Heather Brandon

Digital Editor

Heather Brandon is digital editor for WNPR. She lives in Hartford with her husband and three children. Heather previously worked as a producer for Where We LiveThe Colin McEnroe Show, and news broadcasts. 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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Lawmakers are planning changes to a controversial proposal from Governor Dannel Malloy that would enable the state to take land near transit stations.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut lawmakers are considering an expansion of the state’s gambling enterprise, urged forward by competition from Massachusetts. Operators of Connecticut's two existing casinos believe that if this legislation passes, their business will remain competitive.

On Thursday, the legislation -- Senate Bill 1090 An Act Concerning Gaming -- was approved 15 to eight by the General Assembly's Public Safety and Security Committee. It awaits further action in the Senate to clarify details still under negotiation.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A public hearing on Monday heard residents' input on a proposed bill that would clarify state laws on police officers' authority to make arrests outside of their jurisdiction. 

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Livepanelists broke down the origins of the bill and the issues surrounding it. 

Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

Former Connecticut Governor John Rowland was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 months in prison in a campaign fraud case. He was also fined $35,000.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Hamden mayor who led Governor Dannel Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is leaving public office to take a job in the governor's administration. 

Mark Pazniokas / The Connecticut Mirror

A federal judge has denied a bid from former Governor John Rowland for a new trial in the criminal case that could send him to prison for up to three years. 

U.S. Congress

Former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords visited Connecticut to push for new gun control legislation designed to help domestic violence victims. 

Julia Pistell / WNPR

A public hearing on Monday at Hartford Public High School heard residents' input on a bill that would clarify state laws on police officers' authority to make arrests outside of their own towns.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Hartford is investing in a $350 million development in the North End of the city that will include housing, shopping, and a minor league baseball stadium, dubbed Downtown North. But will investment in Downtown North translate into economic prosperity to the rest of the North End?

Odane Campbell / CPBN Learning Lab JMA Satellite Campus

Join us for a discussion about what works in elementary education and how to make it better. WNPR's John Dankosky led a conversation with a panel of teachers. 

Ricky Aponte / Creative Commons

More young people are moving to the heart of cities, according to a report from think tank City Observatory. This includes cities that we usually think of as “economically troubled,” like Buffalo, Cleveland, and, yes, even Hartford. Some of these cities have been losing their overall population, but gaining in their numbers of college graduates in their 20s and 30s.

A report in The New York Times said the number of college-educated people moving to city centers has surged, up 37 percent since 2000, even while their populations have shrunk slightly. What’s behind that trend, and is it happening in Connecticut?

Middletown Police Department

Police have arrested a fifth Wesleyan University student on drug charges stemming from on-campus overdoses that sent a dozen people to the hospital. 

City of Middletown / Middletowneyenews.blogspot.com

Zoning may not be the sexiest topic when it comes to headlines, but it sure has been in the news a lot lately, and it tells us a lot about what matters in our cities and towns.

This hour, we hear about some recent zoning stories making waves in different parts of the state, and we hear from you -- what has zoning law done for you lately?

Office of Gov. Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy is planning to widen highways in Connecticut as part of his 30-year transportation proposal.

While he called rail “extremely important” to his plan, Malloy said on WNPR’s Where We Live that rail solutions won’t solve the state’s highway troubles. He said he thinks those troubles are slowing down the state economy as well as highway traffic.

Peter Stevens/Flickr

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the United States and President Barack Obama for aiding Israel during a speech to Congress on Tuesday. He also warned of the threat that Iran poses to Israel’s survival.

The world must unite in order to “stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation, and terror,” Netanyahu said.

Wasted Time R / Creative Commons

Quinnipiac University faces a $150-a-day fine, with the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission accusing it of violating a 2006 housing agreement that led to construction of the York Hill campus. 

Facebook

A Cornwall farm operator, accused of mistreating dairy goats, has been arrested on animal cruelty charges. Tara Bryson, who operates Butterfield Farm Co. with her boyfriend, Michael Hearl, was arrested Thursday.

Office of Gov. Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy is naming a U.S. Army reservist and ethics officer for Pratt and Whitney to oversee Connecticut's Department of Veterans Affairs. Malloy announced the appointment of Lt. Colonel Sean Connolly on Thursday afternoon.

Joe Mabel / Creative Commons

Police say four Wesleyan University students arrested this week after about a dozen people who took the party drug Molly were hospitalized are known on campus as drug dealers.

Brendan Dolan-Gavitt / Creative Commons

Four Wesleyan University students have been arrested on drug charges in connection with about a dozen hospitalizations among people who took the party drug MDMA, also known as Molly.

The students have been suspended from the university. Charges include possession of a controlled substance, illegal obtaining and supplying of drugs, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy released the final details of his new two-year state budget on Wednesday. 

