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Supt. "Pursuing Termination" of School Staff Over Sex Scandal


The Stamford Board of Education has canceled its Thursday night meeting to go over the investigation into a student-teacher sex case at the high school and "avoid impacting upcoming disciplinary proceedings," according to a spokesperson for the school system.

Earlier this month, the board said the school district mishandled the investigation into the relationship between former English teacher Danielle Watkins and a high school students with whom she had sexual relations. Watkins is now serving a five-year prison sentence.

The school principal and vice principal were placed on leave and charged with failing to report the relationship.

A press release from the school system says the superintendent is now "pursuing the termination of SHS employees" through contractual grievance procedures or proceedings under the state tenure law.

The board will decide at the end of the process whether the terminations are warranted, but a spokesperson for the school system said it could take months to reach that point.

"We have determined that addressing the report outside of these specific procedures, and particularly before any such discipline has been issued, could negatively impact and potentially compromise such proceedings," Board of Education President Jackie Heftman said in a statement Wednesday. "“Among other concerns, the BOE wishes to avoid the potential for any violation of the constitutional, statutory, and contractual due process rights of the SPS staff. Therefore, we concluded it would not be prudent or appropriate to go forward with Thursday’s meeting that would have addressed the Investigative Report and/or its contents."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dog Euthanized After Being Left in Extreme Cold: Police


Authorities have euthanized a dog left in "extreme cold temperatures" in Glastonbury over the winter, according to police.

Paul Aubin, 54, has been arrested on animal cruelty charges in connection with the February incident. Police said he left his dog outside "for an extended period of time."

Police charged him with cruelty to animals, failure to vaccinate and having an unlicensed dog.

He was released on a promise to appear in Manchester Superior Court on May 27.

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police Department

Firefighters Battled Fire in Hamden


Firefighters battled a fire at 460 Wintergreen Avenue in Hamden on Wednesday, officials said, and the fire marshal is investigating the cause.

Hamden Central Communications received a 911 call at 4:07 p.m. on Tuesday reporting a fire.

A resident who was driving by also noticed smoke coming from the eaves of the house and called 911.

Engine 2, from the Circular Avenue fire station, arrived at the scene three minutes after the initial call, searched the unoccupied house and found fire in the attic.

Within 20 minutes, the fire was under control and neighbors gave officials the contact information for the homeowner and the fire department reached the person at work.

No one was injured and the Hamden Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the exact origin and cause of the fire.

East Haven Man Asked 14-Year-Old Girl for Sex: Cops


Police have arrested an East Haven man accused of sending text messages to a 14-year-old girl asking for sex.

Jason Mahon, 36, of East Haven, has been charged with criminal attempt at second-degree sexual assault, enticing a minor, risk of injury to a minor and drug offenses.

Police said they posed as the teen and arranged to meet Mahon after the Department of Children and Families contacted them about the incident.

They arrested Mahon at the scheduled meeting place May 11.

Mahon was released on bond and is due in court May 20.

Photo Credit: East Haven Police Department

Marsh Fire Breaks Out in Essex, Old Saybrook


Firefighters from five departments are battling a brush fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon in a marshy area between Old Saybrook and Essex, according to the Old Saybrook Fire Department.

Emergency dispatchers said crews were called to the area of South Cove around 4:45 p.m.

Crews from Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Westbrook and Chester have been called to the scene along the Connecticut River. Old Saybrook fire officials said strong winds are causing the flames to spread.

Footage from the scene shows a fire boat dousing flames from the river.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Old Saybrook Fire Department

East Haven Man Found With 150 Child Pornography Files: Cops


A 59-year-old East Haven man is facing charges after investigators found with more than 100 images and 50 videos depicting child pornography, according to police.

Police from Guilford and East Haven began investigating Brian Augur and searched his home on Sidney Street in East Haven in December 2014. They confiscated his laptop and found more than 150 downloaded files of child pornography, police said.

Augur was arrested May 11 and charged with first-degree possession of child pornography. He was arraigned at New Haven Superior Court on May 12.

Photo Credit: East Haven Police Department

Woman Overdoses on Synthetic Marijuana Near ECSU: Cops


One week after a dozen Willimantic residents overdosed on K2, or synthetic marijuana, police are investigating yet another overdose, this time near a residence hall at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Willimantic police said the latest case happened Wednesday afternoon near Noble Hall on Valley Street. Although Noble Hall is an ECSU dormitory, the woman who overdosed is not a student, according to police.

The person was taken to Windham Hospital for treatment. Police said they hope to interview the victim soon as part of their investigation.

It comes a week after tainted K2 sent about a dozen others to the hospital with fevers as high as 106 degrees and blood pressures of up to 240. Many of the people who used the synthetic drug have exhibited psychotic behaviors, like running around scantily clad on city streets in Willimantic, police said.

