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Cleanup, Parking Enforcement Continues in New Haven


The City of New Haven announced late Wednesday afternoon that the citywide parking ban will be lifted at 6 a.m. Thursday, but the overnight freeze isn’t making the cleanup any easier.

After this mid-March winter storm, New Haven’s Deputy Director of Emergency Operations Rick Fontana said the city has nearly used up its $750,000 snow removal budget.

“Our snow budget is basically pretty much depleted at this point and we’ve still got some winter weather left,” he said.

Fontana said that is the reality when you factor in overtime pay for public works personnel, plus the need to hire outside contracts to remove snow from 321 miles of roadway.

“There’s never a question of spending the money,” he said, “the Board of Alders would look at that and make some money transfers.”

On Wednesday morning, Yale graduate student Chris Lim needed to dig out his car on Humphrey Street to give his friend a ride.

“I knew that this was going be here,” Lim said, “this always happens when we get walled in like this and maybe there isn’t a better way.”

The mix of snow, sleet and ice is adding to the challenge of clearing the roads in the Elm City.

“We would love 12 inches of powdered snow,” Fontana said. “Now we have crusted mashed potatoes and the trucks are having a hard time moving it and it wreaks havoc on trucks, and breaks trucks,” Fontana said.

Fontana added some budgetary relief could come because both the Governor Dannel Malloy and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp made emergency declarations for this storm.

“What we’ll hope is that we get some reimbursement from the federal government,” Fontana sad, “it’s based on each county, so I think everybody is facing the same thing we are.”

West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien told NBC Connecticut his city is also hoping to get some money reimbursed because of the emergency declaration. He said West Haven is slightly over budget after this week’s storm, but the city would really feel the pinch if the shoreline gets slammed again.

On Orange Street, the tow trucks lined up for another day of parking ban enforcement around noon.

“We’re getting ready to go back out,” said Robert Holton from Tony’s Long Wharf Tow company, “we’re just waiting for the city to come out.”

Their assignment from the Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking was to remove the cars parked in the Lincoln-Bassett school parking lot.

New Haven allowed residents to move their cars into public school lots because of the citywide parking ban that started midnight Monday. A message went out at 7 p.m. Tuesday through the city’s alert system saying those cars needed to be moved by noon Wednesday.

Lilac Street resident Mary Griffin stopped them from taking her car away, but her daughter Tai wasn’t so lucky.

“I was trying to stop the guy when he towed it,” Tai Griffin said. “When I walking out of my door it was going down the street and I’m trying to stop him and he just kept on going.”

A message went out at 7 p.m. Tuesday through the city’s alert system saying those cars needed to be moved by noon Wednesday.

“After the street is cleaned, then let the people come back,” said New Haven Alder Delphine Clyburn. “Where can they put the vehicles? Look at Lilac, look at Butler St., where are they gonna put them?”

Clyburn rushed to the neighborhood after being notified about the tow operation.

“Their finances is not that much that they can just be paying for a tow,” she said.

“This is ridiculous,” Tai Griffin said. “We have nowhere to park, like look at this and we own property, we pay taxes. This is ridiculous.”

Four cars were towed from the Lincoln-Bassett school parking lot, Fontana said.

For anyone who had a car towed in the Elm City, it will cost about $200 to retrieve the car and pay the city’s fine.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

The Big Dig: No Easy Task


Areas of Connecticut were digging out from anywhere from 1-2 feet of snow on Wednesday, and some announced school delays for Thursday when it became clear that icy conditions it would be a multi-day effort.

Temperatures struggled through the 20s on Wednesday, meaning the snow, covered with a layer of sleet or rain, had turned to ice in most places.

"It's a little rough because it's ice," Tonie Carr, of Manchester said. "I got my snowplow worked for everything else, but come out this morning and the plow trucks stacked up the ice."

Ice coated cars and clogged up driveways and sidewalks. The heavy, slushy mess made it nearly impossible for some to clear it.

David Santiago of Manchester said "It’s bad...bad for the back, bad for the chest, and if you’re overweight you’re in a heap of trouble.”

So were a lot of people who had to "buck" their snowblowers just to get them to throw the snow. Many showed up at Capitol Equipment in Manchester because the heavy snow sleet rain mix wreaked havoc with their gear.

Capitol Equipment says the biggest thing going off its shelves was the littlest thing...sheer pins. Sheer pins are designed to break, and stop your snowblower from turning when something like a log, newspaper, or heavy ice and snow get snarled in it.

