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Officials Weigh Pros and Cons of Power Plant in Oxford


State officials are taking more time to consider the effects of a new power plant in Oxford.

In 1999, Competitive Power Ventures was granted permits to build a 500-megawatt facility in a business park but later presented plans to expand the project to a more-than-800-megawatt facility that would include both natural gas and oil as energy sources.

More than 100 people showed up at the Connecticut Siting Council meeting in New Britain on Thursday. The hearing room accommodated fewer than 50 and most were relegated to standing outside in the lobby.

Wayne McCormack lives in Oxford and has a laundry list of reasons why he’s concerned about the project.

“Pollution, both air, noise, light pollution, safety, a lot of reasons,” McCormack said. “I’m also concerned about home prices. I've seen the study from the west coast where power plant was built and local home values went down 8-10 percent."

“We’re very excited at the opportunity to take a project that has been permitted since 1999 and improve the project in its efficiency, environmental impact and its aesthetics,” said Yanina Daigle, external affairs manager for CPV, in a statement.

Moving forward, parties on both sides of the power plant issue will be able to present arguments to PURA since the circumstances surrounding the power plant have changed since 1999.

“There’s been a lot of development” said Stephen Savarese, who represents Middlebury. “Lots has happened since this plant was approved.”

State Officials Gearing Up for First Snow of Season


Ready or not, here it comes. The first snowfall of the season is here.

Up to two inches are predicted in some parts of the state, but the Department of Transportation isn’t waiting.

“We basically start our winter weather preparation at the end of the last season so there is no scrambling around or panic on our part anytime winter weather comes in,” said DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick.

For them, Thursday was more about final checks and some pretreatment of interstate highway bridges.

“We’re squared away. We have all our materials set aside, all of our equipment is ready to go, all our staff is ready to go,” said Nursick.

They may be ready, but the truth is you may not be. Regardless of their efforts, Nursick says slick roads will happen and one of the biggest problems they see every year during those first flakes all stem from driver behavior.

“The public hasn’t put out their winter hats on yet, so to speak, and that can lead to a problem with these little storm events,” said Nursick.

To help you find that hat, AAA is offering some suggestions for both car and driver. Aaron Kupec, AAA Spokesman, says the best place to start is where the rubber meets the road: your tires.

“Tire pressure and tread is really important when we are talking about driving on slick roads,” said Kupec. “Every ten degree drop in air temperature means a one psi drop in tire pressure.”

When it comes to tread, Kupec says there is a simple way to tell if it’s time to go tire shopping. Place a quarter with Washington’s head first into one of the tire’s grooves. If Washington’s head is exposed, Kupec says it’s time to go tire shopping.

AAA also recommends checking your battery charging systems and outfitting your car with an emergency kit.

Stephen Rourke is AAA’s driving school manager and says car preparation is only half the battle, the rest fall on the driver. Rourke says the best advice is to slow down, leave space, but most importantly don’t panic.

“It is safe to drive safely during the winter time if you do it correctly,” said Stephen Rourke, AAA Driving School Manager.

Remember you have help, the DOT says at full force 800 plus plows will be on the roads this winter. Their rollout depends on everything from accumulation, duration of the storm, when it hits and its reach.

Police Respond to Crash on Farmington Avenue in Hartford


Police are responding to a crash on Farmington Avenue in the area of Woodland Street in Hartford.

Farmington Avenue was closed briefly following the crash Thursday night.

Authorities have not released any additional information. There has been no word on injuries.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Charged in Knife Attack at Groton Navy Base


The man accused of "swinging a knife" and assaulting officers at the Groton submarine base Thursday evening will remain in federal custody until a detention hearing scheduled for noon Wednesday.

According to a spokesperson for the Navy, Gary Ray Brunache, 35, of Norwich, showed up to the base armed with a knife Thursday evening, prompting an officer to open fire. One Navy civilian officer was caught in the crossfire and a second was stabbed in the leg.

