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West Hartford May Up Property Tax to Offset State Cuts


A property tax increase could be in the mix for West Hartford residents, as town officials try to make up for an $800,000 cut in state funding.

Friday, Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said his employees are on pins and needles waiting for Governor Dan Malloy’s budget to come out next month.

“There’s a lot of pressures on our budget,” said Van Winkle.

News that the town of West Hartford would not be getting the state funding they’d already factored into this year’s budget wasn’t a complete surprise.

"We anticipated there was going to be something. We never anticipated it was going to be this large,” said Van Winkle.

Van Winkle said the cut will be covered out of the town’s $1.6 million surplus. He said that money was earmarked to cover a potential default by the city of Hartford to the Metropolitan District Commission for its water and sewer services, and that the town will be obligated to pay it next year, if Hartford can’t.

“The city of Hartford is in deep trouble. There’s no question about that. Their finances are a mess,” said Van Winkle.

Van Winkle explained that the MDC increase, the state’s decrease in funding, and the prospect of having to bail Hartford out further means a property tax increase in inevitable.

“Yes, without question,” he said. “It is highly likely that we will have to raise local property taxes to balance our budget.”

Not surprisingly, that news of a tax hike was not welcomed by residents.

“I’m retired and I’m living on a pension. I don’t like it,” said Roger Bougie.

“I don’t feel we’re responsible for Hartford’s problems at all. Hartford is responsible,” added Paul Carlson.

Van Winkle agreed that a Hartford bailout should be left up to the state and not just the region.

“It’s important that Hartford doesn’t fall apart. So, we would like the state to be creative and find a way to finance Hartford’s problem and assist them, but we don’t want them to take it out of West Hartford,” said the Town Manager.

To minimize the property tax increase, Van Winkle ordered all town departments to look for ways to save, through vacancies, overtime, and capital projects.

The town is not in a hiring freeze. In fact, this week they hired another police officer. However, Van Winkle said some of the dozen open positions will be eliminated through attrition. He's also put a halt on small town projects, like park improvements.

While he admitted that he hopes the snow plows can stay in storage the rest of the winter, he said essential services will not be cut, despite stricter rules on overtime.

“We will plow our streets and make the community safe and we’ll have to find ways to cut other spending,” he said.

He cautioned that the town may have to tighten its belt even more as the state legislature looks to fill its own billion dollar budget gap.

“West Hartford spends $250 million a year so $800,000 isn’t something that breaks us, it’s the anticipation that there is more coming,” Van Winkle explained.

He said he plans to meet with the school superintendent next week to discuss similar cost-cutting measures.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Coats Donated to Students in Waterbury


Waterbury firefighters, Cigna and MacDermid Performance Solutions donated 100 coats to students at Driggs Elementary School in Waterbury Friday.

They handed out coats of all sizes and colors -- the students were all smiles.

“Just to see them so excited and know what these coats mean to them – it means access to school, it means warmth and comfort to get to school," said Principal Michael Theriault.

It goes a long way when you look and feel good.

“One of the reasons a lot of students are absent is because they don’t have warm coats to get to school so it’s going to help us chip away at that problem of chronic absenteeism," said Theriault.

“Obviously we’re here when you call 911 but we’re also here for the community for things like this and I think it’s very important and again it keeps us in touch with the community on a good note. Usually when we see them it’s at their worst so this is a chance to get together with them for something good," said Waterbury fire chief David Martin.

Students couldn’t thank them enough. They wrote letters to thank everyone who made donations.

“I just want to thank you guys for bringing me the coat and thank you for protecting us," said student, Monet Cooper. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Charged with Manslaughter, DUI in Fatal Newington Crash


A man wanted on manslaughter and DUI charges in connection with a fatal Newington crash in October turned himself in to police Friday, police said.

Jake Ciccaglione, 26, of Rocky Hill, was wanted on an active arrest warrant and turned himself in to police on Friday.

Police allege that Ciccaglione was driving drunk and high on marijuana when he swerved out of his lane and struck another car head-on on Webster Street in Newington on Oct. 19, 2016.

The driver of the other vehicle, identified as Theresa Castagna, 76, was killed. Ciccaglione was seriously injured.

Ciccaglione was charged with second-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, DUI and failure to maintain lane. He was released on a $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court on Jan. 27.

Photo Credit: Newington Police Department

New Haven Schools Prepare for Possible Immigration Raids


The New Haven Public School District is preparing for potential immigrant deportation raids during the President Donald Trump administration.

