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Maritime Heritage Festival to Scale Back Amid State Budget Concerns


With Connecticut budget dollars scarce, the Maritime Heritage Festival, which draws thousands of people to the New London waterfront each September, is preparing to scale back this year.

Robin Goldschlager, treasurer of OPSAIL CONNECTICUT INC., the non-profit that runs the festival, said they received $60,000 from the state Department of Economic and Community Development last year to help put it together, but they likely won’t be awarded money this year.

OPSAIL CONNECTICUT is not asking for funding, but is instead collecting donations and will have to make some cuts.

With the fiscal year starting in July, the non-profit doesn’t want to question whether they can afford the appearance fees for ships, Goldschlager said. It costs between $5,000 to $10,000 per ship or schooner.

"Fees are about $50,000 (total). So (it would put us) in a very iffy situation. We're still going to be committed to doing a festival, we're just going to do it a little different flavored,” Goldschlager said.

OPSAIL CONNECTICUT is reaching out to the military to see if they'll bring their ships for people to tour, since it won't cost any money, and will possibly be inviting military bands, according to Goldschlager.

Ronald Dutes owns the new Fatboy’s Kitchen and Bar on Bank Street downtown and his restaurant took part in Chowder Challenge last year. He said the festival brought people into his business so there could be a loss with a scaled back event.

“Anything that's bringing people downtown is better for all the businesses down here. And anyone who lives in the downtown area,” Dutes said. “So, that might hurt a little bit.”

Ed Dombroskas, executive director of the Eastern Regional Tourism District, said the southeastern part of the state is the largest area for tourism in the state and there’s a lot of budgetary uncertainty, so other events might be affected this summer, too.

In 2014, the governor’s statewide marketing budget was about $12 million. The proposed budget for 2018 is $8.3 million.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

CT Lawyers Being Disciplined for Misconduct More Common Than You Think


When Valent Kolami hired a lawyer in order to become a legal citizen, he was shocked when the attorney didn’t do what she promised. 

“I pay her and she never did her job,” said Valent Kolami regarding an attorney he ended filing a grievance against.

Kolami is an Albanian immigrant whose dream is to become a legal U.S. citizen, so he wasn’t deterred when his request for political asylum was denied by the immigration court. He hired attorney Judith Sporn to handle his appeal.

“Every Tuesday, we go into the immigration office, we say, ‘we are here, and we are waiting for our lawyer to fill out our paperwork’,” Kolami explained.

However, that paperwork never made it to the immigration office in New York as it was supposed to, because attorney Judith Sporn had sent it to Hartford, which made it late. The delay caused the appeal to be denied.

According to court documents, the attorney didn't know about the appeals unfavorable result, because she hadn’t checked on its status for seven years.

Sporn only found out it had been denied when Kolami was detained by immigration officers. By that time, there was a deportation order for him.

While, Sporn had helped Kolami get several “stay of removals”, eventually, he was locked up in immigration custody and held for more than a year.

Now, his chances to become a citizen are a lot worse.

“My only fear is to be deported from this country,” said Kolami. “To which I no want for my kids.”

Kolami fears the life and business he’s built in the United States for the last decade could be ripped away at any moment.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters found Kolami’s story is similar to others who hired Judith Sporn to represent them in their immigration cases. He and other clients filed formal complaints against her with the Statewide Grievance Committee.

As a result, Sporn’s license to practice law has been suspended for two years.

After NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters visited Sporn's office, her own attorney reached out to us and said they have appealed the suspension. An opinion just released Monday by the appellate court indicates that appeal was denied.

Complaints against attorneys are common. In Connecticut from 2013 to2016, 3,500 grievance complaints were filed. In 700 of those cases, “probable cause” was found by the grievance committee; the most common reason for complaints was a lack of diligence and communication by an attorney.

“That harm can be widespread for attorneys who don't get the work done on time and don't tell their client the news,” said Michael Bowler, counsel to the Statewide Grievance Committee. Bowler is one of people who helps decide if an attorney will be disciplined.

