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Video: Car Goes Through Ice at Green Falls in Voluntown


A car went through the ice near the boat launch at Green Falls Pond in Voluntown Tuesday, bringing out multiple agencies in response.

There was no one in the vehicle when emergency crews arrived, according to the Voluntown Volunteer Fire Company. Voluntown, along with the Griswold Fire Department, state police, and environmental conservation police, all worked together to remove the vehicle from the lake.

The incident is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Voluntown Volunteer Fire Co.

Obama, Clinton Most Admired Man and Woman in 2016: Poll


Americans will likely name President Barack Obama the most admired man in 2016 — the ninth consecutive year he will get the nod, according to a Gallop poll. 

The poll was conducted Dec. 7 to 11 and asked a random sample of more than 1,000 Americans to name the man and woman they most admire. Obama was mentioned by 22 percent of respondents, earning him the number one spot. 

President-elect Donald Trump finished second in the poll and was mentioned by 15 percent of those surveyed. 

Hillary Clinton earned the top spot in the female category for the 15th year in a row, with 12 percent of those surveyed responding with her name. Michelle Obama was second, with eight percent of respondents replying with her name. 

Reverend Billy Graham also made it into the top ten most admired men this year, making it the 60th year he's done so. 

Graham has been in the top ten every since 1955, with the exception of 1962 and 1976, when the survey was not conducted, Gallop said in a statement. 

Photo Credit: AP

Archdiocese of Hartford to Reorganize, Close Parishes


The Archdiocese of Hartford plans to reorganize its parishes and close some churches as the Roman Catholic population in the states drops.

According to a report from the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Pastoral Planning, the archdiocese intends to reorganize its current 212 parishes into pastorates, a single parish with a parochial church and one or more worship sites, campuses, and ministries. The current plan calls for 114 pastorates, eventually reduced to 100.

Each pastorate will be led by a pastor and may have additional associate priests and/or deacons, depending on size. Each will be designed hold a maximum of four masses per week per priest.

The archdiocese also intends to reduce the current 17 deaneries to nine, but have not settled on the new names or geographic boundaries.

No decisions have been made on what parishes or schools may be closing or merging and that information is not expected until the first quarter of 2017 at the earliest.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese said the changes are necessary because of a declining Roman Catholic population in Connecticut. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Calif. Man Tests Positive for Caffeine, Charged With DUI


A man driving to Fairfield in August 2015 was arrested after "weaving in and out of traffic almost causing several collisions," but he wasn't under the influence of alcohol, according to the arresting officer.

Following a blood test, caffeine was determined to be only drug pumping through the driver's system, as reported by NBC affiliate KCRA.

After stopping the driver, who was identified as 36-year-old Joseph Schwab, the arresting officer found legal workout supplements in the car, conducted multiple field sobriety tests and noticed that Schwab's pupils were dilated, according to KCRA.

Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams added that "the driver seemed very amped up, very agitated, very combative, and (the arresting officer) thought he was under the influence of something," according to KCRA.

Schwab maintains his innocence.

"I was 100 percent confident that I was not under the influence of anything," he told KCRA.

That plea doesn't seem to be working.

Abrams is still attempting to finalize a DUI charge, but she admitted that a conviction will not be simple to pull off, as reported by KCRA. The district attorney claims that an unknown drug, which did not register on the original blood test, is what truly impaired Schwab's driving ability.

Yes, caffeine is a drug, but it is not often associated with impaired driving, independent forensic toxicologist Edwin Smith told KCRA.

Smith believes that the drug could actually improve a driver's ability to stay focused behind the wheel.

Schwab and his attorney have filed a motion to have any charges be dismissed, according to KCRA. In their minds, driving while being under the influence of caffeine is not a criminal act.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Randy Edsall to Return as UConn Football Head Coach: Sources


Randy Edsall will be returning as head coach to the UConn football team in 2017, UConn announced in a press release Wednesday.

Edsall spent 12 seasons with the Uconn football program from 1999 through the 2010 season and averaged eight wins per season. He racked up 74 wins in that time and lead UConn from a Division I-AA to Division I-A in 2002.

Director of Athletics David Benedict praised Edsall for his strong record at UConn.

“He led UConn to its most successful period in the history of our football program, and I believe he will provide consistent leadership and long-term success once again,” Benedict said in a statement.

Many were upset at the way Edsall announced his departure from UConn after the Fiesta Bowl in 2010.

