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    Cromwell Police have arrested two adults and a juvenile after they were caught during a burglary at a gas station in Cromwell early Tuesday morning.

    Police received a 911 call from a concerned citizen reporting what he believed was a burglary in progress at the Sunoco Gas Station on West Street around 1:15 a.m.

    Officers arrived within seconds and immediately saw the front door glass had been smashed. Police said they saw the suspects inside of the store.

    According to police, an officer entered the front door and told the suspects to get on the ground as he drew his weapon.

    The three suspects, later identified by police as 22-year-old Danny Melendez, of New Britain, 23-year-old Angus McLeod, of Bristol, and a juvenile were taken into custody without incident.

    Investigators said the vehicle the suspects were driving had also been reported stolen out of West Haven.

    Melendez, McLeod and the juvenile are facing charges including burglary, possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief, criminal attempt to commit larceny, criminal trespass, larceny by possession and weapons in a motor vehicle.

    Photo Credit:

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    Heavy winds are bringing down trees and wires and are causing thousands of power outages on Tuesday morning.

    According to Eversource, more than 1,500 people are without power as of 7:00 a.m.

    Some wind speeds are gusting over 40 miles per hour across the state, meteorologist Bob Maxon said.

    There are reports of trees or wires down on roads in Berlin, Bloomfield, East Hartford, Lebanon, Middletown, New Britain, Simsbury and Woodbury.

    Park Drive in Berlin is closed after a crash involving a downed tree. Officers said a tree fell down and brought down wires and then a car crashed into it. The road could be closed for several more hours. No injuries were reported.

    Duncaster Road in Bloomfield is closed after a tree came down on live power lines. Tree cutting services are at the scene. There is no estimate for when the road will reopen.

    Jordan Road in Lebanon near the Windham town line is closed due to trees and wires being down. It is unclear when the road will reopen.

    Route 317 in Woodbury also closed at Whittlesey Road as crews work to clear a tree and wires down in the roadway, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Multiple crashes are causing delays on highways across the state on Tuesday morning.

    A three-vehicle crash closed the right lane of Interstate 91 southbound in Hartford between exits 33 and 32. There was about five miles of congestion between exits 37 and 33, which extended into Windsor. The lane has since reopened.

    In Wallingford, I-91 south is congested between exits 15 and 13 after a vehicle fire between exits 14 and 13. The right lane is closed.

    Further south, I-91 south in New Haven is congested between exits 7 and 2 after a two-vehicle crash between exits 3 and 2. The right lane was closed, but has since reopened. There are heavy delays reported.

    There's also two vehicle crash on the northbound side of I-91 in New Haven between exits 2 and 3. The right lane is closed.

    There was a one-car crash on Interstate 691 near exit 10 in Meriden. The right lane was closed, but has since reopened.

    In Waterbury, the left and center lanes of Route 8 southbound between exits 34 and 33 were closed after a 3 vehicle crash. The lanes have since reopened.

    It is unclear how long it will take crews to reopen all of the closed lanes.

    There's no word if anyone was injured in any of the crashes.

    Check the interactive traffic map here to see if there are issues along your commute.

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    A Branford man is accused of hitting his ex-girlfriend and a man she was with with a car and police said the male victim has serious injuries. 

    It happened Monday at Riverview Crossing on East Main St. in Branford after a domestic dispute, according to police. 

    Officers were able to apprehend 24-year-old Matthew Trammel, of Branford, as he was trying to enter the parking lot of a nearby motel, according to a news release from police. 

    Trammel was charged with assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, evading responsibility and reckless driving. 

    The man who was with the woman sustained serious injuries and both were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to police. 

    Police are continuing to investigate and ask anyone with information to call Branford Police at 203-481-4241.

    Photo Credit: Branford Police

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    The Hartford Athletic, a new professional soccer franchise, has announced the first players to sign with the team.

    Wojciech Wójcik, Jose Angulo and Alex Dixon plan to join the club in Hartford for its inaugural season in 2019, pending league and federation approval, according to the team.

    Wójcik, a 26-year-old, Polish-American forward from Elmwood Park, Illinois, played for OKC Energy FC in the USL Championship.

