And Another Thing

Monday - Friday 6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Hosted by Maya Shwayder and Dara Kennedy

And Another Thing involves you in serious conversations about important issues facing the people of western New England. Journalists Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder speak with people from a wide variety of backgrounds who are dealing with challenges and looking for solutions. You can expect insight, uncovered angles and passionate voices, along with a diversity of opinions and experiences shared on the air and online.

Send us an email at andanotherthing@nepm.org. Leave a voice message anytime at (800) 639-9120. Join the conversation on social media using the links to the right. And please suggest important topics for discussion.

And Another Thing is produced by New England Public Media.

ADAM FRENIER/NEPM

A western Massachusetts political figure is taking the rare step of running for statewide office. Shrinking population could cost the western part of the state a little political influence the next time state lawmakers are elected. More evacuees from Afghanistan are arriving each day in western New England, where residents are offering warm welcomes.

Choosing new Medicare plans can be complicated

Oct 14, 2021

It’s the time of year when older Americans who depend on Medicare replacement health insurance plans decide whether to keep their current plans, or change to new ones. In Massachusetts, there could be more changes than usual, since one major insurer is shutting down its Medicare replacement plan at the end of the year.

SGT. WILLIAM CHOCKEY / U.S. MARINE CORPS

Evacuees from Afghanistan arriving in New England to begin difficult adjustments are the latest of many groups to seek refuge here. All have faced both unique and similar challenges.

Western New England looks to welcome Afghan refugees

Oct 12, 2021
MSGT PATRICK NUGENT / U.S. AIR FORCE

Of the more than 55,000 Afghan refugees relocated to the United States, several thousand will soon call New England home.

Hampden County continues to have the highest daily rate of COVID-19 infections of any county in Massachusetts. However new state figure show modest declines in COVID-19 in most areas, including in Hampden County.

“The numbers of cases of COVID 19, they're coming down, but very slowly it's still out there in the community. So in that in that case, it's still out there. So, if you haven't been vaccinated, I really encourage you to get vaccinated and follow the rules of infection control,” Dr. Armando Paez, Infectious Diseases Division Chief at Baystate Health told And Another Thing.

Aging infrastructure increases risk of major flooding in area

Oct 5, 2021
The view from the Meriden, Connecticut, green after the area was flooded from Hurricane Ida.
Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

The remnants of Hurricane Ida brought up to eight inches of rain and caused major flooding damage in parts of Connecticut in early September, while moderate flooding was reported in parts of western Massachusetts. Those were small events compared to some of the truly devastating floods in the Connecticut River valley.

Michael Bobbitt, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council
Massachusetts Cultural Council

Reviving arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts devastated by the economic impact of the pandemic has become largely the responsibility of a playwright and theater director, who has become the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Week in review: Smith & Wesson's move, Big E crowds, and more

Oct 1, 2021
Smith & Wesson headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / Masslive / MassLive.com

After nearly 170 years in Springfield, gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson is moving its headquarters and hundreds of jobs to Tennessee. The company said it will move 750 jobs from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Missouri, but will leave about 1,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

Relationship Violence

Sep 30, 2021
Safe Passage

The family of Gabby Petito is establishing a foundation in her name to help families of other missing people after the 22-year-old’s disappearance and murder dominated news headlines and was shared widely on social media.  Gabby’s case has highlighted a disparity between cases of missing white women and those of people of colorAnd Another Thing examines the phenomenon known as “Missing White Woman Syndrome” and shines a light on cases of people of color who are missing here in New England.

Western Massachusetts Looking For Return To Normal After COVID

Sep 29, 2021
Springfield, Massachusetts, officials launched a vaccination campaign for high school and middle school students, starting at Central High School.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Students and staff at most schools in Massachusetts will have to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for at least another month. But some could take another step toward a return to normal on Oct. 15.

Figuring Out How To Address COVID-19 In Western Massachusetts

Sep 28, 2021
Springfield Technical Community College has been hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Dave Fraser / NEPM

On a recent Thursday, fewer than a dozen people gathered in a brightly lit room on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College. The group included medical professionals and people who had previously avoided COVID-19 vaccinations, but wanted them that day. Those clinics continue in cities and towns throughout western Massachusetts every week.