“We don't see the things that hit the news a lot, for instance lawyers stealing money, or lawyers engaging in fraud,” explained Bolwer. “Those tend to be the exceptions the real cases we get, the typical cases we get are the ones we are seeing here with attorney Sporn.”

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters found complaints about other attorneys for things like not showing up to client's hearings, not taking clients phones calls or telling them results of court proceedings. In one case, an attorney failed to turn over $20,000 to her client from a real estate deal.

Kolami said it’s very important for an attorney who is representing someone in their immigration case to do their job.

“The need help from you,” said Kolami. “They have (their) life your hand.”

Attorneys can end up being suspended or ultimately disbarred if they violate laws governing conduct. For more information on how to file a complaint against an attorney, see the

 link here

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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'Frat Lives Matter' Painted on UConn Spirit Rock


Greeting the UConn students on their Storrs campus Monday morning was a message spray-painted on the school's spirit rock that reads: "Frat Lives Matter."

"I think it's too soon," said student Dez Williams.

Late last week, six kappa sigma fraternity brothers were arrested in relation to the death of a 19-year-old student. In October, Jeffny Pally died after being run over by a campus fire SUV. Police said Pally had an alcohol level more than three times the legal limit and had been sitting against the fire dept garage doors when they opened for the vehicle.

Authorities said Pally had been drinking at the off-campus kappa sigma house. Those six frat brothers now face several charges, including permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol.

"I think it was insensitive," said Williams.

The UConn Interfraternity Council released a statement on their Instagram account, saying in part:

"The wildly inappropriate and insensitive messages of 'frat lives matter'painted on rocks throughout our campus this morning do not in any way reflect the values or beliefs of the UConn Interfraternity Council or any of our 12 recognized member fraternities."

"We want to see positive things coming out of UConn especially in greek life," said Anu Dwarki.

Dwarki is in greek life and said he expects more from other members.

"I want to see more positive things," said Dwarki.

UConn staff did not say if any investigation will be launched or any action will be taken. There are rules to painting the spirit rocks which any organization can do.

As long as the work "fosters pride within student groups,"

Williams said the newest paint job which says the painted words "UConn Nation" couldn't come soon enough.

"I think that looks way better than what was on before," said Williams.

Authorities are not sure who wrote "Frat Lives Matters." But, according to the IFC one greek life member from every organization on campus helped to repaint the rock.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Danbury Vows to Cooperate With Federal Immigration Policies


As the president tried to tighten enforcement of immigration laws, one Connecticut mayor said his city will be cooperating with federal authorities. 

“We’ve always worked with ICE, we’re going to continue to work with ICE but only on criminal conduct," Danbury's mayor Mark Boughton said. 

Many immigrants living in Danbury said they are looking for more communication from the city to find out what level of cooperation they would have with federal authorities.  

Boughton said the city will cooperate with locating undocumented immigrants if federal authorities, such as Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), approach them for help.

NBC Connecticut spoke with Mexican immigrant, David Sanchez, who owns a restaurant in town and while he agrees with the mayor’s stance, he said there’s a lack of communication about what that cooperation means. He also said there’s so much fear in the immigrant comunity, he is losing business. 

"My business has been quiet and down since then because I think a lot of people I know is scared, is scared because of that," Sanchez said. 

Albert Collado, originally from the Dominican Republic, owns a tax preparation service in Danbury. Collado agrees there needs to be more communication with the city – and the lack thereof has made some of his clients nervous. Just last week, 20 people came in to obtain a power of attorney, he said.

"So that they can get power of attorneys to anybody else that will take care of their kids in case that they’re stopped while their working or in the street,” Collado said. 

Boughton stressed that people would not be stopped on the streets.

“What we don’t do is stop people on the street and ask them for papers or look to deport people willy-nilly because that’s not whats been prioritized by the department of homeland security,” Boughton said. 

