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    Family members are searching for answers after a former soldier and Connecticut National Guardsman disappeared on a scuba diving trip off the coast of Thailand.

    Joshua Michael Devine, 36, vanished from a tour boat Saturday morning in the Similan Islands. The Massachusetts native grew up in Southington and enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school. He now lives in Kuwait and loves spending time in the water.

    "He had been looking forward to this trip for months. He had gone on the trip before but didn't get to see the whale sharks, so he was really looking forward to this," said his sister, Enfield resident Jennifer Bakowski.

    But something went very wrong.

    "At midnight on the 11th, he set sail on the boat, and at 4 a.m. the same day he was gone... just gone," Bakowski said.

    Witnesses told the family Devine was aggressive and paranoid on the boat, so two other divers brought him into a storage room in hopes of calming him down. They left for 15 minutes, and when they returned he was gone.

    They also said Devine had been drinking heavily with other divers, a move Bakowski describes as uncharacteristic.

    "He's a master diver, rescue diver, a dive instructor," she explained. "He's just the most responsible person I know, and for him to get drunk before going into the water, especially within a couple hours..."

    Devine's mother, too, said it's an unlikely story.

    "This is not Josh, and it didn't happen from drinking because he doesn't drink before a dive," said the missing man's mother, Marie Major.

    The family wonders why officials haven't acted more aggressively to find Devine – and why it took so long for his fellow divers to report him missing.

    "At no point did they stop the boat to look for him. They searched the boat up and down, and for whatever reason, waited six hours before contacting the Marine police, and by that time, they were now six hours from the location he went in the water," Bakowski said. "They continued on with the rest of their vacation like nothing happened."

    She wonders if maybe his disappearance wasn't an accident.

    "I don't want to accuse people of being awful to someone else, but it's the only thing in my mind that makes sense – that they drugged him in some way," Bakowski said. "The way they portray it, it doesn't happen, you know? The version of events just doesn't happen the way they're saying."

    Although Thailand is now celebrating a national holiday and has called off its search, Major remains hopeful.

    "I think he's sitting on an island somewhere, waiting for us to come and get him and wondering what's taking so long," she said. "He is the most intelligent person I know. He is the most resourceful person I know." 

    Family members are spreading the word on Facebook about Devine's disappearance and raising money for a trip to Thailand, where they plan to restart the search for their loved one.

    "Somebody help us get him home," Bakowski pleaded.



    Photo Credit: Family Photos

    Joshua Devine, 36, vanished over the weekend on a scuba diving trip in Thailand.Joshua Devine, 36, vanished over the weekend on a scuba diving trip in Thailand.

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    The siblings of the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, Martin Richard, played a significant role in helping kick-off Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park Monday afternoon.

    Richard's 8-year-old sister Jane, who lost her leg in the attack, sang the National Anthem alongside a children's choir from Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. In addition, their brother Henry handed the ball to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

    Jane and Henry's brother Martin was just eight-years-old when he was killed in the bombing on April 15, 2013. Two others died and more than 260 people were wounded when twin pressure-cooker bombs packed with shrapnel exploded near the finish line.

    The Red Sox won their home opener with a 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals. 



    Photo Credit: AP

    Boston Marathon survivor Jane Richard sings the National Anthem with a children's choir prior to the home opener baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park in Boston, Monday, April 13, 2015.Boston Marathon survivor Jane Richard sings the National Anthem with a children's choir prior to the home opener baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park in Boston, Monday, April 13, 2015.

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    Two young children were rushed to the hospital Monday afternoon after they were hit by a car while crossing the street in New Haven, according to police.

    Police said the children, ages 4 and 5, were propelling themselves across the intersection of Chapel and Orchard streets in a plastic shopping cart buggy. They were accompanied by at least one adult, who may have crossed the street ahead of them.

    As the children were crossing the street, they were struck by a black car driving through the intersection. Police said the black rental car did not stop.

    The children's injuries are not considered life-threatening, according to police. Both were conscious at the scene and were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital's pediatric emergency room for treatment.

    Authorities found the car in question abandoned on Waverly Street. Police described the driver as a dark-skinned man standing 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was wearing red sweatpants and black fitted sweatshirt.