“I completely understand and respect that there are loyal fans, supporters and former players that still have not forgotten and it will take time to forgive. I have many incredible memories of my time at UConn and I hope the fans do too. It is my goal to get us back to that level of success and I hope that all of the Husky fans out there will be along for the ride,” Edsall said in a release.

Edsall left his post as head coach at UConn in 2011 to take what he called his dream job as coach of the University of Maryland football team. He was fired from that job in 2015. Most recently he worked with the NFL’s Detroit Lions as the Director of Research – Special Projects.

A formal press conference to welcome Edsall is scheduled at Rentschler Field on Dec. 30 at 11 a.m. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Waterbury Man Charged With Murder


Waterbury police have arrested a man accused of killing another man during a fight in an apartment on East Main Street Tuesday afternoon.

Police said the suspect, Irving Duggans, 43, of Waterbury, got into a fight with Luis Rodriguez, 59, of Waterbury, in Rodriguez’s apartment at 475 East Main Street.

Rodriguez was later found dead in the apartment’s shower stall with significant trauma to his head, police said.

Duggans was arrested and charged with murder. He is being held on a $2 million bond.

The investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

The Crazy Year in Politics (Besides Trump and Clinton)


It's a tradition for NBC News to sum up the oddest, silliest and most head-scratching political moments of the year, but this year was a strange one.

Even if the social media fodder from the deeply divisive battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton election now feels as stale as Christmas leftovers, there were plenty of other hilarious moments from 2016 that remind us that we're all human — even in politics.

There was the good old-fashioned physical humor of Ben Carson spectacularly bungling his entrance to the February ABC News debate. That month, fellow candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Jeb Bush implored an audience to "please clap" as he spoke at a town hall.

Democrats weren't strangers to unintentional comedy either: California Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez tried dabbing at the end of a debate, earning a side-eye from her eventually victorious opponent.

And that doesn't even touch on Ken Bone, Birdie Sanders and the rest of politics' funniest moments of the year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBC, File
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Serious Crash Closes Route 14A in Sterling Near RI Line


Route 14A in Sterling is closed near the Rhode Island line because of a serious crash, according to emergency dispatchers.

Quinebaug Valley Emergency Communications tweeted that entrapment was reported and drivers should avoid the area.

No other details were immediately available

Kerry: US Allies 'Won't be Swayed' by Trump's Tweets


Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said American allies "won't be swayed or intimidated by a tweet" from President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly weighed in on foreign affairs despite not yet taking office, NBC News reported.

In an exclusive interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Kerry said he would not get into a "debate" with Trump, but suggested U.S. allies have been "affected" by the president-elect's recent commentary on U.S.-Israeli relations and other sensitive foreign policy issues.

Trump's rhetoric recent is widely seen as a break from the tradition of deference to the sitting president during a period of transition.

Photo Credit: AP

Community Helps Westbrook Store Owner Rebuild After Fire


A community is helping a family business rebuild in Westbrook after a devastating fire.

Cindy’s Wine and Spirits on Boston Post Road (Route 1) was one of several stores damaged by the blaze on Dec. 15.

“It’s torn the town apart I think,” Kristin Donlan of Westbrook, said.

On Wednesday, Donlan and dozens of volunteers, including students, showed up at Cindy’s Wine and Spirits.

The store was in need of cleanup, including wiping down bottles.

“I don’t have a lot to offer. I’m struggling as everybody else. But if I can do this work, which is to me is the most important at this point, just get this stuff done, get it cleaned up, and move on. That’s what I’m going to do,” Donlan said.

Firefighters said the flames started at the adjoining business, Jet Launderette, on the Boston Post Road.

It caused heavy damage there and also some next door at Cindy’s.

“We didn’t know what to say. I just cried, just cried. It’s a lot of work. I’ve been here for ten years now,” Cindy Cote, owner of Cindy’s Wine and Spirits, said.

The call went out to the help the Cote family. It’s the second recent blow for them; the Cote’s are also dealing with a death in the family.

Now they thank the community which was there in their time of need.

“It’s overwhelming. People are so gracious. They don’t care what you ask of them to do, they just want to do something. It’s really a tribute to how good people are,” Cote said.

Where and when Cindy’s will reopen is up in the air. It’s hopeful as soon as possible but it depends on factors including state approval since alcohol is involved.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Westbrook fire marshal to see if the cause of the fire has been determined and if the building can repaired, but have yet to hear back.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Suit: Versace Used Secret 'Code' for Black Shoppers


A former Versace employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging it uses a code word to alert workers when black shoppers enter the store.

