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    Three salmonella cases in Connecticut have been linked to pet turtles, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

    CDC and multiple states are investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections from people who were in contact with pet turtles.

    So far, 37 people have been infected in 13 states, including Connecticut, with illnesses starting between Mar. 1, 2017 and Aug. 3, 2017, the CDC reported. 


    At least 16 of those people were hospitalized and 32 percent of those infected were children under the age of 5. 

    Nearly half of the 33 people that the CDC interviewed said they had come in contact with turtles or its environment, such as water from the turtle's habitat. 

    Six people reported buying a turtle from a flea market, street vendor or receiving one as a gift. 

    "In 2015, state and local health officials collected samples from turtles at a street vendor. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the Salmonella Agbeni isolates from turtles. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection," the CDC reported on its website.

    The CDC warns to not buy small turtles as pets or giving them as gifts. In 1975, the FDA banned selling turtles with shells less than 4 inches. 

    "All turtles, regardless of size, can carry salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean. These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy," CDC said.



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

    Turtles swim in an aquarium at a pet store on August 11, 2014 in San Francisco, California.Turtles swim in an aquarium at a pet store on August 11, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

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    The images of the widespread flooding in the Houston area from Harvey are reminiscent to what Connecticut experienced in the past decade from Irene and Sandy.

    Some people who live on the shoreline said they know what it is like to see their homes flooded or destroyed from a significant weather event.

    "More than just the small street we have here in East Haven," Janine Jennings said. "There’s millions of people in Houston that are getting hammered, it’s going to be difficult."

    Jennings’ home survived, but the first floor flooded during both major storms in 2011 and 2012. She said the water reached about three feet high.

    "The neighborhood has really evolved and changed and kind of grown and improved since people renovated their homes," Jennings told NBC Connecticut.

    While Jennings' home required repairs two years in a row, her neighbor’s house needed even more extensive renovations after Irene.

    "Just totally took half of the house," Dean Spino said. "Chopped half of the house up and everything went."

    Spino’s father chose to rebuild and raise the house about 15 feet off the ground. The flood prevention measures were quickly put to the test when Sandy slammed into the shoreline community about a week after the renovations were finished.

    "We raised homes down on Cosey Beach Avenue and when the second storm Sandy came through none of those homes got damaged," East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo said.

    On Tuesday, Maturo met with town emergency personnel and United Illuminating officials to review how they would respond to a severe storm hitting East Haven during this hurricane season.

    "Who is responsible for what, how many crews they have will in town, and so forth and so on," Maturo said. "We exchange emergency phone numbers."

    Jennings said she feels for the many Texas families that will need to rebuild their homes after Harvey.

    "Took a lot of their saving, in addition, you can’t just count on insurance to help you, you got to put a little bit more in," Jennings said of her neighbors who had to rebuild.

    As this week marks six years since Irene slammed into Connecticut, the historic natural disaster in Texas is still unfolding.

    "My prayers are definitely going out to them because I’ve been seeing it, it's bad," Spino said. "It’s really, really bad, you know, all you can do is pray and donate if you could because that helps a lot of people."



    Photo Credit: AP

    Ocean waves kick up along the shoreline in Milford, Conn., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain.Ocean waves kick up along the shoreline in Milford, Conn., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain.

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    From the Red Cross to the National Guard, many Connecticut residents are heading down to help in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

    A local organization called Operation Endeavor has been on the go the last few days trying to buy all the supplies they’ll need to sustain themselves and help those in need for several days in the area hit hard by Harvey.

    The five-man volunteer team will be leaving on Friday. Their specific mission will be to provide medical and emergency rescue services.

    Their backgrounds include law enforcement, military and medical experience.

    On Tuesday, they bought supplies needed to sustain themselves for four days and to help others in need, from life vests to waders. 

    The team will fly into Austin on Friday afternoon and then make their way to Friendsville, just southeast of Houston. The team has contacts who are working within the incident command system to coordinate a response.

    "We’re assuming we’re operating under our own conditions that there’s no power, that there’s no food that there’s no anything so we’re going down there prepared for the worst," Lawrence Smira, of Cornwall, said.

