FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE

MAY GET TOUGH TO BREATHE FOR SOME

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is warning sensitive groups of a prolonged period of unhealthy air.   The department says there will be elevated levels of ozone across the state beginning Saturday and continuing through at least Monday. Computer models predict the trend could last into the middle of next week. Connecticut is poised to experience its first big heat wave of the summer season.  Officials say children and people with asthma will be at the most risk for experiencing symptoms on Saturday. Meanwhile, everyone, including healthy adults, will be at the most risk for health issues on Sunday and Monday. That’s when ozone levels could potentially reach unhealthy levels due to the extreme heat.    Peak ozone levels are predicted to occur each day between noon and 8 p.m.

SOME STATE BEACHES CLOSED

Rocky Neck (WFSB)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Heavy rains this week have forced Connecticut officials to temporarily close four state beaches because of high bacteria levels. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Friday that swimming is not be allowed at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic, Gardner Lake State Park in Salem, Kettletown State Park in Southbury and Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret. The results of new water samples are expected Saturday.  DEEP is also announcing it will not be staffing the Indian Well State Park in Shelton with lifeguards this season because of a national shortage of lifeguards. The agency says lifeguards may be limited to five days a week instead of seven at Sherwood Island State Park and Westport, Silver Sands State Park in Milford and Black Rock State Park in Watertown.

FETANYL DEALER SENTENCED

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – A Hartford man who had dealt the fentanyl used in a Norwich woman’s overdose death has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison. Twenty-three-year-old Felix Lopez was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Hall on Friday on charges of possession with intent to distribute – and distribution of – heroin, crack cocaine and fentanyl. Prosecutors say Lopez has been selling drugs in Connecticut since at least January 2016.  They say evidence taken from the 20-year-old victim’s cellphone after her death in September led to Lopez’s arrest in November. He pleaded guilty in April. Prosecutors say the case is part of an ongoing effort to hold dealers responsible for overdose deaths.

RETIRED PASTOR IDENTIFIED AS FALLS JUMPER

The man who jumped to his death June 21st at the Yantic Falls in Norwich was a former local pastor.  Police say 70-year old Sidat Balgobin committed suicide. The former pastor of the Park Congregational Church lived on Yantic Street.  He led the church from 1999 to 2009, when he retired. He continued to make speaking engagements to various groups, including the Unitarian Universalist Church in Norwich until at least 2015.

NEW OWNER OF NORWICH PART OF STATE HOSPITAL SITE

The Norwich side of the former state hospital grounds is now under new ownership.  East Hartford-based Castanho Development, LLC has acquired the nearly 50-acre site through a mortgage foreclosure.  The now-previous owner, Thames River Landing, LLC failed to pay off a nearly 700-thousand dollar debt, after buying the property from the state in 2015.  The head of Thames River, Mark Fields, didn’t submit any clean-up or development plans, but did renovate one house where he lived.  New owner Carl Castanho says he’s not prepared yet to talk about any possible development.

OLD SAYBROOK WOMAN ACCUSED OF STEALING FUNDS FROM FIRE DEPARTMENT

Kate Campanale (WJAR)

New Shoreham, R.I. (AP) – A Connecticut woman has been charged with embezzling money from the Block Island Volunteer Fire Department.  Police say 36-year-old Kate Campanale of Old Saybrook served as the treasurer of the department between 2015 and 2018.  She is accused of stealing just under $23,000 from the department’s bank accounts during that time. Police say that in addition to her voluntary position as treasurer, she has also served as a paid administrative assistant for the fire department since 2017. Campanale does not have a listed phone number and attempts to reach her for comment Friday were not successful. She turned herself in to state police on Thursday. She was arraigned in Fourth Division District Court on a felony embezzlement charge and released on her own recognizance.

DSS DELAYS CRITICIZED

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Advocates for people who rely on the Connecticut Department of Social Services say lengthy delays at the agency’s call center must be addressed.   In a letter sent this week to DSS Commissioner Rodrick Bremby, the group calls it “wholly unacceptable” that the average wait time is between 96 and 107 minutes. The letter notes how the ImpaCT system was fully implemented ten months ago and wait times “are now worse than they have ever been.” The advocates say such lengthy delays cause individuals to give up. DSS says the letter ignores many improvements DSS has made over the past five years. They note customers can go online or visit 12 field offices.   DSS says it’s working to reduce call wait times, noting the center does not take applications for assistance.

UNITED WAY DISTRIBUTIONS 

Twenty-five non profit agencies in New London County will be sharing more than 2-point-2 million dollars in funding, from the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.  Funding distributions from the chapter’s latest annual fund-raising were announced Friday.  Among the recipients:  United Community and Family services, Catholic Charities, Child and Family Agency, and Safe Futures.

DCF INVESTIGATING PREGNANT TEEN DEATH AT STATE FACILITY

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The state Department of Children and Families is investigating the death of a pregnant 16-year-old girl at the state’s psychiatric hospital for children in Middletown. The teen died late Thursday in an apparent suicide. The death occurred in South Campus unit at the Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center, the former Riverview Hospital.  Officials from the state Department of Health and Addiction Services and the Office of Child Advocate also are investigating.  DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said in a statement Friday afternoon that the review will be “comprehensive.” She said the agency is providing additional counseling and support to patients and Solnit staff members.   Among other things, the investigation will try to determine how long the teen was left unsupervised.

FIRE IN FORMER FIRST SELECTMAN’S RESIDENCE

An early Friday morning fire at the estate home of  a former Old Lyme first selectman is being blamed on a faulty air conditioner.  Crews were called around 12:30 AM to 13 Griswold Point Road, the home of former town leader Timothy Griswold.  Everyone got out okay, with one person treated for smoke inhalation. Only one room suffered fire damage, but there’s smoke damage throughout.

PAWSOX STAYING IN PAWTUCKET

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation designed to keep the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket. The legislation enables the team, state and city to begin shopping for bonds to finance a new stadium at Slater Mill in Pawtucket.  Under the legislation, the PawSox would contribute $45 million to the $83 million project. It would also be responsible for any cost overruns. The state and city would be responsible for the remaining $38 million in bonds issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency. Raimondo issued a statement Friday saying the legislation gives Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien an opportunity to work with the team to keep them from moving to Worcester, Massachusetts and gives Pawtucket “a shot at meaningful economic revitalization.”

 

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