Massachusetts

The highest court in Massachusetts has effectively cleared the way for construction of a wood-burning power plant in Springfield. Plant opponents see their last hope in the hands of a local health board.

The state Supreme Judicial Court this month declined to take up an appeal of two lower court decisions that directed the city to issue a building permit for the proposed $150 million biomass plant on Springfield’s eastside.  The project had been tied up in litigation for more than five years.

Police in Springfield, Massachusetts are reporting one of the biggest heroin busts in the city in recent history.

Police, after what was described as a lengthy investigation, raided a home in the city’s Liberty Heights neighborhood Thursday night, and seized nearly 22,000 bags of heroin, three handguns, and about $3,000 cash. 

Springfield Police Dept. spokesman Sgt. John Delaney said the heroin has a street value estimated at $110,000.

MGM officials will have a chance next week to explain to a skeptical public the reasons behind the proposed downsizing of the Springfield casino.

  City officials have arranged for MGM to make a public presentation Wednesday afternoon at the 300 seat City Stage theater.  MGM has been under fire in Springfield since disclosing last month, in a regulatory filing, plans to reduce the scope of the project by 14 percent.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has said his administration is carefully reviewing the proposed changes.

UMass-Amherst Protesters Want New Seal And Mascot

Nov 13, 2015
Kevin Roche

Some students at UMass Amherst want the university to change its mascot and seal, which they say are legacies of racism.

Mark M. Murray / The Springfield Republican

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has relieved Sal Circosta of his seat on the city’s Community Police Hearing Board, which reviews complaints against police officers. Circosta was the mayor’s challenger in this last election.

The highest court in Massachusetts may have dealt a fatal blow to opponents of a proposed wood-burning power plant in Springfield.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court has refused to consider an appeal of two lower court rulings that directed the city to issue a building permit for the controversial project.

A spokesman for Palmer Renewable Energy said they looked forward to bringing the $150 million biomass energy project to fruition after  nearly 8 years of legal challenges. 

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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is booting the three historical commission members who previously opposed MGM’s design plans. The mayor’s office denies there’s a connection.

Massachusetts gaming industry regulators are soliciting public comment on MGM’s proposed changes to the Springfield casino project.

In its most recent regulatory filing on the design changes, MGM says it expects as much as an 8 percent drop in casino traffic.

Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby and the other commissioners want to know the reasons for the proposed changes and the possible impact on jobs and revenue.

Voters head to the polls in more than 50 Massachusetts cities and towns Tuesday to cast ballots for mayor and other local offices.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, seeking reelection to a fourth term, faces a politically inexperienced challenger in Sal Circosta, a former bakery story owner. 

Sarno, who won the September preliminary election with 75 percent of the vote, declined all debate invitations. It made for a sleepy campaign, in the view of Matt Szfranski, editor-in-chief of Western Massachusetts Politics and Insight.

The top executive from MGM Resorts International reaffirmed his commitment to the Massachusetts casino project in Springfield this week and apologized for a communications breakdown with City Hall over a proposal to reduce the scope of the development. He also said more changes are in store for the $800 million project, but nothing he would consider major.

MGM Springfield

The head of MGM Resorts said the company made a mistake by not communicating a 14 percent reduction in size of the casino project to Springfield leaders.

After what Mayor Domenic Sarno described as “a frank discussion”, he said he accepts MGM’s apology for not giving him a heads-up about the casino design changes. MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren took the blame.

People entering North Adams will soon see new signs that highlight the past, present and future of Massachusetts’ smallest city.

Springfield Mayoral Campaign Drags to a Finish

Oct 29, 2015
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Many voters will head to the polls November 3 for local elections. There are tight races for mayor in some area cities. That doesn't appear to be the case in Springfield, where eight-year incumbent Domenic Sarno is being challenged by Sal Circosta, a relative political newcomer.

This could be a pivotal week as officials in Springfield, Massachusetts determine how they will respond to the proposed downsizing of the casino planned by MGM Resorts.  The City Council is holding a special meeting this evening. City officials have invited top MGM officials to a meeting later in the week to explain the proposed changes.

For the pious Puritans of early America, witchcraft was a crime of the highest order.

Back then, the term "witch hunt" was not just an expression: In 1692, 19 women and men were hanged and one pressed to death with stones after being found guilty of witchcraft.

