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    New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and city and community officials are encouraging more Elm City residents to take advantage of the city’s free tax preparation program.

    On Tuesday at City Hall, the mayor kicked off the VITA tax prep program, which allows individuals earning under $54,000 annually to have their tax returns filed for free by a trained volunteer. The effort is coordinated by the Connecticut Association for Human Services.

    “This way you have an IRS trained volunteer with special software that can do your taxes free and can make sure you understand everything that is available to you as a person who is eligible for this program” Harp said.

    There’s a special focus on residents who qualify for the earned income tax credit--- which can exceed $6,000 for a family of three. Officials say they’re still seeing some people who qualify for the credit but don’t get it, leaving needed money they’re entitled to on the table.

    Along with helping prepare the taxes, volunteers from the city and several community organizations will also offer financial literacy training on how to spend any anticipated refund, with an emphasis on saving for the future.

    “You’re going to get your return done by people who care about helping you to save those dollars, do a correct filing with the state and federal government,” said Rick Kaiser, leader of the social services division for the City of New Haven.

    The city believes only about 5 percent of people who qualified to have their taxes prepared for free did so last tax season.

    To find the tax preparation location closest to you, visit www.211ct.org



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    File photoFile photo

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    A Connecticut couple whose garage door was spray-painted with a racial slur now faces hundreds of dollars in fines for refusing to remove it

    Lexene Charles, 56, and his common-law wife, Heather Lindsay, 59, discovered the graffiti on their Stamford home last month.

    The couple says they’ve left the slur scrawled across their garage so the community doesn’t forget what happened.

    The move hasn’t been sitting well with police, who have issued a blight citation. The City of Stamford has fined the couple $100 for each day the slur stays on their garage door.

    Stamford Chief of Police Jonathan Fontneau also visited their home and said they face arrest in addition to the fines. 

    Charles and Lindsay say they aren’t changing their minds and will fight the fines in court.



    Photo Credit: Lexie Charles/Heather Lindsay
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    Lexene Charles and Heather Lindsay say they're keeping the graffiti up despite opposition from the city of Stamford.Lexene Charles and Heather Lindsay say they're keeping the graffiti up despite opposition from the city of Stamford.

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    A push of mild air will settle into the region through the end of the week. High temperatures for Thursday and Friday could even break records.

    A few rain showers are expected Wednesday morning with partly sunny skies by afternoon. High temperatures are forecasted to reach the low to middle 50s.

    Temperatures will be quite warm on Thursday with high temperatures in the low to middle 60s inland.

    The shoreline will experience some dense fog especially during the morning hours Temperatures will struggle to make it out of the 50s. 

    The record high temperatures in Bridgeport for Thursday and Friday is 60 degrees. It will be a stretch to reach 60 on Thursday however it's more likely on Friday.

    Temperatures for February have generally been above normal. In fact Bridgeport current ranks as the 9th warmest February in history. We predict 2017 will rank in the top three warmest Februaries. 

    Records for inland Connecticut are kept at Bradley International Airport. Average temperatures for February are around 1 degree above average.

    Unsettled weather moves in for Saturday as a cold front advances through the region. We're forecasting rain and thunderstorms Saturday afternoon. The front moves through Saturday night and allows for much cooler air to move in for Sunday and the start of next week.


    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    Crews worked quickly to put out a small fire at Grant's in West Hartford on Tuesday. 

    Fire fighters reported to 977 Farmington Avenue after a call came into the department around 2:40 p.m.

    West Hartford Battalion Chief Kevin Munson believes contractors repairing the roof of the bar may have started the fire. 

    The building sustained minor smoke and water damage, according to Munson.

    Grant's is expected to be open on Tuesday night.

    No injuries were reported. 



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    On Tuesday, fire crews rescued five homeless people from the Los Lagos Golf Course in San Jose after a swollen creek flooded the area. 

    A series of storms in the South Bay, combined with runoff from nearby hills and water spilling from the Anderson Reservoir has overwhelmed Coyote Creek, triggering a swift-moving torrent of water to flow right through the golf course.