    Check back for updates on this developing story.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A brush fire that ripped through six acres of land on Ellington's Soapstone Mountain has been deemed suspicious, and fire officials said someone was apparently living in the forest.

    It's the first large brush fire of the season.

    Officials with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said half the burning land is part of the Shenipsit State Forest and the other half is private property.

    Ellington Volunteer Fire Chief Gary Feldman initially said the fire spread across eight acres of land. He later explained that DEEP mapped the fire to reveal it had consumed six acres.

    After firefighters snuffed out the flames late Monday afternoon, the focus shifted to the fire's origin. Feldman said the blaze appears to be suspicious and that someone has evidently been living in the woods.

    "It's under investigation at this time with the fire marshal, state police and DEEP," he said. "It's a state forest so DEEP is looking into it as well."

    Flames ignited Monday afternoon on the side of Soapstone Mountain, near Sykes and Kibbe roads. The remote area is deep in the woods, making it difficult for firefighters to access.

    "It's all uphill – rocks, trees stumps. It's a challenge," said Feldman. "We're using ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles to get up to the site and using ATVs to actually get to where the fire was."

    Feldman said this year's fierce winter helped mitigate the effects of Monday's blaze.

    "Luckily, it's not that bad yet. The ground is still wet from the heavy snow we had this year," Feldman explained. "But we're burning off all the ground cover, all the leaves and debris that came down during the winter."

    Fire officials had contained the blaze by 5:15 p.m. but continued working to stamp out hot spots. Officials with the DEEP will remain on scene through the night.

    No one was hurt and no buildings were threatened by the flames.

    It's one of three brush fires reported around the state Monday. Fires also broke out in Bridgeport and East Windsor.



    Photo Credit: Submitted

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    Milford police have arrested an 84-year-old man who is accused of touching the buttocks of a hotel employee.

    Police received a complaint on March 22 about a patrol inappropriately touching an employee of the hotel.
    They investigated and said Alfred Simon, 84, of Hebron touched the employee’s buttocks.

    He was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct. He was released on a promise to appear and is due in court on May 5.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Route 4 has reopened in Torrington after a car hit a pole Tuesday morning, prompting police to shut down the road for hours.

    The crash happened around 11:30 a.m. The road was closed between Torringford West Street and Morningside Drive.

    Crews from Eversource Energy, formerly known as Connecticut Light & Power, responded to repair the pole.

    It's not clear if anyone was hurt.


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    Milford police have arrested a man accused of a residential burglary and the theft of thousands of dollars worth of automotive merchandise from a local Toyota dealership.

    Police said they took custody of Justino Rivera, 48, of Bridgeport into custody on April 13 on two outstanding warrants.

    On March 25, police received a report of a residential burglary on North Street, where home electronics and jewelry worth around $7,000 had been taken, police said.

    Police identified Rivera as a suspect and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

    On March 9, police received a complaint from Colonial Toyota of Milford and obtained a warrant for Rivera, who is accused of taking $11,580.56 worth of automotive merchandise from his employer between October 2014 and March 2015.

    He was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny, second-degree criminal mischief and first-degree larceny.

    Bond was set at $125,000. He is due in court on April 14.
     


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    Two 12-year-old Rhode Island girls are facing felony charges after allegedly luring a 15-year-old girl to a sleepover and then hitting, slapping and choking her, according to a report from the Providence Journal.

    The Barrington girls have been charged with felony assault with a wooden brush, simple assault, kidnapping and conspiracy, the Journal reports.

    Police say the victim was invited to a sleepover last Wednesday at one of the 12-year-old girls' home, where she was first verbally attacked. When the victim hid in a bathroom, one of the 12-year-olds reportedly pushed her way into the bathroom and took her clothes, still bullying her. Police told the Journal that the girls also hit the girl with a wooden brush, forced her to eat butter or peanut butter and kept her from leaving the house.

    "This is a first for me," Barrington Police Chief John LaCross, a 35-year veteran, told the Journal.

    The Journal also reports that only one of the 12-year-old girls' families cooperated with police during the investigation.

