<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usMon, 24 Apr 2017 21:15:37 -0400Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:15:37 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[1 Dead, 1 Injured After Aircraft Crashes Near Meriden Airport ]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:14:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MERIDEN-AIRPORT-CRASH.jpg

One person is dead after an aircraft crashed near the Meriden Markham Municipal Airport. 

A second victim was transported to the Yale-New Haven Hospital for serious injuries. 

Wallingford Police said they are responding to the scene on Evansville Avenue, east of the airport. The airport is located near the Meriden-Wallingford town line. 

Evansville Avenue on the north side at Baker Avenue is closed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said they are aware of the accident but do not have any information at this time. 

No other information was immediately available. 

Please follow NBC Connecticut as this story develops. 



Photo Credit: Frank Ricci/@NHFDRicci
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<![CDATA[SEE IT SHARE IT: Plane Crashes in Meriden ]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:39:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MERIDEN-AIRPORT-CRASH1.jpg

Photo Credit: Frank Ricci/@NHFDRicci]]>
<![CDATA[85-Year-Old Reported Missing From New Hartford Located]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:36:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Armand-Gorneault.JPG

A Silver Alert for an 85-year-old man missing from New Hartford has been canceled.

Connecticut State Police canceled the Silver Alert for Armand Gorneault, who had been missing since Sunday, Monday morning, stating he had been located.

No other details were provided.



Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Superintendent of Connecticut Technical High School Resigns]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:02:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Nivea-Torres.jpg

The superintendent of the Connecticut Technical High School system has resigned, the Connecticut State Department of Education announced Monday. 

Dr. Nivea Torres resignation was accepted by Commissioner Dianna Wentzell and Chairman Robert Trefry.

"Dr. Torres’ effective advocacy for the System and her understanding of its importance to the community enabled the System to be more responsive to regional workforce needs and increased industry partnerships. During Dr. Torres’ tenure, programs in manufacturing, digital media, health technology and media expanded and graduation rates improved," the state's education department said. 

Torres will step down from her position effective May 1, 2017.



Photo Credit: Connecticut Technical High School]]>
<![CDATA[College Graduate Has a Message for Stepdad Who Said He'd Fail]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 20:05:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Daivon+Reeder1.png

One college graduate's tweet that recalls the chiling words his stepdad told him years ago has resulted in a viral wave of praise across social media. 

Daivon Reeder, 22, took to Twitter last week to tweet a photo of himself smiling in his cap and gown with an ode to his stepdad's previously negative comments. 

The tweet read: "My step dad told me it was pointless to go to orientation, I wasn't going to graduate.....4 years later he in jail & I'm well.... "

By Monday, the Detroit native's tweet garnered more than 602,000 likes and 148,000 retweets. 

"The last few days I've been thinking about all the trials and tribulations I've been going through," Reeder said before he graduated from Eastern Michigan University on Saturday. 

Reeder said his stepdad told him there was "no point" of going to college because he would not graduate. 

“Stuff happens to you. You can run left or right,” Reeder said. “I ran right in a positive way.”

Reeder told Jermont Terry, a reporter at NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, that he did not publish the tweet to bash his stepdad but rather to motivate others who may be faced with challenges. Reeder perservered through school even after losing his academic scholarship. 

Terry reports that Reeder will graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a minor in military science. 



Photo Credit: WDIV-TV
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<![CDATA[First Alert: Minor Flooding Possible Tuesday Night]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:34:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/FutureRadarTues1.png

NBC Connecticut Meteorologists have issued a 'First Alert' for minor flooding possible tomorrow night. 

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Light rain will overspread the state late tonight and tomorrow morning. Occasional periods of rain will continue though the afternoon hours.

Heavier rain moves in Tuesday evening and into the early morning hours on Wednesday. This is when we believe minor flooding could occur. Here's a look at future radar which shows heavy rain falling throughout the state late Tuesday night. 

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Scattered rain showers will linger into the first part of Wednesday. Partial clearing will take place by the afternoon with a few peeks of sunshine.

Here's a look at one of our computer models which shows rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches by Wednesday afternoon.

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Warmer air moves into the state for the end of the workweek and weekend. High temperatures are forecasted to reach the low 70s Thursday, upper 70s Friday, and low 80s by Saturday.

Make sure to download the NBC Connecticut App for the latest forecast and intercative radar.


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<![CDATA[Man Pulled Gun on FBI Agent in New London: Police]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:51:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jason+gross.jpg

An employee of an armored car service is accused of pointing a gun at an FBI agent while stopped at a traffic light in New London last Friday morning.

