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Women From Peru Collect Donations for Country's Flood Victims


Voracious rains, flooded rivers and mudslides are filling the streets of Peru taking homes, belonging and lives. 

Now a group of Peruvians in New London are working to help flood victims.

"I cry a lot. Before we don't try to look at news because we need to make a group and help. It's the more important thing," said organizer Lizbeth Polo-Smith.

Polo-Smith moved to Connecticut from Peru 15 years ago. But it's still her home.

It's why she and her friends were motivated to start collecting supplies for the victims whose homes and belongings were ravaged by the flooding.

Polo-Smith's mom is still in Peru. The part that's not seeing much damage. But she's left with dirty water.

"She needs to put bleach in the water and boil and drink," Polo-Smith said.

People from all across the community, all races, all religions have been making donations to Centro de la Comunida on Blinman Street in New London. Thats where the group has set up.

There's canned goods, water, clothes, even kid-sized shoes in volunteer-packed boxes lining three rooms.

"We're all human beings and, of course, when something happens, we should give the little bit that we get," said Patricia Ruiz who moved from Peru in the early 1990s.

She has family in Lima, where she said the damage is not as bad.

"My heart breaks to see all the news from there," Ruiz said.

Polo-Smith said back in the 1970s her family was victim to an earthquake that destroyed part of her home. So she understands the devastation first-hand.

"I lost everything. But everybody lost the houses. Everything," she said.

Donations are welcome through Saturday at Centro de la Comunidad. The boxes will then be sent to NY, and then to Peru.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Mohegan Sun Breaks Ground on Exposition Center


As Mohegan Sun breaks ground on its new exposition and convention center, staff is also planning to build up Connecticut's job force.

About two weeks ago crews broke ground on the $80 million project site.

Mohegan Tribe Chairman Kevin Brown said the project will bring 300 new jobs to the state. Some involve construction, others will be permanent.

"Certainly everything we do solidifies our position as a primary employer in the state of Connecticut," he said, adding most hires will be local.

President of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Tony Sheridan, said the expo center will allow Mohegan Sun to attract even larger events, bringing even more people into Uncasville.

North Stonington-based A/Z Corporation is managing the construction on the project.

"In southeastern Connecticut, this will certainly be one of the biggest projects ongoing," said Perry Lorenz, president/CEO of A/Z Corporation.

For 15 years Waterford's Mary Wren has worked at Mohegan Sun. The director of hotel operations started with the company before the building ever opened.

"I've basically worked my way up. So I've had about four promotions in the last 15 years," Wren said.

She said she manages a mostly local staff.

"All within the area, all grew up within the area."

That has her confident a lot of the staff at the expo center will be local, too. Wren is expecting to get a few calls about future job openings.

"Oh I'm sure I will. I will hear from a few people for sure," she said.

All of the features inside the center haven't been decided on yet. But there will be meeting rooms, a ballroom and luxury entertainment space.

The Mohegan Sun Exposition and Convention Center is expected to open in June 2018.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Crumbling Foundations Revealed in Several Commercial Buildings


Since the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters broke the crumbling foundations story in July of 2015, the focus has been on the financial burden plaguing hundreds of homeowners in Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties.

Now our investigation has revealed that several commercial buildings are showing signs of the concrete issue as well.

Glen Johnson has built his life around his Tolland auto repair business.

He put up the building nearly 30 years ago, but started noticing cracks in 2010 that have grown progressively worse over time.

"This whole section around the corner is so bad you could probably use screwdriver and pop that piece out of there," says Johnson.

A structural engineer has confirmed Glen has the same crumbling foundation issues shared by hundreds of homeowners across eastern Connecticut. As far as Glen is concerned, he has no choice but to keep moving forward.

"We have three guys in the shop full time, so my livelihood is their livelihood too. However we do it, I just can't stop my business and put a new building up, it can't happen that way. Somehow these guys need to keep getting a paycheck," says Johnson.

Beth Horr's dance studio sits on a crumbling foundation as well.

Over the years, she says she's invested countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars to build and improve her business step by step. Now, she's worried about what comes next.

"If they came in and said we have to leave the building... that would be hard," she says.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters also found telltale map cracking at the historic Somers Inn, now called the Black Horse Tavern. The owner tells the Troubleshooters he's aware of the issue, but has yet to do anything about it.

The question now is whether commercial property owners will be included in any program that provides money for crumbling concrete. Johnson and Horr are hopeful, but not optimistic.