    The investigation is ongoing. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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    Firefighters responded to several brush fires across Connecticut on Monday, including one that burned more than two acres in Haddam when a resident lost control of what started out as a controlled burn.

    A Facebook post from the Haddam Volunteer Fire Company says the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company also provided tankers.

    There was some damage to a garage and a boat and car were burned. T
     


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    Was Samuel A. Mudd an unsuspecting doctor caught up in the plot against President Abraham Lincoln or did he know he was aiding an assassin as he treated John Wilkes Booth's broken leg the day after the president was shot?

    On the 150th anniversary of the attack that felled Lincoln, mystery still surrounds the Maryland doctor whose farmhouse Booth stopped at after fleeing Washington D.C.

    Even two of Mudd’s great-grandsons disagree over what role their ancestor played. No one believes Mudd had anything to do with the assassination, but had he heard of John Wilkes Booth’s earlier plan to kidnap the president? Or was the 31-year-old physician entirely innocent?

    The commemorations marking Lincoln’s assassination this week will include events at the Mudd farmhouse in Waldorf, Maryland, 25 miles south of the capital. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be performances of a play “The Assassin’s Doctor,” historical re-enactments and tours of the house, now a museum.

    Booth and an accomplice arrived on horseback just before dawn on April 15, 1865. Mudd set his leg and let him rest in an upstairs room bedroom until around sunset, when the men left. Union soldiers found them a week and a half later in Virginia and killed Booth.

    As the government rounded up co-conspirators, Mudd was arrested and tried before a military commission. Spared execution, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Fort Jefferson on a remote island off the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico. But four years later, after he disregarded his own safety to treat soldiers and prisoners during a yellow fever epidemic, President Andrew Johnson pardoned him.

    Today, one of his great-grandsons, Robert K. Summers, believes that Mudd was aware of Booth’s intention to kidnap the president and exchange him for Confederate prisoners, a plan that petered out after General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Another, Thomas B. Mudd, believes Samuel Mudd's name must be cleared of any guilt. Despite their differences, the men are friends.

    Summers, 76, said that while Booth was at the Mudd family's tobacco farm, the doctor visited a nearby town and learned that the president had been shot the previous evening, Good Friday. But he did not alert soldiers there about Booth, he said.

    “Why did Dr. Mudd basically stonewall the people who were hunting Booth and help him gain a few days in his escape?” he asked. “To me that was the interesting question. What was Dr. Mudd's motive in not turning Booth over to the authorities?"

    Mudd could not have known that Booth was going to kill Lincoln, a spur of the moment decision Booth made the afternoon of April 14, Summers said. But the men had met before, at the farmhouse in November of the previous year and again in December when Mudd visited Washington, D.C. -- an acquaintance Mudd denied in a statement he signed for military investigators.

    Later in life, he told several people that he did recognize Booth, though only privately, Summers said. And after his death, a noted Civil War reporter George Alfred Townsend interviewed several people who told him Mudd did indeed know of the earlier kidnapping plot, he said.

    "No he wasn't guilty of having anything to do with the assassination," he said. "Yes, he was guilty of harboring Booth."

    Summers, who lives in Arlington, Virginia, initially had little interest in his family history, athough his mother had grown up on the farm. Her bedroom was the one Booth had stayed in during his 12 hours there.

    But Summers got older, he began to read about his infamous ancestor, and decided to do his own research. The result is three books about Samuel Mudd, beginning with "The Assassin's Doctor: The Life and Letters of Samuel A. Mudd," and others in the works. A founder of RKS Software, Summers is now retired and spends his time researching the family.

    He and Thomas B. Mudd, 74, will both be at the farm this weekend, Summers signing his books. During the summer, Thomas B. Mudd and other relatives will travel by boat from Key West, Florida, to Fort Jefferson on the morning of July 24, the day Samuel Mudd arrived there. The voyage, which they are calling a "Free Dr. Mudd Tour," is intended to publicize what they believe is history's poor treatment of the Mudd name.

    "We’re still wearing the stigma of Dr. Mudd's conviction," Thomas Mudd said.