What Is Holding Western Massachusetts Behind In COVID Fight?

Sep 27, 2021
Richard Bodo of Auburn, Massachusetts, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 1, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

The surge in COVID-19 cases across Massachusetts since the late summer fueled by the delta variant is showing its first signs of slowing down. But concern remains high in the western half of the state, which is home to the counties and communities with some of the state’s highest rates of COVID infection and lowest rates of vaccination.

There are over 600 athletes representing the United States in the 2020 Tokyo Games. More than 30 have ties to New England. Besides the current medal count, two major stories have surfaced in the competition's first week - outbreaks of COVID and athlete mental health.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will take a deep dive into these stories with local experts. Learn how athletes prepare mentally, the connection between training and vaccination and how one New England state is preparing for the return of their olympians. Guest include:

  • Kathleen Mellano - Assistant Professor of Sport Psychology, Springfield College
  • Dr. Sheela Shenoi - Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease, Yale University
  • Dr. Eric Carson - Team Doctor, USA Rowing
  • Kelly Dougherty - Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Public Health

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated COVID-19 guidelines for the 2021-22 school year recommending that anyone over the age of two wear masks inside schools regardless of vaccination status.

On Tuesday, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reversed its earlier guidance and now suggests that some who are fully-vaccinated also wear masks indoors. This has caused confusion heading into the school year.

Recently, Massachusetts senator Becca Rausch and many of her colleagues signed an open letter to Governor Charlie Baker urging him to require masks in elementary schools and day care centers come Fall. The Governor responded Wednesday afternoon in a press conference stating, "Massachusetts is in a much better position than the vast majority of the states in this country with respect to how it deals with and is prepared to deal with COVID."

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dissect what all this information means for parents, teachers, and child care providers. Guests include:

  • Massachusetts senator Becca Rausch
  • Bevan Brunelle - Theatre teacher, Holyoke Public Schools
  • Merlandie Pierre - Senior at Holyoke High School

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder continue the discussion following Tuesday's January 6 committee hearing where four Capitol officers recounted their experiences with emotional testinmonies describing the attacks. The show will explore the term insurrection, the ongoing turmoil between lawmakers, a look into the behaviors of those that took part and whether this type of extremism is prevalent in our region. Guests include:

  • Austin Sarat - William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College
  • Laura Hansen - Sociologist and Professor Emerita of Criminal Justice. Western New England University
  • Robert Trestan - Director, Anti-Defamation League of New England

Last summer, the Tanglewood Music Festival closed for the first time since 1943. It meant the cancellation of nearly 150 concerts due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the Berkshires are back in business and the Boston Pops are ready to return to Friday-festival performances.

Maestro Keith Lockhart has been leading the Boston Pops since 1995 and in his conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder, he discusses his personal difficulties during the show's hiatus, the current and future state of classical music and if a new album is on the horizon.

In the United States, only mortgage borrowing tops consumer debt ahead of student loans. So if you're a parent or a student worried about your future finances after college, you are not alone.

State Representative Natalie Higgins and Senator Eric Lesser authored The Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights. Implemented in July after six years of pushing for the reform, the program aims to address the state's student debt crisis. It’s not about eliminating the debt, but more about consumer protection. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder's guests include:

If you're someone who is just learning about conservatorships because of the Britney Spears case, you should know that these types of arrangements are far too common. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with experts to break down for us the difference between conservatorship and guardianship plus how these laws in Massachusetts work. You'll also hear about a bipartisan federal bill that's been introduced, that would make it easier for a person to replace the guardian they are living under if that guardian becomes abusive. Guests include:

  • Robert Fleischner - A Northampton lawyer serving in disabilities, civil rights, and guardianship cases.
  • Patricia Keane Martin - Elder law attorney, Seegal Lipshutz Lo & Martin
  • Rick Black - Executive Director and Co-founder, Center for Estate Administration Reform

One day it's hot, the next day it's raining. What is going on with the weather in July?
Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk rain, storms, farms and floods with local experts on how this weather trend may impact you. Guest include:

  • Mike Rawlins - Associate Director, Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst.
  • Leslie Harris - Farm Manager, Quonquont Farm in Whatley, MA
  • David Wisseman from Warner Farm in Sunderland, MA
  • CT Meteorologist Matt Scott
  • Dan Thompson - National Weather Service
  • Mark Samperi - Vice President, New England Flood Insurance

Massachusetts state senator Adam Gomez wants you to know that he is just like you. In this full version conversation, you'll hear how the proud afro-latino came from humble beginnings - experiencing homelessness to being arrested - and the moment he decided to get his life back on track. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dive into his policies of supporting the millionaire's tax, infrastructure and how to get folks back to work.