Temperatures won't climb much above freezing through the weekend, so the snow and ice will be in no hurry to melt.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Alexion Layoffs Raise Concerns with 'First Five' Program


Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the New Haven based company, announced this week that it would lay off 210 employees throughout the company.

According to a company spokesperson, the layoffs amount to about 7 percent of the entire company, and are due to a corporate restructuring.

The layoffs, even though they won't exclusively hit Connecticut employees, shined a spotlight on the state's "First Five" program, aimed at securing and luring major employers to the state.

“If I was an equity investor like the state is, I would want to sit down and know exactly what they’re doing and make sure this agreement is air tight," said Sen. Len Fasano, the Republican President Pro Tem of the Senate. Fasano has advocated for more close oversight and transparency through reporting in all state deals with private companies.

“We shouldn’t stop it," Fasano clarified, noting the state to state competition for companies. "We should have greater oversight and input.”

Alexion could receive as much as $51 million in total state incentives. They include a $20 million forgivable loan which has already been achieved, up to $25 million in tax credits, and a $6 million grant for a new lab.

“As a taxpayer in the state, people should feel very comfortable that the company continues to be a great contributor to our economy," said Catherine Smith, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, which manages the state's economic development programs.

Smith points out that even if some layoffs are felt in New Haven, the company has still delivered more jobs than were required by the agreement with the state in order for the company to realize its full allotment of state giveaways.

“Alexion promised to hire 200 to 300 people. In reality, they hired over 500 people," Smith said.

As a matter of fact, according to state records, the company hired as many as 827 people as of July 2015, making them compliant with the First Five program.

Supporters of state investment in private companies around the country typically point to the creation of indirect jobs, increased income and property taxes, and other benefits of the state stepping in.

In a statement, Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed Republicans critics of the First Five program, saying, "While some may call for pulling the rug out from under our major employers in attempt to score political points, we will continue to focus on strengthening our economy by providing greater stability and predictability for businesses throughout the state.”

A spokesperson for the company said Alexion has more than 1,000 employees currently in Connecticut, but wouldn't say how many layoffs would be in the New Haven office.

The company released a statement, saying, “Alexion initiated a companywide restructuring to help position the Company for sustainable, long-term growth that will allow us to fulfill our mission of serving patients and families with rare diseases."

Smith added that it's not a guarantee that Alexion will take advantage of all of the financial breaks it qualifies for and it's up to them to attain them.

"They’re going to earn them over the next six years and if they don’t have the right number of employees if they haven’t spent the capital they said they would, they won’t get the full tax credit. They may not get any of the tax credit.”

Sen. Fasano says he still wants to see more oversight, and at the very least, the state has a right to demand answers for why there are layoffs at a company where taxpayer dollars are invested.

“When you see a company laying off people that we give money to it begs the question, are they upholding the agreement they signed with the state where we invested money, who’s watching them, who’s talking to them?”

3-Year-Old Lived Alone with Dead Mother for Days: Police


Police are investigating after finding a woman dead and her 3-year-old daughter living alone in an apartment on Silver Lane in East Hartford, where the toddler survived by eating cereal she found on the floor, police said.

Deputy Chief Beau Thurnauer said police are investigating the case, though there was no immediate evidence that any crime took place. There were no obvious signs of criminal activity or forced entry, according to police. 

A social worker went to check on the child Monday because she had missed day care and found the 37-year-old woman dead in bed.

Police said that the child's survival was "remarkable" and that the girl had been alone in the home for several days with nothing to eat but cereal on the floor.

The child was taken to Connecticut Children's Medical Center for evaluation. She was dehydrated but otherwise in good condition, police said.

The Department of Children and Families was called in. It was not immediately clear who had custody of the child.

Neighbors told NBC Connecticut they were shocked by what happened.

Jermain Hawkins said he knew something was wrong when he saw police Monday.

"I heard about the daughter that was in there ya know so I just thank God everything went well on that part at least," he said.

Susan Tash, who lives in the same building, knew the mother and daughter and said that the victim was a single mother. Tash said she heard some unusual noise from the apartment recently but didn't think much of it at the time.

"I started hearing that about a week ago and it was really loud and the baby would scream and cry while the TV was on and then she would stop, but the TV still would be blasting," Tash said.

Tash said she had no idea something was wrong or she would have done something.

"I was horrified - I wish I went up there when that TV was blasting," Tash told NBC Connecticut.

Police are awaiting a report from the medical examiner on the woman’s cause of death.

More details were not immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Hartford Bar Where CCSU Student Fell to Her Death to Close


The Angry Bull Saloon in Hartford will close its doors for good after voluntarily canceling its liquor permit following an investigation into the untimely death of a CCSU student who fell from the building's roof earlier this month, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Police said 18-year-old Taylor Lavoie, of East Granby fell to her death from the building’s roof after visiting the bar on March 3.

