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    The two leading Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, gave their party's official response to President Donald Trump's prime-time address on Tuesday night. Here is the NBC News fact-check of their remarks.

    CLAIM 1: DEMOCRATS WANT TO RE-OPEN GOVERNMENT

    Pelosi: "On the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to re-open government and fund smart, effective border security solutions."

    The facts: House Democrats did pass spending bills to re-open government as their first act upon taking control of the chamber. But the bills were more of a provocation than real legislation; Democrats knew they would not be taken up by the Senate or signed by Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in no uncertain terms that any bill that didn't have obvious support from the White House and Senate majority would not come to his floor for a vote.

    "The Senate will not waste its time considering a Democratic bill which cannot pass this chamber and which the president will not sign," McConnell said.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Left: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Dec. 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Right: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Oct. 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C.Left: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Dec. 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Right: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Oct. 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

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    Interstate 91 North in Wethersfield was closed for around an hour after a multi-vehicle crash on Wednesday morning, but the highway has reopened.

    According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the multi-vehicle crash was reported shortly before 6 a.m. and closed the highway between exits 25 and 27. Delays of more than six miles reported in the area.

    There were still delays into Rocky Hill.

    It is unclear exactly how many vehicles were involved in the crash and if anyone was injured.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut DOT

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    Silver Alerts have been issued for a pair of sisters from West Haven on Wednesday.

    The alert was issued late Tuesday night for 1-year-old Elan Louis and 3-year-old Eden Louis, who are believed to be with their mother, 31-year-old Whitney Carmichael.

    Police said the girls’ father has not seen his children since September, was recently granted full custody and wants his daughters back.

    There is no reason to believe the girls are in danger and Carmichael might not be aware that the girls’ father now has full custody, according to police.

    She might be driving a 2014 silver Volkswagen Tiguan with a Connecticut license plate of AH18297.

    Both girls have brown hair and hazel eyes. Elan is one foot tall and 20 pounds and Eden is two feet tall and 40 pounds.

    If you have any information about their whereabouts, you're encouraged to contact West Haven Police at (203) 933-1616.



    Photo Credit: West Haven Police

    Left, Elan Louis, and Eden Louis at right.Left, Elan Louis, and Eden Louis at right.

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    Putnam Police have arrested a man who is accused of hitting several objects during a crash on Tuesday night.

    Officers received multiple 911 calls for a car versus fence crash on Woodstock Avenue near Dunkin' Donuts around 7:22 p.m.

    When police arrived, they said they found the vehicle, a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and its operator, 52-year-old James Murphy Jr., of Woodstock, in the parking lot of Cumberland Farms, approximately four-tenths of a mile away.

    Officers said the vehicle had serious damage, including blown tires, front end damage, leaking engine fluids and deployed airbags. Firefighters from Putnam Fire Department also responded to the scene to assist with containing leaking fluids.

    Investigators determined that Murphy was driving westbound on Woodstock Avenue when he swerved into the opposite lane, drove off the roadway onto the crub and hit several objects.

    Police said he hit several street signs, bushes, a street light and a fence on property at 305 Woodstock Avenue.

    While officers were investigating, police said Murphy admitted to drinking alcohol and failed a series of standardized field sobriety tests.

    Murphy was arrested and is facing charges including operating under the influence, evading responsibility, failure to drive right, insufficient insurance and criminal mischief.

    He was processed and released on a $1,500 bond and will appear in court on January 23.



    Photo Credit: Putnam Police

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    Jeremy Kappell, who was fired as chief meteorologist at NBC affiliate WHEC in Rochester, said he made what sounded like a racial slur on accident by tripping on his words and never got the chance to publicly apologize before he was let go over the weekend. Kappell has since taken to Facebook to apologize.

    Kappell told NBC's "Today" show Wednesday that he was talking too fast during a recent forecast while trying to pronounce Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s name. "This is the way it looked out in Martin Luther c--- King Jr. Park," he had said on air Friday. Kappell said he had "mashed together incorrectly" the words "king" and "junior."

    Kappell was fired after outrage grew online, including from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. Kappell also has supporters, including NBC's Al Roker and Craig Melvin who both said it seemed Kappell had flubbed.

    "For him to be called a racist — it just makes me very sad. I was sickened. We teach our children the message of loving others,” Kappell's wife, Lisa, told "Today."

    Similar on-air slip-ups — involving the same word — have also happened with two other local weathermen and a former ESPN host, "Today" reported. 


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

    An image of Jeremy Kappell.An image of Jeremy Kappell.

