Coverage of Worcester County, Massachusetts.

After years of anticipation, the professional baseball season is finally underway in Worcester. But the Opening Day crowd was limited because of the pandemic.

The Worcester Red Sox — nicknamed the WooSox — christened their new stadium Tuesday after the city lured the team from Pawtucket, R.I. with millions of dollars in aid building a new stadium.

However, the state is currently only allowing only sports teams to fill 25% of seats. Tuesday’s game drew 2,377 fans to Polar Park, the maximum permitted under restrictions designed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mark Twain called it the “magnificent Mississippi.” He said the river “will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise.”

Garret Dunn is doing his best, anyways.

A PVTA bus in April 2019.

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

There’s a small business inside a big warehouse in an industrial area of Worcester.

Walk inside, and you’ll see scrawls in neon magic marker all over the walls — rants against cancer, against Donald Trump, against COVID.

And you’ll hear the sounds of pent-up pandemic frustration being let out.

This is a place where you go to break things. Where you’re supposed to bash and crush and pummel. It’s called Smash It 2.

Customer Danielle Blanchard has brought a bag full of stuff to smash to smithereens.

With New Mass. Police Reform Law In Place, Conversations Continue At Local Level

Mar 5, 2021
Springfield, Massachusetts, police and detectives at the scene of a shooting in 2017.
Patrick Johnson / creative commons / flickr.com/photos/paddyj1325

More than two months after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a police reform law inspired by nationwide and local protests over the police killing of George Floyd, conversations on many of the same issues contemplated in that sweeping legislation are happening on the municipal level.

St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Terageorge~commonswiki / Creative Commons

Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester said they will head back to the negotiating table with hospital officials Monday night.

Voting Rights Lawsuit Targets Worcester School Committee

Feb 8, 2021
A school bus in Worcester, Massachusetts.
File photo / Masslive / Masslive.com

Several organizations representing Black and Hispanic residents of Worcester sued the city Monday over its at-large system for electing members to the School Committee.

When the first doses arrived in a small, insulated cube, Dr. Sheena Sharma felt a thrill of joy and terror. Packed inside were vials of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines: 700 chances to protect someone from the coronavirus, Sharma thought, and begin loosening the grip of the pandemic.

“I felt like this huge burden of responsibility,” she says, “like someone just gave this to you, and do not screw it up.”

An emerald ash borer.
Judy Gallagher / Creative Commons

The U.S. government has lifted a quarantine on an invasive insect, the emerald ash borer, that's killed many trees in Massachusetts and Connecticut. But critics of the change have been more vocal outside those states.

The lobby of the emergency homeless shelter in the old Ascension Church in Worcester — known as Hotel Grace — turned into a makeshift clinic Tuesday morning. Shelter guests sat behind temporary curtains, answered medical history questions and rolled up their sleeves to receive vaccines against the coronavirus.

Homeless shelters are among the congregate care settings where the vaccinations are being rolled out this week.

Steven Fontaine, 48, has been staying at Hotel Grace for two weeks and wanted to get the vaccine at his first chance.

Diocese of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus.
Diocese of Springfield

The Roman Catholic Diocese in Springfield, Massachusetts, recently said it will expand its public list of priests accused of abuse to include those implicated after their death. But some other dioceses in Massachusetts don't have lists posted on their websites at all.

A photograph of the exterior of City Hall, Worcester.
Claudia Snell / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/claudiasnell/

A longtime newspaper reporter and columnist who covered the city of Worcester and its politics has said goodbye to his readers.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick
File Photo / Masslive / masslive.com

The Springfield, Massachusetts, public schools are pushing back against a request from the Massachusetts department of education to bring some students back for in-person learning soon.

Paul Knowlton owns 300 acres of land in Grafton, and farms about 50. The farm has been in his family for five generation, ever since Knowlton’s great-great-grandfather settled in the Blackstone Valley in 1872.

These days Knowlton grows pumpkins, squash and corn. Up a gravel road, past the family cemetery, corn stalks are still standing from this year’s crop. “Considering the drought situation, we did fair,” Knowlton says.

Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, at left, and Republican challenger Tracy Lovvorn.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR // Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

In Massachusetts' 2nd Congressional District, there's a rematch on the ballot from two years ago.

Last time, incumbent Democrat Jim McGovern defeated Republican challenger Tracy Lovvorn by about a two-to-one margin.

Southborough, Massachusetts, author Jennifer De Leon.
Submitted Photo

The next selection in our Books For Young People series is "Don't Ask Me Where I'm From," a novel that is for and about high-schoolers. 

Diocese of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus.
Diocese of Springfield

Worcester Bishop Robert McManus will oversee the Springfield, Massachusetts, Roman Catholic Diocese until a new bishop is named.

Worcester City Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Masslive / masslive.com/photos

The city of Worcester says it’s received more than 25 complaints in the past several weeks about local businesses and their customers not following COVID-19 protocols. 

The Town House in North Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Doug Kerr / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/7327243@N05

The town of North Brookfield, Massachusetts, has canceled a Fourth of July celebration after the local board of health and the governor raised concerns.

Late Worcester firefighter Christopher Roy with his daughter, Ava.
Courtesy of Roy Family / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow the pension of a deceased firefighter to go to his young daughter.

Usually attracting tens of thousands of visitors, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets in May 2020 were canceled because of COVID-19.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / File photo / The Republican / MassLive.com/photos

Like so many events this spring in Massachusetts and around New England, the Brimfield Antique Flea Markets were canceled for May because of the pandemic. For the businesses that make the more than 50-year-old show come to life, it's a deep hit, and some dealers are salvaging what they can. 

In his home basement, Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Greg Fischer is tinkering with a contraption to help keep coronavirus patients alive if the supply of high-tech ventilators runs low.

The CVS pharmacy chain is expected to start a pilot COVID -19 drive-through testing site at one of its stores in Shrewsbury Thursday. The testing is not available to the general public.

A large tent was set up for the testing in a CVS parking lot Wednesday. The tests will be available only for first responders and health care workers who heave scheduled appointments.

Company spokesman Joe Goode said testing will be done by CVS health professionals and is an “invite only soft activation of COVID-19 testing” for those most at-risk.

In Massachusetts, performing arts centers like the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, and Tanglewood in Lenox are among the types of non-profit venues that could apply for "mitigation" funds through casino tax revenue.
Jasperdo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/66733752@N00

Some nonprofit arts venues in Massachusetts could get money from the state if they can demonstrate their bottom lines have been hurt by casino entertainment.

UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
Rob Carlin / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Some western and central Massachusetts hospitals say they've checked out people for coronavirus, but so far, there's been no positive cases.

Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie outside the firehouse erected on the site of the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Company fire.
Douglas Hook / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

The City Council in Worcester, Massachusetts, will consider a proposal Tuesday night to hire a consultant to evaluate the fire department. The request comes in the wake of the death of a firefighter last fall.

A crowd of people lined up on one end of Worcester’s Union Station one recent Sunday morning. They were there to see a special exhibit commemorating the Worcester Six.

“I guess 20 years is the time to break all this stuff out again and show the people. And the people still support us,” said Angelo Bongovio, a Worcester firefighter from 1983 to 2011.

“We’ll never forget these guys.”

A makeshift shrine at the scene of a fatal shooting in Springfield, Mass. on November 20, 2019.
Patrick Johnson / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

The number of murders in Springfield, Massachusetts, spiked this month — and homicides are up Hartford and Worcester.

PawSox players in the dugout in 2014.

Updated Nov. 26 at 10:35 a.m.

The Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox will be known as the WooSox when the team moves from Rhode Island to Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Voters attending the Fall Town Meeting in Uxbridge Tuesday night will be asked if they want to remove a cap on the number of cannabis businesses allowed in the town. The Cannabis Control Commission has already granted five licenses in the town of roughly 14,000 people. Four other Uxbridge businesses have applications in the queue waiting for the commission to act, and the town has heard from more businesses wanting to set up shop.

Caroline’s Cannabis opened in March. It’s tucked in the back of a metal building that houses a carpet store and hair salon out front.