"Is the State of Connecticut gonna help us? I don't know. If I could get some assistance; I'm not looking for a hand out, a new building for nothing, I'm willing to pay for it, but I need help getting that money," says Johnson.

"If I have to pay for this then all my funds would go and that's a huge problem," says Horr.

We reached out to state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who say they don't think commercial properties will be included in the proposed Senate Bill 806, that would create a "Crumbling Foundations Assistance Fund". They would likely tackle that aspect the problem in the 2018 legislative session.

Meanwhile, elected officials in several eastern Connecticut towns have expressed concern about some of their municipal buildings. They say none of the buildings is showing signs of deterioration, but we confirmed with the general contractor of at least three town buildings built in the early 2000s that the concrete used is from the same supplier the state says is the likely source of the foundation problem.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Suspect Showed Note Demanding Money From Milford Bank


A man demanded money through a note at a Milford bank on Thursday.

At 3:15 p.m., a man wearing hooded black sweatshirt and hat entered the Webster Bank on 314 Merwin Avenue, police said. 

When he produced a note, he indicated that he had a bomb. After he was given money, he left in a waiting older model green or grey pickup truck driven by another person, Milford Police said. 

The suspect is described as a 6 feet tall, weighing approximately 200 pounds with a tattoo on the left side of his neck. 

The Connecticut Bankers Reward Association is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the robbery suspect. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Milford Police Detective Sergeant Thomas Bassett (203) 783-4727.  

Photo Credit: Milford Police

Hartford School District Lays Out New Plan for Student Safety


Hartford Public schools held the first of several public forums Thursday night on ensuring student safety.

After a state report found the district failed to adequately respond to child abuse and neglect allegations for nearly a decade, Hartford Public Schools partnered with the Connecticut Child Advocate and Hartford Parent University to reassure parents that positive change is on the way.

“We did something that was not OK in terms of our failures our systemic failures and we have to fix it,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres- Rodriguez said.

On Thursday, Torres-Rodriguez laid out the district’s new action plan, which was designed with the help of the OCA.

“We recommended a comprehensive corrective action plan to the district that they would do not just internally but with outside expertise and with outside monitoring,” Connecticut Child Advocate Sarah Eagan said. “I am really happy to say committed to all of that.”

According to Torres-Rodriguez, the district is establishing processes and protocols and is committed to holding those at fault accountable.

Sapphire Snider, the parent of a first grader at Milner School, said it is about time.

“From now on we know things are going to be handled appropriately,” Snider said.

Public forums where parents can ask questions about the new action plan are scheduled for the following:

  • Thursday, March 30, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Bulkeley High School
  • Thursday, April 6, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Journalism and Media Academy
  • Thursday, April 20, 5:40 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Hartford Public High School

Tax Preppers Profit by Blocking Free, Easy Returns: Analysis


What if you could do your taxes for free, and fast? You could, but TurboTax makers Intuit and H&R Block have spent big bucks lobbying to make sure that never happens, NBC News reports.

For years, tax prep companies have pushed back against "return-free filing" legislation that would have allowed the IRS to greatly simplify taxes for over 60 million people by offering pre-populated returns.

The industry would rather people keep using Free File, which was used by 2.6 million people last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016" was endorsed by law professors and economists. It never made it out of committee.

An Intuit spokeswoman said a proposed government program "minimizes the taxpayers' engagement in the process of their own compliance." H&R Block said taxpayers could miss out on valuable tax savings.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Top US General Says Russia May Be Supplying Taliban


Russia may be influencing and supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan, the top U.S. general in Europe told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, NBC News reported.

Russia has largely been absent in Afghanistan since the Soviet Union's disastrous war there in the 1980s, but its role seems to be growing today, said Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who also serves as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, according to Reuters.

"I've seen the influence of Russia of late — increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban," Scaparrotti said.

His testimony comes in the wake of the Taliban's reported capture of the hotly contested town of Sangin in Afghanistan on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Mom of Dead Baby Found in Reservoir Comes Forward to Police


The mother of a baby found dead at a reservoir in Harwinton Tuesday has come forward, Connecticut State Police said. 

According to police, the baby boy was born a week or two ago. Workers at the Bristol Reservoir #4 found the remains of a newborn in a bag along Route 72 and Route 4.

State police said Thursday the mother, a Connecticut resident, has come forward. Her name is being withheld. 

The mother is receiving medical care at a local hospital and working with detectives investigating the case, according to state police. 

Detectives from Western District Major Crime responded to the scene and began investigating around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday after workers at the reservoir found the body. The medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

The City of Bristol Water Department maintains the reservoir and has consulted with the Connecticut Department of Health to ensure the water has not been contaminated.

