WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS

Coverage of the four western counties in Massachusetts.

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.

Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms.
Dick Culbert / Wikimedia Commons

One of the newest frontiers in mental health care is psychedelic drugs — like MDMA or psilocybin in magic mushrooms. But, for now, those drugs are illegal and can’t be subscribed.

A pre-pandemic scene in the lobby of Amherst Cinema in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Now free of government-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, most movie theaters in New England have reopened in full. But after months of streaming movies and selling tickets in a limited capacity, several area arthouse cinemas are choosing to stay half-empty.

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.

A drawing shows the site of a meetinghouse built in 1739 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The area is the focus of an archaeological dig in summer 2021.
Indian Proprietor Book / Stockbridge Town Clerk's Office

The Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican community is conducting two archaeological digs in western Massachusetts this summer.

The door to the upstairs office at Iron Horse Entertainment Group's Northampton Box Office.
Ellery Berenger / NEPR

Updated 3:46 p.m.

The owner of several entertainment venues in Northampton and Holyoke, Massachusetts, has been hit with $100,000 in fines and restitution after the Massachusetts Attorney General's office found the rights of about 30 workers were violated.

A road on the edge of the Allendale neighborhood in Pittsfield, Mass., leads to a PCB disposal site used during the first phase of the clean up of the Housatonic River, in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is launching a study to determine cancer incidence in five cities and towns on the Housatonic River.

The Ted Shawn Theatre, named after the founder of Jacob's Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts.
Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

Jacob’s Pillow, the long-running dance festival in Becket, Massachusetts, has had a lot thrown at it this past year. The COVID-19 pandemic shut the venue down in 2020 for the first time in almost 90 years. Then last November, a fire gutted one of its dance theaters.

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.

George Ejja outside his restaurant, Pita Pocket, in Northampton, Massachusetts, on May 31, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Most COVID-19 restrictions in Massachusetts were rescinded by Governor Charlie Baker effective Saturday, but some people aren't taking their masks off.

A building in Springfield, Massachusetts, damaged by the tornado on June 1, 2011.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Ten years ago this Tuesday, multiple tornadoes tore through western Massachusetts, killing three people, injuring 200, and causing more than $200 million in damages.

A bus, shown here in Chicopee, Massachusetts, has been converted into a mobile vaccination site. The seats on the bus were removed to make room for four vaccination wells, where nurses give the shots.
Karen Brown / NEPM

This weekend, nearly all COVID-19 safety restrictions will be lifted in Massachusetts. That includes mask requirements — at least for people who are vaccinated.

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.

The biographical exhibit, "The Story of Eric Carle," at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Illustrator and author Eric Carle is being remembered for his many children’s books, including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” — and the museum of picture book art he founded with his wife.

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.

With Massachusetts poised for reopening over the weekend, what does it mean for small businesses, those in the Arts, and for colleges that have had to adjust their commencement and fall enrollment plans?

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Jonathan Butler, CEO of Ecomonic Development Organization 1Berkshire on the region's strategy for reopening.

Can your boss force you to come back to work? Can they require you to receive the COVID vaccine? Springfield employment lawyer Meaghan Murphy has answers.

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.

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