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Thieves Steal Packages from West Hartford Homes


West Hartford police are investigating several thefts of packages in recent weeks and said home security cameras have captured the thefts and provided images of the people responsible. 

Police said one of the thefts was from Simsbury Road on Dec. 7 and Hartford police arrested someone matching the description of the person who stole the items. 

West Hartford police said the images from surveillance cameras have been helpful in determining the times the thefts are happening and provide accurate description of the people responsible. 

The 20-year-old man Hartford police arrested has not been charged in any thefts from West Hartford and West Hartford police are continuing to investigate. 

They are urging residents to track packages and insure them, leave delivery instructions with delivery services to keep the packages out of sight and to have deliveries go on side or back porches or between screen doors. 

They urge you to ask the parcel services to ring the bell upon delivery and bring deliveries in as soon as they arrive. 

Have the packages delivered to work or the home of a neighbor or friend who is home, have packages delivered to private mail services like Mailboxes etc. or the Amazon Locker or to the post office or private parcel delivery offices.

Police also urge using home security features such as motion sensor cameras and lighting and report suspicious activity, such as vehicles following delivery trucks and non-uniformed personnel handling packages in neighborhoods.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

Trump to Attend 2 Official Balls on Inauguration Night


President-elect Donald Trump will attend two official inaugural balls on the night of Jan. 20, as well as the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball, the inauguration committee revealed Friday.

It was not immediately clear where the balls will be held.

Inaugural events will span several days, with public events on the National Mall, a welcome rally with Trump, and a parade, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee said in a release.

The Salute to Our Armed Services Ball event will celebrate members of the military, veterans, first responders and their families.

"This will truly be a powerfully uniting moment for the American people," said Presidential Inaugural Committee Chairman Thomas J. Barrack Jr. "We will celebrate our country, its diverse and patriotic heritage, our democracy and the inaugural process as the greatest display of a peaceful transfer of partisan power in the world."

For updates on the inauguration, you can follow @TrumpInaugural on Twitter.

Photo Credit: AP
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Mystic Seaport to Open New 'SeaChange' Exhibit Saturday


Mystic Seaport wants to become a year-round destination and a new $15 million project is making that possible. 

Part of it is the grand opening of SeaChange Saturday. It is the inaugural exhibit in the Collins Gallery in the new Thompson Exhibition Building. 

SeaChange is a compilation of some rare items, projection and interactive elements. 

Among the artifacts on display is a turtle cradle that belonged to a New Haven captain. He spent most of his life at sea and this was his way to connect with his daughter. 

There are also charts of the North Atlantic coast owned by Napoleon's stepson. 

"They're going to look, they're going to hear, they may even smell and watch, and really get a sense of where these pieces came from -- but also how they connect to us today," Elysa Engelman, director of exhibits at Mystic Seaport, said. 

SeaChange opens Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. It will be open through next fall.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Santa Hospitalized After Fat-Shaming Scandal Goes Viral


A former Santa Claus who made headlines after being accused of body-shaming a young boy during his shift has been hospitalized for a blood clot in his lung. In the midst of controvery and illness, the old Saint Nick has been bolstered by support from those locally who don't believe he's a bad Santa. 

Earl Crowder, from Forest City, North Carolina, had played Mr. Claus for nearly a decade at his local Santa House until this week. He was hospitalized days after leaving his post as the holiday legend. Crowder resigned when 9-year-old Anthony Mayse accused the former Nicholas of fat-shaming him. Mayse told news station WLOS that Crowder said to “lay off the hamburgers and French fries” on his way out of the photo-op at the Santa House.

After a day filled with ice skating and other wintertime treats, Santa was supposed to be the grand finale for Mayse and his family’s fun weekend. Instead, the boy told WLOS that he cried himself to sleep because he was teased about his size.

“I think that’s just mean. Like honestly to make fun of that, that can really hurt a person's feelings,” Covey Fitzgerald told NBC affiliate WCNC

On Wednesday morning, Crowder experienced shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital, his niece told WLOS.