Police said an FBI agent called 911 at 7:50 a.m. Friday. He said someone was pointing a gun at his agency car in the area of Eugene O'Neill Drive and Gov. Winthrop Boulevard and alerted authorities that he was following the car but needed help from police.

Officers responded and said the FBI agent, who was plain clothes, and the suspect, who was wearing a security uniform, were stopped in the area of Reed Street and Wausau Place.

Police identified the suspect as 29-year-old Jason Gross, of Colchester, and said he was charged with reckless endangerment, threatening and breach of peace.

Officers at the scene seized a Smith and Wesson 40-caliber semi-auto pistol and ammunition.



Photo Credit: New London Police]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead After Pickup Hits Pole in New Fairfield]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:58:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/connecticut+state+police+barracks1.jpg

One person is dead and another has serious injuries after a pickup hit a utility pole on Route 39 in New Fairfield and burst into flames, according to state police.

The driver was going south on Route 39 around 12:50 a.m. Sunday and hit the pole in front of 85 Route 83, according to state police.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene and police said they do not know the name of the person.

The passenger, 45-year-old Victor Declet Jr., of Rochester, New York, suffered serious injuries.

Police are investigating.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[This Cat's Showdown With Rattler is Your Monday Motivation]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:26:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/laguna-vista-police-snake.jpg

Police in South Texas say a recent close call should serve as a warning for residents to keep a watchful eye out for snakes.

The Laguna Vista Police Department, near South Padre Island, posted photos on Facebook showing a large rattlesnake catching some sun on a busy walking trail. Officers were able to relocate the rattler to a safe spot away from walkers and one particularly brave cat.

"Generally, rattlesnakes emerge from hibernation in March or April, or when the average daytime temperatures reach and remain about 60F and higher," the post read.

They're most active when temperatures reach into the 90s.



Photo Credit: Laguna Vista PD
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<![CDATA[1992 LA Riots: Death, Destruction, Defiance]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:23:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_92050101716-2.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Distracted By GPS Found With More Than a Kilo of Heroin: Police]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:08:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Jeffrey+VanMourik+heroin+bust.jpg

State police pulled over a distracted driver on Interstate 84 West in Manchester Sunday night and found more than a kilo of heroin, according to authorities. 

Police said a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee was going in and out of the lane near exit 59 and the 37-year-old driver, Jeffrey VanMourik, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was distracted by the GPS on his cell phone. 

While speaking with VanMourik, state police noticed what they called “several indicators of criminal activity” and suspected there were drugs in the car. 

During a search of the car, troopers found a half kilos of suspected heroin, according to state police. They said they also found a bag of heroin on VanMourik. 

He was charged with failure to drive in a proper lane, operating without a license, possession of heroin and possession of a narcotic with intent to sell. 

VanMourik was held on $100,000 bond and he is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on April 24.



Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police]]>
<![CDATA[April Is Back! World-Famous NY Giraffe Cam Returns This Week]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:36:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_17105737948344.jpg

Devoted fans of April the giraffe lost their link to her on Friday when her round-the-clock live stream went dark -- but it turns out she's coming back this week for a limited engagement.

Animal Adventure Park's "Giraffe Cam" was turned off at 4:30 p.m. ET Friday, almost two months after the pregnant giraffe was catapulted onto the world stage.

But this weekend, the Harpursville, New York, zoo she calls home said her withdrawal from public life was only temporary.

"The Giraffe Cam is not gone forever! This week we will announce viewing day/times for you to check in and watch progress!" the zoo said in a Facebook post Sunday morning.

Since late February, April's daily eating, sleeping, strolling, camera-licking and tail-flicking was broadcast to a loyal and adoring audience waiting in anticipation to see her deliver her fourth calf. 

After a patient wait, the male calf was born earlier this month, to the delight of a global live audience that has sometimes numbered in the tens of millions.

Animal Adventure Park is offering the public a chance to give him a name at nameaprilscalf.com, where anyone who wants to vote on a name can do so for $1 per vote. There is a five-vote minimum, and people can vote as many times as they want. 

The zoo said Sunday that the first round of results from the naming contest would be revealed early this week, with a winner tentatively scheduled for May 1.

Funds raised will be split between the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Ava's Little Heroes and Animal Adventure Park. 

April's little calf stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds, Animal Adventure Park reports. 

"All is well and baby continues to grow, he is now looking us in the eyes!" they said Sunday.

April, 15, teased her millions of global adorers for weeks before he was born, showing signs of near-but-not-quite labor and enchanting her audience with cute right-at-the-camera gazes and tongue flicks, snack noshing and nuzzling with her much younger 5-year-old beau Oliver. 

