Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Joanna Jaracz of Cummington, Massachusetts, after winning a blue ribbon for showmanship on September 7, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Because of COVID-19, this year's Three County Fair was far different than in past years. There was no demolition derby, carnival rides, games — or the public. The fair was limited to arts and crafts exhibits and youth livestock competitions.

The drought map for Massachusetts as of September 1, 2020.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Much of western New England continues to suffer from a moderate to severe drought. But over the last week there was improvement in some spots.

Creative Commons/https://pixabay.com/photos/cable-distribution-electrical-1868352/

The Springfield, Massachusetts, City Council will hold a hearing on electricity costs Thursday. That’s after constituents complained their bills went up.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal at Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts, as he declares victory in the 2020 Democratc primary against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, Massachusetts, turned back a stern challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse to capture the Democratic Primary in the state's 1st Congressional District on Tuesday. With 88% of precincts reporting, Neal held an 18 percentage point lead.

Results: Contested Primaries in Western Mass.

Sep 1, 2020
At a polling place in Williamsburg, Mass., every other voting stall was taped off to ensure social distancing.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

The polls are closed in the 2020 Massachusetts state primary. This campaign season has brought serious challenges to a sitting U.S. senator and the chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. There are also contested primaries in a handful of state legislative districts in Hampden County.

A ballot drop box in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Carrie Healy / NEPM

The 2020 Massachusetts primary on Sept. 1 will whittle down the candidates and offer a major test to the state's mail-in voting system.

For many cities and towns, Tuesday's primary is the first voting in a new coronavirus world. 

Alex Morse (center), the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, before a debate in August 2020 against his opponent in the Democratic primary, U.S. Rep Richard Neal.
Don Treeger / The Republican/ Masslive.com / photos

Three weeks after signing on to a letter that shook up a congressional race in perhaps unexpected ways, leaders of the College Democrats at UMass Amherst are apologizing to Alex Morse.

Springfield, Mass., City Councilor Adam Gomez (left) is challenging state Senator Jim Welch (right) in the 2020 Democratic primary.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Among the state legislative seats being contested in Tuesday's Massachusetts Democratic primary is the Hampden Senate district, which includes West Springfield, and parts of Springfield and Chicopee.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse (left), and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield exchange a greeting before a 2020 debate.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield is seeing a stiff challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse in the Democratic race for the 1st Congressional District in Massachusetts. And Neal hasn't had to deal with many close races during his political career.

Many workers still furloughed from the MGM Springfield casino will lose their health insurance as of August 31.

Denise Hurst (left), Sean Mullan (center) and Orlando Ramos (right) are running in the 2020 Democratic primary for a Springfield-based seat in the Massachusetts House.
File / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Three candidates are running to replace a retiring Massachusetts state representative in the 9th Hampden District, which includes part of Springfield and a small part of Chicopee. 

2020 Voter Guide: Contested Primaries In Western Mass.

Aug 26, 2020
Terry Yusteo (center) places ballots between Abigail Stone (left) and Adeline Rogers, so they can check in early and mail-in ballots to be counted on Tuesday, September 1, in Northampton, Mass.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com/photos

Updated Aug. 30 

Voters across western Massachusetts will have an opportunity to vote on September 1 in the state primary  — if they haven't already taken advantage of early voting or the expanded mail-in option.

Diocese of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus.
Diocese of Springfield

Worcester Bishop Robert McManus will oversee the Springfield, Massachusetts, Roman Catholic Diocese until a new bishop is named.

Downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts, in May 2014.
Joseph / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/josepha

Three Democrats are on the primary ballot in the 5th Hampden District of the Massachusetts House, which covers all of Holyoke. The incumbent, Aaron Vega, is not seeking reelection. 

Daniel Thiombiano, a ninth-grade earth sciences at Holyoke High School, says what his students need most is a "holistic attention to social and emotional aspects of their lives."
Ben James / NEPM

After months of late-night school committee debates on the merits of competing hybrid education models, many western Massachusetts districts now plan to go remote, at least for the first quarter.

Ann Becker of UMass gives direction on how to administer a COVID-19 test at the Mullins Center.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Carly O'Connell is excited to go back to UMass as a sophomore in legal studies. She'll be among about a thousand students allowed to live on campus — some are taking hands-on classes, and others, like O’Connell, got special permission for personal reasons.

The MGM Springfield casino collected $10.7 million in revenue over the final three weeks of July, as it reopened from a nearly four-month shutdown due to COVID-19. 

Congressional candidate Alex Morse appeared on a debate stage Monday for the first time since the University of Massachusetts began investigating a sexual misconduct complaint leveled against him by a student group. Dozens of state Democratic committee members are calling for an independent investigation into what role state party leaders may have played in spreading the misconduct allegations.

The debate stage at New England Public Media in Springfield, Massachusetts, before the start of the 1st Congressional District debate on August 17, 2020.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Updated at 7:09 a.m. 

The Democratic candidates for Massachusetts' 1st Congressional District met for their first debate Monday afternoon. Longtime Incumbent Richard Neal is facing a challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.


A Massachusetts public health official said people need to stay vigilant against the mosquito-born Eastern Equine Encephalitis. This weekend, the state confirmed the first human case of the virus this year in western Massachusetts.

N95 masks and nitrile gloves.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A new survey from the MassINC details the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Latinos in Massachusetts, and finds Latinos living in the western and central parts of the state may have more of a buffer.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse in a campaign handout photograph.
Courtesy Alex Morse for Congress

Despite allegations that he abused his power in pursuit of sexual relationships with younger men, Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, is vowing to carry on with his campaign for Congress. Morse is the target of a complaint by the College Democrats of Massachusetts.

Alex Morse in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 2015.
Creative Commons

The Massachusetts Nurses Association says it will continue to support Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse's campaign for Congress in the state's 1st District.

The Mtali Banda Oneness Project was the opening band at the Makaya McCraven concert at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on June 4, 2019.
Ed Cohen / MassLive / masslive.com

It’s been five months since live music venues and DJ clubs shut their doors to dancing crowds, and in Massachusetts they won’t be able to open in full until a COVID-19 vaccine or a proven treatment is available. If they make it that long.

Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

A Massachusetts civil rights group has asked the Hampden County District Attorney’s office to divulge how much it knew about misconduct by Springfield police officers, and how it’s responded.

Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke, Massachusetts, speaks to reporters during the launch of his congressional campaign on July 22, 2019.
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Alex Morse says he is staying in the race for Congress. In a statement posted to social media Sunday night, the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, defended himself against allegations he engaged in inappropriate behavior involving college students, while again apologizing for "making some students feel uncomfortable."

Alex Morse in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 2015.
Creative Commons

Updated at 3:56 p.m.

Calling the allegations "serious and deeply concerning," UMass Amherst said Saturday it was investigating whether Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse violated university policy or federal law during his time teaching on campus.

This comes after the Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported that the College Democrats of Massachusetts wrote the mayor a letter accusing him of using his “position of power for romantic or sexual gain.” 

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood in Springfield, Massachusetts, said this week her department has not changed its use-of-force policy, despite a scathing federal report and suggestions from the City Council.

Teachers outside the Boland Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts, prepare to hand out laptops on April 6, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

The public schools in Springfield, Massachusetts, will keep classes remote-only through at least the first few months of the year. 

 A Black Lives Matter rally in front of Nathan Bill's Bar and Restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

Springfield's police commissioner, Cheryl Clapprood, has acknowledged no changes have been made to the department's use-of-force policy. This comes two months after the department said Clapprood accepted suggestions offered by the City Council.