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THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE

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DEATH PENALTY BAN STAYS IN PLACE

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld its landmark ruling declaring the state’s death penalty unconstitutional and abolishing capital punishment. The court released its 5-2 decision Thursday in the appeal of Russell Peeler Jr., who had been on death row for ordering the 1999 killings of a woman and her 8-year-old son in Bridgeport. The boy, B.J. Brown, was to testify against Peeler in another murder case.  Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and lawmakers in 2012 abolished the death penalty but only for future murders. That left 11 men, including Peeler, still facing execution.  In another death row inmate’s appeal last year, justices ruled 4-3 that the 2012 abolishment must apply to those who remained on death row because the death penalty was unconstitutional. Justices reconsidered that decision in Peeler’s appeal.

MONEY FOR MUSEUM APPROVED

The Senate Appropriations Committee,  as expected , passes a measure that provides funding to the proposed National Coast Guard Museum in New London.  Senator Chris Murphy says the measure authorizes $5 million and is good seed money to make the museum a reality.  Murphy also calls the appropriation a down payment on getting some of the exhibits ready for display.  The legislation, part of funding for the Homeland Security Department, would also prohibit the Coast Guard from moving the Coast Guard Band out of New London, where it has been for 90 years.  There’s been a study conducted into the possibility of relocating the band to Washington, DC.

EB INVOLVED IN RI SCHOOL TRAINING PROGRAM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – U.S. Navy contractor Electric Boat is partnering with Rhode Island schools to help train about 180 students for marine industry careers over the next two years.   Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the new partnership Thursday at Coventry High School.   Raimondo says the initiative will prepare students for ship-fitting and marine manufacturing jobs by building their skills in welding and electrical services.  Groton, Connecticut-based Electric Boat will partner with six of Rhode Island’s career and technical schools. Electric Boat is a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.   The governor’s office says it eventually hopes to have 350 students a year graduating from marine industry career programs.   Electric Boat has obtained $369,500 in funding from the state through the Real Jobs Rhode Island job-training initiative.

SELFIES AND SEALS DON’T MIX

BOSTON (AP) – The feds have a warning for beachgoers in New England over Memorial Day weekend: Don’t take selfies with the seals.   Federal officials say people who approach a seal pup can put both themselves and the animal at risk.   In a statement Thursday, the Greater Atlantic Region of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said it’s not unusual for a mother seal to leave her pup on the beach for up to 24 hours while she feeds. But if the mother sees people near her pup, she might feel it is too dangerous to return and abandon her young.   The statement also notes that wild animals act unpredictably and seals can leave a “lasting impression” with their powerful jaws.

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE

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NORWICH‘S NEW PLANNER

Norwich has announced the hiring of a new city planner.  Deanna Rhodes, longtime planner for the town of Portland will make the switch to the Rose City starting July 5th. Rhodes was chosen yesterday among 25 initial candidates and five finalists. She will receive $76,000 a year in salary.

ELDER ABUSER SUED

Former Danielson state worker Ellis Hagstorm, accused of repeatedly abusing two severely handicapped women under his care in 2014, has been ordered to pay up for damages. Putnam Superior Court ordered Hagstorm to pay $5 million to the estate of the victim and another $660,000 in punitive damages. Court documents showed the pain, suffering, and mental anguish sustained was apparent on all testimony.

TALKS TO START

Next week, negotiations will kick off been officials from the Mohegan tribe and the Town of Preston. The meeting between the two should lead to a proposed purchase and sale agreement of the former Norwich Hospital property. If approved by voters, the Mohegan tribe could bring $200 to $600 million in development to the property now called Preston Riverwalk.

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE

News BannerSEASIDE PLAN RELEASED

The vacant Seaside property in Waterford may eventually host a 100-room hotel lodge, restaurant, and a public park.  State officials Wednesday night unveil their master plan for the former health care complex, to be renamed Seaside State Park.  The public areas would surround the hotel, and feature an enhanced beach, and walking trail, as well as a fishing pier, boardwalk, canoe and kayak launch area, and other landscape improvements.  The hotel would be privately-run.  A state environmental assessment of the project will now take place.

NL BUDGET APPROVED

A budget for the upcoming fiscal year has officially been given the green light from the New London city council.  The 88-point-4 million dollar spending plan provides level funding to the school district and would result in a tax increase of just under one mill.  Mayor Mike Passero says his intention was to avoid a tax hike when crafting a budget proposal, but a severe, last-minute reduction in state aid forced his hand. He  says any further reductions to the city budget would compromise the government’s ability to operate effectively.  After much deliberation Wednesday night, the city council decided not to fund a proposal that would have added two positions to the Public Works Department.

FEW MORE LAYOFFS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Thirteen more Connecticut state employees in the executive branch have received layoff notices since last week.   This latest group, announced Wednesday, all work at state vocational technical high schools located in Hartford, Milford, Hamden, Middletown and Windham.   The Office of Policy and Management says adult students in secondary schools no longer have access to federal student financial aid and therefore no longer are able to pay for tuition in the next academic year.   Medical, dental, certified nursing assistants programs and two surgical technology programs will be terminated on June 13, once the current block of students completes its coursework. On April 6, a licensed practical nurse program was closed due to low student enrollment.   To date, 693 executive branch workers have received pink slips since layoffs began several months ago.

