Type your paragraph here.

Type your paragraph here.

Type your paragraph here.


Tree takes down utility lines in SpringfieldPosted: May 16, 2016 5:29 AM EST Updated: May 16, 2016 8:45 AM EST
By Hugh Zeitlin

A large tree branch has come down across a portion of Dorset Street.

The Springfield Police Department told Western Mass News that the tree has taken down Verizon lines, however, residents still have power.

One police unit has been on the scene since about 5:15 a.m.

Our Western Mass News crew on the scene reports that a tree removal crew has arrived on scene to clear the area.

Police said that Dorset Street is open to drivers.

The only road that is currently impacted by the large branch is Granby Street, but that should be cleared shortly.

Copyright 2016 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Read more: http://www.westernmassnews.com/story/31979899/tree-takes-down-power-lines-in-springfield#ixzz48p78On3v

SPRINGFIELD — Investors backing the latest Springfield entry into the American Hockey League come from industries as diverse as hotels, real estate development, construction, doughnuts and the law.

But whatever business they do, they do it in Springfield, key members of the ownership group said Friday while meeting with editors and reporters at The Republican and MassLive.

And the new investors plan on drawing on that diversity of local business contacts, as well as what they see as a rebounding downtown Springfield and a sense that patrons are looking for entertainment – like music and contests – in addition to hockey as they fill seats in what has too often been a sparsely filled MassMutual Center.

"What is going to be fun is the first night we fill that house with 6,500 people for the first time and they are all enjoying it, feeling secure and having a good time," said Springfield Hockey LLC part-owner Fran Cataldo of C&W Real Estate.

The ownership group is still recruiting new investors, but it was able to reveal many of its members at the meeting: Paul Picknelly, president of Monarch Enterprises and the Springfield Sheraton; Cataldo and his business partner at C&W, Mike Wallace; Frank Colaccino of Colvest, a developer of retail property; attorney Frank Fitzgerald; Derek Salema and Peter Martins, who own Dunkin' Donuts franchises in the area; David Fontaine of Fontaine Brothers Construction in Springfield; Dinesh Patel, owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel in Springfield's South End; and Vidhyadhar Mitta, owner of the Quality Inn in Chicopee.

[Springfield investors step up to save hockey for city]

Springfield investors step up to save hockey for city

The city seemed doomed to lose its team before a local group called Portland.

Springfield Hockey LLC purchased the Portland Pirates AHL franchise last month. The ownership group cannot disclose the purchase price.

Fitzgerald, Picknelly, Cataldo and Colaccino were among the new hockey owners who visited with The Republican and MassLive's Editorial Board on Friday.

"It's a very diverse group," Cataldo said. "We all bring different skills to the table. But what we do share is a love of Springfield."

Also, insurance giant MassMutual Financial Group donated money to the Springfield Business Improvement District so it could buy in as nonprofit member of the ownership group, Fitzgerald said.

He added that the owners are still accepting new partners, including one who came forward the morning of the meeting.

"It's a state of flux," Fitzgerald said.

The same could be said of everything associated with the new hockey team, an enterprise Picknelly organized in just a few days after the Springfield Falcons left town for Arizona.

With training camp set to open at the end of the summer, deadlines for logos, colors, marketing plans and all the other things it takes to make a hockey team run are looming. The partners figure it's six or eight months of work stuffed into five or six weeks.

The one thing they know for certain: Opening night is Oct. 22.

The new team doesn't have a name, although a name-the-team contest on MassLive generated thousands of suggestions in 40 hours, Cataldo said. An announcement will be made in two weeks, just in time for Reebok to start making the uniforms, Picknelly said.

The Falcons name left with that franchise.

[Florida Panthers top prospects and players to watch for next season]

Florida Panthers top prospects and players to watch for next season

With the Portland Pirates reportedly set to relocate to Springfield for the upcoming 2016-17 AHL season, local fans will have to get used to a new crew of players taking the ice at the MassMutual Center. The Pirates — affiliates of the Florida Panthers — put together an impressive season in 2015-16, finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division with a...

"It can't be Falcons," Fitzgerald said. "It can be Indians. But that would be a management decision." Prior to the establishment of the Falcons in 1994, the AHL franchise in Springfield was known as the Springfield Indians.

Fitzgerald said the new team will play in the MassMutual Center, which is managed by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, but it hasn't signed a lease agreement yet. The group praised its early relationship with the MCCA.

The team will announce its day-to-day management this week.

Even specifics concerning the fun and diversions planned for hockey nights in Springfield will have to wait, the partners said.

"What is going to be fun is the first night we fill that house with 6,500 people for the first time and they are all enjoying it, feeling secure and having a good time." ~ Fran Cataldo

What they do have is an operating agreement with the Florida Panthers whereby the NHL club will send its prospects to play in Springfield.

"Hockey is here in Springfield," Picknelly said. "And here to stay."

AHL hockey – considered second-highest level in North America behind the National Hockey League – has a long history in Springfield going back to Eddie Shore, a pioneer of the game who played, coached and owned in the city. Springfield has had an AHL team since 1936, with the exception of a brief hiatus in the early 1950s. Springfield teams won Calder Cup championships in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1971, 1975, 1990 and 1991.

Picknelly described himself as a third-generation business owner in Springfield. His grandfather started Peter Pan Bus Lines, his father ran it and his brother runs it today.

Not only did he not want to see hockey go, but he feels that with $2.7 billion in ongoing public and private investment in the city, Springfield has the momentum to make the team a success.

"In my opinion, Springfield's time is now," he said.

And AHL hockey both preserves and enhances the good things going on in the city, Picknelly said. "This is high-quality entertainment at affordable rates," said Picknelly said. "This is exactly what Springfield needs."

Hockey nights also fill restaurants and mean millions of dollars in business downtown, Picknelly said.

"You can't get in Red Rose on a game night," he said of the popular South End restaurant.

The city just couldn't afford to lose that business, Picknelly said.

Picknelly said he and his partners did have to convince the Panthers and Peter Luukko, executive chairman of The Florida Panthers Hockey Club and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, that Springfield was the right place to put his minor league team and his up-and-coming hockey prospects.

They new hockey team owners were able to fly him in, Picknelly said, and introduce him to people and show him the city from Union Station in the North End to Union Street in the South End, including the MGM site. They talked about promotions. They talked about police presence.

Luukko was very impressed with the city, Picknelly said, and its ability to support professional hockey.

[AHL approval makes Springfield hockey's 'name game' next]

AHL approval makes Springfield hockey's 'name game' next

It's not known whether the team will go by "Falcons" or another name.

"When he was getting on the plane at Bradley, he told us we would hear the next day," Picknelly said. "We thought we'd have to wait a week for an answer."

He added that Luukko is a UMass graduate who is from Worcester, facts that helped Springfield's cause.

MGM figures heavily in the partner's plans. Picknelly said he expects the casino to comp tickets, to promote the team to hotel guests as he will at his hotel. Picknelly is a 1 percent owner in MGM Springfield.

Also, Cataldo and Wallace sold South End real estate to MGM for the project. C& W's office buildings at 1200 Main St. and 85-95 State St. sold for $8.4 million.

Hockey is both a business investment as well as a civic undertaking, all four men agreed.

Colaccino spoke of the frantic first few days as Picknelly called around assembling his team of investors. He asked Picknelly if he'd get this money back eventually. When Picknelly said yes, Colaccino agreed that he was in.

"Springfield has been very good to me," the city native and American International College graduate and trustee said. "This is a way of giving back."

And they all have long histories with hockey in Springfield. Fitzgerald remembers Shore turning off the lights at the Eastern States Coliseum (where the Indians played until the then-Springfield Civic Center opened) to tell schoolboy teams that practice was over and to go home.

He said Shore threw him out of the rink once for putting his feet up on the chair in front of his seat during an Indians game.

AGAWAM MA  01001




BARRE MA  01005


















GOSHEN MA  01032

GRANBY MA  01033


HADLEY MA  01035








LEEDS MA  01053


LUDLOW MA  01056

MONSON MA  01057







OAKHAM MA  01068

PALMER MA  01069










WALES MA  01081

WARE MA  01082

WARREN MA  01083









































ADAMS MA  01220


BECKET MA  01223



DALTON MA  01226

DALTON MA  01227






LEE MA  01238

LENOX MA  01240







OTIS MA  01253



SAVOY MA  01256














ATHOL MA  01331





CONWAY MA  01341


DRURY MA  01343

ERVING MA  01344

HEATH MA  01346





GILL MA  01354



ORANGE MA  01364


ROWE MA  01367











This story is part of a series for which MassLive.com spent a day observing classes and speaking with administrators, teachers and students at UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester to give readers a glimpse of what a planned shift from public to charter might look like at a Springfield middle school.

BOSTON -- The piece of standard white printing paper was taped underneath a bulletin board across from the front office with a dozen others like it. Judging from the childish scrawl, the author was probably in second or third grade.

"We heed help. Everything is destroyed," the student had written above a drawing of a four-person family, a house and a tornado. "We just had a cyclone in our village and everything is broken. We have no food or water. Can you help us?"

The student's response to the English prompt could just as well have been a metaphor for UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester's rough beginnings.

When it was Marshall Elementary just two years ago, it was among the lowest-performing schools in Boston. In spring 2013 - its last testing year before the conversion - only 13 percent of students scored proficient or higher in math on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. That number was 14 percent for the English language arts portion.

The following year, those scores jumped to 60 and 40 percent, respectively.

A lot happened at the school for it to make those leaps in such a short amount of time. UP of Dorchester started from scratch: new teachers, new administrators, new curriculum. The students were one of the few things that remained the same.

A similar scenario, with all its highs, lows and strong community response, could play out in Springfield in 2016. The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave UP the final approval to take over an under-performing city middle school as soon as next year, pending approval from the Springfield's Empowerment Zone governing board in November.

What that would look like is anyone's guess. But observing what's happened so far at UP's other schools is an indication of what could lie ahead for Springfield.

A fresh atmosphere

UP Academy of Dorchester is nestled in a neighborhood historically besieged by violence and poverty. More than 97 percent of its students are low income.

Third grader Caiden Montas has gone to the school on Westville Street since kindergarten, so he witnessed the rapid transition from Marshall to UP Academy. From the 9-year-old's perspective, things are more stable there now. And he's learning, he said.

"In Marshall, some kids were foolish," he said. "People were doing cartwheels in the hall, and the teachers didn't really do anything about it."

The best way he could describe the difference between the two school was through a recent math lesson.

"When we did fractions, my teacher told us that fractions aren't only used for math. She gave us examples from real life, like baking," he said, later adding with a big smile, "The teachers here, they care about you. And sometimes they really go hard on you just because they love you. "

That feeling of joy and real-life application in the classroom is part of UP's philosophy, according to teachers and administrators, along with 8-hour school days - they were 6.5 hours at Marshall - positive reinforcement an environment where all pupils are called "scholars."

High energy and engagement is noticeable in UP Dorchester classes. UP teachers regularly use music and chanting to engage their students, and lessons are often hands-on.

Sofia Wilson applies these principals in her own first grade classroom. She teaches mostly English language learners; all of her students, or their parents, were born outside the U.S. She said instilling a sense of happiness is vital in her class, as English language learners almost always fall behind their peers academically.

"I came from Argentina myself," Wilson, 26 said. "In my class we celebrate ourselves and our identities and languages, which are beautiful assets. They feel like they can take positive risks here."

Part of that positive environment is teachers eschewing what people expect from Dorchester students and instead harnessing their potential.

"Media coverage really focused on things like violence and the poverty that was happening here when the school opened up," she said. "Although that was a reality, I think as a staff, we saw Dorchester as more than that."

The transition

There was a lot of confusion in Dorchester when UP suddenly arrived on the scene.

Theresa Johnson was was the principal's secretary for 13 years at Marshall before she was re-hired as UP Dorchester's office manager. She recalls parents, teachers and community members being angered by Boston Public Schools decision to dismantle the school, which was failing, she said, but was beloved.

