FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE

NO BUDGET VOTE NEXT WEEK
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Democratic members of the Connecticut House of Representatives are coming back to the state Capitol, but not to vote on a new budget. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said Friday they’ve informed their members there will be a closed-door budget caucus meeting on Tuesday, but not a legislative session day. Both Aresimowicz and Ritter suggested late last month that a budget agreement could be ready for a vote on Tuesday. But earlier this week, Aresimowicz said it was possible that a vote wouldn’t happen. Instead, he said he was confident there will be an agreement by August. Aresimowicz says he still hopes a new budget will be in place by month’s end, saying “significant progress” toward reaching a bipartisan agreement was reached this week.

SCHOOL TEST SCORES
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Preliminary results of Connecticut’s three-year-old standardized exam show slightly more students are excelling at mathematics. The State Department of Education announced Friday the percentage of students who are meeting or exceeding the math achievement standard – across all grades statewide – increased by 1.6 percentage points to 45.6 percent. The improvement comes after Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell announced in 2015 the creation of a new council of educators, industry and business leaders and experts and math, science and technology to help teachers in math instruction. That panel released a package of recommendations in October 2016. Wentzell says her department “remains committed to supporting all districts” in implementing those recommendations. Meanwhile, preliminary results show English language arts scores on the state’s Smarter Balanced assessment dipped by 1.4 points to 54.2 percent.

SWIMMING AREAS CLOSED
HIGH BACTERIA LEVELS HAVE CLOSED THE SWIMMING AREAS AT FOUR STATE PARKS, INCLUDING ROCKY NECK IN NIANTIC. STATE ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SPOKESMAN DENNIS SCHAIN SAYS THEY’LL RE-TEST THE WATER AT ROCKY NECK, AND MASHMOQUET BROOK IN POMFRET ON MONDAY. HOWEVER, RE-TESTING AT GAY CITY STATE PARK IN HEBRON AND PACHAUG STATE FOREST IN VOLUNTOWN MUST WAIT UNTIL THURSDAY, WITH RESOURCES STRETCHED THIN— THANKS IN PART TO CONNECTICUT’S BUDGET WOES. HIGH BACTERIA HAS ALSO CLOSED HIGHLAND LAKE IN LEDYARD UNTIL AT LEAST JULY 19TH, WITH GREEN HARBOR BEACH IN NEW LONDON, AND FOUR BEACHES IN OLD LYME ON A WATCH LIST FOR POSSIBLE CONTAMINATION PROBLEMS. SWIMMING IS BEING ALLOWED AGAIN AT GARDNER LAKE STATE PARK IN SALEM.

FIRE INTENTIONALLY SET
A Taftville fire has been ruled arson. Norwich police and fire officials say an arson task force is now looking into the July 3rd blaze on South Second Avenue that damaged a former Ponemah Mill worker boarding house. The fire started in the basement of the building below a convenience store that was being readied for a re-opening. No injuries reported, one family was displaced. Most of the structure was vacant.

PLANE CRASH KILLS LOCAL MAN
A Danielson man has died in a Thursday plane crash in New Hampshire. Police in Winchester say 65-year old John Everson was piloting a single occupant plane when it crashed around 11:30 AM in a heavily-wooded area of the town. The plane was found by authorities around 5 PM. Federal investigators are on the scene. No further information available.

INSURANCE FRAUD SENTENCING
A former Norwich man will serve 100 days behind bars, for insurance fraud. 40-year old Frandy Dugue was sentenced Friday for helping to stage nearly 50 phony car crashes in the area to collect insurance money. He was one of several people involved in the scam. Dugue was arrested in May of last year, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud three months later. He faces immigration proceedings upon his release from prison, since he is a Haitian citizen.

NEPOTISM VIOLATION AT UCONN
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – State ethics lawyers say the University of Connecticut violated the state’s ban on nepotism by hiring football coach Randy Edsall’s son as an assistant coach. But, in their draft recommendation to the state advisory board, the lawyers recommend no action be taken against UConn if Corey Edsall’s one-year, $95,000 contract to coach the team’s tight ends is not renewed. The draft opinion recognizes the “potential disruption” to UConn’s football program if the younger Edsall was barred from coaching this year. The ethics board had questioned whether it was permissible for the elder Edsall to negotiate a job for his son under the state ethics code. UConn says it respectfully disagrees with the draft ruling and adds that Randy Edsall would not be supervising his son.