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1 Killed in East Hartford Crash


One person is dead after a stolen car struck a sanitation truck on Silver Lane in East Hartford and the road was closed for hours while police investigated.

The crash happened on Silver Lane near the intersection with Holland Lane around 11 a.m. Monday.

Police said the driver of the car was killed. The driver of the sanitation truck was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

"I heard a big bang and I thought a transformer was exploding," said Joanne Dunning, who lives nearby. She said the car caught fire moments after the impact.

According to police, the car involved was a stolen Honda and the driver lost control.

Officers pursued the stolen car on Burnside Avenue earlier Monday morning, but police said the chase was called off and was not connected to the crash.

Silver Lane was closed for hours from Forbes Street to the Manchester town line.

The drivers have not been identified.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspicious Package Delivered to New Haven Mayor's Office


Church Street has reopened between Chapel and Elm streets in New Haven following the investigation into a suspicious piece of mail sent to the mayor’s office at City Hall.

The New Haven Police Bomb Squad determined there was nothing dangerous or unusual about the piece of mail. Police said there was no legible return address on the package.

City Hall was not evacuated, and most employees had already left for the day.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Yale Praises Oscar-Winning Graduate Nyong'o


When Lupita Nyong'o accepted the award for outstanding supporting actress for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” no one was happier for the actress than Ron Van Lieu, chairman of the Yale School of Drama acting program from which Lupita Nyong'o graduated in 2012.

“I think it's unprecedented that somebody who graduated as recently as she did, which [was] about a year and a half ago… would in her first movie win an Oscar for that role,” said Van Lieu.

Van Lieu called Nyong'o extremely talented and said she has always paired her talent with a great attitude, grace, intelligence and charm, which made her an exceptional candidate for Yale's School of Drama.

“It was clear when she auditioned that she was both extraordinarily gifted and very modest,” he said.

Nyong'o now serves as an inspiration for aspiring actors at the school.

“We watched it live, and we were really excited about the win,” said first-year drama student Shaunette Renee Wilson.

“When her name was called, it was just mayhem, and then there was a lull, and when she said YSD everyone just exploded,” said Jonathan Majors, another first-year drama student.

Nyong'o was not the only Yale graduate to take home an Oscar last night. Robert Lopez, who graduated in 1997, won for his original song "Let It Go" from Frozen. The song has now won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

“I think it was such an affirmation of what it is to be in the arts in America, to be a young artist in America,” said Majors.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

DOT Worker Finds Military Scrapbook in Cromwell


Jesus Morales has worked for the Connecticut Department of Transportation for more than a decade, supervising the inmates who clean up our highways. He says he's found countless objects on the side of the highway over the years, including cell phones and money – but nothing truly valuable until today.

Morales was on his typical cleanup duty along Interstate 91 northbound in Cromwell when it happened.

"We spotted this red box so one of my guys got out of the truck and picked it up like always picked it up and threw it in the trailer that I carry for the garbage," recounted the 14-year DOT veteran.

He noticed there was something heavy inside the box: an album filled with photos, news clippings and awards. It records the military history of James E. Mills and Clarence "Jack" Richards.

University of Hartford History Professor Avi Patt said clearly this documents a family's legacy of service.

"What's most impressive is that somebody went to the time of taking these commendations, taking these awards and medals and putting them into the album," said Patt.

In a matter of minutes, Patt connected the dots and said Mills and Richards were likely father-in-law and son-in-law, bound by something very personal.

"It's not just something you find in an archive, but for the family this is evidence of the service they've had, and it means a lot to the family," he said.

It means a lot to Morales to get it back in that family's hands.

"It's someone's treasure, not mine, but it's somebody's treasure and hopefully someone comes forward," Morales said.

He's hoping someone will see this story or one of his posts on Facebook and he'll find the rightful owner. He doesn't expect anything in return, but says he would like to shake that person's hand.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

3 Emaciated Dogs Found Dead in Elementary School Dumpster


Authorities are searching for the person who left three dead and emaciated dogs in a dumpster at the North Windham School over the weekend.

Windham Animal Control Officer Joan Lamont said a school janitor discovered the dogs Monday afternoon. They had been placed in a cardboard box inside the dumpster outside the elementary school at 112 Jordan Lane in North Windham.

