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State to Ask for More Federal Storm Funds


The state is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for extra cash to help cover the cost of last weekend’s record-setting blizzard.

President Barack Obama granted an emergency declaration shortly after the storm dropped more than three feet of snow in some towns, so FEMA will reimburse the state and towns 75 percent of the clean-up costs over the first 48 hours.

Because of the size of this storm, state officials are asking the federal government to cover an additional 24 hours of storm clean-up.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew said 48 hours of strom coverage reimbursement is not enough.
“We had our crews on from Friday morning, at the start of the storm, and they just got off the street for the first time 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, yesterday,” he said more than a week after the storm hit.

Drew said his city’s snow removal costs were under the $250,000 budgeted heading into the blizzard of 2013, but the past week changed everything.

“The costs are gonna be staggering, not only in Middletown but in every municipality in the state,” Drew said.

With that in mind, state officials will be asking FEMA to reimburse 75 percent of the costs for the first 72 hours of the storm.

Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said their 1,200 employees drove 632 plows from Friday at 4, until Tuesday night and the estimated costs exceed $10 million, or about $100,000 an hour or more than a third of the total agency budget for the winter season.

He said the additional funds are needed, but the agency is well-prepared financially if another storm hits.

“We’ve got plenty of resources to maximize additional funding from within the Connecticut Department of transportation,  if needed,” he said.

Drew said residents in his town have measured more than three feet of snow. While he enjoys winter, he won’t complain when spring comes.

"I think we’ve all had our fill of the snow this year and we’re ready for the daffodils to pop out of the ground," he said.

2 Questioned in Fatal Shooting of Chicago Teen


Police are questioning two men in the murder of an 18-year-old Chicago woman who was killed Friday in a north suburb, officials said Sunday.

Janay McFarlane was shot and killed while leaving a store in North Chicago, hours after her younger sister attended President Barack Obama’s speech on Friday addressing gun violence in Chicago

McFarlane's mother, Angela Blakely, said McFarlane was not the intended target and that the bullet was intended for a friend she was with. Blakely said McFarlane had asked two male friends to go with her to the store because she didn't feel safe walking alone.

Two men followed McFarlane and her friends out of the store, police said, and one of them fired nine rounds, missing his target and hitting McFarlane in the head.

McFarlane's family said she talked a lot about the death of another slain teen, Hadiya Pendleton, in the days before her sister attended Obama’s Chicago speech at Hyde Park Academy High School.

McFarlane’s younger sister, 14-year-old Destini Warren, who attended the speech, recalled McFarlane saying she was "excited for [Destini]" to see the president.

Warren said the president’s speech "really connected to what was going on" and she "didn’t expect that to happen."

Warren also did not expect the speech to relate to her so personally.

"We could go to each other for everything," she said. "We were more of best friends than we were sisters."

Blakely said McFarlane was "her little buddy."

"Me and Janay were so close," she said. "It was always 'mommy, go with me' or 'mommy, let's do this.'"

McFarlane was a senior at the World Changers Leadership Academy and was scheduled to graduate in June. She had plans to go to culinary school.

Blakely said she and McFarlane were supposed to go prom dress shopping later this week.

McFarlane is survived by her sister, mother and 3-month-old son, Jayden.

East Haven Sergeant to Run for Mayor


A veteran of the East Haven Police Department plans to run for mayor.

Sgt. Gary DePalma announced on Sunday that he will run for mayor.

DePalma, a 26-year veteran of the police force, and also serves on the town council.

Jack Stacey, a history teacher at High School in the Community in New Haven, told the New Haven Register in September that he plans to run.  http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/09/11/news/metro/doc504ead6b132c9915492099.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Incumbent Mayor Joseph Maturo has not yet said if he plans to run for re-election.


PBS Runs “After Newtown” Specials Through the Week


In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, PBS is taking a closer look at the shooting and its aftermath.

Starting tonight, the network will air a week-long series of specials entitled "After Newtown" looking at gun laws, mental illness and school security.

You can learn more about the series on the PBS Web site

Photo Credit: AP

Labor Department Call Centers Open Today


The state Department of Labor’s TeleBenefits Call Centers will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 18 because of the heavy volume of callers filing unemployment claims.

“The beginning of the year is traditionally a very busy time for us in terms of unemployment claims due to seasonal shutdowns or layoffs,” State Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer said in a news release. “To help those depending on a weekly benefit payment while looking for new employment, we felt it important to remain open on the holiday, especially since last week’s blizzard required us to close our Call Centers and CTWorks employment offices for the duration of the storm.”