    Smira, a former Navy medic, joins four other members of Operation Endeavor, including the founder and president, Stuart Hirsch, who is also the director of operations for the Department of Emergency at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury.

    "They are very willing to go on the ground there and start helping and I’m very proud of those guys and I’m looking forward to the work that we can do to be of assistance," Hirsch, of Hudson Valley, New York, said. 

    According to its website, Operation Endeavor is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to work globally to promote the development of rescue systems, EMS and support of emergency medicine in developing countries with little to no resources. The goal is to improve survivability in regions of great disparity.

    For more information, click here



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    A Western Connecticut State University student was struck by a car on Tuesday.

    Police said the student was crossing on White Street at the crosswalk in front of Litchfield Hall when he was struck by a car traveling eastbound.

    The student was transported to the hospital and his injuries were described as non-life threatening.

    Danbury police said they are investigating. 



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    People aren’t the only ones being impacted by Harvey.

    Many animals are heading to shelters, but the worry is that supplies could run out to help them.

    One organization in Connecticut said they will potentially leave to respond to those animals in need after the Category 4 hurricane.

    The Connecticut Emergency Animal Response Service (EARS), which responds to animal emergencies, said it is ready to help if needed.

    Jon Nowinski is part of their specialized team of about a dozen people who could head south.

    “We have actually been in direct contact through e-mail and a couple of calls with staff members who are at the Austin Animal Shelter, which is one of the big locations right in the middle of things. And the Houston American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) who are out in the field bringing the animals in,” Nowinski said.

    Nowinski said from there, pets are being checked in and potentially being evacuated out of state.

    “Those trucks with those animals are going to be evacuating those animals to some place like South Carolina, Kentucky, you know a midway point. Then they’re going to be going back so our goal at that point would be to get the supplies to those trucks," Nowinski said. 

    That’s when EARS comes in. They have a list of supplies requested by the Houston ASPCA and the Austin Animal Shelter; everything from towels and blankets to dog bowls.

    If they’re called to help by those organizations, the items would be ready to go in their critical care unit.

    Along with that unit, will be a team of about a dozen people ready to assist.

    EARS has not started a collection of supplies needed, but if they’re deployed, they tell NBC Connecticut that they will put out a list of supplies needed on their Facebook page.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    A new slate of Democrats is looking to unseat the entire Town Council in Bloomfield and they hope the issue of the Niagara Bottling plant that was developed starting in late 2015 will bring them to victory.

    The slate of Democrats up for election in two weeks in a primary, led by Suzette DeBeatham-Brown, said they want to change the culture of local politics.

    “We haven’t been able to get true, transparent information," DeBeatham-Brown said Tuesday.

    The Niagara project stuck out as a, "not in my backyard," issue for residents who did not want to see the water from their public utility used in a high volume bottling operation. The common thread among the slate is that they felt residents in Bloomfield were caught off guard by the development of the plant.

    “Our residents feel so slighted with the Niagara issue," DeBeatham-Brown said. "We believe that backdoor deals were made and the residents weren’t considered and I think that left a bad taste in the residents’ mouth.”

    Niagara Bottling has not yet responded to a request for comment.

    In a statement, Bloomfield Mayor Joan Gamble dismissed the slate opposing her Democratic Town Committee endorsed group of candidates and said, “None of the opposing council candidates have any experience in town government, and for all of us on council currently, it took two to four years to understand the process of managing a municipality."

    As for the Niagara Plant, Gamble said the project has paid off and will continue to for the town.

    Gamble wrote, "The Niagara plant will bring nearly one million dollars per year in taxes once its tax abatement expires in four years. The town will receive in taxes from Niagara the ability to improve the infrastructure in the town of Bloomfield."

    The Democratic Primary in Bloomfield is in two weeks.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    As Harvey continues to devastate Houston with its relentless rain, hundreds of thousands of displaced homeowners worry about the fate of their property. Some may be wishing they did more to protect it, while some Connecticut homeowners may be wondering about their own policy.

