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    On the heels of their successful 2018 Project Innovation grant challenge that resulted in 6 local organizations receiving a total of $225,000 in grants, WVIT NBC Connecticut and WRDM Telemundo Connecticut today announced their grant challenge will return in 2019.

    Project Innovation is a competitive grant program that is presented locally by NBC Connecticcut and Telemundo Connecticut in partnership with the NBCUniversal Foundation. In 2019, the stations and the Foundation will present a second round of $225,000 in grants to local organizations that are addressing local community issues through innovative solutions around four grant categories. Applications for Project Innovation open on Jan. 11, 2019 and close on Feb. 15, 2019. Project Innovation 2019 grant winners will be announced by the stations in April 2019.

    In addition, the stations today announced the launch of their new dedicated Project Innovation websites that provide program, rules/eligibility information and grant applications in English and Spanish, to help more bilingual service organizations access the information they need to apply and be considered for a grant. For more information and to preview the grant application visit To access information in Spanish visit

    Project Innovation 2018 winners, including the Children's Museum in West Hartford, have leveraged the grant funding presented by the stations to create community solutions around youth education and community engagement, youth employment, civic engagement and STEM education.

    “NBC Connecticut and Telemundo Connecticut are proud to be a conduit for innovative thinking as it relates to our communities,” said Susan Tully, General Manager and President, NBC Connecticut and Telemundo Connecticut. “The community’s gain is a gain for all of us. When a program empowers, engages and supports someone who needs help, we all win.”

    Presented in 11 markets throughout the country, including Connecticut, Project Innovation is offered by the NBCUniversal Foundation and NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal. This year, NBC and Telemundo owned stations will present nearly $2.5 million in Project Innovation grants to eligible non-profits that are physically located in the participating markets and service each market, have an annual operating budget of more than $100,000, and are using innovation to inspire community solutions in any of the following four grant categories:

     • Next Generation Storytellers: Programs that empower the next generation of storytellers and utilize media to drive social impact.

     • Culture of Inclusion: Programs that seek to build pathways for diverse and equitable communities.

     • Youth Education: Programs that equip youth with the tools they need to succeed, including STEM/ STEAM education.

     • Community Engagement: Programs that enable individuals to engage and volunteer in their communities.

    Project Innovation 2019 grants are available in select markets serviced by NBC and Telemundo owned stations, including New York (WNBC, WNJU), Southern California (KNBC, KVEA), Chicago (WMAQ, WSNS), Philadelphia (WCAU, WWSI), Dallas-Fort Worth (KXAS, KXTX), Boston (WBTS, WNEU, NECN), Hartford, CT (WVIT, WRDM), Washington, D.C. (WRC-TV, WZDC), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (WTVJ, WSCV), San Francisco Bay Area (KNTV, KSTS), and San Diego (KNSD, KUAN).

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    President Donald J. Trump traveled to Iraq Christmas night, according to the White House, his first visit to U.S. troops in a war zone and a day after facing criticism for failing to spend time with any military personnel on Christmas Day.

    Trump, who was accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, had been derided by his critics for not visiting troops in a combat zone, particularly after he canceled a trip to an American military burial ground outside of Paris because of bad weather. Two days later, he skipped a Veterans Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

    Trump defended his decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria where they have been fighting Islamic State militants.

    "We're no longer the suckers, folks," Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq, according to The Associated Press. "We're respected again as a nation."

    Trump spent three hours on the ground with the troops. Air Force One flew overnight from Washington, landing at an airbase west of Baghdad in darkness Wednesday evening, The AP wrote.

    Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that Trump visited the troops and senior military leadership “to thank them for their service, their success and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas.”

    There had been chatter on Twitter about a possible trip after Air Force One was spotted over Europe.

    Trump’s visit follows his controversial Syria announcement just before Christmas, a decision that his opponents said could endanger Kurdish allies who have been fighting ISIS there. Secretary of Defense James Mattis abruptly submitted his resignation in a letter that lambasted Trump’s worldview and treatment of allies.

    Trump, in remarks to reporters on Wednesday, said he had “no plans at all” to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. About his decision to leave Syria, saying, "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking," according to Reuters.

    "I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip ISIS of its military strongholds," Trump told troops at al-Asad Airbase west of Baghdad, according to AP. If ISIS were to have a resurgence, the troops in Iraq would be able to combat it, he said.

    Troop said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to take out "any remnants" of IS left in Syria, AP wrote.

    He said that he was in no hurry to name a replacement for Mattis, and that the planned acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan “could be there for a long time,” Reuters reported.

    "I think a lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking. It's time for us to start using our head," Reuters reported that the president said.

