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Friday, October 24, 2014

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A look back at New Canaan's 2013

Updated 3:52 pm, Monday, January 6, 2014

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  • A headless rabbit was found on the property of 42 Pepper Lane on the morning of Nov. 5, the fourth animal decapitation reported in the last month in New Canaan. Nov. 14, 2013. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods / New Canaan News
    A headless rabbit was found on the property of 42 Pepper Lane on the morning of Nov. 5, the fourth animal decapitation reported in the last month in New Canaan. Nov. 14, 2013. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods

 

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Beheaded animals found in town

Dead animals and decapitated animal heads were found at five different locations right around Halloween.

On Oct. 9, a high school senior found a dead bird in the back of her car at Waveny Park. The incident was reported three weeks after it happened. On Oct. 14, the head of a black cat was found at the end of a common driveway on Laurel Road. Three days later, a woman found a bird's head in the patio of her Autumn Lane home. Each case happened at the house or car of a different high school senior girl, who are all friends, police said.

Police believe a fourth incident may be connected to the other three, though it did not target a high school girl. It was on Nov. 5 when a headless rabbit was found outside a house under construction on Pepper Lane. Police said the rabbit's neck had been severed and there was damage to a leg, indicating it may have been trapped or hit by a car.

Yet another beheaded animal turned up in town, but police believe that case to be unrelated to the others. Another Laurel Road resident reported finding a small, brown decapitated bird on the deck of his house on Oct. 26.

Police lieutenant suspended 10 days

Police Lt. Frederick Pickering was suspended without pay for 10 days in September following an internal ethics investigation stemming from a February bar fight.

Joel Anderson, a 23-year-old New Canaan man, told police on Feb. 23 that Pickering had intimidated him, grabbed his neck and shoved him during an altercation at Tequila Mockingbird on Forest Street earlier that night.

Pickering was off duty at the time and accompanied by a friend, who, according to the complaint, used racial slurs when referring to Anderson, who is black.

After a state investigation, criminal charges against Pickering were dropped on June 4 because of "insufficient evidence."

The New Canaan Police Department, however, started an internal ethics investigation shortly thereafter.

In September, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski found that Pickering engaged in "unlawful or oppressive use of authority" and suspended him. The investigation did not find that Pickering used racially offensive language.

Pickering remained on paid leave for the duration of the investigations.

Police chief retires

After almost eight years as police chief, Ed Nadriczny retired in June to make room for Krolikowski, a 24-year veteran of the department. Nadriczny announced in April that he was retiring after 36 years with the department.

Krolikowski, a former captain, served as interim chief from June to September and became the head of the department on Sept. 19. He has been with the department for 24 years.

Born in Bridgeport, Krolikowski graduated from Quinnipiac Law School in 2003, while working as a New Canaan police officer.

In 1991, he was deployed with the Marine Corps to the first Iraq War.

His unit was stationed in Saudi Arabia, close to the Kuwait border. He came back home in June that year, after five months of deployment.

No jail time for Regan

A mother of two young children will serve a five-year probation term after she pled guilty to running down an 82-year-old New Canaan man three years ago.

Kate Regan, 35, was sentenced in November to a suspended five-year term with five years' probation and 300 hours of community service on charges of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and evading responsibility. Regan could have faced five years in prison for the charges.

The victim, Krishna Jayaraman, was walking on Oenoke Ridge in front of his house when he was hit by Regan's car, according to the report. Regan left the scene, police said.

In court, the victim's family asked the judge not to give Regan any jail time.

"We feel that asking for revenge is not the right solution," the victim's son, Dr. Krishna Jayaraman, said. "I just don't want those kids (Regan's children) to suffer for the mistakes she made."

Youth group leader accused of sexual relationship with teen

Morgan Frawley, a 25-year-old church youth group leader and former substitute teacher, was arrested in October on a charge of risk of injury to a minor after police said she had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy.

Frawley, who worked part time at the Congregational Church of New Canaan for two years, was suspended in April after the boy's parents told church officials they found sexually explicit pictures and texts on their son's cell phone, according to police. Church officials alerted the state Department of Children and Families, which turned the case over to New Canaan police.

