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Teacher Arrested After Sex With Student: Cops


A teacher at Staples High School in Westport has been arrested and placed on administrative leave after having a sexual relationship with a female student, according to police.

Police said Theron Kissinger, 44, of Southbury, met the student during turtoring sessions in November 2014. According to police, Kissinger then began an "intimate relationship" with the teen.

The Staples High School website lists Kissinger as a math teacher.

Kissinger was placed on administrative leave after police launched an investigation and told school administrators what they had found.

WestportNow.com reports that Supt. Elliot Landon sent an email to parents Wednesday informing them of the situation.

"Today the Westport Police Department informed us that a teacher at Staples High School was under investigation based upon information the school district gleaned from an outside source," Landon wrote, according to WestportNow.com. "Upon receiving the information we immediately communicated the information to the Westport Police Department and the Department of Children and Family Services."

Kissinger was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault. Police said he was released from custody after posting $50,000 bond and is due in court Jan. 23.

Photo Credit: Westport Police Department

Public Speaks Out on Proposed Oxford Power Plant


Hundreds of people showed up for a public hearing Thursday on the proposed power plant for Oxford, hoping to convince the council that building a natural-gas powered plant in town was a bad idea because of possible health and safety concerns.

More than 600 people attended the Connecticut Siting Councilm which was held at Oxford High School.

“Let’s not turn a greenfield into a brownfield,” John Retartha, Oxford, said during the meeting, summing up the fear many in the crowd had.

“I’ve been called a NIMBY. That means not in my backyard and I’m proud to say I am a NIMBY,” Peter Bunzl, of Oxford, said.

Others said the 800-megawatt plant would produce more than energy. They see it as an opportunity to create desperately needed jobs, generatr more tax money, and strengthening the region’s power supply.

“I think it’s a God send to both the town of Oxford and the state of Connecticut,” says Gerard Carbonaro, Oxford.

Earlier in the day, regulators traveled to the industrial park where the plant is proposed to be built.

The developer, Competitive Power Ventures, says despite what the critics say, this is a good spot for the plant and it will be safe for people living nearby.

“There’s been a lot of information that’s been spread, it seems in an effort to create some level of hysteria,” says Braith Kelly, CPV senior vice president.

The company says it hopes to hear from regulators no later than mid-May if the plant is a go or not.
It plans to start construction as soon as the end of this year and have the plant operating in 2018.

Crash Closes Route 69 in Woodbridge


Route 69 is closed in Woodbridge between Bond and Clark roads after a crash, which knocked power out for dozens of homes.

Wires came down during the crash, knocking out power to almost 50 homes, but United Illuminating’s Website says there are only 18 outages in town as of 7:10 a.m.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Waterford Police Search for Perfume Thief


Waterford police are trying to identify the man who they said stole hundreds of dollars worth of perfume and cologne from a Sears store in Waterford last week.

Police said the theft happened around 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13.

Anyone with information about the man in the surveillance photos should call Officer Lapkowski at 860-442-9451, email him at Alapkowski@waterfordct.org or send a private message on the Waterford Police Facebook page, referencing WPD Case # 2015-00102.

Photo Credit: Waterford Police
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Investigation Finds "Mutliple, Serious Errors" in Hartford Voting


The Hartford City Council Committee of Inquiry, which investigated problems at Hartford polling places on Election Day in November, has found "mutliple, serious errors," according to a report released on Friday.

The committee was created to investigate the delayed opening of Hartford polls opening on Nov. 4, which resulted in voters being sent home, as well as other problems.

Among the findings were that the Hartford Registrars were not prepared to open several polling places on time, at 6 a.m. on Nov. 4, and that poor personal relationships played in the problems.

"The poor personal relationships between and among the three Hartford Registrars contributed to their failure to carry out their official election duties before and after the November 4 General Election," the report found.

For instance, one registrar never read e-mails from another registrar, the report finds. In another instance, police were called to the Registrar's Office after Election Day because of an outburst about the voting issues.

The investigation found that registrars failed to file the final registry books with the Town Clerk by October 29, did not prepare and deliver the final registry books by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 and didn't implement a plan to deliver the books to the polling places before the polls opened at 6 a.m. on Nov. 4.

Investigators also said election officials have not been able to explain what happened to around 70 absentee ballots.

