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Haiti-Born Cadet Weeps at His West Point Graduation


A powerful image of a West Point cadet standing at attention, tears streaking his face, has come to symbolize the raw emotion surrounding graduation from the prestigious military academy.

"At this moment, I was overwhelmed with emotions," 2nd Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache, who came to the U.S from Haiti in 2009, wrote in a comment on West Point's Instagram post.

Idrache was one of nearly 1,000 cadets honored at West Point commencement on May 21. The academy's top-ranking physics graduate, Idrache will attend the Army Aviation Center for Excellence in July to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. 

That dream was born years ago in Haiti, where Idrache watched in awe as Chinooks on humanitarian missions descended on his native Port-au-Prince, according to the Army. 

"People where I'm from don't grow up to be pilots right? Like they don't dream of flying a helicopter, that's not something you do," Idrache said in an interview posted on the Army's website. 

Inspired and motivated by his father, who dropped out of school at 14 to provide for his family, Idrache devoted himself to his studies. In 2009, he joined his dad in the U.S. and enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard, where he served until 2012.

While in the National Guard, Idrache was drawn to West Point, but applying there, he thought, was a shot in the dark. Four years later, he graduated with honors.

He paid homage on Instagram to the cadets who have gone before him.

"Men and women who have preserved the very essence of the human condition stood in that position and took the same oath. Men who preserved the Union is a dark period of this country's history. Men who scaled the face of adversity and liberated Europe from fascism and nazism," he wrote. "Women like CPT Griest, LT Haver, MAJ Jaster who rewrote the narrative and challenged the status quo to prove themselves worthy of being called Rangers."

The image — posted on Facebook and Instagram — has garnered thousands of likes, shares and comments. Idrache thanked those who shared kind words and said he would never forget that moment.

"Knowing that one day I will be a pilot is humbling beyond words. I could not help but be flooded with emotions knowing that I will be leading these men and women who are willing to give their all to preserve what we value as the American way of life. To me, that is the greatest honor."

Photo Credit: U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Vito Bryant

Suspect Involved in East Hartford Murder Arrested: Police


The suspect involved in an East Hartford murder has been arrested, police said. 

Michael Gaston, 27, of Hartford, is wanted for his involvement in the murder of Marshall Wiggins on May 16. He was arrested by warrant early on Thursday morning in Clinton, Massachusetts, East Hartford Police said.

Police responded to Rector Street at 11:16 p.m. to investigate reports of gunshots and found Wiggins, a resident of the street, inside a car and suffering from gunshots.

Wiggins was brought to Hartford Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Gaston is accused of murder, felony murder, first-degree robbery, criminal possession of a pistol/firearm and carrying a pistol/revolver without a permit. 

He is being held without bail as a fugitive for justice in Clinton pending extradition. 

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police

Shoreline Businesses Ready for Memorial Day Crowds


Memorial Day is just days away and businesses along the shoreline are wasting no time getting ready.

"Everybody's excited it's Memorial Day Weekend,” Quentin Kresser, the manager Rivers End Tackle in Old Saybrook, said. “Traditionally that's the beginning of the boating season, so everybody's excited to go fishing and spend some time on the boat, and there's nothing better to do on a boat than fish."

But before you cast a line, you need supplies.

"Business will be busy,” Kresser said. “I think, starting tomorrow we'll probably be swamped all day. Saturday and Sunday swamped all day."

And one of the most common things that people will be shopping for this weekend is bait.

Business is also picking up for Mystic Market, a popular spot to hit before you head out on the water.

“Everybody’s excited that we’ve got the tables outside, and it’s beautiful weather with great food, and it’s nice to eat outside,” Elliot Dunsing, a manager at Mystic Market, said.

For beach towns like Old Saybrook that nearly double their population in the summer, businesses have to be prepared.

"We're bulking up,” Dunsing said. “We have staff increasing. We're increasing our bars and all our food. And have it ready for everybody. Everybody's excited to get it, go out on the boat, and enjoy the weekend."

Pending the weather of course.

"As long as the weather’s nice. I've got the boat, so we'll be out everyday fishing,” Paul Hyatt, of Cheshire, said. “So, weather’s fine, I'll be fine."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Students Get Lesson in Protecting Homes from Hurricanes


We're just days away from the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, and students in Old Lyme tested their knowledge on protecting a home from hurricane wind damage today.

At Mile Creek Elementary School, a leaf blower turned the cafeteria into a hurricane zone this morning.

"I was just standing with my hands on my head, like please don't fall down," Elsie Arafeh-Hudson said.

We brought an anemometer from our NBC Connecticut weather center to measure just how fast these winds are going to simulate what a category one hurricane might look like.

"It was just fun seeing them do their research first,” Nila Kaczor, a talented and gifted fifth grade teacher said. “And then create their design from what they did their research on."

