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Berlin Woman Looks for Help With Lawn Mower


A routine lawn mower maintenance appointment turned into a month-long battle for Berlin resident, Alicia Tucholski.

Her technician installed the wrong drain plug on her Craftsman riding mower, leaving Tucholski with a growing lawn and a reel mower.

“Every weekend, when it approached the weekend, I was such a mess thinking, 'Oh my gosh, the lawn’s got to be cut again',” said Tucholski.

What usually takes her sister 90 minutes on the riding mower, took two of them four and a half hours, she said.

The sisters noticed a problem the day after the service appointment. The drain plug was too long, so when her sister turned the wheel, the oil spilled out of its tank and onto the grass and driveway.

Tucholski told NBC Connecticut Responds she called Sears immediately. A second technician came out the following week, but didn’t have the correct, shorter drain plug. They placed an order, which took another week.

Meanwhile, the lawn wasn’t going to mow itself, so Tucholski asked Sears for a loaner.

“I was sick to my stomach,” said Tucholski. “In tears. Stressed out to the max, and I was told someone would call you, someone would call you.”

Nobody responded.

After cutting the grass the old fashioned way, she reached out to someone who would.

“I’ve seen (NBC Connecticut Responds’) pieces on the news and I know that you respond to every call. I didn’t know if it was something worth looking into, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Why not,” said Tucholski.

Tucholski wanted Sears to reimburse her the original $295 service call, plus the $644 worth of damage caused by the oil spill and the $150 push mower she bought when the reel mower became too strenuous.

Sears, and its claim processing company, Sedgwick, agreed to cover everything except the push mower. In a statement to NBC Connecticut Responds, a spokesperson for Sears said:

“At Sears, our top priority is the satisfaction of our members. Our member services team further looked into Ms. Tucholski’s situation and has repaired her tractor, as well as providing her with a refund for the service call. In addition, Sedgwick, our third-party claims administrator, is compensating her for further cleanup of the area where they performed the work. We hope she remains a loyal Sears customer and Shop Your Way member.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Family of Seattle Mom Shot by Cops She Called Wants Answers


The family of Charleena Lyles is demanding an explanation for how the pregnant Seattle mother of four was shot dead by the same cops she had called for help, NBC News reported.

"We're still trying to wrap our heads around why she was murdered," Tiffany Rogers, Lyles' younger sister, told NBC News while on her way to a rally at the scene of the death.

Family members have questioned why police didn't use a non-lethal option despite knowing that Lyles had been suffering from mental health issues, family attorney James Bible said Tuesday.

But Seattle police Detective Patrick Michaud said Tuesday that both officers, whom Lyles had called to her home for a possible burglary before allegedly threatening officers with a knife, had undergone training to work with people showing signs of mental illness.

Photo Credit: David Ryder/Getty Images

Officer Badly Hurt After Incident at Michigan Airport


An airport in Flint, Michigan, was being evacuated Wednesday morning after an incident left an officer injured, the airport said.

Michigan State Police said in a tweet that the officer is in critical condition, though the department did not say what took place beyond that the FBI is leading the investigation.

"Please keep the officer in your prayers. The airport is closed," a state police tweet said.

All passengers at Bishop International Airport are safe, according to a Facebook post on the airport's page.

It wasn't immediately clear what the nature of the incident was, but NBC 25 News of Flint reported that an officer was stabbed. NBC has not immediately confirmed that information.

A witness told local news outlet MLive that he saw a man in custody and an officer bleeding from the neck.

This breaking news story will be updated.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Woman Killed When Tree Branch Falls onto Car in Hebron


A 75-year-old Hebron woman was killed when a tree branch fell on her car Tuesday afternoon.

Connecticut State Police said 75-year-old Ruthanne Hadley was driving on East Street in Hebron when a tree branch fell onto her car.

Hadley lost control of the car and went off the road, crashing into a sign and a group of trees, police said.

Hadley was pronounced dead on scene.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Police Looking for Suspected Burglar in Norwalk


Norwalk police are asking for the public’s help to identify a man suspected of smashing a window of a car at a garage and stealing clothing.