In her book The Witches, author Stacy Schiff follows the buildup of fear and outrageous tales of consorting with the devil. The witch trials were set in motion by two young Salem girls in the grip of strange and disturbing symptoms.

Springfield City Council Reacts to MGM Changes

Oct 22, 2015
Karen Brown / NEPR

Most members of Springfield’s city council are expressing grave doubts about the credibility of MGM-Springfield, following the company’s decision to shrink its casino project by 14 percent.

MGM wants to shrink by 14 percent its proposed resort casino development in Springfield, Massachusetts. The proposal surprised and angered the city’s mayor, who has been one of the project’s biggest boosters.

More controversial changes have been proposed in the MGM casino project planned in downtown Springfield

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis described the latest changes that will reduce the scope of the project by 14 percent as “tweaks.”

He said MGM will still spend in excess of $800 million to build the resort casino and he said the downsizing, will not impact jobs and projected revenue.

" So, we believe the project we are going to deliver will continue to evolve and will be a world class project," said Mathis.

Springfield, Massachusetts city officials were blindsided by the proposed downsizing of the MGM casino project. 

Springfield city officials Tuesday said they are concerned about the potential impact on revenue and jobs from the 14 percent reduction in the scope of the casino project.  Most of the downsizing is planned on the retail and entertainment side, not the gambling floor. 

Mayor Domenic Sarno vowed to hold MGM to its promises to deliver thousands of jobs and $25 million annually to the city.

MGM is scaling down the size of the proposed resort casino project in Springfield, Massachusetts

MGM is reducing the size of the project by 122,000 square feet according to a revised environmental impact report filed with the state.  

Although no change is planned in the size of the casino gambling floor there would be downsizing in the retail, dining and entertainment parts of the project.

Earlier MGM scrapped a planned 25-story hotel.

Springfield City Council President Mike Fenton said once again city leaders were caught off guard by MGM.

More technology is being put into fighting crime in Springfield, Massachusetts. The city’s police department will become the first in the Northeast to use a system that developers say allows for true real-time crime analysis.

Every day in the court system, people are asked to inform on others when they don’t want to do so. Sometimes, the choices are especially stark, as is the case when people are ordered to testify or else face being sentenced to prison: contempt of court.

Could a Boston Red Sox affiliate minor league baseball team someday play in a brand new stadium in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts?    As one city official said, “Don’t be afraid to dream.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has had discussions with the managing general partner of the Pawtucket Red Sox about relocating the Triple-A team from its longtime Rhode Island home to Springfield.

"There has been talk and chatter and I am open to formal discussions," said Sarno.

MGM executives plan to update city officials within 30 days on the Springfield casino project.

MGM said in a news release Wednesday there would be updates on historic preservation discussions, concepts for a new marquee, and developments in offsite housing. 

Last month, MGM shook up city officials with a new design that eliminated a 25-story hotel from the $800 million project. 

City Council President Mike Fenton said MGM has to sweeten the deal with the city, to get the council to OK the new plan.

Ali Hasbauch

As a toddler, Frank Vignola would sit for hours on the floor in the living room right up close to his father’s bulky, state-of-the-art stereo, totally mesmerized by the enchanting guitar sounds of Les Paul and Bucky Pizzarelli magically wafting out of the imposing twin speakers that towered above him. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has updated its cleanup plan for the Housatonic River, which was contaminated by chemicals from Pittsfield’s General Electric facility.

Wynn Resorts

The battle between casino developer Steve Wynn and the city of Boston is intensifying, with Wynn filing a libel lawsuit against an unidentified foe. 

The president of the Springfield, Massachusetts City Council isn’t giving up on getting a popular vote on MGM’s controversial casino redesign.

City Council President Mike Fenton said he’ll appeal to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to order a binding voter referendum on the proposed new design for the Springfield casino.

Fenton said MGM’s plan to eliminate a 25-story hotel from the project substantially changes the host community agreement Springfield voters approved two years ago.

A top official with MGM Resorts International Monday pledged the company’s strong commitment to building a casino in Springfield. MGM upped the ante by announcing plans to take a former school department building off the city’s hands and redevelop it.

Michael S. Gordon / Springfield Republican

Bernie Sanders brought his campaign for the presidency to Massachusetts this weekend, speaking in Boston and Springfield. In a speech Saturday to a crowd of about 6,000 at the MassMutual Center, the U.S. senator from Vermont addressed an issue he hasn’t talked about much: gun control.

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