    Houston has received more rain in the past three days than what Connecticut averages per year.

    New England isn’t immune to a Harvey-like storm, and should it ever see one, many people who lives in areas similar to what’s now underwater in Texas run an often overlooked risk.

    FEMA designates its high risk areas as 100-year flood zones. Homes in those areas have a one percent chance of flooding in any given year. Those homeowners are required to have flood insurance.

    It’s very likely that many of Harvey’s victims did not, because that is a one-in-1,000-year flood.

    “A lot of the people in the Houston and Texas area, they’re not in flood zones,” said Connecticut Department of Insurance Director of Consumer Affairs Gerard O’Sullivan. “So it’s those people who want to look into having flood insurance to cover any possible damage that might occur.”

    Many Connecticut towns have both 100 and 1,000 year flood areas, but only 13 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have flood insurance.

    O’Sullivan advises homeowners read their homeowner insurance policy to see what it does and does not cover, and consider getting flood insurance if you live near any kind of water—creeks and brooks included.

    The average flood insurance policy costs $700 per year, with many policies are cheaper outside of the 100-year flood zone.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Businesses and neighborhoods near Addicks Reservoir is flooded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston.Businesses and neighborhoods near Addicks Reservoir is flooded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston.

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    More than 5,000 people in Connecticut by the latest chapter in a string of Wells Fargo scandals, this time involving its loan customers taking out extra auto insurance.

    U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for an investigation and wants impacted Wells Fargo customers to speak up.

    Nationwide, more than 800,000 people received charges for car insurance they did not need. That led to 274,000 delinquencies and 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions.

    In a statement, a Wells Fargo spokesperson told NBC News:

    "Wells Fargo discontinued its collateral protection insurance program in September 2016 after finding errors in our procedures that negatively impacted some customers. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience this caused our customers and are in the process of notifying them and making things right."

    The company plans to pay $80 million to those who qualify, but Senator Blumenthal says, when considering the number of people affected, it just doesn't add up.

    "Many were charged as much as $1,000 a year and stand to receive only 140 dollars, that's an egregious outrageous insult added to injury," said Blumenthal. "And if you let us know who you are, we can help you."

    Blumenthal asks impacted customers to call Wells Fargo at 1-800-289-8004 and to contact his office directly.


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    One of the major federal programs currently caught in limbo is the one that provides health insurance to hundreds of thousands of children around the country.

    CHIP, the Childrens Health Insurance Program, has been reauthorized multiple times since its creation in the 1990s, but it now may run out of money by the end of September if Congress doesn’t act.

    "Health insurance for children ought to be above politics and outside the partisan divisions," said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal following a press conference Tuesday.

    In Connecticut, the state covers a percentage of the cost for more than 17,000 children covered by the program.

    At the Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford, doctors there currently see 95 patients covered by HUSKY B, the name of the program in Connecticut.

    TJ Clarke, a spokesman for the health center, said since the children are covered, it not only improves health outcomes for them, but it also leads to better results for their parents who are constantly interacting with the healthcare system.

    "This is why it’s so important to have health insurance because you have access to quality healthcare right around you," Clarke said.

    If the program does not get reauthorized, those children covered by the program may not have access to another health insurance provider.

    Clarke said he hopes there is a clean passage of an extension of the program to have the least disruption possible.

    "I don’t think anybody wants their lives to play with in the hands of politicians," he said.


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    President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, issued before his federal case was even finished, has sparked a debate over whether he could end Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe with a series of pre-emptive pardons.

    But even mass pardons of all suspects in the Russia case would not close the door to potential prosecutions, NBC News reported.

    While presidential pardons can halt the federal case, local prosecutors could then pursue any Americans suspected of aiding Russia’s election meddling. In fact, legal experts tell NBC News presidential pardons could make that prospect more likely.

    Federal pardons could open the door to local criminal investigations in several states, like New York, Illinois and Virginia, according to a new MSNBC legal analysis.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

    These file photos show President Donald Trump, left, and special counsel Robert Mueller, right.These file photos show President Donald Trump, left, and special counsel Robert Mueller, right.