    Rescue crews waded through waist deep water to save those stranded at a homeless encampment along the Coyote Creek river, including two who were inside a tent on the third hole tee box. One rescued man said he was surprised by the rising flood waters.

    "Everything was surrounded," he said. "It rose so fast."

    San Jose Fire Department Capt. Mitch Matlow said city officials have actively warned people to move their encampments away from waterways since the beginning of this season's "wet-winter."

    That message was made even more urgent this past week when water started spilling out of the Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill, swelling waterways to flood levels. 

    "I don't know if the individuals who were trapped today ever heard the message or if they simply chose to disregard it," Matlow said.

    Residents living along low-lying areas near the Coyote Creek were also rescued Tuesday and an evacuation order was in effect for the San Jose neighborhood inundated with flood water. 

    Rescue crews and residents had to rinsed off to prevent them from being sickened by floodwaters that had traveled through garbage, debris and over sewer lines. The conditions of the people rescued were not immediately clear.

    A Calfire helicopter assisted in the search of several people believed to be trapped in trees on the golf course.

    The once-drought-stricken region has been saturated by a series of storms and left about half the state under flood, wind and snow advisories.

    Several homeless people were rescued Monday from rising flood waters throughout the South Bay.

    Dry weather was expected to return Wednesday.


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    The Holy Land cross in Waterbury, which stands high upon Pine Hill, has been vandalized and the graffiti is visible to people driving by on Interstate 84. 

    The vandals struck over the weekend, tagging the cross with expletives, as well as other markings. 

    “To think that someone would deface the cross like this is just sad,” said Mayor Neil M. O’Leary, a part-owner of Holy Land. 

    He said it will cost thousands to dollars to make repairs, which could drain funds that would have gone to spring renovations. 

    “Why do such a ridiculous childish thing to people? It means so much to everyone here and people passing through this city,” O’Leary said. 

    It took 30 years to complete Holy Land and the 52-foot high cross, according to the city website.  

    “We're trying to keep the property open so that people can enjoy it, but at the same time now we have to think about policing it a little bit more carefully,” O’Leary said Tuesday. 

    Holy Land has been in many tourism guides and on several websites, including Roadside America.

    "The cross means so much to everyone in Waterbury, not just one particular faith, and everyone who travels through Waterbury,” O’Leary said. 

    In 2014, Timex sold special watches to help the city cover the operating cost of Holy Land. 



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    An employee of a New London nail salon was arrested on Tuesday, accused of stabbing a co-worker during a fight.

    Police responded to the Lucky Nails Salon at 191 Jefferson Avenue around noon on Tuesday.

    The two people who had been fighting were separated and one was bleeding from the right side of their face, according to police.

    The pair fought over business disagreements at the salon, police said.

    Police arrested Van Ni Nguyen after they say they learned Nguyen attempted to stab the victim with a pair of cuticle scissors. When that didn't work, Nguyen grabbed a pen and stabbed the victim in the face, police said.

    Nguyen was charged with second-degree assault and breach of peace. She was held on $5,000 bond and is expected to be in court on Wednesday.

    The victim was treated at the hospital and released with non-life threatening injuries.


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    With state funding for the Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) bus program in limbo until the governor’s budget is approved, the Town of Stonington could be turning to Uber if its bus route is cut.

    Under Gov. Dannel Malloy’s current budget, it seems like funding for public transit will stay at its current level, according to SEAT General Manager Mike Carroll.

    But if it doesn’t, Stonington is exploring its options, especially if its one bus route – from Mystic to Pawcatuck – is discontinued.

    First Selectman Rob Simmons said only about 120 of Stonington’s 18,000 residents ride Route 10; approximately 20 ride it regularly.

    “The state of Connecticut is not reimbursing us for services we’ve seen in the past. That being the case, we have to be more creative,” Simmons said.

    Uber could take these 20 regular riders from point A to point B at the time they desire. The town could also use the funds that go to SEAT to subsidize an Uber ride, according to Simmons.

