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Shoveling Snow Can Be Deadly for Men: Study


Men are more likely to have a heart attack after a snowfall, probably from shoveling snow, according to Canadian researchers.

NBC News reported that researchers found a slight increase in heart attacks and deaths following a storm in Quebec. With each day of snow, these likelihoods increased. A single day of snowfall raised a man’s risk of heart attack by just less than one percent, the researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“Men are potentially more likely than women to shovel, particularly after heavy snowfalls,” researchers wrote. “Snow shoveling is a demanding cardiovascular exercise require more than 75 percent of the maximum heart rate, particularly with heavy loads.”

The study found that men were one-third more likely to die after an eight-inch snowfall compared to a dry day. Researchers did not find a similar trend with women.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Rescue Underway for Person Who Jumped in Enfield River: Police


A rescue is underway for a person who jumped in a river in Enfield on Monday. 

Police said they are investigating following a report where witnesses said someone jumped from the Enfield-Suffield Bridge into the Connecticut River. 

The river flows south so police are investigating the Parsons Road boat launch area. 

No other details were immediately available. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Bank Manager Pleads Guilty to Stealing From Private Accounts


An Avon bank manager pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from customer's accounts, the state attorney's office said. 

Carrie Caesar, 46, of New Britain, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to embezzling more than $500,000 from customer accounts, Deirdre M. Daly's office released in a statement. 

According to court documents, Caesar was a bank manager at Webster Bank in Avon Between 2003 and 2016, Caesar admitted to withdrawing $535,600 from customers' accounts and took "steps to conceal her misconduct," the prosecutors said. 

All over Caesar's six victims were at least 79 years old or older whom she had developed a relationship with as an account manager. 

Her bond was set at $150,000. She is expected to be sentenced on May 8, 2017. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pope Francis: Clerical Sex Abuse an 'Absolute Monstrosity'


Pope Francis asked forgiveness for what he called an "absolute monstrosity" in the Roman Catholic Church's history in the preface to a new book by a survivor of clerical sexual abuse, NBC News reported.

"It is difficult for a victim of pedophilia to speak out about what they have endured and to describe the trauma that still persists many years later," Pope Francis writes in "Father, I Forgive You" by Daniel Pittet, a Swiss man who was repeatedly raped by a Capuchin friar as a child.

Francis has spoken out against clerical sexual abuse before, but his latest word on the subject is uniquely personal, with the pontiff saying the suicides of victims "weigh heavy on my heart, on my conscience and on the Church as a whole."

The book will be published in Italy on Thursday but La Republica newspaper ran the pope's preface in full on Monday.

Photo Credit: AP

Safety Still Priority at Connecticut Ski Slopes


More and more skiers are hitting the slopes after a busy week of snowfall but managers at the resorts said safety should still be a priority before heading down the hill.

With enough snow on the ground to go around, skiing is ramping up at Middlefield's Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort.

"This past weekend has been the busiest weekend of the year so far," said CEO Sean Hayes.

While business is good, managers said so is safety and they are reminding customers that safety and skiing go hand-in-hand.

A helmet mandate at this park has been instated for all skiers wanting to carve out some of the 225 snowy acres.

"Pretty important because if you fall over sometimes you could hurt your head," said Sammie Greer, a child skier. 

The 7-year-old said he gets how safety is important.

"I've been falling about 75 percent of the time," said Ben Golart.

Golart just began skiing.

"You can never be to careful, even if you're a professional you could always hit that one little bump," Golart said.

The skiers responsibility code posted on the National Ski Areas Association's website shares beneficial info for skiers, like skiers in front have the right of way and a skier should always stay in control.

"We're putting a piece of wood on our feet and we're going down the side of a mountain," said Hayes.

Powder Ridge managers say skiing is fun and always will be. As long as safety goes along for the ride.

To see the skiers responsibility code click here.

CFPB Put Student Financial Aid Settlement Checks in the Mail


An Enfield man reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds about what he thought was a fraudulent check.

Enclosed with the check for $69.99 was a letter addressed to Vincent Klezos. It was from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and explained Klezos was receiving the check as reimbursement for annual fees paid to a company called Student Financial Aid Services, Inc.

Klezos never took out student loans. Thinking it was a scam, he reported it NBC Connecticut Responds.

Our consumer team contacted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which confirmed the payment is legitimate. It stems from a 2015 settlement; the CFPB started distributing checks at the beginning of February.

