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Budget Deal Reached; GE, Aetna Complain

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Members of Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration and top Democrats in the General Assembly hammered out the framework of a two-year $40 billion budget agreement over the weekend.

As the legislative session comes to a close, the next task is approving the proposed tax increases and property tax changes that they agreed to behind closed doors and without Republican input.

“This is a one-party rule system and until people vote to change the fact that we have a one-party system, they can expect this for years and years and years to come" said Sen. Len Fasano, (R - North Haven), the Minority Leader in the Connecticut Senate.

Democrats touted historic tax relief as the most important result of budget talks. The budget, and the bills that lawmakers will pass to send to Gov. Malloy's desk, will lead to a two-stage cap of the property tax rate for all cities and towns down to just more than 29 mills, which they say will help every middle class family in Connecticut.

Sen. Martin Looney, (D - New Haven), the President Pro Tem said, “This bill provides a substantial amount of property tax relief, both for those who live in high mill rate towns who are paying far more than they should be on their motor vehicle tax and also in terms of greater reimbursement in the payment in lieu of taxes program for communities that have a significant amount of tax exempt properties.”

Republicans say another part of the budget, a proposed reduction in a tax credit is actually a tax hike on working families of $100 per year.

"We’re not creating and maintaining the quality of life in Connecticut, that diversity that’s made us so great" said Rep. Vincent Candelora, (R - North Branford). "We’re merely trying to balance a budget on the backs of everybody.”

Democrats also proposed raising some taxes on businesses or instituting new taxes altogether as a part of the $2 billion revenue package agreed upon by the governor's administration and lawmakers.

In response, both General Electric and Aetna, each with major operations in Connecticut, released statements effectively threatening to move elsewhere in order to avoid paying higher taxes.

Aetna's statement read in part, "Connecticut is in danger of damaging its economic future by failing to address its budget obligation in a responsible way. Such an action will result in Aetna looking to reconsider the viability of continuing major operations in the state."

Travelers also issued a statement, raising concerns about proposed tax increases.

"We are disappointed with the proposed tax increases in the budget agreement.," Matt Bordonaro, second vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement on behalf of the Hartford insurance company. "Raising taxes again will increase the cost of living for nearly every resident and small business in the state, negatively impacting our employees and customers. Lawmakers should explore other solutions to the state’s budget to help keep Connecticut competitive and make it a desirable place to live and work."

GE, a company that reportedly didn't pay any taxes in 2010, sent out its statement earlier in the day saying, "The Connecticut economy continues to struggle as other states offer more opportunities and a better environment for business growth. It is essential that Governor Malloy and legislative leaders find a more prudent and responsible path forward for Connecticut and its citizens in their current budget negotiations."

Governor Malloy's administration responded with its own statement, framing the debate around improvements to infrastructure and transportation in Connecticut. Lawmakers are expected to approve a change to the way sales tax receipts are used, dedicating one half of one percent to transportation, which is estimated to generate hundreds of millions, in addition to billions in bonding over the next five years.

Devon Puglia with the Malloy administration wrote, "The historic investments we’re making, the largest in the history of Connecticut – an additional $10 billion – are good for job creation, good for the economy, and good for businesses, GE included. The bottom line is that the vast majority of households will see property tax relief as a result of the agreement."

Democrats say Middle Class families won't see higher taxes, while individuals earning $500,000 or more and families earning $1,000,000 will see income taxes go up during subsequent fiscal years.


No Hurricane in 10 Yrs: Will Florida's Streak End?

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The last time Florida faced down a hurricane's full wrath was a decade ago.

Since then the state has grown by at least 2.5 million people. Many newcomers may be unprepared for the punishing winds and surges of water that come with a direct hit, and not used to boarding up their windows or evacuating their homes.

That worries professional hurricane watchers.

“There are going to be people who have moved to the state and don’t know what to do, how well to prepare for a hurricane,” said David Nolan, the chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Others who experienced a hurricane may have forgotten how to prepare for one or become complacent, he said.

