Regional News

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

In past years, hundreds showed up for the Three Kings Day celebrations at Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Because of COVID-19, Grisel Delgado and her daughter are producing a scaled-back event.
Courtesy / Grisel's Privare Dance School for the Performing Arts

Many Christians celebrate Epiphany on January 6, also known as Three Kings Day. In Puerto Rico, it’s an official holiday and for Puerto Ricans living in western Massachusetts, the community celebrations are usually huge, but not in the era of COVID-19.

Massachusetts Legislature Agrees To $626 Million Economic Development Bill

Jan 6, 2021
The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.
William Zhang / Creative Commons

With many businesses in Massachusetts on the brink after months of scraping by through the pandemic, the state legislature struck a late-night deal Wednesday to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy in an effort to spur job growth and keep businesses afloat.

Mass. Legislature’s Opening Day Forecast: Cloudy With A Mix Of In-Person, Remote

Jan 5, 2021
The new speaker of the Massachusetts House, Ron Mariano.
File photo / State House News Service

Wednesday will bring a new General Court on Beacon Hill, but lawmakers must work around the same old public health crisis.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
CMH2315FL / CREATIVE COMMONS / FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/21953562@N07

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments on Monday about whether a Christian college has to abide by anti-discrimination laws.

Massachusetts House Advances New Version Of Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Jan 5, 2021
Mount Holyoke College students listen during a rally held to address historical allegations of sexual misconduct by a Mount Holyoke College professor, in December of 2018, at the college in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hamphire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The Massachusetts House gave initial approval to a new version of legislation that aims to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, advancing a measure that many legislators want to get to Gov. Charlie Baker before the Tuesday end of session.

Vaccine Plans In Massachusetts Shaping Up For First Responders, Older Residents

Jan 4, 2021
U.S. Air Force Veteran Robert Aucoin, 78, gets a temperature check prior to receiving his COVID-19 vaccine dose at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on December 29, 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

First responders can start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in Massachusetts next week, officials announced Monday, another milestone in the efforts to roll out immunization to key groups covered by the first distribution phase.

Negotiators Reach Deal On Major Massachusetts Climate Bill

Jan 4, 2021
A customer pumps fuel at a gas station.
Charles Minshew/KOMU / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/komunews

After six months of private talks, Massachusetts legislative negotiators have reached an agreement on a major bill to accelerate the state's pace toward addressing the global problem of climate change.

Angelica Llanos and her family.
Courtesy Angelica Llanos

When she was 15 years old, Angelica Llanos arrived — undocumented — in Norwalk, Connecticut, from Colombia. She lived with her mother and sister, finished high school, studied for two years at Norwalk Community College but had to drop out because she was ineligible for financial aid.

A swearing-in ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse on December 14, 2020.
File photo / State House News Service

With the change of the calendar year comes change at the Statehouse. Massachusetts lawmakers will begin a new legislative session on Wednesday.

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

The union representing the majority of employees at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home is acknowledging many workers are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.
Steph Solis / Masslive / Masslive.com

The Massachusetts secretary of state said he's concerned the Trump administration has sabotaged the census for political reasons.

One southern Vermont town has voted to sue the state over pandemic public health restrictions.

Massachusetts Emissions Roadmap Envisions 'Decade For Action'

Dec 30, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
File photo / State House News Service

The rest of the 2020s need to be "the decade for action" on climate change and energy policy if Massachusetts is to meet its mid-century greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, and that will require sweeping changes in the ways that people in Massachusetts heat their homes, get to work and around town, and generate electricity, the Baker administration said Wednesday.

Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano addressed his colleagues Wednesday, December 30, 2020, after being elected leader of the House.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano era is here, and there will be no gently paced transition period.

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.

DeLeo Reflects On Record-Setting Run As Massachusetts House Speaker

Dec 30, 2020
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo walks across the Mount Vernon Street archway at the Statehouse on Tuesday, December 29, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

As the sun set on his time in the Massachusetts House, Speaker Robert DeLeo took to the House floor one last time Tuesday to reflect on a three-decade Beacon Hill career that he said he tried to center around one overarching philosophy: that "what this job is all about, very simply, is helping people."

The COVID relief package that President Trump signed this weekend includes $15 billion for live music and theater venues. The news means some of the people who run bars, theaters and music halls across Vermont have a new source of hope that they will eventually be able to reopen.

Two Connecticut teacher’s unions say many educators in the state don’t think schools are safe enough for children or themselves to be in as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Five more employees have been laid off at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, based in Northampton, Massachusetts. The job reductions are again being blamed on the pandemic.

The coronavirus has taken the lives of over 5,600 Connecticut residents. Urbano Sifuentes of West Hartford was among them. For 25 years, Sifuentes worked as a janitor at the University of Hartford.

Speaking in Spanish, his daughter Rosemary Torres remembered him as a generous man who worked hard and had a great sense of humor.

“He was a very, very loving, very tender man. It has been difficult because it was very surprising the way he left us. It was so sudden. He was always cheerful and always joking around.”

Miguel Cardona is drawing praise from many in the academic community as a visionary choice to be the next U.S. secretary of education. President-elect Joe Biden announced his pick last week.

The Martin Luther King Junior Community Presbyterian Church on fire in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 28, 2020.
Springfield Fire Department / Via Masslive

The head of the fire department in Springfield, Massachusetts, said federal authorities are investigating a blaze that broke out Monday morning at a church in the city's Mason Square neighborhood.

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo To Resign Tuesday Evening

Dec 28, 2020

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, plans to resign from the legislature after 30 years on Beacon Hill on Tuesday.

Hurricane Sandy demolished the Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, sending the Star Jet roller coaster and other amusements plunging into the surf.
Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, U.S. Air Force

As a kid, author Eric Jay Dolin wanted to become the next Jacque Cousteau when he grew up. Today the Marblehead, Massachusetts, historian lives about a quarter of a mile from the sea, and said he still has that strong connection to the ocean.

Fed Aid Law Includes $1.3 Billion In Massachusetts Education Funding

Dec 28, 2020
The U.S. Capitol building.
MarkThomas / Creative Commons

After hemming and hawing, President Donald Trump signed into law Sunday a $900 billion pandemic relief and economic stimulus package that will steer about $1.3 billion in education funding to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signs the paid family leave law in 2018.
File Photo / MassLive / MassLive.com/photos

Starting in January, Massachusetts workers are eligible to take paid time off to bond with a new child or to recover from a long illness.

An aerial view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston in June, 2017.
AbhiSuryawanshi / Creative Commons

The legislative session on Beacon Hill is drawing to a conclusion — and it is a time of transition. Some representatives, such as Aaron Vega of Holyoke, who represents the 5th Hampden District, are serving their final days in the House. A group of newcomers, including Jake Oliveira of Ludlow, who will represent the 7th Hampden District, will be sworn in next week.

An architect's rendering of the proposed biomass plant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File / MassLive / MassLive.com/photos

Massachusetts’ two U.S. senators have asked the state to put a stop to a biomass plant in Springfield, at least until the incoming Biden Administration weighs in on the issue.

Courtesy of Springfield No One Leaves

 

The pandemic has taken a crisis of housing affordability and made it worse. In western Massachusetts and elsewhere, growing numbers of people are falling behind on rent and are in danger of being evicted, even with well-funded assistance programs.

SCOTT J. WALDRON PHOTOGRAPHYBANZAI.COM / Creative Commons

Workers earning the minimum wage in four of the six New England states will see a bit more in their paychecks in 2021. But the gap continues to widen between New Hampshire – where the rate hasn't changed in over a decade – and the rest of the region.

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