"Leading up to it, there was the feeling of, 'Why aren't we good enough to stay? Why can't we get the kids' grades up so the Marshall can stay open?'" said Johnson, who's lived in Dorchester for 33 years. Her daughter graduated from Marshall five years ago.

"The teachers here...sometimes they really go hard on you just because they love you." - Caiden Montas, 9

UP Dorchester Principal Lana Ewing said making major changes in that resistant environment was difficult, at first.

"Things feel really good in the school now, and I think it can be easy to sort of forget year one and some of the things that happened," she said.

Challenges included getting parents to buy into the concept of a charter school, she explained, and training 80-plus brand new teachers and administrators to share the same vision and direction.

The school's second year has gone smoother, Ewing said.

"There was less wondering, less explanation and defense of 'this is who we are' and more time on the fun and exciting things."

The push-back

High suspension rates at UP Academy Boston, a middle school in the city's South End, is a tangible example of the challenges in transitioning from traditional public school to charter, said UP CEO and founder Scott Given.

A recent Boston Globe analysis found that out of the 10 school systems in Massachusetts with the highest out-of-school suspension rates during the 2012-2013 school year, all but one were charter schools. UP Academy Boston's suspension rate of 26 percent was the third-highest in the state; 196 out of 489 students were suspended.

Critics of charter schools say charter school suspension rates, which reports show tend to outpace their public school counterparts, is an example of the system pushing out the "bad apples."

Given said suspension rates tend to spike during the first years UP takes over a school, as administrators aim to support students "who have over time developed poor behavioral habits."

UP Academy Boston opened in 2011, a year before those numbers were gathered. Given also noted that UP virtually never expels students, and suspensions taper off as the schools mature.

Critics also contend that charter schools say they are skimming off the best students, leaving other district schools to deal with those with behavioral problems, disabilities and language barriers. But UP re-enrolls the entire student population at the schools it restarts, and many are disadvantaged, numbers show.

According to school numbers, 18 percent of UP Dorchester students have disabilities, and 21.5 percent are English language learners. Overall, about 30 percent of students enrolled in Boston public schools are English language learners, while 19.5 percent have disabilities, state statistics show.

And UP Academy of Holland, also in Dorchester, serves a student population that's more than 40 percent English language learners. At UP Academy of Boston, 25 percent of students have some form of disability.

The road ahead

As a Horace Mann Type 3 charter school, UP of Dorchester is required to work in partnership with the school district, and its teachers must belong to the local union. In contrast, Commonwealth charter schools are fully independent of the local school district.

Most Massachusetts school districts tend to support Horace Mann schools over the Commonwealth variety, because host districts are able to maintain some amount of oversight - a common concern when it comes to charters.

"We're really working in partnership with a school district to transform a school, so dollars are not diverted outside of the district," Given said. "They're invested in the school district."

But Springfield education leaders still have their misgivings when it comes to UP Education Networks way of doing things.

Association President Timothy Collins said he will support UP in Springfield only if the organization agrees to work under a contract crafted for the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, a strategy to save the city's eight failing middle schools that would go into effect in 2015.

When asked if UP will comply with the contract, Given said, "We're currently in conversations about the Empowerment Zone to determine what is best for students and what is best for teachers."

Collins said under the contract, UP wouldn't be able to require all of the school's teachers to reapply for their jobs, which Given said is concerning.

"Because we are promising to families that we will work to have the very best teachers in every single classroom in our schools, flexibility around hiring is an essential part of our model," he said.

Sofia Wilson, the first grade teacher, said she understands why UP is so staunch about its hiring policies. The schools' goal is to close the gaping achievement gap as quickly as possible, and teachers and administrators must be on the same page - and enthusiastic about the work- for that to happen.

"When we interviewed for this job, school leaders were hiring for a specific mindset," Wilson said, later adding, "Honestly, I feel so lucky to work at a school like this as a teacher. "


Traffic  has cleared on Interstate 91 North after a nightmare commute for drivers earlier Friday evening.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation closed the left and center lanes of the elevated segment of I-91 N near the Memorial Bridge and Boland Way for emergency deck repairs.

“That is bad,” said Amy Entel, of Springfield. “We were stuck in it right on our way to get here actually.”

Lane restrictions began right around exit 6 at about 5 p.m. on Friday. Traffic was also jammed on Columbus Avenue with drivers not allowed to enter the highway and MassDOT says to expect these restrictions to last late into Friday night.

“I came actually from the other side and I saw people almost stuck at a crawling pace so definitely kind of a preview of what's to come for sure,” said Max Kizilov, of East Longmeadow.

With MGM Springfield construction beginning and the I-91 viaduct project set to begin soon and last nearly three years, drivers are preparing for more traffic to come.

“It's definitely going to cause a headache,” said Jordan Karnes, a Springfield College student. “Obviously there are positives toward the building of MGM, but I know a lot of business workers around here who are trying to get places, get to their job on time and get home obviously at the end of the night, and it's going to be tough for them.”

“I mean looking at the plans and what they are going to do, it's definitely going to be tough to get around for a while,” Kizilov added.

MassDOT said tonight that the elevated segment of I-91 requires frequent emergency repairs, often on short notice.

“If possible, MassDOT makes every attempt to schedule work that will disrupt traffic outside of peak hours, however, in instances such as this, the work cannot be deferred," MassDOT said in a statement.

They said the long term $260 million viaduct project is expected to get underway in the coming months.

Copyright 2015 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28636597/major-delays-on-i-91-north-due-to-emergency-viaduct-repairs#ixzz3VgRHbkKe

SPRINGFIELD— Springfield police responded to reports of shots fired early Sunday morning to find a Liberty Heights house hit by gunfire.

Springfield Police Lt. Richard LaBelle said the city's ShotSpotter acoustic gunfire location system activated at approximately 3:05 a.m. indicating nine shots had been fired in the area of Chapin Terrace and Melha Avenue. Responding officers said they found shell casings at the site.

A house at 82 Melha Avenue was evidently hit by the gunfire, LaBelle said. The glass in an exterior door was shattered by several shots. No one was injured in the incident.

Witnesses reported seeing two cars leaving the area just after the shots were fired. A white sedan and a tan small SUV were seen driving away.

The incident remains under investigation.

Labor Day weekend, 1965. The Springfield Giants play their final home game of the Eastern League baseball season on Sunday, then complete their 140-game schedule by playing at Pittsfield on Monday afternoon.

Those specific dates - Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 - have become very significant in the history of Springfield sports because they mark the end of an era that may never be seen here again.

The Giants lost their home finale 9-0 to the Pittsfield Red Sox before a crowd of 1,788 at Pynchon Park. The next afternoon, Labor Day, the Giants lost to Pittsfield again, this time at Wahconah Park, before a crowd of 4,307.

With that season-ending 3-1 victory, the Pittsfield club won the pennant by one game over the Elmira Pioneers. Pittsfield's third baseman, George Scott, hit his 25th homer and clinched the triple crown with a .319 batting average and 94 RBI. Two years later, as a member of the "Impossible Dream" Boston Red Sox, of Major League Baseball, Scott would be part of another pennant-clinching on the season's last day.

As for the Giants, they finished fifth in a six-team league, 22 games behind Pittsfield. In the waning weeks of the '65 season, sportswriter Ray Fitzgerald, of The Springfield Union, had been reporting "rumblings" that indicated the Springfield franchise would be leaving town after a nine-year run.

Those rumblings became reality on Sept. 29, when Giants general manager Chick O'Malley announced a lack of attendance would force the franchise to relocate to Waterbury, Connecticut.

So now we come to a milestone as baseball's spring training season is underway for 2015- 50 years since Springfield's last professional baseball team took the field.

By 1965, the city had been home to various teams in various minor leagues for parts of 10 decades, beginning with the International Association in 1878. The city had teams nicknamed the Ponies, Green Sox, Hampdens, Nats, Rifles and Cubs before the Giants came along.

Springfield's highest level of minor league membership came in 1950 through 1953, when the Chicago Cubs operated a team in the Triple A International League. 
From 1957 through 1965, Springfield clubs won three Eastern League championships. In 1962, when the parent San Francisco Giants won the National League pennant, their roster included 10 former Springfield players: Matty and Felipe Alou, Carl Boles, Ernie Bowman, Jim Duffalo, Tom Haller, Dick LeMay, Manny Mota, Jose Pagan and Juan Marichal.

Marichal went on to the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a career record of 243-142, including six 20-victory seasons. As a 21-year-old with a pennant-winning Springfield club of 1959, "The Dominican Dandy" had 18 victories, a 2.39 ERA, 208 strikeouts and eight shutouts.

The only no-hitter for a Giants pitcher came on opening night of 1963, when 19-year-old Bob Bishop struck out 16 to beat the Reading Red Sox 2-0 at Pynchon Park. He went 4-2 with Springfield before being promoted to Double A. He spent 10 seasons in the minors without ever reaching the big leagues.

Bishop's catcher, Denny Sommers, went on to establish an "iron-man" record - he caught every one of Springfield's 140 games that season.

The 1965 Springfield club went 63-77 under veteran manager Andy Gilbert. Those Giants were woeful offensively, hitting .211 as a team. Outfielder Bob Taylor led them in hitting at .276, but he sometimes was held out of the lineup because he hit so poorly against lefties.

Meanwhile, the team pitching staff had a combined earned run average of 2.74. 
Somehow, right-hander Tommy Arruda managed to go 17-6 for a team that couldn't hit.

If losing its franchise wasn't bad enough, Springfield lost its ballpark a year later. On Sept. 11, 1966, the wooden grandstand at Pynchon Park burned to the ground.
In the aftermath, city leaders spoke of the possibility of rebuilding the park and finding another franchise, but as time went by, those possibilities faded away.

Springfield did have three stadium initiatives, but none that went anywhere. Stadium study committees in 1972 and 1984 both concluded that site problems and construction costs were too much to overcome.

The city came its closest to a return to minor league baseball in the winter of 1997, when it was granted an expansion franchise along with Altoona, Pennsylvania. Dan Duquette, then general manager of the Boston Red Sox, indicated he would enter a Double A working agreement with Springfield, pending the construction of a stadium.

In the end, though, plans for a stadium in Springfield's North End could not be brought to fruition. The Eastern League then withdrew the franchise, and awarded it to Erie, Pennsylvania. Altoona and Erie still have membership in the Eastern League.

In the year of their demise, the Giants averaged 879 fans per home game. Since those lean years, the landscape for minor league baseball has changed dramatically. In the 2014 season, for instance, the nearby New Britain Rock Cats averaged 4,454 fans per game. New England's other Double A clubs also averaged even better - 5,156 for Manchester, New Hampshire, and 5,530 for Portland, Maine.

While Springfield continues its long baseball drought, Hartford and Providence both have plans to build minor league stadiums. The New Britain franchise will move to Hartford in two years. Providence eventually will become the new home for a successful Pawtucket Red Sox franchise.

Will Springfield ever make it back into professional baseball?

"As an old catcher, I certainly would love to see it, but a lot of factors would have to come together to make it happen," Mayor Domenic Sarno says.

Garry Brown can be reached at geeman1918@yahoo.com

HOLYOKE — The 64th Annual Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade is just hours away and while many are setting up their lawn chairs at the perfect spot some have yet to plan their day at the parade.

Wondering where to park? Who's in the parade? Where to get the best view? The Republican and MassLive have you covered. Here's a rundown of all things St. Patrick's Parade:

> 2015 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade facts: Route map, start time and TV details

> Holyoke St. Patrick's events draw thousands, but parking available if patient and early

>2015 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Line of March

> Holyoke St. Patrick's Grand Marshal on parade: 'We really put on our best suit that day'

> Photos: Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade of yesteryear

> Award winners to march in 2015 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade

> Greeting from 2015 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade President Jacqueline Reardon

> St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke asks what the parade means to community, offers cash prize

> Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Parade highlighted by USA Today as place to celebrate

HOLYOKE — Irish pride took center stage at the annual St. Patrick's breakfast on Wednesday.

The breakfast was attended by over 400 people, which got the St. Patrick's events started in the City of Holyoke.