    Uber has teamed up with municipalities before. For example, Uber said they have a pilot program with eligible users of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s RIDE program. The rider pays the first $2 of the trip; MBTA covers up to an additional $13 of each fair.

    Jill Thibdeau, of Pawcatuck, rides Route 10 three to four times a week.

    “I use it to go to my doctors and I have five different doctors to go to. So whenever I need to go, I get on that bus. Takes me right there,” she said, adding she’s on disability and cannot afford a car.

    “The bus is easy. I know when it comes, I know the people who are driving it, and it gets me to where I want to go,” Thibdeau said.

    Without a smart phone nor a computer, she isn’t sure how convenient the program will be.

    Simmons said this is a back-up plan, in case Route 10 is cut down the line. He doesn’t know what kind of deal the town could potentially strike with Uber, nor the semantics, until they meet in the beginning of March.

    Carroll said if it does come to cutting Route 10, a demand-response model, like Uber, could be worth exploring.

    Stonington’s Human Services sent out a ridership survey last April. Twenty-one riders responded. Half fall into the 46 to 65 age-range, about half have a disability. The riders most commonly use the bus for grocery shopping, runs to the pharmacy, medical appointments, bank, or to get to their place of employment.

    In the survey comments, several say they would lose independence and ability to get from one place to another if the bus line gets chopped.

    “We’re truly in the exploratory stages right now of trying to examine all possibilities so we don’t leave a gap in services,” said Leann Theodore, Human Services director. She also said the town will likely look into grants that could assist with the cost of rides.



    Photo Credit: Julio Cortez

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    A first of its kind community center for teens and young adults in New Haven is nearing completion.

    "Once the electrical is done," City of New Haven Director of Youth Services Jason Bartlett said. "Everything else is pretty much set to go."

    The city has signed a long term lease with the Bethel AME Church at the intersection of Goffe and Orchard Streets.

    “He came up with this idea about having a teen center,” church pastor Steven Cousin said, “and I said well if you have the concept, I have the space.”

    About half of the renovations to the church facility being transformed into the youth center have been done by formerly disengaged teens enrolled in vocational training programs through the city’s Department of Youth Services.

    A multipurpose room features a DJ booth and a dance floor.

    "This is going to be the drop-in center," Cousin said, showing NBC Connecticut the room next door that will be a safe space where teens can hang out after school. "We’re looking at having an XBox 1, a PS4, pool table, ping pong table."

    In addition to city funding and private fundraising, Pastor Cousin said his church is making monetary donations to help pay for the amenities and he won’t put a limit on how much.

    "This is a project I firmly believe in and I want to make sure that we put the resources behind it to make sure this vision becomes a reality," he said.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Credit cards offer some built in protection against fraud, so Wendy Halpern wasn’t too concerned when she spotted two unauthorized charges on her statement.

    On New Year’s Eve, someone used her card, charging $109.70 at Forever 21 and $45.98 at H&M.

    Halpern immediately called Capital One and a customer service agent assured her the charges would be reversed.

    "I've had this happen before and they settled everything right away. And this time I had the comfort level that they were going to do it again," Halpern said.

    But when she checked her online statement a few days later, Halpern said instead of reversing the charges, Capital One charged her again.

    In all, she was charged twice for the Forever 21 transaction and three times for H&M. She got back on the phone with Capital One. The additional charges were wiped out, but Halpern was still on the hook for the original purchases.

    Halpern felt she wasn’t getting anywhere with Capital One, so she called NBC Connecticut Responds.

    Our consumer team asked the company to look into Halpern’s situation. A Capital One spokesperson thanked us for alerting them to the discrepancy and took immediate action.

    Halpern’s account was credited $155.68. 



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    The snow may have melted from Connecticut backyards, but there's still plenty on the slopes.

    "We do not depend on Mother Nature," explains Jarrod Moss, who is part of the mountain operations at Ski Sundown in New Hartford. "Two feet of snow a couple weeks ago is a great shot in the arm and it's making conditions fantastic. The fact is there's a snow making base out there that was laid in place long before that ever happened and the base depths are deep."

    It's about 5 to 10 feet deep.

