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1 Lane on Route 32 in Mansfield Reopens After Head-On Crash


One lane on Route 32 (Stafford Road) in Mansfield has reopened after a head-on accident.

Tolland County Emergency Communications reported a head-on crash on Route 32 near Ravine Road Tuesday morning. Two vehicles were involved.

Police said only minor injuries have been reported.

Route 32 was initially closed but one lane has since reopened. 

The crash remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC 5

Torrington Starts School After Delay Due to Budget Crunch


Students are headed back to school in Torrington three days late prompted by the ongoing budget crisis.

At the start of August, the Torrington school district sent a notice to parents stating that to save money, they’d need to delay the start of public schools by three days.  

The district said they’re saving about $570,000 by delaying the school year – a necessary decision to ensure the survival of their school amidst the state budget crisis. Gov. Dannel Malloy has acknowledged how Torrington heavily relies on state funding.

With the delay, that now puts the end of the school year at June 21, but that is assuming there are no snow days.

In that school notice sent last month, Superintendent Denise Clemons wrote:

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your support with a difficult decision. We are trying to make the best out of a situation that we have to manage.”

Some parents told NBC Connecticut while the delay forced them to find childcare options, they understand how tough this decision was for the district to make.

“They have to do what they have to do and I guess this is their way,” Kyla Nietch said. “Extending the summer a couple days to save or whatever they need to do.”

Districts across the state are struggling to manage their own budgets while waiting on word from the state about what funding they will receive. 

Refugees Flee Nobel Winner's Bloody Muslim Crackdown


Aung San Suu Kyi spent years in house arrest after she stood up to Myanmar's brutal dictatorship, earning her a reputation as a beacon of democracy and a Nobel Peace Prize.

But she's now the nation's de facto leader, and NBC News reports that her bloody crackdown on the minority Rohingya Muslim population has earned her criticism the world over.

More than 100,000 people have fled the predominantly Buddhist country into Bangladesh in the last two weeks, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday. Some suffered bullet wounds, according to aid agencies.

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, tweeted on Monday that she's waiting for Suu Kyi to condemn the Rohingya's "tragic and shameful treatment."

Photo Credit: Saikat Paul/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tractor-Trailer and Car Involved in Crash on I-84 in Danbury


At least one person was taken to the hospital after a serious crash involving a car and a tractor-trailer on Interstate 84 in Danbury Tuesday morning, according to Connecticut State Police.

The accident happened on I-84 eastbound near exit 8. Police did not immediately release details on injuries. The Danbury Fire Department said at least one person was extricated and taken to the hospital. The department tweeted photos of the scene that showed the passenger car involved suffered heavy damage.

The exit 8 on-ramp is currently closed while police investigate. Drivers should expect delays and lane closures in the area.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Danbury Fire Department

CT Immigrants Head to DC to Rally in Support of DACA


Some fear President Donald Trump will announce today the wind down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported, and immigrant supporters in Connecticut are gearing up for a fight.

Hoping to sway political leaders, around 20 DACA recipients and supporters left Connecticut Tuesday and headed for a rally in Washington D.C.

“Everyone has a right to live in the best way possible. It shouldn’t matter what country you come from. We as immigrants have given a lot to every country in the world. We shouldn’t be treated any way different,” said Amy Ansah, of Hartford.

Many DACA recipients were brought into the country by their parents as very young children and don't remember anything else.

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“This is all I’ve known. I want to continue to fight for this because this is my home,” Vania Galicia, a DACA recipient, said.

For Galicia the future now seems uncertain. The 19-year-old is protected by the DACA program, along with nearly 800,000 other undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.

On Tuesday it’s anticipated the president will announce a plan to end the Obama-era initiative over the next six months.

“The whole feeling and emotion process is a lot of limbo in your mind. You’re not sure what’s going to go on,” Galicia said.

Galicia – now a freshman at Eastern Connecticut State University – arrived here at age 3 with her parents from Mexico.