    Thirty-year-old Angulo, of Colombia, has had a seven-year career, which includes a stint with the New York Red Bulls in 2012. He most recently played for OKC Energy FC in 2018.

    Dixon, a 28-year-old Texas native, signed with the Houston Dynamo in 2011 and he joined OKC Energy FC in 2017.

    Hartford Athletic will play at Dillon Stadium in 2019 and the first home game will be on May 4 against the Charlotte Independence.

    Photo Credit: Hartford Athletic

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    One person has serious injuries after a crash on Interstate 691 in Meriden on Tuesday morning.

    Officers were called to I-691 eastbound near exit 5 after getting a report of a crash with injuries around 9 a.m.

    Witnesses told police that the vehicle traveled off of the roadway and went down an embankment.

    The driver of the vehicle was transported to the hospital to be evaluated for what police classified as serious injuries.

    The right lane is closed between exits 4 and 5. Officers expect the lane to remain closed for approximately two hours.

    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

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    Another carrier will soon be available at Bradley International Airport!

    Governor Dannel Malloy announced Frontier Airlines will be coming back to Bradley International Airport starting in March of next year.

    Frontier Airlines will make non-stop flights starting on March 28, 2019, to Denver, Colorado, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

    Fares will be as low as $59 on their website.

    Frontier Airlines will become the ninth airline to fly in and out of Bradley International Airport.

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    PG&E says it shook up management in light of what it calls “unacceptable” conduct by unspecified managers who regulators say exerted pressure on crews to falsify “tens of thousands” of gas safety inspections as being on time when they were late.

    In its statement last week when the falsification allegations were formally lodged by California regulators, the company did not mention any management shakeup.

    But in a statement posted over the weekend on its website, PG&E said it had carried out a number of reforms in the wake of “unacceptable” conduct as alleged by state regulators in its 811 program to mark and locate gas lines. The state Public Utilities Commission accuses the company of urging crews called out to mark and locate gas lines for construction projects to claim the inspections were done on time, when in fact they were not within the three day regulatory deadline.

    The company noted it had beefed up staffing while voluntarily submitting the results of an independent review to state regulators and the federal monitor overseeing safety in the aftermath of PG&E’s conviction for federal gas safety violations following the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion.

    The company also cited “making a number of personnel and organizational changes including some leaders no longer being with the company.”

    According to the CPUC’s filing last week in the case, two top PG&E officers, then-President Nick Stavropoulos and gas safety official Jesus Soto, were called in to account for “the safety consequences” of the falsification alleged in the case. Stavropoulos, 60, officially retired in September, but Soto remains with the company.

    Meanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission has ordered the company to review its entire “Mark and Locate” program and vouch, under penalty of perjury, that it is now capable of meeting its obligations under state law.

    The regulators allege the company falsified mark and locate records to reflect timely responses between 2012 and 2017, when they clearly lacked the staffing needed to dispatch crews promptly, as required by law.

    Crews, acting under pressure, altered late response to appear to be on-time responses, regulators allege. The law requires the company respond within two days after receiving a call.

    “Utility falsification of safety related records is a serious violation of law and diminishes our trust in the utility’s reports on their progress,” said Commission President Michael Picker when the formal investigation was launched last week.

    “These findings are another example of why we are investigating PG&E’s safety culture. Our upcoming consideration of measures that address systemic safety issues at PG&E will determine the best path forward for Northern Californians to receive safe electrical and natural gas service in the future.”

    In a regulatory filing released Friday, the commission alleges that the wrongdoing occurred “immediately following the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion and fire that resulted in eight fatalities, numerous injuries and damage to property.”

    “This Commission would expect that after such a tragedy, caused by multiple proven violations of law, PG&E would have sought to vigorously enhance and increase its effectiveness in all aspects of its gas safety.’’

    The investigation began when federal pipeline safety regulators notified the commission in April 2016 that PG&E may have been falsifying records.

    PG&E’s commissioned auditor concluded that although the company lacked staffing, management “placed inherent pressure’’ on crews to complete their work within state deadlines. “It was common knowledge among supervisors that locators entered false notes to avoid tickets from going late,” the auditor found, citing “pressure to falsify tickets so they would not appear as late.”

