WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS

Coverage of the four western counties in Massachusetts.

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.

Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops at Tanglewood in 2018, when crowds were not a threat to public health.
Hillary Scott / BSO Press Office

People are dreaming of a less sequestered summer, and with COVID-19 restrictions easing, the Berkshires will be a destination for many.

Business owners count on tourists coming to this relatively small region, rich in live music, theater and museums. For them, last summer was brutal. This year, it could almost feel like the old days.

A photograph from a Mother's Day walk Patrick took with wife, Sally Serio, in 2020. She said this picture "is so incredibly Pat."
Sally Serio / Submitted Photo

More than 400,000 residents of western Massachusetts have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

At the same time, new deaths are reported most days, with about 2,200 victims from the region since the pandemic began. Patrick Serio of Hadley is among them.

Berkshire Superior Court in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / Masslive / Masslive.com

Shortly after taking office, Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington announced a policy shift. Prosecutors would stop requesting bail in most nonviolent cases. Now, a couple of years later, only a few defendants are held on bail. But there’s been a sharp increase in the use of another legal maneuver to keep people behind bars before trial.

Fire crews from 19 departments in Massachusetts and Vermont have assisted in fighting an 800-acre fire in northern Berkshire County.
Facebook / Savoy Fire Rescue

Updated at 5:33 p.m. 

A 964-acre brush fire in western Massachusetts is now 90% contained, according to the state.

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.

A consumption advisory posted on the Housatonic River in Massachusetts in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

General Electric and the EPA have responded to an appeal of the agency's plan to clean up the rest of the Housatonic River.

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.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette's headquarters in Northampton, Mass.
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The Northampton, Massachusetts, City Council will consider a resolution Thursday night in support of workers at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

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.

A van from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
State of Massachusetts

A lawyer who works with people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement said some of them are not happy after they were transferred from a facility in Greenfield, Massachusetts, to one in the eastern part of the state.

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.

A view of MASS MoCA in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts.
Shannon Young / The Republican / masslive.com

Employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams have voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

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.

A PVTA bus in April 2019.
MTA3306 / CREATIVE COMMONS / FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/87549811@N03

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority wants to begin new bus service connecting Amherst, Massachusetts, to Worcester. It would stop in seven towns in between.

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. 

At Berkshire Vaccination Site, Further Reopening Not Top-Of-Mind For Gov. Baker

Apr 22, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito look on as state Sen. Adam Hinds receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at the Berkshire Community College vaccination site in Pittsfield.
Stephanie Zollshan / The Berkshire Eagle / Pool / State House News Service

With states around Massachusetts beginning to loosen some of their personal and economic COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday that the state's vaccination program remains his top priority. But he said he'll likely have more to say about reopening by the end of the month.

CLARK / Creative Commons / FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/PHOTOS_BY_CLARK

Banjo camps and academic discussions of the centuries-old instrument have been taking place for years, according to Greenfield, Massachusetts, musician Michael Nix. But there are not many events that showcase how the picking and playing of the banjo has evolved.

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.

Pages