“The payments to consumers from this enforcement action don’t actually relate to student loans; there were recurring fees charged by SFAS for FAFSA preparation services. Many consumers visited the website FAFSA.com and were subsequently charged a recurring fee each year without their knowledge or consent," CFPB spokeswoman, Sam Gilford said.

Those fees ranged from $67 to $85 and were renewed annually.

Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. agreed to pay $5.2 million in restitution. The company also ceased operations and turned over FAFSA.com to the U.S. Department of Education.

Town Snow Budgets Tested Following Busy Four Days


Before Thursday of last week, cities and towns were feeling pretty good about where they stood when it came to paying for snow removal.

There were two notable weekend snow storms that led to accumulation but outside of those two, there weren't many severe weather events that were notable.

Fast forward to Thursday morning and municipalities got a wake-up call.

“These past 96 hours, we experienced a lot of snowpack on our roads, a lot of challenges with slushing up from the warmer temperatures on Friday, so it’s just a continuation and continuation of clearing and treating, clearing and treating," said John Phillips, the Director of the West Hartford Department of Public Works.

West Hartford sets money aside in its budget to cover the costs associated with 17 or 18 storms every year.

Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said the speed and intensity of the snow that hit between Thursday and Sunday made up for lost time in the fiscal year.

“Up until a few days ago, winter was going really well," Van Winkle said. “We were hoping to run a surplus in our budget, now we’re running about where we normally expect.”

Phillips added that taxpayers' money goes to ensure roads are always in the best condition at a given moment, and said there have been numerous minor weather events that required a full commitment from the Department of Public Works, which includes 24 trucks, eight to ten contractor plows, and about a dozen parks employees clearing and treating parking lots.

Phillips with West Hartford DPW said, "We’ve been out almost a dozen times dealing with ice events or just little slushy events. That’s still overtime and that’s still treating the roads for a full application, whether that’s for an evening commute or a morning commute or both of them.”

In Simsbury, the town has already spent two thirds of its total overtime budget for snow removal, and one third of that came from Thursday to Sunday.

"There's winters we win and there's winters where we lose," said Tom Roy, the Director of Public Works for Simsbury.

He said the town bases its overtime budget on an eight-year average.

The town didn't spend much last Thursday, Roy said, because most of that storm hit Simsbury during normal working hours.

Simsbury First Selectman Lisa Heavner said town tax dollars go to good use during and after snow storms, which is why the streets are all completely plowed so quickly after Sunday's storm.

She said, "Nobody likes paying taxes, but at the local level when you pay your taxes, they go to everything you use every day.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Montville Woman Watch Chicken Ownership Rules Changed


A Montville woman is hoping to change the town rules on owning chickens on residential property.

Tara Crossley always wanted chickens as pets. The teach her kids responsibility and her family can eat the eggs they lay, she said.

"They're fun and they're cool, there's a million different varieties, they're so great with kids."

But currently in the town of Montville, people can't own chickens if they have less than five acres of land.

Crossley didn't want to violate town rules, so she proposed a change to the town zoning regulations.

The town planner and her staff even helped revise it. The change would let residents to keep six hens on property less than five acres, but more than a half acre, as long as they're in a coop. No roosters would be allowed. They're often affiliated with noise and aggressive behavior.

Many who live in Montville take no issue with the proposal. There's even a Facebook group in support.

"They can be dirty at times but they can also be profitable, save money," said Dustin Johnston, who lives in Uncasville.

"I think as long as they contain (them) and take good care of them, I have no objection," said James Riden, of Montville.

Some said they have friends who are already violating the rules.

"They have a little over three acres of land and you barely even hear them," said Bill Bond, who lives in Montville.

Crossley said she explored possible concerns about attracting predators, potential noise and cleanliness.

"I think it's good for everybody. Chicken poop is great manure for gardens. You can't say that about dog or cat manure."

The town's Planning & Zoning commission is taking up the issue Tuesday at 7 p.m. The public is invited to come and share their opinions.

Crossley has three roosters. She realizes under the amendment she will have to find a new home for hers.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Towns Slashed by Malloy Warn of Historic Tax Increases


The municipal leaders who manage the budgets of cities and towns across Connecticut are now warning of what could be much higher property taxes if Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed budget were to be enacted. 

“This budget that the governor has introduced would result in the largest tax increase we ever had in this community," said Ron Van Winkle, the Town Manager of West Hartford.