Christopher Sampino, 23, says he was fired from the Versace outlet store in Livermore, California, after two weeks despite meeting and "exceeding expectations." 

Sampino accuses the company of training him and other workers to use the code "D410" or hold up a black colored shirt when a black person entered the store, the lawsuit alleges. "D410" is the same code used for black-colored items of clothing, the suit states.

He alleges to have complained about the discrimination during new employee training, telling a manager "You know that I'm African-American?" In the lawsuit, Sampiro self-identifies as one-quarter African American. 

The lawsuit claims after the revelation he was denied proper training and rest breaks, and was fired because "he didn't understand luxury."

Sampino is suing for damages and unpaid wages. He earned $13 an hour and worked 40 hours a week. His lawyers, Michael Robert Hoffman and Stephen Noel Ilg, said that he is owed $59,800 in back pay and other monetary losses, $25,000 for emotional distress, and at least $100,000 for "race-related" punitive damages. The attorneys noted they should also be paid $65,000 in attorney fees.

In a statement, Versace denies the allegations and attorney Joseph Alan Schwachter said the company plans to file for dismissal.

"We do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or any other characteristic protected by our civil rights laws," the statement says.

The suit was filed Dec. 16 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, although a version of the allegations was first filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Nov. 16, before it moved to federal court.

According to court documents, Judge Kandis A. Westmore ordered the case be assigned to an Alternative Dispute Resolution. The first case management conference is scheduled for March 21.

Photo Credit: Getty Images file

Amazon Echo Could Play Role in Murder Case


The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated smart speaker that plays music, gives the weather forecast and updates its owner's shopping lists, among other everyday tasks.

But prosecutors in Arkansas believe one such virtual assistant may hold something far more crucial: data that can help in a murder trial.

The case against Bentonville resident James Bates is gaining national attention after prosecutors confirmed there is an active warrant to obtain information from his Amazon Echo, NBC News reported.

While Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith told NBC News they're not trying to force Amazon to comply with the warrant — and the e-commerce giant says it has refused anyway — the case is putting a spotlight on how newer types of personal technology have become sought-after pieces of evidence.

Photo Credit: AP

New Laws in Connecticut for 2017


A new year in Connecticut means more money for minimum wage workers, access to more advanced breast cancer screenings, changes to job applications and more. 

"Ban the Box" Act (Fair Chance Employment Act)

Connecticut will become the ninth state to "ban the box" which prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application

Employers will be required to include a notice on job applications that states that prospective employees are required to disclose these matters.

An employer may only ask about someone's criminal history if they are required to do so under state or federal law or the position requires the employer to obtain a security or fidelity bond. 

The act follows similar steps taken by Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. While Connecticut employers can't ask about criminal history on an "initial employment application", some other states don't allow employers to ask until an interview or job offer is made.

Coverage for Tomosynthesis for Breast Cancer Screens 

Certain state health insurance policies will start to cover breast tomosynthesis, a type of three-dimensional mammogram, on Jan. 1. 

The new law requires policies to cover baseline mammograms for women between the ages of 35 and 40, and annual mammograms for women older than 40, which may include 3-D mammograms at the beneficiary's request. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved digital breast tomosynthesis devices in 2015, however, access is currently limited, Breastcancer.org reports.

A report from 2010 says the added percision of a 3-D mammogram would "allow visualization (detection) and better characterization of non-calcified lesions."

Minimum Wage Increases

In 2015, Connecticut was among 13 states that vowed to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour

The hike calls for the increase to be phased in because the new eventual minimum was more than a 100 percent increase over the previous $7.25 federal minimum wage at the time. 

Starting Jan. 1, 2017, the new state minimum wage will be $10.10, in an effort to eventually be $15 in the future. 

No Prior Insurance Authorization For Anti-Opioid Drugs

The fight against the opioid epidemic: a new law which prohibits health carriers from imposing a prior authorization requirement for Narcan, or any similar overdose treatment drugs takes effect in J

New Access Symbol for People With Disabilities 

All new constructed and renovated buildings will have a new access symbol for people with disabilities. 

The modified access symbol will replace the international access symbol with a "dynamic character leaning forward with a sense of movement".

In addition to new buildings and renovations, the state will replace the international access symbol on "handicapped" and "reserved" parking signs. 

For a full list of new laws in Connecticut, click here.

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Trump: Sprint Will Bring Back 5,000 Jobs to US


Donald Trump said Wednesday that Sprint will bring back 5,000 jobs to the United States while another company, OneWeb, will hire 3,000 workers. 

