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SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE

Firefighters responded to a large fire in Danielson. (Eyewitness photo)

Firefighters responded to a large fire in Danielson. (Eyewitness photo)

DANIELSON BUILDING HEAVILY DAMAGED BY FIRE

DANIELSON, CT (WFSB) – Multiple crews were called to a large fire in Danielson Sunday morning.  The fire broke out shortly after 1 a.m.   Several roads had to be closed in the area including a section of Route 12.   Firefighters said the damage is severe and the fire is not put out yet.   According to officials, there is a concern that the building will collapse. The building was vacant and there were no injuries.

FAKE CONCERT TICKETS

GROTON, Conn. (AP) — Police in Groton have arrested a New York City man and charged him in connection with selling counterfeit concert tickets.  Police say 23-year-old Fred T. Lyons met with an undercover detective in Groton Friday and attempted to sell him counterfeit concert tickets to an event at an area casino. They say when officers identified themselves to Lyons, he pushed them out of the way and ran. He was captured after a brief chase.   One officer was treated for minor injuries.   Lyons is charged with assault on a police officer, two counts of interfering with a police officer, conspiracy to commit larceny and forgery. He’s being held on $50,000 bond. It wasn’t immediately known if he’s represented by a lawyer.

SUBMARINE CHRISTENING

GROTON, Conn. (AP) — The Navy has christened its newest attack submarine, a $2.7 billion vessel named for the state of Colorado.   The 377-foot-long Colorado is the 15th in the Virginia class of attack submarines, which are equipped to carry out warfare against submarines and surface ships as well as conducting surveillance and delivering Special Operations troops.   The submarines are built in a partnership between Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia at a cost of $2.7 billion apiece. Construction of the Colorado began in March 2012 and its contract calls for delivery to the Navy by September.   The Colorado’s sponsor is Annie Mabus, the daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The christening ceremony took place Saturday at the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.

GROTON LIGHT PARADE

Groton — A blustery Saturday evening was no deterrent for hundreds of people who staked spots along Route 1 to watch Groton’s 18th annual light parade.   Though it was one of the first bone-chilling winds of the season, The Day reports onlookers camped in the back of vehicles or toughed it out in a few heavy layers to watch floats from dozens of area businesses and teams march from South Road to Drozdyk Road to ceremonially light a Christmas tree.   Capt. Paul Whitescarver, commanding officer of Naval Submarine Base New London, commanded his own float at the head of the parade.   A number of fife-and-drum corps also took the lead, including the Deep River Junior Ancients. To the shock and delight of several kids in the audience, the Colchester Continental Fife and Drum Corps even shot off a musket several times.

GUN VIOLENCE PSA

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A group formed by families who lost children in the Sandy Hook school shooting has started a new public service campaign designed to teach people to recognize the warning signs of someone who may be contemplating gun violence.   The Know the Signs campaign from Sandy Hook Promise includes the launch on Friday of a new 2 ½-minute video public service announcement designed to show how easy it is to overlook at-risk behavior.   The group’s founders include Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden. Both had 6-year-old sons who were among the 26 people killed by a gunman inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.   The PSA can be viewed on YouTube.

DEEP HOLIDAY STORE

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Books, state park passes and fishing licenses are some of the possible holiday gifts shoppers will be able to buy online from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.   The agency says orders placed at DEEP’s store by Dec. 18 should arrive in time for Christmas.   Among the environmental gifts available at www.ct.gov/deep/store is a fishing guide to Connecticut lakes and ponds, a guide and history of Connecticut’s state parks and forests, the Connecticut Butterfly Atlas which details all 117 butterfly species in the state, and a pictorial guide to freshwater fishes in Connecticut.   DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee says there are gifts suitable for children and adults, as well as 2017 park passes, hunting and fishing licenses.

EDUCATION GRANT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is receiving nearly $11.7 million in federal funds to expand high-quality preschool.   Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the money will allow the state to continue providing preschool education to 439 children while improving the quality of preschool for another 291. That’s a total of 730 four-year-olds who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.   The affected children live in 13 high-need communities, including Bridgeport, Derby, East Haven, Griswold, Groton, Hamden, Killingly, Manchester, Naugatuck, Seymour, Torrington, Vernon and Wolcott.   The funding will allow those towns to offer preschool programs with comprehensive services to students and families and teacher compensation equal to K-12 teachers’ salaries.   The funding was awarded by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services through a competitive grant process.