The bar first voluntarily surrendered its license for suspension on March 3 so DCP and the Hartford police could conduct an investigation into the business’s security measures and policies.

On Monday the Hartford police chief sent a letter informing the establishment they would be required to have a paid police detail every day its opening to ensure public safety, costing the business $584 dollars per officer per night.

On Wednesday DCP announced that the bar decided to surrender its license and close. The DCP investigation into the bar is now closed.

Records indicate the Angry Bull Saloon has been in operation for a little more than three years. They also indicate the business had recently come up on the Hartford Police Department's radar screen for underage drinking.

The Angry Bull Saloon moved into space formerly occupied by a business called The Pour House, according to documents obtained by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. It also appears, according to documents on file with the Hartford Planning and Zoning Department, that some of the same principals involved with The Pour House also had roles with the Angry Bull Saloon.

The bar does not appear to have had any complaints on file against it with the state Liquor Control Division until recently. The Hartford Police Department alerted the division about potential underage drinking issues three times - last November, then again this January, and a third time in March.

Liquor Control and the Hartford police were in the midst of planning a "sweep" at the bar, aimed at catching underage drinking, according to the state. The situation evolved into a full investigation by both agencies after Hartford police said Lavoie was a patron of the bar before she fell four stories from the roof of the building to her death. Police are looking into whether or not alcohol was a factor in her death and await further information from the Chief Medical Examiner.

Authorities said Lavoie accessed the roof of the building through the bar.

The State Liquor Commission became involved in the investigation because Lavoie was underage.

The investigation into Lavoie’s death is ongoing.

“The Hartford Police Department Major Crimes Division is continuing its investigation into the tragic death of Taylor Lavoie. The investigation remains open. We have many, many entertainment venues in our city that serve alcohol,” said Deputy Chief Brian J. Foley in a press release. “Working with the DCP, we will continue to scrutinize these venues to ensure they operate in accordance with state law and take appropriate action as necessary.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Submitted Photo

Canada's PM Warns Trump About NAFTA Plan


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an exclusive interview with NBC News, warned that U.S. jobs would take a hit if President Trump withdrew from NAFTA.

Trump has vowed to leave the trade agreement if he cannot renegotiate it to benefit American interests. But Trudeau said he is open to negotiation, saying the agreement has "led to a lot of great jobs for a whole lot of people on both sides of the border."

"There's always opportunities to talk about how we can make [NAFTA] better." Trudeau said. "I very much take him at his word when he talks about just making a few tweaks."

If Trump were to withdraw from NAFTA, or if he were to implement punitive tariffs, the move could lead to the loss of 31,000 U.S. jobs, according to a study published in January by the Center for Automotive Research.

Photo Credit: AP

Maddow Says She'll 'Keep Plugging Away' at Trump's Taxes


When Rachel Maddow walked onto Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” stage Wednesday night, the MSNBC host looked comfortable in a black blazer and jeans. She was also wearing some new sneakers.

“They are my ‘You Got the President’s Tax Return’ sneakers,” Maddow said.

It was a coveted scoop, obtaining documents that President Donald Trump had yet to release himself. But, Maddow admitted that the 2005 return wasn’t a “huge, damning bombshell.”

Instead, the return is important because it is simply “the first piece in the jigsaw," she explained.

“I [still] want to know who sent them. I have no idea,” Maddow said. “I want to know if there’s more where that came from. And I want to know why the president won’t release more of them.”

America may not know why Trump won’t show his returns himself, but it’s clear he’s not ashamed of the one Maddow obtained.

“It’s certainly not an embarrassing tax return,” he said on Fox News Wednesday night.

But Maddow countered, “If you’re so psyched about [the 2005 return,] give us some more.”

Though exclusive, the document Maddow revealed on her Tuesday night broadcast, sent to David Cay Johnston of DCReport.org in the mail, only shows that Trump made more than $150 million in 2005 and paid about $38 million in federal taxes, a roughly 25 percent tax rate.

It contradicts speculation from some of his opponents during the campaign that Trump doesn’t pay federal taxes, thanks to a write-down he was eligible for, revealed in a state tax return leak published by The New York Times.

But the document doesn't say where Trump's income comes from. Maddow explained to Fallon that that is another reasons to see returns, besides finding out Trump's wealth and taxes paid. Sources of income could show ties to Russia, China or foreign banks.

“If he’s got any sort of financial entanglement that might … change what he does on behalf of the country so as to deal with his personal stuff, we really need to know that,” Maddow said. “It’s a national security concern.