Police said the reservoir has not been used in a few days and will remain offline.

"On behalf of the Bristol Water Department I would like to assure all of our customers that the water in Bristol is completely safe. The reservoir where this unfortunate event occurred has been off line for the past few days due to the drought and will remain off line. We have been in consultation with the Department of Public Health and local Health Director through out the day. We are confident that the drinking water is completely safe in the City of Bristol," Robert Longo, superintendent of the Bristol Water Department, said in a statement on the Bristol Water Department website. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tolland Truck Fire Closes I-84


These photos show the damage caused when a Goya truck caught fire on I-84 in Tolland this morning.

Photo Credit: Tolland Alert

Commerce Chief's Shipping Business Raises Conflict Questions


When private equity billionaire Wilbur Ross Jr. signed on to be President Donald Trump's commerce secretary, he agreed to divest millions of dollars in assets, NBC News reported.

But one asset Ross plans to keep is his stake in Diamond S Shipping Group Inc., one of the world's largest owners and operators of medium-range tanker vessels.

In a new administration full of successful businessmen dealing with a complex web of conflict-of-interest concerns, Ross' part ownership of Diamond S Shipping stands out.

A Center for Public Integrity examination of Diamond S Shipping's operations found its vessels sail under Chinese flags, even as Ross is being tapped to take an unusually muscular role shaping U.S. trade policy under President Trump's "America First" mantra. 

Ross has said he doesn't believe the shipping investment presents a conflict, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bridgeport Woman Suspected in Uncle’s Murder: Police


A Bridgeport woman is accused of killing her disabled uncle and has been charged with murder. 

Thirty-five-year-old Tynisha Hall was arrested Thursday and charged with the murder of her uncle, Robert Jones. Police said Hall was also her uncle’s caretaker. 

Police said they were called to Bridgeport Hospital’s emergency room on Feb. 8 to investigate a suspicious death. 

Jones had been found dead at his niece’s Dover Street home and medics transported him to the hospital, according to a news release from police. 

When detectives investigated at the home on Feb. 11, they found several indications and physical evidence that a crime had likely occurred there, police said. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner later determined that Jones died of blunt force trauma to the head, police said. 

On Thursday, police secured a warrant for the arrest of Hall, who has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence. 

As police were taking Hall into custody at her home, she resisted arrest and has also been charged with interfering with police. 

Bond was set at $750,000.

It's not clear if Hall has an attorney. 

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

New Britain Officer Gets Into Crash Responding to Scene


A New Britain police officer was involved in a crash while responding to the scene of another crash early Friday morning.

Police said the officer was involved in crash with a 19-year-old Meriden man and both were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. 

The New Britain police officer had the cruiser’s lights and sirens on while responding to a crash at Chestnut and Stanley streets and was involved in a crash with a 19-year-old Meriden man driving a Honda Civic on Stanley Street, according to police.

Both drivers were taken to the hospital and police are investigating the cause of the crash.

Anyone with information is asked to call 860-826-3071.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Country Club Road in Avon Remains Closed During Investigation Into Fatal Bus Crash


Country Club Road in Avon will remain closed until 2 p.m. Friday as police investigate the accident that killed a school bus driver Wednesday

Steve Roussel, 52, was driving the school bus back to the bus station just before 9 a.m. Wednesday when a tree fell on the bus and the vehicle hit a pole, police said. Officials said it appears gusty winds caused the accident.

Police said the North Central Connecticut Accident Reconstruction team responded to the scene. Traffic will be detoured onto Winding Lane and Stony Corners Road.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

2 Trains Sideswipe at NYC Station, No Injuries Reported


UPDATE: Riders Brace for Travel Nightmare After Amtrak Derailment Wreaks Havoc at Penn Station

An Amtrak train bound for Washington, D.C., had a minor derailment as it was leaving New York's Penn Station at the height of Friday's morning rush, bumping an NJ Transit train and shattering windows but causing no serious injuries, authorities said. 

NJ Transit said one of its trains on the Montclair/Boonton line was coming into the Manhattan transit hub shortly after 9 a.m. when the departing Acela sideswiped it between the north tube and the station. Amtrak said its Acela Express Train 2151 from Boston "had a minor derailment while moving at a slow speed" leaving Penn, and then "made contact" with the NJT train. 

"The rear of the train was still on the platform, and all 248 passengers have exited the train onto the platform and into the station safely," the statement said. "Service into and out of New York Penn Station will be delayed while we investigate this incident." 

