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Man Exposes Himself to Hikers at State Park


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is investigating complaints of a man exposing himself to hikers at Southford Falls State Park.

A spokesperson for the department said officials have received multiple complaints. The 169-acre state park spans both Southbury and Oxford and is a popular destination for families.

According to state police, DEEP Environmental Conservation Police are working on several investigations and believe the same man is behind each incident. Officials said the man is about 50 years old, with short blond hair.

"I'm really nervous because I came here two days ago just to go hiking," said Southbury resident Zeeda Hassan. "The park is really big and beautiful. A lot of people go hiking around here, and I don't know if I want to do that anymore. It's really scary."

Anyone with information about the offender is asked to call state police or EnCon police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Massive Brush Fire Causes Transformers to Blow in West Haven


A massive brush fire along the railroad tracks in West Haven caused two transformers to explode late Thursday afternoon and prompted Metro-North, Amtrak and Shore Line East to briefly halt service in the area, according to New Haven Fire Chief Allyn Wright and a spokesperson for Metro-North.

Wright said flames broke out in a construction area near Kimberly Avenue and Interstate 95. Wind carried the fire into a patch of nearby cattails, where flames continued to grow and spread.

West Haven crews tried to put the fire out but were overwhelmed, so they called in mutual aid from New Haven, according to Wright. New Haven brought in an engine and a fire boat to battle blaze from both land and water and keep it from spreading to the other side of the tracks.

"The brush fire was starting to go across the tracks, so they called us in to keep that from happening," Wright said. "And it's rush hour. Trains are going inbound and outbound."

Footage from the scene shows giant flames and thick black smoke. State police said the flames went up directly across from Interstate 95 and traffic was delayed while drivers slowed down to catch a glimpse. According to First Alert Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan, the smoke showed up on radar.

Metro-North briefly cut power to the tracks, and trains bound for New Haven and West Haven were halted in Milford, according to a spokesperson for the railroad.

One train did travel past the fire before the railroads suspended service. Wright described the situation as "very dangerous."

"It was hot. I could feel it through the train," said Amtrak passenger Sara McLaughlin. "It was hot and it was big, and it was the closest I have ever been to a fire that big."

A spokesperson for Metro-North estimates that two Shore Line East trains and six Metro-North trains were affected before service resumed around 6 p.m. An alert from the railroad warned commuters to expect residual delays.

An Amtrak representative said two trains – Northeast Regional 176 and Acela Express 2166 – traveled through the area with delays, while two others – Northeast Regional 175 and Acela Express 2171 – were stopped in New Haven.

Photo Credit: Viewer Photo
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3 Families Displaced by Torrington Fire


The American Red Cross is helping nine people after fire damaged a three-family home on Roosevelt Avenue in Torrington early Friday morning.

One resident said everyone got out and they were told they should be able to rebuild, but the home is uninhabitable for now.

The Red Cross is providing help six adults and three children from three families with emergency housing, food and clothing needs.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Flights Headed to JFK Were Diverted to Bradley Due to Fog


 A small number of planes scheduled to land at JFK Airport in New York were diverted to Bradley Airport on Friday morning because of the fog, according to Alisa Sisic, marketing and communications coordinator for the Connecticut Airport Authority.

All the flights that were diverted continued on to JFK once the fog lifted. No additional information was available.

Person Hit By Car in New Haven


One person was hit by a car in New Haven on Friday morning.

The victim, identified only as an adult, was hit by an SUV at Whalley and Sherman avenues, according to police and the block Sherman Avenue and Elm Street is closed.

The injuries are not life-threatening, according to police.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teen Hit Pole, Sparking Brush Fire in Putnam


A 16-year-old driver hit a utility pole, sparking a brush fire in Putnam and knocking out power, on Thursday evening, according to police.

Police said the crash happened on Mechanic Street in the area of Groveland Avenue around 4 p.m. 

Wires came down in the crash and power was out to parts of Putnam and Thompson. 

Fire departments from Putnam, East Putnam, Attawaugan, West Thompson adn Woodstock responded. 

Mechanic Street remains closed on Friday morning.

The driver sustained minor injuries and was brought to Day Kimball Hospital.

Police are investigating the crash.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Bristol Man Badly Injured in I-91 Crash


A 30-year-old Bristol man was airlifted to Hartford Hospital to be treated for serious injuries after hitting a tractor-trailer on Interstate 91 North in Rocky Hill early Friday morning, according to state police.

Police identified the injured driver as Bryan Kelliher and said he is in serious condition.