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    Prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating how a 27-year-old man who walked into a police station, apparently high on drugs, wound up unresponsive while being transported by police to the hospital -- then declared dead two days later. 

    Protesters swarmed Paterson City Hall Tuesday night, demanding answers in the death of Jameek Lowery.

    "What did those cops do? What are they not telling us?" one protester asked. 

    "It's still hurting, I'm just lost. I'm hurt," said his mother. 

    Lowery first called 911 at around 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, saying he had taken ecstasy and was paranoid, according to a preliminary investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office. EMS responded and took him to a local hospital, but Lowery became erratic there and left. 

    At around 3:40 a.m., Lowery again called 911, this time from a Wendy's restaurant near Broadway and Memorial Drive, saying people were trying to kill him, the prosecutor's office said. He walked into the Paterson Police headquarters nearby at 111 Broadway, appearing agitated. 

    While inside police headquarters, he called 911 yet again. Lowery live streamed to his Facebook page from inside the police station, shouting in an apparent fit of paranoia, "Please don't shoot me. This officer by the wall, I see you, they're trying to kill me. They right there!" 

    The video didn't show anyone by the corner that Lowery was focused on -- only a shadow -- and the two officers in the video told him that nobody was there. 

    "I'm just paranoid, that's it," Lowery acknowledged, continuing to shout frantically. 

    He ranted, at times incoherently, "I see y'all trying to kill me. Why are you trying to kill me? What'd I do, officer? ... I said I need help, I need help, go to the hospital, somebody trying to kill me. Somebody help me."

    "Somebody call my mom. The cops trying to kill me, they think I'm a witness, they think I'm f---ing with the FBI. That's what they think."

    "Watch out, if I'm dead by the next hour or two, they did it," he shouted in the video. "I didn't touch them at all." 

    When the officers assured him an ambulance was on the way, he responded, "Yo, they're gonna kill me in the ambulance." 

    The officers maintained their distance while Lowery recorded on his cellphone, and attempted to calm him from afar: "All right, just relax," one told him. When he told them he was dehydrated and needed water, someone is heard telling him, "The hospital has water." 

    EMS arrived and an ambulance transported him to the hospital, a ride that took about 5 to 12 minutes, according to police and fire records. Sometime in that ride, he lost consciousness. 

    "Per initial reports and information, police used physical force and compliance holds to secure Mr. Lowery in the ambulance," the prosecutor's office said in a statement. 

    When Lowery arrived at the hospital, he was unresponsive. Hospital records didn't indicate any acute trauma, but his parents and friends said he ended up bloodied and bruised when they saw him at the hospital. His mother said he had stitches on his mouth and bruises on his neck as if somebody had choked him; he did not have those injuries in the Facebook video. 

    He was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 7. The state medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of death for Lowery, the prosecutor's office said. 

    Hundreds angered by Lowery's death surrounded City Hall Tuesday night. And councilman Luis Velez joined for an independent investigation. 

    Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said in a statement, "I completely support a full investigation into Saturday evening’s events. In the meantime, I have expressed my condolences to the family of Mr. Lowery, who are suffering during this difficult time." 



    Photo Credit: Facebook/Lowery family

    Jameek Lowery livestreamed himself from the Paterson police station, then was transported to a hospital, where he showed up unresponsive, the Passaic County prosecutor's office saidJameek Lowery livestreamed himself from the Paterson police station, then was transported to a hospital, where he showed up unresponsive, the Passaic County prosecutor's office said

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    A well-known retired sportscaster from Sweden is accused of groping a teenage boy at a park in Broward County.

    Coral Springs police said 85-year-old Bo Gunnar Hansson approached a 13-year-old boy at Fern Glen Park on Jan. 3 and tried to assist him on the monkey bars without permission.

    Hansson grabbed the victim's legs and continued to touch him up to his leg closer to his "private" parts, prosecutors said. The victim became uncomfortable, so he jumped off the monkey bars, and Hansson followed him to the sit-up benches.

    Police said Hansson told the victim to do sit-ups and held onto his feet. When he touched the victim over his pants and groped him, the victim got up and ran away, according to an arrest report.

    Hansson is also accused of another incident the next day at a park in Margate, where he allegedly approached two teenage boys and asked them about their workout routines. Hansson also allegedly tried to grab one of the teen's shirts and asked to see his muscles.

    "It's concerning that the suspect has been at multiple parks here approaching these juveniles," Coral Springs Police Sgt. Carla Kmiotek said. "He did speak with detectives, admitted to having contact with them but not inappropriate, based on his description of events."

