Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Courtesy / Springfield Symphony Orchestra

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra announced Friday it will likely not produce any shows this season if it can't reach a contract agreement with union musicians by October 1. Earlier this month, the musicians accused SSO management of unfair labor practices.

Students Araiza Acum-Santos (left) and Michelle Santiago of Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts, get their photo taken as part of a vaccination campaign.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts — alarmed by the city's low COVID-19 vaccination rate, especially among young people — are focusing outreach on public high schools and middle schools.

Mayoral candidate supporters flash signs at cars outside of Joseph Metcalf School, a polling site for the 2021 preliminary election in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Nirvani Williams / NEPM

Michael Sullivan will face Joshua Garcia in November's general election for mayor in Holyoke, Massachusetts. They were the top two finishers in Tuesday’s preliminary.

Holyoke, Massachusetts, residents marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Four years ago, Hurricane Maria led to the deaths of 3,000 people in Puerto Rico. In Holyoke, where about half the residents identify as Puerto Rican, a welcome mat was put out.

On Monday night, a small group gathered downtown to mark the somber day.

The seven candidates for mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, meet for a debate on September 9, 2021.
Screen Shot / Holyoke Media

Holyoke, Massachusetts, will hold its preliminary election for mayor on Tuesday. Voters will have a crowded field of seven to choose from, with the top two finishers advancing to November’s general election.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Two western Massachusetts hospitals said they are experiencing staffing issues. This comes as they've seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent months.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno with city and health officials.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

After canceling a statewide mask rule last spring, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has said he wants these decisions made locally. One such local mandate took effect Monday in Springfield. 

Unionized staff and supporters picket outside the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Chicopee, Massachusetts, on June 23, 2021.
Dusty Christensen / Daily Hamsphire Gazette

The Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations will hold a hearing early this week about a complaint lodged by employees of the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Chicopee.

In 2019, the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, attracted more than a million visitors.
Courtesy of the Big E

The board of health in West Springfield, Massachusetts, is set to vote on an indoor mask mandate this week. The head of the Big E fair, which takes place in the city and starts Friday, said he's in favor of it.

The entrance to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Jeff Brown / Masslive / masslive.com/photos

In Berkshire County, at least 13 incarcerated people have tested positive for COVID-19 since late last month.

Six staff members have also tested positive. About half of those who tested positive for COVID in Berkshire County correctional facilities are vaccinated, according to the sheriff's office.

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi in Springfield, Massachusetts, in a file photo.
Carrie Healy / NEPR

Despite what officials have called extensive mold cleanup and environmental testing at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi this week said he believes the courthouse still isn't safe. He's refusing to send people in his department's custody there.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno announces a citywide indoor requirement for indoor public spaces, effective September 13, 2021.
Screen shot / City of Springfield Facebook video

Masks will be required next week inside all businesses and other public places in Springfield, Massachusetts. The rule affects people regardless of vaccination status as city and hospital leaders noted COVID-19 cases continue to rise to levels not seen in many months.

The flyer put together by Dan Trant's family and distributed around ground zero, formerly the World Trade Center, where Trant worked on September 11, 2001.

Dan Trant, a Westfield, Massachusetts, native recognized for his basketball playing in high school and college, died 20 years ago on 9/11. Trant was 40, married with children, and worked as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

A screen shot of a video and city entertainment permit posted to Facebook by an organizer of the Indie Soul Festival in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Screen shot / Facebook

Organizers of a music festival in Springfield last month, which was erroneously shut down by police, are dismissing an official apology from the city.

John Adams Courthouse, home of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Joe Difazio / WBUR

Massachusetts' highest court is scheduled in December to hear arguments over whether to reestablish a police commission in Springfield.

Would Hartford Gain From A Boston Train? Advocates Are All Aboard

Sep 7, 2021

When Gov. Ned Lamont announced in June that the state would spend $8 billion to $10 billion to (modestly) improve travel times on the busy (if pokey) New Haven Line, the reaction was generally favorable. Most understand that the rail connection to New York City is vital to Connecticut’s economy and quality of life, and the faster the better.

Masked fairgoers walk past unmasked participants inside an animal exhibition barn at the Three County Fair in Northampton, Massachusetts, on September 6, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

The head of the Three County Fair in Northampton, Massachusetts, said he expects the organization to be fined by the city health department because some visitors did not follow mask rules.

Service Employees International Union members marching in New York City in 2015.
The All-Nite Images / Creative Commons

A union is accusing management of a western Massachusetts home health provider of intimidating employees who are attempting to unionize.

In a file photo from January 2017, Governor Charlie Baker was joined by Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, and others in the signing of an act designating the Hampden County Superior Court as the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse.
Alastair Pike / Office of Governor Charlie Baker / flickr.com/photos/massgovernor

Springfield's Roderick J. Ireland Courthouse, renamed just a few years ago for the first African American justice appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, is on the minds of the city's legislative delegation. With the building falling into further disrepair, lawmakers want Governor Charlie Baker to step in and assist.

The Hampden County Hall of Justice.
File Photo / The Republican

Almost every member of Springfield's legislative delegation signed onto a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker asking that he issue an emergency order to rehabilitate or rebuild the Roderick Ireland Courthouse, which has fallen into such disrepair that the Hampden district attorney has removed his staff. 

Baystate Health CEO Mark Keroack.
Screenshot / NEPM

Ahead of Labor Day weekend, the CEO and president of Baystate Health, Dr. Mark Keroack, is cautioning travelers about the coronavirus. He said 95% of U.S. counties are in the CDC's "red zone," with high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

A scene from the Indie Soul Festival on August 21 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Courtesy Darryl Moss

Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood in Springfield, Massachusetts, have apologized to organizers of a recent music festival in the city for any "miscommunication" that led police to try and shut it down.

Superintendent Daniel Warwick, at right, in front of a class of students at Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, on August 30, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

As school starts this week in Springfield, Massachusetts, the district said it's sending permission slips home with middle and high school students so they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine on-site.

Joel Muniz / Creative Commons

A food bank official says some immigrants in western Massachusetts are not getting federal benefits they're eligible for.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni speaks about the evacuation of his offices in Roderick Ireland Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 due to deterioration of environmental conditions
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The Roderick Ireland Courthouse in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, was temporarily closed this week so a mold problem could be addressed, among other environmental concerns.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

While the numbers of COVID-19 patients are creeping up, western Massachusetts hospitals have not yet had to limit elective care.

The Hampden County Hall of Justice.
File Photo / The Republican

The main courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts, is closing temporarily so a mold problem can be dealt with. The state's court system made the announcement Wednesday.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin gestures to a county-level map showing the 2020 census results.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Western Massachusetts is lagging the rest of the state in population growth, according to the latest U.S. census numbers. In a visit to Springfield this week, Secretary of State Bill Galvin brought attention to the region's stagnant or declining population.

Dealers and gamblers wearing face masks at the MGM Springfield casino.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

MGM Springfield continues to miss its hiring goal for women, and is now placing some blame for it on the pandemic. The question came up Thursday during a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting.

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin (left) and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno in Springfield walk to a press conference.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin said action needs to be taken to grow the population of the western part of the state. He made his comments Wednesday during a visit to Springfield.