WFSB - Eyewitness News

Proposals that would implement tolls in CT pass hurdleHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- The topic of tolls continued at the state capitol. On Wednesday, lawmakers spent the day discussing three bills that would potentially implement tolls in Connecticut. The Transportation Committee started voting on the three toll proposals late Wednesday afternoon following a 12-hour public hearing. One bill passed through the committee on Wednesday that would allow tolls on I-84, I-91, I-95, and Route 15. The bill passed 21-11, all Republicans voting 'no.' Ultimately, the General Assembly needs to have the final vote. Two more bills passed after that, passing on party lines. Governor Ned Lamont’s latest proposal is a plan for 53 toll gantries on four of the state's highways-- I-91, I-95, I-84, and Route 15. "I really think it's the future of the state and that's why I'm leading in on this hard," Lamont said. He continues to say that the <a href="" target="_blank">revenue generated from tolls</a> would help upgrade the state's transportation infrastructure, including a number of deteriorating bridges around the state. He said it was not an easy decision to propose tolls, but the state needs reliable revenue and no more borrowing. Democratic Senator Derek Slap said he's not endorsing tolls but wants to keep the discussion moving. "All this stuff is difficult part of the reason CT is in this budget mess is because for far too long elected leaders did not make tough decisions," Slap said. Before the Transportation Committee started, Democrats and Republicans met privately to caucus. "It's been tolls, period. There hasn't been a dialogue about a mix of things it either tolls or nothing," said Republican State Rep. Brenda Kupchick. The anti-toll movement has mobilized and they want to be heard. "The tolls issue is opposed by Republicans, by Democrats, by citizens all over the state," said Neil Tolhurst, of No Tolls CT. Wednesday’s meeting came just one day after a group protested tolls in state by <a href="" target="_blank">placing a large inflatable "toll troll"</a> on the capitol lawn. Business groups are reluctant to take a stand on tolls. The Waterbury Chamber of Commerce said companies of all sizes want better roads and bridges, but tolls are tough. "We need that investment in infrastructure and that would probably come from toll revenue, so we are watching this closely," said Lynn Ward, president of the Waterbury Regional Chamber. The House speaker said state gas taxes and federal monies bring in about $1 billion per year, but that needs to double to make critical improvements. The viaducts here in Hartford is $20 million a year in just upkeep, so we have serious concerns about transportation safety for consumer but also transportation friendliness," said State Rep. and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz. Stay with Ch. 3 throughout the day as developments become available.
Home invasion, stabbing under investigation in New HavenNEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -- New Haven police have part of Dickerman Street blocked off for an investigation. The police activity was reported around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. While police have not released specific details of the investigation, an eyewitness said it was a home invasion and stabbing. The eyewitness said the violence happened on the third floor of a home. Police crime tape was up at the scene. The eyewitness said two people were attacked, and ran downstairs saying they had been stabbed and assaulted. According to the eyewitness, four people in total were hurt. "They had been robbed and three of them were pretty bloodied. I hadn’t seen the lady yet with the baby, I saw them later on during the investigation and the next thing I know the police were here so fast," said John Davis. Police have not yet released specific details of the investigation. Stay with Channel 3 as more information becomes available.
Residents celebrate first day of spring across the state(WFSB) - Spring is in the air! So is free ice cream and Italian ice. To celebrate the first day of spring, free Italian ice for everyone today. This was just one way people are springing into the season. Getting back into the swing of spring for residents in CT. “As a golfer being cooped up for 3, 4 months it’s tough,” said Wally Michaud. But no winter lasts forever! To celebrate first day of spring people were out at Black Rock State Park in Thomaston. “Oh, it’s just nice to see you folks out here today and I hope other people are out enjoying this weather too,” said Abe Allen. The sun beams did not disappoint. People waited to get up to the front of the line at Dairy Queen in Plainville. And why not celebrate because spring is finally here. If you’re looking for a free treat, Rita’s has a free Italian ice and Dairy Queen is offering a free ice cream cone for the rest of the day.