Police said the man smashed out the front passenger window of a vehicle in the lower level of the Haviland Street Garage, stole clothing and ran off.

Anyone who can identify the man or has information about the incident should call Detective Podgorski at 203-854-3192.

You can also leave an anonymous tip with the Norwalk Police Tip Line at 203-854-3111 or send one through the Norwalk Police website at: www.norwalkpd.com.

You can send an anonymous text tip by typing "NPD" into the text field, followed by the message, and sending it to CRIMES (274637).

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police

Organization Calls for State to Examine School Funding


As the state legislature continues to struggle with a projected $5 billion budget deficit, one teachers organization is calling on Connecticut lawmakers to examine how they fund public schools.

The Connecticut Coalition for Public Education wants the governor and state lawmakers to create a new commission to oversee state education funding.

The group is made up of seven separate associations including the Connecticut Parent Teacher Association, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut.

The Connecticut Achievement and Resource Equity of Schools Commission, called CARES for short, would examine disparities between school districts, develop a formula for school funding, and identify a specific reliable funding source for the state’s education budget.

The group will share more details at a press conference scheduled at the Capitol building for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NBC Boston

Lease Extended for Longtime Groton Restaurant


A Groton restaurant that was in danger of closing has reached an agreement with the town to extend its lease for five and a half years, according to Groton Mayor Bruce Flax.

Par 4 has been in the community 30 years and the owners were planning to shut their doors July 1 if a deal was not made.

“This is the 19th hole,” said Kevin McMahon, who has been a patron to the restaurant for all 30 years. 

The restaurant is right off of the Shennecossett Golf Course, but it’s not just a hub for golfers. It’s a popular venue for baby showers, funeral receptions, fundraisers and other events.

“This is like a 'Cheers',” customer George Gauthier, of Groton, said.

Gauthier, along with dozens of other people, went into Par 4 on Tuesday to sign a petition to save the restaurant.  

Several petitions have been circulated and one organizer said he knew there are around 600 signatures on one of them.

“I’ve raised a child while I’ve been working here, I’ve been part of this community,” employee Kaitlin Cedio, one of the approximately 20 staff members at the restaurant, said.

The thought of closing was painful for Cedio, who’s been with Par 4 for 10 years.

Many other employees are the literal family of owners Peter Ganacoplos and Anthony Christina.

“Everybody’s going to feel the effects of it,” Christina said before the agreement was reached. “We don’t want to leave.”

Flax said the Town Council wanted to increase the cost of the lease and reduce it from 10 years to five years. Since negotiations were going slower than expected with Par 4, the council wanted to explore options and were considering putting out a request for proposal and seeing what new tenants would be interested in taking over the building. Flax said this was a last resort.

“With the budget issues that we’ve had in regard to every cent counting, the council really thought that they could get additional revenue from that restaurant. Clearly we underestimated the passion people have for the restaurant,” Flax said.

Ganacoplos and Christina said they got the news less than three weeks before their lease was due to be up. Plus they’ve invested in the building already and have plans to repaint, redo the rugs and update the kitchen.

“They haven’t given us any chance and we’re up in the air,” Christina said. “It’s caused a lot of heartache in the last week and a half.”

Customers were feeling the heartache of the potential closure as well.

“There are also people who say they will not patronize a new owner. So the Town of Groton need to think about that, too,” McMahon said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Avon Police Warn of Scammer Impersonating Avon Police Sgt.


Avon police are warning doctor's offices and residents to be on alert for a phone scammer who is impersonating an Avon police sergeant.

Avon police said that on Wednesday morning a male caller contacted police and asked for the name of the duty sergeant. The caller than began to call local doctor’s offices, and using the name of Sgt. Tom Jacius, claimed to have a “bench warrant” for the doctors. According to police, the caller had a southern accent.

Police stress that this is a scam any anyone who receives a similar call should contact the Avon Police Department at 860-409-4200.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

3 Teens Hurt, 1 Critically, After Orange Crash


Three teens were hurt – one seriously – in a crash on Dogburn Road in Orange Tuesday night.