Since the November election, immigrant community activists have been meeting with city and school officials to develop a plan meant to protect students in case there is a federal raid.

Back in 2007, more than 30 suspected undocumented immigrants were arrested during a round-up in New Haven led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It still you know haunts a lot of people and something that we want to avoid from repeating,” said Jesus Morales Sanchez, a 2014 graduate of New Haven’s Wilbur Cross High School.

With President-elect Trump’s inauguration only one week away, according to Sanchez “there’s a sense of urgency” for New Haven Schools to finalize a plan in case federal immigration agents return to this community.

“Our first priority is the safety of these kids,” Sanchez said.

Mayor Toni Harp (D), who is the Board of Education President, said she met with immigrant families right after the presidential election.

“There was this young girl, 9 years old,” she said, “who basically shared with all of us that her friends were not coming to school, that they were afraid to come to school.”

If ICE agents want to enter a public school, policies pitched at Monday’s Board of Education meeting require them to: report to the superintendent’s office, produce their credentials and show proof of a warrant signed by a judge.

“The schools should remain a safe space,” said Sanchez, who is active with the organization Unidad Latina en Accion.

Another part of the plan is to update emergency contact information for students to include more names.

“In the case that something were to happen to the parents,” Sanchez said, “they’re detained or they’re taken away.”

As for New Haven Police, Interim Chief Anthony Campbell said his officers will continue following the city’s general orders of not inquiring about a person’s immigration status.

“We’re not bound to participate in any raids or anything like that,” he said, “typically they can notify us if they are coming into our city.”

Activists like Sanchez want the Board of Education to approve these policies as soon as possible.

President-elect Trump has said he wants deportation to focus on undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Inauguration Fun Facts and Firsts


The inauguration has been a key event at the start of each presidency since George Washington took the first oath of office in 1789.

Certain features have remained fairly constant over the years, including the oath and the inaugural address. Other aspects, such as the date, have changed. The event has grown and evolved with the times, and there have been some mishaps along the way.

Inaugural Addresses and Botched Oaths

The inaugural address has been an important staple of the ceremony. Presidents use the speech to inform the country of their intentions. George Washington was able to convey his in 135 words during his second inauguration, the shortest inaugural address on record.

William Henry Harrison set the record for longest speech at 8,495 words, which he delivered over nearly two hours without hat or coat in the middle of a snowstorm. His death has long been attributed to his prolonged exposure to bad weather at his March 4 inauguration, but modern historians and public health specialists believe he died due to sewage-contaminated water at the White House.

One of the most awkward moments in inauguration history occurred in 2009, when Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath during President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, putting the word “faithfully” in the wrong place. Though it was a minor slip of the tongue, concern was raised that Obama may not have been properly sworn in. The next, they repeated the 35-word oath, in the right order, at the White House.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, however, takes the prize for the most botched oath. During President John F. Kennedy's inauguration, then-Vice President Johnson pledged to accept his post “without any mental reservation whatever,” instead of “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” At the time, no one seemed to notice or care. 

So Help Me God

Prior to his swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1933, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, attended a service at St. John's Episcopal Church, near the White House. The couple repeated the ritual before Roosevelt’s 1937 and 1941 inaugurations, and arranged for a private service at the White House the morning of his fourth inauguration.

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The Roosevelts set a precedent that has been followed by every president since, with nearly all making their morning worship stop at St. John's Episcopal.

Passing the Torch

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The president-elect and the outgoing president proceed together to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremonies. It's an image that helps convey the peaceful transfer of power. This tradition has endured, with few exceptions, since 1837, when Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson rode together in a carriage made from wood taken from the U.S.S. Constitution.

Outgoing President John Quincy Adams did not attend the ceremony of his successor, President Andrew Jackson, in 1829. The relationship between the two men was damaged by the bitter campaign of 1828. Jackson blamed the verbal attacks made by Adams and his political allies for the death of his wife.

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President Andrew Johnson did not accompany President-elect Ulysses S. Grant to the Capitol, nor did he attend the inaugural ceremonies. Instead, he remained at the White House signing last-minute legislation. 

Pomp and Circumstance

After his second inauguration, in 1805, President Thomas Jefferson rode on horseback from the Capitol to the White House amid a spontaneous gathering of members of Congress and citizens, accompanied by music performed by the Marine Band — a procession that grew into the present-day's inaugural parade. The Marine Band has played at every presidential inauguration since.

Over the years, the parades have become more elaborate. In 1837, Martin Van Buren became the first president to have floats at his parade. Nearly two centuries later, in 2009, more than 10,000 people from all 50 states marched in President Barack Obama's first inauguration. 