Dog tests positive for rabies in Waterford, East Lyme areaWATERFORD, CT (WFSB) – The Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control released a public service announcement after a domestic dog tested positive for rabies. The animal control said the dog spent time in both the Groton and New London areas. According to the animal control office, rabies is fatal to everyone and everything if not treated in time. They are asking pet owners to make sure dogs and cats are vaccinated against the disease. All dogs and cats in the state are required to be vaccinated. For more information about rabies and the symptoms, click <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a>
Woman upset after Eversource cut down fruit trees in her yardSOUTHINGTON, CT (WFSB) - Fruit trees on a Southington homeowner's property are now gone after she says Eversource workers cut them all down. Eversource has been working in the area, trimming trees that are near powerlines. The stumps on these trees weren't big at all, some smaller than my foot. This homeowner loves gardening and has planted fruit trees over the years. Now she has to start from scratch. Dawn Raudis says she couldn't believe what she saw or didn't see when she walked into her own backyard. “I was like oh my God! They cut down our fruit trees,” Raudis said. She says at least 7 of her fruit trees were taken down by Eversource recently. The Southington homeowner says some fruit trees have been there for almost 10 years. “I have two apple trees back there. A peach tree over there. They cut that down my fruit cocktail trees and the stumps are only this big,” said Raudis. Eversource crews have been working in the area to trim trees near power lines. “They came and cut everything down. So now, you can see that house. That house. That house. They took away all the privacy,” said Raudis. While we did see powerlines above her property, but she said the trees they cut down were not much taller than a swing set. Raudis says they're all dwarf trees meaning they won't grow past 12 to 14 feet. Eversource said their trimming cycle is every five years and they sent letters before doing the word. "This area has many landscaped yards underneath the transmission lines, so in February we sent all the property owners a letter explaining the work that will be done and urged them to call us if there were any concerns," said Frank Poirot, Eversource spokesperson. Raudis says she received a letter but it wasn't specific about her fruit trees, just about cutting down brush. “I think it's wrong. And I think it's an evasion of privacy and they could have asked. I would have just said to top off the trees. They didn't have to cut them down,” said Raudis. Eversource also said if homeowners expressed concerns, the company could have taken a look and possibly not have cut down those trees.
$550 million up for grabs in Wednesday's Powerball drawing(WFSB) -- Lottery fever is gripping the country once again and the only cure seems to be a winning ticket. Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing has an estimated jackpot of $550 million. It’s the eighth largest in the history of the game. The odds of matching all five numbers plus the Powerball number are pretty low, about one in more than 292 million. Tickets are $2 per wager, and you can add the Power Play feature for $1 more.
PD: Woman was in possession of crocodile monitor valued at $15,000NEW BRITAIN, CT (WFSB) -- A Newington woman is facing charges after police said she was in possession of a crocodile monitor, which is a prohibited reptile. The investigation began in June of last year, when New Britain police were notified about a foul odor and flies coming from an apartment on Chestnut Street. When officers got there they found the crocodile monitor, as well as two emaciated dogs inside. Officer said the apartment was filthy, smelled of urine, and saw feces throughout. The temperature inside was also extremely hot and there were no fans or air conditioning inside. Nobody appeared to be living inside the apartment, and the conditions were so poor that the New Britain Health Department had to condemn it. The property owner identified Eileen Rodriguez of Newington as the renter of the apartment. Police said she and her boyfriend Carlos Colon were believed to have been involved in harboring the animals in the apartment under those conditions. Colon was arrested last November and charged with three counts of cruelty to animals. Rodriguez was arrested on Tuesday and charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, and illegal possession of prohibited species without a permit. She relinquished ownership of the two dogs and the crocodile monitor was turned over to the Connecticut Environmental Police. The estimated black market value of the reptile is about $15,000.
Windsor Locks police searching for sex assault suspectWINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) -- Windsor Locks police are looking for a man wanted on sex assault charges. Police said they are looking for 44-year-old Asbel Rivera, who is facing six counts of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. No weapons were used in the crimes, but police said he has two handguns registered in his name, as well as an active pistol permit. Anyone with information should contact police at (860) 627-1461.