They said he was driving a Honda Civic near exit 24 just after 1:30 a.m when he hit the back of a tractor-trailer, lost control of the car and landed in the median. 

The highway was closed for hours after the crash.

Police are investigating the crash and ask anyone with information about it to call 860-534-1000.



Bill Would Change Rules to to Opt-Out of Vaccines for Children


A bill moving through the state legislature would make it more difficult for parents in Connecticut to opt-out of vaccinating their children and parents have mixed reactions to the proposal.

Schools require students to be vaccinated and the current plan in place allows parents to sign a form to allow children to enter school without the immunizations. Parents can also opt-out of children being vaccinated for religious reasons.

The bill that passed the house and is heading to the state senate changes the rules, making it more difficult to opt-out, and would require parents not only to sign a new form every year, but also to have it authorized by someone like a lawyer or a notary public.

Read the proposal here.

Residents have mixed reactions.

“Everyone should be vaccinated for everything. I believe in it,” Florence Rondini, of New Britain, said.
While Grace Cloutier, of New Britain, said freedom of choice is very important.

“That’s what this country was founded upon,” she said.

“You’re making a decision, obviously, for your own child, but it affects all the children around,” Melissa Lewis, mother of 2-year-old Cameron, said. “We’ve had measles outbreaks.”

Only two states --- Mississippi and West Virginia -- do not allow parents to opt out of vaccination requirements for religious reasons and lawmakers said the proposed bill would not eliminate that in Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Eversource, UI to Reduce Electricity Rates


Eversource and United Illuminating are cutting their rates and customers could begin to see a drop in their electric bills as of July 1.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Friday approved plans from the two utility companies.

Eversource’s rates will drop from 12.42 cents per kilowatt-hour to 8.25 cents, which would equate to saving around $31 per month for an average residential customer who uses 700 kilowatt hours per month, according to a news release from the power company13.

The new rate is in effect from July 1 through Dec. 31.

“The historically high prices we’ve been paying to electricity generators have made this a very difficult winter for most customers in the region,” Penni Conner, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Eversource, said. “With prices now falling back to levels even better than a year ago at this time, we’re thrilled to pass along the savings to our customers at the time of year when air conditioner use will be at its peak.”

All Eversource customers have the option to buy their power from other retail suppliers or go with the company’s Standard Service rate and the new rate will affect around 801,000 or 64 percent of Eversource’s 1.25 million Connecticut customers.

As of July 1, UI's residential generation rate will decrease from 13.3108 cents per kilowatt hour to 9.1241 cents per kilowatt hour.

The generation rate is around 50 percent of the monthly electric bill for most residential users, according to PURA.

Police Chase Ends on I-91 South


 A police chase that started in East Windsor ended on Interstate 91 South in Windsor on Friday afternoon when troopers blocked the driver in, according to state police.

The driver is stopped near exit 35B and traffic is delayed to exit 38.

Police said the chase started with a local traffic stop in East Windsor and the person did not want to stop.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Man Stole Checks From Glastonbury Mailbox: Cops


Police have arrested a Manchester man accused of stealing checks from the mailbox of a Glastonbury home and forging them in his own name.

Shane Gilbert, 28, of Manchester, is accused of stealing several checks from the mailbox in November 2014. He has been charged with identity theft in the third degree, nine counts of forgery in the second degree, two counts of larceny fifth degree and seven counts of larceny in the sixth degree.

Police said he forged the stolen checks in his own name for financial gain.

He turned himself in to police on Friday, appeared in court and was not able to post bond, police said.

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police

New London Public Works Director Fired Over Safety Violations


The city of New London has terminated three public works employees, including the director, over safety violations at the city transfer station, according to the mayor's office.

City officials have not elaborated on the violations but said the city personnel director and risk manager uncovered them during an investigation. A fourth employee has also been disciplined.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for safety violations at the Solid Waste Transfer Station," Mayor Justin Finizio said in a statement Friday. "Fortunately, no one was hurt as a result of these recent violations, but when our safety protocols are violated despite repeated training and prior discipline, employees must be held accountable."

Public Works Director Tim Hanser and employees Tom Ryan and Okoi Tucker have been fired effective immediately, the mayor's office said.

Public Works Supt. and Logistics Chief David DeNoia will temporarily serve as public works director until the interim director Brian H. Sear takes over on June 1.

Sear will serve as interim public works director through Nov. 5. He previously served as a state representative and first selectman of Canterbury, according to the mayor's office.

"I look forward to serving as the interim Director of Public Works for the City of New London, providing a thorough assessment of the needs, concerns, priorities and opportunities for the Department, and working with the Mayor and City Council to ensure and enhance the highest level of safety and professionalism within the department," Sear said in a statement.