It’s estimated more than 10,000 people in Connecticut are in a similar position.

“There are a lot of kids here in this state. Many came as very young children. This is the only country they’ve ever known,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty, 5th District, said.

Congress could save the safeguards of DACA.

“We are going down to take action down in D.C. to show that undocumented youth despite all this still have power and that we are not just going to let DACA be taken away,” Stefan Keller, of CT Students for a Dream, said.

On the campus of Eastern, students will rally Tuesday afternoon.

“Making sure all the stuff that my parents got through and that my parents brought me here for pays off. Because at the end of the day that’s what it was for our future to be better than theirs,” Galicia said.

Not everyone supports the DACA program, however. Greg Somers, a CCSU sophomore, thinks the president should end the program.

"I'm not saying it's their fault, I'm not saying I dislike them for it or anything, I'm just saying they shouldn't be in this country," Somers told NBC Connecticut.

That event at Eastern will take place around 2 p.m. Tuesday outside the Fine Arts Center. There will also be a rally at Trump Parc in Stamford.

Photo Credit: AP

Retail Workers, Shoppers Scramble as 'Dead Malls' Close


This is one of a two-part series on how malls in America are changing as the retail industry evolves. Read the other part, on the ways some malls are trying to attract the affluent with experiences, here.

Filmmaker Dan Bell spent much of his youth in the 1990s working at a mall. In 2014, when he realized the difficulties facing many of these once-thriving shopping centers, he set out to document them before they disappeared.

Today, Bell's "Dead Mall" series on YouTube features 43 videos with 1.5 million combined views.

It's a subject that's long fascinated him — some of Bell's most vivid childhood memories include the first dead mall he ever encountered, Jumpers Mall in Pasadena, Maryland.

"I would walk around the mall and there was just all these empty stores and it was just fascinating to me. Even as a kid, it’s just something that I couldn’t quite understand," he said.

Bell's passion project-turned-viral sensation captures the morbid fascination  many Americans feel as they ponder what the future will bring for brick-and-mortar retail. Department store job numbers and sales continue to decrease as longstanding retailers close locations nationwide. This decline, coupled with the ease of online shopping, has left consumers wondering what's in store for American malls.

Analysts at financial services company Credit Suisse say that 25 percent of malls in the U.S. will close by 2022. Some malls are trying to create interactive experiences to attract customers as part of multi-million-dollar redesign projects, but not all malls have the resources to make that kind of shift.

"The malls that are not closing are the luxury malls," said Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. "We've seen a boom in those and people driving to shop for brands that they can’t get elsewhere."

This trend is reflected in the closures of department stores like Macy's and J.C. Penney, which, according to Fortune Magazine, have been hit harder than their upscale counterparts, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.

"It's the diversity of a mall that creates its traffic," said Mark A. Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. "Unless it's redeveloped with enough energy … there really is no chance for it to revive. Now there's a tremendous amount of money in that, and many of these malls are financially impaired — so the likelihood that they'll be configured is not that great."

The Tri-State Mall in Claymont, Delaware, featured in Bell's "Dead Mall Series," exemplifies the difficulties faced by malls serving lower- and middle-income shoppers.

Terece Rice, from nearby Wilmington, said she had fond memories of visiting the mall with her family in in the 1990s, but when she went back this July for the first time in 16 years, she barely recognized the place.

"When we pulled up into the parking lot, as we were turning in, there was very few cars," she said. "Where K-Mart was at, there was nothing there. The mall was totally empty except for Burlington Coat Factory."

With two other malls less than 30 minutes away, Rice said the abandoned mall was all but forgotten by community members. In its prime, the mall was a reliable place for Rice's mother, who raised three kids by herself, to shop on a budget. That's hard to find nowadays, Rice said.

"I look for bargains and it’s like, to me, none of the malls have them. All the stores seem really expensive," she added.

