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Town seeks to slow rehabilitation center expansion

Litchfield

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (AP) – Bethlehem town officials say they want to slow the expansion of a rehabilitation center for troubled teens because students are leaving and causing a strain on emergency services.

First Selectman Leonard Assard, Resident State Trooper Cono D’Elia and Peter Dzielinski, president of the Bethlehem Volunteer Ambulance Association, told the state Department of Children and Families last week that the town cannot keep up with emergency calls related to Newport Academy, the Republican-American reported (http://bit.ly/2rLFavC).

D’Elia said calls related to the academy have doubled so far in 2018.

Residents have previously complained of the students leaving mostly at night and stealing.Related Content: Teen Challenge offers programs for drug or alcohol abuse

The center houses teens with depression, anxiety and those who misuse drugs and alcohol. Newport officials previously announced they were planning to add a boy’s campus to Bethlehem with 50 new beds and two main buildings.

Assard said DCF agreed the academy should not expand until they address the town’s concerns. He said the state could stop the expansion by refusing to issue required licenses and permits.

Newport previously said it will step up its security through cameras, alarms and security personnel. Assard said the town is waiting to see the results.

“They will not feel good until the proof is in the pudding,” he said.

DCF officials said they will be in contact with Newport about slowing expansion, according to Assard. The selectman said he also requested Newport provide an action plan and timeline for the expansion.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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