The last hurricane to hit Florida was Wilma in 2005.  It killed 25 people, left most of South Florida without power and cut a broad swath of damage in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most destructive for the United States, largely because of Hurricane Katrina two months earlier, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. Katrina alone caused $151 billion in damage and killed 1,833. In all, seven named storms made landfall in the United States during 2005, and eight the year before.

Why was there a flurry of storms in Florida and then none?

“I don’t think anyone can give a specific answer to that,” Nolan said. “Hurricane activity has been reduced a lot in the last 10 years.”

In addition, in the last few years, the jet stream has dipped over the East Coast, bringing cold and stormy winters — a weather pattern that can draw storms such as Sandy up to the Northeast and away from Florida, he said.

Hurricanes are very unusual, so 10 years without one is not that odd, he said. Florida had a long period of little hurricane activity in the 1970s and 1980s until Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, destroying homes and downing power lines from Fort Lauderdale to the Florida Keys. Five thousand people were left homeless.

Elliott Stares, 42, is among the newcomers to Florida. Originally from the United Kingdom, the public relations consultant with his own firm moved to South Beach 14 years ago. He and his wife are creating a "go bag" for an emergency evacuation from their Miami neighborhood.

"Since I've been here, I've been lucky enough not to experience a direct hit like Andrew," said Stares, who became a citizen in March.

If an evacuation is mandatory and there is enough time, they would try to reach his wife's parents in Dallas, he said.

The condominium complex where he lives has hurricane-proof windows so he feels it is "pretty well battened" for a mild storm.

"But anything from 3 and above, based on the authorities' advice on evacuating, then we would oblige," he said. 

The number of hurricanes predicted for the 2015 Atlantic season, which begins on June 1 and runs until Nov. 30, will likely be below normal, NOAA has said. El Nino, the warming of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, will be the main factor in suppressing storms.

But officials cautioned that a below-normal season can still be devastating and pointed to 1992, when only seven named storms formed but the first was Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane. Category 5 storms — the most powerful classification — have sustained wind speeds on 157 miles per hour or more and cause catastrophic damage.

Because of Andrew, Miami-Dade County has some of the toughest building codes in the country, particularly for wind, said Brian Haus, professor of Ocean Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School. But the state’s housing is a mix of old and new, and many of the coastal areas were built before there were strong storm surge codes, he said.

“So many coastal buildings in the older areas are not elevated,” he said. “They need to be.”

Late last year, the school opened a new research complex that includes a hurricane wind-wave tank that can generate Category 5 hurricane-force winds. Researchers are trying to get better data on the effects of wind and water surges, not only on individual buildings but on neighboring structures as well. Driven by intense winds, the seawater exerts extreme force on buildings, he said.

Starting this hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center will introduce a new graphic specifically for storm surges in addition to one for wind speeds. The center will issue separate storm surge watches and warnings separate from the hurricane watches and warnings it has traditionally broadcast. A watch is defined as the possibility of life-threatening flooding within 48 hours; a warning, within 36 hours.

The graphic complements a potential storm surge flooding map, released during Hurricane Arthur last year, which shows where inundation could occur and how high above group the water could potentially reach.

A surge of seawater is often the greatest threat. It can occur at different times and places than a hurricane’s winds and well inland from the coast and might require evacuation.

Hurricane Ike — which devastated the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas and caused widespread damage in other areas of southeastern Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas in 2008 — was the impetus for the emphasis on storm surges, said Jamie Rhome, the leader of the National Hurricane Center’s Storm Surge Unit.

More recently Hurricane Sandy focused the public’s attention on the damage that could result. Though only a Category 1 when it made landfall in southern New Jersey in 2012, with sustained winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour, Sandy was a massive storm that did $67 billion in damage from flooding, according to NOAA. The storm surge — the rising seawater that results from wind and changes in atmospheric pressure — pushed water inland.

Recent research shows that storm surges are the primary killers during hurricanes, but polling indicates that the public believes otherwise, Rhome said.

“People really only think wind when they hear hurricane, they’re primarily focused on wind, yet it’s water that’s resulting in the largest loss of life,” he said. “That disconnect is what we’re really seeking to tackle with these new maps.”

As far as Florida’s hurricane-free streak?