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And though turnout to witness the inauguration of the first black president of the United States shattered records, it was Dwight D. Eisenhower's first inaugural parade in 1953 that takes the cake for most extravagant. That one had 25,000 marchers, 73 bands, 59 floats, horses and elephants, and went on for more than four hours. The Texas-born president was even lassoed in the reviewing stand by a cowboy who rode up to him on horse.

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It was that excess that forced a cap on the number of marchers at 15,000. 

A Ball of a Time

While some tickets for President-elect Donald Trump's Washingtonian Inaugural Ball — one of three he is holding — are being scalped for as much as $1,250 a pop, the 400 tickets to James Madison’s celebration went for $4 each.

The Inaugural ball is a highlight of Washington society. Over the years, organizers have increased the number of events due to a high demand for tickets. Obama attended 10 official balls for his first inaugural in 2009. President Bill Clinton's second inauguration in 1997 had an all-time high with 14.

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The most riotous inauguration reception goes to President Andrew Jackson. After Jackson was sworn-in on March 4, 1829, he invited the American public to the White House for a celebration. Overwhelming crowds ruined many White House furnishings, and forced the new president to make a getaway through a window. White House staff reported the carpets smelled of cheese for months afterward.

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A Stormy History

President Franklin Pierce awoke to heavy snow on his inauguration day on March 4, 1853. Though the skies looked to be clearing by noon, it began to snow again as he began his inaugural address. It came down heavier than ever, dispersing much of the crowd and ruining plans for the parade. Abigail Fillmore, first lady to outgoing President Millard Fillmore, caught a cold as she sat on the frigid, damp platform during the swearing-in ceremony. The cold developed into pneumonia and she died at the end of the month.

The day before President William H. Taft's ceremony, a blizzard pummeled Washington, D.C. Strong winds toppled trees and telephone poles, trains were stalled and city streets were impassable. Sanitation workers shoveled sand and snow through half the night. It took 6,000 men and 500 wagons to clear 58,000 tons of snow and slush from the parade route.

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Despite the freezing temperatures, a large crowd gathered in front of the Capitol to view the inauguration, but the weather forced the ceremony indoors. Just after the swearing-in, the snow tapered off.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan's second swearing-in ceremony, on Jan. 21, had to be held indoors and the inaugural parade canceled because of record low temperatures — the coldest inauguration ever. Medical and military authorities had warned Reagan that "exposed flesh can freeze within five to 10 minutes, triggering considerable danger to many of the parade and ceremony participants, spectators and the general public."

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Mike Pence Shops for Ice Cream


Soon-to-be Vice President Mike Pence makes emergency ice cream runs just like the rest of us -- except for the gang of Secret Service agents trailing him, of course.

Pence confirmed a Washington Post report Thursday that said he was spotted at a Safeway store not far from the Chevy Chase house he is renting until he moves into the United States Naval Observatory.

He tweeted, "I can confirm that when Mrs. Pence asks me to pick up ice cream, I pick up ice cream."

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A shopper who saw Pence told the Post the Vice President-elect grapped two half-gallon tubs of Turkey Hill brand ice cream.

"Pence shook hands with a cashier on the way out but otherwise went undisturbed. He left in a convoy of three SUVs," the report said.

The report did not say which ice cream flavors Pence bought.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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1 Dead, Others Injured After Serious Crash in Salem


One person has died after a serious crash on Old Colchester Road in Salem, according to state police.

State police said they responded to a three-car accident in the area of Witter Road around 5:30 p.m. Before troopers arrived on scene a fourth vehicle drove through the crash scene and hit the accident victims, who were standing outside their vehicles, according to police.

Two LifeStar helicopters were initially called to airlift one child and one adult patient to the hospital but one was canceled, according to Quinebaug Valley Emergency dispatchers.

Police said a third person who was transported to a local hospital was pronounced dead Friday night.

It was not clear how many people were involved or the seriousness of their injuries.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Cops Involved in Tamir Rice’s Death Face Administrative Charges


The two Cleveland police officers involved in the 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice face administrative charges that could lead to them being suspended or losing their jobs, NBC News reported. 

Neither Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice, nor his partner, Frank Garmback, were criminally charged in the Nov. 22, 2014 shooting outside the Cudell Recreation Center. 