    The PUC-commissioned auditors later found the company was undercounting the number of late responses “on the order of tens of thousands” between 2012 and 2016 and did not count least 5,000 additional late responses in 2017.

    Each failure, the regulators contend, “increased the risk of another catastrophic gas incident, regardless of whether there was an actual hit or ‘dig-in’ on PG&E’s infrastructure, or not.”

    Regulators say they hope the investigation will delve into whether the management knew or should have known about the falsification as alleged.

    PG&E, one of the largest natural gas and electric energy companies in the U.S., provides service to 16 million people in northern and central California. The utility has also been under scrutiny over the possible role of failing PG&E equipment in recent deadly wildfires.

    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    File image of PG&E crews inspecting power lines in the North Bay.File image of PG&E crews inspecting power lines in the North Bay.

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    More than 1,000 gallons of heating fuel oil spilled at the former UConn campus n Torrington Tuesday morning and crews responded to clean it up.

    The Torrington Fire Department responded to 855 University Drive at 8:31 a.m., found a large oil spill in the boiler room and worked to contain the spill.

    Officials determined that more than 1,000 gallons of heating oil spilled into the drains leading out to the rear yard from the boiler room drain system because of a break in the inside piping system.

    The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a cleanup contractor were called to respond.

    Officials said the oil did not extend into the rest of the building.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    The NBC Connecticut First Alert meteorologists have issued a First Alert for the potential for high winds and heavy rain on Friday. 

    A storm system will develop to the south and go to our west and this will bring in one to two inches of rain and gusty winds that could exceed 40 mph. 

    We’ll also be looking at milder air coming up from the south. 

    While it has been a cold week so far, temperatures are expected to get close to 60 degrees by Friday afternoon. 

    Get the forecast any time online or on the app. 

    Track the storm on interactive radar.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
    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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    A 12-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of his sister after he allegedly stabbed her and their mother at their West Hartford home Monday, according to West Hartford police.

    Crews responded to Stoner Drive around 3:30 p.m. when a woman called 911 and reported that her son had stabbed her and her daughter, according to police.

    The mother and juvenile daughter were taken to Saint Francis Hospital, where the girl was pronounced dead from her injuries.

    The injured woman was identified as Jane Murphy by her employer, Murtha Cullina Attorneys at Law.

    The boy has been charged with murder with special circumstances and first-degree assault.

    The mayor's office identified the victims as the Murphy-Curtin family and released a statement on behalf of the family, which read in part:

    "Our family, friends, and community are all suffering tonight. We are all enduring a very painful and unimaginable loss. Our family will never be the same. Our daughter was a beautiful child and we will remember forever her smile ... laughter … and remember her for the way she loved and lived.

    We thank you all for your condolences and prayers. Please understand that this loss is not contained to our family. Our children attended West Hartford schools and have so many friends that are hurting tonight as well. West Hartford is a strong community. We are comforted to know that we aren’t alone in our grief. We ask that as we are suffering, please respect our privacy as well as that of our neighbors."

    West Hartford Public School Superintendent Thomas Moore confirmed the family is part of the school district.

    There were counselors available to students Tuesday.

    On Tuesday morning, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor released a statement, which said in part:

    "Today we are mourning the loss of a beautiful young lady and praying for the recovery of her mother. Our special community of West Hartford is in pain.

    Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. Let us give them the space, privacy, and time to grieve and heal.

    We will do all we can to provide support and help for the family, our students, teachers, neighbors, friends and the entire community.

    I have received many calls and texts asking how people can help. Thank you. Hug your loved ones and friends a little tighter. Be generous with your time and your heart. If you are moved to make a donation, please consider giving to organizations that have as their mission to help families in crisis including the Bridge Family Center, Town That Cares, as well as faith and community organizations.

    With a heavy heart, I wish our whole community peace and love."

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Ever year in Connecticut, job loss, financial troubles health problems or a devastating life event quietly leave hundreds of families with nowhere to go.