“I guarantee you that remarkable streak is going to end,” said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “And we have to go into 2015 assuming that it’s going to end this year.”



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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State, Local Police Respond to Winsted Incident

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State police are assisting Winsted police with a situation in the town.

No further information was available on the nature of the incident.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Downed Wires, Tree Close Route 72 in Harwinton

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Route 72 is closed in Harwinton due to a tree that fell and knocked wires down, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The state road is closed at Locust Road. Eversource was reporting 42 customers without power, as of 9:35 p.m.

The closure was reported at 9:14 p.m. and could take three hours or less to clear.

University of New Haven Campuses Ban Smoking, Tobacco

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If you’re walking the University of New Haven’s campus, you’ll have to think twice before lighting up that cigarette as of Monday. The campus has now become smoke free.

Every cigarette receptacle on campus was removed yesterday. Now smoking, tobacco and e-cigarettes are prohibited to use on campus. Signs have been posted everywhere on campus saying the University of New Haven is now tobacco free.

“We’ll ask people to politely put out the cigarette that this is a tobacco free institution,” Paula Cappuccia, director of student services, said.

It’s a policy that hopes to ensure a healthy environment for students, faculty and staff to work, live and learn. The University sent out a survey to students and staff last year about the possibility of a smoke-free campus -- overwhelmingly people said that’s what they wanted.

“There are so many people that are not smoking and they get bothered from smokers and the smokers can just go step out and smoke down there,” Said student, Nasser Alkhaldi.

As the university gets used to the rule, smokers will be asked to kindly put the cigarette out. The school plans to use the first year to educate people with pamphlets and signage.

If smokers break the rules, they could face a monetary fine the second year and employees may have to deal with Human Resources. There will also be resources to help students and faculty quit smoking.

“Part of the cessation program will be individual sessions of group sessions so it'll be more of the support to them helping them if they’re ready no to smoke,” Said Cappuccia.
Students say they hope the new rule stops littering of cigarette butts.

“The butts and stuff that are on campus… they’re everywhere. So hopefully we’ll see less and less of that and people just respect that we’re a healthy campus now,”  student Mercedes Pullin said.

The rules apply for both the West Haven and Orange campuses.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

United Airlines "Trivialized" Discrimination Claim, Woman Says

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A woman whose Facebook post over an unopened can of diet soda on a United Airlines flight has sparked a debate about discrimination said she is disappointed in the airline’s response to her claims.

Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University, asked for an unopened can of soda last week on a flight from Chicago to Washington D.C. A flight attendant told her it was against the airline’s policy to serve unopened beverages, despite Ahmad’s concerns about hygiene.

When a man next to her received an unopened can of beer and Ahmad questioned the flight attendant about her own beverage, Ahmad said she was told it was because she “would use it as a weapon.”

The comment was one that left Ahmad stunned and prompted more hateful comments from a fellow passenger.

"At that point I just felt like crawling into my seat and I had tears in my eyes," she told NBC Chicago. "It was utter humiliation."

United Airlines flight 3504 was operated by Shuttle America, which is owned by Republic Airways Holdings, which said in a statement Monday that the company doesn't enforce rules about serving unopened cans.

"There is no policy difference in serving alcoholic or non-alcoholic canned beverages to passengers. There is no differentiation between opened and unopened beverages, and there is no policy suggesting what may or may not be done with a container," the Republic Airways statement read.

United Airlines responded to Ahmad’s claims over the weekend, calling the incident “a misunderstanding regarding a can of diet soda” and apologizing for "not delivering the service our customers expect."

"This is not about a can of diet soda," Ahmad told NBC Chicago on Monday. "This is about telling a passenger 30,000 feet above the ground that they might use [the can] as a weapon against other passengers and targeting them and profiling them in a way that really makes the place unsafe, not only for that passenger but for the passengers, you know, who are sitting around her.”

Ahmad said the statement "trivialized" the issue.

“[United] has the opportunity to really create a learning moment for all of Americans,” Ahmad said. “I really believe that if people understand each other and each other’s stories this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. I will not fly United until they recognize that this kind of discrimination should not happen. This is unfortunate and this should never happen.”