    While temperatures will sky rocket into the 60s later this week, the snow pack covering the 65 acres of Sundown insulates itself-- meaning it's not going anywhere, anytime soon.

    "If you come out in the morning, you're going to find good, firm, edgeable snow," Moss said. "Just like you would any day of the year and then you're greeted with an afternoon or pleasure and bliss as far as I'm concerned." 



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley was greeted at a town hall Tuesday in Iowa with a shouted question about "impeachment" as voters there and at other events across the country pressed lawmakers about the moves and goals of President Donald Trump's administration, NBC News reported.

    "I am so unsettled. It feels like we have a juvenile running our country," Doug Thompson, a Democrat and farmer from Kanawha, told Grassley at an event in Garner. Grassley outlined the process but didn't give his opinion.

    In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back at around 1,000 anti-Trump protesters who showed up outside his event, telling a crowd of business leaders inside that "winners make policy and the losers go home."

    And in Maquoketa, Iowa, members of a crowd booed and chanted "do your job!" at Republican Sen. Joni Ernst near the end of a roundtable, NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines reported.



    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    In this Feb. 21, 2017, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., listens to a question asked by Rose Mudd Perkins, of Georgetown, Kentucky, during a meeting of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce at the American Legion Post 34 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.In this Feb. 21, 2017, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., listens to a question asked by Rose Mudd Perkins, of Georgetown, Kentucky, during a meeting of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce at the American Legion Post 34 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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    More than two thousand Connecticut voters came out Tuesday night to ask questions and voice concerns about what's going on in Washington to their elected officials.

    A rowdy crowd filled West Hartford’s town hall. And even more rowdy voters flooded Norwalk’s Concert Hall. All attendees let both Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, and Democratic Congressman Jim Himes know their concerns with President Trump's Administration.

    “This is a deliberate campaign to try to delegitimize those institutions that could tell the truth about what he is doing.” Said Senator Chris Murphy.

    "I will raise my voice of on what you asked on subsequent issues," said Congressman Jim Himes.

    The speakers who braved the long lines to the mic stand didn't hold back. On everything from gun control to sanctuary cities.

    "I don't want guns in my school because of potential grizzles," said student Karsten Rynearson.

    "Five weeks I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. I wanted him to know there's a face to the affordable care act," said Autumn Mathison-Edoff of Weston.

    Both lawmakers let visitors know they are working with them for change.

    "I will be particularly aggressive against those things that I believe that are inconsistent with our American values," said Himes.

    "Don't assume that none of (Republicans) understand the stakes that are presented," said Murphy.

    Other issues brought up included: immigration, net neutrality and the President’s tax returns.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Nearly two-thirds of Americans are worried that the United States will become engaged in a major war in the next four years, according to results from the latest NBC NewsSurveyMonkey poll.

    NBC News reported that nearly nine in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning Americans say they are worried about a major war, but only about four in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaners say they are.

    An overwhelming majority of Americans, 80 percent, say that NATO is good for the United States, according to the poll, conducted online from Feb. 13 through Feb. 19 among a national sample of 11,512 adults. 

    When it comes to allies, about 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. should take their interests into account, even if it means making compromises. And the same amount think Russia is either unfriendly to the U.S. or not an ally.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

    U.S. Army M1/A1 Abrams tank crews with 'Charlie' company 464 Armored Battalion are seen through the thermal imaging sights of a tank as they participate in task force maneuvers December 16, 2002, near the Iraqi border in the Kuwaiti desert. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)U.S. Army M1/A1 Abrams tank crews with 'Charlie' company 464 Armored Battalion are seen through the thermal imaging sights of a tank as they participate in task force maneuvers December 16, 2002, near the Iraqi border in the Kuwaiti desert. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)

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    Norwegians are more more likely to vote in their elections than Americans and their rival political parties focus on how they can collaborate, not attack one another, part of why the nation continues to be named the best democracy in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit, NBC News reported.

    That same report from the London-based consultancy this year downgraded the United States from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy," linked to lobbying and American voters losing trust in political institutions.