April's pregnancy was originally vaulted into global headlines in late February after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's live stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of social media users voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch said the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process was a huge factor in drawing crowds. 

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you'll get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy was more than just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.



Photo Credit: Animal Adventure Park via AP
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<![CDATA[One Dead After Head-On Crash on Route 44 in Canton]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:10:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Canton-crash.jpg

Canton police have identified the person that was killed in head-on crash on Route 44 Saturday.

Canton police confirmed that the crash happened on Route 44 at Breezy Hill Road, just before the New Hartford line around 1:45 p.m. One driver, identified as 60-year-old Donna Young of Norfolk, was pronounced dead on scene.

The second driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of serious, but non-life threatening, injuries. There were no passengers in either vehicle.

An accident reconstruction team was called in to investigate.

The Canton Police Department, Canton Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance, New Harford Volunteer Ambulance, Connecticut State Police, LifeStar and the North Central Municipal Accident Reconstruction Team all responded to the scene.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or the moments leading up to it is asked to contact Canton police at 860-693-0221.

 

 



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[7 in 10 Back Independent Probe of Russia, Election: Poll]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:05:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/189*120/quien-es-putin17.jpg

Committees in both the House and Senate are looking into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, but nearly three-quarters of Americans would prefer an independent, non-partisan commission, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

A majority of Americans, 54 percent, do believe that that Congress should investigate whether there was contact between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.

But 61 percent say they have little to no confidence in Congress conducting a fair or impartial investigation.

The poll of 900 adults has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Aaron Hernandez Suicide Letters Released to Family]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:44:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/aaronhernandezfeuerherdIB.jpg

Three suicide notes that former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez allegedly left in his cell before killing himself last week were handed over to his family Monday, the Worcester County District Attorney's office confirmed.

A lawyer for Hernandez's fiancée filed a motion earlier Monday in Bristol County Superior Court seeking the release of the letters, which the district attorney had previously refused to release to the family.

"The family has the right, during this grieving process, to know their loved one's final thoughts," George Leontire, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez's lawyer said.

Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said the letters were emailed to Leontire on Monday after Judge Thomas McGuire ordered their release. Jarvey confirmed one of the letters was addressed to Jenkins-Hernandez and another to the couple's daughter.

The third letter was left for Kyle Kennedy, Hernandez's friend and fellow inmate, Kennedy's lawyer said Monday.

Attorney Lawrence F. Army Jr. said his client has not yet seen the letter, but will request that it be turned over to Kennedy as soon as possible. 

“My client is obviously saddened by the loss of his friend, Aaron Hernandez,” Army said. He said the two were not cellmates.

Army said he met with Kennedy briefly on Monday, and his client is “no longer on suicide watch,” though he was moved to a protective unit after Hernandez’s death “as a standard precaution.” He said he will be meeting more with his client in the coming days, and will provide updates as the case develops. “For now, we will have no further comment.”

Kennedy’s family also issued a statement Monday, saying their thoughts are with Hernandez’s family and their son, and asking for privacy.

Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for murder and was acquitted in two other killings just days before he hanged himself with a bed sheet attached to his cell window at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, in the early morning hours of April 19.

Investigators said Hernandez blocked access to his cell from the inside by jamming cardboard into the door tracks. They said there were no signs of a struggle and Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.

Authorities said investigators found three handwritten notes next to a Bible in Hernandez's cell.

Additonally, law enforcement sources tell NBC Boston that Hernandez was found with the words "John 3:16" written on his forehead. The Bible passage reads "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Jenkins-Hernandez's lawyer are seeking to preserve records related to Hernandez's death, including Hernandez's prison cell video recordings and all of his property, medical and mental health records.

Jenkins-Hernandez has also filed court papers indicating that she may sue over the supervision Hernandez received while in prison. The filing argues that authorities had a legal duty to provide safety and protection from personal injury to inmates in state custody.

Hernandez was locked in his cell around 8 p.m. on March 18 and no one entered until a correction officer observed him around 3 a.m. the following day and forced his way in, according to investigators.

SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Text HOME to 741741 for a Crisis Text Line.



Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[MDC Rates Rise as Lawmakers Seek Oversight]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:08:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Water-Generic1.jpg

Some water customers in the Metropolitan District Commission’s member towns recently opened up their monthly bills to find charges went up, on average, by seven and a half percent.

The price hike comes at the same time as lawmakers try to add oversight to what is a largely unregulated utility.

West Hartford resident Judy Allen supports HB 6008, the bill to add oversight, as she has noticed her utility bills going up while her income stays the same.