    But there are community groups fighting the cycle of homelessness, and thanks to their efforts a local family from New Haven will have a place of their own this holiday season.

    Zelema Harris found herself living in her car when the initial expense of getting into an apartment was far out of reach.

    “I started working and my job is a good job but I was not able to come up with a lump sum at the drop of a dime,” Harris said.

    Sometimes that’s all it takes to get off the streets- the clearing of an overdue utility bill, catching up on back rent, repairing a car, or coming up with a down payment on a new apartment.

    Thanks to the collaborative work of the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network, Harris received the help she needed and ended her days of homelessness.

    “I got approved, and I was completely shocked and grateful ‘cause I didn’t think this was going to happen for me, and I told my kids and they were ecstatic,” she said.

    Harris’ new home is the happy ending groups like the United Way of Greater New Haven and New Reach work hard to see.

    “We know that diverting people from shelters is better as long as they are diverted safely,” explained KellyAnn Day, CEO of New Reach. “And that they stay diverted that they don’t come back to the system.”

    In total, the groups have worked to get 40 families off the streets and into homes. Harris said when she found out it was happening for her family, she got emotional.

    “I cried, I was in tears because this is something we’ve been waiting for so when you get that, all I could do is thank God.”

    “This is what it’s all about, so families that were literally homeless, they did not know where they were going to go and at the door of a shelter and now we’re able to make sure they’re home for the holiday. That’s the most exciting thing we could do,” said Amy Casavina Hall, chief impact officer for the United Way of Greater New Haven.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Zelema Harris and her family have a home for the holidays thanks to the collaborative work of the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network.Zelema Harris and her family have a home for the holidays thanks to the collaborative work of the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network.

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    A new AAA report found that as your car's headlights age, the amount of light they produce for a dark drive is significantly diminished.

    The AAA report found that clouded or yellowed headlights, when used on low beam, provided 22 percent of the amount of light a new headlight does.

    “Headlights become yellow and cloudy over time because of the sun,” said Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA of Greater Hartford.

    AAA said exposure to sunlight breaks down the plastic coating on headlights, causing discoloration that obscures the amount of light produced. AAA said depending on where and how the vehicle is used, headlights can start showing signs of deterioration after three to five years.

    Parmenter said about half of all crashes happen at night, highlighting the importance of good headlights.

    "One of the most important things when you're driving is that you can actually see where you're going and see any danger that might be ahead," she said.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) started testing headlights in 2016.

    An IIHS report released in November found, “For the 2018 model year, the best-available headlights on 32 of 165 models evaluated earn the highest rating of good, and the best-available headlights on 58 models earn the second-highest rating of acceptable. Thirty-two models have only marginal-rated headlights, while poor-rated headlights are the only ones available for 43 models.”

    In many cases, the IIHS found the better headlights are only available on more expensive trim levels. LED and high-intensity discharge (HID) performed better than traditional halogen headlights in the IIHS tests.

    "So we know that the new headlights are already relatively insufficient and then you add to that this cloudiness or the yellowness that limits the headlights even further," Parmenter said.

    For the best light output, AAA recommends replacing deteriorated headlights with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Parmenter estimates that would cost up to $400 depending on your vehicle.

    AAA found aftermarket parts also performed well, restoring light output between 93 and 90 percent. However, AAA said the aftermarket parts failed to meet certain requirements for light intensity, and were more likely to produce glare for oncoming traffic.

    Headlight restoration is a more cost-effective method, according to AAA. But it is also offers less of an improvement in light output than replacement. AAA said professional and do-it-yourself restoration returned light output to approximately 70 percent. Restoration also produced the most glare.

    Photo Credit: AAA

    A photo provided by AAA shows the difference between a cloudy headlight and a restored one.A photo provided by AAA shows the difference between a cloudy headlight and a restored one.

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    Connecticut State Police is making sure the season is a little brighter for sick kids at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

    Former patient Jordan O’Linn still has the teddy bear she received while being treated for a case of severe pneumonia when she was just 7 years old.

    “A Connecticut state trooper delivered him, a Connecticut Children’s Medical Center technician gave him, and every night for nearly eight years I’ve slept with him,” O’Linn said.