“And if none of those things are true … then show us the tax returns so we can stop freaking out about it. Because, otherwise, we’re gonna continue to worry that that might secretly be what’s driving him as long as he doesn’t show us what every other president has shown us.”

Amid the commentary and speculation, Fallon suggested that Maddow's scoop means she is “the person that people say, ‘Yeah, I want to share my information with her now.'”

Maddow said that “feels like a really big responsibility,” one she didn’t take lightly before her Tuesday night broadcast.

The anchor said she and her team worked “all day Monday” and “all day Tuesday” to make sure the documents weren't forged. She said they talked to tax experts, “followed the chain of evidence” and gave the White House hours to respond. The crew even produced alternate shows in case the documents proved to be false.

But, as the White House confirmed, the return is real. And Maddow said she’s going to be just as diligent with the other pieces of that jigsaw puzzle.

“I want to be trustworthy to my audience,” the anchor said. “We’re gonna keep plugging away. We’re gonna get this thing answered … And we’re gonna do it piece by piece by piece.”

Major Crimes Investigating Shooting in Hartford


Major crimes is investigating after a victim was shot in Hartford on Wednesday night. 

Police responded to Coolidge Street just before 11:30 p.m. to investigate the shooting and the victim said had been driving home when a dark sedan pulled in front of him at Brookfield and Saybrooke streets and two men got out of it and pulled him from his car, police said.

The assailants pointed a pistol at the victim, demanded money and took $300 in cash from him, police said. 

During the assault, the victim tried to wrestle the pistol from one of the suspects and the gun went off, shooting him in the abdomen, according to police.

An ambulance responded to the scene and brought the victim to Hartford Hospital. The victim's injuries are not life-threatening.

Police said the victim could not identify the people who attacked him.

WATCH: 5-Year-Old Stratford Boy to Appear on Ellen DeGeneres


Nate Seltzer, a 5-year-old from Stratford, is an expert on geography and he’ll be showing off his skills this afternoon on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” 

Nate, a preschooler, is obsessed with maps and geography and knows all of the U.S. states and capitals as well as all of the countries in the world and their flags. 

See if you can name the countries and identify the maps as quickly as Nate can. 

Then, check out the surprise Ellen has for Nate and his reaction.

Photo Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

Delays on Route 2, Hartford Police Assisting With Traffic


Hartford police are assisting with inbound traffic at The Founders Bridge and Columbus Boulevard and there are delays on Route 2. 

They said there is a possible traffic light issue.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Coming Soon (Maybe?): World Awaits April's Baby Giraffe


April the giraffe continued to wait patiently for the arrival of her fourth calf, as did tens of thousands of people watching a live stream of her pen Thursday morning. But the wait may soon be over.

The now world-famous, long-necked beauty was seen on the live stream as more than 40,000 people watched moving about her pen, sitting up and sitting down throughout the early morning hours. She also appeared to be taking a nap as her neck was stretched all the way around her body. 

The zoo live-streaming her pregnancy throughout the world said in its most recent Facebook post that workers continue to monitor her behavior.

"We have noted April's behavior the past hour and are watching closely," the zoo said in its update. "This does not mean we expect immediate changes in situation."

That said, a vet report "suggests we should begin watching for a shift in calf position/and belly carry from low to back. This would suggest movement into place for birthing," the zoo posting said. 

Watch the live stream below (NOTE: weather conditions are causing intermittent disruptions).

April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by stretches of cold weather and her active calf. Nevertheless, April is in “great physical and mental condition,” and the vets who have been monitoring her say they’re pleased with her progress.

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds.

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.

Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

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Suspect in Newington Gas Station Assault Cooperating: Police


The day after releasing surveillance photos of a man police were looking for in connection with the assault of a person at a gas station last week, Newington police said they have a suspect.

Police have not identified the man, but said he walked out of the Mobil Gas Station at 50 Fenn Road around 10:30 p.m. on March 8 and lunged toward an unsuspecting victim who was sitting in a car.

The victim was unconscious for two minutes after the assailant grabbed him and threw him to the ground, causing the man to hit his head on the pavement, according to police.

The suspect never tried to help and the whole encounter was captured by surveillance cameras, police said.

After the assault, the assailant left in what police believe was a silver-colored sedan, possibly a Toyota Avalon.

Police said they received information about the assault after releasing photos and they have identified a suspect, who is cooperating with police.

The department has not released the suspect's name.

Photo Credit: Newington Police

Kidnap Victim’s Escape From Car’s Trunk Caught on Video


A woman was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced into the trunk of a car, but managed to escape—an ordeal that was caught on camera, NBC News reported.