If found guilty of administrative charges, they could face penalties ranging from 30 days' suspension to termination, NBC affiliate WKYC reported.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rice Family Attorney

Dangerous Winter Storm Wallops Plains, Midwest


Ice storm warnings were in effect across much of the nation's midsection Friday as a winter storm moved through the area and gave it a glazing of ice that was quarter inch thick in some places, NBC News reported.

Oklahoma’s 77 counties were under a state of emergency, the National Guard was called to Missouri and the NFL announced it was delaying Sunday’s playoff game in Kansas City.

Overnight Friday, the icy conditions were expected to spread across the Ohio Valley and over the Appalachians to the nation's capital, where preparations are already underway for President-elect Trump's inauguration next week.

Photo Credit: AP

Man Sentenced 150 Years for Sex with Teen Babysitter


A jury in Ellis County sentenced a man to 150 years behind bars after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting his teenage babysitter.

Daniel Paul Hammons, 33, of Ferris, was found guilty earlier this week of two counts of child molestation and sentenced to 75 years behind bars on each charge.

In a statement Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson said Hammons hired the 14-year-old daughter of a family friend to take care of his children while he and his wife worked.

Hammons then "began grooming the child by complimenting her body, rubbing up against her, telling her about his marital problems, asking to see her breasts, and eventually engaging in sex acts with the child," according to Wilson's statement.

Prosecutors said before he left for work, Hammons would take the babysitter into the children's room supposedly to clean, but would instead lock the door behind him and engage in sex acts with the girl.

"The babysitter was able to give details about the offenses including what the defendant would do to her," Wilson said. "She was also able to describe a tattoo on Hammons' penis."

The jury also heard from two others who said Hammons touched them inappropriately. Hammons' charges were increased to felonies because he had a previous conviction for burglary of a habitation.

Hammons' jail terms are to be served consecutively and he will not be eligible for parole until 2076. He was also fined $20,000, $10,000 for each count.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Trump Slams Rep. John Lewis and His District on Twitter


President-elect Donald Trump fired back at Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., — and his congressional district — on Twitter Saturday morning, writing Lewis should focus on "fixing" his district rather than questioning his presidency. 

Trump's tweets come after Lewis told NBC News in an exclusive interview Friday that he does not view Trump as a legitimate president. Asked in an interview for "Meet the Press," Lewis said he believes Russians "participated in helping this man get elected" and "helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton."

"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart," Trump responded on Twitter.

He continued: 

"(not to......mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!"

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Lewis, a leader in the fight for civil rights, represents Georgia's 5th congressional district. The district includes most of the Atlanta metropolitan area and other cities, including Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur. 

It's also home to a number of historically black colleges and universities, including Morehouse College and Spelman College. 

Photo Credit: AP
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Immigrant Groups Rally Around Country as Message to Trump


From California to Washington, D.C., Arizona to Wisconsin, immigration activists are holding protests aimed at soon-to-be-sworn-in-as-president Donald Trump, NBC News reported.

Immigration groups and various other supporters have planned some 70 events for Saturday "to send a clear pro-immigration message to the incoming administration and rally for immigration rights," the groups say.

"We need to protect our communities and let Trump and everyone against us know that we are ready to fight back," said Julio Calderon, who works in higher education for undocumented immigrants at the Florida Immigrant Coalition. The coalition of 62 organizations plans a protest with about 10 other groups.

Photo Credit: AP

1 Dead, Firefighter Injured Following Shelton Fire


One man has died following a Shelton fire that sent the victim and a firefighter to the hospital, police said. 

Shelton fire officials said they responded to a fire on Saturday at a multi-commercial building on 30 Hull Street around 5:20 a.m. Two people, including one firefighter, were sent to the hospital. 

At one point, flames were burning out of the top floor windows of the structure which was used for multiple businesses, Assistant Fire Chief Nick Verdicchio said.

The blaze was knocked down in about a half hour and was contained to the top floor of the building, Verdicchio said. 

As of 8 a.m. the fire marshal remained on scene investigating the blaze.

Fire crews from Derby, Shelton and other nearby towns responded to the scene for mutual aid while Trumbull and Monroe fire departments assisted with station coverage, officials said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown and remains under investigation.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Alex Sferrazza

Light Snow, Flurries Heading to Parts of Connecticut


A weak storm will come close enough to brush the state with light snow and flurries on Saturday evening. 

Light snow will break out around dinner time. The northern part of the state will experience some flurries while the southern area will have a period of light snow. 

The coastline could get some accumulation and our First Alert meteorologists aren't ruling out a half inch of snow for towns by the beaches. Be cautious of slippery travel conditions. 

