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Sales Tax Holiday Starts Sunday

SeaWorld Announces Plans to Expand Killer Whale Environments


SeaWorld plans to spend upwards of $10 million to build an expanded killer whale environment and programs to protect the creatures in the wild, the company announced Friday.

This announcement comes two days after SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. released a report showing a significant drop in revenue for the first half of 2014. The company has also come under fire from animal-rights activists who claim the company was mistreating its killer whales.

In addition to the new habitat, SeaWorld is pledging $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research. The company said it is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.

SeaWorld San Diego will be first park to debut the new killer whale environments, named the Blue World project, with a planned total water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly twice as much as the existing facility. The new environment will also provide the world's largest underwater viewing experience for guests.

"Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a birds-eye view from above," Jim Atchison, chief executive officer and president of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., said in Friday's announcement.

The announcement comes midway through a challenging year for the major theme park. Officials have launched a new publicity campaign to combat the effects of the documentary “Blackfish," which focuses on claims of whale mistreatment. The park also successfully fought a proposed bill in California that would ban using killer whales as performers.

In June, dozens of riders stranded for hours hundreds of feet off the ground in the park’s iconic SkyTower ride. Then, in July, a controversial anti-SeaWorld ad was unveiled in time to greet Comic-Con crowds in San Diego.

-NBC San Diego's R. Stickney contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: adonayrealestate.com

West Hartford Police Seek 'Dangerous' Burglary Suspect


West Hartford police have arrested more than 20 burglary suspects since June, but they’re still looking for one of the town’s most notorious criminals, who they say has been breaking into homes while residents are sleeping.

Police spokesman Lt. Ted Stoneburner said the suspect hit 10 homes in a single night and DNA evidence has linked him to the crimes.

Burglaries in town have been widespread and police have arrested suspects in more than 100 home and car burglaries over the past couple months. Most have been crimes of opportunity during which money and valuables have been left in plain view, police said.

Advances in DNA testing, officer training and other new technologies have helped authorities identify and apprehend a record number of suspects, according to police.

But their most wanted – and possibly most dangerous – criminal is still on the run. Police have not publicly identified the suspect.

Residents are advised to lock their homes and cars and store valuables out of sight.

New Hampshire Woman Killed in Motorcycle Crash on I-84


A 43-year-old New Hampshire woman who was riding on the back of a motorcycle was killed in a serious crash that shut down Interstate 84 eastbound in West Hartford for several hours on Thursday, according to state police.

Police have identified the woman killed as Brenda Goodwin, of Atkinson, New Hampshire.

State police said traffic came to an abrupt stop just before 4 p.m. and the motorcycle, driven by Mark Goodwin, 46, of Atkinson, New Hampshire, hit the side of a Toyota Corolla and a different Toyota Corolla hit Brenda Goodwin.

Mark and Brenda Goodwin were transported to St. Francis Hospital, where Brenda was pronounced dead, according to state police.

Mark Goodwin's injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, according to a news release from state police. 

All eastbound lanes were closed at exit 44 in West Hartford until around 7 p.m. Traffic was gridlocked during rush hour and the westbound side was also moving slowly through the area.

Police are investigating to determine why the driver may have left the scene.

No charges have been filed. Witnesses are asked to call 860-534-1000.

This was the second fatal crash in the area in a little over two days and some state lawmakers are looking into what can be done to make the highway safer.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Injures Woman During Drunken Assault: Police


Middletown police have arrested a local man who is accused of a drunken assault on a woman who needed to be hospitalized after sustaining serious injuries.

Police responded to 749 Saybrook Road at 10:39 p.m. on Thursday to investigate an assault and found a woman with a swollen face and cuts on her head, lip and face, police said. Large clumps of hair were also falling from her head.

A witness told police that the victim and Eugene Pirro, 55, of Middletown, were arguing in a truck in the parking lot of Ampak and he pushed her out of his truck, police said.

As the woman was on the ground, Pirro kicked and punched, then drove away as she tried to get back into the vehicle, a witness told police.

The victim was transported to Middlesex Hospital.