Of the 90,000 people living in Danbury, an estimated 5,000 people are undocumented immigrants, according to the city.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Hate Acts Prompt Vigil in South Windsor


People huddled for a unity vigil outside the South Windsor Town Hall on Monday.

There are concerns close to home.

“Recently a high school student was verbally abused with racial slurs by someone in the community. And that’s something we do not accept in our town,” Saud Anwar, a South Windsor town councilman, said.

Then across the country police are investigating some twenty anti-Semitic bomb threats on Monday.

Detectives say one targeted the Hebrew High School in West Hartford.

“We need people to take it seriously. Just because there may not be anything to the threats, the fact that the threats are being made is cause for some kind of action,” Becky McCann of Vernon, said.

And Monday’s hope for tolerance comes a day after a disturbing discovery at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

A rabbi reported that vandals had knocked over 460 headstones.

They are brazen acts of hate that left some in disbelief.

“I haven’t seen in the past 90 years. This is terrible,” Herb Shook of Vernon, said.

The vigil in South Windsor was also a show of defiance; to not be afraid in the face of threats and to bring people together during a time of divisiveness.

“God is in everybody. So all human beings are equal. And that’s the faith we believe in,” Amarjit Singh of Shelton, said.

Besides the West Hartford school Monday, threats have been made against Jewish community centers in the state in the past couple months including one in West Hartford and one in Woodbridge.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Manhunt for Miss. Man Wanted for Killings, 'Random' Shooting


Authorities said they are searching for a 28-year-old Mississippi man wanted for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, killing another woman and shooting a jogger, NBC News reported.

On Monday, officials began a nationwide manhunt for Alex Deaton, who is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault. Deaton, who police said was armed and considered dangerous, is also a person of interest in the killing of a 69-year-old woman.

Authorities said Deaton also allegedly shot the jogger early Friday morning near Jackson in a "random act of violence." Later that day, a sheriff's deputy found the body of Deaton's girlfriend, who was strangled to death, in a nearby apartment. 

Deaton's last known location was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and local and federal authorities set up a $27,500 reward for information leading to the man's arrest.

Photo Credit: Mississippi Bureau of Investigation

UConn Health Head Defends Firefighter Decision


The head of the UConn Health in Farmington is defending his decision to close down the 16-member on-campus fire department in June.

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that the closure could save as much as $3,000,000 in taxpayer dollars every year.

The firefighters and its union said they want their jobs saved and for the public to know how complex the campus is, including the type of training they do in order to keep everyone safe.

On Sunday night, an UConn firefighter put out a small fire in a dental clinic on campus in the main building. The building sustained smoke and fire damage, plus water damage after the sprinkler system was activated. Firefighters say the fire was under control as mutual aid arrived and that timing is the big concern.

Agwunobi assures the public that safety won’t be jeopardized.

"We will not allow safety to be at stake, let me put it that way. We’re a health system- safety is our stock and trade. We’re going to make sure once it’s announced our plan is to keep people safe," said Agwunobi

Agwunobi authored the recent letter announcing plans to shut down UConn Health’s fire department on June 1. He said officials will implement a more standard model that they’re still working on for the next 90 days.

"When all is said and done most if not all the FF are able to, will have jobs somewhere. We’ll retain at least six with us, there are vacancies on Storrs’ and across the state," Agwunobi added.

But, it’s not just about their jobs, Glenn Terlecki, president of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union representing the small department, said.

Terleck I said firefighters are adamant that safety will be sacrificed.

“If incidents happen on campus, the response time from surrounding communities is going to be delayed," Terlecki said.

Internal documents obtained by NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters appears to show frustration manager Kathy Eagen has with UConn not presenting a detailed model so far and says keeping firefighters on campus is “non-negotiable and necessary.”

Eagen has refused several requests to be on camera.

“The bulk of the work would be us, it’d be done internally. We obviously want the town to see the plan and weigh on any concerns before putting anything out before its final," Agwunobi stated.

UConn Fire records show that they have responded to 23 fire suppression incidents last year, along with 34 haz-mat calls.

