Region Digs Out After Snowfall

By RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) _ New Englanders dug out from under more than 2 feet of snow and children in hundreds of communities enjoyed a second day off from school Thursday as power companies worked to restore energy to homes and businesses darkened by the region’s third snowstorm in three weeks.

The winter storm that crippled the South earlier this week joined forces with a system from the Midwest as it moved over the Northeast on Wednesday. The storms announced their arrival in New England with claps of thunder and record amounts of snowfall in some cities. Observers in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts reported as much as 3 feet of snow.

Winter-hardy New England was working its way to normal one day after the storm. Many major Massachusetts highways were cleared, but many secondary roads remained slick and mountains of snow obstructed views at many intersections.

Atlanta, meanwhile, was still struggling to recover four days after it got its share of the storm.

Subfreezing temperatures kept ice on the roads in a region not used to needing fleets of salt trucks or plows. Georgia officials reported progress in clearing highways, but many streets remained slippery and schools were closed for a fourth day across the Atlanta metropolitan area.

The National Weather Service reported snow on the ground in every state except Florida. That included Hawaii, which had 7 inches on the top of the Mauna Kea mountain. The winter weather was blamed for at least 18 deaths since Sunday when snow and ice hit the South.

Scores of schools, businesses and government offices closed Wednesday, and some, including schools in Boston and Providence, R.I., were staying closed Thursday.

Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights Wednesday, mostly in the snowy Northeast, but said travelers wouldn’t be stuck for days as they were after a Christmas weekend storm. The FAA was reporting that all major Northeast airports were operating normally late Thursday morning.

The sun was shining Thursday in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, accompanied by wind gusts and temperatures below freezing. It was a stark contrast to the day before.

While motorists had been warned to stay off the roads, Josh Clukey, 24, of Eastford, Conn., had no choice. He ventured out when his pregnant wife began showing signs of labor early Wednesday. The drive to a hospital in Willimantic, normally 25 minutes, lasted a harrowing hour.

“It was a little scary. It was dark, and the snow was blowing all over the place,” said Clukey, whose son, Ryland James, was born at 8:42 a.m. “There was maybe only about 6 inches on the roads at the time, but the plows hadn’t come out yet.”

In Maine, winds that gusted to 48 mph in Portland and 50 mph in Brooklin knocked out electricity for more than 7,000 Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. customers at the storm’s peak, officials said.

In Portland, people who had the day off used Twitter and Facebook to organize a snowball fight, resulting in a so-called flash mob with dozens of young people in Deering Oaks Park.

“We heard there was going to be a big snowstorm. We said, ‘Hey we’re not working tomorrow so we should have a snowball fight.’ It’s sort of like being a kid again,” said Scott Collins, 27.

Boston accumulated a one-day record 11.6 inches; Worcester, Mass., 15.5 inches; Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport 22.5 inches, and Providence, R.I., 6.9 inches. High snowfall tallies also included 26.3 inches in Chesterfield, Mass., 27 inches in Manchester, Conn., and 21.2 inches in West Gloucester, R.I. The region’s highest was 38.2 inches in Savoy, Mass.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the storm left more than 100,000 people without power or heat by noon. He declared a state of emergency. Scattered power outages were reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island and elsewhere in the region.

Less than 3,000 customers in Massachusetts were without power late Thursday morning. About 400 in Maine were without electricity as of early afternoon.

In New York, where city leaders took heavy criticism for their slow work after a Dec. 26 blizzard, officials rolled out a massive response that quickly cleared the streets. They also received some help from nature, with only 9 inches of snow falling in Central Park _ well short of 20 inches in last month’s storm.
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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Bob Salsberg in Natick, Mass.; Denise Lavoie in Weymouth, Mass., John Christoffersen in Milford, Conn.; Kiley Armstrong in New York.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Prosecution Rests In Uzi Death Trial

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ The prosecution has rested in the trial stemming from the death of an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself with an Uzi at a machine gun expo in Massachusetts.

Prosecutor William Bennett called his last witness on Thursday in the trial of former Pelham, Mass., Police Chief Edward Fleury, who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges.

Fleury’s company co-sponsored the 2008 gun fair at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club where Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., shot himself in the head with a 9 mm micro Uzi.

The defense began its case by asking the judge to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge, saying prosecutors did not prove that Fleury was reckless of that he could have known what might have happened at the fair.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Former Miami Assistant In Talks For UConn Coaching Job

AP File/K Pat Carter

By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A UConn athletic department official says the school and Mark Whipple are in the final stages of negotiations for the former University of Miami offensive coordinator to lead the Huskies football program.

The official says an announcement will not come before Thursday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because the person is not authorized to release the information.

The 53-year-old Whipple was let go by Miami after Shannon was fired at the end of the season. He also coached UMass to the 1998 Division I-AA championship.

Whipple would replace Randy Edsall, who took the head coaching job at Maryland after leading UConn to an 8-5 season and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, where the Huskies lost to Oklahoma 48-20.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Snowbound Driver Robbed At Gunpoint

Middletown police say a snowbound driver stuck in on Westfield Street in the early morning hours was robbed at gunpoint. Police say a suspect wearing a ski mask knocked on the car window, and when the victim opened the car door, showed a handgun and demanded money and valuables before fleeing on foot.

Patrol officers who canvassed the area say they found two suspects in a cloud of marijuana smoke sitting in a running vehicle, and found the ski mask and two bb guns in a second vehicle, as well as items belonging to the victim. Police arrested 19 year-old Mentor Berisha of Plaza Drive on charges of robbery, larceny, marijuana possession and weapons charges. A second suspect, identified as Onur Topal was arrested on marijuana charges.

Photo Courtesy Middletown Police

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Photos From The Storm

This gallery contains 9 photos.

WTIC staff members took pictures of some of their travels during the winter storm. Continue reading

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Razorbacks’ Assistant Interviews for UConn Coaching Job

Courtesy Wesley Hitt/Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ The University of Arkansas says Razorbacks offensive coordinator Garrick McGee has been interviewed by Connecticut officials about the Huskies’ head coaching position.

The Springdale Morning News said Tuesday that Arkansas officials confirmed that McGee had spoken to UConn officials about the job after reports indicating that Huskies athletic director Jeff Hathaway was interested in the third-year Arkansas assistant.

The just-completed season was McGee’s first as offensive coordinator under coach Bobby Petrino. He replaced Paul Petrino, who left after the 2009 season to become offensive coordinator at Illinois.

The 37-year-old McGee also has coached Arkansas’ quarterbacks for the past three seasons, including Ryan Mallett for the past two years.

At Connecticut, Randy Edsall left for Maryland shortly after leading the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Father Of Another Young Gun Fair Visitor Testifies In Uzi Death Case

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A man who took his son to a gun fair where another boy accidentally killed himself with an Uzi submachine gun has begun testifying in the manslaughter trial of a former police chief who organized the 2008 show.

Jim Spielman said he took video of his 11-year-old son the day that 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., lost control of a micro Uzi and fatally shot himself in the head.

Spielman, expected to be the final prosecution witness, took the stand briefly Tuesday after a justice on Massachusetts’ highest court overruled the trial judge to allow his testimony. The trial later was adjourned for the day.

Prosecutors say former Pelham, Mass., Police Chief Edward Fleury’s “reckless” actions in conducting the show led to Christopher’s death. His attorney denies that.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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