    The president and first lady got a standing ovation when they walked into a dining hall, and greeted troops, took selfies and signed autographs. Trump is to visit other U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Base in German on his way back to Washington, D.C.

    On the government shutdown, Trump said he was prepared to wait for “whatever it takes” to get border security, Reuters reported. 

    The visit also came as The New York Times revived questions about Trump avoidance of the Vietnam War draft after finding the daughters of a doctor who diagnosed the bone spurs that kept him from combat. They suggested he made the diagnosis as a favor to Trump’s father, Fred, though the doctor left no medical records with his family. The White House has not responded to written questions.

    Last year, Trump visited wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

    Photo Credit: Sarah Huckabee Sanders/White House
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit soldiers on Christmas night, as seen in a photo released by the press secretary, on Dec. 25, 2018.President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit soldiers on Christmas night, as seen in a photo released by the press secretary, on Dec. 25, 2018.

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    Authorities found the body of a missing Stonington woman in the water off Westerly, Rhode Island Wednesday.

    Police issued a Silver Alert for 58-year-old Lucia Ritacco on Monday. On Tuesday, a fisherman reported a suspicious vehicle parked on the beach in Westerly, Rhode Island. Investigators determined the vehicle belonged to Ritacco and began a search.

    Multiple departments, including Westerly Police, Rhode Island State Police, Stonington Police, and local fire departments all assisted in the search.

    At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, investigators spotted what appeared to be a person in the water on surveillance footage at Winnapaug Pond in Westerly. Crews recovered the body and identified it as that of Lucia Ritacco. The Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s office will determine a cause of death.

    The investigation is ongoing.

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

    Lucia RitaccoLucia Ritacco

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    With peak flu season upon us, there is an important deadline for young children to meet by the end of 2018.

    State law requires pre-K children to get the flu shot by December 31 or they cannot go back to school in the New Year.

    During winter break, the City of New Haven Health Department is providing free flu vaccines for New Haven students of all ages.

    The Centers for Disease Control recommends the flu shot for everyone older than six months.

    Sixth-grader Zaniha came to the New Haven clinic Wednesday for her flu shot.

    “Because you can get sick and that means you’ll miss out on education,” she said.

    Her younger brother in pre-school needs to get his before Monday.

    “I just know that they said before December 31st get your flu shot or they’d have to stay home,” mom Shiquitta McDuffie said. “Have to go to school, have to learn, get your flu shot.”

    McDuffie said she appreciates the city making the flu shots available during winter break.

    “It’s a good convenience,” she said, “I called his doctor today they was unable to get an appointment until after January so I called here and they said come on down.”

    “So people don’t have to worry about having insurance they could come in and get a flu vaccine,” said Director of Public Health Nursing Jennifer Allis-Vazquez.

    New Haven Public School sent home letters to parents informing them about the flu shot clinic, Allis-Vazquez said.

    “The flu vaccine is just one tool in the fight against the flu,” Allis-Vazquez said, “along with good hand hygiene, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick keeping children home from school when they’re sick.”

    McDuffie said she already got her flu shot.

    “So many kids are sick nowadays,” she said. “Working in the health field I see a lot of people coming in with the flu so it’s the perfect time get it done while you can prevent the kids from spreading germs around school.”

    The New Haven clinic at 54 Meadow St. will be back open Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Monday on New Year’s Eve from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    During winter break, the City of New Haven Health Department is providing free flu vaccines for New Haven students of all ages.During winter break, the City of New Haven Health Department is providing free flu vaccines for New Haven students of all ages.

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    Milford Police have arrested two people after a home invasion in Milford late Tuesday night.

    Officers responded to a report of a threat with a firearm at a home on West Main Street around 12:10 a.m. on Wednesday. Police said they had received the complaint from someone who had been notified of the incident from social media.

    When police arrived to the residence, they found a man, later identified as 32-year-old Sean Artis, of New Haven, and a woman, later identified as 26-year-old Cassandra Vitale, of West Haven, inside of the home with the victim.

    The victim told police that at approximately 10:15 p.m. on Christmas, three men and a woman entered his home without his permission, attempting to collect a debt that was owed to Vitale.

    According to the victim, Artis said he had a gun and if the victim tried to contact police, he would kill him.

    The victim was able to send a message through a social media messenger account to a friend about the incident and the friend was able to contact police.

    Officers said the two other men had left the house before police arrived. The investigations is ongoing.

    According to police, Artis is accused of being in possession of a facsimile firearm BB gun, which was recovered from his jacket. Artis and Vitale are also accused of being in possession of crack cocaine, heroin and drug paraphernalia.

    Artis and Vitale are both facing facing charges including home invasion, conspiracy to commit home invasion, possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia. Artis is facing additional charges of threatening and possession of a facsimile firearm.