The agency’s TeleBenefits Call Centers are open extended hours the remainder of this week, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 7:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday.

The department is issuing around 100,000 benefits payments each week and is assisting hundreds of residents seeking employment services at the CTWorks Career Centers.

You can also access the WebBenefits System online.

Photo Credit: AP

Get Through Downton Abbey Withdrawal


Whether you watched the season three finale of Downton Abbey last night or DVR’d it to watch today, you will be going through withdrawals until season 4 starts.

The crew at the Groton Public Library share our addiction for the PBS original series and will be hosting a tea and Downton Abbey talk at the Groton Public Library on Tuesday, March 12, at 7 p.m.
You can join library staff for an evening of tea or coffee, discuss the happenings on Downton Abbey.

Talk about your favorite and least favorite characters. Do you love Anna and Mr. Bates? Have your feelings about Sarah O’Brien and Thomas Barrow changed?

Conversation, of course, will also turn to what might happen next.

The event is free and open to the public.

Registration is not required.  For more information, call Linda Wallace at 860-441-6750.

The library is located at 52 Newtown Road and the event will be held in meeting rooms 1 and 2.

Photo Credit: AP

Lakers' "Visionary Owner" Dies at Age 80


Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who brought "Showtime" and an NBA dynasty to Los Angeles, has died at age 80 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Gallery: Jerry Buss Through the Years | Storify: Reaction From Lakers, Fans | Article: Buss Had "Different Way of Looking at Things"

Buss died at 5:55 a.m. Monday, according to Medical Center spokeswoman Sally Stewart. On Thursday, sources familiar with the situation had confirmed that Buss had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai with an undisclosed form of cancer.

"We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community," a statement released on behalf of the Buss family said.

Buss -- the Lakers won 10 NBA titles since he bought the team -- had been hospitalized for much of the past 18 months, according to a family statement that cited a "long illness." He spent time in a hospital last summer for dehydration. In December 2011, he was hospitalized for treatment of blood clots in his legs that officials said were caused by extensive traveling.

A family spokesman said at a noon news conference that the cause of death was kidney failure. Health problems prevented Buss from attending Lakers games during the past two seasons, but family spokesman Bob Steiner said he watched games on television.

Steiner did not provide details regarding Buss' illness.

"The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. "More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend."

Buss had owned the Lakers since 1979. The franchise won 10 of its 16 NBA titles under under his ownership. Buss had recently put his son Jim in charge of more of the team’s day-to-day operations. Daughter Jeanie Buss is the team's head of business operations.

"It was our father’s often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family," the Buss family said in a statement. "The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy."

Buss earned a Ph.D in physical chemistry from the University of Southern California before becoming one of the most influential figures in Southern California sports in the late 1970s. In 1979, he also bought the Los Angeles Kings, the Forum -- which became the place to be seen in a city of stars -- and a ranch for $67.5 million.

"I really want to have fun with this thing," Buss said at the time he purchased the Lakers.

The fun began immediately for the Lakers and their fans. The team drafted Earvin "Magic" Johnson out of Michigan State and then went on to win the NBA title in Buss' first season.

The Lakers won their second NBA title under Buss two years later before another championship in 1985 with a victory in the finals over rival Boston. By the late 1980s, the "Showtime" Lakers were in the spotlight with Hollywood celebrities in line for front-row seats to watch the dynasty win back-to-back NBA crown in 1987 and 1988.

"RIP Jerry Buss. Your encouragement and support along with your stories of staying true to yourself had an enormous impact on me," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted.

Buss added to the "Showtime" Lakers sideline spectacle when he created the Laker Girls, the dance team that developed its own devoted following and provided inspiration for similar squads. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"This one day, I think I've received more happiness than I've given away over the past two years, or so," Buss said on the day his star was unveiled.

The NBA's 1990s power-shift brought an era dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers went without a title in the decade before the organization returned to championship glory behind Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and coach Phil Jackson with NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

"He loved the Showtime, but he loved the championships in the 2000s, as well," said Steiner.

LA's free-agent moves brought two more titles in 2009 and 2010, when Buss was selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

"Believe me, when I was 21, I never thought I'd be enshrined,'' Buss  said during the ceremony, at which he was joined on stage by former players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson, and coach Pat Riley.