Men Less Likely to Trust Attractive Women: Study


In the age of online dating and "catfishing," retouched photos are raising red flags. Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found that men perceive beautified images of women to be more attractive – but less trustworthy.

Interestingly enough, women found men with retouched photos both more attractive and more trustworthy, according to the study, entitled "Too Hot to Trust."

Assistant communications professors Rory McGloin and Amanda Denes, along with researcher Olivia Kamisher, surveyed 305 participants between the ages of 17 and 36 who identify as heterosexual.

The subjects were randomly shown one of four pictures of the opposite sex, some of which were "relatively normal" – with average lighting and no special makeup or hair treatment – and others that had been beautified.

Men found "beautified" pictures of women to be more attractive but less trustworthy than un-retouched pictures of the same people. Nonetheless, researchers determined that men still had a higher desire to date the "retouched" women and concluded that “attraction seems to be more important than trust” to the people surveyed.

"Trust is an important part of any relationship and it certainly plays an important role in the forging of new social bonds in the dating context. Yet, we found an interesting relationship between attractiveness and trust for males who were viewing female profile pictures. Specifically, men typically found the more beautified and therefore more attractive profile to also be less trustworthy," McGloin said in a statement. "This finding provides an empirical highlight to the concept of cat-fishing and the larger phenomena surrounding online dating, in which it is both normal and acceptable for individuals' to mislead or deceive their potential suitors."

He added that "even when men suspect that a woman may not look exactly like she does in her profile picture, they are willing to take the risk and pursue a date with her."

McGloin, Denes and Kamisher will present their findings at the International Communication Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from May 21-25.

Why More Moms Are Having Babies After 40


Moms celebrating Mother’s Day this year will include a growing cohort: women who at age 40-plus found themselves changing their kid's diapers for the first time. 

“I’ve had my social life and I’ve gone to the festivals and I’ve traveled the world,” said Marcy Fein, who gave birth to her first child at 41. "...And now I love learning the songs to 'Thomas the Train' and getting on the floor and being with him because that’s what I’ve always wanted." 

Even as the overall birth rate in the United States remains at an all-time low, births among women in their late 30s and 40s are on the rise. The first birth rate among women ages 40 to 44 has increased steadily since the 1980s, more than doubling between 1990 and 2012, according to data analyzed by the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate of first-time motherhood among women 35 to 39 has also grown dramatically.

Dr. Nancy Gaba, who heads the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said at least half of her patients are having their first child after 35, a greater number than when she started practicing in 1997. In fact, D.C. has the highest birth rate among women 35 to 49 of all U.S. states, according to government data. 

While advancements in fertility treatments have enabled more women to conceive and give birth to healthy babies later in life, Gaba believes broader shifts in society are also a major factor in the trend.

“It used to be that women were expected to have their first baby like my mother did, at 21,” said Gaba, who had her own son just before she turned 35. “Often women are delaying childbearing because it is perfectly acceptable for them to pursue other interests first, like their career and their education.”

As a 30-something in the early 2000s, Fein was focused on her teaching job and love of travel. While she always felt she was “born to be a mom,” she hadn’t yet found a partner with whom she wanted to start a family.

“I wanted to find the right guy I wanted to have kids and all that, but I wasn’t going to do it just because,” she said. “If it wasn't meant to be, that's fine.”

In 2004, that changed. An older couple she had met on a cruise years prior suggested she get together with their son during a trip to Washington, D.C. After several years of friendship and dating long-distance, they tied the knot at age 40.

A fertility specialist she saw at age 38 told her she would likely be unable to conceive, a prognosis Fein said “squashed my dreams.” But soon after their wedding, the couple was elated to learn that they were expecting. At 41, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Riley.

Fein, now pregnant with twins at 43, said having a child later has allowed her to approach parenthood with a sense of calm and purpose. Added life experience, including watching her friends stumble through parenting in earlier years, didn’t hurt.

“You may be tired, but you’re wiser,” she said.

First-time mothers who are older are likely to be more highly educated and better off financially than their younger parenting peers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The allure of hitting those benchmarks may have driven more women to hold off on starting a family, especially during the recession of the 2000s, experts say.

“People couldn’t afford to have children and they started realizing that the later they waited, the better off their children would be, in terms of their income,” said Elizabeth Gregory, a professor and author of “Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood.” 

Those benefits can be offset by other challenges and realities about becoming a first-time parent later in life. Playgroups and child classrooms, a typical source of support for new parents, may feature fewer people of a similar age and the window for having a second or third child is truncated. The needs of aging grandparents — and possibility that the child’s interactions with them will be limited — can create added stress.

