State News Stories

Plane crashes into Quinnipiac River; 2 people, dog rescued

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Two people and a dog have been rescued after their small single-engine plane landed in the Quinnipiac River on Thursday afternoon. New Haven Police Officer Scott Shumway, public information officer for the New Haven Police Department, said the cause of the crash, which occurred around 5:15 p.m., remained unclear. He said the two individuals were receiving medical attention. More than 45 minutes after the crash, the top of the plane could still be seen above the water. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker told the New Haven Register the plane was being flown from Woodbine, New Jersey, to Massachusetts.


Connecticut to pay $9M to settle hospital patient abuse suit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut judge has approved a $9 million settlement between the state and the brother of a man who was abused numerous times at the state's only maximum-security psychiatric hospital. Lawyers in the case announced the judge's approval Thursday. The abuse scandal involving patient William Shehadi at Whiting Forensic Hospital in 2017 led to the arrests of 10 employees, the firings of nearly three dozen workers and reforms at the state-run facility in Middletown. A lawyer for Shehadi's brother, Albert Shehadi, says the settlement amount is the largest ever paid by the state to a single person.


Appointee named to complete term of Conn. secretary of state

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Ned Lamont has picked a retired official from the state attorney general's office to serve as Connecticut's secretary of the state for the next six months. The Democratic governor announced Thursday that he will appoint Mark Kohler, of North Haven, to complete the term of Denise Merrill. Merrill is resigning Thursday to care for her husband, who has Parkinson's disease. Kohler will take office July 11 and serve until January, when the next secretary of the state will be sworn in following the November election. Lamont cited Kohler's 30 years of leadership in the attorney general's office and his knowledge of election laws.


Metro-North sets another pandemic-era ridership record

Metro-North Railroad has set another pandemic-era ridership record.  On Tuesday, Metro-North carried 174,878 riders, about 67 percent of pre-pandemic weekday ridership.  That surpassed its previous record of 174,340 set on June 14th.

The record was set two weeks after the railroad set their previous weekday records and two days after weekend ridership surpassed pre-pandemic levels. On Sunday, Metro-North carried 99,100 riders, not only surpassing pre-pandemic weekend ridership for the first time, but surging past that record by carrying 123-percent of its pre-pandemic baseline. The percentage is the highest comparative figure achieved by any MTA agency since the start of the pandemic.

 

Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi says the more people are returning to the train both on weekdays and on weekends, with leisure travel being a big draw in bringing back riders.

 

Weekend ridership in June has been at least 94% of its pre-pandemic baseline.

The MTA is encouraging riders to return to the rails with fare discounts, including a 10 percent discount for monthly passes and a new 20-trip ticket that saves 20% on regular peak one-way fares.


Lamont says 'tsunami' of retirements not as bad as predicted

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The impact of the predicted tsunami of Connecticut state employees retiring from government service appears smaller than first feared, given an uptick in hiring and current state workers withdrawing their retirement paperwork in advance of Friday’s deadline, according to Gov. Ned Lamont and his administration.

“It’s more like a summer storm than a tsunami,” the Democrat said Wednesday, noting how the state is on track to end the fiscal year with the same number of employees that it had a year ago.

More than 6,000 people were hired during the current fiscal year, which ends Friday. That’s about 1,000 more than usual, according to the state’s chief human resources official. Lamont and others credited a new state labor agreement that includes higher wages and bonuses, new hybrid and telework opportunities, and the state’s improved talent recruitment efforts, as well as workers’ personal economic circumstances with encouraging people to apply for state jobs or keep the ones they already have.


Connecticut secretary of state to resign, citing ill husband

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will leave office six months before her third term ends, telling The Associated Press she is resigning Thursday, effective at noon, to spend more time with her husband, who is facing serious health problems.

The veteran Democrat, who was first elected as the state’s top elections official in 2010 after serving 17 years in the Connecticut General Assembly, said that it was a hard decision, considering this is an election year, and that she feels responsible for making sure it runs smoothly. However, Merrill, 73, said she can no longer juggle the job and helping care for her husband.

“It’s too much for me. I can’t do both, and I have to be at home,” she said during an interview Tuesday in her office, where she was packing up old photos of her days in the legislature. “I don’t have full-time caretakers, and it wouldn’t work, anyway. He’s very dependent on me, and I’m dependent on him in a lot of ways.”