Frawley was also a long-term substitute teacher in Fairfield, where she lives.

Mark Sherman, the attorney for the teenager and his family, denies Frawley and the boy engaged in a sexual relationship.

Frawley turned herself in to police on Oct. 25 and she was released on $5,000 bond. Two weeks later, a protective order was issued against her prohibiting contact with the boy. In December, she applied for accelerated rehabilitation. If the court approves the application, Frawley will be placed on probation for up to two years.

Ex-wife of former White House attorney awarded $28.6 million

The ex-wife of former White House attorney John Michael Farren, of New Canaan, was awarded $28.6 million in damages after her husband brutally beat her on Jan. 6, 2010. The Stamford jury in the civil trial reached the verdict on Dec. 17 after hearing several testimonies, including a 90-minute detailed account from the victim herself.

Mary Farren, 47, told the jury that her husband became aggressive two days after she asked for a divorce. The two were in the bedroom of their Wahackme Road home when he sprang at her, grabbed her by the throat and tackled her before banging her head against the floor, Mary Farren said. He then began beating her with his fists and with a flashlight, according to her testimony.

John Farren, 60, has been charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor. Their two daughters, one who was 4 months old at the time, were both in the house during the incident. He is facing a maximum 70 years in jail, but the criminal trial has not been scheduled yet.

John Farren, who worked as a deputy White House counsel for former President George W. Bush, did not show up for the civil trial. He emailed the court saying he was in a Hartford-area hospital but gave no reason for the hospitalization. Earlier in 2013, Farren dropped his lawyer and decided to represent himself. He later claimed to have a brain disease.

As a result of a brain injury caused in the assault, Mary Farren, a former lawyer, is no longer able to perform her job, said Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Albert Sabella, one of the witnesses. She cannot concentrate, has trouble trying to begin tasks, and is incapable of analyzing information, he said.

Saxe on lockdown

A "potential threat" locked down Saxe Middle School and sent bomb-sniffing dogs into the classrooms on March 14.

At about 2:30 p.m., New Canaan Public Schools emailed parents regarding an active investigation on school grounds.

"Early this afternoon a staff member at Saxe Middle School found information inside of the school that was considered to be of a potentially threatening nature," the email said.

The school was placed into a precautionary lockdown. After searching the school, police determined there was no threat, and students were released through a supervised dismissal. According to one student, a "Code Yellow" was announced and students and teachers were told to go in to their classrooms and lock the doors.

The lockdown happened exactly three months after the Newtown school shooting.

Mass shooting drill at Saxe

On Aug. 8, people were seen being hauled out on stretchers and transported to a triage area and into ambulances outside Saxe Middle School.

The activity was part of a five-hour massive school security drill carried out by dozens of emergency officials and about 30 volunteers. Among a number of different situations was a mass-shooting scenario, in which first responders were required to assess and handle each situation. The drill was modeled after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed.

Two Stamford police officers played the role of the shooters, as town and school personnel worked to identify the threat, find the shooters and evacuate the school. In one scenario, police found and shot one of the killers. In another, a shooter killed himself.

Other participants in the drill included several teachers, the New Canaan Police and Fire departments, two members of the state police, three special agents from the FBI, and members of the New Canaan Emergency Medical Services, the Board of Education and local media.

Post office leaving Pine Street after 50 years

After more than 50 years at the same location, the New Canaan Post Office will vacate 2 Pine St. on Jan. 31. The U.S. Postal Service, which still hasn't found a new location in town, is looking for a space to park a temporary trailer.

It was almost two years of negotiations, but the U.S. Postal Service and Elm Street Partners did not reach an agreement to renew the lease.

In November, the post office asked the town for a piece of land so it could park a trailer for a few months. But First Selectman Robert Mallozzi said he would prefer to see a signed long-term lease before offering the post office a temporary space. Even if a deal is reached for a permanent site in January, it would still take about three to four months to rehabilitate the space. The post office will have to look into the site's loading and parking capacities, insurance needs and water availability, among other things.

