WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

PENALTIES AVOIDED

The federal government has penalized hospitals with the highest rates of infections and injuries for the past four fiscal years by docking their Medicare payments. A total of 15 hospitals out of 31 in Connecticut will be penalized in fiscal year 2018. Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and The William W Backus Hospital managed to avoid the fines in fiscal year 2018, which hospital officials say is the result of concerted efforts to improve communication among staff and reduce infections and injuries. The penalties were created by the Affordable Care Act in 2014 as an incentive to improve the quality of care.

UNEXPECTED SNOW CAUSES PROBLEMS

Thermometer_SnowflakeYou probably turned out your lights Monday night expecting to find no more than a dusting of snow or an inch or two at most. But not as much as eight inches. More than two dozen schools shut down and public safety officials had their hands full Tuesday with a mix of fender benders, rollovers and six tractor-trailer wrecks on the highways. The bigger-than-expected storm dumped about seven inches of snow in Norwich and because only a dusting to an inch was expected, a parking ban was not called for Monday night. Instead, crews worked around parked vehicles as best they could, and sought out owners in a few spots where vehicles had to be moved. Despite the unexpected snow totals, crews kept up with plowing and there were few problem spots.

NORWICH GETTING NEW BOAT

Look for the Norwich Fire Department to have a new patrol rescue and hazardous materials response boat in the Thames River by late summer. The city has asked for bids, with responses due Feb. 13, for the new vessel that will replace the 38-year-old Marine 1 Boston Whaler that has limited ability to respond to regional mutual aid calls. Norwich has been approved for a grant that will cover 75 percent of the cost of the new, fully-equipped vessel and trailer. The grant will cover around $254-thousand and the local share is estimated at nearly $85,000.

NEW ROSE FESTIVAL LAUNCHED

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(The Day)

A kickoff event was held Tuesday for the second annual revived Rose Arts Festival to be held June 30th on Chelsea Parade. About 40 supporters, committee members and sponsors attended the gala event in the community room of the new Lofts at Ponemah Mills apartment complex. It featured the unveiling of the new permanent Rose Arts Festival logo. The daylong celebration will be held June 30 during the day at Chelsea Parade and in the evening with live music and shows at numerous downtown restaurants, bars and theaters. Admission is free.

AX WIELDER ARRESTED

A man already incarcerated at Hartford Correctional Center was arrested by Norwich police Tuesday on assault charges in connection with an axe and knife attack on three victims in Taftville back in November. Rafael Alvarado-Cortes was charged with two counts each of second-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault and carrying a dangerous weapon. He was arraigned in Norwich Superior Court Tuesday) and was held on a $150,000 bond. His next court date is Feb. 20th.

ARMSTRONG INCOMPETENT

During a court hearing Tuesday, James Armstrong confessed to fatally shooting his cousin Ralph Sebastian Sidberry last April, but said he committed it in self-defense. Armstrong read a letter to the court, against the advice of his attorney, during a hearing to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on the murder charge after spending two months in psychiatric care at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital. Judge Hillary Strackbein allowed Armstrong to read the letter but ultimately ruled him incompetent to stand trial and sent him back to the state forensic hospital for another three months of treatment.

STONINGTON IN VIOLATION

A state Freedom of Information officer has found that the Town of Stonington violated state law by refusing to release a consultant’s report, per request of “The Day,” on town operations. Stonington officials responded, saying the town’s reasons for refusing to release the report was due to it being a draft and therefore exempt from disclosure. The FOI officer also found the town removed some of the consultant’s opinions on how the town operates before releasing a version to the public. The Freedom of Information Commission has scheduled a Feb. 14 meeting in Hartford, and will vote whether to adopt the FOI officer’s recommendations and order the town to release the original report to “The Day.” First Selectman Rob Simmons said Tuesday night that the town is in the process of deliberating its next step.

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