Regional News

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

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on January 21, 2021.
State House News Service

Starting Monday, businesses in Massachusetts like restaurants, casinos and liquor stores will be allowed to stay open past 9:30 p.m., although a 25% capacity limit will still be in place.

"Landscape With Rainbow" by 19th century painter Robert Duncanson was shown during a ceremony at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Gift of Leonard and Paula Granoff / Smithsonian American Art Museum

A presentation of art was among the many moments in Washington during Wednesday’s presidential inauguration.

The main entrance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 2017.
Shannon Young / The Republican /

A rehab and nursing facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has had one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in Berkshire County, according to the city health department.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home on May 1, 2020.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican /

A Massachusetts legislative oversight committee met Thursday as it looks into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. One main topic was whether staffing contributed to the deaths of at least 76 veterans at the state-run facility.

In September 2015, then-Vice President Joe Biden greeted Pope Francis when he arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

There’s a rift in the Catholic Church about how a leading church official welcomed President Biden to power.

Asked about the controversy, the new bishop in western Massachusetts appears to be choosing his words on the matter carefully.

The Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Massachusetts, is one of several venues owned by Iron Horse Entertainment Group. The company is rescheduling shows for later in 2021 and 2022.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

In the last 10 months, New England’s rich arts scene has been hit hard.

Tracking deaths in Massachusetts jails and prisons has long been difficult, with details of fatalities kept secret from the public, and often from family members, too.

Last year, the federal government changed the way it counts deaths in custody — a move that’s received little notice in a chaotic period marked by a global pandemic and political unrest. The new method has done little to improve transparency for the public.

As dignitaries filed into their seats for President Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., roughly a dozen people affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement in Connecticut marched to the front of the state Capitol in Hartford.

Massachusetts Legislators File Bill To Restart Talks on Climate, Emissions

Jan 20, 2021
Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka, at left, with Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano.
State House News Service

The climate and emissions reduction bill vetoed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker last week has been refiled by state House and Senate leaders in the hopes of quickly returning the legislation to the governor — only this time, with the opportunity to override a veto, if it comes.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and state lawmakers would have enough revenue to balance the state’s next budget without raising taxes.

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.

Two Massachusetts residents were arrested by FBI agents Tuesday and charged in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

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 taken under advisement a lawsuit by the Springfield City Council against the mayor in a dispute about police department oversight.

Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts
Don Treeger / The Republican / Masslive

The top doctor at a Springfield, Massachusetts, medical facility said the region has enough capacity to treat patients for COVID-19 and other illnesses — at least for now.

For Massachusetts to meet its 2050 climate change emission goal, the state is going to have to green the grid, replacing fossil fuel power plants with clean renewable energy sources. To do this, the commonwealth is banking on offshore wind.

“Offshore wind is the linchpin of Massachusetts clean energy strategy and critical to our success,” said State Sen. Michael Barrett, head of the committee that oversees utilities and energy.

By 2030, developers of offshore wind hope to install over 2,000 turbines in the seas from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

It’s a snowy afternoon in early January and the carpool lane at the Bromfield High School in Harvard, Mass. is packed with cars. But the families inside aren’t here to drop off their kids. They’re here for COVID-19 tests.

“I’m going to just swab each side about four times around,” says a healthcare worker to 13-year-old Emma Squire and her 16-year-old sister, Molly. The two girls look straight ahead as they got the test.

The percentage of Hartford students in racially integrated schools dropped significantly this academic year amid the challenge of the COVID pandemic and a major change in the operation of the regional school choice lottery, according to figures provided by the state Department of Education.

At a press conference on June 9, 2020, members of the Springfield City Council observe a moment of silence to remember George Floyd, who was killed while in Minneapolis police custody.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

A hearing will be held on Tuesday in Hampden Superior Court on the City Council's lawsuit against Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Carolyn Robbins / The Republican / Masslive

A group that settles refugees in western Massachusetts said the future of the program is unclear, even with the change at the White House.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the "grand bargain" bill on June 28, 2018. He's shown here with the two legislative leaders, as of 2021, Senate President Karen Spilka (left) and House Speaker Ron Mariano (second from left).
Sam Doran / SHNS

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the climate bill passed by lawmakers in the final hours of the last legislative session. Many lawmakers were very pleased with that bill they crafted over five months and they plan to send it right back to the governor.

State and local law enforcement agencies blocked off and locked down the Connecticut State Capitol complex Sunday in anticipation of pro-Trump protests that never came to pass.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno in a file photo. Behind him stands Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Next week, a lawsuit filed by the Springfield, Massachusetts, City Council against Mayor Domenic Sarno goes before a judge.

Massachusetts Cannabis Commission Reshaped To Start 2021

Jan 15, 2021
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman heads the group responsible for setting up the regulations for legal, recreational marijuana use in the state.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Freshly restocked with three new members, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is gearing up for a year that will include the implementation of recently-approved regulations that allow for home delivery of non-medical marijuana, continuing to press for legislation that Beacon Hill mostly ignored last session, and possibly even another round of regulatory revisions.

Police plan to have a massive presence at a demonstration possibly taking place Sunday at the state Capitol in Hartford, anticipating it could be much larger than a typical protest there.

Massachusetts Gov. Baker Vetoes Omnibus Climate, Emissions Reduction Bill

Jan 14, 2021
Morning traffic on the Mass Pike.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Scuttling what looked to be a major session-ending accomplishment for the Massachusetts legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday vetoed ambitious climate legislation over his concerns that key pieces of the bill could stymie housing construction, and that the legislature did nothing in the bill to help cities and towns adapt to the effects of climate change.

Conn. Residents 75+ Can Register Online For Vaccine

Jan 14, 2021

Connecticut officially opened its online registration for phase 1b of its Coronavirus vaccine rollout Thursday morning, just days after New York’s website went live with an appointment backlog.

Few Mass. House Members Have Walked Boston Mayor Martin Walsh's Path

Jan 14, 2021
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh waved as audience members in the Massachusetts House Chamber applauded him after he was mentioned by Gov. Baker during the 2017 State of the Commonwealth speech.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said during a speech to the city Tuesday night that he is going to bring Boston with him when he goes to Washington, D.C., to serve in the Biden administration as secretary of labor.

Studies show that climate change could prompt millions of Americans to relocate in the coming decades. And by some measures, New Hampshire and northern New England could be ideal places to move.

But preparing for those potential waves of climate migrants will be no easy task – and some are already arriving.

The Mountain West always felt like home for Judith and Doug Saum. Until recently, they lived in the hills above Reno, Nevada.

Severe storms. Heat waves. Rising seas. New England is already seeing the impacts of climate change, and scientists project they will become more severe and deadly, shaping how we live and work in the northeastern U.S.

In a special ahead of Inauguration Day, the New England News Collaborative and America Amplified look at climate change in our region and how President-elect Joe Biden’s administration could affect future climate action. Biden has proposed the most ambitious climate platform of any incoming U.S. president in history.

After 10 months of contending with the coronavirus pandemic, the largest addiction treatment provider in Massachusetts expressed relief as it began vaccinating workers and long-term patients against the virus.

Spectrum Health Systems received 700 doses of the Moderna vaccine last week, and as of Tuesday, the company had administered about half of the first doses to staff and 20 people in residential addiction treatment.