Farmington, which only has eight fulltime firefighters and more than 135 volunteers, would continue to help put out fires on campus, but would now request mutual aid for serious haz-mat calls, both at the center and in Farmington.

“The vast majority of the work our department does isn’t fire suppression, is not fighting fires. Its very important work but its things like permitting, education, checking fire extinguishers," Agwunobi told NBC Connecticut.

“We’ve had four big larger incidents in the last six months, three caused by human error and one electrical this past weekend is still under investigation," Terlecki added.

Firefighters and union leaders remind us that it only takes on catastrophic incident.

"In the event of an emergency where response time is not done efficiently or training of people showing up on scene, there could be catastrophic damage in billions of dollars in range, if research goes up in smoke," Terlecki

Agwunobi said he’ll be present on Tuesday in Farmington for a meeting to answer questions about the move to shut down the fire department.

Interview With Alleged Face-Eating Suspect to Be Released


An interview with the former college student accused of allegedly killing a Martin County couple and attempting to eat one victim’s face will be made public on Tuesday.

The interview that Austin Harrouff did inside his hospital room with the "Dr. Phil" show is expected to be released by the State Attorney’s Office. The release comes after Harrouff’s attorneys did not attempt to stop a judge’s ruling last week, following a motion filed by a West Palm Beach television station.

Harrouff, who was a student at Florida State University at the time of last summer’s attack, is accused of ambushing and killing John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon in their garage, stabbing both then attempting to eat Stevens’ face. Harrouff also stabbed a neighbor who tried to stop him, authorities said, but that victim was able to recover.

Toxicology tests showed Harrouff did not have any designer drugs in his system at the time of the attack. He was hospitalized immediately after the incident and later taken into police custody once he was released.

In a statement, attorney Nellie King said the release of the interview – which never aired on television – shows Austin “when he was in a vulnerable state, recovering from acute medical and psychological trauma.” King went on to say that while she agrees that nothing on the tape is prejudicial toward her client, she says that “sensationalizing the details of this case pre-trial does nothing to advance justice in the courtroom.”

King also says that an investigation continues into how the recording took place, since Harrouff was in protective custody with Martin County sheriff’s deputies guarding his room.

Photo Credit: WPTV

Trump's Big Promises Come Due in Congress Speech: Analysis


President Donald Trump has projected plenty of confidence about taking American in a bold new direction, but more than a month into his first term, no one seems to know exactly what direction that is, NBC News reported.

He's given limited or contradictory guidance to Congress on three major parts of his agenda: health care, tax reform and infrastructure. That puts pressure on his White House to fill in the blanks when he speaks to Congress at the Capitol Tuesday night.

The speech is traditionally a platform for laying out the president's policy wish list, and Republicans will be paying close attention to how his many promises from the campaign trail will be turned into action, especially with divisions starting to show on health care reform.

"I don't think you can do big reforms without White House leadership and air cover," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist and longtime adviser to Republican leaders, told NBC News. "They have to establish priorities."

Photo Credit: Getty Images, FIle

Law Enforcement Acknowledges Lax Reporting of School Bus Driver Arrests


How do you know the person driving your child to and from school is safe?

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters found there's a pretty high bar for applicants to pass to get the license required to drive a school bus. The investigation found there are several holes in that system, including an acknowledgement by police that they're not holding up their end of the bargain.

"You're pretty much putting the safety of your children in the school bus drivers' hands," Kristin Fuentes, a mom from Bristol, said.

In December, police arrested a driver in Shelton after he was captured on camera dozing off at the wheel multiple times.

That driver admitted to taking methadone and also said he may have taken Nyquil instead of Dayquil. He has entered not guilty pleas to 30 felony counts of risk of injury to a child, but was immediately fired.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters did an extensive investigation into what safeguards are in place to ensure the men and women who transport our kids every day are safe.

DATTCO Chief Operating Officer Cliff Gibson said in his industry, there's no room for error and finding good drivers is a challenge.

