The House on Monday approved an amendment that would transfer a 34-acre parcel of agricultural land in Newtown to be used as an animal sanctuary established in memory of a student killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The measure, backed by both Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, will enable the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation to operate the sanctuary. It now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Catherine was one of 20 children killed on Dec. 14, 2012. A big-hearted first-grader, she loved all animals, from the tiny caterpillars she’d carry in mason jars to her beloved dog Samantha to the horses whose noses she loved to pet.
The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary will reflect that compassion for animals by providing adoptive services for companion animals such as dogs and cats, refuge for farm animals and a rescue and release program for native wildlife.
The sanctuary started as a collaborative “labor of love” between the Hubbard family and the Animal Center in Newtown, an all-volunteer, nonprofit rescue organization.
The center currently lacks a shelter of its own; it runs its rescue programs entirely through a volunteer foster network.
Organizers hope to open the sanctuary within five years.
It’s become an annual rite of spring in Connecticut’s legislature: municipal leaders who have already passed their own local budgets arriving at the State Capitol begging lawmakers not to cut aid to cities and towns.
Wednesday morning’s Connecticut Conference of Municipalities news conference focused on the usual worries about what lawmakers would do in the yet-to-be-passed state budget, and hand-wringing about a bunch of other potential General Assembly actions.
Those include concerns about possible expansion of workman’s compensation for local first responders who witness horrific scenes like the Sandy Hook massacre, a potential ban on use of pesticides on high school grounds, and new local tax exemptions for properties leased to local schools.
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he and other mayors and first selectmen are “pleading with our delegations” not to cut from the levels of state municipal aid proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy. “To have any further decreases in those numbers would be really devastating,” Segarra said.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, said politics prompted Mark Boughton to withdraw from Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“My mom and my family have strong ties to Danbury – it was where my mother held her first school administration job and I know it is a place that was dear to her heart. That’s why I feel betrayed to learn that Mayor Boughton is putting his personal political ambitions ahead of the safety of Connecticut families. In fact, the tagline for his campaign is ‘People over Politics’ – but the only people that this decision serves are gun lobbyists,” Lafferty said in a statement.
“We need leaders who have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and who support common-sense reforms that respect rights while protecting people – that’s what Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports and fights for,” added Lafferty, who is an outreach associate for Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“Our state has been devastated by gun violence and we will remind voters of this betrayal of our trust when it comes time to cast votes,” she said.
Newtown High School senior Sarah Clements is one of nine grassroots leaders who will be honored this week at the White House.
Clements is the founder and chairwoman for Jr. Newtown Action Alliance, and has been a forceful advocate for gun-violence prevention efforts. Clements\’ mother survived the December 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Clements is also a gun violence prevention volunteer at Generation Progress, the youth advocacy branch of the Center for American Progress. She has helped build a national network of young people working on gun violence prevention on high school and college campuses.
Clements will be honored by President Obama Thursday as a \”Champion of Change.\”
In addition to Clements, President Obama is also honoring another Newtown resident: Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was one of 26 people killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.
Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that would set standards for school security officers.
Senate Bill 98 would require minimum training levels for security personnel who are not current or retired police officers. The standards would be developed in consultation with the state Department of Education and include training on drug detection and gang identification.
\”There\’s no uniform standard,\’\’ Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton told members of the legislature\’s public safety committee, which held a hearing on the proposal this morning. \”Certainly establishing those standards…is something that the state ought to consider.\”
The 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown prompted many school districts to assess their public safety plans. At least one Connecticut town installed armed guards at its schools.
Boughton said many communities chose not to have armed guards and cannot afford to assign a police officer to each of their schools.
We\’re nearing the General Assembly\’s 2014 session, so it\’s time for all the new funding proposals. Today, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor today will announce a plan to improve security at the state\’s public schools. Protecting schools and improving mental health services are expected to be big issues this session. The announcement is in New Haven, by the way, a city critical to Gov. Malloy\’s re-election bid.
Within days of the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre, the state\’s 2013 \”Blue Book\’\’ has been dedicated to all 26 victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who oversees the book\’s annual publication, included photos of all victims, including the six educators and 20 first-graders who were killed by shooter Adam Lanza.
\”It is with a heavy heart that I somberly dedicate the 2013 Connecticut State Register and Manual to the victims of the unspeakable horror that took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday December 14, 2012,” Merrill wrote in the book. “We dedicate this publication to the bravery of their sacrifice and the flower of their youth. We dedicate it as a permanent memorial to the courageous staff at the school who gave their lives doing everything they could until the last to protect the children in their care.\’\’
Merrill added, \”And we dedicate it to forever remember the amazing, bright, beautiful children who were lost – whose energy still brightens all of our days, who walked with us here on this earth for just a short time, but whose lives have touched so many millions and will always carry such meaning. You were taken from us too soon, but not in vain. May your memories forever be a blessing. And, may such a tragedy never happen again.” Continue reading
In an agreement with six unions, the state is awarding 40 hours of compensatory time for state employees who were directly involved in the response to last year\’s tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the agreement Wednesday after many first-responders had taken vacation and sick time following the killings of 20 first-graders and six female educators by troubled shooter Adam Lanza.
“The men and women directly involved in the response to this horrible tragedy in many cases needed time to recover from the severe nature of what they experienced through simply doing their jobs,” Malloy said in a statement. “This is only one step, but it is important that we recognize the professionals who are there during unimaginable moments of difficulty, and that we continue to support them.”
The agreement was crafted by the state\’s labor relations office in conjunction with the unions, including AFSCME, A&R, CSEA, District 1199, the Connecticut State Police Union, and the Connecticut Police and Fire Union. The deal will also cover non-union employees who are eligible.
“This was a crime of unprecedented scope in our state that produced an unprecedented level of trauma for so many who were involved in the response,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said in a statement. “Crediting these men and women with compensatory time is one way we can thank them for their professionalism and dedication to duty during an event that required them to put their own emotions on hold in order to do their job helping others.” Continue reading
A Campus Safety Magazine survey on school security found that 88 percent of schools nationwide modified safety procedures after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown last December.
Researchers polled K-12 schools and school districts nationwide. Of the 88 percent of respondents who said they already implemented or intend to implement new safety policies in response to Newtown, 41 percent said they intend to make or have made \”many changes\” and 47 percent said they will make or have already made \”some altercations.\”
The response in hospitals and institutions of higher education was noticeable but not as significant, with 52 percent saying that they made or will make changes to security policy after Newtown.
In Connecticut, the changes have ranged from armed guards to door buzzers, and some districts spent up to $300,000 to make their schools safer.
Sandy Hook Promise, a coalition of Newtown residents and family members from Sandy Hook Elementary School, will now emphasize educating and organizing parents.
The group received wide attention when it brought Sandy Hook parents to Washington to lobby for stricter gun control. Now the group says it is beginning \”Parent Together\” and planning a renewed effort to
… educate and empower parents to prevent gun violence in their communities. Emphasizing mental wellness, connection to community and gun safety, the campaign will bring parents together around their common love for all children to help prevent not just the next Sandy Hook tragedy, but also thousands of other acts of gun violence every year.