Buss was born Jan. 27, 1933 in Salt Lake City. He grew up in the ranching community of Kemmerer, Wyo. and attended the University of Wyoming before moving to Southern California for graduate studies.

He formed the real estate firm Mariani-Buss Associates and taught at USC before parlaying money from the real estate business into professional sports ownership. Buss purchased the Los Angeles String of World Team Tennis in 1974 before buying the Lakers five years later.

Steiner was working for the World Team Tennis public relations department when he met Buss.

"He looked at things differently than most sports people I ever knew," Steiner said.

Confirmation of his death prompted reaction from current and former Lakers. Steiner said a tweet from former Laker James Worthy best described Buss.

"Condolences to the Buss family. Dr Buss was not only the greatest sports owner, but a true friend & just a really cool guy. Loved him dearly," Worthy tweeted Monday morning.

Worthy won three NBA titles as a member of the Buss-owned Lakers.

Laker Pau Gasol tweeted, "Today is a very sad day for all the Lakers and basketball. All my support and condolences to the Buss family. Rest in peace Dr. Buss."

The Dodgers also issued a statement on Buss' death, calling him "one of the greatest owners in NBA history.

"Jerry Buss made great contributions to the sporting landscape of Los Angeles and America and was a true champion in every sense of the word," the Dodgers organization said in the statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Buss family."

Funeral and memorial service arrangement are pending, according to the Buss family statement. The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Lakers Youth Foundation.

Buss is survived by sons Johnny, Jim, Joey and Jesse and daughters Jeanie Buss and Janie Drexel; eight grandchildren; former wife JoAnn; half-sister Susan Hall of Phoenix; half-brother Micky Brown of Scottsdale; and stepbrother Jim Brown of Star Valley, Wyoming.

Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated Dr. Buss was 79. He was 80, according to a Lakers spokesman.


Photo Credit: AP

Visit Garden Trail, Win $10,000


Someone who visits at least 10 places on the Connecticut garden and landscape trail by the end of the year will win $10,000 for a dream landscape, according to the Connecticut Green Industries Council.

The promotion launches during the Connecticut Flower & Garden show.

Grab the booklet, called a Passport, during the show and bring it along as you visit a selection of the 58 greenhouses, garden centers, nurseries and landscapers on the list.

Once you have visited 10, you can be entered in a drawing the 2014 Connecticut Flower Show.

More details are posted on the CT Garden Trail Web site.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Missing Juveniles Found Safe


New Haven police have located  a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl who were reported missing on Sunday.

Police issued an alert for Jose Amando Rojas, who they said is believed to have run off with his 12-year-old girlfriend, Erica Lucero.

Rojas was last seen at his Judith Terrace home at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and was reported missing on Sunday. 

Rojas was believed to have run off with Erica Lucero, of East Haven.

The two were found safe around 3:30 Monday.  Police did not say where Rojas and Lucero were found.

Most of Power Restored in Litchfield County


Thousands of Connecticut Light and Power customers were without power in several Litchfield County towns on Monday morning, but much if the power has since been restored.

Connecticut Light & Power officials said two substations went down, cutting power to more than 14,000 customers. That number was down to less than 1,400 as of 10:45 a.m.

Bridgewater was hardest hit, with 100-percent of the town without electricity. Power remains out for only two of the town's 961 customers.

Power remains out for hundreds in New Milford, Sherman and Kent.

CL&P officials did not know what caused the two substations to fail.

Photo Credit: AP

Schools Cancel February Break After Blizzard


Portland, Connecticut is one of the only school districts not observing President’s Day today after school was closed all last week due to the blizzard, but several districts have canceled the rest of February vacation because of the storm.

Portland, New Haven, East Haven and Middletown school districts have all canceled February break this week.

“My wife measured 37 inches right outside my house. Most people I know measured at least 3 feet, and my chief of staff and I were in rural part of town and they got 42 inches,” Middletown Mayor Dan Drew said.

Drew said public works employees worked from last Friday to this Saturday to clear more than 200 miles of road.

Students in Middletown students are off on Monday, but will head back to school on Tuesday.

City officials down in New Haven will meet this morning at 9 a.m. to go over final snow removal plans.

So far, the city has spent $1.6 million for the clean-up.

Photo Credit: NBC 5

Burger King's Twitter Account Hacked


No, the home of the Whopper has not become the home of the Big Mac.