Brunache, who said he went to the base to see his brother, walked from Norwich to the Navy base around 7 p.m. Thursday. He became frustrated when officers at the main gate on Crystal Lake Road wouldn't let him in and began "swinging a knife" at Officer Brian McCarthy, according to the NCIS officer who filed a complaint against him.

Officer William Kephart fired pepper spray at Brunache, who stabbed Kephart in the leg, NCIS officials said. McCarthy fired three rounds and missed, but officers "eventually subdued" Brunache.

Kephart suffered a stab wound to the leg and McCarthy, who was caught in a spray of bullets, were taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Both officers were released around 10:30 p.m., according to the Navy.

Groton Town Police apprehended Brunache, who was not injured, and brought him to a local hospital for a medical evaluation.

He has been charged with assault on a federal officer and assault with a dangerous weapon on a Navy base. Brunache remains in the custody of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Brunache worked at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville in 2002, according to a casino spokesperson.

The main gate to the submarine base, which was closed to traffic through the night, reopened Friday morning.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

First-in-Nation Tobacco Ban Opponents Seek Recall Election: Report


Some citizens in a Massachusetts town considering enacting the nation's first ban on tobacco sales want Board of Health officials out after a heated hearing on the proposal, according to the Worcester Telegram.

Local store owners in Westminster who strongly oppose the proposal are calling for a recall election.

Board chairman Andrea Crete can not be removed since she's within six months of her term expiring, but the other two board members can be.

A recent meeting hosted by the board came to an abrupt end just moments after it started when critics of the proposed ban started cheering and speaking out of turn.

In order to hold a recall, supporters need 25 registered voters to submit an affidavit, then collect 800 signatures on a petition. The town is home to about 7,700 residents.

As for the proposal to ban tobacco sales, the board isn't expected to discuss it again until next month.

Photo Credit: File Photo

Fire Destroys Vacant Building in New Haven


Firefighters are battling a large fire at a vacant three-story building at Lafayette Street and Church Street South in New Haven this morning.

The fire was raging on all three floors of the structure when firefighters arrived and crews decided to attack the blaze from outside rather than go inside.

Much of the fire appears to be out, but crews continue to battle hotspots and traffic in the area might be diverted throughout the morning.

Officials said they do not believe anyone was in the building and plan to go inside when possible.



Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Gas Main Break in Cromwell


Commerce Drive in Cromwell was closed as the fire department responded to a gas main break, but it has since reopened.

The incident was in a business park, so it was not affecting traffic.

Officials said no one was evacuated.

Home Contractor Arrested in Glastonbury


Glastonbury police have arrested a man accused of taking on a client for a kitchen remodel was he was not licensed to do, then walking out on the project after collecting a $3,000 deposit. 

Police receive a complaint from a Glastonbury resident on Sept. 2 who said Santo Bazzano, 47, of Hartford, offered to remodel the kitchen at the person’s son's house over the summer, took a $3,100 deposit, but never completed the project, police said.

As officers investigated, they found out that Bazzano did not have a proper license to make the improvements, police said.

Bazzano was charged with making home improvements without current license, according to police. Bond was set at $1,000 and he is due to appear in court in Manchester on Nov. 26.

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police

Former Chicago Mayor Dies


Editor's note: An earlier version of this story reported Jane Byrne's age as 80, reflecting city reports that she was born in 1934. Her birth certificate, according to the Cook County Clerk's Office, states she was born in 1933.

Jane Byrne, who shocked the Chicago political establishment when she was elected mayor in 1979, died today, according to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed, who once served as Byrne's press secretary. She was 81.

Byrne was the city’s first and only female elected mayor.

“With the passing of Mayor Jane Byrne, the City of Chicago has lost a great trailblazer," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

"Mayor Byrne was a Chicago icon who lived a remarkable life of service to our city," Emanuel said. "From signing the first ordinance to get handguns off of our streets, to bringing more transparency to the City’s budget, to creating the Taste of Chicago, Mayor Byrne leaves a large and lasting legacy. And as the first woman to serve as Mayor, she will always have a special place in our history."

