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Hartford Culinary School Closes After 30 Years


The kitchen is closed at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Hartford after 30 years of training professional chefs.

What began as a hobbyist cooking school in Farmington before moving to Sigourney Street has trained close to 7,000 men and women. At its height, close to 500 students filled the school’s seven state of the art teaching kitchens.

But, the school says it is closing because of a federal law change that prohibits graduates from non-degree institutions like Lincoln from spending more than 8 percent of their income paying back student loans. Chef Jamie Roraback, who has been there since 1995, says other institutions of learning need to pick up the slack.

“There's going to have to be some place where the gap is going to be taken up, whether it's the high school level. Community colleges, I hope, step up to it a little bit more,” said Roraback.

Roraback says that students who want to continue to practice culinary education can do so at an affiliated campus in Shelton. Lincoln’s final Hartford class of about 70 students will graduate on Jan. 14, 2017. Roraback says he does not know what will become of the building they are vacating at 85 Sigourney Street.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Teen Dies After Being Hit by 2 Vehicles on Route 8


A 14-year-old boy died Thursday after being hit by two cars on Route 8 in Naugatuck.

Police responded to Route 8 South, near exit 27, just after 5:30 p.m. and determined a pedestrian had been hit by a vehicle on the northbound side of the highway, then by another vehicle on the southbound side of the highway, according to state police.

The victim, identified as Michael Shore of West Center Street in Southington, was declared dead on scene.

Neither driver was injured and no charges have been filed

Anyone with information is asked to call Troop I in Bethany at 203-393-4200.

1 Dead Following Middlebury Fire


One man died in a fire that broke out at a Middlebury home on Tuesday afternoon. 

Middlebury fire firefighters responded to the scene at Whittemore Road around 2:30 p.m.

Officials said one person died as a result of the fire. 

It is not clear how the fire started.

No other injuries have been reported. 

Please check back on this developing story for more details. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Shelton Bus Driver Arrested For Allegedly Falling Asleep at Wheel


A bus driver in Shelton has been arrested for allegedly falling asleep at the wheel while driving with children. 

On Dec. 16, Shelton Police received calls about a bus driver falling asleep at the wheel and swerving all over the road at approximately 3:40 p.m.

Officers did not see children on the bus when they pulled over Paul Pixley, of Derby, on Nicholas Avenue by Earl Street. An assistant manager of Landmark Transportation came to the scene to drive the bus back, police said. 

It was later determined that Pixley had driven the bus with 30 children on the same day he was pulled over. The 55-year-old appeared to fall asleep several times and children were getting off at earlier bus stops, according to Shelton police. 

Pixley was charged with 30 counts of risky of injury to a minor, breach of peace, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. His bond was set at $75,000. 

Photo Credit: Shelton Police

Hundreds Evacuated from Hartford High School Due to Flooding


Hartford Public High School had to be evacuated after flooding in the pool pump area Tuesday morning.

There were no classes scheduled Tuesday, but according to fire officials about 300 people that were in the building for a track meet had to be evacuated.

The flood began in the pump room of the pool area and the fire department was called when the water started edging close to an electrical panel.

The fire department is on scene and there is no danger at this point, officials said. Everyone was safely out of the building before the water reached the electrical panel.

Eversource spokesman Frank Poirot said electrical service to the school is underground which makes turning off power to the building more difficult than with overhead power lines. A crew is headed to the scene to make any necessary repairs.

Editor's Note: Fire officials initially estimated the total number of people in the building around 1,000 but then said that estimate was high. The story has been updated to reflect that information.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Nor'easter to 'Bomb Out' Near New England Thursday


Get the snow shovels, blowers and plows ready.

The season's first major Nor'easter is likely to hit New England Thursday into Friday.

As of Tuesday, it appears to worst of the storm will miss Connecticut to the north.

However, accumulating snow is still expected here in the Nutmeg State. A winter storm watch has been issued for northern Litchfield, Hartford and Tolland Counties.

The European model has been the most consistent with respect to this storm. This storm has been on its maps for at least a week.

What can provide more insight to a storm, is a model's ensemble forecast system. The European ensemble is robust, run 51 different times.

Currently, it shows an average snow accumulation of six inches along the Connecticut/Massachusetts border, especially north of Hartford and Litchfield Counties.

Less snow is a good bet in southern Connecticut, where some mixing is likely during the storm's closest pass later Thursday.

Temperatures at the surface will be very marginal in lower elevations, that's why southern Connecticut won't see much snow.

The most snow is expected in the higher elevations of northwest Connecticut.