    Both were held on $200,000 bond and were in court on Wednesday.

    Photo Credit: Milford Police

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    Keep checking back as we add more events in the days leading up to New Year's Eve!

    NBC Connecticut is Connecting You to Joy with a list of New Year's Eve events across the state for Dec. 31, 2018 as you prepare to ring in 2019. There are a range of suggestions and options in the list below.

    Amarante’s Sea Cliff

    For $110 a person enjoy a night of food, drinks and entertainment at Amarante's Sea Cliff. Reservation required (203) 467-2531.  7 p.m. to 1 a.m.  62 Cove Street, New Haven, CT

    Artisan West Hartford at the Delamar Hotel

    Ring in the second New Year’s at Artisan in Westhartford, which will have two dinner seatings. The earlier seating is a three course prix fixe for $65 per person. The later seating is a four course prix fixe with a champagne toast for $125 per person. The restaurant will also have dancing open to the public.  5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.  1 Memorial Rd, West Hartford

    Bobby V's Funniest New Years Eve Party in CT

    Bobby V's in Windsor Locks is offering comedy from Preston Simpson, Billy Winn and Tom Anzalone.  The show starts at 10 p.m. with doors opening at 9 p.m.  Dinner is available starting at 7:30 p.m.  The show alone is $50 and includes party favors, a midnight champagne toast, and after party desserts. Dinner and the show combined are $88 per person.  Taxes and gratuities are included.

    City Steam Brewery's Brew HaHa Comedy Club

    Live stand up comedy shows featuring Dan Crohn and Claudia Stavola at 7 and 10:30 p.m., including a champagne toast at midnight.  Live music in the bar starting at 8:30 p.m.  Admission is $30.  942 Main Street, Hartford

    Courtyard Cromwell New Year's at Tiffany's 2019 Diamond Ball

    Celebrate the dawn of 2019 in vintage Hollywood style. This classic ball including a five hour open bar, elaborate appetizers and buffet dinner. Dance the night away with our DJ or find your inner Hepburn and capture memories in the Hollywood "Selfie" booth. As midnight approaches, watch a live stream directly from the "Big Apple" and countdown in glee to 2019 and toast to a brand New Year. Deluxe package for two includes overnight eaccomodations.  Price is $389 per couple plus tax.

    Fairfield Theatre

    Luther and Cody Dickinson, the North Mississippi Allstars, will be playing a show at 9 p.m. with tickets going for $68 for regular admission or $88 for VIP. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds will be performing at 9 p.m. at The Warehouse.

    First Night Hartford

    The annual New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Hartford will be celebrating it's 30th anniversary and will take place from 2 p.m. to midnight.  The party includes fireworks at 6 p.m. and midnight in Bushnell Park but viewable throughout much of the city. Horse drawn wagon rides around Bushnell Park will also be available.

    Foxwoods’ New Year's Eve 2019

    Foxwoods’ Resort and Casino will have parties across the property, including live entertainment from Jammin 107.7 in the Grand Pequot Rotunda and Legends in Concert at the Fox Theater.  Rick Springfield will be performing in the Grand Theater.

    Infinity Hall Hartford

    Come to Infinity Hall Hartford and bring in the New Year with Rock N Roll Hall of Fame group Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals! This is an all new show with an all star band, 3 piece horn section and interactive video presentation!

    Infinity Hall Norfolk

    NRBQ will be celebrating New Year’s Eve at Infinity Hall! Let’s all bring in 2019 with one our favorites here in Norfolk. Great musicians, great songs - Ridin’ In My Car”, “Me And The Boys”, “RC Cola And A Moon Pie,” “Wacky Tobacky” and on and on . You know the band, you know the hits and we all know it’ll be party time when Connecticut’s own NRBQ hits the stage!! Come bring the family and celebrate the holiday with us.

    Metro Bis

    Metro Bis in Simsbury is offering a prix-fixe three-course meal from 5 to 9:30 p.m. for $58.95, plus tax, beverages and gratuity.  Reservations recommended (860) 651-1908. 731 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury

    MGM Springfield "This is a First" New Year's Eve

    Ring in the new year with us as we celebrate a historic First Night at MGM Springfield. From indulgent celebrations to delectable dining options, New Year’s at MGM Springfield will offer an experience for everyone.  The casino's Cal Mare restaurant is also offering a special multi-course prix-fixe menu.

    Lady Katharine Cruise and Gala

    Lady Katharine Cruises will be celebrating New Year's Eve on the Connecticut River in style aboard the luxury yacht "Mystique."  The party includes a buffet dinner, premium open bar, party favors, a champagne toast and a contental breakfast for $299 per couple (price includes port fee and tax)

    Mohegan Sun’s NYE 2019 Celebration

    Kicking off at 10:30pm, this party will be one to remember with dancing and music by DJ Crooked & DJ Neva from SKAM ARTIST, an open bar, champagne toast and 12:15am breakfast buffet! Music star Kesha will be performing at the Mogean Sun Arena at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31.