LEAGUE OF CITIES-NEW DIRECTOR

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns has hired a new executive director.   Brian Daniels will succeed longtime Executive Director Daniel Beardsley, who is retiring on Dec. 31 after 42 years working for the lobbying group, including 27 years as its director.   The organization represents the interests of the state’s 39 municipalities at the State House.   Daniels has been working as a deputy budget officer for the state Office of Management and Budget. He previously worked as a policy aide to Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Democratic U.S. Rep. James Langevin and as a research consultant for the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

GIANT GINGERBREAD LIGHTHOUSE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A team of chefs in Rhode Island is erecting a giant gingerbread lighthouse with a working beacon light.  The 16-foot-tall lighthouse decorated with 2,400 pieces of candy is rising inside the city of Newport’s visitor center. It’s scheduled to be finished by Tuesday after more than 100 hours of work.   Local tourism bureau Discover Newport says displaying a gingerbread lighthouse has become an annual Christmastime tradition.   Newport Marriott Hotel Chef Eric Steinhauer, the lighthouse’s lead architect, is baking his brick-shaped cookies the conventional way this year after trying a gluten-free recipe last year.   But they’re still made of organic gingerbread — 350 pounds of it. The lighthouse will be on display until Jan. 1.

OFFSHORE WIND-TURBINE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — There has been a hiccup at the nation’s first offshore wind farm as it prepares to start delivering power.   Deepwater Wind, which owns the five-turbine farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, says one turbine is not turning.   But a spokeswoman said Friday that will not delay the start-up and the other turbines will begin delivering power for the grid within days.   Meaghan Wims said the testing phase is complete and commercial operations can begin soon. She said the turbine’s generator was damaged by a drill bit left inside. She said it will be repaired and working “in the near term.”   The damage was first reported by ecoRI News.   Deepwater Wind planned to open the wind farm last month, but said it was still finalizing approvals.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE

CT STATE POLICE GIVE TIPS FOLLOWING MULTIPLE DEADLY CRASHES

(WFSB) In the last two years, there have been 93 deadly crashes involving pedestrians in Connecticut. In less than 24 hours last week there were three. The Connecticut State Police are advising drivers how to stay on the road. They say if you do have a reason to stop it should only be for a medical emergency or a vehicle emergency and to pull as far off the road into the grass, with vehicle hazard blinkers on and stay in your vehicle.” They say don’t stop on the shoulder, that’s just as dangerous as the travel lane. Pedestrians are advised to not put themselves in possibly deadly situations. If you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, stay in the vehicle!!! Your vehicle is made to sustain a crash. You are not!!! If you have any reason to stop, get off the highway, find a parking lot, take care of what you need to take care of, then get back on the highway. The highway is no place for pedestrians.

SILVER ALERT ISSUED FOR MISSING NORWICH TEEN

New London — Police on Friday night issued a Silver Alert for 16-year-old Dejahlyn Pires of Norwich.  Pires is described as a white female with brown hair and brown eyes. She is 5 foot 5 inches tall and weighs roughly 200 pounds, according to the release. She was last seen wearing black leggings, a black sweater, a tan scarf and black boots with tan fur, according to the alert. Anyone with information about Pires’s whereabouts should contact Norwich police by calling (203) 886-5561.

EX-SCOUT LEADER GETS 5-7 YEAR PRISON TERM FOR MOLESTING KIDS

Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com)
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) – A former Connecticut Boy Scout troop leader has been sentenced to five to seven years in prison after admitting under a plea deal to sexually assaulting three boys during scouting trips to Massachusetts in the 1990s. The Telegram & Gazette reports 53-year-old David Kress, of Thompson, Connecticut, pleaded guilty Thursday in Worcester (WUS’-tur), Massachusetts to seven counts of statutory child rape.
Kress must register as a sex offender and receive sex offender counseling. His sentence was recommended by both prosecutors and his attorney. Prosecutors say Kress molested members Troop 66 during trips to Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. He was the troop’s scoutmaster. Boy Scout officials have said Kress was relieved of his volunteer duties. Kress faces similar charges in Connecticut.

LAWMAKER WANTS STATE TO BAIL OUT AMISTAD CREDITORS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut lawmaker wants the state to bail out about 20 people and businesses in the state that are owed about $270,000 by a now-defunct organization that operated Connecticut’s official flagship, the Amistad schooner. Democratic Rep. Diana Urban, of North Stonington, is proposing a bill for the 2017 legislative session calling for the state to borrow money to pay Connecticut-based creditors of Amistad America. The group went into state receivership and was dissolved last year after running up $2 million in debt. A new organization is operating the vessel.
The 129-foot Baltimore clipper is a replica of a slave ship seized by African captives in 1839. They were jailed in New Haven, but won their freedom in a landmark case that began in Connecticut and ended in the U.S. Supreme Court.

