Massachusetts

A long-simmering debate over municipal residency requirements in Massachusetts has flared up in Springfield.

Three city councilors in Springfield claim six deputy or district chiefs in the Springfield Fire Department are in violation of the city’s residency ordinance.

Their public demand for the fire officials to move into the city immediately, or give up their jobs, brought a sharp rebuke from Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Tony Webster / Creative Commons

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield has settled a lawsuit over child sexual abuse by a priest who committed suicide in 2011.

Springfield’s mayor and the city council are clashing over a residency requirement for top level city employees. 

For the second time in three years, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has vetoed a city council-passed measure that would limit the mayor’s ability to grant waivers to an ordinance that requires department heads and their assistants to live in the city. 

City Council President Mike Fenton said the council voted 10-1 Monday night to amend the residency ordinance.

Dozens of Massachusetts mayors and town managers are warning that a proposed change in a key solar power bill could jeopardize planned municipal solar projects across the state.

Casey Gilman / NEPR

A huge solar array is planned for Worcester’s Greenwood Street Landfill. The project has been celebrated by the city. But it has some naturalists concerned about the future of wildlife in Massachusetts.

French and American emergency responders shared experiences at a conference in Boston Thursday.

Emergency planners in Boston organized the conference because they wanted to learn more about how Paris responded to the terrorist attacks there last fall, specifically how the city managed responding to attacks at multiple sites.

The cities of Springfield, Holyoke, and Northampton along with Amherst and UMass have signed an agreement committing to move forward on a regional bike share program. 

The program, tentatively named “ValleyBike,” would make bicycles available to people for a small fee to make short trips. 

Christopher Curtis, chief planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, said the communities and the institution will be looking to obtain $1.1 million in federal transportation funds to buy the bicycles and build the bike stations.

Donald Trump won the Massachusetts Republican primary on Super Tuesday with nearly half the vote. Trump took 49 percent, far ahead of John Kasich, with 18 percent. Marco Rubio came in right behind Kasich, with nearly 18 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz finished fourth, with almost 10 percent, and Ben Carson won 3 percent of the vote.

In all, about 600,000 people voted in the Republican primary.

The big day is finally here — after tonight's Super Tuesday results, there will be a much clearer picture of how both the Republican and Democratic races could shake out. Will Donald Trump continue his dominance? Can Marco Rubio catch up? Can Ted Cruz rebound? Will Hillary Clinton roll through the South? Can Bernie Sanders bounce back after a devastating South Carolina loss?

A Boston nonprofit plans to soon test a new way of addressing the city's heroin epidemic. The idea is simple. Along a stretch of road that has come to be called Boston's "Methadone Mile," the program will open a room in March with a nurse, some soft chairs and basic life-saving equipment — a place where heroin users can ride out their high, under medical supervision.

In the last few decades, Massachusetts has delivered liberal icons to the national stage in presidential contests — experienced politicians including members of the Kennedy family, Mike Dukakis and John Kerry. Now, the state might be ready to deliver Donald Trump one of his biggest wins yet in the Republican presidential primary contest.

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Hillary Clinton flew in to western Massachusetts on Monday morning, one day ahead of the Super Tuesday voting in more than a dozen states, including Massachusetts and Vermont. 

If you want to understand Clinton's Super Tuesday strategy all you need to do is look at her travel schedule: Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Monday in Massachusetts and Virginia.

In these states she's delivering a relatively new, more positive message. There's less drawing contrasts with her primary opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and more talk of "breaking down barriers" and "love and kindness."

Frederick Gore for The Springfield Republican

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich picked Springfield, Massachusetts, for one of his final stops ahead of the Super Tuesday primary. 

As the second month of the year draws to a close, Gov. Charlie Baker appears to be growing more frustrated with the Legislature’s pace in passing his comprehensive opioid bill.

The legislation remains bottled up in a conference committee that’s working out the differences between the House and Senate.

When you edit a blog called "Goats and Soda," and you read a story about a goat locked in a car in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Oxford, Mass., and you learn that the goat turned on the hazard lights and wipers, pooped on the driver's seat and ... drank an old cup of soda, you have no choice.

You have to cover the story.

A new Massachusetts law criminalizing the trafficking of fentanyl is taking effect.

The law creates the crime of trafficking in fentanyl for amounts greater than 10 grams with punishment of up to 20 years in state prison. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Vermont U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at UMass Amherst last night, about a week before the Massachusetts primary.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts is expected to vote Monday on the final design plans for the MGM casino.

The council has held five public hearings on the plans for the $950 million casino development. Councilors have voted to attach conditions to the project to address the concerns raised by some abutters about traffic, parking and pedestrian access.

The council Monday will weigh MGM’s controversial request to eliminate a 25-story hotel that had been part of the original design.

Fabien Buqing XU / Creative Commons

Things returned to normal at UMass Amherst Thursday night, just a couple of hours after a school-wide “shelter in place” order was sent out by campus police. The lockdown followed what police described as an armed confrontation at a residence hall.

In a cavernous auditorium in the state’s largest prison, a group of about a dozen men serving life or lengthy sentences for homicide or other violent crimes take their seats in a circle with a mother who has suffered the loss of two murdered sons. Some of the inmates seem nervous, shifting in their seats, staring down at the floor.

Additional hearings have been scheduled to review the latest plans for the $950 million MGM Springfield casino. 

The Springfield City Council, which has already held four hearings on the site plan for the resort casino, has scheduled two additional hearings later this month. 

City Council President Mike Fenton said he’s been assured by MGM officials that the extended review will not hold up the construction of the casino which is scheduled to open in 2018.

Thanks in part to the mild snow-free winter so far, the reconstruction of Interstate 91 through downtown Springfield is ahead of schedule.

   MassDOT CEO Stephanie Pollack said the contractor on the $185 million project appears to be on track to earn a $9 million bonus by completing the work by the end of 2017.

"Between the mild winter and those rewards the contractor has every incentive to bring the project in ahead of schedule and it is my understanding that may well happen," Pollack told reporters in Springfield Wednesday.

Model Railroaders Create Worlds of Their Own

Jan 29, 2016
Brent Moore / Creative Commons

If this year is anything like years past, approximately 25,000 model train enthusiasts will head to West Springfield, Massachusetts, this weekend. It’s the annual Railroad Hobby Show.

A citizens group pushing for the revitalization of the Hoosic River in North Adams has released detailed plans to redevelop a section of the waterway.

Amherst College trustees have voted to stop using Lord Jeff as the school's unofficial mascot because of its negative historical connotations. 

The Springfield City Council is conducting a final review of the plans for the $950 million MGM casino.

The council is tentatively scheduled to vote Tuesday after holding a fourth public hearing on the casino project site plan. However, Council President Mike Fenton said he’ll set additional time for deliberations if necessary.

"It is possible to extend  ( the hearings) should we need further public input or councilors have additional questions," he said.

95wombat via flickr.com / Creative Commons

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker helped bring General Electric’s headquarters to Boston by offering $120 million in grants and other incentives. And now officials in Berkshire County are hoping that relationship pays off for Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Jacob’s Pillow has selected Wesleyan University’s top arts administrator to lead the world-renowned dance festival in the Berkshires. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

General Electric confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it will move its headquarters to Boston from Fairfield.

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