Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

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

A class action civil rights lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Springfield against five former administrators at the state-funded Holyoke Soldiers' Home.

Downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Joseph / Creative Commons/https://www.flickr.com/photos/josepha/14636593555

New figures from the U.S. Census show the four counties of western Massachusetts ranked at the bottom in the state for percentage population growth over the past 10 years.

On the shores of Lake Lashaway in central Massachusetts this summer, you’re likely to find kids frolicking in the sun, making pottery, fishing or talking to friends.

It sounds like it could be any summer camp. But this is the Camp Atwater, founded 100 years ago as one of the first — if not the first — summer camps in America specifically for Black kids.

The camp was created at a time when other summer camps were closed to Black children. But many campers and organizers say Atwater is still needed today, a century later.

Sample Mass. Redistricting Map Puts Springfield Reps Ramos, Williams In Same District

Aug 6, 2021
A map of the 2011 Springfield, Mass. area House Legislative Districts.
The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts / malegislature.gov

In less than two weeks, the U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release detailed population data for Massachusetts that will set off a scramble to begin redrawing the political boundaries for federal, state and local elected offices that will shape the 2022 elections.

A map, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing the level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Massachusetts as of August 2, 2021. Red signifies high, orange means substantial and yellow is for moderate.
CDC / covid.cdc.gov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent COVID-19 guidance recommends that everyone — regardless of vaccination status — wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission. That now includes all of Massachusetts, except for Hampshire and Franklin counties, which the CDC lists as having a moderate level of transmission.

Rumbila Abdullahi and her husband Ibrahim Abdi hold their newborn son, Nabeel, outside their home in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ben James / NEPM

In early May, Smith College senior Rumbila Abdullahi relaxed on a couch in her living room off a quiet street in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts. She wore a baati — a traditional Somali dress — and a hijab.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno during a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, August 3, 2021.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

When public schools open in Springfield, Massachusetts, later this month, students, teachers and staff will be required to wear masks. The announcement comes as COVID-19 rates continue to rise in the city.

The High School of Science and Technology in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Daderot / Creative Commons

A member of the school committee in Springfield, Massachusetts, said he thinks he and his colleagues will vote for a stricter approach to mask-wearing than new guidance provided by the state.

As Massachusetts sees an uptick in coronavirus cases due to the highly-contagious delta variant, some areas are struggling to get more folks vaccinated.

One of them is Hampden County in western Massachusetts, where a little over half of residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. That’s compared to more than 70% of residents statewide, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Bart Everson / Creative Commons

A federal moratorium on evictions came to an end this weekend, but housing advocates in Massachusetts say help and millions of dollars in rental assistance are available.

Lesser Sees Senate As Ready To Tackle Sports Betting: 'It's Time For Mass. To Do This'

Jul 22, 2021
A photograph taken at a Wynn sports betting facility in Nevada.
Jonathan Cutrer / Creative Commons / flickr.com / photos / joncutrer

With the House looking like it will overwhelmingly pass a sports betting bill Thursday afternoon, the senator handling the issue said he thinks his more reluctant branch is "ready to do this -- if it's done the right way."

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

State lawmakers from the western part of Massachusetts disagrees with Governor Charlie Baker's veto of funding requested for regional bus systems — like the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority.

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 former Court Square Hotel at 31 Elm St. in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

A long-awaited project to bring more than 70 apartments to Court Square in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, could get underway in earnest this fall.

A lengthy handwritten message was found at the end of June, taped to two political campaign signs in Holyoke, Mass. The writer casts blame on the "minorities" of Holyoke for the city's blight and a decades-long economic downturn.
Submitted photo / Garcia Campaign

A pair of political campaign signs on a Holyoke, Massachusetts, street were recently defaced with racist comments. The signs belonged to  Joshua Garcia and Israel Rivera, who are running in separate municipal races in the November election.

Three Biz Groups Take Sides in Debate Over App-Based Drivers, Benefits In Massachusetts

Jul 9, 2021
Nancy Creed delivers a speech at a Springfield Regional Chamber's annual meeting.
File photo / MassLive / masslive.com

A trio of regional business organizations in Massachusetts threw their support behind gig economy giants in the growing debate over pay and benefits for the state's more than 200,000 app-based drivers.

A 2019 protest in Springfield, Massachusetts, against the Palmer wood-burning plant.
Courtesy of Rene Theberge / via WBUR

A new report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America finds that Springfield, Massachusetts, now ranks No. 12 on the list of the worst places in the country to live with asthma — an improvement from past years. 

Holyoke, Massachusetts, Acting Mayor Terry Murphy.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

The acting mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, has announced he's creating a new Community Police Relations Board.

The Springfield Armory in June 2018.
Don Treeger / The Republican / Masslive

The Springfield Armory National Historic Site will reopen to visitors on Friday, July 2, after being closed for more than a year.

In 2019, the Big E at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, attracted more than a million visitors. It didn't take place in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Courtesy of The Big E

Several Massachusetts entertainment venues have announced they will be in full swing this summer. The Big E in West Springfield, one of the largest annual agricultural fairs in the country, is among them.

Bishop William Byrne is installed as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, in December 2020.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is meeting this week on a range of issues. Among the newer faces at the virtual conference will be William Byrne of the Springfield Diocese.

A security camera hangs near the entrance of the William DeBerry Elementary School on Union Street in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

The school department in Springfield, Massachusetts, is entering into an agreement that gives police access to surveillance camera footage recorded inside and outside of public school buildings.

The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

The Massachusetts Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management held the first of a series of statewide listening sessions on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Activists assemble for a rally at City Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on June 9, 2021, to call for Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood's removal.
Karen Brown / NEPM

This week, a group of seniors gathered in downtown Springfield t0 renew their call for Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood to be removed from her job.

In this file photo, Kevin Rhodes conducts the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra board and its musicians are waging a public debate over union contracts, including the length of the upcoming season.

James Gallagher of LA Metro speaks at an unveiling ceremony at CRRC's Springfield factory. The train behind him is the first of 64 to be built for LA Metro.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

A top official with a Los Angeles-area transit agency said he's "completely confident" in rail cars made by a company in Springfield, Massachusetts. That's after several issues with similar train cars made for Boston.

Residents begin cleanup work on Beech Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, after a deadly tornado ripped through the city on June 1, 2011.
Michael S. Gordon / The Republican / masslive.com

This week marks 10 years since a devastating tornado ripped through a swath of western Massachusetts. Three people were killed and 200 injured, and it caused more than $200 million in damages.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood takes the oath from District Court Judge John Payne during her swearing-in ceremony, in October 2019.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

A group of seniors in Springfield, Massachusetts, are calling for the removal of the city's police commissioner for what they say is her resistance to police reform.

Interior of St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Farragutful / Creative Commons

Updated at 4:09 p.m. 

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, has expanded a list of clergy and lay employees credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the diocese. Some of the findings date back decades, as the diocese has expanded its criteria for disclosure.

Lucio Perez, at a ceremony marking his departure from sanctuary in an Amherst, Massachusetts, church, on March 13, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Advocates for a Guatemalan man, who was in sanctuary for more than three years in western Massachusetts, say a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could help him stay in the country.