Hosted by the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the group honors those taking part in the upcoming weekend events from the road race on Saturday to the parade on Sunday.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse was one of the featured speakers. The people being honored by the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Committee were introduced.

Following the breakfast, Holyoke Grand Colleen Ally K. Craven, along with members of her court, – Hannah Nelson,Grace Hamel,Shannon Engelson and Casey O'Connor – took part in a flag raising at City Hall and then painted a large shamrock in the middle of High Street, and their day continued with other scheduled appearances.

The Holyoke St. Patrick's Road Race starts Saturday at 1 p.m. at Maple and Lyman Streets, and the 64th annual Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade kicks off Sunday at 11 a.m.


AGAWAM -- A teenage boy remains in critical condition after being hit by a car on Springfield Street Sunday night, according to police.

Agawam Police Sgt. Jennifer Blanchette has confirmed that the victim is a 16-year-old male who was skateboarding at the time of the accident. He was in critical condition and receiving treatment at Baystate Medical Center as of Tuesday night.

The crash happened shortly after 9 p.m. in the area of Springfield and Rowley streets, police said. The driver of the vehicle, described only as black car, fled the scene, leaving behind a passenger mirror. By midnight police had tracked down the car, which was then impounded.

Blanchette said no charges have been filed against the driver. No other information was available Wednesday.

The accident comes at a time when the town continues to assess the safety of Springfield Street, which has very few crosswalks. The Massachusetts Highway Safety Division has identified several pedestrian crash clusters along the Springfield Street corridor.

Edwin Smith, 85, was struck and killed by a car at Springfield Street and Hastings Street in Nov. 2011.

Type your paragraph here.

   DUKES JUNK REMOVAL +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

© craigslist - Map data © OpenStreetMap

(google map) (yahoo map)DUKES JUNK REMOVAL +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
© craigslist - Map data © OpenStreetMap

(google map) (yahoo map)

Free Estimates
Full Insured - coi available
Referrals - available

Junk removal
Dump runs
Trash outs
Household Trash & Construction debris
Tree removal
Leaf clean up



http://www.dukesjunktrashremovalgreenfield .com





DEERFIELD -- The owner of a former grain mill at the East Deerfield Rail Yard that wasdamaged by fire earlier this month has been fined $500 for violations of the state fire code.

The March 6 fire was started by an employee using a cutting and welding torch to remove machinery in the building at 6 Railroad Yard Road, according to a release issued by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Firefighters from Franklin and Hampshire counties and as far away as Brattleboro, Vt. were summoned to the fire, which broke out shortly after 3:20 a.m.

The owner of the building, Phillip Nash, was cited by the state Department of Fire Services' Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit for five violations which carry a fine of $100 each, according to the release.

The violations are: Failure to maintain fire extinguishers, failure to obtain a hot works (cutting and welding torch) permit, failure to ensure employees are familiar with the fire code, failure to obtain a permit for LP gas and failure to have a fire safety plan for renovations, alterations or demolition.

Nash may appeal these citations to the Western Division Housing Court, the release states.

State police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Deerfield Fire Department and the Deerfield Police Department investigated the fire.

There was no permit from the local building official for the work being conducted in the building as required under the State Building Code.

The Deerfield Building Commissioner has also issued a cease and desist order for all work until a registered design professional has inspected and evaluated the structure and filed a report with his office.

Nash said the fire will not be a major setback for a planned $1 million-plus renovation of the site.

He estimated damage at $50,000, and said the required repairs are mostly confined to an area of the roof and some framing. His current plans for the site, a mixed-use industrial and commercial project marketed as the Deerfield Innovators Mill, already called for removal of the building's floors and corrugated tin siding.


AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts spent more than $330,000 this weekend to help keep the Blarney Blowout celebration calm.

UMass spent $305,000 on the concert that featured Kesha, Juicy J. and Ludacris, another $20,000 on police mutual aid, $3,800 for parking personnel and signage and $3,000 for ambulance staffing, according to a press release. Additional UMass Police Department and UMass Dining costs are being finalized, according to the press release.

About 5,200 attended the concert Saturday, according to the release.

"Implementing recommendations from the Davis Report, we invested significant time and resources up front with a focus on prevention to address a long-standing pattern of student disturbances," Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Enku Gelaye said in a statement.

"This is an investment in student success. We are at the beginning of this process and we will be steadfast in our efforts. But we are on the right path as an engaged community."

She also praised students "who rose to the occasion and demonstrated their UMass pride by acting respectfully and responsibly. They played an active role in the planning of Saturday's events and their efforts really paid off."

Just days after last year's event at which more than 70 were arrested or summonsed, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy hired former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis for $160,000 to review what happened and to offer strategies for prevention.

More than 4,000 congregated in North Amherst during the 2014 Blarney Blowout, and police used pepper spray to disperse the crowds. This year, with more than 200 police deployed early in the day, crowds were prevented from gathering and there were few arrests.

UMass, meanwhile, banned out of town guests from dorms and allowed only those with permits to park on campus.

"The Davis Report made clear that investing up front can help change campus culture, and we are committed to that approach," Gelaye said.

"The alternative, as we witnessed last year, was property damage, injuries, legal costs and loss of business downtown. We are all committed to prevent that from happening in the future."

Town officials have not yet provided the cost to the town. The town had help from 14 area police departments. 

There are "material objects [to] signify something beyond what [is] apparent" in the gardens, Vaughn said. "A spiritual presence in the space [and] space for personal and social life."

Pipes variously embedded in the ground by the gardeners express the "possibility to communicate with spirits of ancestors," she said.[Tommy Porche, photo by Vaughn Sills] This photo called "New Roads, Louisiana," of Tommy Porche standing at his garden was taken in 2005Vaughn Sills photo 
Once inside those pastoral creations -- including those in urban settings -- a function of them is to "remind us how to live responsibly," adding the gardens are "a safe space," Sills told the 200 in attendance.

"I would have to drive a lot to find the gardens. There are not too many of them," she said. "Some people think of these gardens as junk; others think of them as a great thing."

“Some people think of these gardens as junk; others think of them as a great thing,” said Vaughn Sills

Afterwards the 200 attending were invited to view a large sampling of her black and white photos.

Sandra Costello of Easthampton was a student of Sills, and became a photographer, attended the lecture with her partner, Brett Costello.

"I knew she would capture gardens in black and white," Sandra said.

Immediately following the lecture, Wanda Lacroix of Holyoke said it was unfortunate Sills chose to record her images in black and white instead of in color.

"I would have wanted the pictures in color," she said as she was exiting the Campus Center's Carroll Room where the lecture was held.

But after touring the photo exhibit, which is set up at the Smith College Lyman Conservatory, Lacroix said viewing them close up was transformative.

"Black and white is beautiful," she said.

The spring bulb show runs through March 22 at the Lyman Conservatory. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Fridays Saturdays and Sundays. There is a $5 suggested donation.

AMHERST - Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, author of a book that tells the story of slaves who grew up and became husband and wife in Deerfield in the 1700s, has been chosen to become the new dean of Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.

Gerzina, who grew up in Springfield, will begin July 15.

She replaces Priscilla Clarkson, who died in August of 2013.

Gretchen Holbrook GerzinaSubmitted 

Gerzina is Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor of Biography and chair of the department of African and African-American studies at Dartmouth, according to a press release.

Previously, she was professor of English and director of Africana Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University and professor of English and associate dean of the faculty at Vassar College, according to the release. 

UMass Amherst Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Katherine Newman in a statement said, "Professor Gerzina is a public intellectual of great depth and range.

"She embodies everything we treasure in higher education: extraordinary scholarship, close attention to the interests and needs of students, and that 'true North' sense of leadership that will carry the Commonwealth Honors College to even greater heights." 

Gerzina's book "Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary 18th-century Family Moved out of Slavery and into Legend" was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Frederick Douglass Book Prize and the NAACP National Image Award.

AMHERST - The Amherst Fire Department will have 13 on staff beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday morning just in case they are needed to respond to calls from the Blarney Blowout.

Fire Chief Tim Nelson that staffing levels will give the department the ability to operate five ambulances and the fire truck that is equipped for medical emergencies.

Last year, year more than 4,000 gathered at apartments in North Amherst and at other locations. Police had to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd and arrested or summonsed more than 70 arrests.

In addition, he said they are bringing in an ambulance from Agawam to have one ambulance available for unrelated emergencies and ambulances from South Hadley and Easthampton that will be dedicated to the concert at the Mullins Center.

Nelson said there could be between 5,000 and 6,000 attending the concert and based on those numbers, there could be quite a few transports, he said.

University of Massachusetts officials are offering a free concert featuring Kesha and Juicy J to provide an alternative to parties that drew so many last year. 

He said two emergency centers will be in place, one at the Amherst police station and one at UMass police. He'll be at the one in town and Asst. Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren will be at the center at UMass.

He said they are prepared unlike last year "when it happened so suddenly. You can't plan for what happened." The year before, about 2,000 gathered and six were arrested, and in 2012, the celebration took place downtown.

This year, he praised the effort taken by police and UMass in preparing for the day. "They're doing a great job, putting all these things in place."

UMass hired former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis to look at what happened last year to offer suggestions to prevent it, many of which are being adopted. 

 UMass is banning guests except for UMass students from Thursday at 8 p.m. through Sunday at 11 p.m. and allowing parking only for those with valid parking permits.

Last year, Nelson said the parking lots were full of visitors. Dorms too were packed.

Also guest swipes in the dining commons will not be allowed this weekend either.

"You plan for the worst and hope for the best." Nelson said, "you work hard trying to cover everything, a true honest effort to make sure this doesn't go down hill."

Sally Linowski, associate dean for Off Campus Student Life and Community Education,has sent a letter to off-campus students to help them plan for the weekend as well.

"We know that the vast majority of our students act responsibly every day and do not condone the negative behavior of a few.

"Unfortunately, last year, thousands of students from other campuses came to the town of Amherst during the first weekend in March. The ensuing large-scale disturbance was truly a terrible day for our campus and the entire region.

She wrote that they should be "aware that roving groups of individuals search for parties and may gather quickly at your place without invitation, causing problems for you and your neighbors. This is especially true if your property or houses/apartments near you have a history of attracting large crowds. We understand you may be a new resident and not know this history.

"No one has the right to gather on private property (meaning your apartment, lawn, house, porch, or driveway) without invitation.  If partygoers arrive uninvited to your place, it's your right to ask them to leave, and if they refuse, identify yourself as the renter/property owner, and ask for the police's help in dispersing the trespassers."

AMHERST — Officials are hoping for a large turnout for a forum Tuesday night created to answer questions and take comments about a proposal to expand the school region to include the elementary schools from the four towns.

Currently, Pelham, Amherst, Leverett and Shutesbury comprise the four-town region that begins in the seventh grade.

The proposal is looking at including the elementary schools in that district as well.

Initially, the committee was slated to vote on whether to proceed at a meeting March 10. But School Committee chairwoman Katherine Appy said she expects the regional committee will extend the timeline before taking a vote on whether to recommend it proceed to the towns. 

There have been two committees working on the proposal since 2012, with the Regional Agreement Working Group the latest to take it on. That group supports expanding the district to include the elementary schools. Appy is in that group.

She said she wants a good turnout because she wants to be able to bring the questions and comments to the regional committee discussion on March 10.

According to the working group report issued in January (see below), during the last two decades "the authority and responsibilities of school committees and superintendents have undergone major changes." The report continues:

"Much of the historical oversight responsibility of school committees was shifted to the superintendent as the CEO of the school district, as a result of Massachusetts Education Reform in 1993.

"This has significant implications for how districts operate. One of the many consequences of these changes is that there is now a common framework for all of the main curriculum areas, a state-mandated system for assessing the extent of student progress toward achieving curricular goals, and procedures for evaluating and improving instruction.

"Regionalization provides a way to harness and maximize the utilization of our collective resources in order to reach this new level of expectations. In addition, school administrators and staff will be better positioned to remediate persistent weaknesses in order that all students will come closer to fulfilling their full cognitive, social, emotional and physical potential. "

While expanding the district could save a little money, Appy said, "you want to deliberate well, (have) a full community process. It's not as though we're trying to push it through." 

