HAMPDEN COUNTY

Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

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

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.

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the site of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in a Mass. nursing home, is once again suspending all outside visitors. The move comes one day after a veteran who had “clinically recovered” from COVID-19 started showing symptoms and was transferred to a local hospital where he tested virus-positive, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services said.

Community organizers "Real Recognize Fake" held a Black Wall Street Protest July 7 on Court Square in Springfield, Massachusetts. Events like this the city says it will not allow to take place without permits.
Courtesy realrecognizefake413.org

Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts, say they've learned through social media that several unauthorized group events are being promoted on city properties and they have issued a warning.

The 2020 U.S. Census form.
Ɱ / Creative Commons

Census workers are expected to start going door-to-door in western Massachusetts to collect information this week. But an official with the U.S. Census said it’s already had a strong response from households in the region.

Chris Dostal at Eye Physicians of Northampton in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Courtesy of Chris Dostal

Massachusetts had the highest rate of unemployment in the country in June, at 17.4%. That’s according to data released late last week by the federal government. One reason could be the decision to reopen Massachusetts businesses more slowly than some other states.

The words "BLACK LIVES MATTER" were painted Sunday in Springfield's Court Square. Mayor Domenic Sarno wants the mural removed this weekend. Another city-sanctioned BLM mural will be painted in September.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

The organizers behind a mural painted Sunday in Springfield's historic Court Square are asking Mayor Domenic Sarno to let it stay there. He’s announced he plans to have it removed this weekend.

Rich Hall at Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
Wilbraham and Monson Library / Creative Commons

Some private schools in western Massachusetts say the uncertainty over how public schools will operate this fall has led to a significant jump in inquiries from prospective parents.

Classroom chairs.
maxpixel.net / Creative Commons

Some staff at a Holyoke, Massachusetts, school for special needs students are alarmed that they’ve been called back into the building for in-person instruction; they don’t believe it’s safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, or beneficial to students.

Rev. Rashaan Hall speaks outside the Massachusetts Statehouse Friday, July 17, 2020. Hall is the racial justice program director at ACLU Massachusetts, and said qualified immunity has allowed police officers to escape civil liability.
Chris Van Buskirk / State House News Service

The Massachusetts Senate passed police reform legislation this week that looks to ban chokeholds, create a certification process for police, and limit the use of tear gas, among other things. The bill now moves on the House.

The family of Korean War veteran Joseph Sniadach, who died from COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, has filed a 

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

An advocate for clergy sexual abuse survivors said he's filed a complaint against the Springfield Roman Catholic bishop, accusing Mitchell Rozanski of trying to cover up allegations against priests.

The Self-Defense Brigade Anti-Oppression Rally for George Floyd, at the Keney Park Woodland entrance in Hartford, Connecticut, on June 1, 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

After more than a month of protests against racial injustice by police and the killing of George Floyd, some police departments are considering revising their policies on use of force. 

Slot machines at the MGM Casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, with one shut down to promote social distancing on July 9, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

The MGM Casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, says it’s ready to re-open and will strictly enforce the wearing of masks.

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

Springfield, Massachusetts, city and police officials have responded to a scathing government report that charges the narcotics bureau with a pattern of excessive force with no accountability.

Students in STCC's automotive technology program, which is slated to close.
Ramiro Soares

Faculty members at Springfield Technical Community College are protesting the elimination of seven entire programs, most of them vocational.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, was just about finished with a $24 million renovation when the virus pandemic hit. 

St Mary's High School in Westfield, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Masslive

The Springfield Catholic Diocese said its 13 schools in western Massachusetts will open in September for in-person learning five days a week.

Richard Parris Scott, with megaphone, is a recent graduate of the High School of Commerce in Springfield, Massachusetts. He's pictured speaking at Springfield City Hall in opposition to school policing.
Ben James / NEPR

School will look very different in September than it did last year. There will be more distance between students, masks on every face — and in some schools across the country, fewer police in the hallways. 

Naomi London of Northampton, Massachusetts, survived a serious case of COVID-19.
Courtesy of Naomi London

While some parts of the country are seeing surges in COVID-19, cases in Massachusetts are down — but not gone. So, with the governor's reopening plan underway, early survivors of the virus are hoping their experience will convince others to be cautious.

A police detective in Springfield, Massachusetts, has been fired after sharing a post on social media. According to a report in The Republican newspaper, the Instagram post showed a picture of the detective's niece at a Black Lives Matter event, holding a sign that suggested shooting back at police officers.

Two Black firefighters have named the past and current Springfield Fire Department commissioners in a federal discrimination lawsuit.
City of Springfield, Massachusetts

A federal discrimination lawsuit filed by two Black firefighters against the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, now specifically names the current and former fire commissioners.

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. 

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