    Mudd, a retired history teacher who lives in Saginaw, Michigan, said that far from harboring Booth, Dr. Samuel Mudd helped in his capture. At Easter services, Samuel Mudd told his cousin Dr. George Mudd about two suspicious men who had arrived at his house, information that was passed on to the authorities the next day, Thomas Mudd said.

    Without it, he said, "I think they would have had more difficulty running down Booth."

    Detectives and soldiers visited the farmhouse twice that week. The second time, Mudd gave them the boot he had cut off Booth's leg, which they discovered had Booth's name penciled inside, Thomas Mudd said. He believes his ancestor was not sure his visitor was Booth until that moment.

    "If Dr. Mudd knew that it was Booth in his home, that boot never would have been given to the authorities," he said. "That boot would have been buried in the nearby swamp. Period."

    Thomas Mudd is carrying on work his father began as a young doctor himself and which became a lifelong mission: to exonerate Samuel Mudd. At the time that Dr. Richard Mudd died in 2002, he was still trying to get the U.S. Army to overturn the conviction.

    After Richard Mudd's death, the family lost a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and missed a deadline for filing with the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving them with no other judicial options.

    "We didn’t beat City Hall but we made a doggone good run at it," Thomas Mudd said.

    He has donated many of his father's papers to Georgetown University and is still organizing others. And he has written articles for a newsletter published by the Dr. Mudd House Museum defending the doctor.

    His focus now is trying to change public perceptions about his great-grandfather.

    "There is no chance that we will ever get back into the court system in the case of Dr. Sam Mudd," he said. "But in the court of public opinion, I still am battling."

     



    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum
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    Dr. Samuel A. MuddDr. Samuel A. Mudd

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    “Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap.”

    It may be lost on theater audiences today, but 150 years ago, that line was an uproarious mishmash of made-up yankee slang that gave “Our American Cousin” its biggest laughs.

    It was also, 150 years ago Tuesday, John Wilkes Booth's cue to fire a fatal shot at President Abraham Lincoln where he sat in the presidential box at Ford's Theatre in Washington, just as the Civil War was winding to a close.

    Productions of “Our American Cousin,” in its heyday one of the most popular plays in America, all but dried up in the decades after Lincoln's death. By century's end, it was regarded as little more than a formulaic period farce.

    But with the anniversary of Lincoln's death have come a spate of revivals, including ones in Richmond, Pittsburgh and Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois. Those productions are breathing new life into a play long seen as a historical curiosity, and shedding new light on Lincoln's last night and how it changed American theater.

    What Was “Our American Cousin?”

    “Our American Cousin” flopped when little-remembered British playwright Tom Taylor first wrote it as a melodrama in 1852. But after he reworked it into a comedy, American actress Laura Keene bought the U.S. rights in 1858 and turned it into one of the biggest hits of its era.

    The premise of the melodrama-turned-farce was simple enough: A heroic Vermont bumpkin spouting nonsensical yankee slang goes to England to claim his inheritance, and outwits a bunch of villainous and pretentious Brits along the way. Hilarity ensues, in the form of a lot of broad, slapstick comedy and bad puns.

    “The play itself wasn't very deep or sophisticated,” explained Bill Wallace, a theater professor at Monmouth College in Illinois who directed a 2009 production in nearby Galesburg for the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

    “It was a kind of piece of escapism,” he said — especially welcome for war-weary audiences craving light entertainment and a celebration of American identity.

    “It was one of those plays that showed American ingenuity,” added Noreen Barnes, a theater professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who will participate in a panel following a performance Tuesday at Richmond's Henley Street Theatre. “It said something positive about the American spirit.”

    How much of that was Taylor's doing and how much the actors' isn't clear.

    “The play changed a lot. It's not even a decade old by the time Lincoln sees it, but that's actually fairly common with 19th-century drama — that it remains flexible, especially as comedy,” said Heather Nathans, a professor of drama and dance at Tufts University. “Otherwise, it's like watching an episode of 'SNL' from the '80s.”