Some houses fared better than others when faced with the 80 mile per hour winds.

"We kind of slanted the two straight edged sides and we had a dome, which just allowed the wind to just blow over it instead of smacking into the house and forcing it to go down," John Eichholz, a fifth grader at Mile Creek, said.

That was the case for a few of the model homes.

“We made this platform, but I think we should have pushed the holes down and taped it in better,” Arafeh-Hudson said. “Because that’s what flung off even before the blower came.”

No matter what the end result was, it was a learning experience for everyone.

"I liked like researching and like designing ours and like communicating with them and figuring it out," Jillian Beebe, another fifth grader taking part in the project, said.

"Even those whose houses blew across the room took a lot of fun from that and they were also able to reflect and learn from what they've done," Susan Whritner, a fifth grade ELA Science and Social Studies teacher, said.

Something that is essential for towns along the shoreline.

"They certainly know what's now needed for preparation for a hurricane. Living on the coast, I think that's important here in Old Lyme," Whritner said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

School Bus Driver Seen Texting


A far southwest suburban school is investigating after a student recorded a bus driver apparently texting while driving.

Noah LaBarge, a sophomore at Ottawa Township High School, between Chicago and Peoria, captured the video that was posted to Facebook Tuesday, claiming he caught the driver texting while taking students home from school.

"So we had a sub today and i caught her texting 4 times when she was taking us home," LaBarge wrote in the caption.

The video — viewed more than 72,000 times — has prompted concerns from parents and students at the school.

"I started taking video because she was like starting to swerve and stuff and we knew you're not supposed to text and drive in Illinois," LaBarge told NBC Chicago. 

Other students on the bus reported feeling the bus swerve periodically during the drive.

"She was on her phone and then I caught her swerving like 5 feet out and then come back in," said student Derek Rieuf.

In a statement, superintendent Michael Cushing said the school is investigating the incident. 

"Ottawa Elementary and Ottawa Township High School are aware of the alleged incident, are actively investigating the alleged incident, and can confirm the driver is not on active duty while the investigation is ongoing," Cushing said in the statement.

Photo Credit: Noah LaBarge

4-Year-Old Dies After Elevator Fall


A 4-year-old boy died Thursday after he fell down an elevator shaft at a private parking garage in Brooklyn, authorities say.

FDNY responded to 841 Union St. in Park Slope at about 8 p.m. Wednesday and found the boy at the bottom of the shaft, officials said.

Police said the boy was on the third floor of the garage with a parking attendant and his parents before he fell. 

The parking garage is for private condos and residents own individual spots. Although residents normally don't go up to their cars, the parents wanted to grab something quickly, so an attendant made an exception and went up with them. 

The parents lost sight of the boy for just a moment and he somehow fell through a 10-inch gap between the elevator and the third floor. 

First responders rushed the boy to New York Methodist Hospital, where he died Thursday. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Utah Man Attacked for Taking Daughter to Wal-Mart Men's Room


A Utah man said he was assaulted by another customer for taking his young daughter with him to the men’s room at a Wal-Mart, NBC News reported.

Christopher Adams told NBC affiliate KSL a confrontation ensued at a Clinton, Utah, Wal-Mart over the weekend when he took his 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, Emery, to the restroom. 

Adams said the other man said he objected to Emery being in the men’s room. The man then allegedly punched Adams in the face and kicked him in the knee multiple times. 

Police said the “aggressor” was cited at the scene for disorderly conduct. The city attorney was screening a potential assault charge, according to KSL.

Photo Credit: KSL

Antibiotic-Resistant 'Superbug' Found in US for 1st Time


A drug resistant “superbug” feared by doctors has shown up in the U.S. for the first time, researchers reported Thursday.

The germ, E. coli bacteria with the mcr-1 gene mutation, was found in a Pennsylvania woman with symptoms of a urinary tract infection, NBC News reported.

The little stretch of DNA, which bacteria can easily swap among themselves, gives the ability to fight off the effects of a last-ditch antibiotic called colistin. 

Health experts are interviewing the woman and her family to determine how she may have contracted the bug, since it had only been seen in Europe and China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient had not traveled, which means the bacteria may have already been in the U.S. 

Photo Credit: Walter Reed Army Institute for Research

Unclaimed Human Remains Now Towns' Responsibility


Towns' will now be responsible for processing bodies in deaths that are not medical examiner cases following major budget cuts for the state of Connecticut, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said.

"This is another burden on our towns that they are not equipped to handle," Fasano said. "This is an issue of humanity, of public health, and of basic respect for the people of this state."

In the past, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner would take the bodies of people who had died and not been claimed by family as a courtesy, Fasno said.

