Regional News

News from the region from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Merriam-Webster editors Peter Sokolowski and Emily Brewster.
Burns Maxey

Merriam-Webster has released its list of the most looked-up words of 2020, and it’s no surprise that words related to virus and disease figure prominently.

An Ode To A Landmark Copper Beech, Recently Felled

Nov 26, 2020
St. John's Episcopal Church, which is located on the Hartford and West Hartford border, recently cut down a huge copper beech tree the church had been advised could no longer be saved.
Dwight Latif / Courtesy of St John's Episcopal Church, West Hartford, CT.

The town I call home, West Hartford, has lost a dear old friend.

The Eastfield Mall on Boston Road in Springfield, Massachusetts, urges people to wash their hands frequently on its electronic billboard.
Steven E. Nanton / The Republican /

Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season, a crucial time for retailers. But a group representing them in Massachusetts said it's impossible to predict how it will go this year.

Police cruisers in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / The Republican /

Updated at 4:45 p.m. 

Public defenders in Massachusetts are suing Springfield's mayor and city clerk over a public records request for police discipline reports.

For most people, Boston Logan International Airport is a place you pass through — a temporary stop on the way to some other destination, like a Thanksgiving family gathering.

But for Mario Seide, Logan has been his near-daily destination since he moved to the United States in 2018. Within days of leaving the southern coast of Haiti for Massachusetts, Seide said he began working as a wheelchair attendant at the airport. He enjoys the job because, he said, “I don’t like to sit still.”

The Bridge of Names, in Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, after storm damage.
Karen Brown / NEPM

A walking bridge in western Massachusetts was badly damaged in an autumn storm, but the town doesn’t own the land under it. So residents have banded together to take on the project — for its practical and historical value.

Updated at 2:38 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden stressed a return to multilateralism Tuesday as he introduced key national security and foreign policy appointees and nominees for his incoming White House Cabinet, moving forward with the traditional transition process even though President Trump still hasn't formally admitted defeat.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut says President-elect Joe Biden’s administration should include more money for pedestrian and bicycle lanes in its federal transportation proposals.

Native American history would be a mandatory part of public schools in Connecticut, if a bill introduced by State Senator Cathy Osten passes.

COVID-19 Precaution Campaign, Called #GetBackMass, Built On 'Things We Love'

Nov 24, 2020
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito watched as a sample advertisement from the administration's new #GetBackMass campaign played on screens in the Gardner Auditorium during a press conference on Monday, November 23, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Giving hugs, going out dancing, sitting in the stands at Fenway Park, traveling and seeing concerts are among the missed experiences highlighted in a new Massachusetts public awareness campaign that makes the case for keeping up COVID-19 precautions as the best way to return to such activities.

Supporters of the proposed update to the "Right to Repair" ballot law, including Right to Repair Coalition director Tommy Hickey (bottom right), waited for the start of a crowded Consumer Protection Committee hearing on Jan. 13, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

A group backed by many top auto makers says Massachusetts ballot Question 1 — the so-called "Right to Repair" issue — is unconstitutional, and is suing to have the measure's implementation stopped.

The Massachusetts Statehouse.
Nidavirani / Creative Commons

Having passed bills in both the Massachusetts House and Senate, state lawmakers are working to deliver a budget deal this week before the turkey coma sets in.

The Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk is the largest medium security level facility in Massachusetts.
Michael P. Norton / State House News Service

This week, federal authorities released the results of an investigation on Massachusetts state prisons, and said conditions violate the constitutional rights of inmates.

Employee Matt Pizii stands behind a counter at Liberty Springfield in Springfield, Massachusetts, on November 20, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Two years after recreational marijuana became available for legal sale in Massachusetts, the first adult-use pot store has opened in Springfield.

RN Alyssa Anderson administers a COVID-19 test at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford in March 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

With virus rates rising across the state and the holidays looming, western Massachusetts residents who want to get a COVID test are often waiting in hours-long lines, if they can get one at all.

Vermont reported a record 148 cases Thursday, and state officials predict there will be a 50% increase in cases over the next six weeks.

