Paul Tuthill

Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief

Paul Tuthill is WAMCâââ

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.

A federally-funded universal free lunch program is being introduced this year in the public schools in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Springfield Public Schools will receive $15.4 million to provide lunch daily at no charge to any student who wants it.  Springfield Superintendent of Schools Dan Warwick said the quality of the school lunches will improve with more vegetables and fruits on the menu.

A new school year begins Monday in Springfield, Massachusetts where rising standardized test scores and a falling dropout rate are seen as signs of a turnaround in the struggling public school system. A new test, based on the Common Core educational standards, will be introduced in a majority of the city’s schools next year.

The scores of last year’s MCAS tests given to Springfield school students rose across the board at a higher rate than the gain recorded by school districts statewide, and the dropout rate has fallen  more than any other school system in the state.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a milestone agreement today in the effort to bring high- speed passenger rail service to western Massachusetts.

Governor Patrick arrived in Greenfield onboard a train from North Adams to announce a tentative agreement to have the state purchase the rail line between East Northfield on the Vermont border and Springfield.  The 49-mile stretch is nearing the completion of a major restoration that will return passenger rail service to communities along the Connecticut River.

The state fair season is approaching and details have been announced for the largest fair in the Northeast. 

The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts will include an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the New York World’s Fair. Entertainment headliners include ZZ Top, Darius Rucker and Little Big Town. New fun foods and different concessions will be on the fair grounds.   Big E President Gene Cassidy said last year’s record attendance of nearly 1.5 million people made it the fifth largest fair in North America.       

In a city where public safety consistently ranks as the top issue in public opinion polls, a veteran Springfield city councilor caused a buzz this week when he suggested people had become complacent about violence.

In an op-ed published on MassLive.com, Springfield City Councilor-at-large Tim Rooke called on the “silent majority” to speak up and help dismantle the violent drug gangs that he said are causing families to move out of Springfield and hurting businesses.

There is a new spiritual leader for the 220,000 Roman Catholics in western Massachusetts.

   56 year old Mitchell Thomas Rozanski was installed as the 9th bishop of the Springfield diocese during a nearly 2-and-a-half hour service Tuesday. The 900 seat St. Michael’s Cathedral, the mother church of the diocese in downtown Springfield was nearly filled to capacity.

It will be a big day Tuesday for the 220,000 Roman Catholics in western Massachusetts, as a new bishop takes over the Springfield Diocese.   

    In a ceremony filled with ancient symbols and rituals Mitchell Thomas Rozanski will be installed as the new bishop Tuesday at St. Michael’s Cathedral, the mother church of the diocese in downtown Springfield.

    " I am grateful to God for the call to ministry, for the call to priesthood and then this call to be the ninth Bishop of Springfield," Rozanski said Monday.

The Massachusetts Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the former president of Westfield State University Evan Dobelle

A complaint filed in state court in Boston Thursday by Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley accuses Dobelle of spending up to $100,000 in school funds on personals purchases, trips, and meals at high end restaurants. 

The suit alleges he violated state laws and university policies by knowingly submitting false claims to Westfield State for personal expenses totaling $59,000.  

The jobs of 25,000 people in New England are at risk along with the livelihoods of many small businesses because of the drama surrounding the Market Basket supermarket chain.

    The 71 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine have been without fresh food and shoppers, for the most part, for three weeks now because of a wildcat strike by workers who have chosen sides in a long-running dispute between two cousins over control of the family-owned business.

Massachusetts will not be needed to shelter immigrant children who have come unaccompanied across the nation’s southern border.  An announcement by federal officials late Tuesday ended a two-week controversy that embroiled Massachusetts in the national debate over immigration reform.

A state-financed expansion of public transportation in western Massachusetts is being launched this month.

    The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority will introduce seven new bus routes, including a much demanded cross-town bus in Springfield, and a new route between Amherst and Holyoke.   There will be more hours, mostly on the weekend, on 14 routes and buses will run more frequently on 15 routes.   PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes said ridership was up 2 percent last year.

Shoppers in Massachusetts can look forward to a sales tax holiday later this month. The Massachusetts legislature in the closing minutes of the legislative session last week set the sales tax-free shopping days for August 16 and 17.

The sales tax holiday was included in a comprehensive economic development bill that contains dozens of programs and incentives designed to create jobs. State  Senator Gale Candaras  of  Wilbraham, who helped write the bill, acknowledges there is scant evidence the sales tax holiday does much to grow the Massachusetts economy.