    The New England Carousel Museum

    The museum in Bristol is hosting a party from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. featuring the Chaparrals with music and dancing for $40 per person.

    Park & Oak

    Park & Oak restaurant in West Hartford will be serving dinner specials, drink specials, and celebrating with a ball drop party at midnight.  The restaurant, which just celebrated its second anniversary, is a good place to be for comfort food and drinks as you ring in 2019. Reservations recommended. 155 Park Road, West Hartford

    Playhouse on Park Interactive Murder Mystery

    Mama D is chaperoning the 1999 Holiday Homecoming Dance but when she turns her back the unthinkable happens! Join us this New Year’s Eve for an interactive murder mystery filled with fun, food and entertainment by the cast of MAMA D’s! Guests will be encouraged to participate by dressing in their best 1990’s garb and testing their sleuthing skills in an effort to solve the murder. The evening includes beer, wine, soft drinks, hearty hors d’oeuvres, champagne toast at midnight and of course—dancing! $75 per person - tickets must be purchased in advance

    Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort – “Fire at the Ridge”

    You can ring in the new year skiing and enjoying a three course, prix fixe dinner. 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Our evening package also includes a late-night snack and Champagne toast at midnight. Enjoy dinner between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., with music and dancing starting at 8 p.m. $59 per person, plus tax. Powder Hill Road, Middlefield

    Republic at the Linden New Year's Eve Bash

    On December 31st, weHartford will be teaming up with Republic at the Linden to bring you an epic NYE.With two floors of entertainment, two stages of live music, featuring The Professors of Sweet, Sweet Music -The POSSM, One Time Weekend, and an acoustic set by the silky smooth Mike Suddes- Singer/songwriter. Specialty NYE drinks, and much more - this is a not-to-be-missed night. NO COVER charge and/or tickets required for entry.

    Saybrook Point Inn’s New Year’s Eve Gala with The Cartells

    Ring in the new year at our annual New Year’s Eve Gala! Our talented chefs have designed an impressive menu for the evening consisting of extensive passed hors d’oeuvres, a New England Raw Bar and several attended specialty stations. The main course, a sit-down dinner, is a selection of three entrees and a premium open bar, a decadent selection of tableside homemade desserts from our talented Pastry Chef and a midnight champagne toast.  Tickets are $149.95 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Tickets include your sit down dinner, extensive appetizers, desserts a premium open bar and a champagne toast. 2 Bridge Street, Old Saybrook

    Saint Clements Castle & Marina - SOLD OUT

    Saint Clements is hosting a New Year's Eve party for $130 per person that includes dinner, a premium open bar, and a champagne toast at midnight.  There are rooms available as well for overnight stays.

    Sheraton Hartford Hotel Bradley Airport's 80's New Year's Eve Bash

    The Sheraton at Bradley airport is hosting an 80's party with a full open bar, buffet stations, overnight accomodations, a midnight snack, champagne toast, and entertainment.  Pricing is $425/couple, including tax and gratuity. To make a reservation, contact Catalina Huggins by email to or phone 860-386-7891.

    The Cook and the Bear

    The Blue Back Square restaurant will be hosting trivia night starting at 7:30 p.m. including half price draft beer.

    The Press in Hartford

    This restaurant and bar replaced the Black Bear Saloon at 187 Allyn Street.  Now, The Urban Young Professionals and TNB have teamed up for a New Year's Eve party with Boston's JAM'N 94.5 fm DJ 4eign. You can get a 3-course dinner and New Year's party for $40 per person or skip the dinner and just enjoy the part for $15. The first 100 party only tickets are free but you must RSVP ahead of time and arrive before 10:30 p.m.

    Toad's Place in New Haven

    Toad's place will be hosting it's New Year's Eve with Max Creek Celebration.  Tickets include party favors, a giant balloon drop and a continent breakfast.  Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show.  300 York Street, New Haven

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    NBC Connecticut Investigates!

    This is our commitment to you in 2018 and beyond.

    This last year we held the powerful accountable and helped change how business is done in Connecticut.

    Earlier this year NBC Connecticut Investigates uncovered problems with a Connecticut state program that arranges housing for clients with economic, heath or emotional challenges. But the state doesn’t vet potential tenants for past problems, something unbeknownst to some property owners renting out their homes.

    The couple that a landlord said trashed her property disputes her claims, and told us it was a misunderstanding. But soon after our report, police arrested the couple on charges of criminal property damage.