The dogs – a Boston Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier and small mixed-breed dog – appeared to be starving and unkempt. They had matted hair and long toenails, according to Lamont, who called the situation one of the worst things she’d ever seen.

"To find three small dogs like this – that suggests that it was a situation where they were all being neglected, especially the condition of the rests of their bodies," Lamont explained.

It’s not clear how long the dogs had been dead. Lamont said it appears they died of starvation.

One of the dogs had a microchip implanted but was not registered. None had tags, although one was wearing a collar.

Animal control officers are searching for the person or people responsible.

Windham Public Schools Superintendent Ana Ortiz said that, although the situation did not present a security concern, counseling will be available to students.

"There's also a school social worker and school psychologist that, if the children have to talk about it, there will be people there for them," Ortiz said.

Animal Control hopes someone will come forward with information so officers can identify the person responsible.

"We want to konw where these dogs came from," Lamont said. "Somebody probably knows who had three little dogs like this."

Photo Credit: Windham Animal Control

Students Scramble for Tickets to See Obama at CCSU


Students at Central Connecticut State University flipped on their computers and waited anxiously for an email that would give them the chance to see President Obama speak at their school on Wednesday.

“Every single computer was full,” said student Keanii Munoz, who stopped first at the science lab, then headed to the student union in search of a free machine. “Everybody’s been trying to register.”

The link to reigster arrived around noon in a much-anticipated email. Students refreshed their inboxes until the message came, then hoped luck was on their side as they clicked through.

“I finally got the email at 12:08,” said CCSU student Ethan Sadoian. “It took several attempts to get into the registration page [but] I finally did.”

It was too late for Sadoian. He logged onto the Web site to find the 1,000-plus tickets had already been reserved.

Munoz, on the other hand, was more fortunate.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I was definitely not going to miss an opportunity to see Obama.”

School officials said the number of students who received tickets was more than double the number of staff members. A line wrapped around the student union Monday afternoon as the winners arrived to claim their tickets.

Obama will focus on his push to raise the minimum wage. He’ll be joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. No bags, backpacks, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquids or signs will be allowed into the gymnasium, according to a release from the White House. Cameras are OK.

Free tickets will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis from 4 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at CCSU’s William Detrick Gymnasium in Kaiser Hall at 1615 Stanley Street in New Britain. Tickets are limited to one per person.

Obama will arrive at the Bradley Air National Guard Base on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pedestrian Struck in Waterbury, in Serious Condition


A woman is in serious condition after she was struck by a car in the area of Store 40 at 1276 Meriden Road in Waterbury, according to police.

Police said the crash occurred around 8:30 p.m. The pedestrian's injuries are non-life threatening and the car stayed at the scene.

The victim has not been identified.

No road closures are in effect.

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Bristol Police Arrest Suspect in Gas Station Robbery


A 42-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the robbery of a Bristol gas station this evening.

Kevin Chamberlain is accused of stealing from the Gulf Mart at 180 Riverside Avenue in Bristol just after 6:30 p.m. today. Police said Chamberlain allegedly reached inside his jacket, told the clerk he had a gun and demanded money.

The suspect took cash and fled on foot. Chamberlain was arrested shortly thereafter and charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was also served an outstanding warrant for violation of probation in Simsbury, police said.

Police said officers searched Chamberlain and found money that was apparently taken from the convenience store.

Chamberlain was held on a total of $100,972 and is due in court tomorrow.

It’s the second robbery of the Gulf Mart in two months.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Many Still Struggle to Rebuild After Sandy


Sixteen months after Hurricane Sandy many people along the shoreline are still struggling to rebuild.

But one Milford man can't understand why the state has rejected him twice for aid to repair his home.

Skip Ziebell's house is on Silver Street. He and his wife haven't lived here since that October 2012 storm He says he had to elevate it because the foundation was crumbling and he a rat problem underneath but now his problem is much bigger.

"They're saying it was raised. It's not completely. It just started," Ziebell said, noting that this job was started a couple of months ago with money out of his pocket. He had hoped to get that money back but he now knows that answer.

"I got a letter and it said Mr. Ziebell you're ineligible because you did this. I mean this is insane."