The longtime Mr. Claus is reportedly beloved within his community, and a local businesswoman, SunShine McCurry, has set up a Facebook page in support of his recovery. Members are posting their favorite memories with the man from the North Pole. Some have added sweet, sentimental photos of their children sitting on his lap, writing that “Forest City Santa is NOT a BAD SANTA.”

"I just got word that Santa is improving. ..he is seeing these posts on this page and it has made him happy to know that so many people love him," McCurry wrote. 

Though Crowder’s township has expressed its solidarity after his hospitalization, some Facebook comments still recognize that the fat-shaming incident was wrong.

“Any overweight child, or a child who is ‘different’ in any other way, knows it,” a Facebook user wrote. “He probably gets bullied and harassed plenty at school. He doesn’t need Santa Claus joining in to make him feel any more unhappy.”

In a statement, the town manager told WCNC that "the individual who played Santa Claus at the Santa House in Forest City made a remark that he regretted," and that Crowder "apologized to the parent, the child and the town." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Suffield Officer Rescues Goose Tangled by Fishing Lure


A Suffield police officer answered the call when he heard about a goose in distress.

A person walking their dog in Sunrise Park on Thursday noticed the Canada goose struggling in a small pond and called police.

Officer Robert Dabkowski arrived and noticed the goose had a fishing lure stuck in its beak and had caught it on its wing.

According to police, Officer Dabkowski is an experienced fisherman and grew up raising ducks, so it was lucky he was the one to answer the call.

Officer Dabkowski was able to free the bird from the lure and send it on its way.

Photo Credit: Suffield Police

Chamber Promotes Small Businesses Through Holiday Selfies


Elvis Alejandro takes pride in decorating The Dressing Room’s storefront for the holiday season.

“The kids would just want to pose in front of Santa so that became a tradition and we do it every year,” Alejandro told NBC Connecticut.

This year posing for a selfie in front of 15 small businesses in Wallingford and two in North Haven could earn you a $50 gift card from the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce.

“We kind of got the idea because we also promote Small Business Saturday and thought wouldn’t it be nice for the small businesses to have traffic you know all the way leading up to the holidays and not just for small business Saturday,” said Dee Prior-Nesti, the Executive Director of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce.

The Dressing Room store manager Christine Friel said it's an important part of small businesses like hers.

“Absolutely crucial,” she said, “it makes or breaks a small business and we love shopping local.”

To enter the contest, all you have to do is go in front of one of the participating businesses, pull out your cell phone, take a selfie and send it to Maribel@quinncham.com.

At Mr. D’s bakery on Main Street in Wallingford, from the assortment of candy to the variety of cupcakes, there’s plenty of holiday sweets to choose from.

“That window helped me start getting into the holiday spirit,” said Hannah Grills, who has worked at Mr. D’s for four years. “Yeah, we’ve gotten a few people that we’ve seen actually taking selfies and we’ve told people about the contest and really like trying to get the word out so they can see all the different places, too.”

So far, Nesti-Prior said the Chamber of Commerce has received about a hundred entries. The contest runs through Dec. 21.

The winner of the gift card from the selife contest will be drawn at random.

The Chamber of Commerce will also give out awards to businesses for the Best Overall, Most Creative and People’s Choice for their favorite holiday window display.

Here’s a link to the full list of participating businesses

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

9 Teens Charged With $4K Hartford Convenience Store Damage


Police have identified 27 of the 30 to 40 teens accused of causing $4,000 worth of damage to a Hartford convenience store last month and have arrested nine of them, including the suspected ring leader, who has been charged with inciting a riot, breach of peace and larceny.

The rowdy group of teens entered the Shell Gas Station at 335 Capitol Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 26 after leaving a party, damaged and looted the store, then took off, according to police.

An adult and juvenile then arrived at the store, took items and caused further damage, according to police.

Hartford police released surveillance footage and said they have identified several suspects thanks to their families, schools and the CTfastrak bus service.

Police said at least three parents brought their children to the police station to turn themselves in.

Deputy police chief Brian Foley said it is not the department's goal to go out and arrest a group of kids, but it's unfortunately a serious incident.