Many shoppers remain unphased by mall closures because they can shop online or find another mall in close proximity, but retail workers are often left hurting.

The industry has shed 87,000 jobs since January, following two years of growth, according to the September jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the last 15 years, department store jobs decreased by 25 percent, according to BLS data compiled by The New York Times.

On the other hand, the number of e-commerce positions rose 334 percent, and that number continues to grow.

Labor advocates say that changes in the job market on the whole have coincided with a culture shift among employees in the retail industry.

"I don't think that anyone now is looking at retail as a career," said Alfredo Duran, a member of the Retail Action Project who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years. "They think that it's just something temporary until something better comes up."

Those positions degraded after years of decreased training, benefits and advancement opportunities for employees, said Eno Awotoye, a former Macy's employee who is a member of Applebaum's Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

This dilemma is evidenced by a drop in wages for entry-level employees, many of whom act as the face of the business. Data from the Economic Policy Institute compiled for NBC News shows that wages for retail workers in non-supervisory roles dropped 12.2 percent from 1979 to 2012 when adjusted for inflation. These positions make up 86 percent of the retail workforce.

"I think that any business that does not care for the workers is going to end up with workers that don’t care about the business," she said.

Amazon's recent "Jobs Day," during which it aimed to hire 50,000 new employees, reflects a push to increase the size of the e-commerce workforce as the retail workfroce shrinks.

"The industry is changing. In some locations where you may have fewer in-store associates, you may see more employees working in the supply chain, delivery and services," said Jason Brewer, vice president of communication and state affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. "No doubt that as the industry changes, the number and types of jobs will evolve."

However, these jobs, mainly for warehouses that ship packages to customers, may not be a viable replacement for traditional retail positions, said Applebaum, the union president.

"The people who worked in the stores brought a certain set of skills toward dealing with customers. They are not the people who need other skills for working in the distribution centers," he said.

And Awotoye said that a less-skilled workforce may have contributed to the decline in foot traffic at malls in the first place, since good customer service provides consumers with an incentive to shop in-store instead of online. 

A 2014 study commissioned by analytics company RetailNext showed that only 29 percent of consumers surveyed said that retail sales associates are knowledgeable and helpful. 

"If a company does not really value its workers, and does not provide the training needed, nobody is going to know how to sell merchandise or sell it to such an extent that the company can profit," Awotoye said.

Applebaum said it's not too late for companies to recuperate from these losses: "I think that retailers, if they want to compete in this new environment, are going to have to understand that workers are the real magic of brick-and-mortar retail stores and they have to make fair investments there."

Read the other part in this series on how malls in America are changing as the retail industry evolves here.

Photo Credit: Dan Bell
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The Mall ‘Experience': Can Luxury Offset Retail's Struggles?


This is one of a two-part series on how malls in America are changing as the retail industry evolves. Read the other part, on online retail's effect on mall workers, here.

Malls have long been a staple of American consumer culture. But as sales for traditional retailers continue to decline, malls of the past are undergoing serious changes to make sure they're still attracting consumers in the age of the internet.

Developers are experimenting with a range of experience-based offerings, from luxury movie theaters to upscale food courts, to give shoppers a reason to make their way to the mall rather than browse for goods online. 

They are exploring their options in an effort to avoid the fate predicted by some financial experts, who are seeing department stores begin to shut their doors around the country. Analysts at the financial services company Credit Suisse project that 25 percent of malls will close by 2022. The retail industry has lost 87,000 jobs since a peak in January, according to the latest U.S. jobs report.

"There's an enormous shift that's causing these malls to collapse," said Mark A. Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School.

That decline can be chalked up to overarching trends in the retail industry caused by changing technology, Cohen said. "Just as it was irrevocable that most downtowns would disappear, it's irrevocable that the majority of these malls do the same."