    Keene's actors ad-libbed liberally, improvising gags, riffing on their lines and interacting with the audience — even turning bit parts into starring roles that would come to define their careers, as in the case of the character of Lord Dundreary, whose trademark mangled idioms became so iconic they were later dubbed “dundrearyisms.”

    “Theater would have been a little more interactive than it is now,” said Steve Fatla, a theater professor at Carlow University in Pittsburgh who also heads the Carlow University Theatre. “If somebody liked you, you kept milking it.”

    He's encouraging his actors to do the same in his own revival of the play this week, in an effort to recreate the way actors would have performed it 150 years ago. That means that when characters make terrible puns, the audience will groan, and his actors will react.

    Lincoln's Last Night

    The night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln hadn't especially wanted to go to the theater at all, experts say. He and his wife were regular theater-goers, but that Friday night, he wasn't up to it.

    “Lincoln was actually kind of tired. He didn't really want to go,” Barnes said.

    Still, the night's show was a special one, a benefit for star Laura Keene herself. The brothers of theater owner John Ford, who were running the theater that day since he was out of town, wanted a notable guest like the president there to help draw a crowd, according to Barnes.

    Drawing a crowd that night was already a challenge, Fatla added: It was Good Friday, not exactly a night the devout might head to the theater.

    So one of the Ford brothers sent a personal message to Mary Todd Lincoln, inviting the first couple to the night's performance, and she accepted, Barnes explained.

    Once they got a definitive RSVP back from the White House, the Ford brothers spent much of that afternoon scrambling to prepare for their high-profile guests, decorating the presidential box seat with borrowed bunting and flags and then getting the word out that the president and his wife would be attending, according to experts. Their efforts paid off, and for that night's show, the 1,700-person house was close to full.

    The Lincolns arrived with their theater companions, Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancee Clara, about 15 to 20 minutes late — not uncommon in theater of the time, and not a faux pas as it might be today.

    When they did, the orchestra played “Hail to the Chief,” and the actors on the stage paused to acknowledge his entrance, in a reflection not just of his stature but also of how audiences treated theater in the mid-19th century.

    “You went to be seen,” Barnes said.

    The inability back then to dim the house lights completely was one reason why, Nathans said. “The audience can see each other, and the president is particularly visible. There is that element of performance in going to the theater,” she said.

    Because Lincoln was so close to the stage, too, the actors directed many of their ad-libbed asides and jokes to him in particular, with one even making what Fatla called “a terrible joke about the draft.” Lincoln would have engaged them, too, he said.

    Until, that is, Act Three, Scene Two, with the cue “you sockdologizing old man-trap.”

    The Taint of Tragedy

    “Our American Cousin” had been a hit with American audiences for more than seven years before April 14, 1865, but in the decades after, its popularity began to wane. Experts disagree on when exactly and on why, and on whether the taint of tragedy played a role.

    Fatla suspects it doesn't, citing performances over the next decade, before its humor became too creaky, its formula too stale. “I think it was mostly just because its lifespan ran out,” Fatla said. The play wound up regarded, Barnes added, as “just another 19th-century farce,” seldom anthologized and not really deserving to be.

    But the assassination at Ford's Theatre did have a profound influence on the state of American theater, and to other experts, on the future of “Our American Cousin” as well.

    “It declined for quite a while, because of the connection,” Barnes said. “It was sort of scarred by that connection.”

    “There is an association. There is a kind of withdrawing,” Nathans added of the play after Lincoln's death. “There were fewer performances after that.”

    Historian George C. Odell, she notes, chronicles only two New York revivals in his authoritative “Annals of the New York Stage”: two in the 1870s, when the volume says the play was “hauled out” for the actor who had turned in the definitive version of the Dundreary character. The revivals, however, didn't appear to catch on, Nathans said.

    Complicating matters for “Our American Cousin,” for Ford's Theatre and for American theater as a whole was the fact that Lincoln had been shot on a Christian holy day, at a time when some powerful clergy already considered theater immoral.

    “It revived the controversy about whether theater is anti-religion,” Nathans said.

    That notion, coupled with the fact that Booth himself was an actor, also intensified the pressure on actors and theater-owners in the years after Lincoln's killing.