The proposal would have to go to town meetings and she does not think the proposal would be ready for the spring town meetings.

The forum begins at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

We've actually been cutting back a lot, and we've not been going as hard as we used to. And we don't have to go looking for work. Everything comes in by request. But the U.S. tour is always a very important one. Sean Keane isn't in on this trip because he doesn't want to be traveling as much, but he still on our albums are still very much a Chieftain.

On some of the special guests on tour with the show:

Alyth McCormack is Scottish singer from the Island of Lewis. She has the voice of an angel. Tara Breen is 24-year-old fiddle champion who also dances. And the other surprise from her is that she's a fantastic saxophone player. She wasn't going to bring it with her, but I shamed her into it. (Laughs) She plays reels and jigs on the saxophone that will blow your mind. And of course we have Triona Marshall on the harp who joined us 12 years ago. It's just great to have all this young blood to play with us.

On the universal appeal of Irish music:

You don't have to be Irish do appreciate it. I remember playing in Milan in 1976 when we only had a few albums out. They didn't understand a word I was saying, but once we started playing some of the tunes, they went absolutely berserk. They just loved it. Whatever it is in Irish music, it touches the heart and gets in the stomach. The melodies and the feel of the whole thing are universal.

On how far his (hard-to-play) instrument, the Uilleann pipes, have spread from their native Ireland:

They have an organization and people are in it from all over the world. Japan, Cuba, Mexican Venezuela, and Argentina. It's so gratifying to hear and see all this happening.

On deciding on which songs to play off the band's 30-plus albums:

It's funny. It was just 10 minutes before I got on the phone here that I was talking to my office and I was telling them I'm finding it very difficult to put this program together. (Laughs.) I try to keep everything going so that people don't have time to blink. It just goes, goes, goes. But there's so many pieces that we've been doing that go over so well and I want to keep everybody happy, so you can imagine it's a torment. (Laughs.)

But at the same time I want to maintain who we are, The Chieftains, and not lose sight of what our forte is: Playing good traditional Irish music.

AMHERST - While downtown bars have agreed to open later Saturday, all other businesses will be open and ready for business as usual, said Sarah la Cour, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District.

"We don't want people to be scared to come downtown."

Three years ago, students concentrated their pre-St. Patrick's Day revelries known as the Blarney Blowout in the downtown area, but the last two, parties and celebrations have moved from the downtown area as bar owners put restrictions in place.

This year, six bars have agreed to open at 4 p.m. instead of at 11 a.m. and have not advertised the day. There are no signs or Facebook postings to promote the event created by bars years ago as way to draw students who were away on spring break on the actual St. Patrick's Day.

She praised all of the planning with both the town and University of Massachusetts police and UMass to help keep things under control. Last year, the event drew thousands many from outside the area and resulted in dozens of arrests and summonses. This year, UMass is banning overnight guests who are not UMass students from Thursday night through Sunday night

"There has been a huge amount of planning going on to make sure (it) doesn't start going down a bad road," she said. 

She said the BID has asked businesses not to sell blarney memorabilia to avoid drawing people downtown for that.

Also she said, if anyone seems slightly inebriated entering an establishment, business owners should call town police.

She thinks that by the bars opening later, "I think it's preventative measure. It's coming from the establishments that were directly involved (in creating it) for many. I know it seems contrary (for them to open later.)"

Select Board chairman Aaron Hayden said he appreciates the bars agreeing to the later opening. "The bars are giving up something. It's not great for them. We need to try something."    

Among the measures in place, UMass has organized a concert featuring Kesha and Juicy J that begins at noon Saturday. A posting on the ZooMass twitter feed said all of the floor tickets are gone.

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said that by the end of the first day tickets became available, UMass had distributed about 3,500. UMass funds will be used to pay for the concert, he said. He does not yet know how much the event will cost.

There is also another ZooMass posting warning, "In case you haven't heard the Dean of Students will be having conversations with anyone who posts 'Blarney ' on Facebook or Twitter."

Springfield City Councilors unanimously pass casino ethics ordinancePosted: Mar 02, 2015 9:22 PM ESTUpdated: Mar 02, 2015 9:29 PM EST
By Cherise Leclerc



A casino ethics ordinance proposed by Springfield City Councilor President Michael Fenton passed its third and final hurdle at Monday night's council meeting. 

The ordinance bars elected city officials and major policy makers from getting jobs with MGM Springfield once they complete their careers with the city. 

The law will prevent a mayor or city councilors from being employed by MGM for three years after they leave office. Major policy makers would be prohibited from working for the casino company for two years. 

The ordinance was proposed in January. After the unanimous vote in favor of the law by city council, the ordinance now goes to Mayor Domenic Sarno.

"The casino project comes with unprecedented risks, and we owe it to the public to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible" said Fenton. "My goal was to pass legislation that holds those chosen to serve the public to the highest of ethical standards and to assure the public that when it comes to regulating a casino within our borders that it is done with the utmost integrity – with tonight's vote we have achieved that."

The mayor has the ability to veto the measure. The council can override it with a two thirds majority vote.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28243755/springfield-city-councilors-unanimously-pass-casino-ethics-ordinance#ixzz3TKpKe9NO


With parts of Western Massachusetts under a winter weather  advisory, area cities and towns have put parking bans in place.

CBS 3 has been alerted to the following parking bans:

- Springfield (in place since Feb. 1)

- Easthampton (Begins 12 p.m. Sunday, ends 12 p.m. Monday)

- Chicopee (Begins 7 p.m. Sunday, ends 7 p.m. Monday)

- Agawam (Begins 6 p.m. Sunday, ends 6 p.m. Monday)

- South Hadley (Begins 8 p.m. Sunday, ends 12 p.m. Tuesday)

- Granby (in progress, ends 4 p.m. Monday)

Copyright 2015 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28232647/western-ma-parking-bans-in-effect-as-snow-arrives#ixzz3THYmEN8x

AMHERST - The Amherst Fire Department will have 13 on staff beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday morning just in case they are needed to respond to calls from the Blarney Blowout.

Fire Chief Tim Nelson that staffing levels will give the department the ability to operate five ambulances and the fire truck that is equipped for medical emergencies.

Last year, year more than 4,000 gathered at apartments in North Amherst and at other locations. Police had to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd and arrested or summonsed more than 70 arrests.

In addition, he said they are bringing in an ambulance from Agawam to have one ambulance available for unrelated emergencies and ambulances from South Hadley and Easthampton that will be dedicated to the concert at the Mullins Center.

Nelson said there could be between 5,000 and 6,000 attending the concert and based on those numbers, there could be quite a few transports, he said.

University of Massachusetts officials are offering a free concert featuring Kesha and Juicy J to provide an alternative to parties that drew so many last year. 

He said two emergency centers will be in place, one at the Amherst police station and one at UMass police. He'll be at the one in town and Asst. Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren will be at the center at UMass.

He said they are prepared unlike last year "when it happened so suddenly. You can't plan for what happened." The year before, about 2,000 gathered and six were arrested, and in 2012, the celebration took place downtown.

This year, he praised the effort taken by police and UMass in preparing for the day. "They're doing a great job, putting all these things in place."

UMass hired former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis to look at what happened last year to offer suggestions to prevent it, many of which are being adopted. 

 UMass is banning guests except for UMass students from Thursday at 8 p.m. through Sunday at 11 p.m. and allowing parking only for those with valid parking permits.

Last year, Nelson said the parking lots were full of visitors. Dorms too were packed.

Also guest swipes in the dining commons will not be allowed this weekend either.

"You plan for the worst and hope for the best." Nelson said, "you work hard trying to cover everything, a true honest effort to make sure this doesn't go down hill."

Sally Linowski, associate dean for Off Campus Student Life and Community Education,has sent a letter to off-campus students to help them plan for the weekend as well.

"We know that the vast majority of our students act responsibly every day and do not condone the negative behavior of a few.

"Unfortunately, last year, thousands of students from other campuses came to the town of Amherst during the first weekend in March. The ensuing large-scale disturbance was truly a terrible day for our campus and the entire region.

She wrote that they should be "aware that roving groups of individuals search for parties and may gather quickly at your place without invitation, causing problems for you and your neighbors. This is especially true if your property or houses/apartments near you have a history of attracting large crowds. We understand you may be a new resident and not know this history.

"No one has the right to gather on private property (meaning your apartment, lawn, house, porch, or driveway) without invitation.  If partygoers arrive uninvited to your place, it's your right to ask them to leave, and if they refuse, identify yourself as the renter/property owner, and ask for the police's help in dispersing the trespassers."

AMHERST — The police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere and the subsequent investigations and protests was the top Associated Press news story this year, and race too was in the news in Amherst.

• When it comes to reflecting on the year, former math teacher Carolyn Gardner headlined many news stories.

Gardner was the subject of racist graffiti messages left at school and that rallied the community to speak out against racism even before Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed the unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Unable to come to a settlement with the school district, Gardner has filed a complaint with Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, a complaint that is still pending.

• On the subject of race, earlier this month more than 300 high school and middle school students walked out of school to call attention to Brown's death and the issues of violence and injustice against people of color. They then held a discussion at the Jones Library closed to all but the students. 

• Race was related to a disagreement among members of the Amherst Regional School Committee. The chairs of the regional, Pelham and Amherst school committees sent a letter to member Amilcar Shabazz for comments made at an equity task force meeting in June. But other members were unhappy the letter was drafted without their involvement.

The then-vice chairman Trevor Baptiste in July called for a meeting to discuss the letter, a meeting that the state Attorney General's office later determined violated the Open Meeting Law because it wasn't properly posted.

• The year opened with the Amherst Regional High School being closed for a day after a posting on social media "that referenced the possibility of an ARHS student carrying a weapon on school grounds."

The student was later identified as Dylan Akalis, who said he was packing weapons because of being bullied. He was suspended and never returned to class, and was not allowed to attend graduation in June.

• One of the biggest stories of the year crossed the town and the University of Massachusetts borders – the so-called Blarney Blowout in March, in which thousands gathered and had to be dispersed with pepper spray. How both town and UMass police handled the gathering was later reviewed by former Police Commissioner Edward Davis, who issued his recommendations in September. 

• In July, the town and the schools hired Carol Ross as a media and climate communications specialist to foster collaboration between the school community and the town to help create a community in which people feel like they belong in a project called Amherst Together.

That project with the help of the University of Massachusetts is in the process of conducting a survey to learn what the community's values and priorities are.

• Gov. Deval L. Patrick was on hand in October to announce that the town was receivinga $1.5 million MassWorks Infrastructure grant for improvements in the East Pleasant and Triangle Street area to help boost economic development

• In November, the town was was notified it was once again a mini-entitlement community and eligible for up to $725,000 for such things as affordable housing and the operating of the homeless shelter.

• And speaking of affordable housing, Olympia Oaks the 42-unit affordable project on Olympia Drive opened in June.

• In October, the Department of Housing and Community Development awarded $1.6 million in tax credits over the next five years to Rolling Green to help ensure 41 units there would remain affordable. This followed a Town Meeting vote where the town agreed to borrow $1.25 million to help acquire those affordable units.

• As the year closes, the state medical office still does not know the cause of death of Marissa Jackson. The body of the 26-year-old was found off University Drive Sept. 9 just days after she was reported missing. That office has not yet determined the cause of death of UMass student Chloe Malast of Needham.

AMHERST — Officials are hoping for a large turnout for a forum Tuesday night created to answer questions and take comments about a proposal to expand the school region to include the elementary schools from the four towns.

Currently, Pelham, Amherst, Leverett and Shutesbury comprise the four-town region that begins in the seventh grade.

The proposal is looking at including the elementary schools in that district as well.

Initially, the committee was slated to vote on whether to proceed at a meeting March 10. But School Committee chairwoman Katherine Appy said she expects the regional committee will extend the timeline before taking a vote on whether to recommend it proceed to the towns. 

There have been two committees working on the proposal since 2012, with the Regional Agreement Working Group the latest to take it on. That group supports expanding the district to include the elementary schools. Appy is in that group.

She said she wants a good turnout because she wants to be able to bring the questions and comments to the regional committee discussion on March 10.