The disappearance of malls has grabbed the attention of people across the country, who fear that the shopping centers they grew up with may be the next to go. Filmmaker Dan Bell has created a Youtube series to try and capture the phenomenon of "Dead Malls," plagued by empty storefronts and sparse foot traffic. 

Competing with tech behemoth Amazon — which has unlimited reach, product diversity and strong customer loyalty — may require malls to search for creative solutions as they combat bleak forecasts for the future. Some malls are already reaching for their wallets.

For years, shoppers were drawn to malls for the convenience of visiting a variety of stores in one trip. Now, thanks to the emergence of e-commerce, customers can purchase goods from nearly any store imaginable without having to leave home.

"Amazon's spectacle is derived from an unlimited virtual space, the seemingly endless array of products that can be offered and purchased there, its ease of use (one need not physically travel to the site) and the speed with which an order can be placed and received by express delivery," wrote George Ritzer, a University of Maryland professor of anthropology who specializes in American consumerism, in a 2012 post on his blog.

Although they may no longer be able to compete in terms of accessibility or variety, malls can work to appeal to shoppers' senses and use the face-to-face aspect of in-store shopping to boost foot traffic, said Jason Brewer, vice president of communication and state affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

"Stores have advantages — see, feel, taste, touch," Brewer said. "To compete, you're going to have to enhance the in-store experience."

Some mall owners are taking this advice to heart, spending top dollar to make contemporary shopping centers a reality.

Half an hour north of New York City, Simon Property Group recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation on The Westchester Mall in White Plains, described as "the ultimate shopping experience."

New features include an indoor children's play area incorporating principles of the educational approach STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), an outdoor dining terrace complete with a fireplace and a media lounge with flat-screen TVs, charging stations and iPads.

At Savor Westchester, the mall's new food court, shoppers can indulge in upscale eateries like Bluestone Lane, Hai Street Kitchen, Whitmans and Mighty Quinn's.

"It's all about amenities," Robert Guerra, regional vice president for Simon Property Group, told The Journal News in September. "We've tried to make coming here more of an experience."

Michal Barnea, a mall-goer from White Plains who has been coming to the Westchester Mall since it opened in 1995, said she feels the update was necessary; the mall was beginning to look outdated.  

"I've started coming here more now that they've renovated," she said.

Although Barnea said she thinks the atmosphere has improved, she added, "it does make it more expensive to grab a bite to eat." 

The Westchester Mall isn't alone. In San Diego, the Westfield UTC mall is finishing up a $600 million renovation likely to appeal to wealthier clientele. New additions include Swarovski and Larsen's Steakhouse. A Nordstrom will take the place of the mall's now defunct Sears.

Updates like these could potentially lead to a demographic shift among mall-goers.

"I think these new malls will attract probably a more affluent audience who are willing to pay several dollars more to do things like see a movie, and pay the prices in these pricier chain restaurants that tend to populate these malls," said Ritzer, the anthropology professor.

These changes are all part of an industry-wide effort to reduce malls' dependence on department stores, which have struggled to attract customers as the pool of competitors has increased.

Anchor stores, such as Sears, Macy's and J.C. Penney, have experienced widespread closures in recent years. Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, reported roughly 10 percent decreases in sales at the stores in the first two quarters of this year, which has seen 180 store closings. Nearly 180 more are in store, while in March, J.C. Penney announced the closure of 138 stores.

"The old-style mall … was really built on the premise that their anchor tenant department stores were going to be the bedrock of their business. That's not happening anymore," said Amanda Nicholson, professor of retail at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. "Relying on them is really a danger, even though department stores were the anchors of all malls."

In their place, entertainment venues, residential spaces and offices are being used to drum up business.

At the Valley View Mall in Dallas, the closures of J.C. Penney, Macy's and Sears led developers to abandon their old strategy and demolish the mall, opting for a mixed-use outdoor venue instead.

The first phase of a $4 billion redevelopment project is underway, with plans to combine retail spaces with an apartment complex, a luxury movie theater, a fitness and wellness facility and more.