Police said they have identified 27 juveniles involved and not all will be arrested. The majority of those facing violations are being charged with larceny and criminal mischief. 

The manager of the Shell said he's happy families stepped up.

"I appreciate everyone calling me. It really makes me feel better, like I cannot believe that," Amir Orjani said.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Dog Says Goodbye to Dying Owner in Heartbreaking Video


The family of a California man who lay dying in a hospital wanted to make sure his beloved dog had one last chance to say goodbye.

Ryan Jessen, 33, had suffered a ventricular brain hemorrhage and was on a ventilator at Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville when his family brought his dog of six years, Mollie, to see him shortly before his death on Nov. 30, the "Today" show reported.

Michelle Jessen caught the heartbreaking moment on video and posted it on Facebook for friends and family. It has been viewed over 13 million times.

"The hospital did the sweetest thing for us and allowed us to bring my brother's dog in to "say goodbye" so she'd know why her human never came home. If you knew my brother, he really loved his sweet dog," Jessen's sister, Michelle, wrote on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Agency to Pursue XL Center Renovation Worth $250 Million


The Capitol Region Development Authority's board voted Thursday night by a margin of 8-1, that it would pursue a plan that would renovate the aging XL Center, to the tune of $250 million.

The plan would be aimed at modernizing the arena for UConn Men's and Women's Basketball games with modern amenities like luxury boxes and better food option, while also hoping to draw more major entertainers.

Michael Freimuth, the Executive Director of the CRDA, said if the city and state want to have a professional-level venue for major sporting and entertainment events, then the authority has to pursue funds for a remodel.

Freimuth said, “I think the dilemma we have with the XL Center is we just can’t keep patching patches. It’s forty plus years old, the systems break and we can’t even get parts for them anymore.”

The money would come from taxpayers through the General Assembly's appropriations and bond commission process. Either the governor or lawmakers would have to include funds in the biennial spending plan to pay for the improvements in the form of bonds. It's highly unlikely the state would provide cash to pay for any improvements in the short term.

Freimuth expects any renovation would take between three and four years, while keeping the arena in operation.

He admitted that, "it's tough to figure out the priorities," when it comes to bond and spending projects.

Governor Dannel Malloy has in the past remarked that he views a successful Hartford as one that has a successful arena. He hasn't said whether he would specifically support the proposal put forth by the CRDA.

Freimuth says the city and state are at a crossroads with the arena. The arena has outlived its usable life and decisions have to be made on what to do next.

“We’re muddling along right now. We can pursue the path that New Haven opted for and take it down. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing, though.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Plowable Snow Possible Sunday Night


The season's first widespread plowable snow is possible Sunday night.

Saturday looks cold – nearly 10 degrees below average – as high temperatures will barely crack freezing.

Temperatures will only rise into the middle 30s ahead of Sunday's snow.

Snow will begin after sunset and start adding up on the roads across the state.

The snow will change to a mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain Sunday night and early Monday.

The entire state should be switched over from snow to a wintry mix by 7 a.m. Monday morning, but not before a few inches of snow have fallen.

During the day Monday, a combination of rain (south) and sleet and freezing rain (north) is expected.

This weather will likely result in school delays and cancellations. All of the precipitation should end midday.

A slight warming trend will be observed Tuesday, when temperatures will rebound to about 40 degrees. But it won't last.

Even colder air (than this weekend) arrives Wednesday, and lasts through the end of the week. Many areas in Connecticut will remain below freezing starting Wednesday and lasting through at least Saturday.

That's a great opportunity for ski areas in Connecticut to make snow and open the third weekend of December.

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'Days of Our Lives' Actor Joseph Mascolo Dies


Joseph Mascolo, the West Hartford-native who played the infamous Stefano DiMera on "Days of Our Lives" died on Friday.

Mascolo had an open ended contract with "Days" and played the villainous Stefano DiMera on and off since 1982. 

The actor passed away on Dec. 8 after battling Alzheimer's for several years. 

