Paul Tuthill

Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief

Paul Tuthill is WAMCâââ

Supporters of the only Catholic high school in Springfield, Massachusetts are meeting this evening to urge the new bishop of western Massachusetts to rebuild the tornado-damaged school.

Massachusetts education officials have dropped a proposal to include classroom performance evaluations as a criteria for renewing the licenses for teachers, administrators and other educators. The move came just days after newly released data gave most educators in the state high marks.

Open enrollment at the Massachusetts health insurance exchange begins this week. State officials say there is a new – and functioning – website that people can use if they need to purchase insurance.

The Massachusetts Health Connector will launch the new online health insurance marketplace on Nov. 15th.  Thousands of people across the state who have Health Connector coverage now, or were placed in temporary plans over the last year, will have to use the new website to submit an application if they want to remain insured.

There is frustration and anger over a delay in rebuilding the only Catholic high school in Springfield, Massachusetts that was destroyed in the 2011 tornado.

   Parents and alumnae of Cathedral High School said they were blindsided by Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski’s call for more study to help him make a decision on the school’s future.  Mayor Domenic Sarno said Rozanski had reneged on a pledge made by his now retired predecessor to rebuild the high school in the same neighborhood where it had stood since 1959

The introduction of Las Vegas-style gambling to Massachusetts will proceed at a more rapid pace now that a major hurdle has been cleared.  Voters soundly defeated a ballot question to repeal the 2011 casino law.  

   With the cloud of uncertainty caused by the repeal vote lifted, The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting in Boston Thursday voted unanimously to formally award licenses to build and operate full-scale destination casinos to MGM Resorts for the company’s Springfield project and to Wynn Resorts in greater Boston.  

A poll released Friday by Western New England University shows strong voter support for keeping the Massachusetts casino law.

The survey found 59 percent of  likely voters plan to vote against repeal of the law that legalized Las Vegas-style gambling and authorized the licensing of casinos in Massachusetts. Just 35 percent say they’ll vote yes on Question 3 on Tuesday’s election ballot.  Polling institute director Tim Vercellotti said the gap has grown since September, when a casino industry backed campaign launched a blitz of  TV ads.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick highlighted his administration’s success over the last eight years in job growth and economic development during an address to a business group in Springfield today.  The speech at a breakfast sponsored by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield comes as voters are less than a week away from picking his successor.

The administration of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is recommending a Chinese company be awarded a contract to build new subway cars for the MBTA.  The railcars will be assembled at a new factory that is to be built in Springfield.

Gov. Patrick made the announcement Tuesday standing in front of an empty 40- acre lot on Springfield’s east side,  where the CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. has said it will build a $50 million factory creating over 250 new construction and manufacturing jobs.

Election officials in Massachusetts report a surge in new voter registrations ahead of Wednesday’s deadline.

   The number of voters registered in the city of Springfield has increased by 15,000 since 2009, according to Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola who credits voter registration drives by various special interest groups.  But, she cautions that the increase in the number of registered voters is not necessarily a sign of higher interest in the November election.

Two top officials with the Obama administration visited western Massachusetts today to see the impact of federal dollars on workforce development.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan were briefed about the job training programs developed by Massachusetts community colleges since the schools were awarded $20 million by the Labor Department in 2011 to forge partnerships with employers.

A new training facility for firefighters is under construction in western Massachusetts.  The new center will bring the resources of the state’s Department of Fire Services to area fire departments that depend on volunteer or on-call firefighters.

     The new state - of- the -art center under construction in Springfield will be the western Massachusetts base for all of the resources of the state Department of Fire Services. It includes training, code enforcement, and arson investigations, according to state Fire Marshall Stephen Coan.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts has voted to pay $1 million to the family of a teenager who died after an encounter with police.

   The settlement was negotiated by lawyers for the city and the family of Delano Walker Jr.  Last month a federal court jury found a city police officer had violated the civil rights of Walker and awarded his family $1.3 million.  The settlement means the city will drop an appeal.  City councilor Bud Williams said it is time for healing

More than 3 years after a tornado tore through the East Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts the city is removing damaged trees from private property.

Michelle David watched Tuesday morning as a crew hired by the city cut down the tall oak tree that teetered dangerously close to her house.

"It is a relief. It has been a long time. The street was a mess, but it looks beautiful now. We are grateful to the mayor and everyone in the city who helped get this done."

A new poll finds a majority of likely voters in Massachusetts say they’ll vote against repealing the state’s casino gambling law.

The latest survey by the Western New England University Polling Institute found 52  percent of likely voters said they will vote no on Question 3, the casino law repeal initiative on next month’s Massachusetts election ballot.

