SENATORS VOTE NO, COURTNEY YES
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s two Democratic U.S. senators say they’re not supporting an agreement to reopen the federal government because it “shortchanges” the state’s needs and priorities. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy issued a joint statement on Monday, explaining why they didn’t vote for the three-week extension of funding that could end the three-day federal government shutdown. The senators say Connecticut is harmed by the continuing budget resolution “in unique ways” because it “fails to adequately support our national defense, opioid treatment, disaster relief or community health centers.” They say it also leaves immigrant “Dreamers” without certainty about their futures. However, Eastern Connecticut Congressman Democrat Joe Courtney did vote for the measure in the House, saying it should resolve the roadblock that’s existed toward a budget agreement.
EB GETTING BIGGER
GROTON, Conn. (AP) – General Dynamics’ Electric Boat says its workforce continues to grow as it prepares to build a new class of ballistic-missile submarines. Jeffrey Geiger, president of the U.S. Navy contractor, said Monday Electric Boat has 16,200 employees, the highest headcount in nearly 25 years. He discussed the company’s future at a hotel in Groton. The Groton-based company plans to hire 2,200 employees in 2018 in Connecticut and at its Rhode Island manufacturing facility. It hired more than 3,000 people last year, after receiving about 81,000 applications. Electric Boat is doing the design and development work for 12 ballistic-missile submarines to replace the current fleet of 14. It’s building Virginia-class attack submarines. More than $7 billion in federal funding was spent on submarine programs last year.
TOWN HALL FORUM DISCUSSES GUN RANGE
Cuts to municipal state aid, as well as a proposed gun range in town, are discussed tonight during a town hall forum in Griswold. State senator Heather Somers, and state representative Kevin Skulczyck take questions from about 35 people. Somers says her legislative efforts to pull funding last year for the gun range failed, but she says she’s put in another proposal to kill the funding again. Representative Skulczyck sees hope down the road for opponents of the gun range, noting all the gubernatorial candidates running this year seem to be against the plan. The two lawmakers say they’re also working to have a legislative public hearing on the issue in Hartford, meaning state commissioners involved in the decision would have to testify on the record as to why the gun range should be put in Griswold. The state is eyeing a site on Lee Road, in the Pachaug State Forest.
MORE JOBS, UNEMPLOYMENT THE SAME
WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) – A new report shows Connecticut ended the year on a high note in terms of job gains, but the state’s unemployment rate remains unchanged. Monday’s monthly Department of Labor employment report indicates Connecticut gained 6,000 net jobs in December, while the state’s unemployment rate for that month remained at 4.6 percent. Preliminary data show Connecticut added a total of 7,700 jobs over 2017. Andy Condon, the agency’s director of the Office of Research, says that’s better than the 5,000 average annual job growth seen in 2016. He warns that the data could be revised. Monday’s report also notes “surprising strength” among retail jobs and a gain of 2,000 manufacturing jobs in December. Connecticut has now recovered 76.4 percent, or 91,000 of the seasonally adjusted jobs lost in the recession.
LOCAL HOME SALES UP
Home sales went up in New London County last year, according to data released by the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors. The trade group says the number of home sales went up more than 8-percent compared to the previous year, with median sales prices going up more than 5-percent. Officials says sales of condominiums were especially impressive. Sales of mobile homes and commercial property went down. Lyme had the highest median sales price of single-family homes in the county, Norwich the lowest.
THOMPSON MAN IN TROUBLE
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A Thompson man has been indicted on charges in connection with a fatal accident in Rhode Island that police say happened after he sped out of a tavern parking lot. The attorney general’s office in Rhode Island said Monday that 27-year-old Samuel Smith, , was indicted by a Providence grand jury on charges of driving to endanger resulting in death and driving to endanger resulting in serious bodily injury. Police say the crash in Glocester, Rhode Island in August killed 73-year-old Lawrence Castonguay, of Burrillville, and seriously injured his wife, Marie Castonguay. Officers said the couple’s car was struck by Smith’s vehicle after he sped out of the Cady’s Tavern parking lot. Smith’s lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday. An arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 7.
FIVE ON PAID LEAVE
ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut officials have placed five prison employees on paid leave in connection with the escape of an inmate who spent 10 days on the lam before being caught in Georgia. The Department of Correction announced Monday that four correction officers and one maintenance officer were placed on administrative leave as a result of preliminary investigation findings. Officials said additional disciplinary actions are possible. Convicted burglar Jerry Mercado escaped from the medium-security Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield on Jan. 7. Authorities believe he may have stowed away in the undercarriage of a garbage truck or state vehicle. He was sentenced in August 2016 to three years for burglary. The 25-year-old Mercado was caught on Jan. 17 at a gas station in Canton, Georgia, after U.S. marshals received a tip.