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    Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship arrived in Miami Tuesday after it was diverted away from Texas due to Hurricane Harvey.

    The ship, which was scheduled to arrive in Galveston on Sunday, reached Port Miami Tuesday morning.

    More than 4,400 passengers were on the ship when the storm passed through and caused the cruise port in Galveston to be closed. About 2,100 were expected to get off in Miami.

    "It's been tough but Royal Caribbean has treated us really well," passenger Tynisa Rodriguez said. "Through the storm there's a lot of Texans on the boat and it's sad what they are going to go back to but Royal Caribbean was really good."

    Royal Caribbean said the ship was diverting until conditions in Galveston are safe. The company said it anticipates the ship will be able to return there on Friday.

    Not everyone was celebrating the ship's arrival in Miami.

    "Oh man, I just found out my car is under water. I'm from Katie, right outside of Houston. So my house, my car, everything's flooded," passenger Jacob Sedlar said. "So I don't have much to go home to but it is what it is, can't do much about it, you know."

    Royal Caribbean said they were doing all they could to help guests adjust their travel arrangements. The ship's next voyage, which was scheduled to leave Sunday, has been canceled.

    Two of Carnival's ships were supposed to arrive in Galveston on Saturday and another was supposed to arrive on Sunday. Instead, all three arrived in New Orleans at different times between Monday and Tuesday and are slated to leave for Galveston at different times between Tuesday and Wednesday, a company spokeswoman said in an email to CNBC.

    Carnival will provide guests a full refund and a 25 percent future cruise credit if booked within the next 60 days. Royal Caribbean will also provide a full refund and a future cruise credit.



    Photo Credit: NBC 6

    Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship arrives at Port Miami after Hurricane Harvey diverted it from Galveston.Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship arrives at Port Miami after Hurricane Harvey diverted it from Galveston.

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    A Torrington man accused of hacking the system of a mortuary science school and forging paperwork that would qualify him as a licensed mortician will be sentenced on Wednesday.

    Jonathan Ryan, 22, was charged on in March with second-degree forgery and second-degree computer crimes after police said he forged documents to make it appear like he graduated from the Mortuary Science program at Lincoln College in Southington. 

    Ryan then helped prepare dozens of bodies for burial at Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home, which is owned by his father. 

    A man whose family was victimized by Ryan told NBC Connecticut that many of his relatives will be at the Bantam Court on Wednesday to protest what they are calling a "light sentence". 

    Last year, the director of the school, Dr. Paul Warren, contacted state police to investigate possible forgery at the school in June. 

    Warren said that Ryan had created a fake Lincoln College transcript by forging the college seal and registrar's name on a transcript in May 2015. Ryan also created a fake email address for a professor so he was able to get an apprentice embalmer's permit from the Connecticut State Department of Public Health.

    Between sometime in 2015 and 2016, Ryan worked embalming or assisting in the preparation of roughly 60 bodies for burial at his family's funeral home in Torrington. 

    State police said Ryan's father Christopher Ryan told investigators he did not know his son obtained his credentials improperly.

    Ryan said the reason he forged documents to become a mortician apprentice was actually part of a two-person investigative journalism project, according to arrest warrant documents. 

    According to the arrest documents, Ryan wrote in a submission to the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, in part: 

    "I find flaws in unsecure websites and human processes and my partner converts my findings into wonderful articles. We have been working on this little project of ours for over two and (sic) one half years, with little success until stumbling onto your website. It is mind boggling that you would leave such an important form, the Verification of Graduation and Projected Graduation Date forms, COMPLETELY (sic) unsecured. There was no password, there was no authentication, and there was no oversight for 6 (sic) months."  

    State police did find that Ryan attended Lincoln College from Sept. 4, 2013 to Dec. 1, 2013, but never got his degree. 



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    Jonathan Ryan, 22, was charged with second-degree forgery and second-degree computer crimes after police said he forged documents to make it appear as though he'd graduated from a college's Mortuary Science program.Jonathan Ryan, 22, was charged with second-degree forgery and second-degree computer crimes after police said he forged documents to make it appear as though he'd graduated from a college's Mortuary Science program.