United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart told NBC News that the company has "apologized for not providing the experience that our customers expect."

Ahmad said her message was not intended to punish the flight attendant, but rather to create a discussion about discrimination.

“United can’t simply say that they stand for diversity inclusion on paper," she said. "You know this needs to be something that’s enacted upon."

Ansonia Wards Off X-Rated Adult Stores

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X-rated adult stores are being told to stay away from Ansonia.

That city is looking to pass tougher rules about opening those types of businesses.

Right now, city leaders say there are no adult-oriented stores here.

“For many of us this was a matter of public safety and Ansonia is a family oriented community,” Phillip Tripp, president of the Board of Aldermen, said.

Now the city is poised to make it even tougher to open adult entertainment businesses here, including strip joints and X-rated book and video stores.

“It does have a trickledown effect with crime regarding prostitution, drug use, drug abuse, etc. So, we want to maintain a safe and healthy atmosphere for our residents,” Lorie Vaccaro, 2nd ward alderman, said.

The stores are already banned from setting up near schools or churches.

Now the city wants to make sure they can’t open near parks and neighborhoods.

“The law is designed to protect the most vulnerable of areas, places where families and children gather, those who would be most negatively affected by what could be a consequence of these businesses,” says John Marini, city attorney.

The city says this is not about limiting free speech or business.

Though they admit all the bans in a small city could make it tough to open an adult store.

“Effectively it could prohibit these businesses from opening in most places,” says Marini.

The updated ordinance also would setup a new, tougher licensing process for the stores.

It is up for a vote at the next Aldermen meeting next week.

Car Mows Over Boy on NYC Sidewalk

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An out-of-control vehicle barreled onto a sidewalk in Brooklyn Monday afternoon, knocking down a small boy as he was walking and hurting another adult, according to authorities and surveillance video from the scene. 

The FDNY said emergency responders were called to a building on Seventh Avenue in Sunset Park at around 2 p.m., where a car ran onto the sidewalk and partially into the building.

It's not clear what caused the crash. Surveillance video shows the vehicle going up onto the sidewalk, first hitting some sort of small tree or plant that knocks over a small boy who's walking, then running over both the tree and the boy.

Crowds quickly gather around the car as they await emergency responders. At one point, they attempt to lift the car but are unsuccessful. 

After firefighters and EMS arrive, they manage to retrieve the boy from underneath the vehicle, and he's seen being carried away in a stretcher, the video shows.

"I didn't see obvious injuries," said one witness who didn't want to be shown on camera. "He didn't appear to be in distress. I had someone call 911."

"Everything happened so fast," the bystander continued. "My main concern was getting to the child." 

The FDNY said the adult driver and the child were taken to Lutheran Hospital in serious but stable condition. They're both expected to make full recoveries. 

The driver has not been charged so far. 


Racist Graffiti Found in Fairfield

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Police are investigating after racist graffiti was found spray painted on a building in Fairfield over the weekend.

Someone called police Sunday to report finding a swastika, KKK and the phrase "white lives matter" painted on the side of a vacant building at 1280 Stratfield Road.

Police said people have a right to express thoughts, but they become concerned when it becomes a threat to an individual or group. Authorities will continue to monitor the situation, according to Lt. James Perez, of the Fairfield Police Department.

This is the third racial incident in Fairfield in recent months.

In early may, leaflets reading "White Lives Matter" were delivered to several homes in town. Similar fliers were found in Westport, Milford and East Haven.

In March, police found a sign reading "Obama Stinks" nailed to a telephone pole along with two dead skunks.



Photo Credit: Fairfield Police

More Rain Headed Our Way

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After heavy downpours and flash flooding to start the week, more rain is headed our way for Tuesday.

The morning commute will be wet and showers will continue until at least 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Cloud cover will start off the day on Wednesday.

Wednesday and Thursday will bring temperatures in the 70s and tons of sunshine. Dew points will be in the 40s and 50s, meaning there won’t be any humidity whatsoever!

It appears to be a mainly dry finish to the workweek on Friday, though an isolated storm is possible with a hint of humidity. That’s also when temperatures return to the 80s!

