Hartford, Conn.State DOT may study effects of winter road chemicals

Connecticut’s Department of Transportation could soon study the corrosive effects of chemical road treatments used to clear ice and snow on state roads and highways.

The Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of a transportation bill that included language requiring the DOT study.

The bill awaited action in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Pamela Sawyer pushed for the study, prompted by complaints from motorists and truckers about corroded vehicles, including rusted-out brake and fuel lines. Sawyer said she’s also received complaints from citizens, including a mechanic, who believe they’ve become physically ill from the chemicals.

Since 2006, DOT has used a sodium chloride brine to pretreat roads before a storm. The state also uses a mixture of salt and magnesium chloride to prevent snow from bonding to the road.

Rochester, N.H.Fatal shooting not random, investigation continues

The Attorney General’s Office says a fatal shooting in Rochester was a homicide.

Police responded to a report of an altercation shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday and found two men at the scene, one of whom had been shot.

The victim, 37-year-old Richard Dumont of Rochester died at a hospital where he was being treated for a gunshot wound to the chest.

Police have determined that the shooting did not involve strangers and have identified those involved. The investigation is continuing.

Montpelier, Vt.Driving while phoning likely to be illegal come Oct. 1

Driving with a cellphone to an ear would be banned in Vermont effective Oct. 1, under a bill that looks likely to become law.

Meanwhile, budget negotiators said Wednesday they still did not have agreement on a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1, and an effort to consolidate Vermont school districts appeared to be fizzling.

On the cellphone ban, Gov. Peter Shumlin appeared to be softening in his opposition, saying he appreciated lawmakers’ decision that violators would face fines but not points on their drivers’ licenses.

The Senate was to take final action on the cellphone ban on Thursday.

Concord, N.H.Competency hearing delayed for graffiti suspect

A judge is postponing the competency hearing for a man who shot himself in the head just weeks after police charged him in connection with racist graffiti written on the homes of four African refugee families in Concord.

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler on Wednesday put off the hearing for at least 45 days after lawyers for Raymond Stevens of Pembroke said they are still gathering medical records.

Stevens was arrested Oct. 15 and charged with writing hateful messages in black permanent marker on the four homes in the same Concord neighborhood in 2011 and 2012.

He shot himself in the head Nov. 7 – on his 43rd birthday – but survived.

Stevens faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of felony criminal mischief, because police say the crime was motivated by racial and ethnic hostility. He pleaded not guilty in November.

The case went unsolved for nearly two years after the first graffiti appeared.

On one home was scrawled, “The sub humans in this house are enjoying a free ride.” On another, “Go back to your hell and leave us alone.”

Concord Det. Wade Brown sifted through more than 1,000 criminal files and complaints generated from the city’s South End between 2009-2011 looking for any handwritten documents featuring the distinctive lowercase letter “b” written like the number six, along with other distinctive letters and unusual word choices used in the graffiti.

When that search failed, Brown turned to gun permit applications and found one submitted by Stevens, who used to live in the same neighborhood where the graffiti appeared.

“The nature of these crimes is so deplorable, it didn’t matter how much time was spent,” said Concord Police Chief John Duval, in announcing Stevens’ arrest. “Concord’s a great city. Being rocked at its foundation by something hateful is not going to be tolerated.”

North scituate, R.I.Trooper accused of assaulting traffic suspect

A state trooper is facing a misdemeanor assault charge after allegedly using physical force against a man detained on a traffic violation.

State Police Superintendent Col. Steven O’Donnell said Wednesday that James Donnelly Taylor has been indicted on a charge of simple assault and is suspended with pay. He is to be arraigned May 21. It’s not immediately known who is representing him.

O’Donnell said Taylor is accused of assaulting Lionel Monsanto Feb. 26 after arresting him for driving with an expired license. O’Donnell said Monsanto allegedly was confrontational and acting aggressively. O’Donnell said Taylor filed simple assault and disorderly conduct charges against Monsanto that were later dismissed.

O’Donnell said Taylor is “a good trooper” who has been with the state police for five years.

He said an internal investigation led to the indictment.

– From news service reports