The snow will only last a couple of hours, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Sunday will have bright sunshine and temperatures in the 30s. A warming trend between 40s and 50s will hit by the middle of next week. 

SpaceX Launches First Rocket Since Explosion in Florida


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from California on Saturday, marking the company's first launch since a fireball engulfed a similar rocket on a Florida launch pad more than four months ago.

The two-stage rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:54 a.m. carrying a payload of 10 satellites for Iridium Communications Inc., which is replacing its entire global network with 70 next-generation satellites.

The satellites were expected to be deployed about an hour after launch.

About nine minutes after the rocket blasted off, to cheers from the control room, its jettisoned first stage landed upright on a so-called droneship in the Pacific Ocean south of Vandenberg — part of Spacex's effort to make boosters reusable.

The company has succeeded six times previously with landings on a barge or ashore.

A camera aboard the first stage gave viewers a you-are-there experience as it returned to Earth, flared landing rockets and made a perfect vertical touchdown on the floating pad.

The return to flight is an important step for SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk's California-based company that has about 70 launches in line, worth more than $10 billion. In addition to commercial launches, SpaceX ferries supplies to the International Space Station and is developing a Falcon capable of carrying astronauts to the station.

SpaceX officials say they identified all possible causes of the Sept. 1 accident during prelaunch testing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and took corrective action.

The accident destroyed the rocket and its payload — a satellite that Facebook wanted to use to spread internet access in Africa — and grounded the Falcon 9 program as an investigation took place.

SpaceX announced this month that investigators concluded the accident involved a failure of one of three helium tanks inside the rocket's second-stage liquid oxygen tank.

The investigation involved the Air Force, NASA, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, which issued a license for the launch.

The September accident was the second time a Falcon 9 was destroyed. In June 2015, a Falcon loaded with space station supplies disintegrated shortly after liftoff. SpaceX determined that a support strut broke.

The 10 satellites launched Saturday are part of McLean, Virginia-based Iridium's project to replace its existing network of satellites that provide global voice and data communications.

The program, called Iridium NEXT, was not only delayed by the SpaceX accident but again most recently as a powerful storm headed into California last weekend.

Iridium plans six more Falcon 9 launches, each carrying 10 satellites, as part of a technology upgrade expected to be completed in 2018.

SpaceX's effort to recover Falcon first stages is intended to reduce costs by recycling a major piece of the launch system.

The first stage contains tanks for liquid oxygen and kerosene as well as nine engines that power the rocket and payload into space, then separates 2½ minutes into flight as the single-engine second stage ignites and continues on to place payloads in the proper orbit.

The first Falcon booster to safely land back on Earth now stands outside the company's headquarters.

Photo Credit: AP

Adidas Rereleases Highly Coveted Sneaker, Chaos Ensues


It's well-known that New Yorkers are crazy for fashion. NYPD officers witnessed the chaos first hand as officers responded to calls for crowd control at Adidas' Fifth Avenue location Saturday morning.

A line of eager sneakerheads snaked along 46th Street from Fifth Avenue toward Madison Avenue on Saturday morning for their chance to purchase the highly coveted Adidas "OG" NMD, a sneaker that the athletic wear brand originally released in December 2015 to much fanfare.

Brands frequently rerelease popular colorways of classic sneakers, notably Jordan Brand, whose Air Jordan retros typically sell like hotcakes within an hour or two after they drop. In Adidas case, the shoe was so hot that cops had to shut down the store by 11 a.m.

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Online shoppers sat at their computer at the crack of dawn, some up at 7 a.m., trying their luck at coveting the 2017's hottest release so far. A couple of fanatics were sucessful at getting through checkout, though the website allegedly crashed and froze several times in the process.

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One wife with "lucky hands" purchased a pair for her husband, who was ecstatic.

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Other sneakerheads weren't so lucky and took to social media to express their frustrations about the missed opportunity.

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Even those who aren't sneaker aficionados wanted in on the NMD madness.

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If you tried to get your hands on a pair but weren't able to, don't fret, as several resellers posted links on social media within hours after the release ended.

Looking good will cost a pretty penny — one Facebook user says the sneakers resold as high as $1,000, but have now dropped within the $400 to $600 range. That's at least 3.5 times the original price point of $170. A pair of original release OG NMD's allegedly sold for $1,200 before the announcement of a rerelease last September.

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Your wallet might be hurting, but beauty is pain, right?

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Glastonbury and State Police Investigate Suspicious Death


Glastonbury and State Police are at a home on Candlewood Road in Glastonbury for what they are calling an "untimely, suspicious" death. 