Although this may be a time of uncertainty for retailers and mall owners, ultimately, Nicholson said that consumers are likely to benefit from the changes.

"I think this is the transition period, and like all transition periods it's uncomfortable and it's awkward because you don't know where it's going, and it's really bad if you're in it," the professor of retail said. "But they leave transition periods with new and creative ideas."

Read the other part in this series on how malls in America are changing as the retail industry evolves here.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Liebson

Vermont Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen in Norwich


A 29-year-old Vermont man is accused of sexually assaulting a teen at the Norwich Golf Course Monday morning.

Police said Samuel L. Indenbaum, 29, of Athens, Vermont, enticed a 15-year-old girl over the internet and convinced her to meet him in the middle of the night.

Then Indenbaum drove from Vermont to Norwich, picked up the victim, drove her to the parking lot of the golf course and sexually assaulted her, police said.

Police said officers who responded to conduct a patrol check of the Norwich Golf Course at 3:11 a.m. Monday found Indenbaum and the victim in a vehicle.

Officers arrested Indenbaum, who has been charged with second-degree sexual assault, risk of Injury to a minor and enticing a minor. He was held on a $250,000 bond and is due in court today.

Photo Credit: Norwich Police

The Bannon Factor: GOP Should Brace for ‘Bloody September’


While the White House is pushing tax reform and ending a program protecting young people brought to this country illegally, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon will begin a campaign against "globalists" in the administration, sources told NBC News.

One source said Bannon is preparing to dig in on issues important to the president's supporters on the far-right, calling the campaign "bloody September."

He's already met with House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C, a source said.

And while Trump is taking on tax reform after announcing that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is being rescinded, Bannon's first "globalist" target in the administration is said to be Gary Cohn, a key tax reform planner.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Governor Urges Residents to Be Prepared for Hurricane Season


Gov. Dannel Malloy is urging Connecticut residents to be prepared during hurricane season and he’s advising people to take necessary steps well in advance of a storm.

The Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1 and continues until Nov. 30.

It has already been an active hurricane season, with Hurricane Harvey causing 48 deaths and massive damage in Texas.

Now Florida is now bracing for Hurricane Irma, which was upgraded Tuesday morning to a Category 5 storm.

“We should always have preparations in place – the time to prepare for the possibility of any major storm impacting our communities is now, not when it is just days away,” Malloy said. “Since 2011, our state has had six presidential major disaster declarations, and through those experiences we have improved communications and preparedness across all levels of government. Our state residents can be assured that Connecticut is prepared to respond if any major storm strikes our state.”

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro said it’s important for everyone to be ready for whatever comes our way.”

“An important aspect of preparation is to know where the evacuation routes and weather hazards are in your community such as, storm surge, areas prone to flooding, and those roads and bridges that frequently close due to severe weather,” Schiro said.

The principle threat period for Connecticut is between mid-August and mid-October.

Malloy urged residents to download the state’s “CTPrepares” mobile app. It provides Connecticut residents with information and alerts in emergency situations, and also gives preparedness tips in advance of an emergency.

Following are recommendations from the state:

Recommended items for a basic emergency supply kit:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • A manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
  • Food and litter requirements for any pets
  • Medicine or any special need items, including diapers for infants

Family Emergency Plan

  • Identify an out-of- town contact. It might be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact might be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your “In Case of Emergency” listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
  • Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through, and it uses less battery life. Plan ahead and pre-set a family group text conversation in your phones.
  • Subscribe to alert services. Go to www.ct.gov/ctalert to register for emergency alerts.

Protecting Your Possessions

  • Review your insurance policies yearly and especially prior to the start of hurricane season.
  • Review your policy with an agent, or contact the Connecticut Insurance Department to understand what is covered and what your coverage limits are to ensure you are receiving adequate protection.
  • Keep your policies and insurance contact information in a safe place.
  • Make an inventory of your possessions should your property be damaged and you have to make a claim.