    In the spring, NBC Connecticut embarked upon an ambitious project, our seven part “At A Price-The High Cost Of Local Town Living” series, that highlighted why people have moved out of Connecticut.

    The series asked if there’s a more cost effective and efficient way for our local and state government to function. Not long after the stories aired, the idea of more regional government became a key issue in the gubernatorial campaign.

    A month later NBC Connecticut Investigates exposed issues for CT Transit bus drivers, who were wearing diapers and avoiding eating and drinking on the job because of a lack of access to available restrooms.

    Since we broke the story, there have been rallies, calls from political leaders for change and, ultimately, a change in company policy: bus drivers and managers are now continuously reviewing current and potential accessible bathrooms on all routes.

    Over the summer our undercover investigation of the nail salon business in Connecticut revealed how the state is the only one in the country not to license nail techs. We found customers who say they were injured during manicures and pedicures. Our report got the attention of state legislators. They tell NBC Connecticut Investigates they will pursue licensing regulations for the industry in the upcoming general assembly session.

    This fall, Hartford police reassigned an officer who drove the wrong way up the interstate into a non-driving position after we began asking questions. The officer was pursuing a suspect when he drove the wrong way up the interstate, something instructors say police should only do in extreme circumstances. The officer declined to comment.

    Finally, we challenged Connecticut to do better. We asked why consumers can’t buy wine in supermarkets, why so many towns and cities have badly timed traffic lights and what it will take to get rid of those left lane exits.

    Going into 2019, NBC Connecticut Investigates will keep holding those in power accountable and uncovering the problems impacting your life.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Police are responding to The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester for reports of fighting, according to Manchester police.

    Manchester police said they’ve received reports of “multiple disturbances and youths fighting inside.” They are asking the public to avoid the area.

    More information was not immediately available.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Photo Credit: Timothy Bourman / Amanda Bourman

    As a Southwest Airlines jet hurtled 32,000 feet over suburban Philadelphia, a rare engine explosion caused a passenger’s window to burst, partially pulling the woman sitting next to the opening out of the plane on April 17. Read the original story here.As a Southwest Airlines jet hurtled 32,000 feet over suburban Philadelphia, a rare engine explosion caused a passenger’s window to burst, partially pulling the woman sitting next to the opening out of the plane on April 17. Read the original story here.

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    Breweries across the country are uniting to help in the relief effort for last month’s deadly wildfire in northern California.

    Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., based in Chico, Calif., put out an all-call to breweries nationwide, asking if they would brew “Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.”

    One hundred percent of the sales will go directly to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund, directly helping the victims of the Camp Fire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and at last check killed close to 90 people.

    Suppliers are donating ingredients, some wholesalers and retailers are carrying the beer for free and more than 1,400 breweries nationwide signed up to donate their time and labor costs to brew and distribute the beer. About a dozen are in Connecticut.

    “It kind of hit me a little harder than probably most so I wanted to make sure we could give back to an area that we used to hang out and go hiking,” said Bob Bartholomew, head brewer at Kinsman Brewing Co. in Milldale.

    He lived in California for a few years. When he heard about the Resilience fundraiser, signing up was a no-brainer.

    Stony Creek Brewery in Branford is also taking part.

    “I lived in California for years, most of my life, and have seen first-hand the fires, the earthquakes, the riots, the mudslides, all the disasters that seem to happen out there,” said Andy Schwartz, the brewmaster there.

    It’s special to see the brewing community come together, according to Schwartz.

    “When one of us gets hurt, and there were employees from Sierra Nevada that lost their homes and lost everything, if we can reach out and help, that’s important,” he said.

    Amanda Demaio tried the Resilience beer at Stony Creek and said it was great. What makes it greater is that she’s now part of the mission to help the families victimized by the wildfire.

    Steady Habit Brewing Company in Haddam plans to have their brew available by the end of January.

    “What we try to do is we try to stagger ours so that we weren’t releasing the same weekend as some of the other breweries in Connecticut,” Director of Operations Jim Venditti said. “We wanted to make sure everybody got a chance to visit multiple breweries that are doing the same thing.”

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    The Resilience Butte County Proud IPA is a created designed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to help victims of the Camp Fire, and breweries across the country are uniting to help the relief effort.The Resilience Butte County Proud IPA is a created designed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to help victims of the Camp Fire, and breweries across the country are uniting to help the relief effort.

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    The former CEO of a drug company that produced a powerful and addictive painkiller containing fentanyl for cancer patients has agreed to plead guilty in connection with a scheme in which the firm's leaders bribed doctors in return for their prescribing the drug, court documents filed Wednesday show.

    Michael Babich, a former president and CEO of the Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics Inc., producer of the drug Subsys, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of mail fraud for his role in the alleged conspiracy, according to court documents.