“As somebody on a fixed income, it is very stressful not being able to predict what’s going to happen to your bill year to year, (and) what kind of increase are going to happen,” said Allen.

In 2016, households paid $2.66 per CCF, a unit of measurement representing 748 gallons.

This year, that went up to $2.77.

However, that just makes up roughly one third of the overall bill. The majority of the cost comes from the MDC’s Clean Water Project charge, which increased by 7.7 percent.

The rest is a fixed service charge. That went up from $13.48 to $14.98.

If the trend continues, upset customers may soon have an advocate.

“We’re going to make sure that people have ample opportunity to have their voices heard,” said State Representative Derek Slap, of West Hartford.

He introduced HB 6008, which would create an independent consumer advocate who would report to member towns four times a year, hold public hearings every October, and cannot be fired nor punished by the MDC.

“We want consumers to know that this position and this person is going to have consumers’ backs before anything else, first and foremost,” said Rep. Slap.

The other issue: The City of Hartford has warned it may not be capable of paying some future bills.

“If you are a legislator from one of these member towns, you are hearing, mostly likely, from your constituents, ‘You better make sure if Hartford or another town can’t pay its bill, that we don’t get stuck holding the bag,’” said Rep. Slap. “And this is going to prevent that from happening.”

The bill passed through the House unanimously on April 19. If it goes through the Senate, it will take effect late 2017 under the Office of Consumer Counsel.

“I expect to have a close communication with the advocate because I have a lot of concerns about the way our water company works, and the way consumers are represented,” said Allen.

The MDC says it does support the bill, despite initial push back citing legal and ethical issues.

The MDC will also pay for the consumer advocate, $70,000 the first year, and $50,000 every year after that.

]]>
<![CDATA[17-Year-Old Charged Stealing Cars in Trumbull]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:03:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/handcuffs-GettyImages-141810855.jpg

A 17-year-old is accused of trying to steal cars in Trumbull Sunday morning.

Police said that around 5 a.m. they received a call that two males were trying to get into parked cars on Jerusalem Hill. Officers arrived and found one suspect hiding in a driveway. A second suspect was seen running off but escaped.

According to police, both suspects arrived in the area in a car that had been reported stolen from Stratford. Officers found several other keys and linked at least one more of them to a second stolen vehicle.

The 17-year-old, who was not identified due to his age, was arrested and charged with criminal trespass, larceny, and conspiracy to commit larceny. Trumbull police are still trying to identify the second suspect.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Juvenile Charged in Ledyard High School Instagram Threat Case]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:59:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Ledyard+High+School+1200.jpg

Ledyard police have arrested a juvenile in the Ledyard High School Instagram threat case.

Police said a juvenile has been charged with second-degree breach of peach and second-degree threatening.

School officials were alerted last week about social media posts with the suggestion that “something” might happen at Ledyard High School.

Police said they have found no credible evidence of a threat but officers were at Ledyard High School on Thursday and Friday as a precaution.

"We do not believe there is credible threat and our first priority is the safety of our staff and students. This is an incredibly close knit community and we take issues like this very seriously," Supt. Jason Hartling said in a statement.

A statement from Principal Amanda Fagan says the school was initially made aware of a rumor Thursday and they met with the student named and found no posts that constituted a specific threat to Ledyard High School students.

As school officials met with students, they learned no one had seen a specifically threatening post or the heard the student who was named make any threats, according to the principal.

Later in the day, school officials learned about an Instagram account perpetuating the idea of a shooting.

“Unfortunately, later in the day, we learned of an Instagram account that was created today, perpetuating the idea of a shooting. Again, we have shared all of our information with the Ledyard Police, and they are working with Instagram to find the point of origin of the account,” Fagan wrote.

Investigators followed up with Facebook and Google.

No additional information was released.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Lawyer in United Incident Takes on American Airlines Case]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:34:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/668160466-Thomas-Demetrio-Press-Conference.jpg

The woman at the heart of a confrontation on an American Airlines Friday will be represented by the same lawyer working on behalf of the passenger dragged off a United Airlines flight earlier this month, NBC News reported.

Attorney Thomas Demetrio is representing the woman seen crying after a male flight attendant allegedly took her stroller by force and nearly hit her baby, he said in an exclusive interview with the "Today" show Monday.

Demetrio called the American Airlines incident a "microcosm of the entire problem," with "a flight attendant out of control." The attendant has since been grounded.

Video of the incident shows a woman sobbing while holding her baby, pleading for her stroller back aboard the flight from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth. Witnesses told NBC News that the attendant also aggressively took the stroller away, nearly hitting her baby.



Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Alert Canceled for 1-Year-Old Baby from Hamden]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:21:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kaleb+Christensen+and+Corie+Riaz+Silver+Alert.jpg

Police have canceled the Silver Alert for a 1-year-old baby boy from Hamden who was reported missing.

The alert for Kaleb Christensen was canceled at 11:17 a.m., but no additional information was immediately available. 

Police said they received a missing person complaint Monday.

A program manager reported not seeing 40-year-old Corie Riaz, of Hamden, for more than a month and was concerned about Riaz, as well as her infant son.

Police then notified the state Department of Children and Families. 

The special victims unit is investigating. 

Police said they have no pertinent information to believe the mother or son were in danger.

Anyone with information is asked to call Hamden Police at (203) 230-4000.



Photo Credit: Hamden Police]]>
<![CDATA[Harry Potter Concert Coming to Hartford]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:19:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Harry+Potter+Concert+Series+hARTFORD.png

Music from one of the most popular film series in history will be coming to Hartford in November.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra announced Monday that they will perform the score from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series was created by CineConcerts and Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Performances kicked off last June and are scheduled for more than 35 countries around the world through 2018.

“Audiences will be able to relive the magic of the film in high-definition on a 40-foot screen while hearing the orchestra perform John Williams’ unforgettable score,” said Amanda Savio from Hartford Symphony in a press release.

The concert will feature the symphony orchestra performing, to picture, every note from the film.

One of the most sought-after conductors of film music, CineConcert President Justin Freer, will conduct the show in Hartford.

“The Harry Potter film series is a once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomenon that continues to delight millions of fans around the world,” Freer said. “It is with great pleasure that we introduce for the first time ever an opportunity to experience the award-winning music scores played live by a symphony orchestra, all while the beloved film is simultaneously projected onto the big screen. It will be an unforgettable event.”

Tickets will be available starting Monday, May 15 at 10 a.m. at hartfordsymphony.org, in person at the Bushnell Box Office, and by calling 860-897-5900.

For more information about the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, visit harrypotterinconcert.com



Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.]]>
<![CDATA[California Gears Up to Fight Trump on Car Emissions]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:18:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/134002821-405-traffic-generic.jpg

Even as President Trump pulls back on regulations governing car emissions, part of a broader policy of overturning environmental protections enacted by the Obama administration, California is determinedly headed in the opposite direction with stricter rules it alone is authorized to enact.

During a visit to Detroit last month, Trump halted the imposition of standards that would cut car emissions almost in half by 2025, including greenhouse gases that are responsible for global warming. The administration instead will reopen a review of the standards at the request of the major automakers, giving them the chance to argue that the rules should be eased.

"This is going to be a new era for American jobs and job creation," Trump said in Detroit.

But California is moving forward with the more stringent tailpipe rules, setting up an expected showdown with the Trump administration. A week after Trump's announcement, the California Air Resources Board not only voted to reaffirm the standards and but also began to consider new ones to take effect after 2025. Likely to join the fight will be the dozen other states that follow California's standards rather than the national ones. States can choose either.

"The Trump administration really is very aggressively proclaiming that we should not be addressing climate change at the federal level," said Sean B. Hecht, the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the UCLA School of Law. "And the auto companies have taken this as an opportunity…to say, 'Hold on, let's try to back out of this deal where we have these federal fuel economy standards through 2025.'"

Trump has had a mixed record in his first 100 days in office. He began dismantling former President Barack Obama's major climate change policy, the Clean Power Plan, with an executive order lifting carbon restrictions, but has made little headway on many of his other campaign promises. His travel ban is tied up in the courts and an overhaul of Obamacare was withdrawn from the House because it had little support. Now California and other, mostly blue states are vowing to fight any easing of regulations governing car emissions.

California needs to control emissions to meet its ambitious plans for battling climate change, with zero-emission vehicles such as electric cars from Tesla and Chevrolet part of the mix. Last year, legislators passed a bill requiring that by 2030, the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below its 1990 levels. To send a message about their willingness to take on Trump, Democratic leaders of the California legislature hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to represent them in legal fights with the White House.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state's other top Democrats called Trump's move to roll back the emissions standards a cynical ploy.

"President Trump's decision today to weaken emission standards in cars is an unconscionable gift to polluters," Brown wrote to the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on March 15. "Once again you've put the interests of big oil ahead of clean air and politics ahead of science."

Electricity production accounted for most of the greenhouse gases produced in 2014 at 30 percent, but transportation was right behind at 26 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's website. In California, that percentage was even higher: Transportation generated 37 percent of its emissions in 2014.