Additional findings were that the registrars failed to attend a mandatory meeting to correct errors in the Head Moderator’s Return and they did not correct discrepancies in the vote tallies reported by the Head Moderator, which resulted in the final vote tally remaining unclear.

Man With Autism Back at School


A Waxahachie, Texas, man with autism who was kicked out of college for surprising another student with a hug will be allowed to return to school.

The woman who received the unsolicited hug said she never intended to complain and was shocked when she learned about the punishment.

"I didn't want him to get in trouble, special needs or not,” said Taylor Bruton. “I didn't want anyone to get in trouble, not over a hug.”

Brian Ferguson, 20, was taking special needs classes at Navarro College last month when he thought he recognized a young woman in the hallway, his mother said. The woman turned out to be Bruton. The two had never met.

Bruton said Ferguson hugged her and kissed her on the top of her head.

“And it was a peck,” she said.

She says some teachers noticed she was a little startled.

"They asked me about the incident,” she said Wednesday. “I explained what happened and I told them, 'It's not a big deal. I don't want anyone to get in trouble and I don't feel the need to report this.' And they asked me for a written statement, just in case."

She later learned from a report on NBC DFW that Ferguson has autism and was removed from the college special-needs classes because of the incident.

"I was so mad because I thought it was ridiculous,” she said.

Brian Ferguson’s mother, Staci Martin, said a Navarro College administrator called her earlier this week, apologized, and said Ferguson is welcome to return.

A college spokesman confirmed the conversation but noted that the decisions were made by the Waxahachie Independent School District, which runs the special needs program, known as Elevate.

Bruton said she wanted to meet Ferguson to tell him he did nothing wrong. The two agreed to get together Wednesday at a Waxahachie park where they exchanged small gifts and embraced.

“You can give me a hug,” she told him. “It’s OK.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Water Main Break in Hartford


There is a water main break on Barker Street in Hartford.

Officials from the Metropolitan District said an 8-inch water main broke and crews were in the process of shutting down the water main for repair as of 10 a.m.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Briefing and Local Meeting Today in Wake of Earthquakes


In the wake of 12 earthquakes just over a week, state officials will hold a multi-agency briefing today to discuss the state’s preparedness should earthquakes continue and begin to cause damage.

Later in the day, a public forum will be held in Plainfield to discuss the earthquakes, followed by a question and answer session.

The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will hold the multi-agency briefing, which is planned for 9 a.m. at the State Emergency Operations Center. Several state agencies, as well as FEMA, the Red Cross, and United Way 2-1-1 will attend.

“Moderate to large earthquakes are rare in New England, but as we have seen over the past week, Connecticut is not immune to earthquake activity,” Commissioner Dora B. Schriro said in a statement. “These small quakes have not and typically do not result in injuries or significant damage to property, but we want to assure everyone that we continue to work with all of our public safety partners to mitigate any potential issues that may arise.”

State officials said the 3.3 earthquake on Monday was the largest in New England since a 4.0 magnitude earthquake hit southern Maine on Oct. 16, 2012.

On Friday night, the Board of Selectmen in Plainfield, along with the Plainfield Police Department and Office of Emergency Management will hold an informational session at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 16, at Plainfield High School Auditorium about the earthquakes.

The school is located at 105 Putnam Road in Central Village.

Dr. Alan Kafka, director of Weston Observatory at Boston College, and members of the State Department of Emergency Management will speak about earthquakes and answer questions.

Residents of Plainfield and surrounding communities are invited to attend.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Water Main Break Delays 1 School in Rocky Hill


A water main break is causing a 90-minute delay at West Hill Elementary School in Rocky Hill.

The water main break happened in the school parking lot and is only affecting this one school.

Traffic in the area is not affected.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cars Stolen From Union Station in New Haven


Police are investigating the thefts of cars from Union Station in New Haven.

According to police, a homeless man may be responsible for stealing the vehicles. Amtrak police have enlisted the help of the New Haven Police Department and are working to track him down.

Police said the suspect has been spotted wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants and was carrying a white or light-colored backpack.

He may be loitering at the station and watching people leave their vehicles, police said.