Protecting Your Business

  • Develop a preparedness plan – including resource management, emergency response, crisis communications, business continuity, information technology, employee assistance and incident management.
  • Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your emergency program.
  • Gather information about hazards and assess risks.
  • Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

8 Properties Without Water After Hartford Water Main Break


A water main break closed part of Cromwell Street in Hartford Tuesday morning.

The break sent water flooding into the road on Cromwell Street near George Street around 11 a.m.

According to the Metropolitan District, the 8-inch main was installed in 1928. MDC crews have responded to make repairs.

Eight customers on Cromwell Street, from Campfield Avenue to 120 Cromwell St., are affected. Repairs should finish up between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Officials Call Yard Goats First Season at Home a Success


The Yard Goats might not have had a winning season, but in its first year at bat, some say Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium hit one out of the park. 

Even Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, an ardent opponent of the project, said the first season played at the new stadium was a success. 

“They had 21 sellouts in a row and 41 throughout the season,” Bronin said. 

Despite a 62-74 season, the second worst in the Eastern League, Hartford built it and fans came. 

“I think it’s been a long time coming for us to have something in Hartford,” Toni Fitzgerald, a northside neighborhood native who now lives in Bristol, said. 

“They’re at least attempting to bring more life to the city,” said Michael Flash, who also lives near the new park. 

“The stadium is always there. It’s fun for the kids, it’s fun for the family, and everybody loves it,” said Michael Brown, who lives close to the park as well. 

The $71-million baseball park, paid for with taxpayer dollars, opened a year late to a wary public. 

“It was nothing against baseball, it was just the idea of the people paying for it,” said Anne Goshdigian, who belongs to the Coalition to Stop the Stadium, which fought unsuccessfully against Dunkin Donuts Park. 

She said the city, which is considering bankrupt, couldn’t afford it then and can’t afford it now. 

“It’s a win for the team and the fact that we do have people who are enjoying it tremendously. It is not a win for Hartford,” Goshdigian said. 

Mayor Bronin campaigned against the project and took office after it was halfway built. 

“Financially, this never made sense and it probably never will make sense,” Bronin said. 

However, residents of the northside neighborhood near the park say the team and the city have hit a home run. 

“People around here need something else besides just wandering around looking at each other every day,” Brown said. 

“I think it’s wonderful for the city. Something new. It’s great to have a sports team downtown,” Flash said. 

The mayor said the park itself is not a money maker for Hartford, but it’s still a success when you measure it by the number of people it’s brought into the city. 

“No matter what you think or thought about the original decision to borrow the money and build the park, we should all embrace and enjoy the team and be proud of that success,” Bronin said. 

The original development plan didn’t stop at the stadium. Stores, restaurants and housing were also expected to be built. However, the city fired the contractor that was given the development rights. With the city now tied up in a legal battle, those plans are now on hold.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

What Is DACA? Here’s What You Need to Know


President Donald Trump's administration plans to end the government program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday.

The end of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, initiative is sure to be intensely debated across the country, NBC News reported.

An executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the program has about 800,000 recipients. People with permits whose renewals are set to expire before March 5, 2018, will be able to re-apply — if their applications are submitted by Oct. 5, 2017, according to Department of Homeland Security officials.

Here's what you need to know about DACA.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt York

Man With Infant in Car Led Police on Chase: State Police


A 26-year-old Bridgeport man is accused of leading state troopers on a chase with an infant in his car.

Two people, including an infant, were in the car Hector Lebron was driving when he led police on a chase on Route 8 South in Bridgeport around 5:15 p.m. Monday, according to state police.