Polling institute director Tim Vercellotti said the survey of 416 likely voters found 41 percent said they would vote to ban casinos with just 6 percent undecided and 1 percent declining to answer.

The five candidates for governor of Massachusetts participated in their first broadcast debate Monday night, the only one scheduled in western Massachusetts.

   Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley differed on energy policy, the need for universal pre-school, and indexing the gasoline tax to inflation.  Baker said rather than raise the gas tax the state should rein in transportation costs. 

    "We've got to figure out how to do this stuff better and cheaper and in some cases faster."

University of Massachusetts officials say they are pleased with the initial enrollment at the system’s first satellite campus. They say it bodes well for the future of the new UMass Center at Springfield.  Governor Deval Patrick led officials today at a grand opening ceremony.                

   Governor Patrick, who was a key supporter of establishing the first UMass satellite campus in downtown Springfield, described it as a sign of hope at a time when the gap between rich and poor in Massachusetts is widening.

A statewide campaign to fight repeal of the Massachusetts casino law had a formal kickoff in Springfield today.

The casino industry-funded Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs held its first official campaign event Tuesday in the downtown offices of MGM Springfield. About 100 local community leaders, business owners, and labor representatives gathered to hear brief speeches and see the first television ad of the campaign, which stars the city of Springfield.

On the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a Massachusetts environmental group called for aggressive limits on power plant emissions.

Activists who have been working for months on a climate change plan for Springfield, Massachusetts say they must factor in an unwanted development — the possible construction of a wood-burning power plant in the city.

Neighborhood representatives, community organizers, and people from health-focused organizations have been brainstorming ways to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse gases with a goal to present a plan to the Springfield City Council by the end of the year.

Gambling regulators in Massachusetts have voted to award the state’s most lucrative casino license to Wynn Resorts.  It is the third casino license issued in Massachusetts, where voters in less than two months will decide if Las Vegas-style gambling will remain legal.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 3-1 Tuesday to approve Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn’s plan to build a $1.6 billion resort casino on the site of a former chemical company plant in the city of Everett.

The state’s four Roman Catholic Bishops are urging Massachusetts voters to repeal the state’s casino law.

Gambling industry regulators in Massachusetts resume deliberations today on awarding the state's most lucrative casino license.

The mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts won’t authorize an appeal to block construction of a wood-burning power plant.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will meet Monday to consider issuing a license for a casino in greater Boston.

The gambling industry regulators have completed an exhaustive review of the two competing casino proposals and have suggested changes to both projects.  Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts will respond to the commission’s suggestions by the end of this week. Acting chairman James McHugh said there will be a public discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts has green-lighted an appeal to try to block construction of a wood-burning power plant. 

   The council authorized the filing of a notice of appeal of last month’s Massachusetts Land Court ruling that reinstated the building permit for the biomass project.  Dozens of project opponents urged the council to act prior to a September 15th deadline.   City Councilor Tim Allen said a lawyer advised the council the appeal has a 25 percent chance of success.

A number of activities to raise funds and awareness to combat bullying will take place this week in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the suicide five years ago of an 11-year- old student focused national attention on bullying in schools.

The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation has scheduled a series of events that began Wednesday with a mayoral designation of the second weekend in September as “Anti-Bullying Weekend” in the city of Springfield. 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Monday began a final review of the two competing proposals for a resort casino in greater Boston.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts will hold a special meeting on whether to continue the fight over a wood-burning power plant.

Facing a Sept. 15th deadline to file an appeal to the court ruling that restored the building permit for the controversial plant, city council meeting notices have been posted for both Sept. 10 and 11.   City Councilor Tim Allen opposes the biomass plant, but is uncertain if he’ll vote to appeal last month’s decision by the Massachusetts Land Court.

A New York City-based developer unveiled plans today for a major renovation to an apartment complex in downtown Springfield.  The project was hailed by city officials as another big step in downtown’s  revitalization.

Officials with the SilverBrick group outlined plans for what they said would be a $6 million renovation of the 280-unit complex that fronts Main Street.  The extensive makeover will include luxury amenities intended to persuade people to pay market-rate rents to live in the urban center.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts is considering whether to appeal a court ruling that reinstated the building permit for a wood-burning power plant.

Springfield City Council President Mike Fenton said he will poll the council members to determine if they want to hold a special meeting to vote on whether to appeal last months’ ruling by the Massachusetts Land Court.  Fenton said councilors met privately with an attorney this week to discuss the pros and cons of a possible appeal.

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