West Hartford is one of the roughly 130 municipalities seeing deep cuts to the amount they are sent in combined municipal aid from the State of Connecticut.

In West Hartford's case, it's a proposed reduction in state grants totaling more than $11 million. The biggest cut would be to education funding, a sore subject in West Hartford because the town already doesn't receive the amount its entitled to under state law.

“We don’t spend a lot of money per pupil yet we have some of the finest schools in the State of Connecticut and in America, Van Winkle said. "Money’s not the issue. A cut of this size makes us look at making very difficult decisions like eliminating jobs."

The governor had said in the weeks preceding his budget address that his administration was taking into account the totality of a given town's fiscal conditions, factoring in indebtedness, mill rate, and fund balance.

Major cities like Waterbury, Hartford, and New Haven received significant boosts in their state aid, in addition to Derby, Middletown, and Norwich.

In Simsbury, First Selectment Lisa Heavner and her director of finance have calculated that the overall cut for Simsbury amounts to more than $4 million.

That figure includes reductions in aid, and the new cost of teacher pensions, which the governor wants towns to cover one third of moving forward.

“This is not necessarily a fix," Heavner, a Democrat, said. "This is just a shift in the costs to municipalities. It’s a very big hit for a little town like Simsbury.”

Heavner says the town's only recourse to make up for the loss of funds and new expense would be to raise property taxes, something Heavner wants to rule out.

“To put it on a regressive tax like the property tax, is nonsensical to me.”

Van Winkle in West Hartford has been in and around the budgeting process in Connecticut for decades. He says the budget the governor proposed is simply not a serious document.

“I don’t think his proposal has a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving," he said.

Ice Flying Off Cars and Hitting Windshields


An NBC Connecticut news vehicle was traveling on Route 9 in Farmington behind an 18-wheeler with ice and snow on the top of the trailer.

A sheet of ice from the top of the truck flew off, right onto the windshield. The snow and ice left a cloud of white, which left the crew briefly unable to see the roadway.

The crew and vehicle were fine, but it was a harsh reminder of the importance of removing ice and snow from vehicles.

Some weren’t as lucky: Sandi Brunet of Woodbridge sent NBC Connecticut a photo after one of her loved ones had a piece of ice hit their car along I-95 in Old Saybrook, cracking their windshield.

It was a sight others had seen, as well.

“When I left work I had seen a vehicle and also a tractor trailer lose the pieces of loose ice flying around and people are trying to dodge it go around it,” said Lester Puzio of West Hartford.

Some drivers tell us they take extra precautions to avoid a similar situation.

“If I see that someone didn’t clean up the snow from the top, I just slow down and like try to go as far as I can,” said Paulina Pawlak of New Britain.

It is the law to remove snow and ice from your vehicle before driving in it.

If you don’t, you could face at least a $75 fine. If it causes and accident, damages another vehicle, or hurts someone, you could face up to a $1,000 fine. Commercial vehicles could face up to a $1,250 fine.

IRS Debt Collection Program May Lead to Confusion, Help Scammers


NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters caught up with officials from the IRS to find out more about their new debt collection program and how they're going to protect taxpayers from getting scammed.

The collection program came about because a law called the FAST Act passed in 2015 requiring the Internal Revenue Service to use private debt collectors to go after tax money on older accounts. The money would help pay the FAST Act’s $305 billion price tag to fund transportation and infrastructure.

Senator Richard Blumenthal voted for the bill, however, he has concerns about the IRS collection provision.

“This provision was not considered separately it came out of the Finance Committee as part of the overall bill that provided billions of dollars to Connecticut for rebuilding our roads and bridges,” said Blumenthal. “This provision simply benefits a private industry at the expense of tax payers and leads to potential abuses, and that is why I opposed it and will seek to repeal it.”

The IRS hired the companies CBE Group, Performant, Pioneer and Conserve to make the collection calls. However, this isn’t the first time the agency has tried to use debt collectors.

In 2006 the IRS hired Pioneer, CBE Group and a company called Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson to try to collect an additional $1.4 billion in past due taxes. It fired the debt collectors in 2009 saying it wasn't cost effective to use private collectors and the “work is best done by IRS employees.”