A total of six people have been arrested

in connection with last week's overdoses. Police said no charges have been filed in Wednesday's case.

Photo Credit: AP

Books Returned to Farmington Library 200 Years Later


The Farmington Library was in for an unexpected surprise when a town historian returned two long-overdue books about 200 years later.

The books, volumes 2 and 3 of "A History of Greece," were printed in Dublin in 1786 and are part of the library’s original collection.

"It’s a group of history buffs, or historians from town headed by Betty Coykendall, who’s phenomenal. She’s been a big part of our library for many years. I believe they were purchased on an online auction," said Terry Matava with the library.

The books were inscribed with the words "Mark Root’s Property" and stamped with "Phoenix Library."

"At one point it looks like it was property of Mark Root," said library community services coordinator Leah Farrell picking up one  book. She’s the Library Community Services Coordinator. She then picked up the second book. “And as you can see in this book, he actually crossed it out at one point. And then again you can see here 'Phoenix Library.' This was one of the libraries in Farmington.”

So who is Mark Root? And what happened to the books after their sale to the Phoenix Library? The answers are still a mystery.

The books will now be stored in locked cases inside the library's Farmington Room, where the history collection is located.

"They’re back here 200 years later. It's like, wow. I just think that’s pretty neat," said Matava.

Once the two books have been catalogued, they will be available for the public to read. However, since they are fragile, they will not allowed to be checked out of the library.

Librarians plan to look for volume 1 of "A History of Greece" in hope of completing the collection.

About 800 books are returned to the library each day. Librarians said they are glad these books have returned home.

Feral Cats Living at Abandoned House in Wallingford


Neighbors say no one has lived in the house at 5 Ridgetop Road in Wallingford since before the first snow this winter – no people anyway. The house is reportedly home to four or five feral cats, and people who live the area are concerned.

"The homeowners just abandoned it," explained Shanna Pieta, who said the cats are all around the neighborhood. "Not good at all."

The padlocked front door bears stickers declaring the house empty. Beside the house lie piles of garbage, and behind it are broken windows that expose the building to the elements. Neighbors say there’s a foot or two of water in the basement.

Someone is taking care of the lawn, and some people have been actually taking care of the cats.

"They were all alone," said neighbor Jennifer Mendes. "They had nobody to take care of them. We have cats at home, so we gave them a can of food."

Mendes said she also called the Humane Society.

The Wallingford Health Department says it will look into the situation, but officials said Wednesday they had received no complaints about a potential health hazard.

Amtrak Derailment Impacts Service on East Coast


Amtrak commuters in Connecticut encountered delays all day Wednesday after a deadly derailment in Philadelphia stalled service along part of the Northeast Corridor.

Trains have been suspended between Philadelphia and New York, creating residual delays on other lines. Commuters at New Haven's Union Station said they encountered problems no matter how early they arrived to catch their trains.

"I got here and I looked at the screen and it said I was an hour and a half delayed. I'm going, actually, up to Windsor Locks and I had a cab ready, so I had to call and push back my cab service and everything. I hope I don't miss my flight home," said Brett Rutherford, who was trying to make it home to Pittsburgh.

Amtrak notified customers that there would be delays and said passengers could contact the railroad to make changes to their travel plans.

"I might be late for my flight. I hope they will compensate me," said Bevolyn Durrant, who was also waiting for the train.

Rail advocate and founder of the Commuter Action Group Jim Cameron said news of the deadly derailment reiterates the need for safety and investment in the nation's railroads.

"It is disconcerting to hear of a derailment on the busiest section of the Northeast Corridor, and what we would assume would be the best maintained," said Cameron.

Cameron also said, however, that while the derailment in Philadelphia is tragic, it's important for train passengers to put things in perspective.

"If you consider the fact that Amtrak carries over 30 million passengers every year, derailments are rare," said Cameron.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Safety System Not Installed at Site


An additional safety measure that is being installed across the country was yet to be put in within Philadelphia railways where the Amtrak 188 train derailed Tuesday night.

The Positive Train Control or PTC, aimed at preventing collisions and derailments, likely would have prevented the accident by forcing the train to stay below the speed limit, according to National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt.

“That type of system is designed to enforce the civil speed to keep the train below its maximum speed. So we have called for positive train control for many, many years. It’s on our most-wanted list," Sumwalt said Wednesday evening after spending the first day with a full team of NTSB investigators, touring the wreckage and downloading data from the locomotive's black box.

"Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred."

Sumwalt said just seconds before the derailment, the train reached 106 miles per hour entering a curve where the speed limit drops to 50 mph. The speed limit just before the bend is 80 mph, he said. The engineer applied the train's emergency brake, Sumwalt said, but it was too late. The engine and 6 cars shook and careened off the track, killing at least seven and injuring more than 200.

