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Sound Bites: Preserving stories from World War II veterans

102-year-old, 378th Infantry Regiment Staff Sergeant Dominick Critelli interviewed by Newsday before his trip to the National World War II Museum
102-year-old, 378th Infantry Regiment Staff Sergeant Dominick Critelli interviewed by Newsday before his trip to the National World War II Museum

Good morning! Eight Long Island veterans will travel to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Wednesday to tell their war experiences to local students. 

Dominick Critelli, a 102-year-old Floral Park resident and a member of the 378th Infantry Regiment in an Artillery Aviation Unit, will travel alongside Wantagh High School students. In 1944, Critelli flew behind enemy lines to drop off supplies to isolated American troops during the “Battle of the Bulge” in Germany.

This trip is part of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Soaring Valor Program, in which more than 1,000 veterans have recorded and preserved their firsthand accounts to educate students about World War II. Tuesday also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing: 

Connecticut’s energy assistance program is on pause, just two weeks after it reopened assistance applications. Operation Fuel usually ends in May but was ended early in order to better prepare for the next winter-spring season. The program received a high number of applicants this past season. Nearly $8 million were provided to 8,000 households for energy assistance.

A New York regulator is concerned about Long Island Power Authority’s new standard rate structure. The state Department of Public Service sent a letter to LIPA, saying its time-of-day energy rate plan will fail to address costs needed to change the billing system and to inform customers of the rate change, according to Newsday. Other utilities spent $40 million to implement new systems. Another concern is that if most residents stay on the current fixed rate, then revenue will be under-collected and inadvertently result in higher bills.

Police arrested a Connecticut man for running a dental operation inside a Danbury hotel. Officers arrested41-year-old Hugo Moraes-DeLima in the middle of a dental procedure at the La Quinta Hotel. He was charged with practicing dentistry without a license or credentials and for illegally selling prescription drugs.

Riders want the Long Island Rail Road to release hundreds of dollars locked in their customer accounts. The money is stored in Mail & Ride accounts. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of riders have stopped riding the LIRR and now want funds originally intended to pay for rides to be returned. Federal legislation introduced to reunite funds with commuters have been stalled due to lack of sponsors, as more riders return to the LIRR.

Lawmakers introduced legislation to improve railroad access in coastal Connecticut.  A bill would restore service on the Shore Line East rail line to pre-pandemic quality, install new rail cars for use on the Waterbury and Danbury branches of the New Haven line, and expand the Waterbury and Danbury branches to include New Milford, Seymour, Shelton and Derby. This would be in addition to the Lamont administration’s multibillion dollar infrastructure plan.

Union contract negotiations with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority began Monday. The Transport Workers Union Local 100 presented the MTA with demands to increase employee wages for inflation, provide improved health benefits with mental health services, and pledge to support the union in prohibiting state legislation from eliminating the overtime cap. Governor Kathy Hochul had proposed a MTA payroll tax for Long Island and downstate New York to help meet rising costs.

The East Haven Police Department identified Jane Doe in the 1975 Frontage Road homicide. Patricia Meleady Newsom ran away from her New York boarding school with a friend to go to Maine in the early 1970s. She vanished and her sister, Maryann Newsom Collette, had been searching for her ever since. Collette had her DNA swabbed to help detectives track her sister down.

Long Island was ranked New York’s top region in creating jobs by industrial development agencies. According to a report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, nearly 44,000 jobs were added by December 2021. These jobs were created through expanding businesses, housing developments and other projects that received payment in lieu of tax agreements. Several community groups opposed the biggest project approved for IDA tax breaks in 2021 — The Brookhaven Rail Terminal’s planned $410 million warehouse development — for steering money away from local school districts.

A New Haven police officer facing misdemeanor charges was previously suspended twice in 2018. Officer Lindsey Nesto is accused of threatening to snap a 14-year-old boy’s neck last Halloween. Nesto was previously suspended for posting an image of an empty taser cartridge on Snapchat and for letting a person suspected of serial rape to drive away after a traffic stop. Nesto is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

The remains of one of the oldest U.S. submarines was discovered in the Long Island Sound. The Defender was built in 1907 by inventor Simon Lake for the Navy. Lake was unable to gain a contract and the submarine remained dormant until it sank in 1946 off the coast of Old Saybrook. Its exact location remained a mystery until a diving team with Connecticut-based Shoreline Diving, discovered it on Sunday.

University of Connecticut Police have arrested two students accused of vandalizing the campus after the men’s basketball team won the national championship two weeks ago. A university spokesperson says investigations are ongoing and more arrests are expected.

Body camera footage from a botched police raid in New Haven has been released. Last week, New Haven officers broke down an innocent woman’s door and handcuffed her by mistake. An investigation has been opened into the incident.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.