A cold front comes through early Saturday, bringing a few showers to the state and skies should clear pretty quickly, so Saturday is far from a washout.

Monday saw heavy rains, which caused flash flooding in Danbury late afternoon.

Main Street was partially closed near Wooster Street due to the flooding, according to Danbury police.

A flash flood warning was issued for northern Fairfield and New Haven counties Monday and expired at 7:45 p.m.

More than two inches of rain fell at Danbury Municipal Airport in a span of three hours.  Meriden and Hartford received nearly an inch of rain on Monday.

The pool, therapy pool and hot tub at Healthrax in Avon closed Monday due to flooding issues. The gym said that the pools would reopen Tuesday, but advised members to call 860-284-1190 or visit the Healthtrax website to check on the pool status just in case before coming to the gym.

A cold front has stalled to the south of the region, and a wave of low pressure is riding along it, which means the rain will continue through Tuesday.

Several inches of rain have already fallen in localized areas of the state, including in Berlin, and another inch or two is possible through tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the numbers will be a bit higher and reach into the low-60s.

Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest forecast on-air, online and on the app.
 



Photo Credit: Victoria Cooper
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Leah Still, Daughter of NFL Player, "Making Progress" in Cancer Battle

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“We are making a little progress.”

That’s the message NFL player Devon Still put on Instagram Monday night as his daughter Leah continues her battle against a rare form of cancer.

Still‘s latest message thanking supporters came on the same day the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle and his 5-year-old daughter were announced as the Jimmy V Perseverance honorees.

Leah was diagnosed last June with stage-4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer in young children. Still said last week that his daughter "hit a pretty serious complication" in the process of getting a stem cell transplant, with her liver affected by chemotherapy.

Still has used social media to share his daughter’s journey, with much of her treatment taking place at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He posted another Instragram message Monday night that updated the public of his daughter’s condition.

Still, who attended Penn State, agreed to a one-year contract to stay with the Bengals in March. The team donated $1.3 million from sales of his jersey to research and treatment of pediatric cancer.

The award is named after the late Jim Valvano, who died of cancer less than two months after receiving the honor at the 1993 ESPYs. Other former recipients include Sacramento Kings coach George Karl and the late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott.



Photo Credit: Devon Still
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Couples Stabbed in Brutal Slaying

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The man accused of killing a Rockville, Maryland, couple on Mother’s Day offered his condolences on Facebook just hours after they were stabbed, prosecutors say.

According to new charging documents, Scott Tomaszewski attacked his neighbors Dick and Jody Vilardo with a knife while the couple was in bed, but the crime continued outside the bedroom. Mrs. Vilardo’s body was found in the kitchen with eight stab wounds, while Mr. Vilardo was found on the patio. He had been stabbed 42 times, a detail prosecutors emphasized.

“I just wanted to make sure the court understood the strength of our case and the brutality of the killing,” said State Attorney John McCarthy.

Prosecutors say Tomaszewski cut a screen window on the couple’s house and crawled in before attacking them. After killing them, he spent time in the home, stealing cash, jewelry, a $7,300 Rolex and Jody Vilardo’s purse.

Hours later, Tomaszewski left for an Alaskan cruise with his parents, where they were celebrating their retirement. After news of the Vilardos’ deaths went public, Tomaszewski expressed sympathy on his Facebook page, saying they were such nice people and how scary it was that such a crime could happen in the neighborhood. Tomaszewski was charged with the Vilardos’ murders while he was still in Alaska with his family. Police say he had blood-soaked money in his wallet at the time of his arrest.

Tomaszewski’s parents said in a statement that they were “devastated by the tragic deaths of their neighbors,” and “the fact that their son Scott has been charged with the commission of these crimes.”

Tomaszewski confessed to having “an altercation” with the Vilardos in their bedroom and eventually led authorities to the murder weapon, prosecutors said.



Photo Credit: Melissa Griffiths, Juneau Empire

Hartford Police Rescue Kitten from Storm Drain

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Hartford police made an adorable rescue during the storms on Monday night when they saved a little kitten from a storm drain.