    “It was an amazing moment at that time because we we’re trying everything we could to make her comfortable,” said her mother, Danielle O’Linn.

    On Tuesday State Police wheeled in toys to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center by the stretcher. From stuffed animals to dolls, it’s all from their 22nd annual Stuff a Cruiser event. It was the largest donation to date.

    “It’s a great feeling,” said Lt. Daniel Loughman, of Connecticut State Police. “It’s good to bring all the toys in here because we know we’re going to make a lot children happy.”

    Troopers went from room to room visiting children like 9-year-old Amarey Brookshire, who’s dealing with a sickle cell crisis.

    “She doesn’t feel well enough to go to the playroom, so for someone to acknowledge that she’s here, acknowledge that she’s sick, and acknowledge that Christmas is here — I think it’s absolutely amazing,” said Amaryllis Brookshire.

    Doctors here know healing is about more than just medicine.

    “Our emergency department sees over 60,000 patients each year, and because of the state police toy drive, children will receive a toy that serves as a welcome distraction,” said Dr. John Brancato, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center physician.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Barrier systems will be coming to new CT Transit buses to better protect the drivers.

    NBC Connecticut Investigates was the first to report on dozens of CT Transit bus drivers who said they had been assaulted on the job in recent years.

    "You pick a certain number of buses, you put it in there and try to get as many people operating that bus as possible to get their feedback on it," said Cole Pouliot, general manager of CT Transit, which serves passengers in the Hartford, New Haven and Stamford regions.

    “We’re currently working to get a prototype driver barrier installed on one of our buses,” Pouliot told NBC Connecticut Investigates. “Provided it passes our evaluation and testing, we plan to have it installed on all of the new buses we’re purchasing in 2019.”

    "We see how the employees feel, to make sure they feel safe and protected or if this is a solution that they are interested in," Pouliot said.

    CT Transit's barriers will be similar to what is already in place at Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT), according to Pouliot.

    "It was a good decision," said Mustafa Salahuddin, president and business agent for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1336. "Safety is paramount here."

    Two-panel barrier systems were installed on 35 GBT buses over the last year and a half. GBT officials said there had not been any assaults on drivers since the barriers were added.

    "Nothing but positive feedback from the operators," said Doug Holcomb, CEO of Greater Bridgeport Transit. "We've had no concerns raised by the customers. No safety issues in the first 18 months of deployment."

    Unlike GBT, which is an independent transit authority, CT Transit is overseen by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

    Since 2016, 42 CT Transit drivers have reported being punched, having food and drinks thrown their way, or having a passenger spitting at them, among other incidents. All of the incidents were documented in reports that drivers filed with CT Transit, which NBC Connecticut Investigates obtained.

    CT Transit bus operator Desiree Martone said an angry passenger dumped ice cream over her head.

    "It bothered me. It still does today," said Martone, who believes a driver barrier may have prevented the incident. She also said there is a need for more respect from the passengers she transports every day.

    "Let them know that they can't treat the drivers like this," Martone said. "Basically, that’s what it falls down to."

    It has not been decided if CT Transit drivers would be required to use the protective barriers at all times or only when a driver feels the need. Expect to see the barriers on CT Transit buses by summer 2019.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Justices on the Connecticut Supreme Court appeared skeptical of justifications from both insurers and homeowners as they heard arguments for when a home should be considered collapsing.

    The case is part of the heart of the legal battle which has homeowners searching for relief for homes losing value, and insurers arguing it is the manufacturer of the foundation, and not them which is responsible.

    “A structural engineer would look at this concrete wall and say that it’s supposed to be a solid homogenous mass. It’s not supposed to break up,” said Michael Parker, representing the Karas family, who is suing Liberty Insurance to cover its crumbling foundation. “It’s not supposed to bust up. This isn’t rocket science. This is pretty basic engineering.”

    Parker argued Tuesday morning that a home is collapsing once it shows signs of cracking, even though the house may not be uninhabitable for quite some time after that.

    Three years ago NBC Connecticut uncovered the issue of crumbling foundations, specifically the disintegration of concrete that contains the mineral pyrrhotite, once it comes in contact with water.