Merrill’s husband, Dr. Stephen Leach, 78, has been living with Parkinson’s disease for years and has been dealing with various health setbacks more recently, she said.

The two, who live in Storrs, have been a couple for about two decades. 


Crump to represent Randy Cox, Black man hurt in police van

Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Tuesday he will lead the legal fight on behalf of Randy Cox, a Black man who was seriously injured in the back of a police van in Connecticut when the driver braked suddenly.

Crump also called for a federal civil rights investigation into the treatment of Cox, 36, who was being taken June 19 to a police station in New Haven, Connecticut, for processing on a weapons charge when his head struck the back wall of the van.

Crump said police mocked Cox’s cries for help and later dragged him by his feet from the van and placed him in a holding cell before he was taken to a hospital. Cox, whose legal first name is Richard, is in intensive care, paralyzed from the chest down, Crump said.


Conn. minimum wage to increase to $14 per hour Friday

Connecticut's minimum wage will increase from the current rate of $13 per hour to $14 per hour beginning on Friday, July 1st.

The change is the result of legislation signed into law three years ago, from the then-rate of $10.10 an hour.  It schedules several increases in the minimum wage over a five-year period.  The wage increased to $11 in October 2019, to $12 in September of 2020, $13 in August 2021 and the now to $14 an hour.  The last scheduled increase is to $15 an hour on June 1st 2023.


Ultimately, beginning on January 1st 2024, that same law requires the minimum wage to become indexed to the employment cost index, which is calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor, and for the first time in Connecticut the rate will grow according to economic indicators.

 

Governor Lamont says for too long while the nation’s economy grew, the income of the lowest earning workers has stayed flat, making already existing pay disparities even worse and preventing hardworking families from obtaining financial security.  He added that this is a fair, gradual increase for workers who will invest the money right back into the economy and continue supporting local businesses in their communities.


Gas prices dip ahead of Independence Day weekend

AAA Northeast says there's some positive news for prospective travelers this July 4th holiday weekend: the national gas price average has dropped to $4.90 a gallon, 8 cents lower than last week.  But that is not so positive when looking over the longer term.  The price is still 30 cents higher than last month and $1.75 higher than last year.

Connecticut’s gas price average has declined to $4.87, down 7 cents from a week ago, but up 19 cents from a month ago and $1.89 from one year ago.

 

Connecticut ranks 24th on the list of states with the highest gas price in the nation.  AAA says Georgia registers the lowest at $4.40 a gallon while California has the highest at $6.32.


3 more officers put on leave after man injured in police van

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Three additional Connecticut police officers have been placed on paid leave after a man was seriously injured in the back of a police van when one of the officers said he braked hard to avoid an accident. Video shows the man, 36-year-old Richard Cox, later being dragged into a police holding cell before being taken to a hospital with signs of paralysis, according to authorities. Two other New Haven Police officers were placed on paid leave Tuesday. Acting Police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said Thursday the three additional officers had been assigned to work in the detention facility on Sunday where Cox was taken after a gun charge arrest.


Congress sends landmark gun violence compromise to Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House has sent President Joe Biden the most wide-ranging gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades. The bill that passed the House on Friday is a measured compromise that at once illustrates progress on the long-intractable issue and the deep-seated partisan divide that persists. The Democratic-led chamber approved the election-year legislation on a mostly party-line vote, capping a spurt of action prompted by voters' revulsion over last month's mass shootings in New York and Texas. The night before, the Senate approved it by a bipartisan 65-33 margin, with 15 Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting a package that senators from both parties had crafted.


Court: Harvard can be sued for distress over slave photos

BOSTON (AP) - A Connecticut woman who says she's descended from slaves shown in widely published, historical photos owned by Harvard University can sue the school for emotional distress. The top court in Massachusetts on Thursday partly vacated a lower court ruling that dismissed a complaint from Tamara Lanier over photos she says depict her enslaved ancestors. The court concluded the Norwich resident can plausibly make a case for suffering "emotional distress" from Harvard and remanded that part of the claim to the lower court. But the high court upheld the lower ruling that the photos are the property of the photographer and not the subject.


Biden teams with East Coast governors to boost offshore wind

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is launching a partnership with 11 East Coast governors to boost the growing offshore wind industry, a key element of President Joe Biden's climate change plan. Biden administration officials will meet with governors and labor leaders Thursday to announce commitments to expand important parts of the offshore industry. Those parts include manufacturing facilities, ports and workforce training and development. The Democratic president has a goal of deploying enough offshore wind power by 2030 to provide electricity to 10 million homes and support 77,000 jobs. The governors are from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.


