Heather Brandon

Digital Content Editor

Heather Brandon is digital content editor for WNPR. She previously worked as a producer for Where We Live, The Colin McEnroe Show, and news broadcasts. Heather lives in Hartford with her husband and three children. She has a master's degree in public policy from Trinity College, and a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Bryn Mawr College. 

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Common Core
3:03 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Education Committee Holds Forum on Implementing Common Core Standards

State Sen. Andrea Stillman.
Credit CT-N

An informational forum took place on Friday at the State Capitol focusing on Connecticut's controversial Common Core standards. Introducing the event, State Sen. Andrea Stillman described the forum as "a chance to see, hear, and digest information."

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told lawmakers that the state wants to be flexible with its approach to reform, knowing that local districts are struggling to make sweeping changes while also revising the way teachers are evaluated. 

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Wake of Newtown
9:42 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Hears From Law Enforcement

Scott Jackson, commission chair and mayor of Hamden.
Credit CT-N

A state panel reviewing the Newtown school shooting heard from law enforcement professionals on Friday, including Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, about incident management. 

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Transportation
12:45 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Metro-North Executives Say Efforts to Improve Are Underway

MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast before the state's Transportation Committee.
Credit CT-N

Two Metro-North Railroad executives said on Thursday that the rail line has slowed down its trains, installed new technology, and changed internal management, all in an effort to make commuter rail service better.

MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast and new Metro-North president Joseph Giulietti met with members of the state legislature's transportation committee to talk about reliability and safety with state lawmakers. 

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Sexual Abuse Allegations
9:02 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Report on UConn Professor Shows Misconduct, Delayed Action

University of Connecticut.
Credit Matthias Rosenkranz / Creative Commons

According to a report from an independent law firm, University of Connecticut officials knew of sexual abuse allegations against a music professor for a decade before taking action.

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Special Election
10:28 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Holder-Winfield Wins State Senate Special Election

Gary Holder-Winfield thanked supporters at the The Greek Olive in New Haven alongside his wife, Natalie Holder-Winfield, and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, far left.
Credit Thomas MacMillan / The New Haven Independent

Democratic State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield of New Haven won a special state senate election on Tuesday. He succeeds veteran Toni Harp, who's now the mayor of New Haven.

The New Haven Independent reports that Holder-Winfield defeated Republican Steven Mullins with 76 percent of the vote. Holder-Winfield had the backing of top state Democrats for the 10th District seat, including state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. 

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School Reform
1:50 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

East Lyme Superintendent: Mere Slowdown of Education Reform Is Not Enough

Credit carlosbezz/iStock / Thinkstock

A local superintendent's recent letter to Governor Dannel Malloy laid out concerns about changes to Connecticut's educational system. East Lyme Public Schools Superintendent James Lombardo, a long-time veteran of Connecticut's public schools, wrote a letter to Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor saying education reforms are pointing the state and the country in the wrong direction. 

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Minimum Wage
10:52 am
Tue February 25, 2014

U.S. Labor Secretary Touts Minimum Wage Increase in Hartford

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, at right, with Bridgeport business owner Douglas Wade, left, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Credit Skyler Magnoli

A top Obama cabinet member was in Hartford on Monday advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez joined with Connecticut's two U.S. Senators for a round table at the Hartford Public Library. 

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Transportation
11:24 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Metro-North Conductor Apologizes to Passengers With a Letter on Seats

Credit Susan Sermoneta / Creative Commons

In an unusual move, a Metro-North conductor left a note on passengers' seats Monday morning apologizing for an express train on Friday that never came.

Michael Shaw said he put 500 copies of his written apology on seats after telling passengers at the New Haven, West Haven, Milford, and Stratford stations to wait for an express train that was later canceled. In his note, he said he was "shocked and furious."

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Legislative Session
10:03 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Drone Use Among Many Topics at Judiciary Committee Public Hearing

State Senator Eric Coleman.
Credit CT-N

A lawsuit brought against the Hartford Police Department has piqued interest in private drone use in Connecticut. The state legislature's Judiciary Committee is expected to address the topic, among others, during a meeting on Monday.