The timing appears to be midday Thursday through pre-dawn Friday. The Thursday evening commute, though not major since it's a holiday week, will see the greatest impact.

What does "bomb out" mean?

"Bombogenesis" is simply the term used when a surface low pressure system drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

That rapid pressure drop leads to strong wind.

It still remains to be seen just how quickly the storm strengthens. What could very well happen, is the storm will wait until moving into the Gulf of Maine to really strengthen.

So, for Connecticut, it seems reasonable to expect the strongest wind on the back side of the storm, after it has reached a stronger state.

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Fire at New Haven Apartment Condos Rekindles


After a devastating fire displaced nine families in New Haven this week, the fire at the apartment complex rekindled on Tuesday night. 

New Haven fire officials said they were responding to the Harbour Landing apartment complex at 99 Harbor Close.

On Monday, Deputy Director of New Haven Emergency Operations Center, Rick Fontana, said 13 condo units were affected and nine condo units were destroyed. The building is likely a total loss, he added.

The Red Cross reports that they are assisting nine families – 20 adults and one child. Many of those displaced stayed at a hotel in Orange on Monday night.

No life-threatening injuries were reported. Fontana said one firefighter was cut by shards of glass and two residents suffered some smoke inhalation.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

18-Year-Old Sterling Teen Goes Missing After Dirt Biking: Family


An 18-year-old teen from Sterling went missing on Monday afternoon after he went out dirt biking, his family said. 

Todd Jeremiah Allen, or TJ, left the house around 12:30 p.m. to go dirt biking with his Honda XR100 in the Oneco area, his father told NBC Connecticut. 

Police said TJ frequents the trails bike path that goes from Sterling into Coventry, Rhode Island, as well as the area of Ross Pond. 

TJ didn't come back home. His father, Todd David Allen, said he knows to come home before dark when he takes out his dirt bike and the teen always calls home. 

Allen said that TJ texted one of his friends around 1:30 p.m. saying he had hurt his leg but didn't respond to subsequent messages. Another friend told Allen that TJ had texted them the same thing at 3 p.m.

TJ is described as being 5'9" and about 130 pounds with shoulder-length light brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a camouflage t-shirt, blue jeans and brown work boots with a black helmet. 

Anyone with information is asked to call state police. 

Photo Credit: Allen Family

Proposed Fix to Montville High School's Water Problem


The water fountains have been turned off at Montville high school for years.

The water well the district was using tested for high levels of manganese. After failed plans, the district is putting another potential fix on the mayor's desk.

"It comes out brown sometimes, yellow sometimes, or really foggy and none of the students want to take the chance of drinking it," said Montville High School sophomore Katarina Turchetta.

In 2012 the district found high levels of manganese in the high school's well water and Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel said it's since caked the pipes.

Students and staff still use it to wash their hands or for cleaning, but they don't drink it. Students bring bottled water to drink. Bottled water is even used for cooking.

"Especially after gym class it's really hot outside and we have nothing to drink," Turchetta said.

Now the district is hoping they've found a solution. McDaniel said last year the district drilled a new well. Soon he'll see a plan on his desk asking for money to connect that well to the school's water line.

"Certainly a short-term fix," McDaniel said. "I still think we need to look down the road at a permanent long-term fix."

McDaniel said ultimately he'd like the school to be connected to the municipal water system, which would bring water to the geographical center of town.

There was a previous proposal that would've cost around $7 million to do that. But it was shot down for being too expensive.

The mayor doesn't know how much this new plan will cost, yet.

"I'm going to kind of need to review the engineering report and see really wear these numbers are going to fall... because they're going to have to redo some of the plumbing in that building," he said.

Students said any fix beats the alternative.

"Just bring our own water to school so we don't get sick," Turchetta said

NBC Connecticut reached out to the school superintendent, Montville High School administrators and members of the board of education Tuesday for details on the plan, but got no response. The district is out for winter break.

McDaniel said this is something he'll consider when creating his budget next spring.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Firefighters Try Recovering Valuables From New Haven Condos Destroyed in Fire


Before the damaged section of the Harbour Landing Condo complex in New Haven has to be torn down, firefighters and the property manager are trying to save as many valuables as they can.

Ray Sirry has lived on and off at the condo complex near City Point on the New Haven Harbor since the late 1980s.

“I thought it was a small thing,” he said, recalling when he first noticed smoke Monday afternoon. “The fire department would deal with it and I’d be able to get back into the unit.”

Instead, his home is one of 13 lost in the massive fire that two thirds of the city’s fire department battled from 1:30 p.m. until after midnight.

“The firemen today were able to get a few pictures off the walls of our children,” Sirry said. “That’s about it really.”