"For sure California is gearing up," said Deborah Sivas, an environmental litigator at Stanford Law School. "Part of it depends on the next moves by the administration."

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment about its plans for the emissions standards. In a statement last month, Pruitt said that along with the Department of Transportation, the EPA would consider whether the emissions standards were good not only for the environment but also for consumers.

"These standards are costly for automakers and the American people," he said. "We will work with our partners at DOT to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic."

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao echoed his statement, calling Trump's position a "win" for the American people.

Attempts to undercut the standards will prompt drawn-out litigation from states such as California or New York, Sivas predicted. To reverse an earlier decision, the EPA will have to go through the same series of elaborate steps that were taken to put the rules into place.

"They can't just say, 'Oh yeah, well forget that,'" Sivas said.

California earned its unique authority to set regulations tougher than national ones through its pioneering efforts to curb air pollution. When Congress amended the Clean Air Act in 1970, it gave the EPA authority to restrict air pollution from tailpipes as a way to tackle smog. But because California had established its own laws a decade earlier, and because it successfully argued that its air pollution was naturally worse than other states', it was given special status in the law. California may ask the EPA administrator for a waiver to restrict pollution more stringently than the federal government if, in the law's language, the state's standards are at least as protective of public health and welfare and needed to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.

The EPA has denied California's request for a waiver just once, during the administration of President George W. Bush, when California first moved to regulate greenhouse gases in addition to more traditional pollutants. California sued but the case was never decided because Obama was elected.

If the Trump administration were to deny future waivers, California would certainly push back. 

Hecht said that in the past, California has argued that it has compelling and extraordinary circumstances because it has a very large economy and sells many cars, and so its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases will make a difference. It also has said that climate change will have specific, negative effects on the state: the loss of the snow pack which will threaten its water supply, for example.

"They were accepted by the Obama administration, and the question will be, Will California win that court fight?'" he said.

Nor is there anything in the law giving the EPA administrator the authority to withdraw a waiver already granted.

"It doesn't speak to the issue one way or the other," said Richard Frank, an environmental law professor at the University of California-Davis.

The Trump administration would likely argue that it has the discretion to revoke any waivers granted by a previous administration, while California would say that absent specific language in the law, the EPA lacks the authority, he said.

"Given all that it will be tough for EPA to say we're going to rescind your waiver," Sivas said. "So I think California has the upper hand in that fight if it comes down to that."

At Pruitt's confirmation hearing, he refused to commit to keeping the waiver in place. Pressed by California's Sen. Kamala D. Harris, a Democrat, he said, "I don't know without going through the process to determine that. One would not want to presume the outcome."

If the Trump administration were to try to withdraw the waiver, Sivas thought California would win in court.

"It's pretty clear under the statue that the deference goes to California not to the EPA on whether the waiver is appropriate," she said. "The Congress wrote the statute that way."

The EPA has already concluded both that elevated levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger" public health and that emissions from new cars contribute to the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases.

The so-called "endangerment finding" came about after Massachusetts sued the EPA under the George W. Bush administration to force it to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's "capacious definition of 'air pollutant,'" meaning the EPA had the statutory authority to regulate their emissions from new cars and other vehicles.

When it was challenged, the finding was upheld in a federal court, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

"It is there, and it needs to be enforced and respected," Pruitt said during his confirmation hearing. "There is nothing that I know that would cause it to be reviewed."

Massachusetts — which along with Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington follow California's lead — is committed to the stricter standards, said Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

As with California, Massachusetts is relying on lower car emissions to achieve its climate change goals. The administration of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker wants to place 300,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road in Massachusetts by 2025 as part of a multi-state effort.

"Any weakening of those standards would raise concerns about Massachusetts' ability to meet emissions reduction goals and maintain ozone standards," Coletta said.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation also said it would stick with the California standards to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

"While federal leadership is essential, New York will not stand idly by while clean air protections are eviscerated, and will take any and all actions necessary to ensure public health and our environment are protected," it said.

Meanwhile, the attorneys general of eight of the states plus the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection criticized Trump's position as a dramatic wrong turn for the country that would undermine successful efforts to combat pollution.

"An extensive technical study by the Environmental Protection Agency already found that the standards are fully and economically achievable by the auto industry," their March 16 statement said. "Relaxing them would increase the air pollution that is responsible for premature death, asthma, and more – particularly in our most vulnerable communities."

The standards that Trump wants to ease were set in 2012 in an ambitious effort that also created consistency across the country. The agreement, which grew out of an accord that Obama crafted in 2009 after the financial melt-down, brought together the Obama administration, the car manufacturers and the California Air Resources Board. The rules require each company's fleet of vehicles for the model years 2022 through 2025 to achieve on average 54.5 miles per gallon and they enable the manufactures to avoid making two versions of vehicles for different states.