“Not only can some grandparents not be helpful, but they themselves need help,” said Jocelyn Jane Cox, whose own mother was ill when she was pregnant with her first son at 39 and died on her son's first birthday.

Cox met her husband at 36 and married him at 37. They decided to try to start a family about a year later.

“I wasn't going to really freak out until it was 40,” said Cox, a figure skating coach and writer who chronicles her motherhood experience on her blog, The Home Tome. “I got in right under the wire in my mind.”

Even after becoming pregnant, the risks and potential complications that come with carrying a child at her age were top of mind. Fertility generally declines sharply after 35, as the potential for miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities and issues with the mother’s health increase.

“We opted for all the tests and it was a real roller coaster,” Cox said. “I understand why they do it and I think it’s good, but it is very stressful because you’re concerned about what information you’re going to get back.”

Doctors say it’s important that women and their partners understand the realities of childbearing in later years so that they can make informed decisions and, ideally, a fertility plan for the future. Examples of successful later births among friends and in Hollywood, they say, have left some women with a false sense of the ease and feasibility of delaying childbirth.

“All they see is the beautiful Halle Berry with the beautiful baby at the end,” Gaba said, referring to the actress giving birth to a child at 47. “They don’t see all those other things that, just statistically speaking, may have come into play.”

For many, the wait and challenges faced by older mothers and fathers can elevate the parenting experience. Gregory said the mothers she has interviewed for her research approached parenthood with pleasure.

“They were consistent in that this was something they had chosen, something they had worked toward and they were very engaged in and very satisfied,” Gregory, director of the Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Houston, the said. “Basically they were a group of happy people.”

Cox, who plans to spend Mother’s Day buying flowers for the yard of her Nyack, New York, home, echoed that sentiment. She said life experience, confidence and opportunity to raise a child with a cool, supportive and full partner have made her parenting journey all the sweeter.

“It gets to feel like it might not happen or you might have to go to great lengths to make it happen,” she said. “So I think there can be more of a sense of gratitude.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marcy Fein

Mother's Day 2015: 14 Restaurant Deals and Specials


Whether you're surprising your mom with a bouquet of flowers or a special brunch this Mother's Day, celebrating the most important person in your life can get pricey.

This year, Mother's Day spending will top $21.2 billion, the highest amount projected in the 12-year history of the National Retail Federation's annual Mother's Day Spending Survey.

Americans will spend an average of $173 on mom this year, up nearly $10 from $162.94 last year, according to the survey. Most consumers will get a greeting card for their mom, spending more than $786 million, and those who take mom out to brunch or dinner, will splurge a total of $3.8 billion.

There are ways to save and still make your mom feel special. Take a look at 12 restaurants offering deals for Mother's Day: 

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s:
Mom’s eat free on Sunday with the purchase of another meal at equal or greater value.

Boston Market:
Moms get a free meal on Sunday with the purchase of another meal.

Brickhouse Tavern & Tap:
Offering one free brunch entrée for mom with the purchase of another from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Church’s Chicken:
Moms get a free 20-piece box of OREO Biscuit Bites with the purchase of a family meal on Mother’s Day Weekend.

Corner Bakery:
Corner Bakery is offering a coupon for a free 6-pack of bundts for mom with the purchase of a lunch or dinner until May 11. You can also tweet your favorite #momisms to @CornerBakery and they might send you something sweet.

Chuck E. Cheese’s:
Moms can use this coupon for a free individual thin and crispy pizza with a $29.99 purchase of a large, one topping pizza, four drinks, and 30 tokens.

Moms get a free meal (up to $10.99 value) with a drink purchase on Mother’s Day.

KFC is offering a free red velvet cake with the purchase of a 10-piece meal or larger until May 25. This deal isn't limited to moms.

McCormick & Schmick’s:
The chain will be treating moms to complimentary chocolate-covered strawberries with brunch this Mother’s Day.

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt:
The chain is offering moms a free 8-ounce cup of frozen yogurt this Sunday.

Mom gets a free slice of strawberry pie this Sunday with the purchase of one Mother’s Day buffet or adult entrée.

Spaghetti Warehouse:
A free strawberry lemonade and surprise gift for mom comes with the purchase of a meal.

TGI Friday’s:
The restaurant is selling half-priced bottles of wine for moms from May 5-10.