14-YEAR OLD ARRESTED

Norwich police arrest a juvenile Wednesday morning due to a threat made against a local school.  Police say the 14-year old male  made a threat against Kelly Middle School in a social media post.  Police were at the school checking out the situation and then gave the all-clear.   Authorities have not released specific information about the individual arrested.

 

 

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

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GROTON TAXES INCREASE

In order to support a budget of $121.6 million, the Groton Town Council approved a tax rate of 21.73 mills on Tuesday night. The decision reflects a 3.7 percent increase for the coming fiscal year. Under the new rate, taxpayers would shell out $2,173 in local property taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value.

MUSEUM TO BE FUNDED

Thursday, The Senate Appropriations Committee in Washington is expected to vote on a bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill includes $5 million in funding toward the National Coast Guard Museum proposed for New London.  It also includes a provision prohibiting the relocation of the Coast Guard Band out of New London.

CARTER IN GROTON

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter pays a special visit to Electric Boat and the Groton Sub Base.  He spent several hours on Tuesday discussing the importance of submarines and thanking the people who build the vessels.  Carter says the Navy plays a critical role in maintaining the country’s military superiority.  Carter says he’s really focused on making military service more attractive to young people.  He recently unveiled a Force of the Future program designed to recruit so-called millennials.  Carter also says he’s excited about the Ohio-Replacement submarine program, which is currently in the design phase.  The Defense Secretary visited the shipyard at EB before getting a classified tour of the U.S.S. New Mexico at the Sub Base.

TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE

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PHONY ACCIDENTS

A federal grand jury has indicted five Norwich residents and a New London man  for insurance fraud.  The FBI says the men staged car accidents to defraud insurance companies.  Authorities claim Mackenzy Noze, Jonas Joseph, Frandy Dugue,  Carlins Calixte, and Pierre Jeudy,  all of Norwich,  and Jacques Fluerijenue of New London staged about 50 accidents on remote, rural roads and then made false claims on injuries and property damage.  The U.S. Attorney says payouts for each accident ranged from $10,000 to $30,0000.  Some of the men have been arrested and released others are still detained.  Four of the accused are residents of Haiti.

SCHOOL VOTE STANDS

After a recount Tuesday in North Stonington, nothing changed in the school referendum vote.  Registrar of voters Gladys Chase says the same 908-905 vote to approve the school renovations resulted from a recanvassing.  The $38.5 million project calls for a new combined middle and high school wing, renovations to the elementary school, demolition of the current middle school, and other improvements.

NEW NPU RATES APPROVED

You’ll be paying more for sewer and water service from Norwich Public Utilities as of July 1st.  The city’s board of Public Utilities Commissioners Tuesday night approve the rate hikes as part of the new fiscal year budgets for N-P-U.  Sewer rates will go-up by more than 12-percent, while water rates will see two increases: a 9-and-a-half percent jump on July 1st, and then a more than 12-percent hike six months after that.  Natural gas rates stay level, while electric rates go down just over 4-percent.  N-P-U says most of its business customers, and roughly half of its residential rate payers will see their utility bills go down under the new rate structure.

ALLEGED HEROIN DEALER ARRAIGNED

A Groton man has been arraigned on drug and weapons charges after being arrested Monday during a raid on his business.  31-year old Jose Davilia is accused of running a heroin distribution operation out of his vehicle wholesaling business on South Road. Police found 5-and-a-half ounces of heroin laced with fentanyl on him when he was arrested, as well as a pistol with the serial numbers rubbed off.  Police found more heroin on the premises.  Davilia is being held on 49-thousand dollars cash-only bond, and is due back in court June 14th.  A business partner of Davilia’s has not been charged.

WOMAN THREATENS TO BURN DOWN POLICE STATION

A Rhode Island woman charged early Tuesday morning with drunk driving while in Stonington, is then later charged with threatening to burn down the police station.  Police say 31-year old Amanda Alix of Pawtucket, was found pulled over on North Road in Old Mystic around 1 AM, crying, lost, and drunk.  After being relased by police on a 1-thousand dollar bond some 6 hours later, police say she tore up her paperwork, shouted obscenties at police dispatchers, and claimed she was going to set fire to police headquarters. She was arrested again, and is being held on 25-hundred dollars bond.

TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE

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DOG PARK FENCE QUESTIONED

An application for a fence that would be used to buffer Stonington’s unofficial dog park from the neighborhood it surrounds has become the site’s latest concern. Rather than allow the borough’s zoning officer to make a ruling on the proposal, the couple suing the town over the park has sent a letter asking the Planning and Zoning Commission to review the application. Zoning Officer David Atkinson, who can issue permits for the proposed fence, says he will send the issue to the commission to discuss in their June 13 meeting.

GUN RANGE SUPPORTED

Selectmen in Griswold announce plans to host a public meeting to hear from residents about a proposal to locate a state facility in town.  The announcement comes as more residents have come forth supporting the plan for a state police training facility to possibly be constructed on vacant land on Lee Road. The date of meeting has not yet been scheduled.

PARKING CHANGES

New London’s Parking Director Carey Redd II  is expected to recommend to the city’s parking authority that restrictions be loosened in lots, and downtown streets. Redd’s recommendation comes from analysis of the data gathered from several weeks of parking enforcement. As part of Redd’s findings, he would like to see the two-hour parking limits be extended to three or four hours.

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