According to the working group report issued in January (see below), during the last two decades "the authority and responsibilities of school committees and superintendents have undergone major changes." The report continues:

"Much of the historical oversight responsibility of school committees was shifted to the superintendent as the CEO of the school district, as a result of Massachusetts Education Reform in 1993.

"This has significant implications for how districts operate. One of the many consequences of these changes is that there is now a common framework for all of the main curriculum areas, a state-mandated system for assessing the extent of student progress toward achieving curricular goals, and procedures for evaluating and improving instruction.

"Regionalization provides a way to harness and maximize the utilization of our collective resources in order to reach this new level of expectations. In addition, school administrators and staff will be better positioned to remediate persistent weaknesses in order that all students will come closer to fulfilling their full cognitive, social, emotional and physical potential. "

While expanding the district could save a little money, Appy said, "you want to deliberate well, (have) a full community process. It's not as though we're trying to push it through." 

The proposal would have to go to town meetings and she does not think the proposal would be ready for the spring town meetings.

The forum begins at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

AMHERST — Police arrested a 23-year-old man on three charges related to a disturbance early Saturday morning at the Townhouse apartments.

Police have charged Jean-Philipp C. Beaudet with disorderly conduct, assault and battery and assault to maim.

Police received a call about an unwanted guest causing a disturbance. Further details were unavailable. Beaudet is slated to be arraigned Monday in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown. He is listed as a University of Massachusetts student.

Police also arrested 48-year-old William Hunter on Friday evening at the Amherst Brewing Company on a disorderly conduct charge after he was allegedly threatening violence. Further details were unavailable.

Police arrested William A. Brown of Northampton on Sunday night at Craig's Place, the town's homeless shelter, after he allegedly caused a disturbance there.

When Nickel Creek went on hiatus between 2007-2014, it seemed like a large and perfect window for the band's guitarist, Sean Watkins, to put out his fourth solo album.

But he didn't do so until after Nickel Creek reformed briefly last year for a 25th anniversary record and tour.

"I had been doing a lot of stuff with other projects and just didn't have the songs to do a solo record until I started working on it a few years ago," he said. "And then when I got enough songs, I had the ambition to do it."

That explanation makes sense, since fact Watkins involves himself in numerous projects. Along with Nickel Creek and four solo albums, Watkins has also worked with Fiction Family, Mutual Admiration Society, and Works Progress Administration, among others. Watkins plays tonight at The Parlor Room in Northampton.

So how does he decide which songs to use in various groups?

"If I'm in a project and we're looking for songs I will write specifically for the project. But otherwise I write just to write because you're always going to need songs," he said.

Watkins said his writing process is varied.

"Sometimes I have the chords and a melody the back of my mind. That happens a lot. I'll be going about my business and something will hit me at a very inopportune time," he said with a chuckle. "Lyrics will come to me so I'll just record them into my phone. I take inspiration wherever I can get it. But sometimes I'll sit down and write just as an exercise to see if I can write something. But more often than not, I'll have an idea and just pick up a guitar and hash it out for a little while."

Watkins' latest solo record, the stripped-down "All I Do Is Lie" is a departure from his previous solo album, "Blinders On," which was poppier.

"That was a conscious decision. I wanted to make a simpler, more straightforward record," he said. "The lyrics are a lot more autobiographical and I wanted them to be less cryptic. In the past, my lyrics have been more cryptic and I just don't like to do that anymore."

Watkins has no specific news for Nickel Creek fans about the band's future, beyond saying they will "probably play again at some point."

"But I just read an article where I was interviewed and the guy totally got it wrong. It had all this speculation is that Nickel Creek is no more and how I don't want to be in the band. It was really weird. I don't know where he got that," he said with a laugh.

NORTHAMPTON -- Gov. Charlie Baker will deliver keynote remarks at an upcoming conference geared toward local officials and municipal employees.

Baker is one of several state officials scheduled to appear at the 2015 Hampshire & Franklin Municipal Conference set for March 21 in Northampton.

Atty. General Maura Healey will conduct a session on the state's Open Meeting Law.

Mass. Broadband Institute Director Erik Nakajima will deliver a rural broadband update, and Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack will join MassDOT officials and State Senator Tom McGee in a discussion oftransportation financing.

A local budgeting seminar will be led by a representative from the Dept. of Revenue, and Mass. Emergency Management Director Kurt Schwartz will join State Senator James Timilty for a session on emergency management.

The event is organized by Senate President Stan Rosenberg and the Hampshire and Franklin Councils of Governments.

Baker in January pledged to strengthen ties between the governor's office and the commonwealth's 351 towns and cities.

The 2015 Hampshire & Franklin Municipal Conference is set for Saturday, March 21st at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Northampton.

HADLEY -- After 13 years in town, North Star:Self-Directed Learning for Teens will be moving to Sunderland in June, after the program completes its academic year.

The town is not renewing the program's lease at the former 120-year-old Russell Street School because of long-standing building safety concerns. The program will relocate to a 4,800 square-foot building in Sunderland, giving the center roughly the same amount of space. 

"It's a huge sigh of relief" to have found a new building, said North Star director Kenneth Danford.

North Star's program provides classes, guidance and workshops to teens who decide not to follow a traditional education, Danford said.

North Star maintained its program at 104 Russell St. for five years after moving from Amherst, before moving down the block to its current location at 135 Russell St. Danford helped start the program 19 years ago in Amherst under the name Pathfinder Learning Center.

With the 135 Russell St. building's conditions a longstanding issue, Danford said North Star had been looking to buy a building for several years.

But in December, when officials learned their lease would not be renewed after its June 30 expiration, they began looking for a building to rent.

The new building, at 45 Amherst Road in Sunderland, "meets all our needs," Danford said. The location is close to Interstate 91 and provides convenient access to families who use the center. Danford said the center serves between 65 and 70 families from Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin counties, as well as Connecticut and Vermont.

Students and their families pay membership fees of about $5,000 to $7,500 each year, but the center does not turn anyone away. Fees cover about two-thirds of the center's operating costs, with fundraising covering the remaining third.

Danford said the center's inclusion of a rock band and theater in its programming required officials to locate a freestanding building.   

After the move, Danford said the center will have a kitchen for the first time. Moreover, the first floor of the Sunderland building is accessible to people in wheelchairs; the Hadley building is not accessible.

The center paid the town of Hadley $2,500 a month, and utility costs at the Russell Street building ran about $20,000 each year. Rent at the new space will be slightly higher, Danford said.

Danford declined to disclose the exact amount of the new rent because the landlord is a private renter, not a municipality. 

Program officials expect utility costs to drop in the better-insulated, newer space in Sunderland. The Russell Street School was built in 1894. 

The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School had previously occupied the historic Russell Street building before moving to South Hadley.

HADLEY — Police have identified the University of Massachusetts football player involved in afight Saturday night at a house on Rocky Hill Road and plan to charge him with two counts of aggravated assault and battery.

He won't be identified until arrested, said officer Douglas Costa in an email.

The six tenants, meanwhile, will be summonsed to Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on charges of violating the town noise ordinance bylaw, he said.

Police are still looking for the driver of an SUV who struck a pedestrian leaving the party Saturday night into Sunday morning at 124 Rocky Hill Road.

The pedestrian was taken to the hospital, and was treated and released.

Police described the vehicle as a white or gray SUV; witnesses were unable to supply information about the make, model or plate. Anyone with information is asked to contact Costa at 413-584-0883. 

Police were tied up for several hours at the party dealing with the fight and cars parked on the road and the accident, according to the police Facebook posting. 

HADLEY — About a dozen demonstrators affiliated with the group Direct Action Everywhere took to the Hadley Whole foods store on Saturday to raise awareness of the alleged treatment of animals who are raised for slaughter.

With members from across southern New England, local organizer Julia Carpenter of Northampton said that by tying a blindfold on their faces and standing in silence, she hoped shoppers would take notice and "open their eyes" to the treatment of animals who are raised to die so people can eat their flesh.

"I believe there is no humane way to kill an animal who doesn't want to die," Carpenter said. "We want to make people aware that the humane treatment companies like Whole Foods promotes is a myth."

Two-by-two the demonstrators quietly made their way into the store, heading toward the dairy section where the "cage-free" eggs are located. And one-by-one, they each tied blue blindfolds over their eyes and held posters with photos of animals with phrases like "We want to live."

Protesters demonstrate against treatment of animals at Hadley Whole Foods storeDirect Action Everywhere staged a protest inside the Hadley, Mass. Whole Foods store on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 to protest the treatment of hens at one of the company's contracted "cage free" farms in California. (Video by Robert Rizzuto

The demonstrators stood in silence until a Whole Foods employee approached and politely asked them to leave. That's when the blindfolds came off and the chant of "Whole Foods is a lie; animals do not want to die," began. The group made their way through the store, drawing much attention from presumably socially conscious shoppers, as they walked toward the exit.

Zachary Groff, a member from New Haven, Connecticut said he joined the movement because he always felt like there was something wrong about humans killing and eating animals.

"When I got to college I stopped eating meat but I didn't feel like that was enough, so I took up the cause," he said.

A specific issue the group takes with Whole Foods relates to an egg farm the company contracts with in northern California. Although the farm is considered "humane" and "cage-free" by industry standards, an undercover infiltration of its operations by Direct Action Everywhere members revealed treatment the group says is far from humane.

The group says practices like "stretching bird's necks until they snap as a 'humane' form of euthanasia" are anything but humane.

"There is nothing humane about snapping an animal's neck with your bare hands, and the fact that such brutality is deemed humane shows that this industry is inherently violent," said the group's legal counsel Wayne Hsiung in a statement.

Whole Foods responded to the protest with a statement of its own, arguing that the group's stated goal of "full animal liberation" is more about an extremist agenda than ensuring animals are treated humanely.

"Whole Foods Market caters to the dietary choices of all shoppers--vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike, and we take a leadership position in helping improve our entire food supply, especially when it comes to farm animal welfare," said Heather W. McCready, Whole Foods public relations manager for the New England region. "These activists are not fighting for animal welfare, but rather for an end to animal consumption altogether."

Direct Action Everywhere representatives on site Saturday said they plan to hold local days of action at least once a month, and that people in the Pioneer Valley will be seeing them and their message more in 2015.

Dukes Junk Removal 413-535-9808

HOLYOKE -- Three ways exist for the city to stop fluoridation of public water and none appears easy or imminent, city councilors learned Tuesday (April 1).

Two health officials told the Public Safety Committee at City Hall water fluoridation's benefits outweigh any negatives.

According to city staff attorney William Newcomb:

--The city Board of Health can be asked to lift the 1970 requirement that water be treated with fluoride to promote dental health;

-- the city can seek special legislation to stop fluoridation;

--10 percent of registered voters can petition for a binding ballot question to be held, but that option is available only upon an order to increase the amount of fluoride in the water supply and the petition must be filed within 90 days of the publication of such an order.

Holyoke Water Works officials said there were no plans to increase fluoridation and, in fact, said Public Safety Committee member Daniel B. Bresnahan, some officials statewide have discussed reducing fluoride levels.

The presence of fluoride -- a form of the element fluorine, which occurs naturally in the environment -- to promote dental health has spawned decades of passionate, often-accusatory debate here, nationwide and around the world.

Supporters say adding fluoride to the water supply has succeeded for decades in improving dental health. That's true especially in a poor community like this one, with nearly 32 percent of the population living in poverty and fluoridated water perhaps the only dental treatment for many children, they said.

But opponents say that chemicals used in fluoridation can be harmful and studies that deemed fluoride safe must be revisited. Also, they said, having the government treat the public water infringes on an individual's right to decide what to ingest.

Water fluoridation is an item on the Board of Health agenda April 9, Health Department Director Brian Fitzgerald said, but there was no indication the board intended to vote to end the program.

Committee member James M. Leahy asked David M. Conti, Holyoke Water Works manager, and the Water Commission to discuss fluoride in municipal drinking water.

Leahy filed the order after city resident Kirstin Beatty questioned whether the use of fluoride is healthy or toxic in the public speak out period of the Feb. 17 council meeting. Beatty showed up at Tuesday's meeting more than an hour after the committee finished discussing fluoride.

