WORCESTER COUNTY

Coverage of Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Southbridge, Massachusetts, High School.
Henry Epp / NEPR

The state of Massachusetts has appointed a new receiver to oversee the Southbridge schools. He'll be the latest in a string of leaders who have tried to improve the district.

A view of downtown Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2010.
Leonardo Dasilva / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/leonardodasilva

A development boom in Worcester, Massachusetts -- the state's second largest city -- may indicate a comeback. 

A massive ice jam tore several brackets holding a town water main from the underside of the Exchange Street Bridge, in Athol, Massachusetts. The span will remain closed until Mass DOT can inspect for structural damage.
Courtesy / Shaun Suhoski, Athol Town Manager

The Exchange Street Bridge, in Athol, Mass., remains closed after a chunk of ice hit the bridge over the weekend. 

An exterior view of McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, current home of the PawSox baseball team, in May 2017.
Waz8 / Creative Commons

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien says time is running out to strike a deal with the PawSox and keep the baseball team in Rhode Island. Grebien said that if lawmakers fail to approve the latest proposal on the table, Pawtucket is ready to take matters into its own hands.

GOP lawmakers in Massachusetts are celebrating a seat gained after a special election Tuesday. 

Mascot "Paws" greets visitors to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Waz8 / Creative Commons

Worcester, Massachusetts, is sharpening its bid to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to Central Massachusetts. The PawSox are the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

A line outside Tree House in Charlton, Massachusetts.
Carson McGrath / NEPR

You won't be able to find a cold can or freshly poured draft of Tree House beer anywhere except where it's made, right in Charlton, Massachusetts. 

Terageorge / Creative Commons

Worcester is the ideal Massachusetts location for Amazon to build a second headquarters and the technology company could help pay for high-speed rail linking both ends of the state, gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren said Friday.

A new wave of forest loss is underway in New England, at a rate of 65 acres a day. That's the conclusion of a new regionwide study spearheaded by a Harvard University forest research group. And the authors say New England could lose more than a million acres of forest cover over the next half-century.

A school bus in Worcester.
File photo / MassLive

Worcester's mayor said he's hoping school bus drivers in his city vote on Wednesday to accept a five-year contract.

The bus drivers nearly went on strike this week, which could have delayed the first day of school in Worcester. But Mayor Joseph Petty said he asked union leadership to keep talking.

They did and now have a deal, although union members still must approve it.

"My understand [is] it's a good contract," Petty said. "So hopefully they will ratify it, and we won't have to worry about the buses...not running."

A school bus in Worcester.
File photo / MassLive

Updated at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2017: A statement from the mayor's office Monday night said the union and bus company reached a 5-year deal, "with the goal of ratification by the union members on Wednesday night."

The union representing school bus drivers in Worcester had considered a strike starting Monday, the first day of school, but agreed to stay on the job for three more days while negotiations continue.

Susannah Whipps, during a meeting with the Springfield Republican editorial board.
Mark M. Murray / The Republican

A Massachusetts state lawmaker representing the North Quabbin said she's leaving the Republican Party.

Susannah Whipps has served in the state House since 2015, part of the small Republican minority in the Democratic dominated legislature.

The original monument honoring people of color from Worcester who served in World War II.
Courtesy / Thomas Doughton

A proposed memorial honoring World War II veterans is causing controversy. The dispute focuses on just who should be honored.

The memorial is designed to be an exact copy of one that was removed in 1959 to make way for a new highway. It honored black veterans who served in World War II, but only covers those who enlisted or were drafted through 1943.

Seven officers trained to join the new Worcester horse unit.
Scott J. Croteau / MassLive

It's been a little over two months since the Worcester police introduced officers on horseback. There are four horses and seven officers in the new mounted unit.

They've been patrolling parks, the Worcester Common and across the city. Police Chief Steven Sargent said they're also sent out to a neighborhood after a report of a shooting.

State receiver Jessica L. Huizenga spoke of the Southbridge Public Schools turnaround plan on Friday, June 24, 2016.
Michelle Williams / MassLive

Massachusetts education officials must find a new leader for the Southbridge school district, following the resignation of its state-appointed receiver.

For five straight days this spring, Patty — who doesn’t want her last name used to protect her son’s privacy — sought refuge in the chapel at Heywood Hospital in Gardner. That’s where her 28-year-old son Eric had been waiting for a psychiatric treatment bed.

“The person that’s having that breakdown is not the son that I know,” Patty says. “I don’t want him to see me crying over it, so sometimes I walk to the chapel and just be quiet in here.”

Eric was hospitalized because Patty called for help because he had taken too many psychiatric medications.

Massachusetts Democrats gather in Lowell for their 2016 convention.
Shannon Young / MassLive

The Massachusetts State Democratic Convention convenes elected delegates on Saturday morning in Worcester. As they do every four years, attendees will revise and agree on a party platform that next year's gubernatorial candidate will be expected to run on.

Politico's Massachusetts reporter Lauren Desenski joined us for a convention preview.

Seven members of the Worcester police force trained to join the new mounted unit.
Scott J. Croteau / Masslive

For the first time in more than sixty years, police officers on horseback will soon patrol the streets of Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Worcester police decided to bring four horses into the force because they offer unique advantages. They can help reach places inaccessible by car or bike, including wooded areas in the city's sixty parks. They can also make community policing easier, providing a conversation starter with residents.

What's more, Police Chief Steven Sargent said, horses — or "mounts" — are an effective force multiplier.

The "Witness Tree" in the Harvard Forest, located in Petersham, Mass.
Carrie Healy / NEPR

Author Lynda Mapes spent a year in the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, chronicling a single tree. This red oak stands in one of the oldest and most intensively studied research landscapes in North America. 

The former Southbridge High School, now home to administrative offices for the school district.
Henry Epp / NEPR

Back in January, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took a moment in his State of the Commonwealth address to mention struggling school districts that have been taken over by the state, a process known as receivership.

"We encourage the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to continue to use this tool," Baker said.

No more districts have been taken over since then, but there are currently three under state leadership: Lawrence, Holyoke and the most recent, Southbridge, a town of about 16,000 people in the central part of the state, on the border with Connecticut.

Millers River near Erving, Massachusetts
jkb / Creative Commons

Athol, Massachusetts, may soon build a handicapped accessible dock on the Millers River. It will allow people to paddle to an existing accessible dock, a little downstream.

The dock would enable people to move from a wheelchair to a kayak or canoe on the Millers River.

In Gilbertville, Mass., Democratic supporter Neil Noble (right) and Bob Bousquet have a few words regarding their opposing political views about the recent election.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

The first weeks of the Trump administration have been marked by controversy, including a court battle over the president’s first executive order on immigration, unsubstantiated accusations against a former president and numerous Trump tweetstorms.

But supporters of the president say he’s delivering exactly what he promised. That’s what we heard again and again in several towns in central Massachusetts that voted for Trump, including Ware, which was once a booming mill town known as “the town that can’t be licked.”

Jesse Algarin is co-owner and chef of the Hometown Cafe in Winchendon. The lifelong Republican voted for President Trump -- and so did the town.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Although we think of Massachusetts as a solidly “blue” state, more than a million of the state’s residents voted for President Trump in November.

Trump’s support came mostly from Plymouth County south of Boston, and from central Massachusetts. There, in the central part of the state, you can drive from the New Hampshire border south to the Connecticut line, and pass through a line of towns that all voted for Trump.

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