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    A man is in custody after troopers said he hit and killed a Connecticut man who walking along the highway in South Carolina on Monday night. 

    William Colton Fulton, 22, contacted law enforcement on Tuesday morning and turned himself in, according to South Carolina Highway Patrol, NBC affiliate WMBF reported.

    The pedestrian hit has been identified as Aric Myers, from Connecticut. It is not clear what town or city he is from. 

    He was hit and killed at around 9:15 p.m. in the Browns Ferry area near the Georgetown County Detention Center, police in South Carolina said. 

    The vehicle involved left the scene with damage to the front passenger side.

    Officials in South Carolina are investigating the accident. 

    Fulton is charged with leaving the scene of a collision involving death and operating a vehicle without insurance.



    Photo Credit: Georgetown Detention Center

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    Just under two weeks ago, Tara Galbo went to Spain for a family vacation on a Disney cruise through the Mediterranean.

    But what she went through on her second day in Barcelona waiting for that cruise to begin was more of a nightmare than magic.

    Galbo, a Milford-based family law attorney, was with her 3-year-old son and her partner shopping near Barcelona’s La Rambla when a terrorist driving a van plowed into the crowds. The driver of the van was mowing down people on the pedestrian plaza, steps from where the Galbo family had just been. More than a dozen people were killed in the attack. 

    "Absolute disbelief. This cannot be happening," is what she recalls thinking as she realized what had taken place outside of the doors of the shop where she and several dozen people from around the world were being told to stay put following the attack. They remained there for more than five hours.

    "We don’t know if there’s somebody out there with weapons. We don’t know if there’s more attacks. Everyone’s just trying to catch their breath," Galbo said.

    While trying to contain her own panic, Galbo tried to shield her 3-year-old from the reality of what was outside.

    "He kept saying, 'Mommy what happened on the street?' I just said there was a man that was speeding and they’re trying to find him," Galbo told NBC Connecticut.

    But Galbo said in those moments of what should’ve been intense fear, while she and her family were trapped in a shop with people from every corner of the earth, came a sense of community and resilience to not let the terror win, no matter where it happens.

    "I felt blessed and cursed at the same time. Wrong place at the wrong time, right place though. I’m alive," the mother said.

    Galbo plans to talk to her son about what happened as he gets older, but she doesn’t want to use this experience to teach him fear. She said she wants him and everyone to take from her experience that there’s more that unites people than divides them and people are more alike than they are different.



    Photo Credit: Galbo Family

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    Police are investigating after a person suspected of burglarizing cars in Rocky Hill nearly rammed police vehicles Wednesday morning, then fled the scene. 

    Police received a report just before 2 a.m. about suspicious people trying to burglarize motor vehicles and officers found a suspect vehicle and tried to stop it, but the driver fled, police said. 

    Police said the speeding driver almost rammed responding police patrol vehicles and the chase was called off because of the speed and the reckless manner in which the suspect was driving. 

    Authorities believe additional people were on foot and still in the area. While trying to track the people responsible, a resident reported his or her vehicle was just stolen from their driveway on Bailey Road, police said. 

    The stolen vehicle has not been found and police continue to look for the people responsible for the thefts. 

    Anyone with information should call Officer DeNovellis of the Rocky Hill Police Department at 860-258-7640 or email NDenovellis@Rockyhillct.gov

    Rocky Hill police said there have been several vehicle burglaries and thefts of motor vehicles in communities within the Greater Hartford area, including in Rocky Hill, and they urge residents to lock cars and not leave valuables in plain sight. 

    They said keys or key fobs have been left in vehicles that have been stolen.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    File photo.File photo.

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    Electronics retailer Best Buy apologized after viral photos appeared to show cases of water selling for more than $40 in Houston as Hurricane Harvey approached, CNBC reported.

    Best Buy does not sell water by the case and said signage promoting an offer of $42.96 a pack was "a big mistake on the part of a few employees at one store on Friday," a company spokeswoman told CNBC. "We're sorry and it won't happen again. Not as an excuse but as an explanation, we don't typically sell cases of water. The mistake was made when employees priced a case of water using the single-bottle price for each bottle in the case."