    “Actors had much more pressure to prove their theaters were not places where criminals lurked. Theaters were already fighting clergy who thought that theater was immoral,” Barnes said.

    Ford's Theatre itself eventually managed to reopen, but it took more than a century for it to recover, after losing its own struggle to overcome the taint of tragedy.

    Ford himself never managed to reopen its doors as a theater amid the ferocious public backlash after the shooting, and a year later, he sold it to the federal government, which gutted it and converted it into War Department offices.

    Decades later, those offices' interior collapsed, killing 22 clerks inside. It would be another 75 years before Ford's would become a theater again.



    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    After President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot dead during a performance of After President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot dead during a performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre in Washington, the play gradually fell out of favor, and the theater itself wasn't reopened for more than a century. Now, several new revivals are shining a light on a play long regarded as a creaky historical curiosity.

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    State police are working to identify two people who stole tools and tires from an auto body shop in Stafford late Monday night.

    According to police, the thieves arrived at Bolles Automotive at 121 West Stafford Road in Stafford around 10:50 p.m. Monday.

    They stole tools from a wrecker and took tires and wheels off three cars parked on the property: a 2015 Dodge Challenger, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and an after-market Jeep Wrangler, according to police.

    Police said the perpetrators were driving an older-model white Chrysler van with a damaged front right quarter panel.

    Anyone with information is asked to call State Police Trooper Michael Buck at 860-684-3777 or email michael.buck@ct.gov.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

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    Some of the state's 30,000 job-seeking veterans got the opportunity to show off their skills to prospective employers at the Heroes 4 Hire career fair in East Hartford on Tuesday.

    Organizers say it's the largest career fair in Connecticut and the largest career fair for veterans in all of New England.

    "Getting these vets in front of the employers is what’s important because there is an issue with vets getting jobs when they get home," said Jim Lauber, who works with veterans at the Connecticut Department of Labor.

    The challenge of finding work is different for each veteran.

    John Carroll says he suffered from PTSD after the Gulf War and ended up in prison. Now he’s just looking for a second chance.

    "Pretty much all I’m looking for is a chance to prove to somebody that I can be reliable," said Carroll.

    Reliability and discipline are common characteristics that make veterans attractive employees.

    "They’ve had great training, great skills. They know a tough work environment, and they’re pretty well adaptable to change," explained Greg Beno, senior branch manager at Adecco USA.

    It’s not just veterans seeking jobs, but also their spouses.

    Carla McCoy’s husband is in the Army, and she expects to move every two to three years. She’s on the search for a job that can move with her.

    "I’m looking for something where I can grow and also something’s that transferable to our next station," said McCoy, who lives in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

    For Gregory Ackison, who worked as everything from a military mail carrier to a medic in three different branches, the challenge is trying to find something as rewarding as serving his country.

    "Taking that next step. To make it as meaningful as where you served and why you served," said Ackison, of Somers.

    As the draw-down of troops continues, experts say more veterans will be on the job hunt.


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    Hundreds of people marched from Union Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday as part of a demonstration protesting the deaths of unarmed people at the hands of police, including the most recent high-profile case of Walter Scott in South Carolina. 

    Organized by the activist group National Actions to Stop Murder by Police, the march was one of 28 held across the country. 

    Chopper 4 over Brooklyn Bridge captured hundreds of protesters walking across the bridge, some into traffic. When police tried to disperse them, pushing and shoving ensued, and several protesters were led away in handcuffs. 

    Meanwhile, the main group continued on into Brooklyn chanting things like, "No justice, no peace, no racist police" and "Fighting for justice." They staged a die-in near Barclays Center chanting "I can't breathe," echoing Eric Garner's last words as he was taken down by an NYPD officer in a chokehold arrest on Staten Island last year.

    Police near Barclays ordered the crowd to get off the streets and onto the sidewalks, then tried to corral the crowd with a barricade. When neither worked, the protesters took off running down the street, with officers chasing behind. Tension reached a breaking point, and a protester was shoved to the ground by an officer. The protester, who appeared to be injured, was later taken away in an ambulance. The NYPD said it was investigating the incident. 