The Massachusetts Inspector General issued a scathing report Thursday on a former state university president’s use of school funds for personal purposes.

   Inspector General Glenn Cunha said former Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle knowingly and willingly violated school policy by spending lavishly for six years on trips and entertainment for himself, his family and friends.  Cunha called Dobelle’s behavior “outrageous”

Emotions remain high over Gov. Deval Patrick’s offer to temporarily house unaccompanied immigrant children in Massachusetts.  No final decision has been made about where the children would stay, if federal authorities accept the offer.

Six years after Mohegan Sun planted its flag in Palmer with the idea of building a western Massachusetts resort casino, the Connecticut-based company is leaving the rural town and giving up control of a 152-acre site.

Mohegan Sun is terminating a 99-year lease on the former casino site -– a wooded hillside just off the MassPike — and giving up pursuit of a non-casino development there.  Town officials and the landowner, Northeast Reality, were notified Monday.

MGM is preparing to purchase two city-owned buildings in Springfield for the Las Vegas-based company’s casino project.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said MGM intends to close on the sale of the properties by the end of this month despite the statewide casino referendum in November that could kill the Springfield project.

" They have honored everything they have had to honor up to this point."

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s announcement Friday that Westover Air Force Reserve Base in Chicopee might be used to shelter immigrant children caught base commanders by surprise.

   Base spokesman, Master Sgt  Andrew Biscoe, said Westover is an active airfield with operational and security concerns that would need be addressed  before it could house up to a thousand children.  Also, lodging at the base is used on the weekends by thousands of reservists.

Gov. Deval Patrick says no decision has been made on a request from the Obama administration for Massachusetts to shelter some of the unaccompanied children who have been streaming across the nation’s southern border

Patrick seemed sympathetic to the request when he called the situation on the southern border a “humanitarian crisis” adding Massachusetts should do what it can to help.  Republican State Rep. Nick Boldyga of Southwick said the governor should reject the federal request to temporarily house the immigrant children.

Anti-casino activists launched a statewide referendum campaign today in Springfield where they outlined plans for convincing voters to keep Las Vegas-style gambling from coming to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled today that a question asking voters to repeal the state’s casino law can go on the November ballot.  It sets up what promises to be a hard-fought campaign to decide the fate of the fledgling gambling industry in Massachusetts.

The Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts has renewed a call for an end to new refugee resettlements in Springfield.  Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal said the mayor has raised concerns that need to be addressed.

     Mayor Domenic Sarno first called for a moratorium on refugee resettlements in Springfield 10 months ago, but then backed off amid criticism from social service providers and advocates for immigrants. Sarno said his office recently learned that up to 70 refugees will be settled in Springfield in the coming year.

A new poll finds Massachusetts residents still support casino gambling, but have lost confidence in the casino industry regulators.

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts has a budget in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1st.  The city’s elected officials are in agreement that following years of recession-forced spending cuts, the budget for fiscal year 2015 moves the city forward.

The $581.9 million budget recommended by Mayor Domenic Sarno was adopted by the Springfield City Council Monday night by an 11-0 vote with two councilors absent.  The vote wrapped up the least contentious budget season in the state’s third- largest city in recent years.

People in Springfield, Massachusetts reflected Sunday on the third anniversary of the tornado that left a major scar on the city.   While officials say they are proud of the recovery process, they acknowledge more work is ahead. 

New homes are under construction in the low-income Maple High-Six Corners neighborhood in keeping with a master plan painstakingly put together in the months after the June 1, 2011 tornado. A new elementary school is under construction to replace one destroyed by the storm. Thousands of new trees have been planted.

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo is planning to unveil a sweeping gun safety bill on Tuesday which he wants to vote on before the legislative session ends on July 31st.

Memorial Day observances are under way in western Massachusetts,where the holiday weekend will feature parades and solemn ceremonies.

The city of Springfield commemorated Memorial Day Friday afternoon with an annual ceremony under an overcast sky.  After short speeches on the steps of city hall, a group of elected officials and military veterans placed wreaths at the five war memorials across the street in Court Square. The procession was led by JROTC color guards from each of the city’s four high schools.

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts is soliciting bids from organizations to do workforce training in poor neighborhoods hit by the tornado three years ago.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is scheduled to hold a final public hearing in Springfield today on the casino proposed by MGM.   It is a last chance for commissioners to gauge public sentiment before completing a lengthy evaluation of the sole resort casino applicant in western Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is meeting in Springfield Wednesday to listen to public comments for the last time on MGM’s casino project.

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