    As NBC News reported, Insys executives allegedly defrauded insurance companies through their actions because the insurance providers made payments to doctors without knowledge of the bribes and kickbacks, according to court documents filed by the Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. 

    "The bribes and kickbacks took multiple forms," the prosecutor's motion filed Wednesday states. Babich and other company executives allegedly paid doctors fees that were purportedly for speaking engagements. They also allegedly hired and paid the salaries of some office staff for "certain targeted practitioners."

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    “My idea of going up there and finding out what I’m going to do is to speak to you guys because I can’t do this with my own set goals and agenda. I have to have the set goals and agendas of our city.”

    State Rep. Chris Soto intends to resign his seat in the General Assembly to take a job within the administration of Governor-Elect Ned Lamont.

    That means there will be a vacancy in the near-future, and New London Democrats are jumping at the chance to replace Soto.

    “When I thought about the decision I wanted to make sure that we had the right talent to continue that momentum,” Soto said during a press conference at New London City Hall. “And when we had conversations, it was clear that the bench was deep and the talent was deep to keep our momentum going.”

    The person the New London Democratic Town Committee wants to replace Soto is Anthony Nolan, an officer in the city’s police department, and a seven-year member of the New London City Council.

    Nolan was humbled by the support of Soto, Mayor Mike Passero, and DTC Chair Martha Marx, but he was hesitant on declaring he would pursue the seat, or that he would even be selected if he did attempt a run for the House of Representatives.

    “I will continue to fight for everyone in New London, not just the Democrats. I will continue to support everyone and this is not a confirmation that this is going to be me because there is a long road ahead of us.”

    Soto won his first term in 2016, and ran unopposed in November 2018. He said the decision to leave office following reelection was something he struggled with.

    He said, “It was a tough decision to think about resigning, right? I worked hard to get elected the first time. I worked hard to get reelected.”

    Soto said he plans to submit his resignation on January 9, the same day Lamont and the rest of Connecticut’s constitutional officers will take the oath of office. From there, the governor will have 10 days announce a special election, and the election would then take placed 45 days from the day of the, “writ,” as it is known. The election cannot take place on a weekend and it does not have to occur on a Tuesday.

    The New London Republican Town Committee told NBC Connecticut in a statement,

    “There are several individuals who are interested in the position once it becomes available. The RTC is not sure why there was a political event today inside of city hall which is a public building and should be devoid of political announcements. We also are not certain what the announcement was today. As of today Representative Soto hasn't resigned and a vacancy doesn't exists.”

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    A man suffered serious injuries when he was hit by a car near the intersection of Route 44 and Dunham Road in Canton Wednesday afternoon.

    Canton police said a male pedestrian was struck by a passing car that was driving west on Route 44 around 5:15 p.m. The victim was taken to St. Francis Hospital for suspected serious injuries.

    The driver was not hurt and is cooperating with police.

    The North Central Municipal Accident Reconstruction Squad (NCMARS) responded to assist with the investigation.

    Anyone who witnessed the crash should contact the Canton Police Department 860-693-0221.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    A pedestrian was seriously injured when he was hit by a car on Route 44 in Canton Wednesday, according to Canton police.A pedestrian was seriously injured when he was hit by a car on Route 44 in Canton Wednesday, according to Canton police.

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    The Connecticut Post Mall in Milford closed early Wednesday and one person was arrested after fights broke out, according to Milford police.

    The mall posted on their Facebook page that the mall closed at 7:30 p.m. for “safety and security reasons.”

    Milford police said several unsupervised minors started fighting around 4 p.m. and things got out of control.

    "Our resources were thinned out. We had close to 12 officers here, but it takes several to calm one down and then another would pop off, and we were starting to get outnumbered," said Officer Michael DeVito.

    Shelton resident Diana Mazza was shopping with a friend when a fight broke out right next to them. 

    "A couple kids started fighting and a bunch just joined in and everyone was running left and right trying to get away and it was a big commotion there were maybe 40 people," she said. "We were getting pushed and shoved."

    Police said roughly 200 people were involved in the fights and several mall security personnel suffered minor injuries. One juvenile has been arrested.

    A mall spokesperson released the following statement:

    "Due to incidents this evening at other shopping centers in Connecticut, we decided to close the mall early as a precautionary measure, as the safety and well being of our guests is our top priority."

    This is the second Connecticut mall to close over a safety incident the day after Christmas. In Manchester, four people were arrested after multiple fights broke out at The Shoppes at Buckland Hills. Milford police do not think the incidents are connected.

    The mall is scheduled to reopen at its regular time Thursday.

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    The Connecticut Post Mall in Milford closed early Wednesday after fights broke out, according to Milford police.The Connecticut Post Mall in Milford closed early Wednesday after fights broke out, according to Milford police.