"Because of what is happening and the spirit and the hope, I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States, they have taken them from other countries," Trump said outside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The president-elect said the deal "was done through" SoftBank CEO and the current chairman of Sprint Corp., Masayoshi Son, a Japanese billionaire and technology investor. Son also owns OneWest, a startup internet company.

The telecom mogul promised to invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 jobs after a private meeting with Trump in December, The Wall Street Journal reported. It was not immediately clear if the 8,000 jobs are part of Son's earlier commitment.

Meanwhile, the president-elect plans to deliver an economic development message on Wednesday, his transition team said, adding it would be a boost to workers but giving no other details.

Incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on a conference call the news "should be very positive for American workers."

During his campaign, the New York businessman pledged to do more to protect workers' interest and singled out numerous companies for criticism.

Earlier this month, Trump brokered a deal to keep a Carrier plant in Indiana and save about 1,000 jobs. Under the proposed deal with Carrier's parent company United Technologies, the company would receive $7 million in financial incentives over 10 years in exchange for a guarantee that Carrier would retain at least 1,000 jobs and invest $16 million into its Indiana operation, a source familiar with the talks said, NBC News reported.

He has also called on Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp to lower their costs for U.S. military and government projects.

On Tuesday, Trump thanked himself for a surge in a key gauge of consumer confidence. He wrote on Twitter that the Conference Board had reported that its consumer confidence index had climbed to 113.7 in December, the highest the index has climbed in more than 15 years.

"Thanks Donald!" he wrote

WATCH: NYC Uber Driver Catches 240 Consecutive Green Lights


A New York City Uber driver has been given a green light, and then some.

Noah Forman says he managed to hit about 240 green lights in a row earlier this month in Manhattan — and he’s captured video to prove it.

It's not the first time he's attempted the feat: he hit 186 greens back in 2015 when he was driving a yellow cab. Video of that journey shows him driving from Battery Park to Central Park and back down to the World Trade Center.

But in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, Forman hit the streets with the aim of shattering his previous record. 

During the nearly 30-minute trip, he zigzagged from Harlem down to Washington Square Park, then back up to 59th Street and down again to the Lower East Side, where he finally hit his first red light.

A friend edited Forman's uncut video down to four minutes and said the feat might just be a world record. 

Forman confirmed reports that he'd like to eventually double his number to around 500 green lights — and bring new meaning to "going green."

Photo Credit: Noah Forman
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US Preparing To Retaliate Against Russia Over Hacks


The Obama administration is preparing retaliatory actions against Russia for its alleged involvement in cyber-attacks on Democratic Party institutions in order to interfere in the presidential election, two senior U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News.

As early as Thursday or Friday, a 2015 Obama executive order will be updated to announce the retaliatory steps, the officials said.

The announced steps will likely include economic sanctions coordinated by the Treasury Department.

Unannounced steps will be covert and will involve cyber option — although the U.S. has been very careful to try to avoid engaging Russia in an all-out cyber war, the officials said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Stars React to Death of Actress Debbie Reynolds


Just a day after actress Carrie Fisher died, her grieving mother Debbie Reynolds passed away. She was 84.

“She's gone to be with Carrie,” her son Todd Fisher told NBC News. " She loved taking care of her and now she's gone to be with her."

The "Singing' in the Rain" star was rushed to a California hospital earlier Wednesday after suffering a medical emergency.

The double tragedy deals a blow to Reynolds and Fisher families, which are still mourning Fisher's death.

Hollywood is also in shock over the successive losses of two icons. Fellow actors and celebrities took to social media to send condolences to the families.

"A final curtain made of tears #DebbieReynolds #CarrieFisher," actress Rose McGowan wrote on Twitter.

Ellen Degeneres, actress Illeana Douglas and actor Albert Brooks expressed their disbelief over Reynold's death one day after her daughter's.

"Debbie Reynolds was one of the last of Hollywood Royalty. It breaks my heart that she is gone. I'd hoped that my grieving was done for 2016." William Shatner tweeted.

Actress Lisa Rina noted the "unbearable loss of a child" and "Star Trek" star George Takei wrote on Twitter that "Debbie died of a broken heart, but she's with her daughter now."

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time of unimaginable loss. Two generations in two days," Chaz Bono tweeted.

Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC
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Shelton Bus Driver Admits to Taking Methadone, Couch Syrup: Documents


A 55-year-old former Derby bus driver faced a judge on Wednesday after police say he was driving as many as 30 Shelton intermediate students home from school and falling asleep at the wheel.