Gov. Pat Quinn said Byrne "leaves a legacy of tireless service to Chicago that will never be forgotten."

Byrne was born Jane Margaret Burke and married William Byrne, a Marine who died in plane crash in 1959. Together they had a daughter, Kathy.

Byrne’s remarkable one and only political victory, over the vaunted Cook County Democratic Machine, came thanks in large part to a frustrated electorate, which had been pummeled by snow storm after snow storm.

As the snow banks grew, so did voters' frustration with Mayor Michael Bilandic, the former Bridgeport alderman who became mayor upon the death of Richard J. Daley. 

Byrne’s love affair with politics blossomed in 1960 when she worked on the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. That’s where she met Daley.

Kennedy charmed her. But Daley hired her and promoted her, first in 1964 to run the city’s Head Start program. One appointment followed another and Byrne’s city hall profile increased.

So did her power.

But it all came crashing down in December 1976, with the death of the legendary mayor.

11th Ward Alderman Michael Bilandic became mayor of Chicago and George Dunne took over as head of the Cook County Democratic Party.

Suddenly Byrne was out at City Hall.

With virtually no money and little political backing, Jane Byrne, in her first run for public office, announced her candidacy for mayor in 1979 taking on the party bosses.

The “evil cabal” she called them, the entrenched, the influential, including young and increasingly powerful pols like the two Eddie’s, Vrdolyak and Burke.

Byrne cast herself as a reformer, ready to roust the rascals from The Hall.

The big boys just scoffed. But not those in the neighborhoods, who saw in Byrne a scrappy outsider.

And who believed they witnessed in Bilandic a tepid response to the Blizzard of ’79. Voters were outraged.

And on Election Day: Incredibly, unbelievably, astonishingly Jane Byrne won the Democratic Primary.

As the perfunctory general election proceeded old enemies became allies.

Political hatchets, if only tentatively, were buried.

Asked how, as mayor-elect, she felt after dispatching Republican Wallace Johnson, Byrne replied, “I feel like it was worth the battle. I’m glad that we did it and like I said before I really think we are in a renaissance period in Chicago.”

But Byrne’s four years in office would be chaotic and controversial.

Mass transit workers struck. So did firemen.  At city hall there was a revolving door of police superintendents and department heads.

Former newspaperman Jay McMullen, who became her second husband, also became her chief political confidant.

She battled with the press.

And angry citizens at city hall.

When security became an issue at the Cabrini Green public housing complex, Byrne moved in.  CHA residents had seen 11 murders there in just three months.

“People are afraid of Cabrini Green? I’m not,” Byrne said at the time.

Almost as quickly as she moved in, she moved out.

The summer of 1982 brought protests from blacks and progressives over the lack of contracts and jobs for minorities at Chicagofest, the city’s lakefront extravaganza.

Jane Byrne was losing the backing of her core political constituency. But as 1983 drew near, Byrne made it clear she would run for re-election.

The race for mayor in 1983 pitted Byrne against then State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley and Congressman Harold Washington.

It was a contest that electrified and polarized Chicago.

The first woman mayor of Chicago gave way to the first African-American chief executive.

Initially gracious in defeat, Byrne briefly mounted and then discarded a write-in campaign.

She ran three more times, for Mayor in 1987 and 1991 and for Clerk of the Court in 1988.

But times had changed.  And Jane Byrne faded from public sight.

“One of my greatest difficulties personally”, she wrote in a 1992 memoir, “was how people perceived me. Some of the misperception was my fault, but not all of it. “

“It was a privilege to be Mayor of Chicago,” she added. 

In the town where for four unforgettable years, she had the time of her life.