Connecticut's COVID-19 data report will transition to weekly release

Connecticut’s COVID-19 data report will transition to a weekly release every Thursday beginning next week.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s decision to switch to weekly reporting is being made as health officials are focused on monitoring long-term trends for understanding the impact of COVID-19 in Connecticut and making recommendations for protecting the health of the state’s residents. This change will accommodate plans for long-term reporting of COVID-19 data going forward.

The final formal daily report will be released on Friday. The first weekly report will be released on June 30th. Data on cases, tests, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue to be available on a daily basis at data.ct.gov/coronavirus and will be updated to reflect changes over the last seven days at the state, county, and town levels.

Residents can also subscribe to text message alerts from the state by texting the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.

Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance.  This is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider.


2 officers put on leave after man injured in police van

Officials in Connecticut say two New Haven officers have been placed on paid leave and three others were reassigned after a man was seriously injured in the back of a police van. Mayor Justin Elicker and police officials said Tuesday evening that Richard Cox is being treated at a hospital and could be permanently paralyzed. State police have been called in to investigate. Officials say an officer driving the van Sunday braked hard to avoid an accident, and Cox flew head-first into a wall. The president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP is calling for a federal investigation.


Conn. awarded FEMA funding for pandemic response

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be sending almost $3.7 million to the State of Connecticut to reimburse the state for setting up and operating a series of neighborhood testing sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FEMA Public Assistance grant to the Connecticut Department of Corrections will reimburse it for setting up and operating three testing centers around the state between March and November 2020.

Using both state workers and contractors, the DOC procured pop up tents, weights, heating, cables, moveable furniture, 360,000 nasal test kits, 140,000 oral test kits, swab kits, and collection tubes for testing.

The DOC also leased 3 testing sites and provided boxed meals for field staff at a test site during a limited period in late April 2020 when restaurants in the area were closed during the pandemic.

So far, FEMA has provided almost 416 million dollars in Public Assistance grants to Connecticut to reimburse the state for pandemic-related expenses.


Police say CT man may be paralyzed after in-custody injury

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Officials say a Connecticut man may be paralyzed after he was injured when the officer driving him in a police van braked to avoid a crash. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said Monday that 36-year-old Richard Cox suffered a spinal injury after he was arrested on a gun charge Sunday night. Acting police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said at a news conference that Cox was in the back of a police van when the officer driving the vehicle made an abrupt stop to avoid a crash. She said Cox suffered a serious injury and may be paralyzed. Rush-Kittle ordered an internal affairs investigation into Cox's arrest and injury.
 


1st Native American US treasurer nominated, oversees Mint

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Native American has been nominated to be U.S. treasurer, a historic first. President Joe Biden's nomination of Marilynn Malerba comes as his administration establishes an Office of Tribal and Native Affairs at the Treasury Department. The treasurer's duties include oversight of the U.S. Mint. The treasurer's signature appears on U.S. currency. Malerba is the lifetime chief of the Mohegan Indian Tribe, located in Uncasville, Connecticut. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says Malerba will help further efforts to "support the development of Tribal economies." Yellen is set to visit the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota on Tuesday, the first time a Treasury secretary has visited a tribal nation.


Police: 2 shot and killed following argument over dog

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - An argument between neighbors over a dog led to a shooting that killed two people in Hartford, police said Monday. A third person was shot and critically injured. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the two people who were killed were a couple and they leave behind a 6-month-old child. The shooting happened around 9 p.m. Sunday. The slain victims were identified as Christina Dang, 27, and Chase Garrett, 39. The injured woman who was hospitalized has not been identified. No arrests have been made. Police say they have identified a person of interest in the shooting.


New US Lego factory raises concerns about North American HQ

ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Officials in Connecticut say the decision of Lego Group to build a new factory in Virginia won't affect the company's North American headquarters in Enfield, but industry watchers say there could be cause for concern. The Denmark-based global toymaker announced last week it plans to invest more than $1 billion to build a factory in suburban Richmond. Gov. Ned Lamont's office tells Hearst Connecticut Media that the company has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining its presence in the state. But some experts say it's not necessarily a good sign that the state wasn't chosen.


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