The 25-year-old victim was abducted from outside of her apartment in Birmingham, Alabama. After telling her assailant that she wasn’t carrying cash, she was forced into the vehicle’s trunk, according to Sgt. Bryan Shelton. The woman managed to break free from the car’s trunk as her kidnapper was driving away from a gas station about six miles from the victim's home. The escape was captured on a surveillance camera at the station.

After breaking free, the gas station’s owner said the woman ran inside and called 911. According to police, the suspect was still on the loose early Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBC News
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Suffield Police Issue Warning After 2 Dogs Bitten by Raccoon


Suffield police issued a warning about rabies after two dogs were bitten by a raccoon Monday.

Polcie said they received two separate reports – one from Copper Hill Road and another from the area of Pine Road and Lake View Drive.

A raccoon was brought to the state lab and tested positive for rabies. Police remind residents to avoid wild animals and report any wildlife acting strangely by calling police at 860-668-3870.

Average Russian Bribe Jumps 75 Percent in One Year: Official


Graft is a booming business in Russia, where the average bribe has grown by 75 percent year-on-year according to the country's anti-corruption tsar, NBC News reported.

Greasing the palm of a Russian official cost 328,000 rubles ($5,600) on average in 2016, leading business daily Kommersant quoted Lt. Gen. Andrei Kurnosenko as saying Thursday.

"But often the bribes are much higher," the policeman said, according to the paper.

Photo Credit: Getty

South Windsor Man Charged With Choking and Restraining Woman


South Windsor police have arrested a resident who is accused of choking, restraining and threatening a woman during a domestic dispute at his home. 

Police arrested 50-year-old Jani Hatika on Monday and said he’s accused of assaulting the woman in his Glenwood Road home in February. 

Hatika has been charged with assault in the first degree, strangulation in the first degree, unlawful restraint in the first degree, cruelty to persons, threatening and disorderly conduct. 

He was later released on $350,000 surety bond and was scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on Wednesday. 

It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

Welcome to PyeongChang: A Look Inside the 2018 Olympic Venue


The 2018 Winter Games will begin in less than a year in PyeongChang, South Korea. Here's a preview of the Olympic host city's striking landscape, culinary tradition and more.

Photo Credit: Andrea Swalec/NBC4

AAA Dealing With Many Dead Batteries, Stuck Cars


More than 1,500 people called AAA Wednesday because their car batteries died or they got stuck in the snow and ice. 

On Thursday morning, AAA again averaged more than 100 calls per hour. 

Extremely cold temperatures can strain batteries, especially older ones, according to AAA. 

“Unfortunately because it was so cold, that does affect your battery. So best thing to do is, even if you’re not going to go out, run your car for a little bit, let it warm up, just so you know it starts,” Jordan Grzybowski, a fleet driver for AAA, said. 

Batteries typically last three to five years, but AAA recommends drivers get them checked annually after the third year. Regular checkups can help avoid sudden emergencies.

AAA also recommends packing an emergency kit with food, water and blankets in your vehicle in case you get stuck. They also advise drivers to regularly check tire pressure and tread. When tread depth reaches a 4/32 of inch groove AAA recommends replacing tires.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Wanted in West Hartford Road Rage Incident


West Hartford police are searching for a man they said was involved in a road rage incident.

Two women were in a car on New Park Avenue Wednesday when they drove by a man standing on the side of the road and their car splashed the man with slush.

The unidentified man jumped in a car, chased the women and cut them off, according to police. Then he jumped out of his car, began yelling at the women, and hit their car with a crowbar, police said.

One of the women took pictures of the man during the incident.

Police want anyone who recognizes the suspect to call them.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

State Won't Accept E-Tax Returns from 3 Companies


The state will not be processing electronic income tax returns from some tax preparers in Ansonia, East Hartford and New Haven after receiving several questionable returns, according to the state Department of Revenue Services.

Commissioner Kevin Sullivan said the tax preparers affected are Liberty Tax Service, at 1003 East Main Street in East Hartford; Perfect Preparer, LLC at 58 Main St. in Ansonia; and Perfect Preparer, LLC at 206 Dixwell Avenue in New Haven.

State officials said free assistance for completing Connecticut tax returns is available from the Department of Revenue Services. You can call 860-297-5962 or go in person at any of the regional walk-in centers in Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and Waterbury.

The DRS website lists additional free tax return assistance with the federal return.

If you suspect or know of an individual or company that is not complying with Connecticut tax laws, report it to the DRS Fraud Unit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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