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West Haven School Employee Stole Gas: Cops


West Haven police have arrested a local board of education employee who is accused of stealing gasoline from the city’s fueling station. 

Police said David Zullo, 59, of West Haven, is a delivery driver for food services and stole the gasoline while filling his work vehicle.

After filling the work vehicle, he continued to fill separate gasoline containers for his own use, according to police. 

Zullo, a 30-year employee with the West Haven Board of Education, was charged with larceny in the second degree.

He has been placed on administrative leave pending an employment hearing next week, according to Supt. Neil C. Cavallaro. The department is not commenting further because it is a personnel issue.

He was released on a promise to appear and is due in court in Milford on Dec. 2.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Silver Alert Issued for Missing 90-Year-Old Woman


Police have issued a Silver Alert for a 90-year-old woman missing from East Hartford.

Madelyn Pelletier was last seen on Wednesday at the East Hartford Senior Center at 70 Canterbury Street, according to police.

She left the senior center in a blue Oldsmobile 88 with Connecticut license plate 540-JKO.

Pelletier is described as standing 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 130 pounds, with auburn hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call East Hartford police at 860-528-4401.

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police

Son Stabs Dad Over TV Issue: Cops


Hamden police have arrested a 21-year-old man who is accused of stabbing his father because he was upset about some issue involving a television set.

Police said Jeffrey Milano, of 760 Mix Avenue in Hamden, is accused of stabbing his father three times early Thursday morning.

Officers responded to the home at 5 a.m. and found the victim, who’d been stabbed in the chest, hip and forearm. He told officers that his son, Jeffrey Milano, was upset with him about the television and stabbed him, police said.

The victim’s injuries are not life-threatening. He has been transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital for medical treatment.

Police arrested Jeffrey Milano, took him to police headquarters and charged him with first-degree assault.

He was originally held on $10,000 bond, but was released after appearing in court in Meriden yesterday. Milano is due back in court on Dec. 11.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Arrested After Trying to Enter Bridgeport School: Cops


Bridgeport police have arrested a local man accused of trying to get into a charter school just after 7 a.m. on Friday.

Police said they responded to Achievement First Charter School on Stillman Street at 7:02 a.m. on Friday when they received a call about a person who appeared to be under the influence of drugs trying to get into the building.

Paul Hernandez, a Board of Education security officer, had been dropping off his granddaughter at school when he saw a man, later identified as Alex Wichelm, of Bridgeport, acting erratically and approach the doors, so he called police, police said.

Meanwhile, Hernandez’s nephew, Robert Hernandez, who is in his 20s, confronted Wichelm there was struggle.

Staff members who saw Wichelm approach the doors immediately locked the school doors and school bus operators made sure students were safe.

Police arrested Wichelm, who was transported to Bridgeport Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Stabbing Suspect Wore Diaper


A knife-wielding attacker posed as a law enforcement officer to get inside a Virginia home, stabbed the residents multiple times then told them he'd be back to finish the job as his wife waited outside, prosecutors said.

The suspect, 31-year-old Andrew Schmuhl, was wearing nothing but a diaper when he and his wife were apprehended after a car chase, authorities said Friday.

These and other disturbing details emerged during a bond hearing for Schmuhl's wife, 30-year-old Alecia Schmuhl, Friday morning. The Schmuhls, both lawyers, are accused in the attack of a couple in their 60s.

Police have said the attack apparently stemmed from a workplace dispute. Alecia Schmuhl had worked with the male victim at the Bean, Kinney & Korman law firm in Arlington, but a law enforcement source said she had been fired recently.

The Schmuhls, of Springfield, both face two counts of abduction, two counts of malicious wounding, and other charges.

During Alecia Schmuhl's bond hearing Friday morning, prosecutors said her husband, armed with a gun and a Taser, knocked on the door of the victims' home in the 900 block of Spencer Road in McLean, while posing as an officer.