That letter was from State's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection denying him funds from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. This comes even after Governor Malloy ordered a committee to revise the allocation of those funds

"The house is in jeopardy. I haven't been in it in 16 months because I did something after 14 months," Ziebell said.

The state says it is working with him and the town to help him get access to any funds he might be eligible for. In January the state told NBC Connecticut the money denied to residents would be used for things like infrastructure

"The state is dysfunctional and the programs aren't working as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Ziebell has poured nearly $52,000 of his own into this house--one he was required to raise in the first place when it was more than 50% damaged by Sandy. He says the rest of project is likely $100,000 more--something he's likely going to have pay for himself.

In the meantime he's been living in his rental property down the street. Contractors can't work on the Silver Street home because the ground is frozen. He's also worried about thieves stealing copper.

"Hope that isn't the house moving," as there was a sound during the interview with NBC Connecticut. "This is like really scary."

Skip would just like to return to his house.

"It's a heart breaker. Every time my wife and I walk outside you get sick to your stomach looking at it and like I said how long can we wait to do something?"

He says Milford police have helped him keep an eye on his house. He also has motion sensor lights on his house all night long.

It's unclear how many other people along the shoreline were denied because of a situation like this. We reached out to Milford's mayor Monday night but he didn't get back to us.


Poll: Voters Support Minimum Wage Increase


A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that Connecticut voters support raising the state's minimum wage.

The poll comes the day before President Barack Obama comes to Connecticut to push his proposal to do just that.

The statewide poll released on Tuesday morning says support for an increase is 71 percent to 25 percent.

The Quinnipiac University poll offered voters four choices and 42 percent want to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

This is something Gov. Dannel Malloy has said he supports.

Days after the president's State of the Union Address, Malloy proposed raising Connecticut's minimum wage from $8.70 to $10.10 over the next three years.
The poll also found that 25 percent of voters want no increase, 20 percent want to increase minimum wage to more than $10.10 per hour and 8 percent want to increase minimum wage to something less than $10.10 per hour.
Voters (47 to 28 percent) said a minimum wage increase would help rather than hurt Connecticut's economy.

The support is also divided by party.

Republicans oppose the increase, 53 to 41 percent and said, 57 to 17 percent, that it would hurt the economy.

Among Democrats, 93 to 6 percent, support the increase, while independent voters support it 73 to 23 percent among.

Photo Credit: AP

Firefighters Battle Two-Alarm Fire in Waterbury


Firefighters are battling a two-alarm fire at 462 Highland Ave. in Waterbury

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Free Pancake Day at IHOP


It’s Fat Tuesday and what better way is there to indulge before Lent than free pancakes?

Today is IHOP’s ninth annual National Pancake Day fundraiser and the restaurant is giving away a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes.

In return for the pancakes, IHOP asks customers to make a voluntary contribution to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in an effort to raise $3 million nationwide.

Learn more about the fundraising effort here: http://www.ihoppancakeday.com/about-childrens-miracle-network.html

There are several IHOP locations in Connecticut:

  • 339 Cottage Grove Road, Bloomfield
  • 2400 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden, CT 06514-1810
  • 3280 Berlin Turnpike, Newington
  • 486 Boston Post Road, Orange
  • 1040 North Colony Road, Wallingford
  • 495 Union Street, Suite 2168, Waterbury

Photo Credit: Julia Bagg/NBC6.com

Fire Destroys Oxford Home


Fire destroyed an Oxford home this morning, but two people who were home were able to get out without being injured.

A father and his step daughter were home when fire broke out at 87 Thorson Road around 3 a.m.

The daughter said the heat wasn't working last night, so her stepfather set a fire in the fireplace and slept on a mattress nearby.

When he woke up, the flames had spread and almost reached his mattress, she said.

He ran down to the basement, where the daughter was sleeping, and they both got out safely.

Firefighters said flames were shooting through the roof when they arrived.

The called in mutual aid from nearby towns and had to shuttle water in because there are no hydrants in this area.

Despite firefighters’ efforts, the home was destroyed.

“The home is a total loss. The fire had a head start on us. The firefighters made an aggressive attack the fire had a head start, and now the outcome is what you see here,” Oxford Fire Chief Scott Pelletier said.

Pelletier said this is the second fire in a week in Oxford in which the 911 call was delayed because people are trying to put out the fires themselves.