“We are certainly doing everything this time around to make it more efficient to make sure that tax payers are aware on their side,” said Patricia J. Russomagno, IRS spokesperson. “And then the private debt collectors are adhering to our tax payer bill of rights. When they call , they are doing the same thing that we would do in terms of the way they treat the taxpayer and they opportunities that they allow the taxpayer when they call and ask for payment.”

However, But one IRS debt collector has recently been accused of not acting in peoples best interest. Pioneer was mentioned in lawsuits filed by the Illinois Attorney General and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau accusing the business and its parent company Navient of taking advantage of borrowers.

In a statement Navient calls the claims “unsubstantiated” and “politically driven.”

The IRS responded to us in an email saying “The existence of a lawsuit or a potential lawsuit does not affect the IRS’s relationship with its contractors.” They also said they have requirements to “prevent inappropriate activity on the part of the contractor.”

Real or fake, collection calls make money. Government officials say since 2013 scammers have dialed their way to $54 million.

The IRS said you will get a letter in the mail before a debt collector calls you and they will never demand money on the spot . Remember when in doubt pick up the phone and call the IRS directly .

Consumer Finance 

Illinois Attorney General

Full Navient Statement 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Clinton Delivers Wry Response to Flynn Resignation


Michael Flynn was among the harshest critics of Hillary Clinton's private email server during the presidential campaign. So it is hardly surprising that the former Democratic contender exacted a smidgen of wry revenge Tuesday after Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump's national security adviser, NBC News reported.

In his resignation letter, Flynn said the "fast pace of events" meant he provided "incomplete information" to Vice President Mike Pence and others about phone calls last year in which he discussed American sanctions with Russia's ambassador in Washington.

Flynn wasn't the only critic of Clinton. His son, Michael G. Flynn, circulated another fake-news story tying the Clinton campaign to the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory, alleging in December that she had used the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. to run a child sex-trafficking operation.

Clinton referenced all this in a wry message early Tuesday, in which she retweeted a joke by Philippe Reines, who worked for Clinton in both the Senate and State Department. Reines' tweet referenced the two Flynns and their "pizza obsession," and included a link to the Dominos job application.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Woman Says Phone Started Fire at West Hartford Home


A West Hartford resident was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after fire broke out in her home at 8 Rosemary Court and she said the phone that was plugged in on her bed caught fire.

Three people were home when the fire started and Lillia Burnett said her 9-year-old grandson is her hero because he smelled smoke.

"Only 9 years old. Isn't that incredible, my God. But guess what? We're all OK. Life,  you can't replace but house, you can replace. We are together, that's the greatest." 

The fire started in a second-floor bedroom at 1:30 a.m. and everyone was able to get out of the house by the time firefighters arrived and the family's 28-pound cat, Rupert, was rescued from the second floor of the home. 

Burnett said she got a loaner phone on Saturday night, activated it, plugged it in and had it by her bedside to use as an alarm.

"My grandson came in, smelled smoke," she said. Then they saw the phone caught fire, she said.

"I think he's the hero because he's the one that saved us," Burnett said about her grandson. 

Emergency crews said heavy fire was coming from two second-floor windows and there was smoke and water damage to the rest of the house. 

One firefighter was evaluated for minor burns and the fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Target Recalls 1,300 Patio Benches Due to Fall Hazard


Target has recalled 1,300 threshold patio benches due to a fall hazard, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Target initiated the recall after receiving six reports of the patio benches collapsing while in use, resulting in one report of a knee injury.

This recall involves Threshold Aluminum Top/Steel X Base patio benches that were sold individually — for about $150 — and as part of a six-piece dining set — for about $1,000. The benches were sold in Target stores and on their website from January 2016 through July 2016.

Consumers should stop using the recalled benches and return them to any Target store for a full refund.

For more information, call Target at 800-440-0680 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., visit target.com or go to Target’s Facebook page.

Online: Target Recalls Patio Benches Due to Fall Hazard

Photo Credit: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Crash Closes Route 63 in Bethany


  • Route 63 is closed in Bethany after a minor crash involving a car and a tractor-trailer near Pleasant Drive. 

State police said there is a ruptured fuel tank and crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are heading to the scene. 

Minor injuries are reported. 

Drivers are urged to seek an alternate route.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

I-91 South in New Haven Reopened


Interstate 91 South in New Haven was closed at exit 3 in New Haven after a crash early this morning. One lane is now getting by, but expect delays.

State police said a tractor-trailer carrying food went off the road around 2:30 a.m. and hit the guardrail, sending debris all over the road. 