Andrew Schmuhl allegedly tased the male victim and forced his way into the house, ordering the female resident into the bedroom. He bound both the husband and wife with flexible cuffs and told them he was investigating the husband's law firm, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Schmuhl fired a shot at the female victim, who was not struck; tased both and stabbed both repeatedly.

The female victim managed to trigger a panic alarm in the house, but before leaving, the assailant told them he'd be back to finish the job.

Andrew Schmuhl brought two disaposable cellphones into the house with him, and talked on the phones throughout the crime, prosecutors said. The phones were left behind after the attack.

When police arrived, the male victim gave them the identity of the suspect.

Alecia Schmuhl stayed outside during the attack, prosecutors said, but video footage allegedly shows her buying a Taser at a Northern Virginia gun store on the Friday prior to the attack.

The suspects were arrested about an hour after the crime, following a police chase that went on for three to four miles. When they finally succeeded in pulling them over, officers discovered Andrew Schmuel was just a diaper.

Both victims remained in the hospital Friday. The female victim is expected to be released soon.

The male victim remains in grave condition. Unable to speak after the attack, he has communicated with authorities by writing notes, including one that said the attacker had threatened to return and kill them.

Alecia Schmuhl was ordered held without bond. Prosecutors said other lawyers at the firm were fearful about the case. Some attended the hearing.

A bond hearing for Andrew Schmuhl is yet to come.

The couple is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Fugitive of 12 Years Caught


A fugitive wanted for murder on the lam for more than a decade was captured in Riverside, California, after police recognized photos of him on Facebook, federal authorities said Friday.

Eduardo Rodriguez, 35, was taken into custody about 6:30 p.m. Thursday at his home in the 3500 block of Farnham Place, Laura Vega of the U.S. Marshals Service said. He had been living under an assumed identity for at least five years and was working as a carpenter in Riverside.

Rodriguez, also known as Juan Carlos Campos Gamino, disappeared soon after he was indicted in 2003 on four counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide. The Los Angeles Police Department listed him as one of its most wanted fugitives.

Last year, after the LAPD case went cold, a Glendale police detective on light duty because of an injury began monitoring the Facebook pages of Rodriguez's family members and friends, Vega said. The detective recognized him in photos with a woman.

Glendale police tracked down the identity of the woman, who turned out to be Rodriguez's fiancee, and U.S. marshals began surveilling the woman's home. He was taken into custody Thursday evening, Vega said.

Rodriguez's fiancee told NBC4 on Friday she had no idea he was wanted for multiple homicides, and the couple's neighbors said he seemed like a normal father of three children. Additional details about the children were not immediately available.

"He looks like a really nice person," neighbor Francisca Garivay said. "He is really nice to us."

"He didn't seem like that type of guy," another neighbor said. "He seemed like a hard working guy."

At the time Rodriguez was charged with the crimes, he was second in command of the Toonerville criminal street gang under Timothy McGhee, Vega said.

Officials said the gang, previously led by McGhee, claimed an area of narcotics distribution around Los Feliz Boulevard between San Fernando Road and the Los Angeles River in Atwater Village and Glendale.

McGhee, who is now behind bars, is suspected of committing at least 12 murders in the years between 1997 and 2001, and was convicted in 2007 of three murders, Vega said. McGhee was sentenced to death and multiple, consecutive life sentences in January 2009.

Rodriguez was taken to Los Angeles for booking, and will be scheduled for arraignment later, officials said. Details of Rodriguez's alleged crimes were not immediately available.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Police Department

Police ID Suspect in Double Fatal Hit-and-Run Crash


Stamford police are offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the woman suspected of driving the car involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed two people on November 7.

Felicia Burl, 32, was behind the wheel of a Nissan Altima that ran a red light and slammed into a BMW station wagon on Route 1 in Stamford just after 8:30 p.m. last Friday, according to police.

She fled the accident scene on foot and hasn't been seen since, police said.