The committee tabled consideration of the fluoride issue in light of the upcoming Board of Health meeting and councilors needing time to read information packets received just before the meeting, Chairwoman Linda L. Vacon said.,

Leahy said his order's intent was to get information about fluoridation.

"I don't have a dog in this race, whether there's fluoride in the water or there's not fluoride in the water," Leahy said.

It costs $30,000 a year to fluoridate public drinking water, Conti said.

Water Commission member Mark Naidorf noted the fluoridating city water was a Board of Health decision in 1970.

"So you can override that?" Leahy said,.

"We cannot override the Board of Health," Naidorf said.

Leahy asked about concerns he has heard from people since he filed the order such as a possible connection between fluoride and arthritis. Conti said he wasn't qualified to discuss such health issues.

Since the meeting wasn't scheduled as a public hearing, the committee voted to let two medical professionals make remarks.

E. Jane Crocker, president of the American Dental Hygienists Association of Massachusetts, said fluoridated water was important and cost-effective.

"It's not only safe, but it has been shown to promote dental health," Crocker said.

A lot of information about fluoride is on the internet and much of it is unreliable, she said,.

"They use a lot of sensationalism and scare tactics. Be careful what you read," Crocker said.

Dr. Robert Abrams, a longtime pediatrician here, said the benefits of fluoride outweigh the negatives despite the craziness available for reading on the internet.

"I'm so glad you gave me the opportunity," Abrams told the Public Safety Committee.

Naidford said another issue is that fluoridation prevents the city from selling its large water supply in bottled form.

"Having the fluoride is always brought up as one of the barriers," Naidorf said.

A MassLive.com reader who was following the live-reporting of the meeting asked if a homeowner can opt out of getting fluoridated water.

The question was put to Conti, who said the answer was no. A home that is in an area with lines that provide the public water supply must use the public water. Such homeowners even are prohibited from digging their own water well and opting out of the public water supply, he said.

Leaving the meeting, Abrams joked to Conti of the fluoride debate, "This will never end, will it?"

"No, it won't," Conti said.

One of three men arrested during a drug bust on Monday at a Westfield apartment complex was Springfield's Most Wanted Josue Torres-Colon.

Torres-Colon has been wanted in Springfield since he allegedly kidnapped and attempted to murder his ex-girlfriend last April.

The 37-year-old was arrested, along with Leslie Hernandez, 34, and Jorge Lopez, 27. Torres-Colon was charged with possession of suboxone. Hernandez and Lopez were charged with heroin possession with the intent to distribute and possession of ammunition without an FID card.

Springfield police are praising the Westfield police for the arrest.

“(Torres-Colon) was featured on Springfield's Most Wanted on March 12,” Sgt. John Delaney, of the Springfield Police Department, said. “He was wanted for attempted murder, kidnapping. This is a good guy to get off the streets.”

Torres-Colon will be arraigned in Westfield District Court on Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28676114/springfields-most-wanted-offender-is-captured-in-westfield#ixzz3W3e0acuw

HOLYOKE — It will be a congested city this weekend but you can secure a parking space by exercising patience and planning.

Thousands of people with thousands of vehicles flooding the city Saturday (March 21) for theHolyoke St. Patrick's Road Race and Sunday for the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade mean that parking will exceed the normal "designated area" rules.

"Parking pretty much is wherever you can find it," said William D. Fuqua, general superintendent of the Department of Public Works.

Side streets off the main roads that are featured in both days' events remain popular parking spots, and there are a lot of such side streets, though it might take some driving around to find a space on both busy days. Spaces on side streets are available on a first-come basis and as long as private driveways are unblocked.

"Please obey all posted signs and temporary signs posted by the Holyoke Police Department," reads an advisory on the road race website.

The two downtown parking garages will be open Saturday and Sunday at $5 for all day parking. But the two garages combined, the Ernest Proulx on Dwight Street (484) and the William Taupier on Suffolk Street (424), offer less than 1,000 spaces, Fuqua said.

Parking is available downtown around Lyman and High streets -- an area of focus on both days -- with on-street spaces and in parking lots, as well as the two parking garages. But those parking spots fill fast, police Capt. Manuel Febo said.

Among the parking lots are those at Open Square Way, City Hall at 536 Dwight St., across from the United Postal Service on Dwight Street, and Mater Dolorosa School, 25 Maple St.

The 40th Annual St. Patrick's Road Race begins at 1 p.m. with thousands of runners streaming forth from Lyman and Maple streets. They head west on Maple Street to South Street and onto Westfield Road, turning right, or north, on Homestead Avenue, and then right again onto Cherry Street straight as they head east into Beech Street to finish at Lyman and Maple streets.

The event is a 10 kilometer, or 10k (6.2 miles) race.

Lyman Street will be closed to traffic Saturday at 8 a.m. and the parts of Hampden and Maple streets in that area will be closed to traffic around 9 a.m., Febo said.

On road-race day, those who want to skip the hunt for a space can park at Holyoke Community College (HCC) on Homestead Avenue and take a free shuttle to the Lyman and Maple streets starting point, the road race website said.

The first shuttle will leave HCC at 9 a.m. Those who want to be at the starting line for the beginning of the race must be at the college no later than noon to catch the shuttle, the website said.

The last shuttle will run at 5 p.m., the website said.

"They pick you up at the end of the day and bring you back up the hill," Fuqua said.

Last year's road race featured about 7,000 runners and 800 walkers, organizers said.

Meanwhile, the parade is the big event, bringing hundreds of thousands of people here, organizers have said.

The 64th annual parade begins at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Kmart parking lot at Whiting Farms Road and Northampton Street. The parade will go down Northampton Street, right on Beech Street, right on Appleton Street and left on High Street when it ends at Hampden Street three to four hours later.

The parade will be composed of about 23 divisions with 15,000 marchers, floats and music units, said Raymond H. Feyre, spokesman for the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Committee.Feyre this year also is parade grand marshal.

Police will close Northampton Street (Route 5) from Hitchcock Street south to the Kmart plaza to all traffic at 10:30 a.m. Sunday unless someone is escorted by police, Febo said.

At 11 a.m., Northampton Street from the Yankee Pedlar Inn at Beech Street south to the Kmart plaza will be closed to traffic, he said.

Barriers in the form of police cruisers and wooden horses will be posted at certain spots to block traffic.

All of the streets that comprise the routes for the road race and the parade will be closed to traffic while those events are taking place. Most will reopen by around 3 or 4 p.m. on both days as the race and the parade recede from each street. But High and Maple streets downtown will stay closed to traffic later on both days because those areas fill with people as the events end there later on both days, Febo said.

[Seth Roberts l Special to The Republican] By Seth Roberts l Special to The Republican 
on March 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM, updated March 20, 2015 at 7:08 AM




10 bars to visit after the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade
Breakfast kicks off 2015 Holyoke St. Patrick's events
Holyoke police invite retired officers to march in 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade with department
Faces of the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade
Holyoke St. Patrick's Grand Marshal on parade: 'We really put on our best suit that day'

HOLYOKE — This Saturday marks the 40th St. Patrick's Road Race in Holyoke. The 10K (6.2 miles) race starts at 1 p.m. at the corner of Maple and High streets.

Here's a look at details of the race, which accepts entries through race day:


Online registration has closed, but runners may register at race headquarters prior to the race. More information may be found atwww.holyokestpatricksroadrace.org.

As of Thursday, there were 5,700 runners registered. Race Director Brian Donoghue expects 7,000 runners.


Friday, 3-8 p.m.: Race number pickup, Race Headquarters, 143 Maple St.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Race number pickup, Race Headquarters, 143 Maple St.
Saturday, 11 a.m.: Kids Race (ages 2-10)
Saturday, 11:45 a.m.: JFK Award winner ceremony; Bill Rodgers recognition ceremony; Legacy Runners ceremony
Saturday, 12:10 p.m.: Mummers Concert
Saturday, 1 p.m.: Race starts
Saturday, 1:10 p.m.: 2 Mile Walk

Course records

Men: John Doherty, 28 minutes 46 seconds (1993)
Women: Askale Merachi, 33:14 (2014)

Defending champions

Men: Mengistu Nebsi, Ethiopia, 29:42
Women: Askale Merachi, Ethiopia, 33:14

Top contenders

Neither of last year's men's or women's champions have registered.


Philemon Terer, Kenya: Finished second in 2012 and 2013; his 10K personal record is 28:13
Andrew Springer, Rhode Island / Georgetown University: His 10K PR is 29:28
Mourad Marofit, Morocco: 2008 Olympian, his 10K PR is 28:11
Jaouad El Jazouki, Ethiopia: American debut race; his 10K PR is 28:56


Aziza Alaoui, Morocco: Her 10K PR is 33:42
Khadija Sammah, Morocco: Her 10K PR is 32:11
Firehiwot Goshu Metike, Ethiopia: Her 10k PR is 32:48

Notable runners

Bill Rodgers the former Olympian, Marathon record holder and three-time Holyoke St. Patrick's Road Race winner will be running.
Dick and Ricky Hoyt, last year's JFK award winners will be back again.
The Western Mass. Distance Project, the area's top running club, will be sending a large contingent of male and female runners.

Prize money

1st Place: $1,000
2nd Place: $650
3rd Place: $450
4th Place: $250
Age Group Winners: $250
Bonus money: $1,000 for a men's or women's record; $250 for an age group record
Also: Gift certificates for the top Holyoke and Irish-American male and female; merchandise for the top male and female high school runner

y Robert Rizzuto | rrizzuto@repub.com 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on March 20, 2015 at 6:30 AM, updated March 20, 2015 at 6:35 AM



[MGM Springfield]

Former YWCA building last point of contention between MGM and Springfield Historical Commission
MGM 1 step away from compromise with Springfield Historical Commission over 4 properties in casino footprint
Connecticut preparing for New England casino war, with eye toward MGM Springfield
White Lion Brewing and MGM Springfield to bring summer beer festival to Downtown Springfield
Tribal leaders: MGM Springfield could cost Connecticut 18,000 jobs

SPRINGFIELD — After a nearly four hour meeting on Thursday evening, the only property that MGM Resorts International and the Springfield Historical Commission couldn't come to agreement on is the old YWCA building on Howard Street.

By the time MGM Springfield was cued up in the commission's agenda on Thursday evening, the mood was tense, yet civil- a departure from the hostility which dominated the earlier part of the meeting when a citizen was attacking board member Majorie Guess over an issue in the McKnight neighborhood.

And although the commission voted to approve MGM Springfield's conceptual plans for three historic properties in the casino's footprint, the building that currently houses the Western Mass. Correctional Alcohol Center is the sole point of contention.

Built in 1907 to originally house the Young Women's Christian Association, MGM plans to demolish the building, which is currently under the direction of the Hampden County Sheriff's Department. The building was sold to MGM by Lyman-Taylor Realty Co. LLC on Dec. 12, 2014 for $4,450,000.

At Thursday's meeting, Hunter Clayton, senior vice president of development for MGM Resorts International, offered up three options in an attempt to find compromise with the seven-member commission. And although three of the six present board members voted to approve the third option, which involved replicating the building's architectural elements in a way that would make the new structure visible from Main Street, not all agreed.

[Hunter Clayton YWCA MGM] Hunter Clayton, senior vice president of development for MGM Resorts International, shows the new plan to recreate the facade of the old YWCA with a view from Main Street as the company worked toward compromise with the Springfield Historical Commission on Thursday night. (Republican photo by Robert Rizzuto)Robert Rizzuto | rrizzuto@repub.com 

"This is the most profound offering we've seen yet," said commission member My-Ron Hatchett. "But part of what concerned me was the material. If they can reproduce the terra-cotta, I think its a pretty bold statement."

Commissioner Steven Shultis said he liked the plan to recreate the building and he considered that a good-faith effort by MGM to meet the commission's requests. He also said that he was voting to approve the plan as a way to maintain a degree of control over the final design of the proposed building. Commissioner Vincent Walsh also showed support for the plan, but the sentiment was split in a 3-3 vote.