Photos posted to social media showed the accordion-like component between the cars of the Amtrak train crunched in one spot. More severe damage was apparent on the NJ Transit train; photos showed twisted pieces of metal in parts, and passengers said some windows of the back cars were knocked out. 

The Federal Railroad Administration said it sent investigators to the scene. 

Jordan Geary was sitting next to his wife on NJ Transit train 6214 when he says he heard a loud "explosion" next to his head. Some of the windows were disconnected and some smashed, Geary said, adding, "Thankfully everyone is okay." 

A transportation source familiar with the investigation said about 300 people were aboard the NJ Transit train at the time. NJ Transit said several minor injuries to customers and crew were reported, but everyone was expected to be OK. 

Scott Parsons, a passenger in the last car of the train, described hearing a loud screech. Bright sparks followed, he said, and the lights went out. 

PATH was cross-honoring tickets for both Amtrak, including Keystone Service, and NJ Transit riders, but photos showed PATH trains were jam-packed by late morning, and the evening commute was expected to be a nightmare. Click here for the latest transit alternatives.

Arrival and departure screens in Penn Station were littered with cancellations and delays. The MTA said Long Island Rail Road service was not affected.

Photo Credit: Twitter / @THEJordanGeary

2 Teens Arrested After Chase That Sent Trooper to Hospital


Two teenagers accused of leading police on a chase that ended with a state trooper in the hospital have been arrested. 

State police said 18-year-old Chad Barrett, of Danielson, and 19-year-old Nathan Cordell, of Putnam, led police on a chase just after 11 p.m. Thursday. 

The chase started in Plainfield and Plainfield Police stopped the pursuit when the car got to the Killingly line, according to state police. 

At that point, state police tried to stop the 2016 Chevy Impala, but the Barrett continued onto Route 6 into Brooklyn, where state troopers tried to box in the vehicle, police said. 

Instead of stopping, Barrett swerved and hit mailboxes as well as a police vehicle, which hit a tree, according to police. 

The Chevy Impala then went off the road, hit a stone wall at Route 6 and Laurel Hill in Brooklyn and police apprehended Barrett and Cordell, the passenger. 

The state trooper who was injured was transported to Backus Plainfield Urgent Care to be treated for minor injuries. The trooper has been released. 

Barrett declined medical attention and Cordell was taken to Day Kimball Hospital and has been released. 

Police said they determined the Impala had been stolen. 

Several charges were filed against Barrett, including reckless driving, first-degree larceny of a motor vehicle, drinking while operating a motor vehicle and other charges. Bond was set at $50,000. 

Cordell was charged with weapons in vehicles, possession of alcohol by a minor and interfering with an officer. His bond was set at $5,000. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Unsettled Weather Moving in Today and This Weekend


Unsettled weather is moving in for today and the weekend. While the weekend won't be a complete washout, we are forecasting several chances for showers and even a wintry mix from Friday right through Monday. 

The first piece of precipitation moves into the state later this morning. We're forecasting rain showers, which could start as a little bit of snow or sleet.

Temperatures right at the ground will be above freezing, therefore we're not concerned about the snow sticking. 

Here's a look at First Alert Future Radar Friday at 2 p.m.

The rain shower activity will move out just in time for any Friday evening plans. Temperatures Friday evening will near 40 degrees. 

The next chance for rain heads our way on Saturday. Rain showers will develop during the afternoon hours and continue through Saturday evening. 

Check out First Alert Future Radar on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The unsettled weather will continue into the day on Sunday with a cold rain. Temperatures Sunday will be in the upper-30s and low-40s. 

We're also forecasting isolated showers on Monday and Tuesday. The shower activity will finally come to an end as we head into the middle of next week. It also looks like some milder air will work in to the state. We're forecasting high temperatures in the middle-50s by this time next week. 

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

Connecticut Educators Concerned About Teaching Standards


A group of educators in Connecticut says the state is lowering the bar to meet the demand for new teachers.

Friday, the Connecticut chapter of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education met at the state capitol in Hartford to voice their concern for higher standards in K-12 teacher education preparation.

“There’s a clear need to continue to raise the quality of the teachers we’re preparing,” said AACTE President and the Dean of Education of Central Connecticut State University, Michael Alfano.

Members of the group say the state is trying to fill a teacher shortage with graduates of fast-track teaching programs.

“There’s a temptation I think to address long-term problems with short-term solutions,” said Fairfield University Dean of Education, Bob Hannafin.

Mary Nelson left her corporate job to become a teacher. As a traditional education student, she had to complete two years of clinical experience before she was even allowed to student-teach. She believes more of her colleagues are opting for alternative programs, like Teach for America, instead.

