Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

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

Terry Murphy, the acting mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, is taking heat after he canceled an executive order declaring racism and police violence as public health concerns.

Workers, including Clarivel Amy (right), at a mobile vaccination site organized by Holyoke Health Center try to convince people to pull into the parking lot outside the Boys and Girls Club in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Although Massachusetts has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, Hampden County has the lowest rate in the state — with major racial and ethnic disparities among who is getting the shot.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni speaks about the case against defrocked priest Richard Lavigne on Monday, May 24, 2021.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

Hampden County's top prosecutor said investigators were preparing to seek an arrest warrant for a defrocked Roman Catholic priest long considered a suspect in the 1972 killing of a western Massachusetts altar boy shortly before his death last week.

The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Miriam Wasser / WBUR

The Massachusetts Legislature should require the Holyoke Soldiers' Home superintendent to be a licensed nursing home administrator, elevate the secretary of veterans' services to the Cabinet, create a paid ombudsman position at both state-run soldiers' homes, and impose a raft of chain of command protocols and training requirements, a panel of lawmakers concluded after reviewing the deadly COVID-19 outbreak that struck the facility last year.

Western New England University in Springfield awarded 581 bachelor degrees during its commencement ceremony in 2015.
File Photo / MassLive

Starting in the fall of 2022, new students attending Western New England University's law school will have to pass a course covering anti-racism or cultural competency in order to graduate.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris speaking at City Hall on Monday, May, 17, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Springfield's top public health official said it's good news Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will lift the state's COVID-19 restrictions soon, but urged the city's residents to exercise caution.

Graduates of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Academy recite their oaths during their graduation ceremony at Symphony Hall on April 2, 2021.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

Western Massachusetts police departments under court order to diversify are making progress, but police supervisors continue to be overwhelmingly white.

City Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
cmh2315fl / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07

The president of the City Council in Springfield, Massachusetts, said an open process will be used to fill the position of city clerk.

 A sign at the Big E grounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts, directs visitors to a COVID-19 vaccination site that opened in April.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

As Hampden County, Massachusetts, continues to rank poorly in COVID-19 metrics, officials are pushing for more vaccinations.

MGM Springfield on Main Street in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The MGM Springfield casino's workforce grew by 8.5% in the first quarter of this year, with pandemic-related capacity restrictions still in place.

Comedian Zul Manzi of Springfield, Massachusetts, has a new animated series called "The Matumbila's."
Courtesy / Zul Manzi

A cartoon sitcom about a Tanzanian family living in a fictional western Massachusetts town has just wrapped up its first season.

Vaccination for COVID-19 takes place at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker this week announced a shift in the state's COVID-19 vaccination strategy, with more doses and appointments now available.

Officials across the country closed many outdoor basketball courts due to COVID-19 concerns.
Guettarda / Creative Commons

Springfield, Massachusetts, officials continue to field suggestions on reopening many of the city's basketball courts. They were closed at the beginning of the pandemic last year to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home in March 2020.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously passed its version of a funding bill for a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home. It carries a higher price tag than the bill the House recently passed.

Calls Grow For Mass. Board of Ed Member To Resign Over Comments About Holyoke, Lawrence

Apr 29, 2021
Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Michael Moriarty of Holyoke speaks during an April 20 meeting.
Screenshot / State of Massachusetts / Vimeo / State House News Service

A statewide teachers union and its Lawrence local are calling for a Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member to resign over comments he made at a recent meeting, days after three state lawmakers, several city officials and U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan also called for his removal.

Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts, in a pre-pandemic file photo.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Some Massachusetts business owners are gearing up to open their doors next month after the state relaxed COVID-19 restrictions this week.

The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

On Thursday, the Massachusetts state Senate will consider a bill that would provide $400 million to build a new facility for veterans.

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 largely sided with the Springfield City Council in its lawsuit against Mayor Domenic Sarno over a 2018 ordinance seeking to establish a police commission.

File Photo / Masslive

The U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts is suing the Chicopee Housing Authority and its leader. The lawsuit alleges they violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against a woman with end-stage kidney disease. 

The entrance to Palmer Paving Corporation's site in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the Palmer Renewable Energy Company wants to build a wood-burning biomass plant.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

A Springfield nonprofit said new Massachusetts regulations that would impact a proposed biomass plant in the city are a huge victory.

Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst.
Don Treeger / The Republican / Masslive.com

A Springfield, Massachusetts, city councilor said a judge's decision in favor of establishing a police commission is good news for the residents of the city.

Mark Sebastian / Creative Commons

No one is experiencing the pandemic in exactly the same way, but we share many common fears and anxieties — even when we’re asleep. As the pandemic goes on, dream experts say the evolution of COVID-19 dreams tells us a lot about our waking life, too.

Holyoke Acting Mayor Terry Murphy addresses reporters at City Hall in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on April 16, 2021, as U.S. Rep. Richard Neal looks on.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

The new acting mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, said he hopes an infusion of federal cash could help the city's schools return to local control.

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

Updated at 6:40 p.m. 

A Massachusetts judge has largely sided with the Springfield City Council in its lawsuit against Mayor Domenic Sarno over control of the police department.

Massachusetts Lawmakers, Cities Help Lead Puerto Rico Self-Determination Push

Apr 16, 2021
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / MassLive.com

Puerto Rican leaders and their allies, like U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, voiced support this week for federal legislation that would allow the island territory to decide its future status as a state or something else, and urged state and local governments to join them.

Following mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia, there’s a new push to pass stricter gun laws in Washington.

But at America’s biggest gun maker, Smith & Wesson in Springfield, business has never been better.

Proposed Massachusetts Rules Would Require More Efficient Biomass Energy Plants

Apr 16, 2021
Waste wood from a logging operation that's been chopped into "chips" for a biomass facility.
Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Proposed changes to Massachusetts regulations would make a controversial wood-burning power plant planned for Springfield ineligible for renewable energy credits and would require all new biomass projects to be more efficient.

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

A bond bill to provide funding for a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home unanimously passed the Massachusetts House Thursday.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church on fire in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 28, 2020.
Springfield Fire Department / MassLive / MassLive.com

A man from Houlton, Maine, faces federal hate crime charges for allegedly setting a December 2020 fire that destroyed a Springfield, Massachusetts, church.

Nicole Desnoyers and her son Ja-Seir outside their home in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ben James / NEPM

For Dr. Joeli Hettler, the symptoms kids are showing up with in her emergency room are not only extreme — they’re confusing.