Tijuana Flats:
The Tex-Mex chain is giving moms free entrées on Mother’s Day.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

No Probation for Superintendent Accused of Stealing From District


The former Hebron superintendent accused of stealing $15,000 from the town has been denied probation, according to the office of the clerk at Rockville Superior Court.

Eleanor Cruz, of Essex, was arrested on larceny charges in August after an internal audit found that Cruz used district credit cards for personal purchases and to analyze board of education data in Plymouth, where she began working shortly after leaving Hebron.

Cruz was asked not to report to work in Plymouth after her arrest, and in a decision met with applause, the Plymouth Board of Education voted unanimously to accept Cruz's resignation at a meeting in September.

The court clerk said Friday that a judge denied Cruz's request for probation. The clerk denied to reveal specific details of the request, and the docket has been sealed.

She's due back in court June 19.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to Cruz's attorney for comment.

Photo Credit: Plymouth Public Schools

WATCH: Blind Mom-to-Be "Sees" 3D- Printed Ultrasound


A blind mother was able to "see" her unborn baby thanks to the advancement of 3D printing.

The Brazilian branch of Huggies, the diaper company, worked with an ad agency to film "Meeting Murilo", in which the expectant mom is given a 3D mold version of her sonogram photo, according to CNET.

Tatiana Guerra, 30, who lost her sight when she was 17, was five months pregnant with her second child during the time of the sonogram, NBC News reported.

In the video, Guerra begins the appointment by asking the doctor to describe her son, but then starts explaining what she thinks he looks like.

"Oh, I imagine him. Well, his nose like a little potato," the mom-to-be tells her doctor.

She has no idea the makers of the film were creating the 3D sculpture of her son while her doctor was performing the sonogram.

Guerra exclaims when she is given the 3D mold of her son, touching her baby's printed face and reading outloud the words, "I am your son," spelled out in braille.

The video has gone viral since it was published April 30. The ad has been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube as of Friday, according to NBC News.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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5 Ex-Frat Members Avoid Jail


Five former Northern Illinois University fraternity members avoided jail time Friday when they were sentenced in connection with a hazing case involving the death of a pledge in 2012.

Initially charged with class 4 felony hazing, the men -- Omar Salameh, James Harvey, Patrick Merrill, Alexander Jandick and Steven Libert -- accepted a deal and each pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless conduct. They were each sentenced to 24 months of court supervision. They'll each also have to pay $1,000 in fines and perform 100 hours of community service.

Seventeen others charged in the case were sentenced to the same court supervision and community service but were ordered to pay lesser fines of $500 each.

Nineteen-year-old pledge David Bogenberger died at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house after reportedly consuming 26 vodka shots. Police reports said he and other pledges were pressured to drink by fraternity brothers and humiliated by sorority sisters brought in for a well-planned ritual called "Greek Parents Night."

An autopsy later done determined that David had suffered a fatal cardiac attack as a result of the excessive drinking. A toxicology report said his blood-alcohol content was 0.351 percent.

"Twenty-two young men pledging to be David's brothers for life ridiculed, tormented, poisoned and killed him," Bogenberger's mother, Ruth Bogenberger, said in her victim impact statement.

The case has brought national attention to excessive drinking and hazing at fraternity and sororities on college campuses.

Better Business Bureau Warns of Fun Run Scams


Themed runs can be a great way to have some fun and support a good cause, but the Better Business Bureau is warning residents of some organizations that aren't as they appear.

Although runners may believe they're contributing to charity when they pay their registration fees, some themed runs don't partner with charities at all, according to the BBB. The average registration price is $45.

One themed run website says its charity partner will be announced "soon," while another allows runners to pre-register but has yet to announce the course address. Others have gone out of business and canceled events with little-to-no notice and without reimbursing the runners who signed up, the BBB said.

The BBB has also received reports from runners who said one unnamed event "did not deliver anything close to what was advertised."

Nonetheless, themed runs can be fun and rewarding. The BBB recommends taking the following actions before signing up for a themed or charity run:

  • Do your research by checking out the company's BBB review
  • Understand the terms and conditions of the race, including the refund policy
  • Verify with the local venue to make sure the race has been scheduled
  • Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if need be
  • Document your registration and keep copies of your entry for your records
  • Vet the charity on give.org to make sure your donation is going where you think it is

Photo Credit: clipart.com

Brush Fire Burning in Ridgefield


Firefighters are responding to the area of Bennetts Farm Road in Ridgefield, where about an acre of land is burning, according to the fire department.

Fire officials said a pilot flying overhead reported the flames around 3:40 p.m. The brush fire is under control but crews from Ridgefield and Danbury are still at the scene.

No injuries and no road closures have been reported.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske
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