PLAINVILLE LAWMAKER BETTY BOUKUS DEAD AT 73

PLAINVILLE, Conn. (AP) – State Rep. Betty Boukus (BOH’-kuhs), who served more than two decades in the General Assembly before losing a high-profile re-election bid last month, has died. She was 73. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey’s office said Boukus, who co-chaired the legislature’s powerful bonding subcommittee, died Friday. She had been battling cancer. The Plainville Democrat was a teacher by training, but had served in the House since 1994. She was defeated in November by her Republican opponent, Dr. William Petit, who became a national figure after a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire that took the lives of his wife and two daughters. Sharkey remembered Boukus as a caring lawmaker who understood that her legislative decisions had a human impact.  Boukus is survived by her husband, Gary, two adult children and four grandchildren.

FBI AT LAND OWNED BY FAMILY IN HOMICIDE, LOST AT SEA CASE

CHESTERFIELD, N.H. (AP) – The FBI and other agencies have been at an abandoned New Hampshire property owned by the family of a man whose 2013 homicide remains unsolved and whose daughter is presumed dead after her boat sank during a mother-son fishing trip this year. The Spofford property was owned by John Chakalos, found fatally shot at his Connecticut home. His grandson, Nathan Carman, was at one time a suspect. No arrests have been made. Carman accompanied his mother on the fishing trip and says he doesn’t know what happened to her as their boat sank. An FBI spokeswoman said Friday its evidence response team was assisting a multiagency investigation. A family spokeswoman had no comment. The Keene Sentinel report at least a dozen people in “hazmat-style suits” were on the property Thursday.

YALE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS STANDARDS FOR COLLEGE NAME CHANGE

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – Yale University’s president has appointed a panel to consider whether to rename a residential college named for an ardent supporter of slavery. President Peter Salovey said the panelists will use the recommendations of a university committee that on Friday released guidelines to follow when the school considers changing building names. Yale has been under pressure to change the name of Calhoun College, named for former Vice President John C. Calhoun, an alumnus and supporter of slavery. Friday’s report from the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming says changing the name of anything at the Ivy League school should be an exceptional event done only when the person was honored for a “legacy fundamentally at odds with the university’s mission.” The committee cautioned that renaming should not have the effect of erasing history.

MAN DELIVERING NEWSPAPERS IN CONNECTICUT STRUCK, KILLED

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Police say a man delivering newspapers in West Hartford has died after being struck by a pickup truck. Capt. Jeff Rose says 64-year-old Belford Adolphus Muir had parked his car and was crossing a street to deliver copies of the Hartford Courant at about 6:30 a.m. Friday when he was struck. He was taken to Hartford Hospital where he was pronounced dead. A section of South Main Street remains closed for the investigation. There was no word on charges.

SUIT; PRISON LIFER WRONGLY PUNISHED OVER FALSE ACCUSATIONS

(Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A Rhode Island inmate serving a life term for two murders has filed a federal lawsuit saying state corrections officials wrongly kept him in segregation and took away his visitation privileges over baseless heroin trafficking accusations. The Providence Journal reports Charles “Manny” Pona Jr. says his due process rights were violated and he was cruelly and unusually punished over the allegations.  Deputy Warden Jeffrey Aceto states in a memo there’s “overwhelming” evidence that Pona was involved in the trafficking scheme. Pona wasn’t charged. He has denied the allegations. Pona’s suit asks that the offense be struck from his prison record and a year of good time restored. It also seeks $365,000 each for compensatory damages, emotional distress and punitive damages. The corrections department hasn’t been served. It declined comment.

CRANSTON WOMAN GETS 3 YEARS IN INCOME TAX FRAUD SCHEME

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A Cranston woman has been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution for cheating the IRS. Prosecutors say 48-year-old Belkis Guzman was also sentenced Friday to three years of probation after pleading guilty in September to aiding the preparation of false tax returns, wire fraud, theft of government funds, and identity theft. Prosecutors say Guzman was involved in two schemes. In one she helped prepare fake income tax returns by falsifying dependents, exemptions, credits, deductions and expenses while working for a Providence tax preparation business. Guzman also deposited more than 100 U.S. Treasury checks into her personal checking account by generating fraudulent income tax returns using stolen identities. A lawyer for Guzman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

1ST OFFSHORE WIND FARM TO BEGIN PRODUCTION WITHIN DAYS

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – There has been a hiccup at the nation’s first offshore wind farm as it prepares to start delivering power. Deepwater Wind, which owns the five-turbine farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, says one turbine is not turning. But a spokeswoman said Friday that will not delay the start-up and the other turbines will begin delivering power for the grid within days. Meaghan Wims said the testing phase is complete and commercial operations can begin soon. She said the turbine’s generator was damaged by a drill bit left inside. She said it will be repaired and working “in the near term.” The damage was first reported by ecoRI News. Deepwater Wind planned to open the wind farm last month, but said it was still finalizing approvals.