"The smile on Joe’s face is something we’d all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades, and will live on in the memories of his many fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time," Executive Producer Ken Corday said in a statement. 

Mascolo was born in West Hartford on March 13, 1929 and was originally interested in music. According to Soap Opera Digest, when a professor heard Mascolo sing, they suggested that he got into theater. 

The actor appeared in many TV series, including several soap operas, and some movie appearances.

Mascolo was best known for his reoccurring role on "Days of our Lives" where his character, Stefano DiMera, was killed off several times and brought back to the show. 

Mascolo is survived by his wife, former NBC Television executive, Patricia Schultz, his son Peter, his step-daughter Laura and his sister, Marie and her husband Ronald LaVoie.

Photo Credit: AP

Talks of $15M Hotel Project on Fort Trumbull Property


There's talk of a new $15 million hotel project being built on an empty parcel of land in the Fort Trumbull area.

It could put that property back on the tax roll for the first time in 10 to 15 years.

The hotel, proposed by the Massachusetts-based J-Hotel Group, would include a conference center, restaurant and coffee shop all on New London's waterfront.

The group's attorney, Glenn Carberry, of TCORS, said it could create between 20 to 60 full-time and part-time jobs.

"Hopefully the timing is right now to create something to benefit the city," Carberry said.

"Obviously it creates buzz and it puts New London out in front of the development world," said Peter Davis, executive director of Renaissance City Development Association, that owns the land.

RCDA is the City of New London's development partner.

Davis said the original concept was to build a hotel on the nine acre parcel of land about a decade ago. But the plan fell through, partially because of the economy.

Now with the growth of Electric Boat, the coast guard museum, and the merger of L&M Healthcare and Yale New Haven Hospitals, it seems like the right time to grow, he added.

Commercial fisherman would potentially need to be relocated. The Connecticut Port Authority is looking at options at State Pier.

Proposed housing projects on Howard Street and at the corner of Howard and Bank Streets can drive even more people to the area, Davis added. He believes residential housing can rejuvenate a community.

There has been a lot of talk about the history of eminent domain in the Fort Trumbull. This parcel is not part of that. But Davis said it's time to build up the Fort Trumbull area.

While the hotel is only an idea, Nathan Przybysz at Dev's American Bistro & Bar on Bank Street said it could mean a lot of foot traffic and word of mouth.

He's excited about the possibility.

"We'd be so close to them they wouldn't need a means of transportation to get to us," Przybysz.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

2 Arrested for Kidnapping Man's Ex-Girlfriend in New London


Two people were arrested for kidnapping a woman in New London on Friday. 

Jose Vazquez-Romero, 21 and Sonia Romero, 38, were arrested for kidnapping the man's ex-girlfriend in an SUV. 

At 12:06 p.m., police responded to a report of a kidnapping in the area of Fuller Street. Police said a woman was forcibly taken from her residence by her ex-boyfriend and driven away in an SUV operated by another woman. 

After police located the suspects, the woman was brought back to her home without injury. 

Vazquez-Romero was charged with second-degree kidnapping, unlawful restraint, larceny, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. 

Romero was charged with accessory to kidnapping and breach of peace. 

Photo Credit: New London Police

Dramatic Video Shows State Trooper Rescuing Driver


A video released to NBC Connecticut shows an early morning highway rescue.

State troopers said the accident happened around 3 a.m. Friday on I-91 North near exit 29.

The responding state trooper is 32-year-old Douglas Bernier who said he just happened to be close by at the time of the crash.

"The call came in. It was a busy night at Troop H so I knew a lot of the troopers were tied up," said Connecticut State Trooper Douglas Bernier.

After racing to the scene trooper bernier realized the driver was still inside. The four year trooper grabbed an extinguisher and fought the flames.

Minutes later more troopers arrived and together they freed the driver from the smoldering car.

The driver suffered minor injures and is expected to recover.

"Unfortunately there's been a lot of fatalities recently at this troop. And when you get on scene you think, let's see if I can make this a positive ending," said Burian.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Trump Says Blacks Who Didn't Vote 'Felt Good About Me'


Donald Trump at a rally on Friday said African-American voters who didn't show up to the polls "felt good about me."