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Legislative session
3:14 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

State Public Safety Committee Raises Bill to Repeal Keno

Co-chairs of the legislature's Public Safety and Security Committee, Rep. Stephen Dargan and Sen. Joan Hartley, at left.
Credit Connecticut Commission on Children

Connecticut's Public Safety and Security Committee met Thursday morning to raise a bill on Keno in the state. State Representative Stephen Dargan (D-West Haven) is proposing legislation to repeal last year's bill that legalized the game in Connecticut.

The controversial game is looking less likely to survive the current session, as more lawmakers express an interest in repealing legislation that made it legal. 

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Transportation
11:48 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Fairfield Rail Commuter Event Draws Complaints About Metro-North

Over 100 people attended a Metro-North commuter speakout in Fairfield on Tuesday night.
Credit @CTRailCommuters

Over 100 people attended a forum in Fairfield on Tuesday night intended for Metro-North commuters to talk about problems plaguing the rail service. Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker attended the event at the Pequot Library and took questions.

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Metro-North
9:10 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Malloy Meets With New Metro-North President, Agrees to a Review

A train prepares to leave the station along the Metro-North New Haven Line.
Credit Patrick Cashin / MTA

Governor Dannel Malloy met on Monday with Joseph Giulietti, the new president of Metro-North Railroad, and Thomas Prendergast, chairman and chief executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Malloy said Connecticut and the MTA agreed to establish an independent review before work is done on Metro-North's power or electrical lines, in order to avoid outages like what happened last September.

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Weapons Registration
11:48 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Connecticut Will Accept Some Late Assault Weapons Registration Applications

A GR16 R4 Carbine assault rifle.
Credit Brian nairB / Creative Commons

Connecticut's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will accept and process several hundred applications to register assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines that were not received by the January 1 deadline.

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Salt Shortage
2:08 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

State DOT to Help Cities and Towns Get Road Salt

Credit Feng Yu/Hemera / Thinkstock

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is helping cities and towns that are facing a road salt shortage after a series of storms have hit the state. So far, 22 municipalities have informed the state that they need help getting more road salt.

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Winter Storm
4:58 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Gov. Malloy Declares State of Emergency Over Road Salt Shortage

Gov. Malloy delivering a previous weather briefing.
Credit CT-N

Governor Dannel Malloy said on Thursday that Connecticut is running short on road salt. He declared a state of emergency to request the federal government address the salt shortage.

Malloy said he is directing state emergency management personnel to reach out to cities and towns on Thursday night to get more information about their salt supplies. 

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Climate Change
10:31 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Most Ski Resorts in Warmer New England May Disappear By 2100

Vermont skiers may still be able to enjoy the slopes a century down the line.
Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com / Thinkstock

A climate scientist said that ski resorts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island may not continue to be economically viable at the end of the century, as the region sees warmer winters.

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2014 Session
9:30 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Connecticut Legislative Session Opens

The Connecticut General Assembly (file photo).
Chion Wolf WNPR

The Connecticut legislative session began on Thursday morning in Hartford, delayed a day by a winter storm. Secretary Ben Barnes, of the Office of Policy and Management, delivered a budget briefing, and Governor Dannel Malloy addressed the joint session of the General Assembly at noon. Read the text of his speech here.

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Winter Storm
8:00 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Governor Malloy Delivers Briefing on Weather Impact in Connecticut

Gov. Dannel Malloy at the EOC.
Credit CT-N

Governor Dannel Malloy offered a briefing from the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford on Wednesday morning.

He ordered all first-shift, non-essential state employees to stay home due to the difficult weather conditions, and has advised that anyone who does not need to be on the road during the storm should avoid it. He has also instituted a soft ban on tandem trucks on interstate highways.

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Courts
12:39 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Federal Judge Upholds Connecticut Gun Control Law

Credit Chris Reed/iStock / Thinkstock

A federal judge upheld the state's gun control law on Thursday, acknowledging that it affects Second Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello said in a ruling on Thursday that the measure is constitutional.

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New York Thruway
9:20 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Tappan Zee Bridge to Be Replaced Using 400-Foot Floating Crane

The current Tappan Zee Bridge from Westchester County, New York.
Credit Brett Weinstein / Creative Commons

The Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson River is being replaced, and to get the job done, one of the world's largest floating cranes has arrived in New York.