The crash happened around 11:42 p.m. on Dogburn Road near the Woodbridge town line.

Police said that investigation suggests that the car was traveling south on Dogburn Road when the driver lost control coming around a corner. The vehicle went off the road and rolled over before stopping against a tree.

An 18-year-old passenger was ejected and suffered critical injuries. The 17-year-old driver and another 18-year-old passenger suffered non-life threatening injuries. Their names have not been released.

Orange police are investigating the crash. Anyone with information should contact Detective Harry Burke at hburke@orange-ct.gov,, Sergeant Ray LaPlante at rlaplante@orange-ct.gov, or call the Orange Police Department at 203-891-2130.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Multi-Lingual Welcome Signs in Norwich Celebrate Diversity


The city of Norwich is opening its arms a little wider to new visitors, thanks to a Norwich businessman.

Swaranjit Singh Khalsa created two signs that spell out “welcome” in seven languages. Khalsa paid for the signs, and Norwich Public Works crews installed them at two of the city’s entrances.

“This is not just a sign for me. For me it’s more like representing the community that lives here,” said Khalsa.

Welcome is not the word Khalsa would use to describe how he felt the first time he stepped on US soil.

“People used to stare at me like who is this guy, what’s this turban,” recalled Khalsa.

He immigrated to New Jersey for graduate school in 2007 and moved to Norwich in 2010. He now operates the city’s Shell gas station and also works in real estate flipping houses. He lives in Norwich with his wife, who moved here from India when she was three years old, and his 17-month-old daughter.

“When I first moved here me and my wife thought that there’s a lack of diversity,” said Khalsa.

A trip to Vancouver two years ago inspired Khalsa to create the signs, which are written in English, Punjabi, Khalsa’s native language, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Italian, and German.

“We have a very diverse population in Norwich. It’s nice to put a sign up that everybody can read,” said Norwich resident Gerard Gagnon.

A local pastor, Nancy Forsstrom, said many of her parishioners’ children and grandchildren go to Norwich Free Academy.

“I know there’s a lot of different languages that are spoken there, I think they’re very attractive and a great idea to have different languages there,” said Forsstrom.

Khalsa said he’s making sure others who come to this country feel like they’re part of the community.

“With this sign we are not just catering to one or two people, we are catering to a huge amount of people globally,” he explained.

He hopes this is just the beginning. He plans to makes to make for signs for the city and put one right in front of City Hall with 25 different languages.

“These are the small things that make people welcome. That they are part of the city,” Khalsa said.

His mission to spread awareness about his own religion, Sikh, have gained both local and national attention. He was recognized by the FBI for his work training police in Connecticut to recognize the differences between Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs.

“He’s terrific. If every community had a person like him they can really get a lot of things done,” said Norwich City Manager John Salomone.

Khalsa believes efforts to embrace his city’s diversity could reach beyond a nice gesture.

“If you feel connected to your city you will do investments here, you will feel safer here, and this is what we want, we want everybody to say that’s their home,” said Khalsa.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

47 Cats, Turtle, Parrot Found in Squalid NY Home


A 62-year-old Long Island woman has been arrested on a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge after 47 cats, a turtle and a parrot were found living in deplorable conditions in her home, authorities say.

Many of the animals living with Marilyn Brischler in Ronkonkoma had health problems, the Suffolk County SPCA says. The house was condemned by the Brookhaven Fire Marshal and the local animal shelter helped remove the pets.

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Brischler is due in Central Islip court later this summer. Information on an attorney for her wasn't immediately available. 

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Photo Credit: Handout

Gypsy Moths Continue to Affect Connecticut Trees


With summer temperatures rising, the invasive gypsy moth population continues to grow and spread, now affecting a greater variety of trees in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) confirms that the gypsy moths continue to affect oak trees and now have spread to other tree species such as witch hazel and maple.

But DEEP is hopeful that the growth of the maimaiga fungus from this year's wet spring will soon infect the gypsy moth caterpillars and halt the growth of the gypsy moth population. Cool temperatures have slowed the growth rate of the gypsy moth caterpillars who are only now making their way down from the tree crowns and onto the ground, where they will encounter the fungus.