Fans flock to Hartford for March MadnessHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - March Madness has arrived in Hartford. The XL Center is hosting several NCAA men's basketball games starting on Thursday. It's part of the Division I men's basketball tournament, and is expected to generate millions of dollars through the weekend. <a href="" target="_blank">Teams from across the country</a> will face off between Thursday and Saturday. Practices ahead of the NCAA tournament were wrapping up inside the XL Center on Wednesday, as fans from across the country made their way to downtown Hartford. From near and far, fans flocked to Hartford to be part of the ‘madness.’ "I waited 21 years ago for this to happen again,” said Paul Wendrychowicz, of Wethersfield. “I’ve never been to Connecticut before, so I was looking forward to it,” said Wally Foltz, who is a Purdue fan. "Love the city, and the venue is great, so we're pumped and we're excited. Hoping for a couple of victories.” "It was going to be exciting no matter where it was, but it was close to home so that made it even more exciting,” said Vanessa Sheppard. Download a March Madness bracket <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. March Madness gets business booming in Hartford It's been 20 years since the tournament last had games in Hartford. More than 25,000 people are expected to attend the games with even more filtering in and out of local businesses. Businesses on Pratt Street should be bustling at noon on Thursday with a pop-up pub and live music. Ahead of the tournament, Channel 3 spoke with the president and CEO of the Metro-Hartford Alliance. He said they're expecting more than a $7 million impact to the local economy by way of hotel stays, restaurants and shopping. “It brings people to Hartford, it’s an opportunity to highlight the people who may have not thought to come to Hartford," said David Griggs, president and CEO, Hartford-Metro Alliance. St. Patrick’s Day just happened, but at Vaughan’s Irish Public House in downtown Hartford, the party is still in full swing thanks to the tournament. "Everybody has been talking about it for a long time so we're expecting to meet some new friends and see some old ones. We're just hugely excited that the tournament is downtown and that we get a chance to shine,” said Johnny Vaughan, owner of Vaughan’s. One way for local restaurants and bars to stand out is by offering specials. “$3 Coors Lights, come and get them, 16 ounces,” said Shaun Valedaserra, bartender at Dish Bar &amp; Grill. With deals like that, combined with many bars and restaurants opening earlier and closing later, it's no surprise the influx of out-of-towners has already been noticeable. "We had a great crowd last night. There's a lot of people in town. We had a lot of people for dinner. Just coming into work this morning, it was great to see so many feet on the street,” Vaughan said. "There's definitely an increase in volume downtown, and we had a few people here yesterday from Florida state, can definitely tell there's a buzz in and around downtown,” Valedaserra said. There's also a pop-up brew pub that will canvass Pratt Street throughout the games. The all-day festival will feature beers from local breweries and a whole bunch of TVs to watch all the NCAA tournament games.
3 nearly completed buildings at Silver Sands State Park destroyed by fireMILFORD, CT (WFSB) – A fire destroyed a controversial construction project at Silver Sands State Park in Milford on Tuesday evening, according to authorities. Officials provided an update around 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Several 911 calls reported a "large fire" in the area of East Broadway and Silver Sands State Park, according to Milford Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi. Upon arrival, Fabrizi said firefighters located three buildings on fire, two of which were fully-involved. Firefighters used a "defensive attack." It was extinguished in about two hours. Officials determined the buildings housed a concession stand/dining area, public restrooms, and an office. The buildings were part of a $9 million renovation project. The project was expected to be completed for the Memorial Day Weekend. It was a project that <a href="" target="_blank">many people in the city spoke out against</a>. From the beginning, there was push-back from city leaders in Milford, and local legislators, saying they didn't want the project and that it would change their beloved park and that it was too much money to spend. “It's a shame and honestly I didn’t want to see if built, $10 million at a time when the state of Connecticut is in so much debt, this was really a luxury, but it is what it is. It was being built and the project will move forward," said State Rep. Kim Rose. As of Wednesday afternoon, investigators said they are not ruling anything out yet, including looking into whether or not its suspicious. “I’ve spoken with several DEEP officials, there will be a thorough investigation, but there was construction going on in the building yesterday, and they were using space heaters," Rose said. “It's devastating for the state and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to put this kind of effort into a project like this and to see it go up in flames in a short amount of time," said EnCon Police Capt. Keith Williams. For now, the park will remain closed while crews investigate. "We’re treating it as an active an open investigation," said Capt. Keith Williams, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection EnCon police. "We’ll see if any of those leads to if it was arson related or not. We’re looking into that, but like I said at this time, it’s really early in the investigation and it’s really going to unfold once daylight comes." There were no reported injuries on Tuesday night's fire. The cause is under investigation. Firefighters from the Stratford and West Haven fire departments provided mutual aid for Milford. “DEEP is grateful for the efforts of the Milford Fire Department and other responding agencies," said Katie Dykes, commissioner, DEEP. "The park will remain closed for as long as necessary to investigate the fire and protect the safety of the public. Though we are saddened by the loss of the buildings under construction, the most important thing is that no one was injured fighting the fire.”