As part of the agreement, the EPA undertook an evaluation mid-way through the period, but expedited its analysis just before Obama's term ended. In November, with Trump about to take office, it announced it would leave the regulations in place.

That decision left many of the car companies crying foul, saying the review had been rushed, and urging Trump to intervene and weaken the standards. Manufactures warned of price hikes over what consumers could pay, and the loss of 1 million automotive jobs, and pointed to the popularity of pickup trucks and other less fuel-efficient vehicles.

"The Trump Administration has created an opportunity for decision-makers to reach a thoughtful and coordinated outcome predicated on the best and most current data," the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement after Trump’s announcement.

Now that the review has been reopened, a final decision from the EPA could come as late as April 2018.

Meanwhile in court, the alliance is arguing that the EPA's speeded up review was arbitrary and capricious. California responded by asking the U.S. District Court for the D.C. Circuit that it be allowed to defend the feasibility of the standards in court.

An earlier analysis by the EPA found that the standards would reduce oil consumption by nearly 40 billion gallons of refined gasoline and diesel fuel, decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons and save consumers more than $1,650 per vehicle, the California politicians said.

"Your action to weaken vehicle pollution standards — standards your own members agreed to —breaks your promise to the American people," Brown wrote to the automobile manufacturers. "Please be advised that California will take the necessary steps to preserve the current standards and protect the health of our people and the stability of our climate."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[First Responders Rescue Resident, Dogs From Westport Fire]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:48:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CROSS-HIGHWAY-FIRE-WESTPORT.jpg

Emergency crews rescued a person and two dogs from a house fire in Westport Monday morning.

Firefighters responded around 6 a.m. when a person trapped in a home at 189 Cross Highway called for help. Police officers rescued the trapped occupant through a first-floor window as firefighters arrived, fire officials said.

The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Firefighters rescued two dogs from the home.

The Westport Fire Department reminds residents that it is important to have working smoke detectors in the home. Alarms should be in every bedroom and outside sleeping areas, and on every level of the home, including basements. Anyone in need of assistance installing smoke alarms or changing batteries can call 203-341-5010 to arrange for someone to do it for free.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.



Photo Credit: Westport Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Officials ID 2 Men Killed in East Windsor Plane Crash]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:59:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/East-Windsor-Plane-Crash.jpg

East Windsor police have identified the two men who were killed shortly after taking off from Skylark Airpark on Tuesdaym April 18 and crashing nearby. 

Police have identified the two men at 61-year-old Robert Plourde, of Ellington, and 51-year-old George Janssen II, of Vernon.

They were in a 1946 single-engine Luscombe 8A when crashed on Rolocut Road, by Wells Road about half an hour after taking off.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene, according to officials.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash.

"The indication now is the airplane struck trees about 100 feet up and then came to rest straight down," NTSB senior air safety investigator, Ralph Hicks, said. 

"Bob was a loving husband and a tremendous father who had an affinity for flying," a statement from Plourde's family said. "Our family is incredibly appreciative of the overwhelming support and outpouring of love from the community during this difficult time."



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[New Haven Celebrates 379th Birthday]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:28:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+haven+green+generic.png

The City of New Haven is celebrating its 379th birthday today, April 24.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. in the city hall, Mayor Harp will commemorate New Haven’s “379 years of tradition, innovation, and idealism with pageantry and artistic expression on full display,” said New Haven’s Director of Communications, Laurence Grotheer.

Along with an “I Love New Haven” performance by musician Justin Johnson, there will be several events throughout the afternoon to honor the city.

Mayor Harp will recognize recent achievements in New Haven, regarding everything from sports to the arts. These include the following:

  • New Haven’s first semi-professional soccer team, The Elm City Express, who will begin to play this summer.
  • A formal signing of the Sister Cities Alliance with the Changsha, provincial Capital of Hunan in China.
  • Ethnic Heritage Center’s launch of three self-guided walking tour books of different New Haven neighborhoods, including Lower Dixwell, Wooster Square and Downtown.
  • The dedication of three murals to the city, depicting historical moments and memories, by the family of Albert George.
  • An art installation launch, Espejismo, which “invites its audience to reflect on the perspectives of others and share personal thoughts about seeing and being seen,” Grotheer said.
  • The naming of five City Spirit Honorees, being awarded for their passion and contributions to New Haven.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Southington Police Seek Suspect in Attempted Armed Robbery]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:25:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/SOUTHINGTON-ROBBERY-SUSPECT.jpg

Southington police are looking for a suspect in an attempted armed robbery at a local gas station early Sunday morning.