    Hansson faces a charge of lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor, according to an arrest report. A judge imposed a $100,000 bond, GPS monitor ankle bracelet, ordered no contact with the victim or any minors and to surrender his passport.

    Hansson is one of the most famous TV personalities in Sweden, where he was a longtime sports journalist and commentator who covered the Olympics, World Cups and other big sporting events.

    "We don't see any prior history, obviously being that he's not from here we're still looking into any potential incidents prior to this," Kmiotek said.

    Anyone with information about the suspect should call Coral Springs police at 954-346-1222.



    Photo Credit: Coral Springs Police Department

    Bo Gunnar Hansson, 85, is accused of lewd and lascivious acts on a teen boy at a park in Coral Springs.Bo Gunnar Hansson, 85, is accused of lewd and lascivious acts on a teen boy at a park in Coral Springs.

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    President Donald Trump made his case for a crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border in a speech to the country Tuesday night. But Trump and members of his administration have repeatedly made false statements about immigration, legal and illegal, to bolster a need for a wall — or at least steel slats — and baseless assertions that Mexico will pay for it, recently through the new trade deal.

    Here are some claims from Trump’s speech, which he delivered as the federal government remained partly closed over a budget impasse caused by his insistence that he get $5 billion to build along the border. (Click here for NBC News' fact check of the Democratic response.)

    CLAIM: There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border.

    FACTS: Border crossings have been falling for years. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported just over 300,000 apprehensions for illegal border crossings in 2017, the lowest in more than 45 years and down from more than 1.6 million in 2000, according to FactCheck.org.

    The number rose in 2018 to nearly 400,000. And about 51,00 people were caught at the southwestern border in October and November 2018, more than in earlier months, according to CBP data from the 2019 fiscal year, NBC News reported.

    Two-thirds of undocumented immigrants arrived in the United States legally — often by flying in — and then overstayed their visit, according to a report from the Center for Migration Studies. And immigrants who overstay their visas have outnumbered those crossing the southern border illegally every year since 2007, more than 700,000 in 2017, according to NBC News. 

    A growing percentage of people coming across the border are migrants from Central America who are seeking asylum. They are being driven by gangs, violence and poverty.

    CLAIM: The Southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our Southern border.

    FACTS: Trump’s claim that a wall would stop the flow of illegal drugs is discounted by most experts. And most illegal drugs — including the opioids that the Centers for Disease Control says kill 130 people in the U.S. each day — do go through ports of entry, as Trump has claimed in the past and which would not be affected by a wall. A DEA report in 2018 said: "Majority of the flow is through … legal ports of entry." The U.S. Customs and Border Protection told NBC News reporter Jacob Soboroff that, “Drug smugglers feel there are opportunities to mix in” at ports of entry. The vast majority of hard narcotics including fentanyl comes into this country through ports of entry or in the mail from China, Soboroff reported.

    CLAIM: "Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico."

    FACTS: NBC News said that in December, according to data from the White House, about 32,000 “family units” and 5,000 “unaccompanied minors” were caught at the border. It further noted that there had been a surge of children and families apprehended. In October and November 2018, 10,265 unaccompanied migrant children and 48,287 migrants traveling as families were stopped at the border.

    As far as sexual assaults against women, Trump's figure comes from Doctors Without BordersAmnesty International has estimated it is as high as one in 6 women.

    CLAIM: Among examples Trump gave of undocumented immigrants committing terrible crimes, he said, "America's heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country." 

    FACTS: Trump was referring to the December killing of Newman, California, Police Cpl. Ronil Singh, allegedly by Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an immigrant who police say entered the country illegally.

    There is no evidence that immigrants commit more crimes; immigration populations have been growing as the rates of crime, and violent crime, have dropped, The Marshall Project reported. Most studies have found no connection between immigrants and crime or have shown that immigrants revitalize neighborhoods.

    CLAIM: Democrats asked for a steel wall.

    FACTS: The president offered Democrats a steel border fence instead of a concrete wall, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told NBC's "Meet the Press."

    CLAIM: Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have voted for border barriers in the past.

    FACTS: Schumer and 25 other Senate Democrats did vote for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico. Trump characterized the fencing as "such a little wall, it was such a nothing wall," and during his campaign promised a concrete wall. He has since called it a fence and dismissed comments that he had abandoned a wall.

    CLAIM: "The wall will also be paid for, indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico."

    FACTS: The revised North American Free Trade Agreement has not been approved by Congress, and would not take effect until 2020 at the earliest. There are no funds earmarked for the border wall, and any revenue raised by tariffs would have to be appropriated by Congress, NBC noted. And Trump campaigned on the promise that Mexico would pay for the wall.