Police stopped Pirro as he was driving from the scene and noted that he was “visibly intoxicated” and admitted to drinking, according to the arraignment report.

Pirro refused to take field sobriety tests at the scene, but police tested his blood alcohol level at the police station. The first test came back with a level of .200, while the second came back with a level of .188, police said.

Pirro was charged with second-degree assault, second-degree endangerment, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol and breach of peace.

He was held on a $10,000 surety bond and will be arraigned on Friday. Police said his license will be held for 24 hours.

Photo Credit: Middletown Police

Commander of USS Newport News Relieved of Duty


The commander of the USS Newport News has been relieved of his duties because of loss of confidence, according to a news release from the U.S. Navy.

The commander of Submarine Squadron 6 at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia relieved Cmdr. Christopher Tarsa of his duties as commanding officer of Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Newport News on Aug. 15.

The reason cited is “a loss of confidence in his ability to serve effectively as commanding officer.”

Tarsa, who took command of Newport News on Aug. 2, 2013, has been administratively reassigned to the staff of Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic.

Cmdr. Roger Meyer, deputy commander at Submarine Squadron 6, has assumed command of Newport News until a permanent replacement is named. He previously commanded USS Miami.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Truck Hits House in East Granby


A truck hit a house on Washington Ridge Road in East Granby on Friday afternoon.

State police said it is minor. No one was injured and it was not necessary to close the road.


Gay City, Mashamoquet Brook Closed


Gay City State Park in Hebron and Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret are closed because of poor water quality.

The water at Gay City and Mashamoquet Brook will be resampled and results are expected next week, according to the beach status report from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

All other beaches that the state DEEP tests water for are open.

East Beach at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic had been closed, but has reopened.


Griswold Woman to Sing at Red Sox Game


A Griswold woman will be making a dream come true on Sunday afternoon when she performs the national anthem before thousands of fans at Fenway Park.

Sharon Brouillard will be singing during Connecticut Day at Fenway before game three of the Red Sox-Astros series.

Brouillard, a Norwich native who lives in Griswold and works for Mystic Seaport, often sings at Seaport events, including ceremonies commemorating the Charles W. Morgan, according to Congressman Joe Courtney.

After hearing her sing, Courtney connected her with the Red Sox organization about the possibility of singing at Fenway.
“Having heard her perform numerous times at Mystic Seaport, I was happy to connect her with the Red Sox and I know she will make us all proud—just like the Morgan’s restoration and voyage did this summer."

“I am humbled and honored to be able to represent the State of Connecticut for Connecticut Day at Fenway,” Brouillard said in a news release. “As a long-time Red Sox fan, this is indeed a dream come true for me.  Bucket List item…Check!  Go Sox!”
First pitch is at 1:35 p.m.
“We are pleased to welcome Sharon Brouillard to Fenway Park to sing the national anthem as we celebrate Connecticut Day,” Red Sox EVP/COO Sam Kennedy said in a statement. “Her performance provides a way for us to show our appreciation to the fans we love in the Constitution State.”


LifeStar Transports Contractor Who Fell Off Ladder


LifeStar was called to a scene on West Shore Drive in Coventry after a man in his 40s fell off a ladder.

The man who fell was a contractor at a home and he fell and was taken to Hartford Hospital.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Mike Heimer

Woman's Head Bashed on NYC Subway


Police arrested a man suspected of attacking a 54-year-old woman while aboard a subway train in Brooklyn, bashing her head against a metal pole and then tossing her to the floor, apparently because she criticized him for hitting his child.

Jasner Jimenez was arrested Friday for allegedly participating in the confrontation on a Manhattan-bound L train last month, which police say began with the two arguing.

According to Gothamist, the woman saw the suspect "beating his child in front of me" and asked him to "please" stop. The suspect started cursing at her, the woman said in an e-mail to the website, and then went back to hitting his child.

When the train pulled into the Lorimer Street stop in Williamsburg, police say the woman got off and moved to a different car, Jimenez allegedly followed her onto the second car and proceeded to attack her, police said. Then he got off the train.

The victim was treated for a bruised arm and swelling to the head. She told Gothamist in an e-mail that two men on the train stopped the suspect from beating her further. 