It is too early to see how effective this fungus will be on the gypsy moth population, but initial reports have seen promising die off levels.

Some residents in southeastern Connecticut have grown frustrated waiting for the fungus and took matters into their own hands. 

According to DEEP, the gypsy moth has been in Connecticut since 1905, but has only recently become a problem in Connecticut as dry weather trends become more prevalent. Repeated outbreaks will likely have lasting effects on individual trees as well as the health of entire forests.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Conn. Woman Sues JetBlue Over Allergic Reaction on Flight


A New Haven woman has filed a lawsuit against JetBlue alleging that the airline refused to accommodate a life-threatening allergy and put her on a flight with two dogs, triggering an allergic reaction that required hospitalization.

In a lawsuit filed, Annemarie Rivera claims she booked a flight on JetBlue from JFK Airport in New York to LAX in California to leave August 5, 2016 and return August 9, 2016. Rivera claims that when she booked the flight she spoke over the phone with a JetBlue representative and explained that she has a life-threatening allergy to fur-bearing animals.

The suit states that at the time of booking, Rivera was assured she would receive medical accommodations and disability seating, and she confirmed it through the JetBlue app.

According to the documents, when she arrived at JFK for her flight she was told there was no record of any medical accommodations and the only seat available was First Class, which meant she would have to pay for an upgrade or wait to see if a seat would become available. Rivera was eventually placed in a center seat, which did not fit her medical request.

The suit goes on to say that on August 9, 2016, when Rivera arrived at LAX to fly home, she was again told that no seat had been assigned for her and she would have to pay a $90 fee for an upgrade. She paid the fee, but was not granted disability seating or early boarding because she was not in a wheelchair or leg brace, the suit says.

During the flight Rivera began having an allergic reaction, according to the lawsuit, but was ignored when she requested assistance. The reaction, the lawsuit says, was caused by two dogs that were in the seat directly in front of Rivera. The suit claims that when Rivera arrived in New Haven, she was so sick she had to be hospitalized.

The lawsuit states that Rivera was assured there would be no animals on the flight before boarding.

NBC Connecticut’s sister station NBC New York reached out to JetBlue for comment, but was told the company would not comment on pending litigation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Strong Thunderstorms Possible This Afternoon


The NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team is keeping an eye on First Alert Doppler Radar.

NBC Connecticut Meteorologists are forecasting scattered showers and thunderstorms to develop after 3 p.m. 

There's enough instability in the atmosphere that will allow the storms that do form to become strong to potentially severe.

Take a look at First Alert Future Radar at 5 p.m. you can see scattered thunderstorms moving from northwest to southeast. 

The thunderstorm threat will come to an end after 7 p.m. with lingering showers impacting southeastern Connecticut.

The greatest risk with these storms will be damaging wind gusts. There's a medium risk of damaging wind gusts and a low risk for hail, flooding, and tornadoes. 

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Trinity College Closed Until Further Notice After Threats


Trinity College in Hartford has been closed until further notice because of threats to campus, according to the Trinity College website. 

“Given the threats to campus and upon consultation with the President's Cabinet, the decision has been made to close the College until further notice. All employees and guests are to leave campus for the day and stay tuned for updates,” the statement on the school website says.

They added that Hartford police are assisting the college in investigating and there will be an ongoing enhanced security presence on campus.

Police said Trinity officials reached out to the detective bureau and authorities are vetting non-specific, non-credible threats from across the country related to potential comments by a staff member.

The post on the school site says the dean of students and residential life will work with students who are residing on campus.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Trinity College but there was no immediate answer.

No additional information was immediately available. Check back for updates.   

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

McIlroy, Spieth to Headline Day One of Travelers Championship


Tournament play for the 2017 Travelers Championship gets underway on Thursday and with one of the best player fields in Cromwell ever, fans will have the chance to see some of the top golfers in the world.