Glastonbury Police said there is no danger to the public and more information will be released as the investigation continues. 

This is a developing story, and we have a crew on the way to the scene.

We will update the story as more information becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

More Freezing Rain, Temperatures Expected for Central US


A third wave of sleet and drizzle could hit parts of the central U.S. on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, weather officials said, and temperatures threaten to stay near or below freezing and add to the treacherous mix.

Ice buildups of one-quarter to slightly less than a half inch were expected late Saturday and Sunday morning from southeastern Kansas to central Missouri.

Becky Allmeroth, a state maintenance engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said ice is "the most difficult storm to fight."

"We are keeping up with the changing conditions, but it is a continual battle," she said of the department's around-the-clock scrambling to treat the glazed roads. "The precipitation is coming in waves, and we have to apply more salt."

Icy roads Saturday created dangerous conditions and travel headaches for many people who avoided authorities' pleas to stay indoors except for necessary outings.

Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma was closed in two places because of wrecks, including the jackknifing of several semitrailers in icy conditions in Caddo County. And along an icy part of I-40 in Custer County, a 45-year-old Oklahoma City man died after his semitrailer struck two others early Saturday and then was hit by a car. The patrol is investigating the wreck.

Saturday's storm followed one Friday that dumped freezing rain from Oklahoma to southern Illinois.

A slick roadway was suspected in a Missouri wreck Friday that killed a 33-year-old woman whose sport utility vehicle slid on an icy freeway overpass south of St. Louis and struck several trees. Later Friday, icy conditions were blamed for a pileup involving more than 20 vehicles in Wichita, Kansas, but no serious injuries were reported.

The storm's onset prompted the NFL to move the AFC divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and host team the Kansas Chiefs to Sunday evening to allow more time to treat roads and parking lots at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was scheduled to kick off at noon but now will start at 7:20 p.m.

Many residents had prepared for the storms by stocking up on bread, milk and other necessities and by buying flashlights and generators to have on hand in case power gets knocked out.

Photo Credit: AP

World Diplomats in Paris to Urge Renewed Mideast Peace Talks


Fearing a new eruption of violence in the Middle East, more than 70 world diplomats gathered in Paris on Sunday to push for renewed peace talks that would lead to a Palestinian state.

The conference is meant to be a forceful message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that much of the world wants peace and sees a two-state solution as the best way to achieve it in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Netanyahu has snubbed Sunday's conference as "rigged" against Israel, and Trump's incoming administration isn't taking part.

"A two-state solution is the only possible one," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in opening the conference, calling it "more indispensable than ever" to solve the protracted conflict.

"Both parties are very far apart and their relationship is one of distrust — a particularly dangerous situation," Ayrault added. "Our collective responsibility is to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. We know it is difficult, but is there an alternative? No, there isn't." 

French diplomats fear Trump will unleash new tensions in the region by condoning settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians and potentially moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Paris defending American interests at the conference, in his last major diplomatic foray before he leaves office. It marks the end of eight years of failed U.S. efforts at Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

Netanyahu declined an invitation to a special meeting after the conference, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was initially expected, but his visit to Paris was postponed.

According to a draft statement obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, the conference will urge Israel and the Palestinians "to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution."

It also will affirm that the international community "will not recognize" changes to Israel's pre-1967 lines without agreement by both sides.

Pro-Israel demonstrators planned a protest Sunday in Paris.

The final declaration also may warn Trump against moving the embassy, a move that could be seen as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital after decades of insisting that the city's status must be determined by direct negotiations.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have not negotiated even indirectly since a failed U.S.-led peace effort in 2014.

Photo Credit: AP

Fire Destroys Wethersfield Home


A house in Wethersfield is a total loss after a fire ripped through the home Sunday morning.

According to a fire department captain, the fire in the Nott St. home got a large head start on firefighters.

By the time the department had arrived on scene just after 3 a.m., the entire home was engulfed in flames.

Neighbors who first spotted the flames said it appeared to start in the back of the home.

"I saw flames billowing out from, I live on Tanglewood Road, and I can see from my bedroom window flames shooting out from the house here on Nott Street," said Salvatore Papa.

No one was home at the time of the fire. The homeowners and their son are in Florida celebrating a birthday.

“This is my worst nightmare, that I would be gone somewhere come home and my house would be on fire," said neighbor Marilyn Lewis.

The fire marshal is on scene, but will have to wait to begin his investigation until the entire fire is put out.

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