Anyone with information is urged to call New Haven police at 203-946-6304 or Amtrak police at 203-773-6000.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

18 Historical Photos From the Life of MLK


Take a look at historical photographs highlighting the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Martin Luther King's New Moment


When Common accepted his Golden Globe for Best Original Song – “Glory” from the movie "Selma" – he invoked civil rights struggles past and present, celebrating not an award, but the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

"'Selma,'" said the musician and actor, who also played a role in the movie about the King-led 1965 march for voting rights, "has awakened my humanity."
The film, which scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination Thursday, seems destined to awaken strong feelings in some and reawaken them in others – spotlighting a crucial time in our history while underscoring recent events that together add up to a national wake-up call.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day will pack an extra resonance this year. The advent of "Selma," along with some old anniversaries and new challenges, serve as particularly potent reminders of the enduring influence and importance of a dream one man dared to share with his country and the world.
This year marks the 30th Martin Luther King Jr. Day since the holiday’s 1986 debut, and the 15th anniversary of the federal commemoration's recognition by all 50 states. The holiday arrives flanked by some major golden anniversaries: the signing of Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Selma march and subsequent passage of Voting Right Act of 1965.
Monday also lands amid lingering frustration – and some divisions – over the decisions last year of grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, not to indict cops in the deaths of two black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The fatal shooting by police of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy carrying a pellet gun and the assassination of two New York City police officers by a madman bent on twisted revenge for Brown's and Garner’s deaths sadly added to the turmoil.

Words couldn’t always describe complicated feelings in a year when “I can't breathe” and “Black lives matter” became rallying cries. Popular culture can sometimes fall short as an accurate reflection of a mélange of emotions. But Common, in his Globes speech, effectively spoke to both anger and hope in framing “Selma” – and, by extension, King’s message – as a bridge from past to present and beyond.
“As I got to know people of the civil rights movement, I realized – I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote,” Common said. “I am the caring white supporter, killed on the front lines of freedom. I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty…
“We look to the future and we want to create a better world. Now is our time to change the world. Selma is now.”
He didn’t mention King. He didn’t have to.
King taught us words could be a strong weapon against oppression, perhaps none as powerful as these four: “I have a dream.”
“Selma” also reinforced also the value of the equally formidable weapon of nonviolent resistance, and the worth in working with people from an array of backgrounds toward a common goal. There’s power in shared sacrifice, in knowing when to make a bold statement and, in “Selma” director Ava DuVernay’s brilliantly nuanced rendering, showing that even one of our greatest citizens was human.
King’s legacy can best be celebrated in working to realize his dream as we reach to find the humanity in us all. The America of 2015 may be a long way from Selma, but the march is far from over. Struggles from the not-so-distant past and current challenges suggest that, every day, in a sense, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multimedia NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: National Archives

Fish Thief's Pants Blow His Cover: Police


Police have arrested the man accused of stealing $1,400 in frozen fish and calamari from a seafood shop on Whalley Avenue in New Haven – and said his pants gave him away.

According to police, surveillence footage shows Gary Lee Rogers, 47, throwing a rock through the window of Westville Seafood on Wednesday morning. Police said the store security cameras were installed after thieves targeted the store Dec. 18.

Offiers tracked Rogers to the Best Way Inn at 45 Pond Lilly Avenue. They knocked on the door to his hotel room and a woman answered, ushering them inside, police said.

According to police, Rogers was not wearing pants when they arrived, so they asked the woman to grab him a pair. When she did, a frozen fish fell to the floor.

Police searched the room and found another frozen fish and two cases of calamari valued at a total of $1,400. Authorities said Rogers also stole alcohol from the store.

He was charged with second-degree burglary, fourth-degre larceny and second-degree criminal mischief.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

5 Myths About the Flu Debunked


Flu is widespread across the United States, in a season made even more severe by a disappointing vaccine that's not very effective at battling the predominant strain that's now making people sick.

This year's vaccine is only 23 percent effective because the H3N2 strain of influenza A, a different strain from the one the vaccine protects against, began circulating just after the vaccine was created. When H3N2 is the dominant strain, it can cause more serious illness than other types of flu.

With several weeks of flu season left, here are some myths about the flu, and what you should know about them.

This year’s vaccine isn’t effective, so there’s no point in my getting it now.

Not so, medical professionals say. Even a less effective vaccine can still prevent hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among older people and young children. And it still might protect against strains that are not yet circulating.

I don’t need a flu shot year after year.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you get a vaccine every year even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed. Your immune protection from the vaccination will decline over time.

