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CONNECTICUT OFFERS $500,000 TO HELP CLEAN UP `TRASHMORE’

SHARE CONNECTICUT OFFERS $500,000 TO HELP CLEAN UP `TRASHMORE’

State officials reached an agreement Friday to put up $500,000 to help the city of Bridgeport remove a smoldering, stinking illegal dump site known as "Mount Trashmore," said Lt. Gov. Eunice Groark.

The state has been in and out of court for months trying to force brothers Russell and Geno Capozziello to remove the 30,000 tons of debris from their wrecking company lot in Bridgeport's east end.Protesters had marched at the site for 30 consecutive weeks and brought a load of the trash to the Capitol.

"We are so grateful that this terrible eyesore will be removed from our community," said the Rev. Vernon Thompson, pastor of Bridgeport's East End Baptist Church. He led community demonstrations to get the rat-infested trash pile cleaned up.

State Environmental Commissioner Timothy R.E. Keeney said he freed up the $500,000 at Gov. Lowell P. Weicker's request. The city will provide the balance of the estimated $1.3 million cleanup cost, said Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim. The city will select a contractor to haul the trash to landfills. The job is expected to take eight weeks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal promised to seek financial redress from the Capozziellos. They have yet to pay $868,000 in state fines assessed last August.

Since then, the brothers have been found guilty of contempt of court and ordered to spend their weekends in jail until the debris is removed. Geno Capozziello has complied, but Russell fled the state and is being sought by authorities.