The driver needed to be extricated.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Wind Gusts Cause Extensive Damage in Woodbridge Monday


It was a brisk and blustery night after a wildly windy day in Woodbridge Monday and the fire department responded to more than 30 wind-related incidents in town. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. 

“It was very rough. You could see trees swaying," said Kim Goclowski, who lost power for hours.

Trees toppled onto power lines on Beecher Road.

“You could hear it howling," she said of the wind. "The trees swaying was unbelievable".

Hyung and Nathan Paek also found themselves in the dark and they were searching their refrigerator for something for dinner by using a flashlight. 

“We’ve had a couple of outages here so we’re kind of prepared for these types of things," Hyung Paek said.

Woodbridge Fire Chief Sean Rowland said up to 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts tore through the town. 

“We had wires down, trees down, a tree on top of vehicle that we had to take care of," Rowland said. 

A large tree cracked and landed on a home on Old Amity Road where 13-year-old Arianna Gonzales and her family live.

"It fell so we can’t live here for the night," Gonzales said.

They were not hurt and a structural engineer will inspect their home to determine how severely the structure was damaged.

United Illuminating power crews were working for hours to get the electricity restored Monday evening.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Flynn's Possible Replacements: Petraeus, Kellogg, Harward


President Donald Trump appointed retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as acting national security adviser after Michael Flynn's resignation.

Kellogg, 72, is one of several potential picks for the permanent post, based on what senior administration officials told NBC News.

Kellogg, a decorated Army veteran, was a top policy adviser for Trump during his campaign and among the original contenders before Flynn secured the job, according to NBC News.

Other possible picks: Former CIA Director David Petraeus, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Petraeus, 64, is a retired four-star general and was once America's top official in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He had to step down as CIA director after it became known in 2012 that he shared classified information with a biographer who was also his mistress.

Harward, a former Navy SEAL, is the front-runner for the job, three senior officials told NBC News. Harward spent almost 40 years in the Navy and was on President George W. Bush's National Security Council with experience in several Middle Eastern countries as well as Somalia and Bosnia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, AP

A Quiet and Mild Stretch of Weather


Connecticut has experienced a period of active weather over this past week with two winter storms. 

The recent snowfall took Connecticut from below normal snowfall to above normal. Official weather records for inland Connecticut are taken in Windsor Locks at Bradley International Airport. Windsor Locks is currently 17.4 inches above what is normal for this time of year.

If you're not a fan of the snow there is some great news. NBC Connecticut Meteorologists are forecasting a quiet and mild stretch of weather.

Pleasant weather is expected today with sunny skies and temperatures in the low to middle 30s. 

Clouds increase a bit for tomorrow with a rain and snow showers possible. High temperatures will be near 40 degrees. 

The normal high temperature for this time of year is around 38 degrees.

We are already looking ahead to the President's Day Weekend forecast. We're forecasting very pleasant weather conditions with mostly sunny skies and high temperatures in the middle to upper 40s. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

Moe’s Offers $5 Burritos to Celebrate UConn 100th Straight Win


Moe’s Southwest Grill is celebrating the 100th consecutive win for the UConn women’s basketball team by offering $5 burritos in Connecticut Wednesday.   

Moe’s Southwest Grill is a sponsor of UConn athletics and in addition to the $5 burritos, it will also be giving away 100 bonus points to all Rockin’ Rewards customers who check in on the mobile app tomorrow. 

  • These are the participating restaurants: 
  • Avon: 385 West Main St.
  • Branford: 1060 West Main St.
  • Bristol: 641 Farmington Ave.
  • Brookfield: 174 Federal Road
  • Enfield: 25 Hazard Ave.
  • Fairfield: 2267 Black Rock Turnpike
  • Glastonbury: 2450 Main St.
  • Groton: 220 Rt-12
  • Hamden: 2100 Dixwell Ave.
  • Hartford: 30 State House Square
  • Mansfield: 195 Storrs Road
  • New Haven: 46 Whitney Ave.
  • Newington: 3145 Berlin Turnpike
  • Southington: 720 Queen St.
  • South Windsor: 535 Evergreen Way
  • Vernon: 35 Talcottville Road
  • Wallingford: 970 North Colony Road
  • Waterford: 903-915 Hartford Turnpike
  • Windsor: 697 Poquonock Ave.
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