Rory McIlroy will make his Travelers Championship debut at 7:50 a.m. Thursday. He will start his round from the 10th tee and will be playing alongside U.S. Open runner-up Brian Harman and Jim Furyk, who shot an historic 58 in the final round of the Travelers last year.

The very next group up on the 10th tee Thursday will be a group to watch. Jason Day, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed have the 8 a.m. tee time.

Day is the fourth-ranked player in the world and is the 2015 PGA Championship winner. Thomas is ranked 12th in the world and made history with a 9-under par round in last week's U.S. Open. Reed has five PGA Tour victories and is ranked 17th in the world.

Fans of Masters champion Jordan Spieth can will have to wait until the afternoon to catch a glimpse of hims. Spieth has the 1 p.m. tee time on the 1st tee along with Brandt Snedeker and Wesley Bryan.

If you want to catch a trio of past Travelers winners, get to the 1st tee just a bit earlier. Bubba Watson will begin his round at 12:50 p.m. and he will be playing with defending champion Russell Knox and 2012 champion Marc Leishman.

Click here for a full list of tee times.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Chicago Woman Wins $250K From Her First-Ever Lottery Ticket


A Chicago woman won $250,000 from her first-ever lottery ticket.

La Ongkwan Pinyapap instantly won the top prize after scratching a 25X The Money ticket, the Illinois Lottery said Wednesday in a statement. 

"This is the very first lottery ticket I have ever played!" she said. "My friend was buying a ticket, so I thought I should try one, too. We couldn’t believe it when I won!"

Pinyapap bought her ticket at the BP gas station on W. Fullerton Ave. in the city's Bucktown neighborhood and took it home to scratch. 

She plans to share the windfall with her family, according to the Lottery.  

The store will receive a bonus of $2,500, or 1 percent of the prize amount, for selling the winning ticket.

25X The Money is a $5 instant ticket, the Lottery said, with 12 top prizes worth $250,000. Of those 12, six have not yet been claimed.

Photo Credit: Illinois Lottery
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Airport Officer Stabbed


A man stabbed an airport police officer Wednesday morning at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan. The man is in custody and being questioned by the FBI. The airport officer is currently in stable condition. The FBI has said that it is too early to determine if this incident is a terrorist act.

Police Investigate Anti-Asian American Vandalism in Guilford


Many people in Guilford are upset to learn someone spray painted anti-Asian American racial slurs on a home near the town green.

Guilford Police are investigating and community leaders are organizing a response to the racist vandalism.

Judy Cordes has called Guilford home for more than 40 years.

"Well, its very friendly, open, comfortable place to live," Cordes said.

Cordes was shocked, like so many people in the shoreline town, to learn about the racial slurs.

"I don’t understand it," she said. "It sounds horrible, and I hope that the authorities find out who it is and stop it because this isn’t that type of community."

Members of the community learned about the vandalism from a Facebook post by Liza Janssen Petra’s husband after he spotted the slurs on an early morning run Tuesday.

"He was sickened, because it’s our community and that kind of language is not tolerated," Petra said.

Just last week, NBC Connecticut reported on vandalism at the Roses for Autism sensory garden in Guilford.

"There has been in Guilford and Guilford is not unique to this, a number of incidents that have caused alarm," Petra said.

In her role as the Guilford Foundation's executive director, Petra reached out to the local Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to organize a response from community, business and education leaders.

"Have a conversation about how do we address and what can we do within each of spheres of influences to make sure it doesn’t happen again," Petra said.

For longtime resident Cordes, she said she hopes this can be a teaching moment for children in camps and next fall in school.

"Whatever goes on," Cordes said. "They should talk about it."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Trump to Hold First Re-Election Fundraiser at His DC Hotel


President Donald Trump's first re-election fundraiser will be held at his own Washington, D.C., hotel, NBC News reported.

The event, supporting the joint fundraising committee of the Republican National Committee and Trump's 2020 presidential campaign, will be held on June 28th at the opulent Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to campaign executive director Michael Glassner.

"We'll fly you out to D.C. and even put you up at a beautiful hotel for the night. All he asks is that you make a contribution to be automatically entered to win," a post on Donald J. Trump's Facebook page said.

Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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