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Performance
6:48 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Opera Composed at a WWII Concentration Camp is Performed in New London

A scene from "Der Kaiser von Atlantis."
John Waller

An opera written by a Jewish composer while in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II will be performed this weekend in Connecticut. In an egregious bit of Nazi Propaganda, the concentration camp known as Theresienstadt was falsely presented to the world as a model Jewish settlement.

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Invasive Species
1:31 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Environment Committee Holds Informational Forum on Aquatic Invasive Plants

Don Les of UConn speaks before the Environment Committee.
Credit CT-N

The Environment Committee of the state legislature held an informational meeting on Tuesday about aquatic invasive species. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection notes a number of non-native plants and animals that cause problems for native species, such as zebra mussels, rusty crayfish, and an aggressive perennial called hydrilla.

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Saving for a Rainy Day
12:52 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Connecticut's Reserve Fund is Among the Lowest in the U.S., But Why?

It's taken a long time for states to get back to where they were before the last recession hit.
c-George/iStock Thinkstock

Last year, The Pew Charitable Trusts studied fiscal data from the 50 states to see how each could survive on its respective reserve fund. The results were diverse, depending largely on each state’s population and resources.

For Connecticut, the study’s outcome did not look promising. New England’s Constitution State was found to have one of the lowest-ranking reserve funds in the nation. Alaska, on the other hand, came out on top. But why?

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Freedom of Information
1:10 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Victim Privacy Task Force Meets to Discuss Final Report

James Smith, president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.
Credit CT-N

The state's Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public's Right to Know met on Friday to consider approval of its final report, which passed by a 15-2 vote and now heads to the General Assembly.

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Metro-North
12:18 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Malloy: Metro-North Outage Was "Totally Avoidable"

MTA signal maintainers clearing switches after a snowfall.
Credit Marc A. Hermann / MTA

Governor Dannel Malloy called Thursday night's Metro-North maintenance failure "totally avoidable." The outage brought the entire network of commuter trains to a halt for just under two hours in frigid temperatures. 

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Wake of Newtown
9:49 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Meets; Behavioral Health on the Agenda

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson chairs the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
Credit CT-N

Governor Dannel Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission met on Friday morning to hear from experts in behavioral health and crisis counseling services.

The first slate of presenters included Dr. Daniel Dodgen of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Thomas Demaria of Long Island University, and Vincent Giordano of Denizen Consulting. Read more in the agenda for the meeting.

Eastern Europe
8:32 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Sen. Murphy on Ukraine's "Turn for the Worse"

A line of protesters in Kiev on January 20, 2014.
Credit Mstyslav Chernov / Creative Commons

Protests in Ukraine have turned violent between anti-government demonstrators and the police. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy visited that country last month to meet with both sides.

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11:49 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Supreme Court Rejects Former Governor's Case

Lead in text: 
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided against review a lower court decision that involves former Governor John Rowland and state unions. "In a statement, Rowland and his former budget director Marc Ryan said this: It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court is not taking this case. It will have a profound impact on Governors, Mayors, Boards of Education and taxpayers all across America." The Connecticut Mirror has more.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear former Gov. John G. Rowland's appeal regarding a ruling that his administration used layoffs to punish state employee unions in 2003. The case now heads back to U.S. District Court in Hartford, where Rowland will file a motion to dismiss the case, according to a written statement released Monday through his attorney.
Connecticut First
9:58 am
Mon January 20, 2014

"Connecticut First" Recalls Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Time in Connecticut

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC.
Credit Win McNamee/Getty Images / Thinkstock

Monday marks the official observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. To honor the occasion, "Connecticut First" is airing a special edition of the weekday news segment with Eric Clemmons. Watch the segment below or catch it on CPTV on Monday at 6:56 pm. It tells the story of the two summers King spent in Simsbury picking tobacco while on college break.

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Health Exchange
9:19 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Access Health CT Board Meets

Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT.
Credit CT-N

The board of directors of Access Health CT met on Thursday morning to hear an update on operations, information technology, and marketing and sales, among other topics. Catch up on the minutes of prior meetings here

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