HAMPDEN COUNTY

Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Mary Crimmins, at center, with friends and family at Crimmins's birthday party in 2018.
Submitted Photo

Since the first recorded death in Massachusetts from the coronavirus, more than 8,000 residents have died. 

The Big E, a 104-year-old New England agricultural fair, is canceled for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtesy Eastern States Exposition

The Big E — the giant annual agricultural fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts — is canceled this year, Eastern States Exposition officials announced Monday. In recent years, more than a million people have come to the area during the fair's two-week run. 

Flags outside of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Miriam Wasser / WBUR

An independent report looking into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home was released this week. It said the facility's management, under superintendent Bennett Walsh, made "substantial errors," which led to the death toll rising.

The first independent investigation into the deadly coronavirus outbreak at a state-run nursing home for veterans in Western Massachusetts was released this week.

Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh Challenges Pearlstein Report

Jun 25, 2020
Bennett Walsh, superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, speaking at a memorial service in 2017.
The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The superintendent at the center of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home crisis is challenging an independent investigator's conclusions about his qualifications for the job and hinted at potential legal action to fight his impending termination. 

The office of the bishop of the Springfield Catholic Diocese.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

An independent investigation commissioned by the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese found allegations of sexual abuse against the late bishop Christopher J. Weldon to be credible.

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

Updated at 8:22 p.m.

Lawmakers, officials and others weighed in Wednesday on findings of an independent report that said leadership at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home made "substantial errors and failures" in handling a deadly COVID-19 outbreak. 

In 2019, the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, attracted more than a million visitors. Tickets for the September 2020 fair are available for purchase.
Courtesy of The Big E

Tickets are being sold for the Eastern States Exposition — or The Big E — in West Springfield, Massachusetts, known for livestock competitions, rides and fried food. The website even has a countdown to a supposed opening day, September 18. 

Report Details 'Utterly Baffling' Decisions at Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Jun 24, 2020
Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard walk down one of the halls of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on April 1, 2020.
Army Spc. Samuel D. Keenan / Massachusetts National Guard

A report released Wednesday into the deaths of at least 76 veterans with COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home flags "substantial errors" the facility's leadership team made in responding to the outbreak.

Massachusetts Veterans Affairs Secretary Francisco Urena Vacates Post

Jun 24, 2020
Massachusetts Veterans Affairs Secretary Francisco Urena in a file photo.
File photo / State House News Service

There's a change in leadership coming to the Massachusetts veterans affairs office, which oversees the soldiers’ home in Holyoke where one of the nation's deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 occurred earlier this year.

Supporters of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home demonstrating in favor of renovations at the state-run facility.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

A group calling for major renovations to the Holyoke Soldiers' Home held its first of several planned demonstrations Tuesday afternoon. Seventy-six veterans living at the state-run facility who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in recent months.

Angelle Lopez before the graduation car parade at Springfield Central High School.
Courtesy of Angelle Lopez

For Angelle Lopez, graduating from Springfield Central High School and moving onto college is a very big deal. 

Young@Heart, in a recent rehearsal, from their homes in western Massachusetts.
Screen Shot / Jill Kaufman / NEPR

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Young@Heart, the western Massachusetts chorus whose youngest member is 75 years old and oldest is 90, was forced to cancel in-person rehearsals. They started meeting online and making "quarantine videos."

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, at a press conference Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Five Springfield police officers who are currently indicted on perjury charges are once again suspended, two months after the police commissioner reinstated them. The officers are accused of trying to cover up a 2015 fight outside Nathan Bill's bar between off-duty police officers and four black men.

The order before the Springfield City Council, which will be discussed at a special meeting Tuesday.
Springfield City Council

The Springfield City Council Tuesday will hold a special meeting to consider whether to retain outside legal counsel. This is the latest step in an ongoing dispute with the mayor over bringing back the city's police commission.

Ula Richardson, 78, has continued to work part time, caring for the elderly, during the pandemic. She said building up her immune system and praying has helped her through the past three months.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

COVID-19 has been especially lethal to senior citizens. In Massachusetts, nearly 95% of the people who have died from the coronavirus were over 60. The average age of death is 82.

Mitchell Rozanski during a press conference introducing him as archbishop of St. Louis.
screenshot / Archdiocese of St. Louis

Springfield Roman Catholic Bishop Mitchell Rozanski is leaving western Massachusetts to become the Archbishop of St. Louis.  The announcement was made by the Vatican on Wednesday.

The Springfield City Council is calling for immediate changes to the police department's use-of-force policy in light of the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. 

Jasmine Sinclair, who organized the Northampton, Mass., protest, delivers a list of demands, including a one-third reduction in the budget for the Northampton Police Department.
Ben James / NEPR

About a dozen protests against police brutality and racism were scheduled across western Massachusetts over the weekend.

"Say Their Names" is a new mural in Springfield, Mass., led by artist Wane One.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Public murals went up around Springfield, Mass., last year as a form of community building. This week, amid widespread protests of police brutality and racism, a group of cultural institutions including Art for the Soul Gallery and Common Wealth Murals is supporting a new mural in Springfield.

Westfield High School.
File Photo / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Just a few months ago, Massachusetts communities were anticipating new money for public schools because of the state education act signed into law last year. But the financial picture has changed significantly because of COVID-19.

Shamari "Shamrok" Stampp, at a public piano in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

In downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, inside an atrium near the corner of Main and Harrison, is a public piano. Shamari Stampp comes to it at least once a week. 

A crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered in front of City Hall in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on June 2, 2020, to protest police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.
Ben James / NEPR

Some of the protests across the U.S. in response to police brutality and the killing of George Floyd have played out as organizers intended. Others ended in violence and property destruction.

In Holyoke, Massachusetts, a march on Tuesday went off without a hitch.

Catherine Forrester's graduation photo from Ridley High School in Brunswick, Georgia, 1948.
Submitted Photo

The number of COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities in Massachusetts rose to more than 4,200 last weekend. One of them was Catherine Forrester, who was living in Agawam when she passed away.

Tony Marinello, a drain technician with Fletcher Sewer and Drain, stands in front of a storm drain in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He fixed a pump inside of it.
Courtesy Tony Marinello

The problem that Tony Marinello fixes is always urgent.

Protesters kneeling at a protest against police violence in Holyoke, Mass., on June 2, 2020.
Ben James / NEPR

Protests continued in western Massachusetts on Tuesday in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police. More than 1,000 protesters filled a full city block in front of Holyoke City Hall.

Springfield Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris at a briefing on the coronavirus.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Health officials in Springfield say they're seeing COVID-19 related data continuing to head in the right direction.

Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Providence Hospital in Holyoke has responded to questions from Massachusetts state officials about its plans to close all its inpatient psychiatric units.

Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh spoke at the 2020 Iwo Jima Day ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
Chris Van Buskirk / State House News Service

The suspended head of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home this week denied covering up a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the state-run facility. More than 70 veterans testing positive for the virus have died there. 

Leavitt Family Jewish Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, reported 66 deaths so far from the coronavirus.
The Republican / masslive.com/photos

More than half the people who have died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts caught the virus in nursing homes, according to new data from the state. 

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