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    A meaningful gesture became even more meaningful for some South Florida shoppers who offered to help a "homeless" man on Christmas Day.

    With dirt on his face and a cardboard sign that read "Homeless, just need a little help to feed my family through the holidays," Brian Breach appeared down-and-out to several shoppers outside of the Target store near SW 82nd Avenue and 3rd Street in Plantation.

    But Breach, a content creator and speaker, wasn’t actually homeless. His disguise was all part of a plan to give back.

    When shoppers stopped to help Breach, he handed them a crisp $100 bill in return. One man, he said, was moved to tears by the gesture.

    "He went on to tell me how he always gives back to the community and he truly believes that things come back to you for doing good deeds and it did,"Breach said.

    Breach posted a video of the “Homeless Holiday (giving back) prank” on his Facebook page.

    "For Christmas I pretended to be homeless to see who would help my family out during the holidays," the video caption read. "Those who did got something in return. Always Pay it Forward!"

    The video shows several instances of shoppers approaching Breach, asking him what type of food he needed or scrummaging for cash. In each case, Breach presented the kind strangers with a $100 bill.

    Breach, who has lived in South Florida since he was 13, said he saw a video that inspired him to give back. Within a few hours, the plan was in action.

    Breach said the experience was heartwarming and that he was glad he was able to put a smile on people’s faces during the holiday.

    Photo Credit: Brian Breach
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    Brian Breach stood outside a Florida Target store dressed like a homeless man and begged for money. If unsuspecting shoppers stopped to help, Breach rewarded them with a $100 bill.Brian Breach stood outside a Florida Target store dressed like a homeless man and begged for money. If unsuspecting shoppers stopped to help, Breach rewarded them with a $100 bill.

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    Shawn O'Donnell loves hockey.

    “It's doing what you love for a living,” said O’Donnell. “I'm obviously very passionate about hockey and I think I’m very fortunate to be able to do this every day."

    At 30 years old, the Nova Scotia native is into his sixth season of professional hockey. This is his third separate stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

    "That's nice when you balance out some of the young prospects from top to bottom to have somebody that has been there, done that, has poise with the puck, understands the preparation that it takes to be in the second best league in the world,” said Wolf Pack Coach Keith McCambridge.

    But that's just it, second best league, never the NHL. And there's no question O'Donnell knows what it takes, especially given his training partners in the offseason.

    "Two of probably the top hockey players in the world, they're both exceptional at what they do,” O’Donnell said of his summer training partners: Pittsburgh’s Sidne Crosby and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, two other Nova Scotia natives.

    "I could go on and on about those guys, everything they do they're really helpful they provide a lot of advice but the main thing I learned is just the professionalism that they carry every day,” O’Donnell said. “You know they're just two of the hardest working players in the game."

    That time on the ice reminds O'Donnell to work hard, but cheer for the hard workers just as much.

    "All these different times I’ve gotten to play with a lot of players who have gone onto the National Hockey League and had successful NHL careers,” said O’Donnell. “It's great you get the younger guys in here and they're really passionate and they're hungry to go to the NHL and I just really enjoy that part of the game." 

    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Shawn O'Donnell of the Hartford Wolf PackShawn O'Donnell of the Hartford Wolf Pack

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    A 14-year-old girl from the San Jose area was found dead below a popular overlook near the Grand Canyon, believed to be the victim of a roughly 70-story fall, according to authorities in Arizona.

    On Monday, Coconino County sheriff’s deputies responded to Horseshoe Bend Overlook on a report of a missing 14-year-old girl. Her family, who was visiting from the greater San Jose area, had last seen her around 2 p.m. at the overlook and reported her missing around 4 p.m., the sheriff's office said.

    Search-and-rescue crews searched the area via helicopters and located the missing girl's body about 700 feet below the overlook, sheriff's officials said. Due to darkness, rescuers had to wait until the next morning to recover the body.

    The girl's body was transported to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office in Flagstaff. The girl's name was not released.

    The initial investigation indicates an accidental fall, but the death is still under investigation, sheriff's officials said.

    Horseshoe Bend is a distinctive U-shaped landmass north of the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. Tourism has increased in recent years and the site, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, draws thousands of visitors every day, according to a recent National Park Service news release.

    Last year, the park service said it was installing rim safety railing, though visitors would still be able to walk along the canyon rim beyond the railing to look down at the canyon.

    CORRECTION (Dec. 27, 2018, 6:10 a.m. PT): An earlier version of this story misidentified the location of Horseshoe Bend.