    There have been at least 600 complaints of price gouging in the wake of Harvey, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told The Hill.



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

    A photo of a Best Buy in Houston before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.A photo of a Best Buy in Houston before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

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    Schools are facing enough of a funding challenge, but now Groton Public Schools said have lost thousands of dollars each year due to unpaid meal accounts.

    The district is working to put a policy in place to change that.

    Superintendent Dr. Michael Graner said they in no way want to punish a child, but parents, if they can afford it, need to start taking responsibility.

    Part of the reason is that the district cannot legally pay the money lost from unpaid meals with its food services account.

    So, the district is now proposing that students can charge up to $10 in meals after their account runs out of funds. After that, Graner said, the student will be given an alternative meal, like a peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwich. It’s a cheaper option as the district works to contact parents to pay the bill or discretely help them apply for free or reduced lunch.

    “In no circumstances are we going to embarrass a child, A, and B, under no circumstance would we deny a lunch to a child,” Graner said.

    But if a child picks up a hot meal in error, he or she won’t be denied it.

    “It’s not the child’s responsibility. And it’s not the child’s fault,” Graner said.

    A full-priced breakfast costs a student $1.50; it costs $0.30 under the reduced meal plan. A full-priced lunch costs a student $2.80; it costs $0.40 under the reduced meal plan.

    When it comes to free or reduced-priced meals, “we still think that we’re missing some individuals,” Graner said.

    “I think if (parents) care capable of taking care of their children’s lunches then they should do that. I think if they need assistance, I firmly believe that no child should be in school without a lunch,” said Linda Macrino, who has grandchildren in the Groton School district.

    All students have the ability to purchase the alternative lunch, too. Macrino said she doesn’t think the plan singles a child out.

    “I don’t think it embarrasses them. I don’t think children really judge. I think they’re taught to judge,” Macrino said.

    Graner said there is a similar plan already in place to address the debt, but nothing officially backed by the Board of Education.

    The board is expected to have a second reading and vote on the policy next month, Graner said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Televangelist Joel Osteen continued to defend the decision to delay opening his Houston megachurch to flood victims in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, arguing city officials had not asked him to use the building as a shelter and citing safety concerns.

    "We worked very closely with the city [of Houston] and four miles down the road the city established its biggest shelter with room for thousands, with beds, with kitchen supplies, with everything they need, security. They didn’t need us as a shelter right then," Osteen said Wednesday in an interview with the "Today" show.

    Osteen faced a wave of online criticism for not opening his massive Lakewood Church — a 16,000-seat former arena that served as the longtime home of the NBA's Houston Rockets — earlier as a storm shelter, while other places of worship, including several mosques, offered sanctuary to people who needed help. By Tuesday, the church was taking in Harvey evacuees and accepting emergency relief supplies. 

    "We are all about helping people. This is what our church, and all churches, is about," Osteen said. "I think if people were here, they’d realize there were safety issues. This building had flooded before, so we were just being precautious, but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter."

    He added that no one predicted the sheer number of people who would be displaced, and had city officials asked Lakewood Church to prepare to be a shelter, "we would've been a shelter right away."

    Don Iloff, a church spokesman and Osteen's brother-in-law, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that floodwaters had rendered the building mostly inaccessible before receding Monday afternoon, but he said the church wasn't closed. Three people who showed up at the church on Sunday spent the night there before being taken to a city shelter.

    "Our church doors have always been open," Osteen insisted. "In fact, we started taking people in as soon as the water started to recede, which was just a day or two after the big storm hit."

    However, early Sunday, Lakewood had issued a statement on its Facebook page announcing that the church was "inaccessible due to severe flooding."

    The statement raised eyebrows after several people posted photos and videos on social media appearing to show that the area around the building had not been damaged or flooded by the torrential rains. Olsteen disputed the allegations and shared images with NBC News Monday that appeared to show standing water in the church's basement and parking garage. 