Spokesman Christine Dugas said in December that the U.S. Postal Service is "committed to serving New Canaan in the downtown area" and that rumors about the post office leaving the town were "ill-informed."

Mrs. Green's Natural Market, an organic grocer, signed a lease for 2 Pine St. and is scheduled to move in by February.

New rules at Waveny Pool drive complaints

More crowded and less clean. That's how some New Canaan residents, bothered by the town's decision to allow out-of-towners at the Waveny Park swimming pool, described the new conditions of the facility.

The Board of Selectmen approved in June a plan to allow up to 100 nonresidents to buy passes to Waveny pool. Just a few weeks later, more than 100 New Canaan residents signed a petition on change.org asking that passes not be sold to out-of-towners. "July Fourth weekend people stepped over each other on the lawn and in the water because there is no more room," petitioner Ken R. wrote.

In online comments and letters to the editor, other residents said the petition perpetuated New Canaan's "elitist" stereotype.

The pass for a nonresident cost $500. Residents pay $385 for the same pass. The 100 nonresident passes were sold out in six hours. Many complained that because their tax dollars paid for the pool, it should be open to residents only. However, the pool is operated from an enterprise fund and not from taxpayers' dollars, according to Parks and Recreation Director Steve Benko.

In September, the Town Council found that the decision to allow nonresidents at the pool may not have gone through the proper legislative process. The decision was approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Board of Selectmen, but it should also have gone through the Town Council, which it did not. The decision was only for 2013.

Town Hall construction begins

After years of planning, the Town Hall construction project is finally underway. The demolition began in November, and the second phase of the project is scheduled to begin in early January.

The new Town Hall will be about 10,000 square feet larger and feature a more modern design and modern technology. The front of the building will look similar to the original 1909 design. The new building will be fully handicapped accessible.

The construction company, Whiting-Turner Contracting, whose bid was recommended by the Town Hall Building Committee in December, will perform the work for $13,098,000.

The renovations are scheduled to be completed by spring 2015. Until then, government offices are located at both 237 Elm St. and the Police Department at 174 South Ave.

Drunken teens at Outback Teen Center

A teenager was sent to the hospital and five others were sent home for alcohol consumption during a freshmen and sophomore dance at the Outback Teen Center on Oct. 25.

Two police officers who were chaperoning the party saw a 15-year-old boy vomit on the floor inside the facility. The officers called emergency services and the boy was transported by ambulance to Norwalk Hospital. After the incident, dance organizers used a breathalyzer to test some of 200 teens who were at the party. They found that five more youths had consumed alcohol. Their parents were called to pick them up.

The center, located at 71 Main St., has been in town for 12 years.

Simon and Connick together on NCHS stage

Town residents and music stars Paul Simon and Harry Connick Jr. took over the high school stage on Sept. 29 for a benefit concert honoring the town's emergency responders. NBC's Brian Williams, also a New Canaan resident, co-hosted the show with his daughter, Allison Williams, an actress on HBO.

The event raised funds for Staying Put in New Canaan, a nonprofit organization that supports senior citizens so they can continue living in New Canaan. Almost 200 first responders attended the event, while members of the Police and Fire departments, CERT and the volunteer ambulance corps sat on stage with the performers.

Connick announced earlier that month that he will join Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban as the hosts of 2014 "American Idol" on FOX.

Historic blizzard hit New Canaan

A historic blizzard pounded most of the northeast in February, dumping 22 inches of snow in New Canaan.

Dubbed Winter Storm Nemo by some and Blizzard of 2013 by others, the storm broke records leaving more than 3 feet of snow in some places. Fairfield was hit with 35 inches.

Snow fell in New Canaan for about 24 hours between Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9. At least 300 New Canaan households lost power that Friday. Classes were canceled until the following Monday, the South Avenue gas stations had a shortage during that weekend and there was no train service for days.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy banned travel on all Connecticut roads on Feb. 9 to facilitate snow-removal operations and for safety reasons.