    Emilie Mutert contributed.



    Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    A television monitor in the White House press briefing room broadcasts President Donald Trump's address on border security in Washington, D.C., U.S., on, Jan. 8, 2019.A television monitor in the White House press briefing room broadcasts President Donald Trump's address on border security in Washington, D.C., U.S., on, Jan. 8, 2019.

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    Following is Governor Ned Lamont’s inaugural address, as prepared. He delivered the speech at William A. O’Neill State Armory on Jan. 9, 2019 after he was sworn into office as the state’s 89th governor: 

    Thank you so much for joining me here today. First, thank you to my family – Annie, Emily, Lindsay, Teddy. As family, we always know we are in this together, and that is how I feel about all of you and the people of Connecticut – like an extended family.

    This includes our freshly minted constitutional officers, and our Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

    Thank you to our legislative leaders and our former chief justice Chase Rogers, who has been such a wise and close friend for many, many years.

    I am thankful that former governors Jodi Rell and Lowell Weicker are here: they have been in the arena, and to paraphrase my favorite President Teddy Roosevelt, the credit belongs not to the critic on the sidelines, but to the men and women in the arena.

    And to Dan Malloy who is retiring after decades of service to our state, and who has been so helpful in making the transition smooth and effective. Of course, my thanks to Nancy Wyman – we’ll be staying in close touch, I know.

    Lastly, I also want to thank the men and women of the Connecticut National Guard for their assistance coordinating today’s festivities and hosting us here in the State Armory. They are always there when the people of our state need them, and we thank them for their service.

    I asked Rabbi Goldman, Pastor Steel, Reverend Ahlberg, and Saud Anwar, all friends from different faiths to say a few words, reminding us that whatever our differences, we have so much more that holds us together than tears us apart.

    Many years ago, Reverend Ahlberg welcomed Annie and me and another couple to the non-denominational Round Hill Community Church in very Republican Greenwich. He introduced Alan, a Lutheran, Carrie, a Greek Orthodox, Annie, an Episcopalian, and Ned, a Democrat.

    Now that’s diversity.

    From here, we march to the Capitol with the Foot Guard, who have been hosting the inauguration for 250 years, accompanied by Bridgeport’s Harding High School Marching Band. I was a volunteer teacher there many years ago, but I remember those kids like yesterday.

    As your governor, I will work tirelessly to ensure that all of our kids have the greatest opportunities to thrive, succeed, and create a life of their own, right here in Connecticut.

    Susan and I recently joined a couple thousand high school students for a performance of Hamilton at the Bushnell. I talked to the kids about the meaning of the song “My Shot,” where Alexander Hamilton sings about himself as a scrappy immigrant kid with great opportunities, just like his new nation.

    That’s what I love about America; every generation we get a chance to reinvent ourselves, and every election gives us a fresh start. This is our chance to reinvent Connecticut – to think big, act boldly.

    On Election Day, thousands of voters waited for hours in the pouring rain. They believed that their vote would make a difference, and they were not going to throw away their shot – and neither are we.

    For generations, Connecticut was the most entrepreneurial, inventive, and fast-growing state loaded with amazing opportunities. And we still can be.

    I will not allow the next four years to be defined by a fiscal crisis. Together we will craft an honestly balanced budget which does not borrow from the future, but invests in the future.

    We owe all of our kids, our extended family, nothing less.

    In an hour, I speak to the legislature, in the room where it happens.

    I will remind all of us that there is no room for the critic on the sidelines. It is easy to vote no.

    Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and work like heck to get to yes – and make sure that all of our kids get their shot.

    Thank you for the faith you have instilled in me. I will not let you down. Now let’s get down to business.

    God bless the great State of Connecticut.

     



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Ned Lamont has been sworn in as the 89th governor of Connecticut.

    There are several public events scheduled on Wednesday to celebrate his inauguration.

    A parade will be held right after the inauguration ceremony. It's expected to begin at 1:30 p.m.

    It will step off at the Armory, will head east on Capitol Avenue, pass the historic State Capitol, then will head north on Trinity Street and end at the intersection of Trinity and Elm Streets.

    Expect road closures near the State Capitol and State Armory.

    After the parade, Governor Lamont will deliver the State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly inside the Hall of the House of Representatives at the State Capitol.

    The State of the State address is expected to start at 2:30 p.m.

    Later tonight, the inaugural ball will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online.

    General admission tickets are $200 and tickets for young professionals, between 21 and 28, are $99.