State troopers took Lebron into custody and he was charged with engaging police in a pursuit, risk of injury to a child, reckless driving, failure to display plates, insufficient insurance and other charges,

Bond was set at $25,000 and he was unable to post it, so Lebron was held until his court date, which is scheduled for today.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Ski Season Begins at Powder Ridge With Synthetic Snow


The start of ski season might still be a few months away at some New England ski resorts, but it started on Saturday at Powder Ridge Mountain in Middlefield. 

The resort’s employees have spent the prior week testing out the new 500-foot synthetic snow slope near the old 7-47 trail. 

“This is going to be my fourth ski day of the season already,” Training Center Director Tom Loring said Friday. 

The polymer plastic fingers allow skis to turn and curve just like they would on snow. 

“It’s a little bit slower to start with, but then once you’re sliding it feels very similar,” Loring said. “We’re finding that the dynamics of the turn take just a little bit longer to develop. So, a lot of people are hesitant as they get on it. But, a couple runs in people are really starting to ski and ride like they normally would.” 

Unlike powder, this snow has staying power. 

“We knew we had to implement a strategy that was 365. We had to open all seasons because we are the southernmost New England ski area,” Powder Ridge CEO Sean Hayes said. 

That geography has been a challenge for Powder Ridge owners of the past and present. They’ve struggled to stay open 90-days before the snow melted. This ski area sat vacant for nearly nine years, after a previous owner couldn’t make the business financially feasible. 

On Saturday, Powder Ridge will be the first New England ski area to open for the season. 

“A great opportunity for ski teams and existing skiers to kind of get their legs under them for the beginning of the season but it’s also going to be a tremendous place to learn,” Loring said. 

It’s a concept new to New England, but it has been used in Europe and Asia for two decades. 

Loring said the manufacturer recommends skiers and snowboarders use a hard cold weather wax. 

“For the ski community, educated skiers are afraid of the damage. There have been other surfaces that have caused damage. This one we’re not seeing any damage whatsoever,” Loring said. 

Because of the hard plastic surface, all users will be required to stay covered. 

“We are requiring helmets, long shirts and a long pair of pants. You will get a rash if you hit skin on this material hard,” said Hayes. 

Hayes explained that 80-percent of first-time skiers never return to the sport, mostly because they don’t like the cold weather. He thinks synthetic snow will make skiing more appealing. 

“Who doesn’t want to go out on a day like this and learn so you can get the hard thing out of the way? You’ll be ready for skiing in the winter knowing you’re ready to ski,” said Hayes. 

When the winter weather comes, the synthetic slope will be easy to transition to the real deal. 

“Where most mountains have to put three feet of base down to ski on it, this is our base,” Hayes said, explaining that only three inches of real snow is necessary over the synthetic slope. 

Two tubing and sledding lanes will also open later this month. 

Hayes did not want to say how much he’s invested in the new synthetic slopes but said they do plan to extend the 500-foot ski hill to 2,500-feet in a few years.  

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drunken Man Going 120 MPH Leads Police on Chase: Police


A New Haven man is accused of driving 120 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone while fleeing from police on Interstate 95 North in Stratford early Saturday morning.

Police said a state trooper tried to stop 30-year-old Orlando Rolon-Hernandez, of New Haven, at 1:19 a.m. Saturday and he fled, leading police on a chase near exit 41.

Rolon-Hernandez is accused of changing lanes at high speeds several times and police ended the chase near exit 42.

They picked up the pursuit and followed Rolon-Hernandez off Interstate 91 at exit 5 and apprehended him at his home, police said. 

Police noted the smell of alcohol on Rolon-Hernandez’s breath and said he failed sobriety tests.

Rolon-Hernandez has been charged with reckless endangerment, operating under the influence and additional charges.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

AI Prince Teacher Accused of Sexually Assaulting Student


A teacher at A.I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford is accused of sexually assaulting a female student and has been arrested.

State police said the investigation began when a female student told school officials a teacher inappropriately touched her in June. School officials notified authorities and the teacher, 61-year-old Joseph Corbett, of Plainville, was immediately placed on administrative leave.