The crash killed two people, including 50-year-old Henry Nixon, of Stamford, who was a passenger in Burl's car.

Judith Andriulli, 70, who was a passenger in the BMW, died of her injuries Saturday morning at Stamford Hospital. Andriulli's husband, 73-year-old Anthony Andriulli was driving the BMW and suffered serious injuries in the crash.

Burl has relatives in Stamford and Bridgeport and spends time in both cities, police said.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call Stamford police at 203-977-4712.

Firefighter Was Almost 3 Times Legal Limit: Cops


A Hartford firefighter accused of driving drunk, crashing into a car in Farmington and fleeing the scene is on administrative leave and this is not the first time he's been arrested for a similar incident, according to court records.

Farmington Police arrested Hartford firefighter Jeffrey Vendetta, 41, on Thursday night, and said he was found to be almost three times the legal limit after crashing into a car on Farmington Avenue, near the Interstate 84 on-ramp at 9:37 p.m. on Thursday.

When police responded to the scene, officers found a car that had been hit from the back and sustained heavy damage. The driver was complaining of some neck pain, but did not need medical attentions, police said.

A witness told police that the driver involved left the scene and directed investigators to Brickyard Road, around four miles away, where they found a car with fresh damage to the front end.

Officers identified Vendetta as the driver, took him into custody and administered breath tests. 

The first one registered .2368 and the second registered at .2362, according to police. which is almost three times the legal limit of .08.

Vendetta was charged with driving under the influence, evading responsibility, restricted turns and following too close.

Fire officials said Vendetta, the son of retired Hartford fire captain and nephew of a current fire chief, has been with Ladder Company 6 at the South Green Station for nearly 20 years.

He was immediately placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the case, police said.

Vendetta was released on bond and is due to appear in Hartford Superior Court on Nov. 19.

This crash comes eight years after Vendetta hit a parked car on Park Road in West Hartford in November 2006, according to court records. When officers responded, they found Vendetta "passed out" behind the wheel of a van and smelling of alcohol, the records state.

When police asked if he had been drinking, he admitted that he had, but refused a breath test, according to court records.

Sources also said Vendetta was also arrested in West Hartford in 2001 and charged with DUI.

Vendetta was charged with illegal operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of alohol or drugs, failure to drive right and evading responsibility in the 2006 case.

It was his first offense, according to notes on the court records, and he was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and was placed on probation for 10 months.

Nursing Assistant Steals $1,300 From Elderly Blind Man: Cops


A nursing assistant in Hamden is accused of stealing more than $1,000 from the partially blind 88-year-old man for whom she was caring.

Police started investigating when the man's daughter reported money missing from his checking account in August.

According to police, certified nursing assistant Shante Pettway, who was caring for the man at a senior living community, gained access to his bank account and wrote herself checks totaling $1,373.

Police said the man is partially blind and suffers from dementia.

Pettway, 27, turned herself in to police last week and was charged with six counts of second-degree identity theft and fourth-degree larceny.

She was released after posting $1,000 bond and is due in court Nov. 17.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department

Service Dog Missing From Colchester


Have you seen Bella?

Police say this service dog was separated from her owner Thursday at Salmon River State Park in Colchester.

Bella responds to her name and is wearing service dog tags.

If you spot her or have any information, call Colchester police at 860-537-7270 or call Animal Control at 860-917-0567.

Photo Credit: Colchester Police Department

Water Main Break Cuts Service to Homes in Bristol


Homes on several Bristol streets will be without water for several hours on Friday evening after a water main break on Glen Eagle Drive.

Bristol Water Department crews shut off water around 3 p.m. to begin fixing the broken main. Repairs could take as long as six hours to complete, according to the water department.

Homes on Glen Eagle Drive, Caesar Drive, Laird Drive, Mine Road and other nearby areas may be affected.

Once service is restored, customers may see discolored water, the water department said in a statement. Running cold water should clear it up after a short time.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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