    Actor Christopher Meloni, who might be best known for his role as Elliott Stabler on NBC’s “Law & Order” and journalist Jane Whitney will be the co-emcees of the event.

    Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” will perform with his band during the inaugural ball.

    The ball will feature more than 40 restaurants, artisanal cheese makers, bread makers, microbreweries and Connecticut wineries.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation, plans to step down within the next month, according to administration officials familiar with his thinking.

    A source close to Rosenstein said he intends to stay on until Mueller submits a report to the Justice Department on the Russian meddling investigation, NBC News reported. The source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March.

    Several legal sources have said they expect the Mueller team to submit its report by mid-to-late February, although they said that timeline could change based on unforeseen investigative developments.



    Photo Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images, File

    This Nov. 28, 2018, file photo shows Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a news conference announcing efforts against computer hacking and extortion at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.This Nov. 28, 2018, file photo shows Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a news conference announcing efforts against computer hacking and extortion at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

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    A Guilford man is accused of sexually assaulting a boy in Rhode Island and Guilford police said they assisted authorities there with arresting a suspect.

    Guilford police said they assisted police in Burrillville, Rhode Island Wednesday in arresting 35-year-old Christopher Michaelson, of Guilford.

    They said Burrillville detectives asked for their assistance in October while investigating an allegation of a sexual assault of a boy. They said it stemmed from Internet contact then personal contact in Burrillville and Michaelson was identified as a suspect.

    Burrillville detectives secured a warrant for Michaelson’s arrest in Rhode Island on charges of first-degree child molestation, second-degree child molestation, enticement of a minor in the first degree and indecent solicitation of a child.

    He is being held on a $250,000 bond and will be arraigned in New Haven on Jan. 10 if he does not make bond, according to Guilford police.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    Guilford police are warning residents about a recent string of daytime burglaries all across town.Guilford police are warning residents about a recent string of daytime burglaries all across town.

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    A crash has closed I-95 South in West Haven on Wednesday afternoon.

    The crash involves a tractor-trailer and another vehicle between exits 43 and 42, according to the Department of Transportation.

    The crash happened around 1:30 p.m.  One lane reopened shortly before 2 p.m.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut DOT

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    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

    The inaugural parade started right after Gov. Ned Lamont took the oath of office and delivered his inauguratl address.The inaugural parade started right after Gov. Ned Lamont took the oath of office and delivered his inauguratl address.

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    Hours after taking the oath of office, Gov. Ned Lamont delivered his first the State of the State address at the state Capitol.

    Following are the prepared remarks for his address in the Hall of the House of Representatives on Jan. 9, 2019:

    Greetings

    Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Senator Fasano, Representative Klarides, my fellow state officials, members of the General Assembly and the Judicial Branch, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz, honored guests and the people of the great State of Connecticut.

    Thank you for welcoming me to the room where it happens.

    I am especially proud to be here with my family, Annie, Emily, Lindsay and Teddy – sometimes it gets pretty feisty at the Lamont dinner table, we are not shy. But at the end of the day we are family. I feel the same about the State of Connecticut.

    To Dan Malloy: Many thanks for your decades of public service and leadership to our state.

    And to Nancy Wyman, we’re going to keep you busy, that’s for sure.

    I see my friend George Jepsen in the front row – you will be right across the street, so I know where to find you.

    Because we are just getting started.

    A few weeks ago, Susan and I joined a couple thousand Connecticut high school students at the Bushnell for a performance of Hamilton. Before the curtain went up, we discussed with the students the meaning of my favorite song, “My Shot” sung by a young Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant teenager from the Caribbean, “young, scrappy and hungry” like the nation he is joining – and how he is not going to throw away his shot.

    What I love about America is that in every generation we get a chance to reinvent ourselves, and every election gives us a fresh start. This is our chance to reinvent Connecticut, to think big and act boldly.

    And it starts right here in the room where it happens.

    The Connecticut We Once Were

    Connecticut has always been the state where it happens.

    Connecticut is inventive:

    We shaped the defense industry with the invention of the world’s first submarine in Old Saybrook, and then reinvented it with the world’s first nuclear submarine in Groton.

    We revolutionized multiple industries through the invention of rubber that could withstand both heat and cold in Naugatuck.

    We redefined the workplace with the invention of the portable typewriter in Stamford.

    The world’s first helicopter was designed and piloted by Igor Sikorsky right here in Stratford.

    A century later, Sikorsky’s factory is still here and Electric Boat remains the largest submarine manufacturer in the world, and they are two of Connecticut’s largest employers – a proud piece of Connecticut’s history.