“Particularly in high needs areas, urban schools, a desire for fast-tracking teachers,” Nelson said. “These candidates have a few months over the summer, and then they’re thrown into the classroom and as a result they don’t last in our school systems. There’s extremely high turnover.”

It’s the students who suffer the most from these fast-track programs said Alfano.

“The greatest impact is the quality of the teacher’s preparation on student learning,” he explained.

The AACTE represents all of the Connecticut colleges and universities with an education department. This is the first year the group has met at the state capitol. The group says it’s not asking for any specific legislation, but rather collaboration with state lawmakers.

“We have a lot to share, and we really want to be at the table as opposed to being legislated at,” Alfano pointed out.

Teach for America sent a statement to NBC Connecticut that reads in part: "TFA believes there are multiple pathways to the classroom that result in high quality educators. Research has shown that our teachers are having a positive impact..."

The AACTE says they recognize the need that fast-track programs fill and say there’s a place for them, too. However, as the main stakeholders, preparing 90% of Connecticut’s teachers, they say their experience suggests standards need to be set for teacher preparation before they're allowed to be at the head of the classroom.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / maroke

Massachusetts Man Accused of Stealing Jewelry from Glastonbury Home


A Massachusetts man is accused of stealing more than $23,000 worth of jewelry and other items from a Glastonbury home in May 2015. 

George Anderson, 48, of the Indian Orchard section of Springfield, Massachusetts, is accused of forcing his way through the front door of a home on Eastbury Hill Road in Glastonbury in May 2015 and stealing jewelry and other valuables from the residence, according to Glastonbury police. 

Police said he sold several of the pieces at various pawn shops in Massachusetts. 

Police said several items have been recovered. 

He remains in police custody and is due in court on April 18. It’s not clear if he has an attorney. None is listed on the online docket for him.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Meriden Restaurant Gives Up Liquor Permit After Shooting


A Meriden restaurant voluntarily canceled its liquor permit with the state after a weekend shooting there.

The owner of 105 Restaurant and lounge on Thursday withdrew the permit application and agreed to permanently cancel it, according to the Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees liquor permits in Connecticut.

The restaurant, which is located at 105 Colony Street, had been operating under a temporary liquor permit.

The shooting happened Saturday morning around 1:45 a.m., seriously injuring a 29-year-old man.

The victim was shot in the neck and was rushed to the hospital, according to police. He was treated for serious, but non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Police have not made any arrests.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Warns Residents Not to Fall for Work from Home Scams


The state Department of Consumer Protection is warning residents about a work from home scam that promises $1,000 per week for stuffing envelopes at home. They said residents who have paid for the instructions never receive jobs, leads on jobs or payment. 

Officials from the department said they received nearly 60 complaints in the early 2000s about work-from-home scams originating from a New Britain post office box.

This time around, the scam uses the same post office box and asks residents to pay $32 through the mail in exchange for information about how to make up to $1,000 per week stuffing envelopes at home.

State officials have received some complaints in the past year about.

They said consumers reply to the ad and send money, then receive a handbook with details about how to stuff envelopes at home and advertise their own mail services. 

Consumers also receive a flier that asks for more money in exchange for information about how to make money as a HUD tracer, but state officials warn that HUD tracers provide a service that a homeowner can do on their own without paying anyone. 

The prospective workers who send in the cash, don’t receive job offers, job leads or any money, according to state officials and they are warning anyone who might apply that job seekers should never pay to apply for a job.

“Job seekers have a lot of work to do. Editing resumes, preparing application materials and practicing for interviews takes a lot of time, and that time is valuable,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris said in a statement. “The last thing hard-working job seekers need is to fall victim to a scam when they may already be working on a tight budget.”

When looking for a job, or extra work from home, consumers should consider the following guidelines:

Never pay money to apply for a job or for additional information regarding a job offer. Companies and individuals who need employees want to talk to you. They won’t charge you to provide information. 

Don’t offer your credit card or bank information, especially over the phone. Sometimes, companies will conduct background checks after or during the interview process, but they should never ask for your financial information. If someone acquires your bank or credit card information, they can use it to take your money.

Be wary of ads for “previously undisclosed” federal jobs. Information regarding government jobs is free, and you should neither pay nor offer your personal information in exchange for a job posting.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Working from home often requires a serious amount of time and effort to be successful. Don’t fall for work from home offers that promise a lot of money upfront.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint may email DCP at dcp.frauds@ct.gov.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection
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