    "I think this notion that we would turn people away, or we weren’t here for the city is about as false as it can be," Osteen told "Today," noting that Lakewood Church didn't have any volunteers or staff that could get there or supplies on hand to begin taking people in. 

    Asked if he would have done anything differently, Osteen said "I don’t think we would have opened any sooner, cause again, there were safety issues ... we were one foot away from flooding."

    "Think of the story if we had housed a whole bunch of evacuees and the building flooded. That wouldn't have been a good story," he told "Today."

    Lakewood Church announced on Twitter late Tuesday that it had begun receiving people in need of shelter as well as emergency relief supplies.

    A fleet of panel trucks, Mercedes coupes, SUVs and pickups descended on the church. Out came bags of donations — jackets, strollers, bottled water, pants, dresses, stuffed dolls, sheets, pillows — that volunteers piled in a mountain in the church's lobby.

    Photos posted to the church's Facebook page show the building lobby filled with people accepting supplies, which include clothes, food, pillows and diapers. Others were shown receiving medical care and setting up beds and sleeping bags. A caption stated the church "hit our maximum capacity for volunteers."

    Other photos posted to Facebook showed long lines of cars waiting to arrive at the church.

    "In 2001, Lakewood housed 3,000 people during tropical storm Allison, so we're all about helping people,'' Osteen said. "We'll be here five years from now helping these people, so we feel good about who we are and what we're doing."



    Photo Credit: File/Getty Images
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    A New Haven man is accused of arranging to purchase an Xbox and related items through the OfferUp app then robbing the seller at knifepoint when he showed up to pick it up, according to Plainville police.

    Plainville police said the victim contacted them around 7:40 p.m. Tuesday stating that he had been robbed at his Plainville home by an unknown man. According to the arrest report, the victim said he’d arranged to sell an Xbox, controller, headset and game for $200. The victim told police he gave the buyer his address and when the buyer showed up, he pulled a knife and took the box with the items.

    The victim reported that the suspect fled in a black Honda and gave police the license plate number and a description of the suspect. Through investigation, police identified the suspect as 21-year-old Quinn Daniels.

    According to the arrest report, Daniels admitted to pulling a knife on the victim and said he did it because the seller lied about what games came with the Xbox. After fleeing the scene, Daniels drove to New Britain and dumped the stolen items in a dumpster. Officers were able to recover the stolen property.

    Daniels was charged with first-degree robbery, disorderly conduct, sixth-degree larceny and first-degree reckless endangerment. He was held on a $100,000 and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

    Authorities suggest meeting in a public place, such as a police department parking lot, when arranging meetings or sales online.



    Photo Credit: Plainville Police Department

    Quinn DanielsQuinn Daniels

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    A man who police said was high on PCP and tried to pull a woman from a car in the parking lot of a hotel in Milford Tuesday night was arrested after officers shot him with a stun gun.

    A Milford police officer spotted 35-year-old Eric Lewis, of New Haven, leaning into the driver side window of a vehicle in the parking lot of Howard Johnson’s Motel at 1052 Boston Post Road around 5 p.m., then heard a yell from a female inside the vehicle as she waved her arms back and forth, police said.

    The officer ordered Lewis to back away from the vehicle and put his hands behind his back, but Lewis refused and started fighting with officers at the scene, police said.

    Officers shot Lewis with a stun gun, but it wasn't very effective because he was under the influence of PCP, police said. Officers were, however, able to place him under arrest.

    The victim told police she had been waiting for a different person in the parking lot when Lewis approached her vehicle and tried to open the door and pull her out.

    Police said Lewis was later found with marijuana that was laced with PCP.

    He has been charged with second-degree breach of peace, assault on a police officer, interfering and resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, possession of a hallucinogen and criminal attempted carjacking.

    Lewis is being held on $10,000 bond and is due in Milford Court today.



    Photo Credit: MIlford Police

    Eric Lewis is accused of trying to carjack a vehicle in Milford as a woman was in the car.Eric Lewis is accused of trying to carjack a vehicle in Milford as a woman was in the car.

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