SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE

POLICE URGE CAUTION AHEAD OF SUPER BOWL SUNDAY WEEKEND

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As Super Bowl Sunday nears, state and local police are warning motorists that they’ll be participating in a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign this weekend. Norwich police will be operating a sobriety checkpoint on Routes 2 and/or 32 from 5 p.m. Sunday through 3 a.m. Monday. They’re also planning to put more cruisers on the streets to patrol. State police also plan to put extra troopers on the roads and urge those who will be drinking to arrange for a designated driver and asked all motorists to be cautious.

GROTON TO OPEN PROPOSALS FOR MYSTIC EDUCATION CENTER ON FEB 15

Mystic Education Center

The former Mystic Education Center property has been shown 40 times since it went on the market. The town of Groton will open proposals from developers on Feb. 15th according to an update on economic development in Groton.  The 77-acre site on Oral School Road is owned by the state, but the state and town jointly have been marketing the property. Groton issued a request for proposals on Dec. 15 and has had several showings per week. Town Manager John Burt said he’s excited about the property going back on the tax rolls soon.

STATE AWARDS REGIONS SCHOOLS $1M FOR SECURITY AND SAFETY

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Gov. Malloy announced Friday almost two dozen area schools that have implemented or planned security upgrades will receive a combined total of $1 million in state grants.
The awards are part of $10 million awarded statewide through the School Security Grant Program, created in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The funding is welcome news to local officials who’ve looked for ways to modernize infrastructure, equipment and communication systems to better protect students and teachers.

STATE, TOWN OFFICIALS SEEK ANSWERS ON GAS TAX, TOLLS PROPOSAL

Phony Gas Pumps

According to DOT Commissioner James Redeker, the Connecticut Special Transportation Fund is at risk of being in deficit by fiscal year 2019. That begins this July 1st. This week, Gov. Malloy made suggestions that will help off-set much of that deficit.
According to information provided by the governor’s office, tolls are expected to bring in upwards of $800 million per year in revenue. Commissioner Redeker said toll revenue isn’t authorized to be added to the general fund. Redecker said if new revenue is not added to the STF, the state will postpone more than $4 billion worth of projects across the state and may need to eliminate Town Aid Road Grants

CONNECTICUT INMATE EXTRADITED FROM GEORGIA

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SOMERS, Conn. (AP) – Authorities say an inmate who escaped from a Connecticut state prison has been extradited from Georgia.   The state Department of Correction says 25-year-old Jerry Mercado was returned Friday night from Georgia, where he’d been held since being apprehended Jan. 17. Officials say he initially fought extradition, but later waived that right. Mercado escaped from the Carl Robinson Correctional Facility in Enfield on Jan. 7. He was serving three years for burglary. He was taken Friday to the high-security Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. Authorities believe Mercado may have stowed away in the undercarriage of a garbage truck or state vehicle to escape.
Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple says Mercado’s capture and return to state custody was the “culmination of tireless work by multiple public safety departments and agencies.”

FIRE-HORSES KILLED

24 horses die in Connecticut barn fire - NBC News

SIMSBURY, Conn. (AP) – Officials in Connecticut have formally concluded that a worn electrical outlet accidentally caused a barn fire that killed 24 horses in December.
The Hartford Courant reports the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department on Friday released its investigative report on the blaze at Folly Farm. The report says the fire began in an electrical outlet in a water heater closet in the 23,000-square-foot arena barn. Officials said a garden hose hung on the closet door often came into contact with a portable heater cord plugged in in the closet, and the electrical connection in the outlet became worn and damaged. Authorities said the horses died of smoke inhalation.
Folly Farm is a 175-acre, family-owned farm about 10 miles northwest of Hartford. It offers horse riding and competition lessons, boarding and polo instruction.

SEXUAL ASSAULT-GUILTY PLEA
ROB SCHNEIDER IS…A COURTROOM GAVEL! | F.F.B.M.C.O.
(Information from: Journal Inquirer, http://www.journalinquirer.com)
VERNON, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. The Journal Inquirer reports Walter Berger, of Coventry, pleaded guilty Tuesday to fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child in Vernon Superior Court. As part of a plea agreement, Berger’s attorney will be able to argue his client should be exempt from registering as a sex offender during sentencing. State police were notified by the Department of Children and Families in 2014 about an incident involving Berger in Stafford in 2013. Police say the girl told authorities Berger touched her inappropriately under her shirt. Authorities say the girl said Berger later apologized and said he had been intoxicated. Berger will receive a five-year suspended sentence and three years’ probation when he is sentenced Mar. 22.

MODERNIST HOME SALE

DARIEN, Conn. (AP) – A home on Long Island Sound that was designed by architect Richard Meier and became a modernist landmark has gone up for sale in Connecticut.
The Smith House in Darien has been owned by same family since it was built in 1967. It was listed for sale last week with an asking price of $14.5 million. The 3,930-square-foot home features glass walls facing the water and a minimalist aesthetic. Real estate agent Jack Trifero says those coming to view the house have included architects with their old school textbooks. Chuck Smith grew up in the house and said it was like living in a sculpture. He said the family is hoping to find a buyer who appreciates its significance.

CONNECTICUT FLU
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Twenty flu-related deaths reported in a single week have brought Connecticut’s total for the current flu season to 52. The state Department of Public Health released a weekly update on flu statistics Thursday reporting that the disease continues to be widespread in the state. More than 1,000 people have been hospitalized with confirmed cases of the flu since August 27. Of the 52 people killed, 44 were over the age of 65. The department’s commissioner, Dr. Raul Pino, says the peak of flu season is still several weeks away and there is still time to get a flu shot. He says it takes two weeks for the shot to become effective, so he advises getting one as soon as possible.

DUELING EDITORIALS
Connecticut paper claps back at Rhode Island paper’s dis
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The biggest newspapers in Connecticut and Rhode Island are feuding over which state is worse. The Hartford Courant in Connecticut wrote a scathing editorial after The Providence Journal in Rhode Island published an editorial calling its New England neighbor struggling, and blasting its business climate as enormously difficult. The Journal’s Jan. 24 piece ends by calling on Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo to try and attract jobs from Connecticut to Rhode Island, calling it “certainly less risky” than Connecticut. In a Friday editorial headlined “Why, Rhode Island, Why?” the Courant responded by detailing a long list of its neighbor’s woes. Those included pension problems, economic issues and “a legacy of corruption that not even Connecticut can match.” It closes by encouraging the states to work together.

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