snow. Groups and organizations that need to postpone or cancel events, and businesses that will have their hours of operation affected by the storm are invited to contact The Newtown Bee to get that information out.