According to the arrest warrant, the victim told police that Corbett touched her inappropriately at least six times on separate occasions, and that she had been afraid to report it because she did not think anyone would believe her. According to the victim, Corbett groped her buttocks.

Several other students at the Hartford school confirmed witnessing Corbett touch the victim inappropriately, according to the warrant.

A.I. Prince Technical High School is part of the Connecticut Technical High School System and State Department of Education released a statement.

“Student safety is our top priority and we take all allegations of potential educator misconduct involving children extremely seriously. Because of how seriously we take this matter, Commissioner Wentzell last year created the Bureau of Investigations and Professional Practices to devote department resources to investigating allegations that arise. We have a legal and moral obligation to ensure that schools are safe places for children where they can learn and grow free from any threat of harm,” the statement says.

Corbett was arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault. He was issued a $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 12.

School officials said Corbett retired.

The law firm representing Corbett issued a statement.

“Joseph Corbett is a well respected professional who in 29 years of teaching at Prince Tech has never had a complaint filed against him. The allegations set forth in the police report are outrageous. We intend to fight these allegations to restore his good name,” the statement from the law firm says.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Burglary Suspect Used Rifle to Enter Killingworth Pharmacy


A man accused of shooting down the door of a pharmacy in Killingworth with an assault rifle in order to steal drugs has been arrested, state police said. 

Reed Sturman has been charged with burglary, possession of a controlled substance, criminal mischief, larceny and criminal use of a firearm on Tuesday. He was located in his vehicle on Capitol Avenue in Hartford.

Police said the crime took place at Killingworth Pharmacy, located at 183 Killingworth Road (Route 81), at approximately 5 a.m. on Monday. 

A man wearing a baseball cap, black-rimmed safety-type glasses, a down-type vest, long pants and a long sleeve shirt was seen on camera getting out of a dark-colored station wagon, with an assault rifle, Connecticut State Police said. 

The suspect fired several rounds into the front door of the pharmacy to gain access and then fired additional rounds into an interior door to get to the pharmaceuticals, according to police. 

The man seen on surveillance cameras was later identified as Sturman as police investigated the crime. 

Sturman allegedly took an undisclosed quantity and type of drugs before leaving in the same vehicle.

His bond was set at $250,000.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Young Immigrant Files Lawsuit Against Trump's DACA Decision


A lawsuit was filed Tuesday hours after the Trump administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants deportation protections for young immigrants, CNBC reported. 

The lawsuit was filed by Batalla Vidal, a 26-year-old Mexican immigrant and DACA recipient, and New York-based nonprofit group Make the Road New York, an organization that works with minority, working-class communities. 

The lawsuit challenges the Trump administration's termination of DACA, which protects an estimated 800,000 people from deportation.

New applications will be halted for President Barack Obama's DACA executive order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday.

Photo Credit: AP/Richard Vogel

Demand for CT Red Cross Volunteers Continues to Grow


More than 35 Connecticut residents are training to become an American Red Cross volunteer as the need continues to grow, staff said.

By the end of this week, the Connecticut Red Cross will have trained more than 100 new volunteers. During the training at the Red Cross headquarters, volunteers watched presentations, discussed relief efforts and self-identified specific skill sets. 

"I understand this is long-term for these people. It's not just trying out the furniture, it's getting your heart settled again," a volunteer, Carole Donabedian, said. 

Red Cross staff said they have deployed more than 60 volunteers to Hurricane Harvey hit areas in the south. They've also sent down four emergency response vehicles.

As of Tuesday, half a dozen Connecticut volunteers have been deployed to Florida where Hurricane Irma is expected to strike and new volunteers could be deployed as early as the next day.

"They can be deployed as quickly as 24 to 48 hours," Richard Branigan, chief program officer, said. 

Despite the influx of volunteers, the Red Cross said the need the to help is expected to grow. All potential volunteers are urged to visit the website.  

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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