Newly obtained aerial video from the West Haven Emergency Management drone shows the thick smoke that billowed in the air and flames ripping through the roof.

“There’s many of them that are totally destroyed,” New Haven Deputy Director of Emergency Operations Rick Fontana said. “It would be a safety issue if anyone went into the units. Some of them that aren’t totally lost we are retrieving items if we can.”

At the nearby hotel in Orange where several displaced families are staying, Fontana returned a recovered valuable to its owner Tuesday.

“All he was really worried about is, ‘I got to have my wedding band, I got to have my wedding band’ and so it’s important to us, we wanted to get it back to him,” Fontana said.

New Haven fire investigators are trying to figure out the cause of the fire before city building officials obtained a demolition permit.

“Initially we know the area of origin,” New Haven Fire Chief John Alston said Tuesday morning. “They’re still not going to make a determination on the cause until we find out how much further we can get into the building.”

As for Sirry and his wife, they are still hoping to be reunited with their missing cat Mickey.

“Maybe we haven’t lost the cat,” Sirry said. “The cat’s body was not in the condo, the police looked under the bed, so forth today, so we think, I left the door open, maybe the cat ran out.”

Like many who called the condo building home, Sirry is thankful there were no serious injuries or loss of life.

“If it had happened at night or another occasion,” he said. “We don’t know what might have happened, but I think we were lucky that it happened when it did.”

Photo Credit: West Haven Emergency Management

Carrie Fisher: A Princess of Hope


From her first big screen scene as Princess Leia – a grainy holographic plea for help – to her presumably final bow (spoiler alert) – a stirring message of hope delivered nearly 40 years later with a CGI-aided grin – Carrie Fisher provided a vision of beauty, brains and bravery.

As the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she arrived in the world as Hollywood royalty. But the “Star Wars” actress, who died Tuesday at 60, leaves us as a self-made princess from “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” who became a cinematic queen for the ages.

Just 19 when she filmed the first “Star Wars” installment, Fisher proved she could deliver withering looks and lines to match like a seasoned pro more out of a 1930s screwball comedy than the 1970s epic sci-fi series that forever changed the movies.

“I’d just as soon kiss a wookie,” Leia told swaggering “fly boy” Han Solo in the first film, released in 1977 and later rechristened “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”

She met her disguised savior – and secret brother – Luke Skywalker with a zinger in the same flick as he rescued her from imprisonment on the Death Star: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”

Leia could handle a gun when real stormtroopers attacked and could keep her cool during a crisis – even when she found herself clad in a metallic bikini, the chained slave of the odious, oozing blob, Jabba the Hutt, in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

Fisher turned rebel alliance leader Leia Organa into a movie rarity: a sex symbol and feminist icon. The actress, who spoke all but 63 seconds of the lines delivered by females in the first three “Star Wars” installments, paved the way for young women who kick butt in the movies. Leia’s spirit infuses not only Daisy Ridley’s breakout role as Rey in “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” and Felicity Jones’ performance as Jyn in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” but characters from Katniss Everdeen to Hermoine Granger.

Fisher’s pivotal part in George Lucas’ pop-cultural phenomenon, though, overshadowed the rest of her career. While she gave strong supporting performances in “When Harry Met Sally” and “Hannah and Her Sisters,” Fisher never approached her “Star Wars” success.

Still, her second calling as a writer fueled by piercing wit earned her notice – most prominently with “Postcards From the Edge.” The novel, based on her sometimes rocky relationship with her mother, got made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Fisher also used the written word to give voice to her battles with substance abuse and mental illness, challenges she confronted with unflinching honesty.

The actress, who died two days after she was stricken on a transatlantic flight, at least got to take a well-earned victory lap over the last year. Her role as the tough now-General Organa in “The Force Awakens” helped recapture the magic lost in the three “Star Wars” prequels and make the film 2015’s box office champ.

Her recently published memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” which revealed her long- ago affair with Harrison Ford, grabbed headlines. Fisher’s semi-cameo (her head, circa 1977, atop actress Ingvild Delia’s body) in “Rogue One” offered a surprise, uplifting ending to the series’ latest installment, currently the universe’s No. 1 movie.

It’s unclear how “Star Wars” will go on without Carrie Fisher. But her force lives on via celluloid, where she created an indelible vision of a princess who, in perhaps her last cinematic breath, left us the gift of hope.

Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Corbis via Getty Images

McCain Says US Won't Ditch NATO


The United States won't waver in its commitment to NATO and Baltic security, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday in Estonia, where he's seeking to soothe anxiety over President-elect Donald Trump's rhetoric, NBC News reported. 