The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, maker of one of the most widely used opioids, reached an agreement on a $4.3 billion settlement with 15 states. Massachusetts and Maine have accpeted the deal, while Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire did not. Maya Shwayder and Dara Kennedy will talk with Attorneys General Maura Healey (MA) and William Tong (CT) to discuss their decisions and what the settlement means for families and cities who have filed suit. We will also hear from a father who lost his son to an overdose and became involved in the lawsuits against the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma. 

Due to the rise in opioid overdose deaths, Rhode Island General Assembly passed a law to construct a two-year pilot harm reduction center. A place where people can use controlled substances under the supervision of a health care professional. Would such a center help someone with an addiction? Guests include:

As cities and states address the multitude of challenges on the downside of the pandemic, lawmakers and political hopefuls are devising universal child care plans for working familes. Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito recently announced that the state would be prioritizing a new set of child care initiatives based on Governor Baker administration's "Future or Work" report. Meanwhile, democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing launched his "Downing Child Care Plan". Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will dissect what universal child care will mean for your family in the region. Our guests include:

Our "Monday Conversation" is with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the 5-time state senator from Pittsfield on his background and why he decided to run for Massachusetts governor after taking time away from politics. Downing will also breakdown his recently released child care and infrastructure plans.

Pittsfield native Ben Downing is one of a handful of candidates who has announced their run for Massachusetts governor. Ben served five terms as state senator representing what would become the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district, before deciding not to run for re-election in 2016 and joining a renewable energy company. 

This is the full conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder from the Monday's show. Ben Downing explains why he's getting back into politics after time away and his plans for housing, child care, transportation and more if elected governor.

Connecticut's Baby Bonds bill is a program that directly addresses the racial-wealth gap. In short, any Connecticut child born from poverty will receive $3200 in a state savings investment. When that child reaches 18 years of age and is still in the state, that initial investment is expected to grow to nearly $11,000. That money can only be used to either pay for higher education, purchase a home in the state, start a business in the state, or place into a retirement fund. 

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden to break down the bill and its financial impact. 

Bruce Adams, President and CEO of Credit Union League of CT, explains why the Baby Bonds bill was the right thing for legislators to do for the future of Connecticut's disadvantaged youth.

Hear from an expectant mother, who only has $100 in savings, about what the Baby Bonds program could mean for her future child.

To hear the full interview with CT State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden, click here.

Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden talks with Dara Kennedy about the state's new Baby Bonds Bill, an initiative to help address the racial-wealth gap. You'll learn about the bill's inspiration, Treasurer Wooden's background and his pledge to reduce systemic inequality. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of the coronavirus Delta variant has been reported in all 50 states. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Dr. Matilde Castiel, Commissioner of Health and Human Services for the city of Worcester about the variant gaining momentum in Massachusetts.

On June 23, Massachusetts senator Sonia Chang-Diaz announced her bid to join the gubernatorial race. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the senator about her background as a school teacher, lessons learned from her immigrant father and how these experiences sets her apart from the handful of candidates vying for the position.

This Fourth of July holiday is seeing some form of normalcy returning in terms of in-person celebration.

Stephen Pelkey, CEO of New Hampshire based Atlas PyroVision and Entertainment, talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on how his professional fireworks display and retail business acclimated to the challenges stemming from a pandemic year.

Massachusetts Fire Marshall Peter Ostroskey will discuss the crackdown on illegal fireworks crossing into the state and the safest way to celebrate.

The yearly citizen naturalization ceremony returns at Old Sturbridge Village. Rhys Simmons - Director of Interpretation, explains how the museum is pulling out all the stops for the in-person celebration.

In Hartford, Taneisha Duggan explains how this year's new Hartford Bonanza, will be more vibrant than past celebrations.

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