HAMPDEN COUNTY

Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Updated at 10:59 a.m.

As one of western Massachusetts' major newspapers operates on bare bones, its staff hosted a public forum this week.

An empty classroom.
Violet Jiang / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/124094550@N02

Some Massachusetts parents disagree with Governor Charlie Baker's plan to get students back in classrooms by the end of the school year, a proposal announced earlier this week. 

Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst in June 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

City Councilor Justin Hurst of Springfield, Massachusetts, is calling for an audit of all city contracts going back five years, looking in part at the city's support of minority-owned businesses.

Mass. State Sen. Eric Lesser Lays Out Landscape For Legal Sports Betting

Feb 23, 2021
Sports betting in action.
Thomas Schlosser / Creative Commons

Allowing adults 21 or older to bet on professional sports in person and online in Massachusetts would generate meaningful, but not game-changing, revenue for the state, a key senator said Monday as he highlighted a bill that's the product of nearly three years of study and consideration.

The American Hockey League All-Stars line up for the Canadian and American national anthems at the MassMutual Center during the 2019 all star event.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority needs to do a better job overseeing MGM Springfield's management of the MassMutual Center. That's according to a report from the state auditor's office.

MAXPIXEL.NET / CREATIVE COMMONS

Baystate Health CEO Mark Keroack says the isolation of learning remotely is causing serious psychological stress on children.

Freshman Massachusetts state Senator Joanne Comerford sponsored the gender-neutral ID bill and gave her maiden speech on the subject during Thursday's session.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Three state lawmakers from western Massachusetts have been chosen to lead new committees in the new session on Beacon Hill.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Daily Hamphire Gazette

At least one western Massachusetts hospital is no longer scheduling appointments for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — for now. That's after the state said it's focusing its limited supply on other sites like the Eastfield Mall in Springfield.

Board Members Offer Differing Views On Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Feb 10, 2021
Cindy Lacoste (left on screen) of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home board of trustees was among officials questioned by a Massachusetts panel including Sen. Walter Timilty and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell (foreground) and Rep. Ruth Balser (right on screen).
Sam Doran / State House News Service

As they weigh structural reforms to operations at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in the wake of last year's massive and deadly COVID-19 outbreak, Massachusetts lawmakers must contend with a complicating factor: those already tasked with oversight of the facility have a range of opinions on how their jobs should work.

Police cruisers in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com

This week, a group of Springfield, Massachusetts, city councilors continued their calls to reform the city's police department. 

Razor wire on top of the perimeter fence at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Massachsuetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

The sheriffs of Hampshire and Hampden counties say a growing number of inmates in their jails are getting vaccinated, despite some initial hesitation.

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

A major winter storm may be hitting western Massachusetts, but a COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Springfield is open, and has a plan to accommodate those who can't make it because of the snow.

Two health care workers speak with a man before he gets vaccinated at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on January 29, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Widespread vaccinations for those 75 and older in Massachusetts begin on Monday. But two of the state's mass vaccinations sites — the Eastfield Mall in Springfield and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough — began offering them a few days early.

Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield NAACP.
Douglas Hook / Masslive / masslive.com

Advocates for police reform in Springfield, Massachusetts, say it's time for the federal government to force the police department to be accountable for its actions.

A PVTA rider waits at the Amherst College stop on Boltwood Avenue in 2019.
Staff photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

A new survey shows that COVID-19 is keeping people from riding public transportation in Massachusetts.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home on May 1, 2020.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

A Massachusetts legislative oversight committee met Thursday as it looks into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. One main topic was whether staffing contributed to the deaths of at least 76 veterans at the state-run facility.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno in a file photo. Behind him stands Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has taken under advisement a lawsuit by the Springfield City Council against the mayor in a dispute about police department oversight.

Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts
Don Treeger / The Republican / Masslive

The top doctor at a Springfield, Massachusetts, medical facility said the region has enough capacity to treat patients for COVID-19 and other illnesses — at least for now.

At a press conference on June 9, 2020, members of the Springfield City Council observe a moment of silence to remember George Floyd, who was killed while in Minneapolis police custody.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

A hearing will be held on Tuesday in Hampden Superior Court on the City Council's lawsuit against Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Carolyn Robbins / The Republican / Masslive

A group that settles refugees in western Massachusetts said the future of the program is unclear, even with the change at the White House.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno in a file photo. Behind him stands Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Next week, a lawsuit filed by the Springfield, Massachusetts, City Council against Mayor Domenic Sarno goes before a judge.

Police cruisers in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

Members of the Springfield Police Department will start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 this week. But the commissioner said a good number of her officers won’t be in line. 

Holyoke, Massachusetts, City Councilor Rebecca Lisi attends a meeting on Jan. 6, 2020. Lisi has announced she will be a candidate for mayor in 2021.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Two members of city government of Holyoke, Massachusetts, have announced they're running to replace Mayor Alex Morse.

In past years, hundreds showed up for the Three Kings Day celebrations at Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Because of COVID-19, Grisel Delgado and her daughter are producing a scaled-back event.
Courtesy / Grisel's Privare Dance School for the Performing Arts

Many Christians celebrate Epiphany on January 6, also known as Three Kings Day. In Puerto Rico, it’s an official holiday and for Puerto Ricans living in western Massachusetts, the community celebrations are usually huge, but not in the era of COVID-19.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Mike Plaisance / The Republican / masslive.com

The union representing the majority of employees at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home is acknowledging many workers are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Diocese of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus.
Diocese of Springfield

The Roman Catholic Diocese in Springfield, Massachusetts, recently said it will expand its public list of priests accused of abuse to include those implicated after their death. But some other dioceses in Massachusetts don't have lists posted on their websites at all.

The Martin Luther King Junior Community Presbyterian Church on fire in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 28, 2020.
Springfield Fire Department / Via Masslive

The head of the fire department in Springfield, Massachusetts, said federal authorities are investigating a blaze that broke out Monday morning at a church in the city's Mason Square neighborhood.

An aerial view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston in June, 2017.
AbhiSuryawanshi / Creative Commons

The legislative session on Beacon Hill is drawing to a conclusion — and it is a time of transition. Some representatives, such as Aaron Vega of Holyoke, who represents the 5th Hampden District, are serving their final days in the House. A group of newcomers, including Jake Oliveira of Ludlow, who will represent the 7th Hampden District, will be sworn in next week.

Courtesy of Springfield No One Leaves

 

The pandemic has taken a crisis of housing affordability and made it worse. In western Massachusetts and elsewhere, growing numbers of people are falling behind on rent and are in danger of being evicted, even with well-funded assistance programs.

Just off I-291 in East Springfield is a seemingly unremarkable plot of land. Sandwiched between an electrical switchyard, busy roads and a working class neighborhood, the fenced-in property is mostly barren, aside from some machinery for making asphalt in one corner and a few tall piles of gravel and crushed rock.

But the site, owned by the Palmer Paving Corporation, sits at the center of a long-standing environmental justice fight over a proposed wood-burning, or “biomass,” power plant.

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