PTC has been installed at other locations along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line, including stretches from Boston to New Haven, New Brunswick to Trenton and a 30-mile stretch of track in eastern Maryland. Congress has mandated installation along the Philadelphia tracks by year's end.

PTC was developed after the U.S. Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which urged these changes to be finished by December 2015. 

The most important goals of PTC are to prevent train-on-train collisions, focus on rail worker safety, and monitor or enforce temporary speed restrictions, in addition to line speed enforcement.

The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed NBC10's report that the Amtrak 188 train was traveling at speeds of over 100 miles per hour just before the train's derailment.

Photo Credit: NTSB

Officer Rescues Missing 4-Year-Old Trapped in Pool


A police officer is being credited with saving the life of a 4-year-old boy found trapped in a neighbor's pool, face-down, after wandering away from home in New Britain on Wednesday morning.

The boy's grateful father told NBC Connecticut that his son left the house through an unlocked front door while he was in the shower.

Officer Frank Suworiec was one of the officers who responded and said that as soon as he saw the neighbor's pool, he "had a feeling."

He noticed the tarp moving, heard gurgling and lifted it up to find the boy, who was still conscious. 

Suworiec then jumped in and pulled the child out, Chief James Wardwell said.

The child, who police said is autistic, was found in the area of Charles Street, not far from home.

Police from New Britain and Newington began searching for the child shortly before 8 a.m. and initially said the child was found within around 10 minutes. But the child's father said the boy was missing for half an hour.

The child was not injured.

The pool owners said that their yard is fenced in and they have dogs, so they don't know how the chidl got into the pool, but they said they are very grateful to Suworiec and are relieved the boy is okay.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

UConn Patient Monitored for Ebola Has Malaria: Officials


A patient admitted to the UConn Health Center's John Dempsey Hospital with a fever Tuesday night and monitored for the Ebola virus has tested positive for malaria, according to a spokesperson for the university.

University officials said the man does not have Ebola. Medical providers could not rule out the possibility of Ebola infection because the patient had helped with Ebola relief efforts in Liberia from November 2014 until April 30, 2015

Authorities said the man was working in an administrative role and did not have direct contact with Ebola patients.

The patient has experienced symptoms for a couple days and arrived at the hospital in Farmington at 7:17 p.m. Tuesday with fever and muscle aches, general symptoms of many illnesses, according to officials.

UConn Health activated the Ebola virus protocol to care for the patient, the public and the staff. Health officials said the patient was placed in isolation and is in good condition.

The state of Connecticut has created a website with more information about Ebola in the United States.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Investigate Armed Robbery Outside Cromwell Burger King


Police are investigating an armed robbery outside a Burger King in Cromwell early Thursday morning.

Police responded to the Burger King at 136 Berlin Road shortly before 12:30 a.m. and learned that a man with a gun confronted an employee outside the restaurant and ordered that employee to open the door and go back inside, police said.

It did not work because the restaurant was already locked, but the robber stole some personal items from the employee, then ran toward the commuter parking lot at the corner of Sebethe Drive and Berlin Road, according to a news release from police.

The employee was not injured during the robbery.

A Connecticut State Police K-9 handler responded and followed the track from Burger King, across Sebethe Drive and to the commuter lot, and police believe the robber got into a vehicle parked there and left the area.

The robber, described as slender and around 5-feet-5, was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and had his face partially covered with a dark knit hat, police said.

He might have gotten into a lighter colored, newer model, Subaru station wagon.

Police ask anyone with information about the robbery to call Cromwell Police at 860-635-2256.

Top Sports Photos 2015


Click to see dramatic game action photos from professional football, hockey, basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore

SoCal Pol: Islam Ban "Sounds Good"


The planning commissioner of El Monte is under pressure to resign after he wrote a ban on Islam "sounds good" on Facebook.

Veteran local politician Art Barrios claims he meant no harm when he posted a blog entry on his page which was titled "China makes major moves to BAN Islam."

The former mayoral candidate accompanied the post with the comment, "Sounds Good. Maybe the rest of the world can do the same."

Barrios has been tried to explain away his actions Wednesday, saying his words had been misunderstood.

"I made a mistake. I wrote something that I didn't mean to write," the former city councilman said. "I read (the blog post). But I misinterpreted it. I was thinking Islamic terrorists, not the people of Islam, the religion."

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called for Barrios to resign from his post on the planning commission, on which he has sat since 2009. If he refuses the request, the body will ask the city council to remove him from the position.

“While Mr. Barrios has the right to his bigoted views, it is unacceptable for a person who holds such views to be in a position of public trust and authority,” CAIR Los Angeles public affairs coordinator Haroon Manjlai said. “Discrimination against building of mosques is widespread and well documented, and therefore it is unacceptable that a planning commissioner of any city, who ought to be fair and neutral, would hold such hateful views."