"The African-American community was great to us," Trump said. "They came through big league."

"If they had any doubt, they didn't vote," Trump added. "And that was almost as good. Because a lot of people didn't show up, because they felt good about me."

Trump made the comments at the fourth stop on his "Thank You" tour, meant ostensibly to thank the millions of voters that delivered him a resounding White House win last month.

Photo Credit: AP

Motorcyclist Seriously Injured in Ellington Crash


A motorcyclist was seriously injured after colliding with another vehicle in Ellington Friday evening.

State police said the motorcyclist, identified as Gary Wooley, 57, of Ellington, was riding on Bancroft Road near the intersection of Route 83 (West Road) around 5:20 p.m. According to police, Wooley ran a stop sign at the intersection and turned left onto Route 83 into the path of a construction vehicle driving north.

The vehicles collided and Wooley was thrown from his motorcycle, police said. He was seriously injured and taken to Saint Francis Hospital for treatment.

Police said Whooley was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

The driver of the other vehicle was not injured.

Outdoor Workers Prep for Winter Cold


As temperatures continue to drop with the an incoming winter storm, those who work outside are preparing to deal with extra cold conditions.

At Saint Bridget Cemetery in Manchester, Sam Morariu was engraving a headstone.

A tedious job -- it’s all about precision; but as temperatures drop, it gets tougher to be outside.

“Usually you’re out in the field pretty much so there’s no wind cover really. So if it hits hard, it goes right through you,” said Morariu, owner of Sam's Stone Carving.

He has to make sure he is layered up, especially his hands – so there’s no mistake as he’s engraving.

But his plans have changed with snowfall in the forecast.

“Yeah if it comes Monday, I’m going to wait until Tuesday to come back out probably,” said Morariu.

We found David Turell working at an outdoor garden center, Garden Sales. He said he and his coworkers will be hard at work, whether it snows or not.

“To keep warm here: keep moving, lots of layers. A Santa hat works considerably keeping the heat,” said Turell.

A fire is also key to keeping warm.

“We have a tendency to stand around the fire outside more and my father staying inside decorating around the pot belly wood stove,” said Turell.

Both Turell and Morariu said it's also important to takes breaks to warm up.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Muslim Teen Harassed on NYC Subway Found After Going Missing


A New York teenager who went missing after she said she was harassed on a train last week has been found. 

Yasmin Seweid, 18, was found in the early hours of Saturday morning, officials from the Nassau County Police Department's Missing Persons Squad said. The teen was seen being taken from her Long Island home on a stretcher Saturday afternoon.

The Nassau County Police Department put out an alert on Friday saying Seweid had been missing since Wednesday. 

Last Thursday, Seweid spoke out after she said she was harassed and intimidated by three men who tried to rip her hijab - a religious head scarf - off.

Police said they were searching for those men, who allegedly targeted Seweid on the 23rd Street subway station serving the 6 line at about 10 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Seweid posted on Facebook saying the men called her a terrorist, grabbed her bag and broke the strap of it and told her to "take that rag off your head". She said Trump's name was repeated during the alleged attack. 

She called the incident "traumatizing" and spoke with multiple news organizations about it.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Bridgeport Firefighters Knock Down Fire on Hanover Street


Bridgeport fire officials are investigating a fire at a vacant home on Hanover Street Saturday morning.

Fire officials said fire broke out at the building at 158 Hanover Street around 5 a.m. The building was vacant and no injuries were reported, but the fire did damage the outside of occupied homes on either side.

Four engine companies, two ladder companies, and Rescue fire responded to the scene.

The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

35-Year-Old Man Found Dead in New London: Police


New London police are investigating after a 35-year-old man was found dead in an apartment on Shaw Street Saturday morning.

Police said emergency responders were called to 206 Shaw St. around 6:45 a.m. When they arrived they found the victim, identified as Frank Marquez, dead in his residence on the second floor.

According to police there were no obvious signs of trauma. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy.

Police continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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