The stray kitten, now named Duckling, appears to have been swept away by the heavy rain and got stuck in the storm drain. 

She is now at the New England Veterinary Center in Windsor and will be available for adoption soon.

For now, the vets are calling her Duckling because of the noise she makes. 

"She’s a little bit worn out, but otherwise looks good," Dr. Adam Porter, of the New England Veterinary Center and Cancer Care, said. "She’s making these almost like quacking sounds as she cries."

Police said they removed the drain grate and manhole cover and the animal control officer helped to rescue the kitten, which is believed to be between six and eight weeks old.

K9 officer and dive team member Holly Donahue went into the drain to assist with the rescue.

The kitten has some minor respiratory issues because of the water, but should be available to adopt in the next week or two.  



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Windsor Locks Police Save Boy Who Wasn't Breathing

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Windsor Locks police helped save a 5-year-old boy after he stopped breathing earlier this month. 

Police responded to a home on Codey Way just before 9:30 p.m. on May 23 after receiving a report that a boy was having difficulty breathing and met with the boy’s 12-year-old sister, who told officers about the child’s medical condition, according to police.

The boy, frantically kicking and flailing his arms, said he couldn't breathe, his stomach hurt and he was in pain, so officers tried to help, but nothing was working.

Then the boy’s condition deteriorated and he went limp. He was unresponsive, stopped breathing and police confirmed the worst when they checked his pulse, so they started CPR, according to police.

Officers opened the airway and used the Automated External Defibrillator. After several cycles of CPR, the AED machine analyzed the child’s heart rhythm and the child finally started breathing on his own and was responding to light.

Windsor medics then arrived, took over and transported the boy to the hospital.

On Tuesday, May 26, police learned the child was healthy and in good spirits.

“We are fortunate to have great officers’ that maintained a high level of professionalism and properly executed medical interventions in a scenario of such high stakes, resulting in saving the life of a child,” a statement from police says.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 Staff

Improving Weather Ahead

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Improving weather ahead

Much-needed rain fell across the state the last few days, including 6.96 inches in Southington and 2.56 inches in Windsor Locks. The rain is over, and improvement is not far away.

Wednesday will be downright gorgeous, with temperatures in the 70s and tons of sunshine.
Dew points will be in the 40s and 50s, meaning there won’t be any humidity whatsoever!

A high pressure system moves off to the southeast of southern New England on Thursday and Friday, and that means a return flow from the south or southwest. Both days will be mostly cloudy with the chance for a shower.

A cold front comes through early Saturday, but the shower chance has been removed from the forecast! It should be gorgeous, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.

A big high pressure system will build in to close the weekend on Sunday, providing sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.

The pattern turns a bit unsettled early next week, with the chance for p.m. showers and storms on both Monday and Tuesday.

Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest forecast on-air, online and on the app.

 

First Alert Forecast

Tonight: Showers end, mostly cloudy. Lows in the 40s.

Tomorrow: Abundant sunshine. Gorgeous! Highs in the 70s inland, 60s at the shore.

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, chance for a shower. Highs in the 70s inland, 60s at the shore.

 

Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest forecast on-air, online and on the app.


Bar Owner to Take Down 2-Way Mirror

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A bar owner in suburban Chicago says he will remove a two-way mirror in the women’s restroom of his bar but on his own terms.

“I understand where it makes women feel uncomfortable,” Cigars and Stripes BBQ owner Ronnie Lottz said in a YouTube video posted Monday intended to “set the record straight” on the recent controversy surrounding his bar. “In the beginning of this it was very, very difficult for me to understand because I didn’t have the mindset of [someone] standing behind the mirror or I would think that someone would do that, it just never occurred to me.”

The issue first surfaced in April when a comedian by the stage name of Tamale Rocks discovered the two-way mirror in the women’s restroom with full view of the toilet as she prepared to perform at the Berwyn venue and posted a video on social media.

"Why, when I go into a public bathroom, when there's an expectation of privacy, am I having to do that due diligence? It's a bathroom!" Rocks told NBC Chicago.

Lottz initially defended the mirror, saying his bar was “a giant funhouse” and there was “no hanky panky going on in that bathroom.”

