Close to $10 million in local, state, and federal money has been spent in the last couple of years to construct or renovate parks of all shapes and sizes in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.  The projects have opened up new recreational opportunities, eliminated blight, and brought parks closer to the people.

Children this summer had a chance to cool off and play on a splash pad in one of Springfield’s newest parks.

The world’s largest maker of passenger rail cars is planning to break ground this week on a new factory in western Massachusetts.

Governor Charlie Baker is among the officials scheduled to speak Thursday at the ceremony to mark the start of construction on a $60 million 200,000 square foot factory on Springfield’s east side. 

CNR-MA, a subsidiary of Chinese government-owned Changchun Rail Vehicles, purchased the 40 acre site for $12 million, according to spokesperson Lydia Rivera.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says the state has reached a first-in-the-nation agreement with the maker of an opioid overdose reversal drug.

An exhibit at the Berkshire Museum is showcasing the work of a photojournalist whose collections of images from nearly 100 countries have been displayed in museums around the world, including at the Louvre in Paris. An opening reception is set for Friday at 5:30.

MGM is setting out to fill some of the 2,000 construction jobs that were promised to build the company’s $800 million Springfield casino.

MGM officials are scheduling two days of interviews, Thursday and Friday, with minority-owned and women-owned union construction companies interested in bidding for jobs on the project. 

The Las Vegas-based entertainment company  interviewed veteran-owned businesses in July at its Springfield construction office. 

Massachusetts is joining a national movement to reexamine get-tough-on-crime policies.

Massachusetts state leaders earlier this month committed to a comprehensive review of the state’s criminal justice policies with a goal to reduce the cost of incarceration and improve public safety by reducing recidivism. 

The first casino in Massachusetts netted $18 million in its first full month in business.

 People gambled $181 million at the Plainridge Park Casino in July, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  The casino kept $18 million. Over a full year it works out to $217 million in gross gaming revenue, which would be more than the state’s full-year projection of $200 million.  

Casino industry expert Clyde Barrow said Plainridge Park had a spectacular opening.

The head of Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation spent Wednesday learning about and celebrating projects in the Berkshires.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening of the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.

The commission voted 5-0 Thursday to set a September 2018 opening date for the $800 million resort casino — a year later than originally planned.  

Although MassDOT says the reconstruction of I-91, which is right next to the casino site, could be done as soon as December 2017, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis argued it was prudent to plan for a later finish.

MGM Springfield

Casino developer MGM Resorts International has filed a lawsuit against three top Connecticut officials, including Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.

New data shows the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is worse than public health officials feared.

The number of opioid deaths in 2014 totaled 1,256 according to revised numbers released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.   Initial estimates had 1,008 people dying of drug overdoses last year. 

And, the epidemic shows no signs of lettering up.  An estimated 312 people are thought to have died of an overdose in the first three months of this year. 

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is extending the contract of its music director, who last year became the orchestra's youngest conductor in a century.

Sam Hudzik / NEPR

An Adams, Massachusetts man accused of plotting to attack a college on behalf of the self-declared Islamic State has pleaded not guilty. Alexander Ciccolo, 23, was arraigned Wednesday at federal court in Springfield.

Hours before his group’s Olympic bid collapsed, Boston 2024 co-founder Corey Dinopoulos wrote a letter to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Walsh had just said he would not support a guarantee to back the games with public funding in the event of cost overruns.

Carrie Healy / NEPR

Funeral services were held Monday for Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, the Marine from Springfield who was killed by a gunman in Chattanooga, Tennessee, earlier this month. Outside the church where the Mass was held, the community continued to show its support for the Sullivan family.

It's official. The 2024 Olympic Games will not take place in Boston.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Olympic Committee "severed ties" with Boston on Monday. In a statement, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, "I strongly believe that bringing the Olympic Games back to the United States would be good for our country and would have brought long-term benefits to Boston." He continued, "However, no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result."

Friends, family and several dignitaries have been attending services in Springfield today for the local Marine killed in the shooting at a naval reserve center in Tennessee earlier this month.

As part of the state budget, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the creation of a rural policy commission in Massachusetts. It continues a longstanding effort to express small town needs in the Boston-centric commonwealth.

The funeral for the Springfield, Massachusetts native, who was among the Marines killed last week by a gunman in Tennessee, will be private.

A spokesman for the family of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan said Monday’s funeral will be for family, friends and invited dignitaries only.  

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski will be the main celebrant and homilist for the service at Holy Cross Church in the East Forest Park neighborhood where Sullivan grew up.  Burial will be at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam. 

A new report says delays in building the two licensed resort casinos in Massachusetts could cost the state $ 1 billion in lost revenue. 

Our weeklong series on violence in the region continues now. In part two of Crime in our Communities, WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Jim Levulis reports on Pittsfield, where a few incidents in recent years have raised the awareness of violence in Berkshire County’s largest city.

Authorities in Massachusetts’ third largest city are using innovation, technology, and more police on patrol to combat violent crime.

Total crime is down about 8 percent in Springfield so far this year, according to the Springfield Police Department.  It is in keeping with a national trend of steadily declining crime rates. But, the crime that makes the headlines – homicides – stands at 13, just one shy of the total number of murders Springfield recorded for all of last year.

The 41st commissioner of the Boston Police Department credits his upbringing in South Boston for how he handles his job, especially his philosophy on community policing.

William Evans has led the police department for a year and a half. But for many, Evans may be most remembered for his role at the end of the manhunt in Watertown, months before he became interim commissioner.

Jane Flavell Collins

David Hoose, of Northampton, who is terror suspect Alexander Ciccolo's attorney spoke with reporters outside Federal court in Springfield Tuesday shortly after a U.S. Magistrate ordered Ciccolo held without bail.

Невідомий / Creative Commons

Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a bill that calls for the purchase of hydroelectric power by Massachusetts utilities.

Baker called the legislation submitted to the state Senate on Thursday a critical step in reducing the state's carbon footprint while also helping ratepayers by providing a cost effective alternative to coal and oil.

Steve Freitag / Creative Commons

Two historically significant European tall ships are in southern New England and are open to the public for tours.

The French Navy Frigate L'Hermione arrived at Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island and the N.R.P Sagres, a Portuguese educational training vessel, sailed into New Bedford, Massachusetts, both on Wednesday.

Massachusetts Lottery officials say they are prepared for the new competition from the casino industry.

State lottery officials say they are using zip code analysis to detect any shift in sales patterns in the convenience stores, gas stations, and bars located near Plainridge Park, the state’s first casino that opened to capacity crowds on June 24. 

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who oversees the lottery, vows the agency will compete with the casinos.

Martin Meehan began his tenure as president of the University of Massachusetts Wednesday by a holding a roundtable discussion with students at UMass Boston.

Meehan said he intends to build UMass into “the best public university system in the nation.”  During an interview in May he talked about ways to elevate the university’s stature.

"It is looking at how to improve, achieve more excellence. You can always increase your research and continue to improve," he said.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has announced an agreement that paves the way for a solar energy facility on a brownfield site in Great Barrington.

Updated at 2:28 p.m. ET

Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev broke his silence Wednesday and apologized to the victims and the survivors of the deadly 2013 attack.

"I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, and the damage that I've done," he said Wednesday during his sentencing hearing.