EAST COAST MARINERS TOLD TO LOOK FOR RIGHT WHALES

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (AP) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is asking East Coast mariners to be on the lookout for migrating right whales as the endangered marine mammals journey south for the winter. There are about 500 North Atlantic right whales, and they are protected by measures including NOAA’s seasonal management areas along the coast. Vessels greater than 65 feet long aren’t allowed to exceed speeds of 10 knots in these areas from November to April. NOAA says the management areas stretch from Rhode Island to Georgia. They’re located around Block Island, the Port of New York and New Jersey, the entrances to the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay, the ports of Morehead City and Beaufort, North Carolina, and an area between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Brunswick, Georgia.

AUTHORITIES SUSPEND SEARCH FOR MISSING COVENTRY WOMAN

(Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com)
EXETER, R.I. (AP) – Authorities are suspending a search for a Coventry woman who never returned home from a walk in a wilderness area with her two dogs. Patti Pendleton’s prescription glasses were found on Thursday during a search of the 16,000-acre Arcadia Management Area in Exeter. Police think the 59-year-old woman was hiking near state Route 165 on Monday. Her family reported her missing Tuesday when she didn’t show up for work. Her car was found that day. Rhode Island State Police Corporal Scott Carlsten called the probability of Pendleton’s survival “quite dim.” The Providence Journal reported that Carlsten said members of Pendleton’s family are planning to continue to search for her on their own.

CONN COLLEGE PRES. PLEDGES SUPORT FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS

NEW LONDON, CT -Given Donald Trumps stance on immigration issues and a petition signed by 1000 faculty, students, staff and alumni regarding their concern, Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron sent out a letter Thursday regarding her pledge to make the campus a “sanctuary for undocumented students and all members of the community”. The New London Day reports college Dean’s have been meeting with those students to hear the range of their concerns and determine what can be done to help. Bergeron said a fund has been started to support conn college students in the event one of them should at some point end up facing immigration proceedings.

SUPPORTERS PROTEST IN FRONT OF CITIZENS BANK , NEW LONDON

A group of protesters gathered outside citizens bank in new London on Friday with one message: pull your money from banks that support the controversial Dakota access pipeline, and bank locally instead. The New London Day reports Citizens is one of more than 20 financial institutions that in part paved the way for the pipeline by providing credit for the $3.8 billion project. All that remains of the project is a section that passes near the standing rock Sioux tribes lands that once belong to them and will include a crossing under the Missouri River. Tribal leaders have expressed concerns that the construction of the pipeline, and any accidents that happen down the line, could threaten sacred land and artifacts as well as the primary drinking water source for the tribe and millions of others.

FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE

URBAN WANTS BAIL-OUT OF AMISTAD CREDITORS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut lawmaker wants the state to bail out about 20 people and businesses in the state that are owed about $270,000 by a now-defunct organization that operated Connecticut’s official flagship, the Amistad schooner.
Democratic Rep. Diana Urban, of North Stonington, is proposing a bill for the 2017 legislative session calling for the state to borrow money to pay Connecticut-based creditors of Amistad America. The group went into state receivership and was dissolved last year after running up $2 million in debt. A new organization is operating the vessel.
The 129-foot Baltimore clipper is a replica of a slave ship seized by African captives in 1839. They were jailed in New Haven, but won their freedom in a landmark case that began in Connecticut and ended in the U.S. Supreme Court.

BOOSTING NEW LONDON’S PORT

Local and state officials are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to make significant investments in infrastructure.  U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal says he’d like to see federal money dedicated to upgrading Connecticut ports. The New England Central Railroad recently received an eight-point-two million dollar federal grant to upgrade its freight rail service.  New London Mayor Mike Passero says that funding will be a huge boon to the Whaling City’s port. Officials say utilizing the New London port more often will also help alleviate highway congestion.  Blumenthal and Passero spoke during a press conference at New London State Pier Friday afternoon. 