Information on a lawyer for Jimenez was not immediately available.

Students Develop Mobile Apps for City of Hartford


High school students who spent the summer designing smartphone apps for the city of Hartford unveiled their work today at Trinity College.

The program hosted 20 students from around the state who came together to develop six city apps, including a tour of the Hartford area, a library rewards program, an overview of City Hall and apps for Hartford Youth Services and the RiseUP Leadership Development Program.

“Our cities are becoming smarter and more digital, so it’s very important that we have students trained in this area,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, who was in the audience to see the apps rolled out.

While the six-week internship program focused on the world of technology, students say they also gained real-world experience, including “how to manage yourself in a professional atmosphere,” according to student app creator Greidy Montalvo.

Teacher Rachel Martinich said she hopes the program will continue to benefit students down the road.

“I think this Apps for Hartford program is a really good opportunity for students to ease into computer coding and also ease into the work force,” she explained.

Worker Airlifted After Falling from Roof in Killingworth


A roofer was airlifted to Yale-New Haven Hospital after falling off a roof on Beaver Dam Road in Killingworth on Friday morning.

The roofer was working on home that is under construction and fell from the peak of an unfinished portion of the roof, according to the  deputy fire chief.

The man’s injuries are considered serious, but not life-threatening, officials said.

An ambulance responded and transported the man to LifeStar, which brought him to the hospital.

Connecticut State Police and OSHA are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Connecticut Open Tennis Tournament Kicks Off Friday


Two dozen of the world’s top female tennis players are going head-to-head this weekend at the Connecticut Open tennis tournament in New Haven.

The nine-day event, which falls just prior to the U.S. Open in New York, kicked off today and will run through Saturday, Aug. 23.

Tennis pros such as former world champion Caroline Wozniacki, defending titleholder Simona Halep and Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova will compete for a $710,000 purse at Yale’s Connecticut Tennis Center.

Play gets underway with the qualifying draws today and tomorrow, then continues through the week and closes with the quarterfinals on Thursday, semifinals on Friday and doubles and singles finals next Saturday.

Men’s legends James Blake, Andy Roddick and Jim Courier will take the court Wednesday and Thursday following the women’s action.

The tournament also includes special events and activities, such as Monday’s Military Appreciation Night to honor veterans and active service members; Aetna Kids Day on Sunday, which offers tennis clinics, giveaways and autograph sessions with the players; and a “Destination a Day” giveaway, in which fans can win trips to such prestigious tennis spots as Wimbledon and The Old Course at St. Andrews.

Grilled cheese, crepes, Venezuelan cuisine, baked potatoes, seafood, ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, pizza and salads are among the offerings at food trucks and carts around the venue. A new beer garden called the Baseline Tap House will also provide Connecticut brews like Stoney Creek IPA and Amber Ale and Thomas Hooker Blonde.

Fans can use the smartphone app “GoPago” to order food from anywhere at the venue and pick it up from an express line at the stadium concession stand.

According to tournament officials, the Connecticut Open is expected to bring New Haven tens of millions of dollars in revenue and an economic boost for vendors and local businesses. One construction company said it has the tournament to thank for more than half its yearly business.

"The culture is just one of shared ownership, and that makes everybody want to take it to the next level," said tournament spokesperson Anne Worcester.

More information on the tournament is available online or by calling the box office at 855-464-8366.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Gas Station Clerk Robbed at Knifepoint: Police


Police are investigating after a female gas station clerk was held at knifepoint during an armed robbery in Willimantic on Friday morning.

According to police, the suspect entered the Valero gas station at West Main Street and Columbia Avenue around 6:20 a.m. Friday.

He pulled out a knife and held the employee at knifepoint, then demanded she open the register and enter the back room while he took the money and left.

Police have not released a physical description of the suspect but said surveillance video captured the incident.

Local Pizza Place is Top Family Friendly Restaurant


A Manchester pizza place has snagged a spot on the list of top-10 family friendly restaurants in the country.

