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Sound Bites: Connecticut’s bear run-ins on the rise

Populations of black bear in particular are spiraling upwards in many parts of the northern half of the U.S., as roads, homes and camping spots infringe on bear territory.
Populations of black bear in particular are spiraling upwards in many parts of the northern half of the U.S., as roads, homes and camping spots infringe on bear territory.

Good morning!

After three years of COVID-19 in Connecticut, the state has seen over 12,000 deaths related to the virus as of last week. In Long Island, four different hospitals have been ranked among the best in the country.

Keep reading for a bite-sized look at what else we’re hearing.

AARP’s latest report dictates that caregivers in Connecticut provide up to $7.2 billion in unpaid care for their loved ones. This equates to 390 million hours of care given, up more than $1.2 billion dollars from the last report in 2019. AARP points to a growing complexity in caregiving to different family members to explain the growth.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday that schools in the state will be receiving more than $31 million in funding to strengthen connectivity, security and emergency notification systems. This funding comes from a $2 billion bond act that voters approved towards improving technology and infrastructure in the schools. The security measures discussed include funding for entry control systems and video systems, including for South Huntington High School, which just hired armed guards.

Run-ins with bears in Connecticut have increased in 2022, according to the “State of the Bears” report released this week by the state’s department of Energy & Environmental Protection. The report cites 67 bear break-ins across 22 towns in 2022 alone. The department recommends leaving bears alone if you see them in your neighborhood.

The Suffolk County Police Department is expanding their digital forensics unit to better target child pornography offenders. Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said the addition of three detectives to the unit to address a rise of reports concerning sexually explicit photos shared online. The department’s school resource officers will also be working with school administrators to increase awareness of this new program.

Connecticut’s highway use tax that took effect this past January has truckers upset. The truck drivers joined Republican legislators in Hartford on Wednesday to speak against the tax, instead offering that already-existent robust tax systems should be able to generate enough surplus that the highway taxis unnecessary. David Palumbo, who owns a trucking company in North Branford, said. "We don't really know how we're going to afford this other than passing it on to every consumer that's in this room.”

The busiest highway on Long Island’s East End may see closures for at least the next two years. This comes as a result of a Suffolk County project to install sidewalks along County Road 39 in Southampton, and costs almost $10 million. At a public hearing on Monday, resident Jonathan Ford, said, “This sounds torturous.”

Branford-based Blakeslee Arpaia Chapman, Inc., which was hired to perform work at State Pier in New London, has filed a lawsuit against project manager Kiewitt Infrastructure Co. for extra work that was performed during the demolition stage of the project. The State Pier is being redeveloped to be a hub for the offshore wind industry.

New York State Attorney General Leticia James visited the Shinnecock territory on Thursday to meet with tribal officials. The tribe’s communications manager, Rebekah Wise, told 27east that James “learned about our culture,curriculum, and environmental initiatives of the nation,” and also spent time discussing, “economic development, COVID-19's impact, housing, powwow and infrastructure.” The tribe has extended the invitation to other government officials as well.

Outdoor dining set up in Stamford during the pandemic is here to stay, if restaurants are willing to pay the fee. The new ordinance rules include an annual fee based on the number of seats in the outdoor section of the eatery, named the “public right-of-way.” Businesses with fewer than 20 seats owe a fee of $250, and businesses with more than 45 seats are required to pay $1500.

The Town of East Hampton is planning to purchase 50 body cameras for its police officers as a part of a proposed $1.2 million equipment upgrade. Police Chief Michael Sarlo said that the purchase became possible through technological improvements, changes to state mandates, and grant support, despite the administrative hurdles the department has been facing for years on eastern Long Island.

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Eda Uzunlar is WSHU's Poynter Fellow for Media and Journalism.