Lottz said the mirror, which has been around since the early 2000s, was originally designed to scare restroom users by hanging a witch’s head behind the glass as a Halloween gag.

While Lottz promises to take down the mirror, he said he wants to do it on his own terms.

“I’m going to have to take down the mirror,” he said in the video. “But I’m not going to take down the mirror because of the actions of one person. I’m not going to do it. It was a misguided video.”

Lottz claims the comedian took the video about an hour before the performance, but never came to him with her concerns.

“She performed her set and stayed at the bar well after and never once said anything to me about the mirror,” Lottz said. “If she would have come to me directly, or even went to the police, this whole situation could have been avoided.”

Lottz said undoing the social damage to his bar has been difficult, but community support has been overwhelming.

“I’ve never intended to make anyone uncomfortable or to do anything outside of entertaining my guests and giving Berwyn the bar they deserve,” he said. “I love this community and their support during this has been overwhelming.”

Lottz didn’t specify when the mirror would be taken down.
 

1 Injuried in Tractor-Trailer Crash on I-91 in Rocky Hill

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Traffic was at a standstill for as much as 13 miles on Interstate 91 south Tuesday afternoon and evening after a tractor-trailer jackknifed on the Rocky Hill/Cromwell line that sent at least one person to the hospital.

Fuel has spilled from the tractor-trailer in the crash, which happened just before 2 p.m. near exit 23, causing lane closures. The tractor-trailer swerved into the right breakdown lane, sideswiping an unoccupied parked truck. The big rig kept going, slamming into a Dumorr Lift Rentals LLC vehicle in the breakdown lane with a boom, state police said.

CMAC Electric Company employee Jason J. Brown, 38, was repairing a Department of Transportation traffic camera was thrown from the bucket he was harnessed to and later transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to the crash due to a minor fuel leak, which they were able to contain and clean up.

Traffic got by in the left lane only and there were major traffic delays in the area late into the evening ours. Traffic was backed up to Hartford. Drivers either sought alternate routes or got stuck in the bumper to bumper traffic.

State police are investigating the crash.



Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Jesus Painting Stain a Miracle?

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A stain on a wall beneath a painting of Jesus has some parishioners in Rhode Island wondering if it's a miracle or just a mystery. 

The painting hangs inside the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport.

The reddish line is right below Jesus' feet on the cross.

The church's vicar is calling it a sign of a Holy Presence, but won't go as far as calling it a miracle.

"God is saying to us, pay attention, I'm here. I'm present. I'm at work," says Father Humphrey. 

The stain has been there for years and has been washed off from time to time, but it keeps reappearing, according to father Humphrey.

Newtown Officials Consider Closing a School

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Newtown officials are discussing the possibility of closing one of the town's seven schools, despite the ongoing construction of a replacement for the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Newtown has accepted a $50 million state grant for the new Sandy Hook school, which will replace the one demolished in the wake of December 2012 shooting that killed 26 people.

Superintendent Joseph Erardi is scheduled to present a study on the future of the district Tuesday night to the Board of Education.

He told parents at a recent forum that only two schools are exempt from being considered as closing targets, Newtown High School and the Sandy Hook school.

Enrollment projections from a private consultant last fall projected the town will lose about 200 students per year for the next several years.



Photo Credit: Getty Images

Navy Rescues Rescues Sailor, 70

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A 70-year-old man sailing alone across the Pacific Ocean was rescued by a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier returning home to San Diego.

USS Carl Vinson rescued the man Sunday from his 35-foot sailboat, 400 nautical miles from Hawaii.

Using a satellite phone, the man sent a text to his wife asking for help. That message was relayed through the U.S. Coast Guard, Pacific Fleet Command and the U.S. 3rd fleet.

The sailor, who had spent a month on his boat, was airlifted by the crew of a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter including two search and rescue swimmers.

Once the helicopter landed on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, the rescued mariner was treated by Navy medical staff.

He was said to be in stable condition and would be airlifted to San Diego in the coming days.

The USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group returns to San Diego Thursday after a 10-month deployment supporting strike operations in Iraq and Syria. 



Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman D'Andre L. Roden
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