Commission Chairman Ralph Slate, commissioner Robert McCarroll and commissioner Guess voted against the MGM proposal to recreate the facade, primarily because they aren't big fans of seeing the historic structure be torn down to facilitate a cul-de-sac. The cul-de-sac, which would dead-end on what will remain of Howard Street in front of DaVinci Park, is necessary to ensure public safety access and to accomodate the parking concerns of the Red Rose Pizzeria, according to Clayton.

"This is a public area. We're adding additional amenities to a downtown setting," Clayton said. "Allowing for fire services or EMTs to have access there - this cul-de-sac is there to allow for this. We've actually minimized that cul-de-sac as much as possible."

The pitch which the commission was split on involved recreating the facade of the building in question perpendicular across Howard Street just west of the old State Armory, most of which will be used in the casino plan. The building, which would be designed and built to look like the current structure, would house a sports bar, the bowling alley ad some retail shops, It would have height and width comparable to the current structure and a prominent visibility from Main and Howard streets.

When we finally rendered this out and took a step back and looked at it, especially in respect to the Armory, we were pretty pleased. Kudos to you for pushing us on this," Clayton said.

But although the entire commission was much happier with option three than any of the previous iterations pitched by MGM, approval of the concept failed in a split vote, as commissioner Benjamin Murphy was unable to attend the meeting.

Slate asked MGM to revisit the suggestion of alleviating the Red Rose parking concerns by allowing access to the restaurant's rear parking lot through access granted on MGM-owned property on Union Street. Such a suggestion was pitched by Red Rose owners during MGM's Final Environmental Impact Review process with the state.

McCarroll said he couldn't offer his support for tearing down the building just to facilitate the construction of a cul-de-sac. Guess agreed with McCarroll.

Clayton, MGM's top development officer who flew in from Las Vegas for the meeting, was visibly disappointed, but he thanked the commission for their efforts and discussions which spanned two votes on the disputed structure.

Next, the commission plans to draft a letter to the Massachusetts Historical Commission laying out its split position on the topic. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, however, will ultimately rule on whether MGM's plan meets their standards and desires, as laid out in the conditions of the gaming license, and Clayton said that in the end, he hopes MGM can have a signed memorandum of understanding with the local commission to have their blessing.

MGM plans hold a groundbreaking event on Tuesday to signify the start of construction on the casino entertainment complex on 14.5 acres in the South End of downtown Springfield. But that event will be largely symbolic, since the state historical commission recently notified MGM that it can not separate the old Zanetti School on Howard Street, slated to be the first demolished building, from the entire project.

"There are no provisions in MHC's regulations that allow a project to be segmented," the letter from the state commission stated. "To date, the MHC has not recieved the alternative studies that were requested at MHC's consultation meeting on December 11, 2014."

Once the project does commence, however, it is expected to have a 30-33 month build out with a grand opening set for late 2017.

Springfield police charge man with 2012 kidnappingPosted: Mar 19, 2015 6:07 PM EDTUpdated: Mar 19, 2015 6:09 PM EDT
By Chris Rueli, Digital Content Producer
By Tony Consiglio, Managing Editor


Springfield police detectives have arrested a man for a kidnapping that occurred three years ago.

Officers arrested Steven Jerel Malloy on a warrant at 330 Sumner Ave. on Thursday morning.

Police say he was wanted on charges of kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, arson, and threatening to commit a crime.

The charges were related to an incident that occurred in Oct. 2012 in which a 17-year-old girl was assaulted in a domestic related crime on White Street.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28566481/springfield-police-charge-man-with-2012-kidnapping#ixzz3UvLTbK5R

SPRINGFIELD — A parents' group attempting to save the Curtis Blake Day School, a program of the Curtis Blake Learning Services of American International College, has raised more than $4,000 in donations and an additional $11,500 in pledges to help prevent the school from closing in June.

AIC has announced plans to close the school for learning disabled children because of declining enrollment and a decision to expand various existing services offered by the college.

Melissa Sullivan, a Connecticut resident whose son Sean attends Curtis Blake, is leading the fundraising effort to help find another operator for the Springfield school, located at Temple Beth El, 979 Dickinson St.

The public can make donations through the Save Curtis Blake Day SchoolFacebook page. "Please know, it is with great hope that this effort will not be in vain. If for some reason we are not successful, all contributions will be refunded, less credit card fees," a message on the Facebook page states.

Donations can also be made online at www.SaveCurtisBlake.com orhttps://www.causes.com/campaigns/90276-receive-contributions-over-1-000-for-curtis-blake-school. The latter site is for donors to pledge at least $1,000 or goods and services.

Curtis Blake, co-founder of Friendly Ice Cream and namesake of the Curtis Blake Day School, has already pledged $10,000 to help keep the school in operation.

SPRINGFIELD - A judge has impounded police reports from a fatal shooting Sundayafternoon and approved $5,000 to hire a private investigator for the teenage suspect.

At the request of prosecutors, Judge William Boyle sealed the arrest report, witness statements and related records in the killing of Rakeem Nixon, 22, of Springfield about 3 p.m. Sunday on a residential street off Boston Road.

Five hours after Nixon was gunned down on Lucerne Road, police arrested Christopher I. Montgomery, 17, of Glenwood Street, Springfield and charged him with murder. The victim was shot multiple times and died at the hospital.

Montgomery - listed in court records as 5-feet, 3-inches and 110 pounds - pleaded innocent inSpringfield District Court Monday and was ordered held without bail.

Despite being 17, Montgomery is being tried as an adult on the murder charge; under state law, juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 charged with murder or certain violent crimes can be classified as youthful offenders and tried as adults.

He is being prosecuted in Juvenile Court for three firearms counts related to the fatal shooting.

No details or motive for the killing were disclosed during the Montgomery's arraignment. Seventeen court officers stood guard during the brief session while the defendant and victim's families watched from opposite sides of the gallery.

Dressed in a baggy red sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers, Montgomery appeared younger than his age, particularly standing next to the much larger court officers.

As the teenager was led handcuffed and shackled from the courtroom, a family member began wailing in the gallery.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer N. Fitzgerald said the investigation into Nixon's death is continuing and asked Boyle to impound any investigative documents.

The arrest report and witness statements were presented to a judge to establish probable cause for an arrest warrant and should not be open for pubic scrutiny at this point, Fitzgerald explained. 

"Law enforcement has had less than 24 hours with which to conduct witness interviews and gather evidence for prosecution," the prosecutor said.

"Disclosure now, at this sensitive time in the investigation, could compromise the integrity of the investigation," she added.

Boyle approved the motion to seal the records and also granted defense lawyer Donald Frank's request for $5,000 in court funds to hire a private investigator to prepare for trial.

Such requests are routinely approved in criminal cases where defendants cannot afford to hire an investigator to interview potential witnesses for the defense..

The judge scheduled a pretrial hearing for April 14.

The shooting is the city's seventh homicide of the year and the third in less than a week.

On March 10, Luis Sanchez, 26, was stabbed to death in the parking lot outside the Friends of the Homeless shelter on Worthington Street. A suspect, Jose Ramos, 34, a resident of the shelter, has been arrested.

The next day, a 29-year-old woman was stabbed to death and two other people injured in an assault on Belmont Avenue in the city's Forest Park neighborhood. No arrests have been made, and police have not publicly identified the woman.


The Bard's First Folio is coming to the Pioneer Valley.

Amherst College has been selected to be the Massachusetts venue for "First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare," a nationwide exhibition of the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's plays. The Folger Shakespeare Library, which holds 82 of the 233 known copies of the rare anthology, selected Amherst from among three Massachusetts applicants, said Dan De Simone, the Folger's librarian.

"We're sending this fabulous item and we wanted to be sure there were people in the position to understand the importance of it and take very good care of it when it's there," De Simone said. "Amherst had a really great group of people that were going to manage the programs, and they had a good series of exhibition programs surrounding it."

The First Folio was originally published in 1623 and features the first known printed versions of classics including "The Tempest" and "Macbeth." Original editions of the folio are some of the most valuable books in the world; a complete edition sold for $5.2 million at a Sotheby's auction in 2006.

Hosting the tour is a coup for the college and a recognition of its ties to the Folger Library, said Amherst College archivist Peter Nelson, who is overseeing the school's leg of the exhibition.

"We're delighted to have been chosen as our state's host site for the First Folio," Nelson said in a prepared statement. "The college couldn't be more appropriate, because of our close ties to the Folger Shakespeare Library and because Amherst is where, as a senior, Henry Clay Folger, class of 1879, first developed his interest in Shakespeare, which began a lifetime of incredible collecting."

The book will be opened to Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy: Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" speech. Amherst College will also schedule programming around the exhibit, and the tour will include related displays about the history and significance of Shakespeare.

De Simone declined to name the other Massachusetts applicants but said all three were first-class. The tour is the Folger Library's first large-scale traveling exhibition of the folios and attracted high interest, De Simone said, with 100 institutions nation-wide submitting applications to take part.

"The enthusiasm all over the country for this project -- it was just unbelievable," he said.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, based in Washington, D.C., touts itself as holding the largest collection of Shakespeare materials in the world.

The tour begins in January and exact dates for the exhibition will be announced in April. The tour will reach all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, visiting venues like the Montogmery, Ala. Museum of Fine Arts and the Alaska State Libraries, Archives and Museums in Juneau.


AMHERST — CeCe McDonald, an aspiring fashion student living in Minneapolis who spent several years in jail after killing a man who attacked her will speak Tuesday night at UMass in a talked titled "Black TRANS Lives Matter: CeCe McDonald On Racism, Mass Incarceration, & Trans Liberation."

McDonald was charged with two murders and was threatened with up to 80 years in prison. While in prison, she met other black, trans women, which led her to fight not only for her own freedom but for all the trans women who have been slain or made victims of the criminal injustice system, according to the Facebook posting announcing her talk. 

Since her release in January 2014, she has become a leading and outspoken activist, inspiring many to take action against mass incarceration and for racial justice and trans liberation, according to the announcement.

"My story wouldn't have been important had I been killed," she said in a Rolling Stone article. "Because it's like nobody cares.

 "But fortunately for me, I'm a survivor. I'm not gonna beat myself up for being a woman, I'm not gonna beat myself up for being trans, I'm not gonna beat myself up for defending myself."

She speaks at 7:30 p.m. in Commonwealth Honors College.


A natural gas leak on Main Street in Springfield's South End neighborhood forced firefighters and police to close a portion of the roadway and evacuate about 100 people from businesses and apartments on Tuesday morning.

Emergency crews responded to 727 Main St. at about 11:20 a.m. for the report of the gas leak.

Springfield police closed Main Street in the area of Fremont and Loring streets while crews worked to repair the leak.

Employees at Dillon's Liquors and City Zone Supermarket in addition to residents of the Northern Heights apartment building at 769 Main St. were evacuated by the Springfield Fire Department.

Andrea Luppi, a spokesperson for Columbia Gas, said a construction worker was doing demolition work in a vacant building when he struck the line.

Luppi said crews will have to dig up Main Street in order to shut down the gas line. Residents and employees will be allowed back into their buildings after the line is shut down and the gas has dissipated.

Main Street was reopened by mid afternoon.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28354320/police-close-main-st-following-gas-leak-in-springfield#ixzz3U28vAFCC


Crash on I-91 NB in Longmeadow closes lanesPosted: Mar 10, 2015 8:28 PM EDTUpdated: Mar 10, 2015 8:38 PM EDT
By Cherise Leclerc

 [Courtesy: MA State Police] Courtesy: MA State Police
LONGMEADOW, MA (WSHM) -State police are working to clear an accident on Interstate-91 Northbound in Longmeadow Tuesday night. 

The call came in just before 8 p.m. for the multi-vehicle crash near Exit 2.

State police advise on their Twitter page that the left and middle lanes are closed because of the crash. 

A state police photo from the scene shows four vehicles involved.

There is no word on any injuries. 