"They have to like children, have a good temperament. They have to be safe drivers of course, but that kind of is expected," Gibson said.

State law requires anyone seeking a school bus endorsement on a commercial drivers license to clear several initial hurdles:

  • state and FBI criminal history checks
  • a check of the state child abuse registry
  • a drug test
  • and they must have a clean driving record.

That's before an applicant begins a nearly two-month training program.

Once they're certified, drivers receive ongoing training, physical exams and are subject to random drug tests. Plus, they're held to a higher standard than the typical driver, according to Bill Seymour, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

"All C.D.L. holders need to be very careful of what they do and that they obey all of the laws whether they're behind the wheels of their private vehicles or they're in the vehicles, most importantly, that their C.D.L. is required for," Seymour said.

Any conviction on a motor vehicle infraction in their personal vehicle or on the job will lead to a suspension of an endorsement to operate a school bus.

Furthermore, school bus drivers must be pulled off the road if they are arrested for any felony or fourth-degree sexual assault.

"The police are required to report to us the arrest of someone when they find out that they have a public passenger endorsement or a school bus driver's license," Seymour said.

That notification must happen within 48-hours.

"The state in this law is being a little bit more preemptive as opposed to waiting for a conviction which may be a year or more down the road," said Monroe Chief of Police John Salvatore, who is president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.

But the Troubleshooters spoke with officers in several local departments who tell us they knew nothing about the law. Salvatore said his inquiries revealed there's far less compliance than he expected.

"I realized that we were not as familiar with the statute as we should be. I just appreciate your bringing it to our attention. Hopefully, we preempted any negative outcome," said Salvatore.

Salvatore said he has sent a memo through the chiefs of police throughout Connecticut to reemphasize the reporting requirements of law enforcement.

Photo Credit: NBC OTS

Car Submerged in Water in New Haven

Connecticut Ranks 12th Best State to Live In


Connecticut is one of the 12 best states to live in, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

The magazine ranks Connecticut 12th and we’re number 1 when it comes to dental visits for both children and adults. We rank 4th nationally for education, 12th for healthcare. See how the state stacked up.  

“Connecticut is a great place to put down roots, raise a family, and grow a business – but our government must always be working to make it even better,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “Our state residents should be particularly proud that their home state is a leader when it comes to gender equality and education, and home to some of the most educated and skilled workforces in the country. We have much more work ahead, but there is no denying the real progress taking place already.” 

U.S. News & World Report ranks Massachusetts number 1. 

Connecticut is number 2 for gender equality, number 3 for educational attainment, No. 3 for college readiness, and No. 3 for state integrity. Connecticut is also ranked the seventh safest state in the country.  

“I’m pleased that Connecticut has been recognized as a top state by the very residents who live and work here,” Lt. Governor Wyman said in a statement. “Being ranked second in gender equality is especially relevant since it is directly related to the overall health and well-being of our families, our economy, and the strength of our communities. We have more work to do, but this is a strong indicator that we are on the right track.” 

The U.S. News “Best States” report can be found online.

  • Here are the top 14:
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Iowa
  • Utah
  • Maryland
  • Colorado
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Nebraska

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Chase from Massachusetts to Granby Ends in Crash


Three teens have been taken to the hospital after hitting several trees on Route 10 in Granby following a police pursuit that started in Southwick, Massachusetts.

A Southwick officer tried to pull over the erratic driver of a 1999 Honda on Route 10 around 10 p.m., police said, but the driver refused to pull over and crossed the state line on Route 10 into Granby.

The Southwick officer then lost sight of the car but came upon it when it crashed near Lakeside Drive at 10:46 p.m., police said.

Granby firefighters pulled three teens, two girls and a boy, from the heavily damaged car and all three were all taken to nearby hospitals. Their injuries are not life-threatening.

Route 10 was closed for several hours and reopened around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning. No police officers from Connecticut were involved in the crash, according to Granby police.

The North Central Accident Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash.