Hackers apparently took over Burger King's Twitter account Monday and began sending out anti-BK tweets -- and even changed the logo and name on the account to those of fast food rival McDonald's.

It appears the @BurgerKing account was hacked just before noon ET on Monday, but the ruse didn't last long. A message on the Twitter page appeared at 1:30 p.m. saying "Sorry, that user is suspended."

The account included offensive language, so view it at your own risk.

There was no immediate word on whether the FBI had put a trace on the Hamburglar's IP address, but at least one journalist drew a link between Monday's hack and a group that infiltrated Paris Hilton's cell phone back in 2004.

The first bizarre tweet from the @BurgerKing account on Monday mentioned "DFNCTSC," which Caitlin Kelly of The New Yorker linked to the Hilton cell phone hacking.

That hack by an alleged member of the self-proclaimed "Defonic Team Screen Name Club" led to the contents of her address book being posted online, including the private phone numbers of many celebs.

A Burger King spokesman told The Associated Press that the company asked Twitter administrators to suspend the account.  According to the AP, Burger King planned to post a statement on Facebook later Monday to apologize, especially for the offensive posts, and hoped to have the Twitter account back up soon.

For their part, McDonald's was a good sport about the ordeal, tweeting out the following message Monday afternoon:  "We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."


Bruins Spend Day in Newtown


The Boston Bruins spent the day in Newtown today to help out in their own way.

Several players, including, Andrew Ference, Rich Peverley, Dougie Hamilton, Daniel Paille and Chris Bourque, along with head coach Claude Julien,  attended the invitation-only event.

Alumni players, Bob Sweeney and Tommy Songin, held street hockey clinics throughout the day. 

The Bruins Youth Hockey Development team also worked with Newtown high school’s Varsity team to help the players with drills, techniques, and skills. 

The team also honored the first responders of the Newtown tragedy, giving them autographed, framed team jerseys. 

Everyone in attendance was presented a T-shirt with the Bruins logo and the Sandy Hook green ribbon on it.

The team spent an hour with all of those affected by the tragedy, signing autographs, taking pictures and talking with families. 

The Bruins will continue to give to Newtown on Sunday, March 3 during the home game against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Bruins will honor Sandy Hook’s Vice Principal, Natalie Green Hammond, who will drop the ceremonial first puck to start the game.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Nader Abu-Rabei

Man Bites Officer After Crash: Police


A Hamden police officer had to be treated at the hospital when a New Haven man bit him during an arrest on Sunday, according to police.

The incident started as a one-car crash on Shepard Avenue at 1 p.m. on Sunday and the responding officer saw the driver, Joseph Sirois, 38, of New Haven, stumble in a private driveway and try to run off, police said.

As the officer tried to arrest Sirois, he began fighting with the officer and two people who were helping the town with snow removal, helped subdue Sirois.

During the process, Sirois bit the officer’s left wrist, police said. The officer was treated for his injury at Yale–New Haven Hospital.

Police said Sirois had four packets of PCP and drug paraphernalia inside his vehicle. He was arrested and transported to police headquarters.

Sirois was charged with assault on a police officer, possession of a hallucinogen, possession of drug paraphernalia and interfering with a police officer.

Sirois, who was detained on a $20,000 bond, is scheduled to appear in court in Meriden on March 4.

92-Year-Old Driver Dies After Crash in Shelton


A 92-year-old man died after a crash in Shelton on Monday.

Police responded to a two-car crash at Walnut Tree Hill Road near Short Street around 9:30 a.m.

According to police, the 92-year-old driver was pulling out of a driveway when his Honda collided with a Mazda that was driving North on Walnut Tree Hill Road.

The elderly driver had to be extricated from the Honda because of damage to the door. He did not have any visible injuries and was conscious and communicating with emergency personnel at the scene, but was taken to the hospital after complaining of chest pains, police said.

Police were notified a short time later that the 92-year-old driver died at the hospital.  They did not release his identity, but said he was a Shelton resident.

The driver of the Mazda, a 24-year-old from Shelton, was not seriously injured, police said.

The Shelton Police Traffic Division Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash. Anyone who witnessed it is asked to call Shelton Police at 203-924-1544.

NFL's Da'Quan Bowers Arrested on Gun Charge: Officials


A Tampa Bay Buccaneers player was arrested at New York's LaGuardia Airport Monday morning after police discovered he was illegally carrying a handgun, authorities said. 