However, Chief Medical Examiner James Gill M.D. said that "due to budget cuts and storage facility limitations" local municipalities will need to take on the burden. 

Gill said the estimate of unclaimed bodies are fewer than 100 a year in the whole state. 

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images

Firefighters Rescue Children Trapped on Ferris Wheel


Firefighters rescued two young children who were stranded 25 feet in the air on a Ferris wheel in Stratford last night after a light fixture became dislodged while the ride was moving.

Members of the Stratford Fire Department went to the carnival at 411 Barnum Ave. after receiving a 911 call around 9 p.m. and found the two unoccupied cars on the 70-foot tall ride upside down.

The children, both of whom are under the age of 10, were in the third car and firefighters used a truck and an aerial bucket to lower the children to safety.

State police said light fixture that was dislodged got stuck between two seats and the children walked into the bucket of the fire truck on their own.

No one was injured and the Stratford fire marshal took the ride out of service for the night.

Detectives will conduct a ride safety inspection before the Ferris wheel is put back in service.

The carnival in Stratford is scheduled to go until June 5.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Trump Reaches the Magic Number to Clinch Nomination


Donald Trump on Thursday secured the number of GOP delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, NBC News has confirmed.  

Trump passed the 1,237 mark after unbound delegates from North Dakota pledged their support for him. NBC News declared Trump to be the presumptive Republican nominee after his GOP rivals dropped out of the race in early May.

There are still 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7. Trump will not officially become the nominee until he accepts the nomination at the Republican convention in Cleveland in July.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Trump Looks to RNC for Ground Game


Donald Trump said he believes the Republican National Committee will help him in his ground game and his plans to turn 15 blue states red, NBC News reported. 

"As far as building the infrastructure for campaign, the RNC has been doing it for many years, Reince [Priebus, the RNC chairman] has really upped it, all over the country, and part of the benefit is that we get to use those people," Trump said Thursday, noting they were staffing themselves but suggesting that the RNC could build a ground game better than he could in just a few months. 

The RNC has historically helped in the campaigns of presidential candidates, but they’re also helping Senate and House elections as well. So could the RNC do the majority of planning for Trump’s ground game? 

"No," former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said. "Those duties and responsibilities have to be split." 

Trump’s staff told The Associated Press that teams are being sent into 15 states by the end of May. While a Trump campaign source who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity said that plan is “non-existent,” Trump’s spokesperson declined to discuss staffing or offer any information about new hires.

Photo Credit: AP

Judge Blocks Release of Video, Audio of Mills in Clinton Deposition


A federal judge granted a request Thursday to block the release of video from an upcoming deposition of Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, NBC News reported. 

Cheryl Mills is scheduled to be deposed Friday by lawyers for conservative group Judicial Watch. The group is inquiring into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. 

Mills’ lawyer said Wednesday that the former staffer had no objection to transcripts, but she was concerned that parts of video could be taken out of context by political groups. They asked that video or audio be withheld.

"The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system. Thus, the transcripts of all depositions taken in this case will be publicly available," U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote in an order. 

Federal rules authorize a court to protect a people involved in a case "from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense," the judge said.

Photo Credit: AP

USSS Employees Disciplined for Violating Congressman's Privacy


More than 40 Secret Service employees were disciplined for improperly accessing information about Rep. Jason Chaffetz last year, NBC News reported. 

One employee resigned, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Thursday. Other punishments ranged from letters placed in personnel files to 45-day suspensions without pay. None of the disciplined employees were identified due to federal privacy laws.

The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security apologized to Chaffetz, R-Utah, who led numerous inquiries into alleged misconduct by the agency. 

Chaffetz tried, unsuccessfully, to join the Secret Service in 2003. A report found that the 41 Secret Service employees accessed his job application more than 60 times, even though there was no need for inquiries.

Johnson said he was "appalled by the episode," which he said "brought real discredit to the Secret Service."

Photo Credit: AP

Manchester Residents Endure Mill Rate Increase


Drivers in Manchester are not enjoying the news of a mill rate increase.

"Wow. That's going to be terrible," said Manchester resident Petrina Spinnato.

Spinnato said she is not happy to hear Manchester's motor vehicle tax has been raised nearly three mills for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

"It's already high as it is," said Spinnato

At a special meeting Tuesday the Board of Directors voted to increase the current mill rate from 32 to 34.85 for the general fund.

The increases don't stop there. An additional tax rate of 2.15 mills has been added to the vehicles of the South Manchester Fire Taxing District. Bringing the total number of mill rates in Manchester to 37.

"It's never fun to shell out more money from something you don't feel is adequate right?" said Manchester resident Dustin Mac.

Officials said the changes are a response to legislators raising the state cap to 37 mills.

The new state cap formed is to battle the nearly $1 billion state budget deficit.