    Photo Credit: Courtney Bonnell/AP, File

    This Aug. 27, 2016, photo shows Horseshoe Bend near Page, Ariz. Authorities say a California girl visiting the Arizona landmark died there from what appears to be an accidental fall.This Aug. 27, 2016, photo shows Horseshoe Bend near Page, Ariz. Authorities say a California girl visiting the Arizona landmark died there from what appears to be an accidental fall.

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    A black New Jersey high school wrestler who was forced by a white referee to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his bout will not compete at his school's next match.

    Buena Regional High School junior Andrew Johnson will not wrestle at the school's Thursday match as officials investigate the haircutting incident that thrust the student, referee, school and others into the national spotlight, announced Dominic A. Speziali, the attorney representing Johnson and his family.

    On Wednesday evening, the Buena Regional school board convened an emergency meeting because of the backlash to what Johnson went through.

    The board announced that the district would never again participate in any sporting event at which the referee, Alan Maloney, takes part.

    Some residents were very angry that Johnson was forced to make such a choice in the midst of a wrestling match.

    The school board also announced that the high school's wrestling coach and athletic trainer would discuss the incident with board members behind closed doors. But, the board said, the outcome of that discussion would not be made public.

    An attorney for the Johnson family said the wrestler did not want either of the two school employees fired.

    A video of Johnson being forced to cut off his dreadlocks in the middle of his high school gym went viral and gained national attention as people rallied around the teen and raised questions about the treatment of young people of color.

    The video, originally tweeted by a SNJ Today reporter, shows fans and coaches watching as Johnson stands dejected while a trainer uses a pair of scissors to cut off his hair.

    The crowd cheers as Johnson wins the match - which helped his school to a tournament victory - but despite having his hand raised after the victory the junior stands with his shoulders slumped and head down as he walks off the mat to be comforted by his team.

    Maloney has been identified by the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, newspaper as having used a racial slur against a black referee in 2016.

    Maloney said he did not remember making the comment, but did agree to participate in sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program after the incident was reported, according to the newspaper.

    Speziali says that during Johnson's match, the wrestler was told his hair "wasn't in its natural state" and that Maloney called the teen's dreadlocks, "braids."

    While some criticized Johnson's coaches, he and his family have stood by the coaches and athletic trainer, placing full blame on Maloney.

    The Johnsons and Speziali say the referee did not raise any issues about the length of the teen's hair or the need to wear a hair covering when he evaluated Johnson before the match.

    "The blame here rests primarily with the referee and those that permitted him to continue in that role despite clear evidence of what should be a disqualifying race-related transgression," Speziali said.

    The video drew swift condemnation of the way Johnson was treated and an investigation by the state Division of Civil Rights.

    New Jersey native Jordan Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, also voiced his support of Johnson, using Twitter and Instagram to call the incident "nonsense" and a "combination of an abuse of power, racism, and just plain negligence."

    The American Civil Liberties Union's New Jersey chapter also responded with a tweet asking, "How many different ways will people try to exclude Black people from public life without having to declare their bigotry?"

    Buena Regional School District Superintendent David C. Cappuccio said the district is also investigating the case and "will continue to support and stand by all of our students and student athletes."

    For its part, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said it was conducting an investigation into the incident.

    Michael Cherenson, a spokesman for the NJSIAA, said the organization had reached out to leagues and conferences that assign referees that they have agreed not to assign Maloney to any event until the matter has been reviewed.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Photo Credit: SNJ Today

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    Westport firefighters responded to a car accident early Thursday morning and found a burning car perched on a stone wall.

    The call came in for the accident on Wilton Road just after 3 a.m.

    The flaming car was resting on top of a stone wall.

    According to fire officials, the driver, who was the only person in the car, had gotten out of the car after the crash.

    That person suffered injuries but fire officials did not reveal the extent of those injuries.

    Photo Credit: Westport Fire

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    A man who says he was groped by Kevin Spacey at a bar in Nantucket two years ago filmed the alleged incident on Snapchat, NBC News reported.

    The girlfriend of the alleged victim told investigators that he sent her a Snapchat video showing Spacey touch the front of his pants "by his crotch" as proof that the incident had happened, according to police documents. Investigators apparently have confirmed the video with the alleged victim, then 18.

    Prosecutors announced Christmas Eve that a charge of indecent assault and battery was filed against Spacey, who is due to be arraigned on Jan. 7.

    Spacey released a video on the day the charge was announced in which he says, "soon enough you will know the full truth," apparently in character as the star of his former show, "House of Cards." It wasn't clear what Spacey was addressing, and he hasn't responded to NBC News' request for comment.

    Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BAFTA LA, File

    In this Oct. 27, 2017, file photo, Kevin Spacey speaks at the 2017 BAFTA at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.In this Oct. 27, 2017, file photo, Kevin Spacey speaks at the 2017 BAFTA at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

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