The cold weather made it tougher to fight the fire because equipment, including gear and radios, froze.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Route 53 in Weston Reopens


Route 53 in Weston was closed in both directions on Friday morning between Valley Forge Road and the Redding town line, police said.

The state Department of Transportation sent out an alert saying this is because a tree is down on wires on Newtown Turnpike.

The road reopened around 10:15 a.m.


Case Continued for Gourmet Heaven Owner


A New Haven restaurant owner is facing a string of labor law violations and the case was continued on Tuesday.

Chung Cho did not appear in court on Tuesday. Attorneys from both sides in the case exchanged paperwork and the case was continued to April 8.

Employees of Gourmet Heaven in New Haven hope the investigation will bring them the money they say they earned but never received.

For seven years, Julio Olivar worked in the deli at Gourmet Heaven, even though he and other employees say they weren’t being paid for the time they worked.

"About, about $20,000, and that’s just for the past two years because unfortunately, we can’t claim for the past seven years," said Olivar.

Olivar’s claim is now part of a Department of Labor investigation that started last summer and ended in the arrest of Cho, 50.

"We found that Mr. Cho had not paid overtime and minimum wage to almost all his workers, at least the ones that we got records for," said Blair Bertaccini, principal investigator for the Connecticut Department of Labor, at a news conference Wednesday.

Cho now faces a number of charges for reportedly failing to pay more than $200,000 in wages and defrauding immigrant laborers. No one was home at his house in Woodbridge when NBC Connecticut tried to reach him for comment.

New Haven Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez said he wants all businesses in New Haven to thrive, but to do it fairly.

"It’s important for not only fair competition, but for quality of life issues. If a person does an honest day’s work, that person should get paid that wage that was promised to them," said Perez.

Julio Olivar is hoping that in the wake of this this arrest, he'll eventually be paid the $20,000 he said he's owed.

"He has to first treat the workers better, pay the workers what he owes. He owes the workers a lot of money. For the past month I’ve been struggling just to put gas in my car so I can go looking for a job, it’s really bad," said Olivar.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New London Workers to Get $10.10 Minimum Wage


The mayor of New London plans to sign an ordinance into law today to make minimum wage for municipal employees and contractors $10.10.

“I will be proud to sign this ordinance into law,” Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said. “I hope other municipalities and employers will follow New London’s example, because no one working full time should be forced to live in poverty.”

During the State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama announced an executive order for federal contractors to pay employees at least $10.10 an hour. He also urged mayors, governors and state legislators to raise wages as well and the mayor said he was inspired by that call.

“President Obama issued a call to action,” Finizio said. “I am proud that today New London becomes the first city in our state to answer that call.”

Mayor Finizio will sign the ordinance at 1 p.m. in the mayor’s office and said this is the first ordinance in the state to enact the $10.10 wage.

He is signing it the day before the president comes to Connecticut to push his $10.10 minimum wage plan.

It also comes on the same day Quinnipiac University released a poll saying Connecticut voters support raising the state's minimum wage.

Of those who participated in the poll, 42 percent want to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

New London’s City Council passed the ordinance on Monday night with a vote of 6 to 1 vote.

“Some of the hardest working people in America work at low-paying jobs, and they deserve the dignity of a fair wage,” Council President Wade Hyslop said in a statement.

5 Things to Know About Pancake Day


Each year hungry customers pour into IHOP restaurants around the country for National Pancake Day. But the holiday is about more than freebies at America's most famous pancake chain.

It's a nationally recognized holiday in England.
In fact, the English have been flipping pancakes for hundreds of years. They were tossing them way back in the 15th century. It was an efficient way to get rid of old butter, milk and eggs before these foods had to be given up for Lent. The day became known as Shrove Tuesday and is the day before Ash Wednesday, which precedes the Lent fast for Catholics.

Shrove comes from the old English word shrive.
Shriving is the process by which a person would confess his or her sins to a priest and then receive penance for it, according to the Essex Chronicle. The tradition goes back over 1,000 years. Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration but also a day of repentance. It's the last day to indulge on savory foods like fats and proteins that likely won't keep through the 40 days of Lent.