City officials said the general fund increase will bring in $927,000 and $509,696 will be raked in from the town fire tax.

"If they can't get it from their own resources they're gonna come after us tax payers to get it," said Mac.

The vote for the increase passed 7-2.

Amtrak Transformer Explodes in Branford, Delays Trains


Amtrak said it is experiencing heavy delays for trains between New Haven and Boston following a fire. 

An Amtrak transformer in Branford exploded and burst into flames on Meadow Street.

The fire spread to a boat and dump truck below it but no injuries were reported. 

According to Twitter, power was out from Shore Line to Old Saybrook because of a fire but crews are working on repairing damage now.

Amtrak trains along the shoreline were experiencing congestion. One Acela train traveling from Boston to New York, carrying more than 200 people, was disabled and lost power near Guilford. Passengers were transferred to another train. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

SpaceX Postpones Rocket Launch, Attempted Landing


SpaceX postponed the satellite launch of a rocket that would attempt to land on a ship at sea for a third time Thursday, NBC News reported.

The launch was postponed until Friday, because of a “tiny glitch in the upper stage engine actuator," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted

The Thaicom-8 commercial communications satellite will lift off atop SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. After the rocket’s two stages separate, the second one will carry Thaicom-8 to orbit. The first one will come back and try to land on one of SpaceX’s two drone ships stationed off the Florida coast.

"As with other missions going to geostationary orbits, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing," SpaceX wrote in a statement. 

The landings are part of SpaceX’s effort to develop usable rockets.

Photo Credit: SpaceX via AP, File

Severe Storms, Tornadoes Hit Plains States


Tornadoes were reported in Kansas and Texas Thursday evening, as wild weather continued to hit the middle of the United States, NBC News reported.

Heavy thunderstorms hit the Plains states again, with tornado watches in effect in several states, according to the Weather Channel.

Parts of Jefferson County, Kansas, saw baseball-sized hail Thursday from two storms, according to Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at the Weather Channel.

Storms forced the brief evacuation of Kansas City International Airport. Preliminary reports also indicated there was a tornado in Bryan, Texas, that damaged multiples homes, according to the Weather Channel.

Photo Credit: Eric A Ryser

Wright's Mill Farm Owner Vows to Rebuild


The owners of Wright's Mill Farm, a popular wedding venue in Canterbury that was badly damaged by fire, said they hope to have the facility open by next April.

“The brides are what’s keeping me going,” Curtis Dubois told the Norwich Bulletin. "They were just so happy that no one was injured."

Dubois said they will start rebuilding the main hall next month and hopes to reopen the facility by next year. 

Last Saturday, the Wright's Mill Farm had its first wedding since the May 18 fire after Dubois said he rented dinnerward, luncheon equipment and other items lost in the fire. 

Events, including weddings, at Wright's Mill Farm are booked two years in advance and staff members had been reaching out to customers.

Seven fire departments responded to Wright's Mill Farm, at 65 Creasey Road, around 7 p.m. on Wednesday and firefighters remained at the scene until around midnight.

The fire destroyed the farm's kitchen and damaged the lodge area.

“They are doing everything they can to accommodate their customers. They’re very well respected in the community. All people that have functions here are very, very happy with the situation and with their service. The owners right now are primarily concerned about all of their customers and their friends that have booked events here,” Canterbury Fire Marshal Paul Yellen said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Manchester Stench Has Families Asking State for Help


Those who live near the landfill in Manchester said the smell is also impossible to ignore. The stench has become such a nuisance to some that they are now asking the state for help.

It started a few years ago, but neighbors said this year has been worse than ever, with the smell coming around every few days.

Denis MacLeod, who lives on Mckee Street, more than a mile away from the landfill, said she cannot even enjoy her backyard.

“We started to barbecue last night and we were really excited about a rack of ribs, and we had to actually move into the house and put it in the over because it was just overwhelming,” MacLeod said.

It is a stench town officials are still trying to source. Cheri Eckbreth, who is on the Manchester Board of Directors, lives in the area affected by the stench. She said they are trying to get to the bottom of it.

“To us it’s a quality of life issue,” Eckbreth said. “It’s not a health issue, but it’s definitely a quality of life issue in Manchester.”

The smell could be coming from the sewage plant behind the landfill. It could also be from the sludge dropped off at the landfill. They do have to cover up the sludge within a half an hour of delivery, but some said that is not fast enough.

“If it is coming from that and we can get that under control then fine,” Eckbreth said. “If not, we’re going to have to look at not taking those deliveries anymore.”

MacLeod said until then, she is keeping her windows shut. She wrote a letter to the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection asking the state to look into it.

DEEP told NBC Connecticut they are aware of the odor, but are not investigating just yet. It is currently in the hands of town officials, who are working on several remedies and doing several tests to try and stop the stench.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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