Da'Quan Bowers, a defensive end for the Buccaneers, was arrested at a check-in counter after he was found with a loaded .40 caliber firearm in his carry-on bag, spokesmen for the Port Authority and the Queens District Attorney's office said. He was about to board a US Airways flight to Raleigh, North Carolina. 

The former All-American player was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. A spokesman for the Buccaneers said Bowers is currently declining to comment as the organization investigates. 

He's scheduled to appear in court Monday evening. 

Bowers has played defensive end for the Buccaneers for two years. He played college football for Clemson University and graduated from high school in Bamberg, South Carolina.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

MLB Launches Inner City Program in Hartford


Major League Baseball is launching a program in Hartford to inspire young kids and teens to get involved with baseball and softball.

The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program is designed to give young people in urban communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball. The program also encourages academic achievement and success, while teaching the value of teamwork and other important life lessons, according to Major League Baseball.

“We are excited to be a part of Major League Baseball’s RBI Program," said David McKinley, Hartford League President and RBI Administrator. "Our new affiliation has already attracted resources that will enhance the baseball and softball instruction and playing opportunities for our boys and girls. We have formed alliances with the University of Hartford, Trinity College, and the New Britain Rock Cats that will make this an exciting season."

The new league is named for the late Mike Peters, former mayor of Hartford.

The league will begin its new baseball and softball seasons in April.

Registration is currently open through March 6 for kids ages 6 to 16. Information on registration can be found on the Mayor Mike Peters Baseball League Facebook page.

The RBI program celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 and has served more than 200,000 boys and girls from more than 300 programs established throughout 200 cities worldwide, according to Major League Baseball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF

Branford Gun Shop Draws Mixed Reviews


Among the boutiques of Main Street in Branford is a building that still bears the "footwear" and "apparel" signs of a former tenant, but hanging in the plate glass window is a sign saying "TGS Outdoors Now Open."

Only the bars in a window near the door hint that the shop sells firearms.

"It's the least of things we need in Branford," said Radouane Nasry.  "Branford was just nice without any gun stores."

"I think it's wonderful," said Anthony Gambardella. "Everybody has the right to bear firearms, as long as you're not a felon."

Authorities are considering using land use laws to limit where in Branford stores can operate that sell firearms.  

"I don't have a problem with the gun store," said David Jacobs, a former police commissioner.  "I wish Congress would get going and make sure that they had adequate background checks and also did something as far as the mental health issue."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Police Issue ATM Skimming Warning


Local police departments are warning bank customers about thieves using tiny cameras to steal pin numbers. Since December, 9 cases were reported across Wallingford, Norwich, Stamford and Greenwich.  Police told NBC Connecticut the crooks would eventually hit the entire state.

ATM’s across Connecticut have been a target for thieves during the last few years. “Yes, I do worry about it,” said Correy Saunders. 

Many have started to use caution to get their cash. “I’m always looking around,” added Sue Gleacher.  Some didn’t realize crooks had begun to plant cameras to steal money.

“It is concerning and everyone should be concerned,” explained Lt. James Perez with Fairfield Police.
Lt. Perez showed NBC Connecticut pictures of those tiny cameras.  He said they were often glued on to the ATM or brochure boxes a few feet away.  The thieves aimed them right at the keypad. “Sometimes it’s so small you won’t even know it’s there,” Lt. Perez added.
The crooks have recorded people type in their pin. They also put up a fake card reader to steal private information from the debit account.  That way they had everything they needed to access the cash. “I think that’s the scariest thing in the world, just to imagine something like that going on,” said Correy Saunders.
Police said all the recent cases were reported in the southern part of the state, but told NBC Connecticut it was only a matter of time before the crooks moved north. “It will move up to Hartford County, and eventually the entire state will be permeated with the thieves,” Lt. Perez explained. 
He said everyone at ATM’s needed to shield their passcodes. “One good trick to do is cover one hand with the other hand and  that would prevent any cameras from being able to see,” said Lt. Perez.  He also wanted the public to look for signs of tampering. “You will always be able to see the glue and the double sided tape,” Lt. Perez added. 
Lt. Perez also told NBC Connecticut using the ATM’s at the actual banks would be a safer means of getting cash.  He said that would help keep money out of the wrong hands.

Tuition Hikes Possible at State Schools

The Connecticut State Board of Regents will vote Tuesday whether to raise tuition at state colleges and universities.
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