HAMPDEN COUNTY

Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey is bringing criminal charges against the former superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, Bennett Walsh, and the facility’s former medical director, Dr. David Clinton, for their roles in the deadly COVID-19 outbreak that swept through the facility earlier this spring and killed 76 veterans.

Baystate Health CEO Mark Keroack.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Massachusetts officials report the rate of COVID-19 infections in the state has been relatively steady in recent days. But the head of Baystate Health Systems says the number of patients admitted to his hospital has increased slightly during the same period.

About 15 years ago, Zee Johnson opened what is one of only a few Black-owned bookstores in Massachusetts. She still does outreach work in the city for Springfield's Department of Elder Affairs.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Walking into Olive Tree Books-n-Voices on Hancock Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, is like walking into someone’s home. It's one of only a few Black-owned bookstores in the state.

Dana Nestor and Nina Fernandes at their new Northampton, Massachusetts, house.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Home buying and selling slowed down in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but realtors in western Massachusetts say the market has picked up. 

Mohawk Trail Regional School in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Some western Massachusetts school districts — in areas deemed by the state to be "low-risk" for COVID-19 — are responding to a push to return to in-person learning.

Shane Dillon attends his school in Springfield, Massachusetts, from home.
Christine Dillon

Updated at 12:35 p.m.

At the end of the first week of this log-in-from-your-bedroom school year, Shane Dillon said it isn’t bad — yet.

Judge Nullifies Firing Of Bennett Walsh As Head Of Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Sep 22, 2020
Bennett Walsh, superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, speaking at a memorial service in 2017.
The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Updated at 5:17 p.m. 

Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders did not have the authority to fire Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh following a COVID-19 outbreak at the home, and Walsh's termination should be considered void, a Hampden County judge ruled Monday.

U.S. Representative Richard Neal, at an event promoting participation in the U.S. Census, outside the Sergeant Kevin A. Dupont Memorial Middle School in Chicopee, Massachusetts, on September 18, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Massachusetts U.S. Representative Richard Neal said he hopes the courts force the government to continue collecting information for the census.

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Springfield, Massachusetts, officials say they've been making changes in the police department in response to a scathing report by the U.S. Department of Justice.

For their daughters and themselves, Mustafa and BeckyJean Thompson said they're relieved there's now more structure to the West Springfield, Mass., online school day.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Most Massachusetts public schools began classes this week after a delay due to the coronavirus. Districts,  independently of one another, developed their plans and many schools are teaching remotely. That means parents and caregivers are again juggling their work schedules while also acting as teacher helpers.

The MGM Springfield casino ahead of its August 24, 2018, opening date.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The MGM Springfield casino took in $18.4 million in gambling revenue in August. It was the first full month the resort was open after a lengthy shutdown due to the pandemic.

Diners enjoy outdoor dining with service on the patio at Johnny's Bar and Grille in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in June.
Don Treeger / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

Some chambers of commerce across western Massachusetts said they've seen some restaurant closures due to the pandemic. And there's concern about what fall and winter might bring.

A PVTA bus.
Mark M. Murray / The Republican / Masslive

The head of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority said ridership is down significantly because of the coronavirus, but that the agency is surviving with the help of federal aid.

Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield, Massachusetts, during a coronavirus press briefing in 2020.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker this week praised Springfield's efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve, bringing the city's risk level from moderate to low.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a press conference Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Communities across Massachusetts have made "excellent progress" slowing the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday, praising Springfield’s approach in particular.

MassMutual's offices in Enfield, Connecticut.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Springfield, Massachusetts-based MassMutual is selling its retirement business, which represents about a quarter of the company's U.S. workforce.

Joanna Jaracz of Cummington, Massachusetts, after winning a blue ribbon for showmanship on September 7, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Because of COVID-19, this year's Three County Fair was far different than in past years. There was no demolition derby, carnival rides, games — or the public. The fair was limited to arts and crafts exhibits and youth livestock competitions.

The drought map for Massachusetts as of September 1, 2020.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Much of western New England continues to suffer from a moderate to severe drought. But over the last week there was improvement in some spots.

Creative Commons/https://pixabay.com/photos/cable-distribution-electrical-1868352/

The Springfield, Massachusetts, City Council will hold a hearing on electricity costs Thursday. That’s after constituents complained their bills went up.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal at Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts, as he declares victory in the 2020 Democratc primary against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, Massachusetts, turned back a stern challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse to capture the Democratic Primary in the state's 1st Congressional District on Tuesday. With 88% of precincts reporting, Neal held an 18 percentage point lead.

Results: Contested Primaries in Western Mass.

Sep 1, 2020
At a polling place in Williamsburg, Mass., every other voting stall was taped off to ensure social distancing.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

The polls are closed in the 2020 Massachusetts state primary. This campaign season has brought serious challenges to a sitting U.S. senator and the chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. There are also contested primaries in a handful of state legislative districts in Hampden County.

A ballot drop box in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Carrie Healy / NEPM

The 2020 Massachusetts primary on Sept. 1 will whittle down the candidates and offer a major test to the state's mail-in voting system.

For many cities and towns, Tuesday's primary is the first voting in a new coronavirus world. 

Alex Morse (center), the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, before a debate in August 2020 against his opponent in the Democratic primary, U.S. Rep Richard Neal.
Don Treeger / The Republican/ Masslive.com / photos

Three weeks after signing on to a letter that shook up a congressional race in perhaps unexpected ways, leaders of the College Democrats at UMass Amherst are apologizing to Alex Morse.

Springfield, Mass., City Councilor Adam Gomez (left) is challenging state Senator Jim Welch (right) in the 2020 Democratic primary.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Among the state legislative seats being contested in Tuesday's Massachusetts Democratic primary is the Hampden Senate district, which includes West Springfield, and parts of Springfield and Chicopee.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse (left), and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield exchange a greeting before a recent debate.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield is seeing a stiff challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse in the Democratic race for the 1st Congressional District in Massachusetts. And Neal hasn't had to deal with many close races during his political career.

Many workers still furloughed from the MGM Springfield casino will lose their health insurance as of August 31.

Denise Hurst (left), Sean Mullan (center) and Orlando Ramos (right) are running in the 2020 Democratic primary for a Springfield-based seat in the Massachusetts House.
File / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Three candidates are running to replace a retiring Massachusetts state representative in the 9th Hampden District, which includes part of Springfield and a small part of Chicopee. 

2020 Voter Guide: Contested Primaries In Western Mass.

Aug 26, 2020
Terry Yusteo (center) places ballots between Abigail Stone (left) and Adeline Rogers, so they can check in early and mail-in ballots to be counted on Tuesday, September 1, in Northampton, Mass.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com/photos

Updated Aug. 30 

Voters across western Massachusetts will have an opportunity to vote on September 1 in the state primary  — if they haven't already taken advantage of early voting or the expanded mail-in option.

Diocese of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus, who Tuesday was apointed to oversee the Springfield Diocese until a new bishop is appointed.
Diocese of Springfield

Worcester Bishop Robert McManus will oversee the Springfield, Massachusetts, Roman Catholic Diocese until a new bishop is named.

Downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts, in May 2014.
Joseph / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/josepha

Three Democrats are on the primary ballot in the 5th Hampden District of the Massachusetts House, which covers all of Holyoke. The incumbent, Aaron Vega, is not seeking reelection. 

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