The Democrat has already warned that the budget is going to be “tough,” but he hopes it will provide relief to the state’s middle class with a slight state sales tax reduction. Republicans have been critical of his additional plan to eliminate the an exemption to the sales tax on up to $50.00 of clothing.

The new fiscal year beginning July 1 is predicted to face a $1 billion deficit. The following budget year is also facing a projected $1 billion in the red. 

On WNPR's Where We Live, Keith Phaneuf of The Connecticut Mirror called the governor's budget "a tired exercise in fiscal semantics." Promised cuts aren't coming, he said, and the governor is creating "a new definition of a tax hike" while still trying to say he "didn't really increase taxes." 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A panel created by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in the wake of the Newtown school shooting has issued a set of draft recommendations aimed at avoiding another tragedy like Sandy Hook.

The 256-page report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was posted online Thursday.

The report offers recommendations in the areas of school design and operations, mental health, and law enforcement.

Connecticut Senate Republicans

Connecticut's Republican legislators proposed a 30-year, $37.4 billion plan to fund a proposed overhaul of the state's transportation system on Tuesday. They'd like to do it without resurrecting tolls.

The announcement comes a week before Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy will present his two-year budget and transportation initiative.

Both Senate and House Republicans proposed dedicating a set amount of bonds to be used solely for transportation projects, starting with $441.5 million in fiscal year 2016. That would complement the approximate $600 million in bonding already spent annually for transportation.

City of Hartford

The city of Hartford has reached an agreement with the developer of its new $56 million baseball stadium and with the team owners of the Rock Cats.

The revised development plan with DoNo Hartford LLC calls for improvements to the Downtown North neighborhood that would include a supermarket of up to 50,000 square feet, a brewery, housing, stores, and restaurants. The development agreement also includes hiring preferences for Hartford residents and minority or women-owned business in building the stadium.

A groundbreaking is scheduled for February 17.

NTSB

Federal investigators visited a Metro-North train crash site Wednesday where six people were killed and 15 were injured.

A train on the Harlem Line crashed into an SUV Tuesday evening in the Westchester County town of Valhalla, New York. It's considered the worst accident in the history of the rail line.

New York Senator Charles Schumer told reporters Wednesday that the train was traveling at about 58 mph, within the speed limit for the area, which ranges between 60 and 70 mph. Federal investigators gathered other information about whether the train's brakes were applied, and whether its horn sounded as it approached a crossing.

NTSB

A federal report stemming from the investigation into the May 2013 derailment of a Metro-North Railroad train that injured scores of passengers in Bridgeport said that bolts on brand-new M-8 cars are too weak.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that Metro-North replace thousands of bolts on the fleet of more than 400 new Kawasaki rail cars on the New Haven line and New Canaan branch.

The NTSB said the bolts were not to blame for the derailment, but that their failure made the two-train collision worse, because a piece of one car sliced into the passenger compartment of another.

Cindy Cornett Seigle/Flickr

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has dire predictions for many of the coastline communities in Connecticut and Long Island.

A report released on Wednesday, "North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study: Resilient Adaptation to Increasing Risk," took two years and covered 31,000 miles of coastline along ten states. It says climate change is putting the region at risk of more flooding and more superstorms like Sandy in 2012.

Joeseph Vietri, with the ACE, said western Long Island and western Connecticut are particularly vulnerable, which is a problem because they're such heavily populated areas. "Not all of them have the ability and the wherewithal to pick up and just move," he said. "So there are entire cities, towns, and villages that are under direct threat."

Douglas Palmer / Creative Commons

A New York federal appeals court has rejected a Connecticut woman's claims that media outlets libeled her by refusing to delete stories about her arrest after charges were dismissed.

The ruling by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pertained to the August 2010 arrest of Lorraine Martin. The court said her arrest's deletion from legal records doesn't make news accounts of the arrest false or misleading.

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Blizzard warnings eased early Tuesday for parts of Connecticut, but central and eastern parts of the state saw continuing snowfall and strong winds through midday. By noon, most counties were downgraded to a winter storm warning as a powerful nor'easter made its way across the state.

A statewide travel ban lifted in Connecticut at 2:00 pm. Local roads were opened in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties early Tuesday morning, but Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents to wait before getting on the roads if possible. State bus service will resume Wednesday, and state employees return to work in the morning.

Office of Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy is asking residents to prepare for a significant snowstorm impacting Connecticut Monday evening through Tuesday. He declared a state of emergency, opened the Emergency Operations Center, and issued a travel ban on state highways as of 9:00 pm Monday.

Malloy said Bradley International Airport is closing to passengers at 7:00 pm Monday night. He said the last Metro-North train would leave Grand Central Station in New York City at 9:00 pm.

"Although storms can be unpredictable, this storm has the potential to have a significant impact on the state and we need to be prepared," Malloy said. "Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same."

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