Coverage of the four western counties in Massachusetts.

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

Updated at 6:40 p.m. 

A Massachusetts judge has largely sided with the Springfield City Council in its lawsuit against Mayor Domenic Sarno over control of the police department.

Massachusetts Lawmakers, Cities Help Lead Puerto Rico Self-Determination Push

Apr 16, 2021
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / MassLive.com

Puerto Rican leaders and their allies, like U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, voiced support this week for federal legislation that would allow the island territory to decide its future status as a state or something else, and urged state and local governments to join them.

Following mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia, there’s a new push to pass stricter gun laws in Washington.

But at America’s biggest gun maker, Smith & Wesson in Springfield, business has never been better.

Proposed Massachusetts Rules Would Require More Efficient Biomass Energy Plants

Apr 16, 2021
Waste wood from a logging operation that's been chopped into "chips" for a biomass facility.
Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Proposed changes to Massachusetts regulations would make a controversial wood-burning power plant planned for Springfield ineligible for renewable energy credits and would require all new biomass projects to be more efficient.

Anna Dellarosa, at left, is raising her three great-nieces in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Gretchen Emond is co-director of The Support Network, which assists families in navigating the mental health care system.
Ben James / NEPM

Gretchen Emond and Anna Dellarosa have a relationship forged from years of common experience.

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts, School Committee meets April 14, 2021, on Zoom, to select a new superintendent.
Screen shot / Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

A Pittsfield, Massachusetts, school committee member resigned during a meeting Wednesday night when the committee cast their votes on candidates for a new superintendent. Dennis Powell, who is also the president of the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP, said his voice is not being heard.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Mike Plaisance / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

A bond bill to provide funding for a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home unanimously passed the Massachusetts House Thursday.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church on fire in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 28, 2020.
Springfield Fire Department / MassLive / MassLive.com

A man from Houlton, Maine, faces federal hate crime charges for allegedly setting a December 2020 fire that destroyed a Springfield, Massachusetts, church.

A new psychiatric hospital called MiraVista, operated by Health Partners New England, is scheduled to open April 21, 2021, at the site of the former Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Ben James / NEPM

Jodi is a mom who lives in Franklin County, Massachusetts. Her daughter started experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression about five years ago at age 13. Those symptoms, along with a serious problem with alcohol abuse, spiked during the pandemic.

Nicole Desnoyers and her son Ja-Seir outside their home in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ben James / NEPM

For Dr. Joeli Hettler, the symptoms kids are showing up with in her emergency room are not only extreme — they’re confusing.

Josh Vallieres, 21, of North Adams, Massachusetts, is running for mayor.
Paula Evans / courtesy Josh Vallieres

A North Adams, Massachusetts, college student who grew up in the city has taken out nomination papers to run for mayor.

The Holyoke, Massachusetts, City Council gathers on Zoom on April 12, 2021, to choose the next acting mayor.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

A new acting mayor will take the oath of office in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on Tuesday after a vote by the City Council Monday night.

Massachusetts House Likely To Pass New Holyoke Soldiers' Home Bill This Week

Apr 12, 2021
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home in March 2020.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Massachusetts legislative leaders outlined plans to advance a $400 million bill funding the construction of a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home. But it's unclear if their timeline will be fast enough to quickly secure federal funding.

File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The Holyoke, Massachusetts, City Council will pick an acting mayor on Monday from its own ranks. Two candidates have stepped forward.

The MGM Springfield casino.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Wednesday heard arguments in a pair of cases focusing on whether the state's two resort casinos shorted blackjack players on their winnings.

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

About 100 eligible employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams can now begin to cast mail-in ballots, voting on whether to form a union.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris addresses reporters at the city's weekly COVID-19 briefing.
File photo / Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

An increasing number communities in western Massachusetts are now categorized as “red,” the state’s highest risk level for COVID-19. There's been a bump in cases statewide, too.

Northampton, Massachusetts, Police Chief Jody Kasper, kneeling second from left, with protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

A commission in Northampton, Massachusetts, suggested major changes to the city's policing approach. The police chief is pushing back on some parts — but not all.

Main lobby at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in a file photo.
Mike Plaisance / The Republican / masslive.com

Updated at 7:33 p.m. 

Another Massachusetts legislative committee heard testimony Monday on a $400 million bill to fund a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home. Questions arose again about geographic equity and care for the thousands of veterans outside the two state-run facilities in Holyoke and Chelsea.

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

New numbers from the state show Hampden County now trails all other Massachusetts counties in the percentage of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A 2019 protest in Springfield, Massachusetts, against the Palmer wood-burning plant.
Courtesy of Rene Theberge / via WBUR

Updated at 6:15 p.m. 

A Massachusetts state agency has revoked an air permit for a biomass plant long planned for Springfield.

A robin that was entangled in a face mask and found hanging from a tree
Sandra Denisuk

A western Massachusetts doctor has launched a campaign urging people to remove the straps on their COVID-19 masks before throwing them away. He says he's trying to protect wildlife.

Protesters at the police station in Northampton, Massachusetts on June 1, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Members of a policing review commission in Northampton, Massachusetts, presented their case to the City Council on Tuesday for a new city department to take on some duties the police do now.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home in March 2020.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A vigil held Tuesday night at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home marked a year since the announcement of the first coronavirus deaths at the state-run veterans facility. At least 76 veterans who tested positive for COVID-19 died during the outbreak.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Will Likely Miss Baker's Holyoke Soldiers' Home Deadline

Mar 30, 2021
Flags outside of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Miriam Wasser / WBUR

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has said his $400 million proposal to build a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home would have to be passed by April 1 to take advantage of a favorable federal funding opportunity, but it does not appear that will happen.

Virginia Koons (right) attends the 1999 wedding reception of her friend Barbara Rouillard (left).
Submitted Photo

This winter, Virginia Koonz got the coronavirus, and died.

A lawn sign in Lee, Massachusetts, designed by Reed Anderson of Great Barrington, calls for no local dumps for PCB waste from General Electric.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

The federal government’s plan to clean up toxic PCBs from the Housatonic River faces a new legal challenge.

Alex Morse was elected mayor of Holyoke in 2011.
File photo / MassLive / masslive.com

This Friday is Alex Morse's last day as mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Morse received national attention in 2011, when he was elected the city's youngest and first openly gay mayor. Late last year, he announced he wasn't running for reelection, and now he's resigning to become town manager of Provincetown. 

Pynchon Terrace and Edgewater Apartments on Lowell Street in Springfield, Mass.
File photo / MassLive / masslive.com

A property management company that runs a 612-unit apartment complex in Springfield, Massachusetts, has settled a claim with the state that it denied housing to prospective tenants who are deaf.

A sign inside the Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield, Mass., from a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Learning remotely for many students has been tough this year. For English learners, many of whom live in communities with higher COVID-19 rates, it's been even harder. Some educators are calling for skipping the standardized test this year that’s given to multilingual students.