Shrove Tuesday is also known by its French name Mardis Gras.
The French name means "fat Tuesday" and echoes the need to use up all the fats before they go bad. Pancakes became associated with this day because they're an easy way to get rid of butter and eggs.  All you have to do is add some flour and you're all set. In Iceland the day is known as Sprengidagur, which means "bursting day." And in Greece it's called Apokries, or "from the meat," a last farewell to fleshy foods before the fast.

The holiday likely has its roots in pagan festivals.
The celebrations before Ash Wednesday go back to pre-Christian times. Ancient tribes of Europe would have festivals to mark the change between winter and summer and the agricultural rewards the transition brings. The Romans would also celebrate the Spring Equinox with festivities, including a circus festival worshiping the pastoral deity Lupercus.

The English don't just stuff their faces on Pancake Day, they also get some exercise. Pancake races are common in England on Shrove Tuesday. They're believed to have begun in 1445, according to the BBC. A woman was getting her pancake on in her kitchen when she heard the church bell ringing to call the townsfolk to a shriving service. Rather than miss confession — or her newly made pancakes — she took the grilled pile of dough with her, frying pan and all. One of the most famous pancake races is in Olney in Buckinghamshire. This year marks the 569th year the town has had an annual pancake race. Generations of families in the town have taken part over the centuries.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Berkshire Bank in West Hartford Evacuated Over Gas Odor


Berkshire Bank at 927 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford was evacuated as emergency officials investigated an odor of gas today.

Crews responded at 11:45 a.m. and determined that the smell was isolated to one room.

The gas company found nothing problematic. Everyone was allowed back into the bank as of noon. 

The cause has not been determined.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Runners Honor WWII Veteran: Video


When Mercury News reporter Julia Prodis Sulek woke up Sunday morning, she wasn't sure why she heard all the clapping and cheering outside her San Jose home.

Then she peeked outside. She saw dozens of runners zipping by, up on the sidewalk, as part of the 408k Race to the Row, which benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation.

All the commotion was for 95-year-old World War II veteran Joe Bell, who came outside in full military dress to root on the runners. But it was Bell who soon began getting all the attention.

Runners spontaneously ran up to the elderly man fully decked out in his U.S. Army Airborne brown uniform, shaking his hands, shouting, "Thank you for your service."

"It just kept happening in waves," Sulek said. "Over and over again. The runners were wonderful to give Joe that kind of respect."

Even though it was her day off, Sulek grabbed her iPhone and documented the organic tribute to this veteran, who also happens to be her neighbor in his last decade of life. And it was even more fitting because the Pat Tillman foundation is named for the late NFL star killed while serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2002.

Since she's also a reporter, she sent the video into work.

It was a good decision.

As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 1 million people had seen it on the Mercury News website. The Today Show featured her video and a story online. Nightly News and NBC Bay Area also used Sulek's short footage and interviewed Bell about his service.

For his part, Bell was taken aback that so many young people are interested in the story of a man who was born in Shanghai, survived the Rape of Nanking, was a "demolition jumper" for the Army in the 1940s and retired as a tool and dye maker.

"I'm surprised," he said. "I didn't know there were that many people interested in WWII."

What's an odd touch of irony is that Sulek is a print reporter. But like most reporters these days has learned multimedia skills, and her video is now being sought after by television stations. Runners World, USA Today, Yahoo News and other media outlets ran with the story.

Sulek told NBC Bay Area that she's stunned at the response, and that she's extremely busy fielding calls from producers who want her now-viral video.

"Jim often talks about how he doesn't expect to live much longer," Sulek said. "And I wanted to capture this moment for him and his family. It's thrilling that it's touching so many people."

NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Screengrab from Julia Sulek Prodis/Mercury News video

Bridgeport Murder Suspect Arrested in N.Y.


Authorities have arrested the man accused of shooting and killing a 27-year-old Bridgeport resident over the summer.

Jose Manuel Torres, 36, was arrested this morning in New York in connection with the fatal shooting of Pablo Aquino on July 24. Torres was identified as a suspect immediately following the homicide and was considered armed and dangerous.

The shooting happened near Aquino’s residence on Pixlee Place in the Mill Street section of the city. Police said Aquino was shot less than 100 yards from the Hall School, an elementary school on Clermont Avenue.

He was taken to Bridgeport Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said the U.S. Marshals took Torres into custody this morning.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department
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