    Two NYPD officers were also hurt during the demonstrations, police said. An off-duty sergeant on the Brooklyn Bridge had gotten out to see why traffic was stopped, and two protesters got into an altercation with him, with one allegedly punching him, according to police. 

    In a second incident, an officer was struck with a bottle, the NYPD said. 

    Mayor de Blasio was quick to issue a statement Tuesday night condemning the assault of the two officers, saying, "Violence or threats of violence against the police are unacceptable and will absolutely not be tolerated. These attacks will be thoroughly investigated, and we will urge the full prosecution of the perpetrators.

    The statement continued: "And any other person who might use the right to peaceful protest as cover to initiate violence, cause mayhem or incite disorder – whether against the police, the people or property of our great City – should consider themselves on notice that New York City will not stand for it. Anyone who decides foolishly to engage in such destructive acts can expect a swift arrest and aggressive prosecution. As I have said before, such activity is beneath the dignity of New York City.”

    Last December, a Staten Island grand jury cleared an NYPD officer of criminal wrongdoing in the chokehold death of Garner, sparking days of protests across the city. While mostly peaceful, the demonstrations frequently backed up vehicle and pedestrian traffic on major highways, bridges and public transportation hubs, and netted hundreds of arrests. 

    Police have not released an official number of arrests in the protests Tuesday. 


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    Mayors and first selectmen converged on the Connecticut Capitol on Tuesday to meet with lawmakers about funding for the state's cities and towns.

    From unfunded mandates to level funding, leaders say the state has to do more to help the municipalities on which many of the state's services are based.

    "We’re hoping that we can state our case to the legislators, but I think they realize that local government is where the rubber meets the road for the services that are provided to our communities and any cut in there is either going to hurt services or raise taxes," said South Windsor Town Manager Matthew Galligan.

    One cut that has smaller towns particularly concerned is a reduction in the state's share of the resident state trooper program.

    "They have to reinstate that funding," said Durham First Selectman Laura Francis. "Those troopers mean a lot to our towns."

    When the governor delivered his budget address in February and announced level funding for cities and towns, members of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities made it clear that they were thrilled with the decision.

    "CCM is very appreciative that Governor Malloy has maintained a commitment to property tax payers by sparing towns and cities from cuts in aid in the major state grants," a spokesperson said in a statement.

    But that feeling didn't last.

    "Level funding is really a cut," New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said Tuesday.

    The city has received increased funding each year since 2012, totaling near $25 million.

    In a statement, Gov. Dannel Malloy's spokesman said, "The Governor has prevented local tax increases because he has not, and will not, balance the budget on the backs of cities and towns."

    His spokesman continued, "We know that local leaders across Connecticut were celebrating on budget day – and that's because the Governor has and continues to support them in ways no Connecticut leader has before."

    Democrats in the General Assembly are working on their own budget to present by the end of April.

    State Sen. Beth Bye, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said her group is looking at all options to balance the budget.

    "I think one of the issues we face is that for the past two budget cycles, we have not cut cities and towns because we know that translates to property taxes and we know that property taxes are regressive, and sometimes we know that they hurt seniors more than anyone else who have flat incomes," said Bye, a Democrat from West Hartford.

    Bye added that she recognizes the importance of municipalities within Connecticut's structure of government and what their actions mean for residents.

    "Cities and towns aren’t off the hook but we also understand how important they are in that we don’t want to raise property taxes," Bye said.


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    Three adults and one child were loaded into ambulances following a crash outside the capitol building in Hartford on Tuesday afternoon.

    An NBC Connecticut crew watched two cars collide at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Washington Street shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

    Traffic is backed up going eastbound on Capitol Avenue. Cars are being diverted onto Washington Street.

    Authorities have not released any information on the conditions of the people involved.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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  • 04/14/15--13:47: Car Hits House in Manchester

  • Emergency crews were called to Center Street in Manchester after a car smashed through fences and a light post before crashing into a house Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

    Police have not released any information any injuries, but neighbors said the driver was not hurt.

    The car veered off the road and onto the grass before striking a two-story home at 872 Center Street. It did not penetrate the wall of the home, which sustained only minor damage.