    This court case is significant because it could help lay part of the legal argument as to which entities are responsible for replacing a foundation, and when.

    Insurers argue that individual cracks do not show the home is about to collapse, but rather could be cosmetic in nature, and the home could remain standing long into the future.

    Robert Kole, who represented Liberty Insurance, said “We’re talking about houses that are standing, that are safe to live in. They may continue to be standing, safe to live in for another 50 years, another 100 years. In one case, 1,000 years. That is not a collapse under any understood meaning of the term.”

    Justices peppered both attorneys with questions throughout their arguments.

    Justice Andrew McDonald asked of Parker, working for homeowners, whether the insurance company was really liable for something that might predate the policy by years.

    “Presumably, once this concrete was poured it started to degrade immediately and progressively got worse, how do you pinpoint from when it just went from being impaired, to substantially impaired,” he said.

    He also challenged Liberty Mutual, saying how the company would pay for both a home and a foundation if the home collapsed into the foundation.

    “But if the foundation collapses and the house follows, you would pay for the house but not the foundation,” he said.

    Chief Justice Robinson also had questions about the imminence of a collapse and when the insurance company is responsible to make repairs.

    “Inevitable when?” Robinson asked. “Some of these cases have a history of 20 years and from what I was reading in the record, there’s evidence that it could go on for 100 years and the person cannot say for certain that it’s going to collapse. It may collapse or it may not collapse.”

    Kole argued that a home is on the verge of collapse once it’s been examined by a home inspector to gauge whether it’s safe.

    Justice Maria Araujo Kahn appeared not to be convinced by that argument, saying how a homeowner may beg to differ.

    She asked, “How does someone know their house is about to cave in? And should they have to wait for that event and take that risk? And second, don’t they have a duty to mitigate?”

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    Every Christmas there are sailors at the Naval Submarine Base New London who might not be able to go home for the holidays or are just starting their careers and might not be able to buy a holiday meal for their families. That’s where fellow sailors at the Naval Submarine Base New London are stepping in to help.

    As part of SUBASE New London’s Caring & Sharing Program, sailors volunteered Tuesday to fill box after box with donated Christmas fixings.

    “For us, by us,” said Naval Submarine New London Command Master Chief Raj Sodhi. “What it does is allow junior sailors who may not be going home for the holidays the opportunity to make a home-cooked meal.”

    Sodhi said any sailor who needs a box of Christmas ingredients is welcome to sign up.

    Sonar Technician Second Class Robert Jordan said he’s had plenty of friends and their families benefit from this.

    “It makes me feel great. That’s what we’re supposed to be here for. We’re all here for each other and we got to back each other up,” Jordan said.

    Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, these volunteers have packed more than 300 boxes. All food was donated in front of the SUBASE commissary during an approximately eight-week food drive sponsored by the Naval Submarine School Activities Association.

    It’s the first year Navy Diver First Class Ryan Murphy took over coordinating the project.

    “People want to volunteer, people want to do the right thing, help out their fellow sailors, help out their community,” Murphy said.

    For him the experience has been a rewarding one.

    “Having a hardship during the holiday, weren’t able to come home with their family, or weren’t able to provide a meal for their family because of whatever financial hardships—helping out maybe just one sailor or 150 sailors, whatever it may be, it’s a very rewarding feeling,” Murphy said.

    All of the boxes and ham will be distributed to sailors and their families Wednesday. What’s not used will go to the Homeless Hospitality Center in New London, according to Murphy.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteers pack hundreds of boxes for sailors who may not be able to go home for the holiday, or those who can't afford a meal for their family.Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteers pack hundreds of boxes for sailors who may not be able to go home for the holiday, or those who can't afford a meal for their family.

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    For people who love the animals at Mystic Aquarium or possibly had one inspire their child in some way, there’s an opportunity to give back.

    Each animal-themed ornament on the “Giving Tree,” located in the Main Gallery, explains how you can donate enrichment or other animal care items to an animal of choice at Mystic Aquarium.

    People can fund items including mirrors, food puzzles or balls that can help vary an animal’s daily routine and encourages their natural behaviors.

