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Sound Bites: Tourism in Connecticut breaking records

Tour boat "Becky Thatcher" cruising up the Connecticut River in Chester, Connecticut.
Bob Child
Tour boat "Becky Thatcher" cruising up the Connecticut River in Chester, Connecticut.

Good Morning. Two North Carolina men were indicted in Suffolk County, New York on Monday for unlawfully endangering more than a dozen, five-week-old puppies and a toddler. 

Police found 19 pitbull puppies caged with a two-year-old sitting near two loaded guns in a Jeep on Friday, Sept. 1. Russell Brown and Jamar Belle were charged with multiple counts of neglect of an impounded animal, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal possession of firearms, among other charges. 

The puppies were taken for veterinary evaluation and are available for adoption. Child Protective Services placed the two-year-old in protective care. 

Brown and Belle are being held on a $100,000 and $40,000 bond, respectively, while they await their October court date.  

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

A Connecticut short-term group home for children is being sued after a minor was allegedly sexually assaulted at the Harwinton facility. An unidentified 14-year-old girl and her family are suing Bridge Family Center for failing to properly supervise its residents or train staff to prevent assault. Executive director Margaret Hann told Hearst Connecticut Media that the child trauma recovery facility has operated without incident for nearly 40 years. The state General Assembly's Children's Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The Massapequa school district filed a lawsuit against New York for prohibiting the use of Native American mascots, imagery or team names. The lawsuit argues the rule violates the school’s right to free speech and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. The Massapequa “Chiefs” are among 13 Long Island schools required to eliminate its Indigenous identity by the end of next school year. Schools that refuse may lose state financial aid and have school leaders discharged.

Griffin Hospital will pay $1 million each to patients that may have been exposed to HIV and other diseases between 2008 and 2014. The settlement is from a 2016 lawsuit where 3,100 patients were potentially exposed to diseases as a result of the Derby hospital repeatedly using insulin injection pens on multiple patients. However, an attorney for the hospital argues no patients contracted any blood-borne pathogens from the pens misuse. Unclaimed settlement funds will be paid to court-approved charities.

All of Farmingdale High School students are expected to recover from Thursday’s charter bus crash in Orange County, New York. The students were heading to a band camp in Pennsylvania when their bus veered down a 50-foot ravine near Wawayanda. More than 20 students were sent to local hospitals to be treated for injuries. Most of the students have since been released. The school's director of bands and a retired teacher were killed in the crash. Police are investigating what caused the crash.

New Haven is debating what to do with the abandoned power plant, English Station. The owners, Haven River Properties and Paramount View Millennium, plan to redevelop the site into housing for residents. Meanwhile, preservation advocates want to see the property turned into a shopping center, a school or a museum. Onsite construction has been delayed due to electric distribution company, United Illuminating, falling behind on an order to clean the site of contaminants — which was to be completed by 2019.

Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation to help protect New Yorkers from flooding as storms become more frequent and severe. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is looking at ways to develop natural ways to make shorelines resilient to sea level rise and extreme weather due to climate change. Real estate agents must also notify homebuyers if a property is located in a flood risk area or has previously been flooded. Annual flood damage costs for at-risk homes are estimated to be $23 million, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Connecticut has seen an increase in the number of asylum-seekers from Cuba and Haiti. About 500 Cubans and Haitians have arrived since January. Migrants are fleeing from political violence in Haiti, and Cuba’s slow post-pandemic economic recovery. More migrants from Venezuela, Afghanistan and Ukraine also call Connecticut home. In July, the state had over 31,600 asylum cases in its immigration court system.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is considering creating a mounted horse unit to help with public safety functions and ceremonies. A sheriff spokesperson said the mounted police would help oversee events due to a horse’s natural ability to navigate smaller spaces compared to a vehicle. Deputy sheriffs and correction personnel would be eligible for a steed but the new branch is still being discussed.

Tourism in Connecticut broke records this summer. The state's lodging industry saw a 10% increase in revenue. The official tourism website CTvisit.com logged more than 7 million site visits since January. Officials expect the fall to be lush with tourism due to this summer’s heavy rains which produced vibrant foliage.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.