Police said that around 1 a.m. Sunday officers responded to the Exxon Gas Station at 682 Queen Street. The clerk reported that a man came in and ordered gas and cigarettes. When the clerk handed the man the cigarettes, the suspect demanded cash form the register. The clerk refused, and the suspect showed a gun.

The clerk reported at that point a car pulled up to a gas pump and the suspect fled.

The suspect left in a white Nissan Altima. The clerk told police that when the suspect left the store a woman was trying to gas up the car. The woman got in the passenger seat and the pair drove off south on Queen Street.

The male suspect was described as between 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, between 170 to 180 pounds, in his mid to late 20s, with a full beard. He was wearing plain dark blue hooded sweatshirt at the time of the incident.

The female suspect was described as between 5-foot-3 and 5-foot-5, between 100 and 110 pounds with a petite build, in her early 20s. She was wearing a dark blue sweatshirt with light blue jeans, a dark blue or black hat and had short, dark hair.

Police said they found the Nissan abandoned in Hartford. The suspects have not been located.

Anyone with information on this crime, or who recognizes the suspect pictured above, should contact Det. J. Lopa at 860-378-1644 or jlopa@southingtonpolice.org.



Photo Credit: Amit Patel]]>
<![CDATA[Police Investigating Thefts from Cars in Durham]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:05:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Thefts+on+Pleasant+Terrace+Durham.jpg

State police are investigating thefts from seven unlocked vehicles that were parked on Pleasant Terrace in Durham last week. 

The Durham Resident State Trooper's Office started investigating around 7 a.m. on April 20 after residents reported several motor vehicles parked on Pleasant Terrace were rummaged through overnight. 

Victims said loose change, gift cards and a Liberty Bank debit card stolen and one victim determined that the debit card was used around 2:30 a.m. on April 21 at the Sunshine Food Mart at 500 Broad St. in Meriden. 

Police said surveillance video from the store showed a male get out of a dark Volvo sedan, enter the Sunshine Food Mart and buy items using the stolen Liberty Bank debit card. 

Anyone who has any information about the theft or the person in the surveillance images should call Trooper First Class Morello at 860-399-2100.



Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police]]>
<![CDATA[L.L. Bean Coming to Shops at Yale]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:54:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/LL+Bean+at+Shops+at+Yale.JPG

L.L. Bean will be coming to The Shops at Yale and the two-level store is expected to open this summer. 

Yale says a lease was signed to open at the development at 272 Elm St., a development project under construction, which will be home to new graduate student apartments as well as two retail suites.

This will be the fourth L.L. Bean in Connecticut and it's expected to create 60 jobs.

There are currently retail stores at Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury and at the Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor and there is an outlet at the Orange Meadows Shopping Center in Orange.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bridgeport Company Raided in Largest Illegal Tobacco Distribution Bust]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:07:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bridgeport+tobacco+bustjpg.jpg

Ten people have been arrested after agents from the state Department of Revenue Services raided a Bridgeport tobacco wholesaler accused of selling millions of dollars worth of untaxed tobacco to hundreds of Connecticut companies.

Agents from the state Department of Revenue Services raided KDV Discounts, LLC, in Bridgeport, and seized $50,000 in cash, $234,000 in contraband tobacco and a delivery van, according to a news release from state officials.

Pavan Vaswani, of West Haven, owns KDV Discounts and has been charged with possession/sale of untaxed tobacco and conspiracy to possess or sell untaxed tobacco, according to the state Department of Revenue Services.

State officials said Vaswani’s alleged ring bought tobacco in Pennsylvania and Illinois and sold more than $13 million in untaxed tobacco to around 450 retail locations in Connecticut, which resulted in the loss of $6 million in outstanding excise and sales tax/

“We are very serious about tax fraud,” Commissioner Kevin Sullivan said in a statement. “I am pleased that our special agents shut down a very lucrative operation that was a significant distributor of untaxed tobacco products throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties over several years.”

Several KVD Discounts employees and store owners have been charged with possession/sale of untaxed tobacco and conspiracy to possess/sell untaxed tobacco, including Carlos Beras, of Waterbury; Sayed Ahmen, of West Haven; Sheik Hossain, of West Haven; Joshua Ortiz, of Shelton; Quendri Ortiz, of Bridgeport; Mohamed Farook, of Naugatuck; Arti Patel, of Wallingford; Prashant Patel, of Naugatuck; and Abdulkadar Shaikh, of Stamford.



Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Revenue Services]]>