Randy’s Wooster Street Pizza on Tolland Turnpike in Manchester was among 10 restaurants to make the cut nationwide. It’s part of a competition hosted by U.S. Foods, and the five winners will take home $2,000 each in kitchen equipment and supplies.

The restaurant is the only New England establishment on the list. It’s up against others in Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, California, Colorado, Virginia, Missouri and North Carolina.

Chefs will visit each of the restaurants before Aug. 23 and help pick the final five alongside a panel of judges.

The winners will be announced Sept. 2 and will earn a spread in the winter issue of Food Fanatics Magazine.

Randy’s operates two other locations in Storrs and Berlin.

Photo Credit: NBC10 - Dan Stamm

New Canaan Church Leader to Register as Sex Offender


A former New Canaan church group leader will spend the next 10 years as a registered sex offender on charges stemming from her sexual involvement with a teen in the youth group, according to her attorney.

Morgan Frawley, 25, of Fairfield, pleaded guilty Friday morning to one count of risk of injury to a minor. In April, she pleaded not guilty to second-degree sexual assault.

She's accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old church member. Police said she and the boy also exchanged sexually explicit photos and text messages.

Frawley was arrested in October of last year after turning herself in to police.

The plea deal entered today suspended a 10-year prison sentence. Frawley will face 10 years' probation and 10 years as a registered sex offender, according to attorney Frank Bevilacqua.

Frawley was fired from her post as a substitute teacher at Tomlinson Middle School in Fairfield after the allegations came to light, police said.

She had been a church adviser for less than two years.

Photo Credit: New Canaan Police Department

Crash Closes Route 140 in Ellington


Route 140/Sandy Beach Road is closed at Jacobs Hill Road in Ellington following a crash, according to state police.

There has been no word on injuries. Police have not released any information on the crash. It's not clear how long the road will remain closed.

Avoid the area.

1 Seriously Injured in Willington Crash


One person was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition after crashing near the intersection of Kucko and Village Hill roads in Willington Friday night, according to Tolland County Dispatch.

The crash was reported around 8 p.m. Friday. Dispatchers said the victim suffered extensive injuries and was unconscious at the scene.

LifeStar sent a medical helicopter, which landed on a baseball field at Village Hill and River roads and took the victim to Hartford Hospital, Tolland County Dispatch said.

State troopers also responded to the crash. Dispatch said only one car was involved.

The victim has not been publicly identified.

Check back for updates.

CA Chase Exposes Possible Pot Grow


A police pursuit that ended in Huntington Park when a car smashed through a warehouse wall exposed an illegal marijuana grow house inside early Friday morning.

Authorities had previous said only that there was an "operation" inside but hadn't said whether pot was being grown in the warehouse.

Approximately 800 plants were seized Friday.

Neighbors say they've smelled pot coming from the building for months.

"When I talked to the owner of the building he was under the impression that they were storing vintage cars," said Adam Cohen, accounting manager at the Signorelli T-Shirt Company next door. "From the smell, I don't think those were cars."

The smell was so potent, said Lyndia Lipscomb, the HR director next door, that some employees thought it was a gas leak.

"Once I had an employee come in and tell me, 'You know, you need to call the gas company and find out,'" Lipscomb said.

The crash, which capped a pursuit by California Highway Patrol officers, left a gaping hole in the warehouse building's wall and the driver paralyzed.

The Volkswagen Jetta smashed through the side of the building on the 6300 block of Regent Street near the intersection of Regent Street and Gage Avenue around around 1:15 a.m.

It traveled about 120 feet into the building before it came to a rest, according to CHP Sgt. Richard Zavala. Water could be seeing flowing inside the building in the minutes following the crash.

The driver, in his mid-20s, was extracted from the car and taken to the hospital.

The driver is in custody and faces charges of reckless driving and evading. Officials are trying to determine whether he were driving under the influence at the time of the crash.

The pursuit began when CHP noticed a Jetta driver driving recklessly near Alameda Street and Florence Avenue. Officers tried to pull the man over, but he continued north on Alameda Street.

The man then hit a curb and a center divider near Gage Avenue, went airborne and crashed into the the vacant commercial building, CHP said.

Kevin LaBeach and Michelle Valles contributed ot this report.

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