Photo Credit: Stringr

Man Dead After Fire in Westbrook: Fire Chief


A man is dead after a fire in an apartment on Economy Drive in Westbrook this morning, according to the fire chief.

The fire was reported just after 7:30 a.m. and the Westbrook fire chief said it started in a basement-level apartment and was contained to that unit.

The man who died was in that apartment, officials said. There were no signs that he tried to escape and emergency crews are looking into whether he succumbed to smoke inhalation.

Firefighters at the scene had to evacuate about 10 people from other apartments who were not aware that there was a fire in their building, officials said.

Route 1 is closed at Economy Drive because of the fire, according to state police. 

The fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 State Troopers Charged With Kidnapping, Assault


Two off-duty state troopers have been arrested in Wethersfield and charged with kidnapping, assault and additional charges.

Troopers Rupert Laird and Xavier Cruz were arrested in connection with an alleged assault in Wethersfield Saturday that was reported on Monday.

Wethersfield police released a redacted log entry showing they received a call about the alleged assault from a nurse at St. Francis Hospital on Monday.

The nurse told police that a patient came into the emergency room and said he had been assaulted on Saturday.  The log entry was given to NBC Connecticut after a Freedom of Information request for details on the investigation.

Cruz turned himself in to police on Monday night and Laird turned himself in on Tuesday morning, according to Wethersfield police. 

Both state troopers have been arrested on six counts and charged with kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm, deprivation of rights by force of threat, assault second degree with a firearm and conspiracy. 
Cruz was released last night after posting $750,000 bond and Laird is due in court today.

Both state troopers have been arrested on six counts and charged with kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm, deprivation of rights by force of threat, assault in the second degree with a firearm and conspiracy. Cruz was released last night after posting $750,000 bond and Laird is due in court today.

State police said earlier this week that the two troopers, Laird from Troop C-Tolland and Cruz from Troop K-Colchester, had been reassigned to non-police duties as the investigation continues. 

The police union did release a statement late Thursday night.

"We have heard the reports of that the Wethersfield Police Department is conducting an investigation into an incident involving two off-duty State Troopers. As with any investigation, we caution against reaching any conclusions until all of the facts have been gathered.  Out of respect for the Wethersfield Police Department, we will not be commenting further until their investigation is concluded," the statement says. 

Wethersfield police said they are investigating in coordination with the State's Attorney office and State Police.

The matter had been referred to the Connecticut State Police Professional Standards for review.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

'Make Racism Wrong Again' Hats Advocate Racial, Gender Equality


President Donald Trump's infamous "Make America Great Again" hats got a liberal makeover.

A couple in Fairfax County, Virginia, is selling blue hats that read "Make Racism Wrong Again," "Make Sexism Wrong Again" and "Make Hatred Wrong Again" to advocate for racial and gender equality.

The two lawyers say they have fulfilled 2,000 orders for the hats and T-shirts with the slogans. The "Make Racism Wrong Again" hat outsells products with the other two slogans 10 to 1, Eric Clingan said.

Clingan and his wife Lachina Dovodova, a Muslim-American, said they were "aghast" on election night when Trump beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. 

"We said to ourselves, we could either be upset and just gripe about it, or we could do something about it," Clingan said in his office, surrounded by stacks of merchandise.

He and Dovodova launched the website OurLiberalPride.org and sent the first batch of hats and shirts to high-profile figures in politics, entertainment and sports.

"Hamilton" playwright Lin Manuel Miranda sent back a thank-you note.

"Thank you so much for the lovely shirt and hat. We need to keep working until sexism and racism are history," the handwritten note on gold paper says.

So did some members of Congress. And an online post by music mogul and entrepreneur Russell Simmons gave sales a boost.

Clingan said the merchandise was not designed to be a big moneymaker. Half the proceeds go to organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. Buyers decide who gets the donation.

"We're assisting organizations that we think are threatened by this current administration," he said.

Fairfax County Trump supporter Puneet Ahluwalia said he thought the blue hats potentially were divisive.