I’m afraid the flu shot will give me the flu.

A flu shot will not cause the flu because the viruses either have been inactivated and are no longer infectious or were made with no viruses at all. The nasal spray vaccine also won’t give you the flu because the viruses have been weakened.

Even if I do get the flu, it won’t kill me.

Flu can be a serious illness, particularly for young children, senior citizens and those with such chronic conditions as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. On average thousands die each year from the flu, a number that can fluctuate depending on which strain is circulating. The CDC has estimated from a low of 3,000 deaths to a high of 49,000 between the 1976-1977 and 2006-2007 seasons.

There are no effective treatments against the flu.

There are three antiviral drugs approved for treatment: Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images

7-Year-Old Boy Struck by Car in Hamden


A 7-year-old boy was treated for head and back pain after he was struck by a car while crossin the street with his mother and 3-year-old niece in Hamden, according to police.

Police said the family members were crossing Dixwell Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 when the boy was struck by a car traveling northbound. According to police, the family was not using a crosswalk at the time.

The boy was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries tohis head and neck.

Police said they do not expect to file charges in connection with the incident.

Police Investigate Untimely Death in Middlefield


Authorities are investigating after K-9 teams found the body of a missing man in the woods in Middlefield, according to state police.

Police said Christopher Rosa, 51, was reported missing from Wallingford on Thursday. He was last seen Tuesday at Guida's Restaurant on Route 66 in Middlefield and was spotted walking into the woods nearby.

Wallingford police detectives, state troopers and K-9 teams searched the area and found his body deep in the woods, according to state police.

The medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy to determine Rosa's cause of death.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

3 Girls Held, Sold for Sex: Cops


A man has been arrested in Providence, Rhode Island, for holding three missing Massachusetts girls against their will and selling them for sex, police say.

One of the missing girls who was being held in a third-floor apartment at 95 Cumerford St. managed to escape the home and reach out for help, police said.

When police arrived, they were met by the girl and the father of one of the girls inside the home. He told police his daughter was being held captive against her will.

Police entered the apartment and arrested Derek Miranda, 21, of Dorchester, Massachusetts. He is charged with three counts of kidnapping and sex trafficking.

Two of the girls, ages 14 and 15, were returned to their parents, and the third girl, a 14-year-old, is in the custody of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

The girls were missing for about two days, according to police. They're all believed to be from the Lowell area. Miranda transported them from Massachusetts to Providence.

A 21-year-old woman was also inside the home when police arrived at the scene. Her role is unknown at this time. She's not currently in custody, as the investigation is ongoing.

Miranda will be in court for arraignment on Monday.

Stay with necn.com for more on this developing story.

Photo Credit: WJAR

Accused Daughter Can Get Trust Fund


A Cook County judge on Friday approved an emergency motion filed on behalf of a teen accused of killing her mother in Bali and stuffing the body in a suitcase, tentatively allowing the release of up to $150,000 from the mother's estate to help pay for the teen's defense.

Judge Neil Cohen put stipulations on his ruling, however, mandating that Heather Mack have a dedicated Indonesian-based attorney to represent her during trial. Concerns have been expressed that the Bali lawyer that Mack has considered hiring has been known to represent drug smugglers.

"Funds can be used for hiring competent counsel," said Cohen. "We need someone who's for Heather and only Heather."

Mack's motion, filed Thursday, alleged that her uncle, William Wiese, has denied access to funds in the $1.56 million estate that could be used to provide for her "health, support, and maintenance." Wiese is the brother of Mack's slain mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, and the trustee of her estate.

Mack stated that if "convicted of the murder of my mother in Indonesia, it is probable I will receive the death penalty by firing squad." She also said that that if she and her unborn child die, her uncle stands to inherit the funds of the trust.

Cohen on Friday named an interim trustee to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mack and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer, both face the death penalty if convicted in von Wiese-Mack's August death. Separate trials for both defendants began earlier this week in Denpasar District Court in Bali, Indonesia.

The pair were arrested on Aug. 13, a day after the 62-year-old mother's body was found stuffed in a suitcase in a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort. In indictments, prosecutors said the couple plotted the murder because von Wiese-Mack did not endorse their relationship.

Mack is named as the sole beneficiary in von Wiese-Mack's will, last updated in May. The teen originally sought $300,000 from her mother's estate to help pay for legal bills but later reduced her request to about half that amount.

