Borough disciplines parks employees

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NaugyTownHall2NAUGATUCK — One Parks Department employee has served a three-day unpaid suspension and another received a written warning after an investigation into whether they set off illegal fireworks in March, causing the lockdown of Andrew Avenue Elementary School.

“The borough initiated what it considers appropriate discipline,” said John Lawlor, director of human resources.

Lawlor would not name the employees or comment on the details of the investigation. He said last month that at least one of the employees could have been on his mid-morning break when the fireworks were set off.

The employees, members of the public works union, have appealed their discipline to Public Works Director James Stewart and Mayor Robert Mezzo but their appeals were denied, Lawlor said. Now their grievance is before the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, Lawlor said.

The suspended employee was given a hearing, as required by law, but Lawlor would not say whether he admitted to setting off the fireworks. Both employees’ involvement in the incident remains unexplained.

The fireworks were set off just after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13, near Foley Field, prompting passers-by to report gunshots in the area of Andrew Avenue Extension and Andrew Mountain Road. Almost 250 students at the elementary school were placed into lockdown, hiding in supply closets with their teachers for about half an hour.

After a criminal investigation, police applied for a warrant to charge one parks department employee with breach of peace and illegal use of fireworks. The application was rejected by a state’s attorney or a judge at Waterbury Superior Court.

Stewart and Mezzo referred questions about the incident to Lawlor.