    Neither is a significant issue in Norway.

    "There's something about our culture that says it's very important to vote," 18-year-old Aurora Aven explained to NBC News at an ice rink in Oslo. "Norway has such a good system, so no one feels left out and no one feels misunderstood. Everybody knows their voice will be heard."



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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    A group of girls with traditional dresses parading to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17, 2014, in Oslo, Norway. Norway's Constitution, declaring the country to be an independent nation, was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May, 1814. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)A group of girls with traditional dresses parading to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17, 2014, in Oslo, Norway. Norway's Constitution, declaring the country to be an independent nation, was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May, 1814. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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    With winter comes wear and tear on the roads, and at this point in the season drivers are probably coming across more potholes.

    In Hartford, now those nasty spots can be reported through the Hartford 311 app and users can track the progress of when issues get fixed.

    The app is free to download. Once downloaded, users click the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen to see a list of categories and report an issue. For potholes users would select “streets” then pothole.

    Users can also see other issues reported nearby.

    The app isn't only to report street issues - users can request other city services such as sanitation issues or for licenses and inspections.

    Residents without a smartphone can still report issues by dialing 311 on their landline or (860) 757-9311 on a cell phone or online at the website here.

    The city said Department of Public Works is focusing on fixing potholes during the warmer weather this week, so the time to report is now.

    Note that Hartford 311 is designed for reporting non-emergency issues. Call 911 in any emergency.

    For more information visit Hartford’s website.



    Photo Credit: Hartford 311

    Residents can use the Hartford 311 app to report issues like potholes and request other city services.Residents can use the Hartford 311 app to report issues like potholes and request other city services.

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    Shelton police have arrested a man accused of selling the drugs involved in a fatal overdose.

    Police allege that Jerome Downing, 39, of Shelton, sold drugs to 37-year-old Shelton man on Sept. 17, 2016. Later that day the 37-year-old was found dead in his home from an overdose of a combination of heroin and cocaine.

    On Feb. 22, Downing was charged with two counts of illegal sale of narcotics and held on a $25,000 bond. He is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Jerome DowningJerome Downing

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    Two brothers suspected in the murder of a Willimantic man in November are due in court today.

    Juan Chach, 24, and Ignacio Chach-Aperez, 26, have been arrested in connection with the murder of 34-year-old Francisco Delazcruz-Coj.

    Police found Delazcruz-Coj in an apartment at 38 Pulaski Court when they responded to a disturbance calljust after 3 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12. He had been stabbed several times and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

    The two suspects were seen running and one was bleeding, according to state police, and investigators identified Chach and Chach-Aperez as suspects.

    The two brothers knew the victim well, according to police, but no information has been released on the motive. 

    Homeland Security Agents and the Phoenix Police Department Fugitive Task Force took the brothers into custody three days later at a Greyhound bus station more than 2,500 miles away, in Phoenix, Arizona. 

    They were found about 150 miles from the border and the sheriff's office in Arizona had them both on an immigration hold.

    The brothers were held in custody at the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona as felony fugitives from justice until they were brought back to Connecticut Tuesday.

    Chach has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence, while Chach-Aperez has been charged with of accessory to murder and-tampering with evidence.

    Bond for both has been set at $1 million.



    Photo Credit: Connnecticut State Police

    Ignacio Chach-Aperez, left, and Juan Chach.Ignacio Chach-Aperez, left, and Juan Chach.

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    The owners of a New York bed and breakfast were arrested for allegedly keeping a mentally disabled man in a barn and stealing money from his bank account.

    New York state police arrested John and Mary Quick earlier this month after members of Orange County Social Services found the 59-year-old mentally disabled man living in a barn at their bed and breakfast. 

    Police said the mentally disabled man had been living in a stable hand quarters of the barn at Silent Farms bed and breakfast in Goshen for years.

    Further investigation led police to believe that the couple had assumed control of the man’s bank account and that they had been removing money from the account without his consent.

    The two face charges of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable adult and grand larceny. They were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

    It wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys.



    Photo Credit: Handout

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