McCain told reporters that he and Estonia's leaders discussed the outcome of American election, which he conceded came as a surprise after Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton polled so well in the weeks leading up to the vote. 

"But I am convinced and certain that our relationship and [...] the American relationship with NATO, will remain the same," he said. 

"I think the presence of the American troops here in Estonia is a signal that we believe in what Ronald Reagan believed, and that is peace through strength," McCain added from Tallinn, the Estonian capital. "And the best way to prevent Russian misbehavior by having a credible, strong military and a strong NATO alliance."

Photo Credit: AP

BFFs or Frenemies? What Does Future Hold for Trump, Putin?


Nobody is more likely to test the new administration than Russia's Vladimir Putin. 

Putin has already overlapped with three other American presidents and his government's actions colored the U.S. campaign long before Trump's November win.

U.S. intelligence officials believe with "a high level of confidence" that Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere with the White House election, two senior officials told NBC News. 

Amid other moves, such as relocating nuclear weapons and venturing into neglected territories, it seems like Putin's Russia seems determined to challenge American leadership across the globe. Beneath the boldness of Russia, there is profound distrust between the two countries.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police Investigate Early Morning Shooting in New Haven


New Haven Police say that shot spotter reported 16 gunshots fired in the city, between 32 and 58 Butler Streets just after 12:30 am on Wednesday morning.

A man in his early 20’s who had been shot in the back was found on the front porch of 45 Butler Street, police say.

No other people were hit, although the house was stuck by the gunfire police say.

Police say that the victim is in stable condition and that his gunshot wound is not life threatening.

According to police, multiple bullet shell casings were found in the area.

Investigators say that they suspect that multiple shooters may be involved that likely fled the scene on foot.

Police say that a vehicle may be involved.

Police set up a perimeter early Wednesday morning at Butler St. and Bassett Streets as well as at Butler St. and Basset Street as they continued to investigate.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact New Haven Police.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Military Couple Weds in Ceremony at Torrington City Hall


Nick and Hailey Simonin got married on Tuesday, not in a church but in a place just as sacred to the groom - the Veterans Memorial Wall at Torrington City Hall.

"I figured this just suited me best knowing that I am in the military and it's a pretty special wall itself," said Nick, who is in the United States Air Force.

Nick proposed on Oct. 7 and left for Basic Training on Oct. 11. He returned home less than two weeks ago. On January 2, Nick returns to Mississippi for 6 months.

"It is a time crunch, but I'm happy we're getting to pull it off right now," explained Nick.

As for the future, Hailey hopes to be a nurse, Nick a mechanical engineer.

And after Mississippi, Hailey and the couple's 10-month old son Bentley will be joining Nick for a two year stint in Alaska.

Carrie Fisher Hollywood Star Vigil


With no official spot on Hollywood Boulevard to mourn Carrie Fisher, fans of the actor, author and activist crafted a pop-up tribute for the icon on the Walk of Fame Tuesday.

Dedicated fans decorated a blank star in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre for the "Star Wars" actor. They surrounded it with candles and white roses and stuck on letters that formed "Carrie Fisher - May the force be with you always - Hope."

"When I found Carrie Fisher didn't have a star I found that to be unacceptable," said Jason Thomas, who was dressed in a Jedi robe and carried a lightsaber. "Decided to take it upon myself to make one for her. She's touched my generation."

The iconic "Star Wars" actor died Tuesday at age 60 following a heart attack she suffered Friday on a flight to Los Angeles from London. Daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actor Debbie Reynolds, Fisher was also an accomplished author. Her memoir "The Princess Diarist" was published this year.

Her portrayal of Princess Leia felt real to many.

"She definitely had that female empowerment, being the ambassador," said Elise Savage, a fan from Washington. "Just, she grabbed the gun! Did everything the guys did!"

Fisher's death sparked an outpouring of grief from her family, her "Star Wars" co-stars, other Hollywood actors and devoted fans on social media.

"She brought the galaxy hope," Thomas said in a Facebook live video. "She deserves a star, now she lives amongst them. She was the flame that lit the fire that burned the empire to the ground.

"Hope is embodied in this woman and she gave that to my generation and hopefully to others."

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Malloy to Make Announcement on DMV Wait Time Improvements


The Department of Motor Vehicles wants to reduce wait times.

It’s something the agency has been working on for months now and today Gov. Dannel Malloy and DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra are set to make an announcement on improvements.

Back in July, the DMV hired a company to do a study analyzing the computer system, customer service and wait times.

They polled 1,200 customers and found that three quarters were dissatisfied they waited an hour to get to the esrvice counter, after already waiting to get a service ticket.