"Why can't we just all stay with the focus of 'Make America Great Again,' make our country great again, believe in the Constitution?'" he asked. "That protects all minorities, all religions, all races."

Clingan is pushing ahead and is adding a blog and podcast to his website.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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Bear Spotted in Southington Led to Schools Being Placed in Secure Mode


Two Southington schools were placed in secure mode for a little while on Tuesday morning after a bear was spotted nearby. 

A message the superintendent of schools sent to parents said a black bear was seen in the vicinity of DePaolo Middle School, moving in the direction of Spring Lake. 

Hatton Elementary School and Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School were briefly placed in secure school mode, but are now back to normal operations, according to the superintendent.

He added that police reported the bear has moved east, in the direction of Rogers Orchards, and away from any of any schools.

Between March 1, 2016 and Feb. 10, 2017, there were 96 reports of bear sightnings in Southington, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Waterford Police Officer Exposed to Fentanyl


A Waterford police officer was hospitalized on Monday after being exposed to fentanyl during a traffic stop.

The officer pulled over a vehicle on Route 85 and arrested the driver for possession of heroin.

While the officer was searching the suspect's car, he was exposed to the fentanyl, which had been mixed with the heroin, according to police. He began to feel sick, light headed, and his heart began racing, police said.

The officer was taken by ambulance to the hospital as a precaution. He was released after a short time and was back to work on Tuesday.

The suspect, Nicholas Constantine, of Charlestown, Rhode Island, is facing several drug charges.

Photo Credit: Waterford Police

SUV Hits Marching Band at Ala. Mardi Gras Parade, 12 Hurt


A dozen members of a marching band were injured Tuesday after an SUV "accelerated and struck them" at the start of a Mardi Gras parade in Gulf Shores, Alabama, a city spokesman said. 

Four of the injured are in critical condition at local hospitals, Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown said in a news conference. 

The 73-year-old driver is being interviewed by police, who do not believe the act was intentional. There was no indication he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Brown said. The man is undergoing testing. 

Members of the Gulf Shores High School Band who were struck "are our children," said Brown, who noted that the parade has been a fixture in the community for 39 years.

"This is our community. These are our friends," he said. "And to have this happen — it's horrible." 

The Gulf Shores Police Department said the parade was canceled.  

The incident comes after 21 people were hospitalized when a car drove into a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans on Saturday night. Police said the suspected drunk driver took a breath test that showed a blood alcohol level nearly triple the legal limit, The Associated Press reported.

Photo Credit: WPMI
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Pilot Dies After Small Plane Crash


Authorities are investigating after a small plane crashed into a multi-condo building in Methuen, Massachusetts, killing the pilot, a former mayor of Newburyport.

It happened on Riverview Boulevard, across the Merrimack River from the Lawrence Municipal Airport, around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Methuen police and FAA officials say the 60-year-old male pilot was the only person on board the single-engine Sonex aircraft, which originated from Lawrence Municipal Airport, at the time of the crash and died at the scene.

The plane was on a one-mile final approach to Lawrence Municipal Airport when it crashed into a condo at Prides Crossing on Riverview Boulevard, the FAA added.

Although the name of the deceased pilot has not been officially released by investigators pending next-of-kin notification, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday said Alan "Al" Lavender, who served as Newburyport's mayor from 2002 to 2003 and as a city councilor for eight years before that, was killed in Tuesday's crash.

Holaday called Lavender's death "a big loss for our city."

"He was such a caring and giving person," she said, adding that he encouraged her to first run for city council and eventually for the mayor's job.

The condo complex was the site of another small aircraft crash in 1999.

No residents were injured in the crash, which was contained to the building's attic, according to Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni.

The FAA will investigate and the NTSB will determine a likely cause for the crash, according to officials.

Skies were partly cloudy with calm winds and a 10-mile visibility at the time of the crash, meteorologist Michael Page said.

Photo Credit: SonexAircraft.com/NBC Boston
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