Barrios has said he sent a letter of apology to CAIR's national office. 

Local residents are unhappy at Barrios' behavior, however.

"Someone who was an elected official in this community represents everyone, and Islamaphobia like that is completely uncalled for," Florencio Briones said.

Would-Be Robber Pointed Gun at Home Depot Employee: Cops


Police have arrested a Hamden man who is accused of pointing a gun at an employee during a robbery at the Home Depot in North Haven in February.

Police said Frankie Moore, 47, tried to steal a chainsaw from the Home Depot at 111 Universal Drive in North Haven on Feb. 13.

When a female store employee confronted him, Moore pulled a handgun from his jacket and pointed it at her face, according to police. The store associate was not hurt during the incident.

Moore then ran from the store and got into a tan SUV that someone else was driving, police said.

Moore was arrested outside of his Hamden home and charged with robbery in the first degree and larceny in the sixth degree and is being held on a $200,000 bond.

He will be arraigned in Meriden Superior Court this morning.

Police are asking anyone with information about the driver of the tan SUV to call the Investigative Services Division of the North Haven Police Department at 203-239-5321.

"Game of Thrones" Fans: Live in Winterfell for $500K


Are you a fan of "Game of Thrones"? Ever wanted to live in Winterfell, snowy land to the north?

Well, if you can't live in the real Winterfell, snowy Massachusetts might be the next best thing.

A subdivision in Seekonk, Massachusetts, is getting a lot of attention after deciding to name itself after the fictional land from the hit HBO show.

Don't get too excited, though, it's only a name. The 11-lot subdivision will not have a medieval theme.

"Unfortunately, no, it's 2015," Jodi Hedrick, broker of Keystone Property Group, told WJAR-TV. "There's going to be nice colonial, indoor plumbing, central air - all the amenities."

Apparently, the engineers who helped design the subdivision are big "Game of Thrones" fans.

Already, one lot has sold. The lots start at $145,000, and home packages are $425,000 and up. Homes are expected to be ready in about six months.

Photo Credit: WJAR-TV

Motorcycle Driver Killed in Lebanon Crash


A 27-year-old man has died after losing control of his motorcycle and crashing in Lebanon on Thursday morning, according to state police.

Police said Justin Boucher, of Lebanon, was traveling southbound in the area of 245 Clubhouse Road when lost control going around a curve at about 6:30 a.m.

Boucher's motorcycle veered off the side of the road and crashed into a group of trees, according to state police. Paramedics pronounced Boucher dead at the scene.

Clubhouse Road was closed between Routes 87 and 207 while authorities responded to the crash.

Anyone with information is asked to call State Police Trooper Nicholas Caez at 860-465-5455 ext. 4071.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

"American Idol" Crowns 14th Season Champion


Guilford native Nick Fradiani has won the second-to-last season of "American Idol" and scored a record deal with Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Label Group.

The 29-year-old Connecticut resident was the oldest in the competition and no stranger to the national stage. He competed last winter on NBC's "America's Got Talent" along with his band, Milford-based Beach Avenue.

Fradiani's prior experience seems to have served him well. He edged out Clark Beckham, 22, of Tennessee, in the second part of the season finale Wednesday night.

"I am only here because of you all, and I can't thank you enough for it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Fradiani posted on his Facebook page hours before the show.

Before the results were announced, Fradiani took the stage alongside Andy Grammer to sing a medley including "Back Home" and "Honey I'm Good." His family was front and center as the crowd clapped and cheered.

"I’m just really excited the whole world got the chance to see the talent he has," Nick Fradiani Sr. said during the finale.

Both Beckham and Fradiani Jr. said they felt good going into the show.

"I think we did the best performances we've ever done," Beckham said.

When host Ryan Seacrest asked Fradiani how badly he wanted to win, Fradiani smiled.

"I think at this point, we both really want it, but you know, I'm proud of him and he's proud of me, and I think we both deserve it," he said.

Connecticut residents cheered him on Wednesday at watch parties around the state, including one that drew hundreds of fans to Spotlight Theatres in Hartford. The Front Street establishment even added a "Fradiani Burger" to the menu in his honor.

"It's insane. The T-shirts, the posters, the screaming – he's got lots of fans. If he doesn't have a girlfriend, he will after this," joked Trina Gallo of the Front Street Bistro at Spotlight Theatres.

Earlier this month, Fradiani returned home to Guilford for a parade and rally in his honor. He performed on the town green and surprised students with an unannounced concert at the high school.

You can watch Fradiani's coronation song, "Beautiful Life," on YouTube or download it on iTunes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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