Twelve-year-old Siena Mattiolo wants to know why Paul Pixley would allegedly put she and her classmates in danger earlier this month.

"He hit the curb and we just kept driving, and then everyone started getting kind of confused," Mattiolo told NBC Connecticut.

Mattiolo and other students captured Pixley on camera appearing to doze-off at the wheel.

"When we were in Huntington Center, he almost hit the back of the bus, everyone started yelling and screaming wake up and he started yelling back at us, that he's not sleeping," Mattiolo told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Pixley is accused of falling asleep nearly a dozen times in little more than two hours, according to the police report. 

According to the arrest report, Pixley admitted to being on methadone and taking 80 mg prior to his shift starting that morning. After initially denying being asleep several times, he confessed he maybe shouldn't have been driving, one reason being, he may have taken NyQuil instead of DayQuil.

Siena called and texted her parents. They contacted police and the school. Her father was even able to follow the bus, until police arrived. They determined there was probable cause to make an arrest.

"I was getting really scared and confused, and really worried if he crashed and if anyone was going to get hurt," Mattiolo added.

Siena's mother Vienna is proud of the way her daughter handled the situation. "I'm just happy nothing happened to her or any of the other kids on the bus."

Lt. Rob Kozlowski is with the Shelton Police Department said, "It was determined his license was seized and he shouldn't be driving per opinion or the officer."

"If he was on a methadone program, why was he hired? after the bus was pulled over they definitely should have done a tox screening," Vienna added.

Statement from Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet:

"On December 16, we were alerted by parents and we immediately contacted the police and the bus company, Landmark. We were able to get the bus stopped, removed the driver from the bus, and his license was taken. We have been in touch with officials from the bus company and conducted interviews with students. In addition, we have had daily contact with the police department and have shared video records with them to contribute to their investigation. The driver was arraigned today and returned to jail. He will never drive in Shelton ever again. We have some concerns regarding Landmark’s hiring practices and have asked our attorneys to review our contract with them. We are concerned about Landmark’s hiring and monitoring of their employees and want a full review. We intend to meet with Landmark’s regional leader next week to talk about changing practices to ensure the safety of our students and possibly take other actions." 

Photo Credit: Snapchat

Trump on Russia Sanctions: 'Get on With Our Lives'


President-elect Donald Trump, asked Wednesday about possible sanctions against Russia in the wake of alleged cyber-attacks during the presidential campaign, replied, "I think we ought to get on with our lives." 

"I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly, the whole you know age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on," Trump told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, NBC News reported. 

"We have speed we have a lot of other things, but I'm not sure you have the security that you need," Trump said. He added that he has not spoken with senators who have called for sanctions. 

The comments come as the U.S. is said to be preparing to take retaliatory steps against Russia after political institutions were hacked during the presidential campaign. Those steps could include sanctions.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

'Crack King' Clemency


Once known as the "crack king" of Oakland, Darryl Reed officially became a free man Wednesday night after he and 110 others were granted clemency by President Barack Obama in August.

Reed had been living under home confinment until Wednesday. In his first Bay Area interview since being in prison for 26 years, he spoke with NBC Bay Area on a wide range of subjects.

First, he wanted it known that his street name, Lil' D, is behind him. Then, after briefly acknowledging his past, he talked about the future.

"I don’t care what the district attorneys try to tell the public. Don’t nobody deserve to do 30 to 40 years for selling no drugs," said Reed, who served 26 years of a 35-year sentence for manufacturing, possessing and selling crack cocaine. "I’m going to take the negative about my journey and turn it into a positive."

With his limited freedom so far, Reed seems to be doing just that, donating toys to kids in Oakland this Christmas.

Twenty-eight years ago, he was a very different man. In the late 1980s, Reed became one of the most powerful drug dealers in the Bay Area, at 20 years old.

Today, he wants to make a difference.

"The things that I went through that got me where I'm at now are giving me the tools to take my life story and share it with the world," he said.

The Obama White House said Reed and the 110 others whose sentences were commuted with him were sentenced under outdated laws to unduly long prison terms. Inmates applying for a reduced sentence must be nonviolent. 

"We must remember that these are individuals -- sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents -- who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote at the time

Former prosecutor Rus Giuntini contends that Reed’s early release was inappropriate, saying the president’s decision to cut Reed's sentence short was like commuting a sentence for Al Capone.

Reed said he doesn’t care what Giuntini thinks, and that he spent nearly 30 years behind bars "for a drug charge."

"First offender," Reed said. "So for him to question the decision the chief of us makes, it sounds like it’s something personal with him."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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