New Method To Save New England Salt Marshes Piloted In Mass.

Nov 20, 2020

Wearing tall rubber boots, a scientist walked along an overgrown path to the Little Bay salt marsh in Fairhaven, on Cape Cod.

“I'm going to kind of weave us up through this back zone,” said Alice Besterman, the post-doctoral researcher with the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

Nearly 60 Percent Of Nursing Homes In Conn. Now Have At Least One COVID Case

Nov 20, 2020

Nearly 60 percent of the state’s nursing homes have recorded at least one case of COVID-19 among residents or staff, state officials said Thursday, and plans are being made to test every resident in those facilities after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Heavily redacted paragraphs are shown as part of a sponsored research agreement between the UMass Amherst and Raytheon in 2015. This document and 10 others like it were redacted by the university.
Screen Shot / UMass Amherst / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

The Daily Hampshire Gazette has been trying to get its hands on all the agreements UMass Amherst signs with private businesses to conduct many millions of dollars in sponsored research.

WAM Theatre based in Lenox, Massachusetts, took on "The Thanksgiving Play" this season. The show is a sendup of white elementary school teachers trying and failing to do better at teaching this part of American history.
Illustration by Katari Wilson / WAM Theatre

In late October, Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse was among the recipients of a prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant. Among her achievements is "The Thanksgiving Play," now on stage (so to speak) at WAM Theatre, based in Lenox, Massachusetts.

In this pandemic year, the video went live last night and is up through the weekend.

The American Airlines counters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Despite a warning from the CDC to avoid travel for Thanksgiving, officials at Bradley International Airport say they expect to see increased traffic around the holiday. But it'll be nothing like previous years. 

Drug overdose deaths are rising during the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts. A report from the state Department of Public Health shows a 2% increase for the first nine months of the year, as compared to 2019. The preliminary data translates to 33 more deaths.

Massachusetts Democrats have a lot to celebrate this election season. They preserved an all-blue congressional delegation and gained two seats in the state Legislature, where they already have veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Yet the party may not be as unified as it will need to be for the next big challenge: winning back the governor’s office in 2022.

Beginning Monday, Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks will add a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site open to travelers and all other community members.

The Connecticut Airport Authority is partnering with Hartford HealthCare to run the site in parking Lot 3 off Schoephoester Road. This will be the health organization’s ninth permanent testing location in the state. 

A new study of natural gas infrastructure in Connecticut says harmful amounts of methane are leaking from aging underground gas pipes. The findings add to an emerging body of science demonstrating the scale of methane leaks in America.

Mildred Stopa, at front, was 66 years old when she retired in December 1989. Behind Stopa at her retirement party, from left to right: daughter Sheila Pelczarski, granddaughter Julia, and daughter Christina Moriarty.
Submitted photo

Massachusetts recently passed a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic: the deaths of more than 10,000 residents.

Rapid Result Virus Tests Launching In 134 Massachusetts School Districts

Nov 18, 2020
An N95 protective mask.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Starting in early December, 134 Massachusetts school districts, charter schools and special education collaboratives will have access to rapid COVID-19 tests for students or staff members who show symptoms of the respiratory disease while school is in session.

With Unanimous Vote, Kimberly Budd Makes History As Chief Justice Of Mass. High Court

Nov 18, 2020
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Kimberly Budd takes a witness oath before answering questions from Governor's Council members at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 12.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Kimberly Budd will become the next chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after she was unanimously confirmed by the Governor's Council on Wednesday.

A two-year investigation of Massachusetts prisons has found conditions that violate the constitutional rights of prisoners.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling says the state Department of Correction has not provided adequate mental health care or supervision to prisoners in mental health crisis. He also says the DOC has violated the constitutional rights of prisoners in crisis by using prolonged mental health watch under restrictive housing conditions, resulting in some prisoners harming or killing themselves while on watch.

The state’s new covid exposure app for cellphones has reached over 600,000 downloads in less than a week.  Launched last Thursday, the app for iPhone and Android systems lets people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19.