The DMV also paid Microsoft to examine the new computer software, which was causing issues.

Just last week the DMV announced that in 2018 they will begin mailing driver’s licenses, which could also reduce wait times. It’s a new federal law and Connecticut will be joining 26 other states to ship those licenses out from a secure location.

In the meantime, drivers will be issued a temporary paper license and will be able to renew licenses every six years online.

The governor’s announcement is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Former Lover Arrested in Slay of NYC Ex-Teacher, Son


The ex-lover of a former New York City schoolteacher has been arrested on murder charges after the woman and their 4-year-old son were found dead in her Manhattan apartment Monday. 

Isaac Duran Infante, 22, was taken into custody Tuesday in the deaths of 36-year-old Felicia Barahona and their 4-year-old son Miguel, and confessed to killing them, a law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York.

The medical examiner has determined Barahona died from strangulation by the electrical cord, and her son died of asphyxia from neck compression.

Duran Infante was a former student of Barahona, and their son was born from their affair, which began when he was a student.

A source told NBC 4 New York that Duran confessed to the double killing in part because he was dissatisfied with the way his son was being raised by Barahona. 

Duran Infante said nothing to reporters as he was led in handcuffs from the police stationhouse where he was interviewed.

His anguished grandmother, who lives in the Bronx, told NBC 4 New York in Spanish she wanted justice and that she knows her grandson is innocent of the charges.  

Another relative of Duran Infante, Janiel Santana, said, "It's hard to believe they're dead. When we heard the news, we thought this has got to be a mistake." 

The couple shared custody of the child, relatives said. Miguel's father's side of the family was expecting to see the boy for New Year's Eve to give him his Christmas presents. 

Barahona lost her job as a science teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School in 2013, shortly after she became pregnant and school administrators learned of her illicit relationship with a student. Duran was believed to be that student and the father of young Miguel.

Felicia Barahona was found dead, an electrical cord wrapped around her neck, on the living room floor of her West 153rd Street apartment in Hamilton Heights around 8:15 a.m. Monday after the building super was alerted about a smell, police said. Her son Miguel was found unresponsive in a bathtub, police said. Investigators believe the duo had been dead several days.

Neighbors described Miguel as a sweet boy.

"It's sad. It's a little life," said Elia Flores, adding of his mother, "I've known her for a lot of years that she live here."

DC-Area Uber Drivers Stiff Passengers, App Users Say


Uber passengers at Washington-area airports said some ride-share drivers are refusing to pick them up, because they don’t want to take the travelers where they want to go.

An Uber driver is never supposed to know the destination until the trip has started. Some drivers are calling passengers in advance, finding out where the passengers want to go, which is against Uber policy.

If the driver thinks the trip isn’t worth their time, because they think the trip is too short, too long, or they just don’t want to go to the destination, the drivers won’t pick up the passengers.

"I just wanted to get home,” said Uber customer Landon Geurkink. “We had just been traveling for a couple hours in the air. It was cold out."

Geurkink said he had to go through five separate Uber drivers before one finally picked him up at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. He said the drivers thought his relatively short trip to downtown D.C. wasn't worth the trip after calling him to find out his destination.

"He's, like, I just wanted to know where you are headed? I just said, ‘Oh, downtown D.C.,’” Geurkirk said. “Another minute later, he canceled."

Other drivers may have manipulated the Uber app or used a separate app to figure out the final destination and then decided they didn't want the trip. Some Uber drivers said they knew all about this technique, and some admitted they have ended trip requests based on destination.

"I know that I have canceled drives before that I thought were too long," one driver said.

Uber released a statement about the practice.

“Ridesharing apps are changing a transportation status quo that has been unequal for generations, making it easier and more affordable for people to get around, no matter where they live and where they're going."

Per Uber's deactivation policy, each city has a maximum cancellation rate, based on the average cancellation rate in that area, after which point a driver may be barred from using the app.

Uber riders can rate their driver and provide anonymous feedback about their trip. Uber said they do take feedback seriously.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said they are looking into the practice of the Uber drivers avoiding some trips.

Photo Credit: Getty

Voluntown Volunteer Firefighters Rescue Dog From Icy Pond


Members of the Voluntown Volunteer Fire Company jumped into action to rescue a dog who fell through ice into frigid pond water below on Monday.

According to a post on the department’s Facebook page, a German Shepard was spotted stuck in the water behind town hall on Main Street. Department members donned cold water suits then slid across thin ice to save the pup.

Firefighters put the dog in an ambulance to warm up then he was taken to NECCOG try to find his owner.

Photo Credit: Voluntown Volunteer Fire Co.
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