    A neighbor who was home at the time said the crash sounded like a thunderstorm. She ran outside and found the driver confused but without a scratch.

    "I went out to see if she was all right, and I told her she had hit the house," Chris Wallace said. "And she said, 'What are you talking about? I've been sitting here for hours.'"

    It's not clear what caused the crash.

    No additional information was immediately available.

    Check back for updates on this developing story.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    The University of Connecticut faces up to $40 million in budget cuts, and while Democrats work behind closed doors on a revamped proposal, students, faculty and administrators pleaded their case to members of the General Assembly on Tuesday.

    "We all know why we’re here," said UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, a week after claiming his tenth national title. "We’re here to raise awareness about what we’re doing at UConn.”

    Auriemma and others described how UConn has grown exponentially over the past 30 years and that the General Assembly and multiple governors' support was the primary reason.

    "It’s a very very tough time for the state but we don’t want to move backward," said UConn President Susan Herbst. "We want to keep moving forward on all fronts."

    Herbst has said publicly that the current version of the budget could lead to layoffs and program cuts.

    Students from the school's nursing, agriculture and engineering programs rallied at the capitol on Tuesday.

    Nursing student Elizabeth Schilling said she wants future students to have the same opportunities she was afforded and fears a budget cut may change that.

    "I’m very nervous for them. I feel like you have to be a very special person to be a nurse. You have to have something special inside of you to be a nurse, and something like a budget cut would just be devastating to keep a child away from becoming a nurse," Schilling said.

    State Sen. Mae Flexer, a Democrat who represents Storrs and UConn, says she will work in the current budget process to protect the state's flagship university.

    "What’s at risk is making sure that UConn is there not only for the best and the brightest and that it’s also affordable," Flexer said.

    Auriemma urged lawmakers not to view UConn as just another program worth cutting, but instead as an institution worth supporting.

    "We’re not telling you to vote no for them. We’re asking you to vote yes, for UConn," he said.


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    As National Volunteer Week gets underway, fire departments across Connecticut are searching for new volunteer firefighters to join the fight in keeping our communities safe.

    Some 83 percent of Connecticut's fire departments are made up of volunteers. An increase in calls for help shows more volunteers are in demand, according to the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

    The demand for volunteers has increased as the list of their duties has expanded. Volunteer firefighters' responsibilities now including handling hazmat incidents and responding to emergency medical calls, car crashes and industrial accidents, in addition to fighting fires, the DESPP said.

    "Being a volunteer is a rewarding experience and one of the best ways you can make a difference in your community. The skills and experience gained as a volunteer firefighter are invaluable and will have a positive and lasting effect on your life and the lives of those around you," DESPP spokesman Scott DeVico said in a statement Tuesday. "Be a local everyday hero: if you have what it takes, you can make a difference by joining today."

    Those interested in learning more about joining a local fire department or training in the field of emergency services can visit EverydayHeroCT.org or call 1-800-FIRE-LINE.



    Photo Credit: Monica Garske

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    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is searching for a man wanted for questioning in connection with the sexual assault of a child.

    The man, known only as John Doe 29, may have vital information about the identity of a child victim, according to the FBI. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children first captured images of John Doe 29 with a child in January 2008.

    John Doe 29 is believed to be 30 to 45 years old with a tan complexion and dark hair. He has been seen wearing a silver ring on his left ring finger and a white, black and red shirt with some sort of design or writing on the sleeves, according to the FBI.

    The child victim was wearing blue-and-white Velcro Nike tennis shoes, the FBI said.

    Federal officials said he has not been linked to a particular region of the country. His identity and current whereabouts are unknown.

    No charges have been filed in connection with the case. Authorities have not released any information on where or when the sexual assault took place.

    The investigation is part of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and Endangered Child Alert Program, which seek to identify exploited children and the adults associated with child pornography images.

    The FBI is asking anyone with information to submit a tip online or call the toll-free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).



    Photo Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

    The FBI is searching for a man known only as John Doe 29 in connection with the sexual assault of a child.The FBI is searching for a man known only as John Doe 29 in connection with the sexual assault of a child.

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