WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS

Coverage of the four western counties in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin (left) and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno in Springfield walk to a press conference.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin said action needs to be taken to grow the population of the western part of the state. He made his comments Wednesday during a visit to Springfield.

Audience members at the Springfield Indie Soul Festival in 2018.
Courtesy / Darryl Moss

Over the years, people have come to the annual Springfield Indie Soul Festival for more than just music. It's back this weekend at Riverfront Park, with room for a couple thousand music lovers alongside the musicians and vendors.

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.

Archaeologist Ann Morton discusses the Mohican archeological dig with volunteers Bradley Pitts and Rick Wilcox in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans wrapped up their second archeological dig in the Berkshires this summer with a discovery that could shift thinking about the tribe's history in the region.

The campus of UMass Amherst.
HOANG 'LEON' NGUYEN / The Republican / Masslive

Many western Massachusetts colleges and universities are requiring students be vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to campus, but they are offering exemptions.

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.

Poet Carol Edelstein's new book is called "Past Repair."
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

"Past Repair" is a new collection of poetry by Northampton, Massachusetts, resident Carol Edelstein. It's her third book, with more than 80 poems that span a 13-year period.

Unband performs music from "This is Spinal Tap" at a past "Transperformance."
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

A decades-long concert tradition in Northampton, Massachusetts, is changing its name. Organizers say they want to be more inclusive.

A sign, previously posted in the Florence section of Northampton, Massachusetts, reminding visitors to wear masks.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

The CDC says Hampshire County has a "moderate" level of COVID-19 transmission — the lowest among Massachusetts counties. Still, starting Wednesday, a mask mandate returns in the county seat of Northampton.

Wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean.
RYAN CARON KING / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC RADIO

A new grant provided to UMass Amherst seeks to assist people of color and low-income students get jobs in the offshore wind industry.

Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts -- a village located in the towns of Buckland and Shelburne.
Mary Serreze/Masslive / https://www.masslive.com/news/2018/10/shelburne_falls_to_be_recogniz.html

Two small towns in western Massachusetts are ranked among the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state. But some officials blame a glitch in the data collection.

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.

Last summer, the Tanglewood Music Festival closed for the first time since 1943. It meant the cancellation of nearly 150 concerts due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the Berkshires are back in business and the Boston Pops are ready to return to Friday-festival performances.

Maestro Keith Lockhart has been leading the Boston Pops since 1995 and in his conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder, he discusses his personal difficulties during the show's hiatus, the current and future state of classical music and if a new album is on the horizon.

Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
File Photo / Daily Hamsphire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The state auditor concluded that a western Massachusetts educational collaborative failed to ensure some teachers who worked for it were properly licensed.

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.

Nurses talk to a patient at the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, in January 2021.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / Masslive

The numbers remain low compared to earlier in the pandemic, but local public health officials are expressing concern about upticks in COVID-19 cases in two of New England's largest cities.

Decades Later, Greylock Glen Project Coming Together In Berkshires

Jul 14, 2021
A scene from the Greylock Glen trail system.
Department of Conservation and Recreation / State of Massachusetts

The headlines in the Sept. 17, 1974 edition of the Berkshire Eagle brought news of a delay in the Greylock Glen project in Adams, Massachusetts. The timeline, according to Sen. Adam Hinds, had been pushed back two years to 1976.

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.

Amilcar Shabazz is a professor of African American Studies at UMass-Amherst. He hopes to be on the new reparations committee.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The town of Amherst, Massachusetts, is creating a committee to make reparations for those harmed by anti-Black racism. 

The floor of a Mohican house from the 1600s or even older. It was found during an archaeological dig in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Trevor Totman / Courtesy Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians

A goal of two archaeological digs conducted this summer by the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians is to find evidence from the 1700s, when the tribe lived in a Christian community with white colonists. But the first of the digs in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, has turned up artifacts and other features that could be much older.

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.

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