Wiese declined to provide any money to an account with the U.S. Consulate, the motion stated.

"To date, (the trustee) has not released one penny to assist Heather in any way, shape or form," attorney Tony Scifo wrote. "Said legal funds are a necessity to preserve Heather's life ... (The trustee's) actions do not comport with good faith or fair dealings and are wholly unconscionable."

Mack, who says she is innocent, says that her boyfriend confessed to the murder.

Photo Credit: instagram.com

Man Gives Slain Cops' Families $1M


A Hong Kong businessman donated $1 million to the families of the two officers shot and killed while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn last month.

The donor, who chose to remain anonymous, donated $500,000 to the education fund set up for the children of officer Rafael Ramos and another $500,000 to officer Wenjian Liu's father.

The businessman decided to make the donation because he was moved by the story of their execution-style slayings five days before Christmas -- a story that had a "profound" global impact, an attorney for Sing Tao Newspaper, which facilitated the money transfer, said at a Friday news briefing. 

Ramos' widow thanked the donor for the generosity.

"It's a blessing," she said. "It's going to help a lot."

Liu's father, who emigrated from China with Liu when he was a boy, echoed the sentiment. 

"I'm very sad because I lost my only son," said Wei Tang Liu. "But I do thank everyone for their support, their generosity."

The Liu family sat down with NBC 4 New York Friday after the announcement to share their grief over the loss of their son and husband.

Wei Tang Liu recalled his son telling him as a student: "When I'm finished with school, Dad, I'm going to be a cop." 

"He just try to his best to do his job, to protect the people," said his widow Pei Xia Chen, who had known Liu for six years before marrying him. 

"He just won't talk about his job at home because he just wants to have a normal life," she said. "He doesn't want us to worry about him, we don't talk about his work at home." 

Chen said Liu was a devoted family man who even took his parents on their honeymoon. She showed NBC 4 New York a picture from the trip, one of their last family photos.

"Every time he finish work, first thing he's gonna do, call the parents and then call me, 'I'm finished with work, I'm on my way home to pick you up,'" she said. 

On Dec. 20, Liu called his parents first to say he was working overtime and that the officer who was supposed to relieve him was running late. 

The events that unfolded over the next day are now familiar: Ramos and Liu were sitting in their patrol car at Tompkins and Myrtle avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant when Ismaiiyl Brinsley approached and shot each of the officers. Brinsley, who had posted on Instagram that he was "putting wings on pigs," then ran into a nearby subway station and took his own life.

The shooting caused tensions to worsen between Mayor de Blasio and police unions, who said the mayor hadn't supported the rank and file in the wake of protests following a grand jury's decision not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island. 

Friday's donation was the latest outpouring of support for the officers. Thousands visited a makeshift memorial set up at the street corner where the officers died, and mourners and police officers from around the world turned out for Liu and Ramos' funerals.

Several organizations have made donations to the families following Liu and Ramos' deaths as well.

Photo Credit: AP Images

Mortgage Insurance Reduction Could Spike Home Sales


With the Federal Housing Authority reducing fees for agency-backed mortgage insurance plans, more potential home buyers in Connecticut will have more money to spend on housing.

“This is a big deal,” said Norbert Deslauriers, interim director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. “We did about 60 percent of our mortgages FHA insured and we expect that number to go up for 2015.”

Mortgage insurance is required if a home buyer places a down payment on a house that is less than 20 percent of the home’s value. The insurance acts as protection for the lender, not the home buyer, to ensure that the entire mortgage will be paid off.

The announced change from the Obama administration could lead to savings anywhere from $600-$1,000 per year for individual homeowners.

“This step means real money in people’s pockets to spend on things they want and will drive the economy because consumer spending on home buying and everything that goes into a home are the Launchpad for our economy,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who, along with more than a dozen other Democrats, urged such a change at the Capitol.

Realtors are excited about what the reduction means for home sales.

“That mortgage premium can make a difference on if someone even qualifies for a loan or not so that’s one of the major components of having it reduced,” said Linda Fercodini, a real estate agent in Wolcott.

Fercodini said the industry is referring to 2015 as “the year of the first-time home buyer,” which she says so far rings true, at least in her office.

“The calls coming into the office have been incredible," she said. "The agents are all very busy out there right now.”

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