    But over the last generation, Connecticut’s entrepreneurial zip has slipped. We are no longer a place that is viewed as hospitable or encouraging to new businesses.

    Connecticut, it’s time to return to our inventive and entrepreneurial roots. Our future lies in doubling down on what makes us great and reimagining our unique potential. And it starts with the best-educated workforce in the world.

    I always made it a point to visit our schools, because it was important to me to keep my eye on the future.

    My first stop in Bridgeport was Harding High, where I helped out many years ago, and whose band just lead our parade to the State Capitol. Their old high school was pretty beat up, but you should have seen the excitement in the eyes of the students, and their parents and teachers, on opening day at the new Harding High. The custodians told me something interesting – the old Harding was a mess at the end of the day, but the new Harding was still pretty neat by day’s end.

    In showing the students that we believed in them, they showed pride in themselves, and their school.

    I saw the same optimism and pride at the new Career Academy in Waterbury, where nearly 98 percent of the students graduate. Many of these students go on to great colleges, but many go on to apprenticeships in healthcare and advanced manufacturing. These are Connecticut jobs for Connecticut students.

    And I saw that same sense of optimism in the eyes of the students that I taught at Central Connecticut State University for 12 years.

    My favorite day during the campaign was at UConn, where we saw three Blackhawk helicopters flying low overhead. We all ran to check out the action and saw the choppers landing at the School of Engineering. It was a Sikorsky job recruitment drive, encouraging Connecticut students to start their career right here in the state.

    None of this would be possible, without the dedication and devotion of Connecticut’s teachers – the finest in the country.

    Connecticut – we do not have silicon, we don’t have natural gas, but we have always had the best educated, best trained, most productive, most inventive workforce in the world. That is our strategic advantage and it is more important in the 21st century than ever before.

    Companies roam the globe looking for talent. Look no further, you can stop right here.

    The Connecticut We Can Be Again

    Let’s Fix this Budget Once and For All

    So at this point, you’re probably thinking, “That’s all well and good, gov. But the budget is a mess.”

    How can we be a laboratory of democracy when we have such a hard time paying our bills?

    We cannot afford to let the next four years be defined by a fiscal crisis. The fate of our great state is on a knife’s edge. If we choose inaction and more of the same – we fail. But if we choose creative and bold leadership, a commitment to make the hard and difficult choices necessary to right the wrongs of the past – we will succeed.

    Let’s fix this damn budget, once and for all!

    In six weeks, I will present to you a budget which is in balance not just for a year, but for the foreseeable future; so that mayors and first selectmen, business and labor leaders, teachers and police officers know what to expect. And we will deliver on what we say – on time and on budget.

    However, I want to be clear – no more funny math or budgetary gamesmanship. I come from the world of small business where the numbers have to add up at the end of the month or the lights go out.

    Don’t tell me some consultant says there are $1 billion in easy spending cuts; show me the money or I will show you the door.

    Unlike in DC, our government doesn’t shut down – we don’t play those games here. We can’t tell students school is closed today, police or fire departments can’t say we’ll respond later, and we don’t tell our most vulnerable that the services they depend upon will reopen at a later date.

    Lastly, I refuse to invest any time in the blame game of who’s responsible for this crisis. It’s real, it’s here and it’s time to confront it head on.

    And, please don’t tell me you’ve done your share and it’s somebody else’s turn. It’s all of our turns.

    Fix the budget, invest in the future, and nothing can stop us.

    A Bigger Table and an Open Door

    Fixing the budget requires a bigger table and an open door. I am ready to listen to any good idea, and I will take the heat and share the credit. The budget vote will be a tough one, no doubt. It will be easy to vote no, but I have a responsibility to get us to yes - and we only get there by working together.

    Business leaders: Some of you have already stepped up and are ready to take the lead when it comes to workforce development and positioning Connecticut students to take Connecticut jobs. A special thanks to my Business Advisory Council, which is already reaching out to new companies that may be a great fit for Connecticut.

    Philanthropic leaders and volunteers: Giving back is the highest form of citizenship. I am excited about your willingness to partner with us to invest in our future. I am confident we will do great things together.

    State employees and labor leaders: I have been so impressed by the quality of the folks who work for the State of Connecticut. I am a strong believer in labor, and now is the time to show that collective bargaining works in tough times, as well as good times. As our liabilities continue to grow faster than our assets, together we have to make the changes necessary to ensure that retirement security is a reality for our younger, as well as our older, state employees, and do that without breaking the bank.