FORMER SCOUT LEADER SENTENCED FOR MOLESTING BOY

A man who used to be a Boy Scout leader in Thompson has been sentenced to as much as 7 years in prison.  David Kress pleaded guilty Thursday in Worcester, Massachusetts to seven counts of statutory rape of a child. He faces similar charges in Connecticut, where he’s accused of molesting boys between ages 10 and 16 while serving as the head of Boy Scout Troop 66 in Thompson.  The alleged incidents reportedly happened in several locales, including camping trips, the Woodstock Fairgrounds, and a college shower room. Kress is to appear in Danielson Superior Court January 13th on the Connecticut charges.

STATE LAWMAKER DIES

PLAINVILLE, Conn. (AP) – State Rep. Betty Boukus, who served more than two decades in the General Assembly before losing a high-profile re-election bid last month, has died. She was 73. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey’s office said Boukus, who co-chaired the legislature’s powerful bonding subcommittee, died Friday. She had been battling cancer.  The Plainville Democrat was a teacher by training, but had served in the House since 1994. She was defeated in November by her Republican opponent, Dr. William Petit, who became a national figure after a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire that took the lives of his wife and two daughters. Sharkey remembered Boukus as a caring lawmaker who understood that her legislative decisions had a human impact.  Boukus is survived by her husband, Gary, two adult children and four grandchildren.

SEARCH SUSPENDED FOR RI WOMAN

 EXETER, R.I. (AP) – Authorities are suspending a search for a Coventry, Rhode Island  woman who never returned home from a walk in a wilderness area with her two dogs. Patti Pendleton’s prescription glasses were found on Thursday during a search of the 16,000-acre Arcadia Management Area in Exeter.  Police think the 59-year-old woman was hiking near state Route 165 on Monday. Her family reported her missing Tuesday when she didn’t show up for work. Her car was found that day. Rhode Island State Police Corporal Scott Carlsten called the probability of Pendleton’s survival “quite dim.”  The Providence Journal reported that Carlsten said members of Pendleton’s family are planning to continue to search for her on their own.

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE

SOUTHWORTH PROMOTED

The Connecticut Tigers have named a Franklin native to be their assistant general manager. Brent Southworth has been with the single-A baseball team since 2013, as the club’s director of sales. The Norwich Free Academy graduate and long-time high school baseball coach,  will now help oversee the daily operations of the franchise.

WOMAN STRUCK BY TT

OLD LYME, Conn. (AP) – State police say a Middletown woman had gotten out of her vehicle to check on a 1-year-old child in the back seat on Interstate 95 when she was hit and killed by a tractor-trailer in Old Lyme.  Police say 31-year-old Ashley Ferguson was standing near the rear driver-side door around 11:30 a.m. Thursday when she was struck. She was pronounced dead at the scene.  The child and another passenger weren’t hurt. Police say the child was taken to a clinic as a precaution.  The state Department of Transportation said the southbound lanes between exits 71 and 70 were shut down after the accident.  State police said the highway and the ramp to exit 71 were reopened around 8 p.m. Thursday.  Police are investigating.

OPIOID ADDICTION VIGIL HELD

Heroin and opioids have become a growing epidemic in the state, and 100 Americans die almost every day from the drugs.  Last night, a vigil was held in Montville to help raise awareness about the problem of opioid addiction.  The group Community Speaks put on the event.  Founder Lisa Johns of Uncasville saw her son die two years ago from addiction.  She says the heroin habit started after he became addicted to painkillers following an appendectomy and broken nose.  According to the state’s medical examiner’s office, Connecticut is on pace to see an estimated 832 people die of substance abuse overdoses this year.

VETERANS ENTERING HOF

Three local veterans are to be honored with an induction into the Connecticut Veterans’ Hall of Fame.  Frank Conahan of Ledyard, Paul Orstad of Norwich and Linda Schwartz of Pawcatuck will be inducted in Hartford on Wednesday,  Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.    The honor goes to veterans who’ve made significant contributions to society after serving.  Schwartz is a former state veterans affairs commissioner, Conahan is a dedicated blood donor and Orstad is very active in Eagle Scouts.

SCHOOL OF THE YEAR

Deans Mill School in Stonington has been named the state’s outstanding elementary school for 2016-17 by the Connecticut Association of Schools.  A couple dozen folks from the school went to Southington last night for Recognition of Excellence celebration.  The association committee visited the school and pored over Deans Mill’s 12-page application.  The association cited the school’s leadership, staff dedication and family atmosphere as reasons for selecting Deans Mill as Connecticut’s outstanding elementary school.

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