Massachusetts

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.

A retired police officer in Springfield, Massachusetts pleaded innocent at his court arraignment Monday to charges he stole more than $400,000 from the police department evidence room.

  Kevin Burnham, who for almost 30 years was the Springfield police officer responsible for safekeeping evidence in drug cases, is accused of stealing cash from evidence envelopes in more than 170 cases during a five year period starting in 2009 and ending the day he retired in July 2014, according to an investigation by the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

MGM has announced major demolition work will begin next week as it prepares the site in downtown Springfield where a $950 million resort casino is planned.

Almost a year after the former Zanetti school building served as the backdrop for the MGM Springfield groundbreaking, it will be demolished beginning Tuesday, according to a press release from MGM. 

The much anticipated major construction work follows state environmental and city zoning approvals. 

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said the casino remains on track to open in the fall of 2018.

Police in three western Massachusetts cities have seized thousands of bags of heroin and arrested more than a dozen people for heroin trafficking and distribution as they investigate recent overdose deaths. 

Police believe an exceptionally pure batch of heroin has caused the deaths of at least eight people in western Massachusetts in the last week.

An Islamic center and mosque in Worcester is taking a proactive approach to confronting Islamophobia.

The Worcester Islamic Center is holding an event Saturday that it’s calling “Meet a Muslim Day.” It’s designed to get members of the public who may not know much about Islam — beyond the headlines — to learn about the faith practiced by about one-fifth of the world’s population.

Homelessness is hard enough, but being a young adult and homeless brings its own set of challenges. No longer eligible for family shelters, 18- to 24-year-olds can be targets of theft and assault by older homeless adults, experts say. In Boston, a new homeless shelter just opened — for young adults only.

The night before the shelter opens, there is a celebratory dinner in the basement of the First Parish church in Harvard Square. The space has been through a $1.3 million renovation, with funds coming from foundations, grants and donations.

How The Mass. Casino Industry Stands As 2016 Begins

Dec 30, 2015

It’s been a big year for the casino industry in Massachusetts. The state’s first expanded gambling facility opened in June. The Plainridge Park Casino has 1,250 slot machines and a racetrack. And bigger casino proposals in Boston and Springfield are closer to becoming realities.

Here’s what’s changed over the past year:

Falling Revenues In Plainville

MGM Resorts International is planning to start demolishing buildings in mid-January to clear the site in downtown Springfield where the company intends to build the first casino in western Massachusetts.  2015 was a year of delay and downsizing for the casino project.

When MGM held the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Springfield casino in late March with the former Zanetti school building as the backdrop for photographs with construction workers and machinery no one would have predicted the building would still be standing nine months later.

MGM Springfield / Courtesy The Springfield Republican photo desk

The Springfield City Council voted Monday to approve a zoning ordinance outlining the footprint of MGM’s casino. The vote is another procedural step in bringing the project to fruition. 

Cape Cod is the setting of a new documentary about the nation’s growing opioid problem that airs on HBO later this month.

And as he campaigns for new measures to deal with the state’s opioid epidemic, Gov. Charlie Baker invited lawmakers and others involved in the issue to an early screening Tuesday night.

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