    Mayors and first selectmen: Nothing will compromise your feisty independence, but so many services and back-office functions can be delivered at a much lower cost and much more efficiently if they are operated on a shared or regional basis. We need to break down silos and engage in the bulk purchasing of everything from healthcare to technology. The taxpayers of Connecticut can no longer afford to subsidize inefficiency.

    Economic Revitalization

    Connecticut is the land of steady habits, and while we need to return to the habits which made us such an economic powerhouse a generation ago, we also need to change the game – and create new habits, that capitalize on our strengths.

    Our great state is strategically positioned between two super-cities. Connecticut needs to harness its prime location, its highly educated workforce, and its business community to create the Connecticut of tomorrow.

    To achieve this, I will be focusing on four areas:

    First, I will take the lead by investing in the first all-digital government, and reverse engineer every transaction from the taxpayer’s shoes. The entry point to Connecticut will be through its digital front door, a one-stop-shop for everything current and prospective citizens need from their government. We will be online, not in line. It won’t be done overnight, but let’s start today.

    Second, to attract millennials, top talent and leading companies, Connecticut will need to invest wisely in its urban centers – making them affordable and lively, where families want to live, work and play. That means great schools, safe streets and by making our cities the first with 5G in New England. The telecommunication companies are ready to start building – let’s harness that excitement, and get WiFi access into every rural town.

    Third, none of this is possible if we don’t have a 21st century transportation system. When the Merritt Parkway opened in 1940, it wasn’t uncommon for people to pull over and picnic on the side of the road. Those of us who spend a good deal of time down in Fairfield County have contemplated the same idea today because we’re so darn frustrated by bumper-to-bumper traffic. Gridlock causes headaches and costs us jobs.

    So what can we do? 30/30/30 – I want the following to be a reality: 30 minutes from Hartford to New Haven; 30 minutes from New Haven to Stamford; and 30 minutes from Stamford to Manhattan with spurs to New London and Waterbury. This isn’t a pipedream, this is a necessity: a modern infrastructure by rail, road, air and water – to unlock the full economic potential of our beautiful state.

    Fourth, Connecticut’s economic revival cannot only be about creating opportunities for just some of our people. It must be an economy that works for everyone. We must bring our workforce into the 21st century, closely aligning it with job training, starting with STEM and coding in K-12, and access to higher education, vo-tech and apprenticeships that will result in access to good paying Connecticut jobs.

    That also means bringing the workplace into the 21st century, including paid family leave to make sure that parents don’t have to choose between the child they love and the job they need. It also means a $15 dollar minimum wage, responsibly and over time, so that those same parents can afford to provide for their children without working three jobs.

    As one of the first Governors who comes from the business world, I will be hyper-focused on job creation. My primary objective is to get this economy growing again.

    How do we extend opportunity for those being left behind? Growth!

    What’s the long-term fix to the budget? Growth!

    How do we attract the next generation of talent to Connecticut? Growth!

    Now all of that economic growth takes time to nurture, but it starts today!

    Blueprint for the Future

    I’m a new Governor, and you’re a new legislature. Even for those of you who have been here for a few years, this is a new day.

    What you can expect from me is the following: I’m a straight shooter, an honest broker and a good listener. I know what I know and I know what I don’t. I do have a strong sense of where we need to go and of what the people of Connecticut expect from us.

    Last November, thousands of voters waited in the rain, in some cases, for hours to vote. They believed that we can make a difference; we will and we must.

    Let’s work together and produce a budget for the people of Connecticut that doesn’t borrow from the future, but instead invests in the future.

    Like those kids at Harding High, who believed in themselves, I believe in Connecticut. You are here because you believe in our state. Let’s get Connecticut growing again.

    As they say in Hamilton, history has its eyes on you, on all of us. Let’s do this. Together.

    May God bless you, and may God bless the hardworking people of this great state!

     

    Hours after taking the oath of office, Gov. Ned Lamont delivered his first the State of the State address at the state Capitol.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    The Town of Stratford is looking for information on a rare pygmy sperm whale carcass that disappeared after washing ashore in December.

    According to a letter from the town’s Conservation Administrator Christina Senft-Batoh, the whale was first discovered in early December on Russian Beach. After a major storm, the whale was spotted further along the beach, near Lordship Road. Officials believe at some point on December 30 the carcass was removed from the beach, possibly with a cart or ATV.

    After the whale disappeared, Stratford officials learned the Yale Peabody Museum was looking to obtain permits to collect the rare whale. Officials said there are few, if any, accounts of the species being found in the Long Island Sound. The town is now searching for the whale in hopes of giving the museum a chance to research it.