    "You’ll often see wild sea lions and seals moving rocks around on the beaches in the very shallow areas. So we give them toys that allow them to do these things here at the aquarium," said Carey Richard, assistant curator at the aquarium.

    More information on donating and an Amazon Wish List can be accessed on the Mystic Aquarium website.

    The giving tree will be up through New Year’s day. The links will stay up beyond that.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Each animal-themed ornament on this “Giving TreeEach animal-themed ornament on this “Giving Tree" explains how you can donate enrichment or other animal care items to an animal of choice at Mystic Aquarium.

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    Federal health officials are trying to figure out what they can do to stop kids from vaping, but they’re facing a tough battle going against the flavored smoking devices some kids just don’t think are that bad for their health.

    Health experts in Connecticut say while the number of teens using e-cigarettes is a bad thing, the issue getting attention is positive.

    “Just because there’s different flavors doesn’t stop the harm it brings to you,” said Glastonbury seventh-grader Ian Duncan.

    Duncan seems to have heard the warnings from his mother and his health class about the dangers of e-cigarettes, unlike many of his peers who may be missing the message.

    The surgeon general on Tuesday called the use of e-cigarettes among young people an epidemic amid a reported 75 percent increase in high school student use from last year, and a 50 percent increase by middle schoolers.

    Ian’s mother said she has regular conversations with her son about the dangers of the vaping practice as it grows in popularity nationwide.

    “I think if you don’t talk about it, it becomes something that kids just do on their own. I think it needs to be brought to light and the more discussions you have I think the better it Is for everybody,” Laurie Duncan said.

    Manchester Health Director Jeffrey Catlett said more conversations about the issue can lead to prevention.

    “For a while now we’ve known it was a serious public health problem. Now that it’s a public health epidemic, I think the awareness will help us create more avenues for education,” Catlett said.

    That education, he said, has to start with an emphasis on one thing - that e-cigarettes, no matter their flavor or unique branding and packaging, can cause serious health problems.

    “Overall teens do not understand the risk. Even though the risk is lower with e-cigarettes, there’s still a significant amount of chemicals,” Catlett said.

    E-cigarette maker Juul said it’s working to curb youth access to its products.

    Catlett suggested that the holidays, when families are spending more time together, may be the perfect time to take to kids about vaping. He said parents should simply ask their kids if they know anything about it to start a dialogue.

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    A local Bristol business is dealing with three break-ins in just two months, the third happening Tuesday morning.

    “Oh my God. It’s so frustrating,” said Big Cat’s Smoke Shop Manager Sevasti Hatzisavvas.

    The first burglary at the Riverside Avenue shop happened in October, the other two in December. Hatzisavvas said each time the thief smashed through the front door and took cash from the register and a variety of vaping products. An empty shelf in the store was filled with items before the crime. In total, the shop’s owner says the thefts have cost around $10,000.

    “They’re in and out anywhere from three to five minutes,” said Hatzisavvas.

    The cameras inside the store weren’t working at the time, but the business next door caught a suspect walking back and forth several times, starting just before one Tuesday morning. The man in the mask knows exactly where that camera is. He looks straight at it and makes several hand gestures.

    “I’m worried to come into work some days, especially if they get bolder and bolder,” said Hatzisavvas.

    Hatzisavvas said the latest theft left her unnerved because more than just vaping products and cash were stolen.

    “This time they took a few hunting knives that were probably 10 to 12 inches long,” said Hatzisavvas.

    Bristol Police confirmed they’re investigating and said they’ve seen several similar break-ins all across the region and believe they may be connected.

    “It’s scary, you know. It’s scary. It’s frustrating, and it’s getting to the point where I don’t even want to come to work,” said Hatzisavvas.

    Big Cat’s Smoke Shop is upgrading its cameras and security system to try and prevent this from happening a fourth time.

    Anyone with information on these thefts is asked to call Bristol Police.

    Photo Credit: Contributed Photo

    Thieves have targeted Big Cat’s Smoke Shop on Riverside Avenue three times in the past two months.Thieves have targeted Big Cat’s Smoke Shop on Riverside Avenue three times in the past two months.

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