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries division, pygmy sperm whales have protected status. In the U.S., they live off the coasts of Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, the North Atlantic, and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Because they avoid vessels and planes, and only surface when the seas are very calm, scientists rarely see them and there is limited information available about the species. 

    Anyone with information on where the whale carcass wound up is asked to reach out to Senft-Batoh at 203-385-4006. Calls can be made anonymously and there will be no penalty from the town.

    Residents are encouraged to contact the Conservation Division, which is part of the Department of Public Works, anytime they come across a stranded or dead animal on the beach.


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    A man is dead after a truck crash in Enfield Wednesday.

    Enfield police said a Dodge Ram 1500 crashed into the gas station at the Stop & Shop Plaza at 54 Hazard Avenue around 2:09 p.m.

    The driver, identified as a 65-year-old man, was taken to Bay State Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. He has not been identified pending notification of his family.

    The crash remains under investigation. Any witnesses should contact police at 860-763-6400.



    Photo Credit: Stringr.com

    A man is dead after a truck crashed into the Stop & Shop Plaza on Hazard Avenue in Enfield Wednesday.A man is dead after a truck crashed into the Stop & Shop Plaza on Hazard Avenue in Enfield Wednesday.

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    The crowded cots outside the school nurse’s office were the first sign of trouble at McGee Middle School in Berlin.

    “One a daily basis we’re probably seeing about 60 students and I would say better than half of that are coming to us with headache, stomachache, and some flu-like symptoms,” explained McGee’s registered nurse, Karen Rettich.

    This week parents were notified that more than 100 students and dozens of staff members at the Berlin school were under the weather.

    “I was shocked that it was that amount of kids,” Monica Szmajlo, whose daughter is a sixth-grade student at McGee. “What’s going on? Are kids getting the flu shot?”

    Fifteen percent of students and staff at the school have called in sick, twice as much as any other school in the district.

    “Fifteen percent is a number that gets your attention,” said Charles Brown, the Central Connecticut Health District’s director of health.

    “Students are ill and we want to make sure that they don’t come to school,” said McGee Principal, Salvatore Urso.

    Sixth-grader Olivia Jester has missed quite a few classmates this week.

    “In science class, five kids were out, like a whole entire table was gone,” she said.

    While parents are being urged to take precautions at home, in the classroom, students are being educated on ways to stop infecting their fellow classmates.

    “I wash my hands all the time. Like our school said after lunch wash your hands or wash your hands before lunch,” Jester said.

    While 10 cases of the flu have been reported, that number could increase as more test results come in from doctor’s offices later this week.

    “There’s a difference between influenza-like illnesses and actual influenza,” Brown pointed out. “Things like even mononucleosis can mirror what the flu looks like. A typical cold, for example, can make you feel run down, start coughing.”

    “My son just got over the stomach bug,” said Dave Stribling, the parent of a McGee Middle School eighth grader.

    McGee’s principal says students are being asked to wipe down gym and computer equipment. The school is stocked with hand sanitizer as well.

    “We’re certainly taking precautions here to make sure that their students are still coming to school and learning,” said Urso.

    Urso urged parents to keep their kids home if they show symptoms of a virus, and not to return until they are fever free without medication for 24 hours.

    “When we hear of people actually staying out of school because they’re sick that’s a public health win for us,” said Brown.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    More flights and a new airline are coming to Bradley International Airport.

    The airport announced Wednesday that Via Airlines will be operating out of Bradley starting this year, offering direct service to Pittsburg. The flights will start on July 22 and run four times a week.

    “Pittsburgh is an important destination, especially for those traveling on business,” wrote Kevin Dillon, the executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “This new nonstop, however, will bring benefits to both our business and leisure passengers by offering a cost-effective and convenient option to travel between the two cities. We look forward to our partnership with Via Airlines and their success at Bradley International Airport.”

    Airport officials also announced new nonstop service to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Orlando International Airport, offered by Frontier Airlines. Flights to Raleigh-Durham will start on April 30 and service to Orlando on May 1.

    For more information and to book flights, click here for Via Airlines and here for Frontier. 



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    The Metropolitan District is warning customers to be on alert for impostors posing as water company employees to access homes.

    The MDC said Wednesday they received a report that an impostor tried to enter a West Hartford home near Cumberland Road. No other details were immediately available.

    The company reminds customers that all field employees wear clothing and drive cars marked with the MDC logo, and carry photo identification badges. If someone comes to the door claiming to be from the water company without an appointment, do not let them in until you call the MDC Command Center at 860- 278-7850 and press 1 to verify their legitimacy.

    If you have any suspicions about a person or their credentials, do not let them in and call police.


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