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28360338/crash-on-i-91-nb-in-longmeadow-closes-lanes#ixzz3U28evgfP

Springfield police investigating stabbing death on Worthington Street, suspect in custodyPosted: Mar 10, 2015 7:29 PM EDTUpdated: Mar 10, 2015 8:31 PM EDT
By Cherise Leclerc



Springfield police are investigating a murder Tuesday night that happened on Worthington Street. 

Officers were called to the scene in the parking lot of the Friends of the Homeless facility at 769 Worthington Street. 

Springfield police sources have confirmed to CBS 3 the victim, a 26-year-old man, was stabbed and died of his injuries.

Springfield police have a 34-year-old man in custody in connection with the murder.

CBS 3 will provide the latest details as they become available.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28359787/springfield-police-investigating-worthington-street-stabbing#ixzz3U28O7S3i

SPRINGFIELD - For its spring performance, J-Art @ the JCC is staging "Seussical," the musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss, in honor of the iconic author's 111th birthday.

Theater is definitely happening at the Springfield Jewish Community Center's auditorium. There's an energy in the space and then music breaks out, even if it's just the cast warming up around the piano.

Led by Stevie Norman, a young opera singer who has performed with the Connecticut Opera and the Piedmont Opera of North Carolina, they go through their voice warm-up exercises and the sound invites you in - as do the colorful, quirky costumes that scream Dr. Seuss.

"The musical is an amalgamation of the Seuss stories," said Becca Coolong, director of youth and family services who oversees the young adult theater group that's performing the play. "This performance targets youth, but will be fun for all ages."

The young adult theater accepts performers between the ages 15 and 30, though Coolong admits to bending those parameters when it's appropriate.

Robbie Coolong, 5, in costume as the Little Joey, a baby kangaroo, from the upcoming musical Seussical at the Springfield Jewish Community Center.CORY WHITE 

For this play, her own son Robbie Coolong, 5, plays the character of the Little Joey from the Seuss book "Horton Hears a Who."

"The other cast members have been wonderful to him," Coolong says, "making him feel a part of the group."

That sense of inclusion is true of the group generally. They work as a unit, building the set together, making their own costumes.

"Watching them bond has been tremendous," Coolong said. "They've really taken ownership of this theater group."

For this performance, Eric Frary is directing. A founding member of J-Art, Frary, 24, has been involved in theater since middle school and has performed in theater at the JCC since high school. By day, he is a science teacher in Holyoke.

"Theater is my avocation," he said. "It's an important part of my teaching and an important part of my life."

Leadership roles rotate here.

Lisa Rizzo was director of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" last fall, while Frary served as music director. This time, Frary is directing and Rizzo's playing Gertrude McFuzz from "Yertle the Turtle." It's all part of the group dynamic.

"The cast is fantastic," Frary said, "energetic and experienced. They're working hard to bring Dr. Seuss alive. We have several cast members back from previous productions, and some new faces. They bring their friends in. It's a growing group."

Speaking of the musical itself, Frary said, "These are books we read as children. It was through these books we learned to read. I want to connect kids to the world of reading, and this musical is another way of doing that."

To that end, the cast is participating in outreach events, including one at the Forest Park branch library as part of Springfield's Dr. Seuss birthday celebration and another at the Sumner Avenue Elementary School. They'll appear in costume at these events, sing songs, and bring the Seuss characters alive for children.

Performances of Seussical are set for March 5, 8 and 12 at 5:30 p.m., March 7 and 14 at 8:30 p.m. and March 15 at 3 p.m. All performances are at the Springfield Jewish Community Center, 1160 Dickinson St.

Tickets are $10 for children under 12, $15 for adults and $20 for reserved seating. A special pasta dinner before the Thursday performances is an additional $5.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the community center, (413) 739-4715

BOSTON (AP) - Lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby say they will ask a judge to throw out a defamation lawsuit filed by three women who have accused the comedian of decades old sexual offenses.

In a legal brief filed Tuesday, Cosby's lawyers say they plan to file their motion to dismiss Friday.

Tamara Green, a California lawyer who says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the 1970s, originally brought the lawsuit in late 2014. Two other women later joined the suit: Therese Serignese, who says Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976, and Linda Traitz, who alleges he tried to drug her and then sexually groped her in 1970.

The lawsuit is filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, a city in western Massachusetts. Cosby has a home in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28191585/bill-cosbys-lawyers-to-ask-judge-to-dismiss-defamation-suit#ixzz3TKqVHYyd


After two and a half years of negotiations, the Springfield City Council voted in favor of the contract for the International  Association of Firefighters local 648.

They'll receive retroactive wage increases of two percent for 2013 and 2014 and a two percent raise for 2015.

But there is one item that will be sent to arbitration regarding the exchange of tours between firefighters.

"We agreed on the financial side of it and there's one open issue that the city wanted to settle and that's the issue that we agreed to arbitrate. But basically it's a bare bones contract. We're glad the process is over, it's been a long process. Two and a half years our members have been waiting to ratify a contract," said Local 648 President Drew Piemont. 

That issue will go to arbitration on March 16.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28243895/after-2-and-a-half-years-springfield-city-council-passes-firefighter-contract#ixzz3TKq7rdRo

Greenfield police arrest man on gun chargesPosted: Mar 02, 2015 4:39 PM ESTUpdated: Mar 02, 2015 4:39 PM EST
By Brian Schnee

 [(Greenfield Police Department)] (Greenfield Police Department)

Greenfield police arrested a man on gun charges over the weekend.

According to a release from Greenfield police, four officers responded near Forbes Court around 1 a.m. for a disturbance involving a man with a gun.

Upon investigation, police arrested 25-year-old Juan Rodriguez of Turners Falls for carrying a firearm without a license and possession of ammunition without a permit.

Rodriguez was booked and had bail set at $2,500.

Read more: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/story/28241529/greenfield-police-arrest-man-on-gun-charges#ixzz3TKprqzwe

Related Coverage

Autopsy: Slain escaped inmate was shot 3 times in head

Search for New York prison escapee continues

Photos: Police kill escaped inmate Richard Matt

MALONE, N.Y. (AP) — The second of two convicted murderers who staged a brazen escape three weeks ago from a maximum-security prison in northern New York was shot and captured near the Canadian border on Sunday, two days after his fellow inmate was killed in a confrontation with law enforcement officers, a sheriff said.

Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said David Sweat was shot Sunday afternoon in Constable and was taken to a medical center in Malone, but he had no information on his condition. Fellow inmate Richard Matt was killed in a confrontation with law enforcement officers Friday afternoon.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said federal law enforcement said Sweat was shot twice. He said no officers were believed to be injured.

Matt and Sweat used power tools to saw through a steel cell wall and several steel steam pipes, bashed a hole through a 2-foot-thick brick wall, squirmed through pipes and emerged from a manhole outside the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6.

Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss. They were added to the U.S. Marshals Service’s 15 Most Wanted fugitives list two weeks after getting away.

The search for the escaped killers was initially concentrated around the prison and a rural community where search dogs had caught the scent of both men. The search had since been expanded to neighboring counties, and, while authorities said there was no evidence the men had gotten out of the general area, they conceded they could have been almost anywhere.

The manhunt broke open Friday afternoon when a person towing a camper heard a loud noise and thought a tire had blown. Finding there was no flat, the driver drove eight miles before looking again and finding a bullet hole in the trailer. A tactical team responding to the scene of the shot smelled gunpowder inside a cabin and saw evidence that someone had fled out the back door.

A noise — perhaps a cough — ultimately did Matt in. A border patrol team discovered Matt, who was shot after failing to heed a command to raise his hands. He was shot three times in the head, according to an autopsy.

A coroner who attended the autopsy said Matt was clean, well-fed and dressed for the elements at the time he was killed.

A pair of prison workers has been charged in connection with the inmates’ escape.

Prosecutors said Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailoring shop instructor who got close to the men while working with them, had agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out because she felt guilty for participating. Authorities also said Mitchell had discussed killing her husband, Lyle Mitchell, as part of the plot.

Joyce Mitchell pleaded not guilty June 15 to charges including felony promoting prison contraband, which authorities said included hacksaw blades and chisels.

Authorities said the men had filled their beds in their adjacent cells with clothes to make it appear they were sleeping when guards made overnight rounds. On a cut steam pipe, the prisoners left a taunting note containing a crude caricature of an Asian face and the words “Have a nice day.”

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said the inmates apparently used tools stored by prison contractors, taking care to return them to their toolboxes after each night’s work.

On June 24, authorities charged Clinton correction officer Gene Palmer with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. Officials said he gave the two prisoners the frozen hamburger meat Joyce Mitchell had used to hide the tools she smuggled to Sweat and Matt. Palmer’s attorney said he had no knowledge that the meat contained hacksaw blades, a bit and a screwdriver.

Dannemora, built in 1845, occupies just over 1 square mile within the northern reaches of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and is surrounded by forest and farmland. The stark white perimeter wall of the prison, topped with guard towers, borders a main street in the village’s business district.

The escape was the first in history from Clinton Correctional’s maximum-security portion. In July 2003, two convicted murderers used tools from a carpentry shop at Elmira Correctional Facility to dig a hole in the roof of their cell and a rope of bedsheets to go over the wall. They were captured within three days, and a subsequent state investigation cited lax inmate supervision, poor tool control and incomplete cell searches.

Follow 22News on-air and online for updates to this story.

This is an update with information from NBC News- the Associated Press’ original story is below.

ANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities searching for two escaped killers who have been on the loose for the better part of a week acknowledged being in the dark about their whereabouts or doings, even as the hunt for the men expanded past state borders into Vermont.

At a news conference outside the maximum-security prison on Wednesday, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said, “I have no information on where they are or what they’re doing, to be honest with you.”

But authorities expanded the search after investigators learned that the inmates had talked before last weekend’s breakout about going to neighboring Vermont.

“We have information that suggests they thought New York was going to be hot. Vermont would be cooler, in terms of law enforcement,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said at the news conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Shumlin and other officials would not say how authorities learned that information.

Meanwhile, Wednesday night another search began closer to the prison.

D’Amico said that a prison employee — identified in news reports as Joyce Mitchell, a training supervisor at the prison tailor shop — had befriended the killers and “may have had some role in assisting them.”

He would not elaborate.

Mitchell’s son, Tobey Mitchell, told NBC that she checked herself into a hospital with chest pains Saturday. He said she wouldn’t have helped the inmates escape.

Using power tools, inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt cut through a steel wall, broke through bricks and crawled through a steam pipe before emerging through a manhole in the street outside the 3,000-inmate Clinton Correctional Facility in far northern New York, about 20 miles from the Canadian border.

The breakout was discovered early Saturday, meaning the inmates may have had a head start of several hours, Cuomo said.

Authorities suspect the inmates had help from the inside in obtaining the power tools. Unions representing guards and civilian staff members at the prison said many have been questioned by investigators but no one has been disciplined or charged.

Vermont authorities are patrolling Lake Champlain and areas alongside it, Shumlin said. Cuomo urged the people of Vermont to be on the alert and report anything suspicious, warning: “Trust me, these men are nothing to be trifled with.”

A road east of Dannemora remained closed Thursday morning at state troopers manned road blocks, and the 1,500-student Saranac Central School District called off classes because of all the police activity in the area just four miles east of the prison.

As part of the search, state troopers and correction officers in helmets and body armor retraced their steps around the prison, checking garage doors, sheds, windows and other structures for signs of a break-in or other clues.

More than 450 federal and state law enforcement officers were taking part in the search, including customs agents, federal marshals and park rangers.

The killers’ mugshots have been put on more than 50 digital billboards in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, police said, and a $100,000 reward has been posted.

Law enforcement officials again asked the public to report anything out of the ordinary.

“We don’t want them out searching the woods,” Sheriff David Favro said. “But if you’re sitting on your porch, get your binoculars out and see if you see something unusual.”

In Dannemora, Barbara McCasland said officers asked to search her home but she told them no.

“I’m pretty battened down here,” she said. “My windows are locked and everything.”

As the manhunt dragged on, she said she was getting worried: “I wasn’t in the beginning, but seeing that they’ve been out there so long, I am a little nervous.”

Many in the prison town greeted the return of the searchers with a shrug. Many suspect Sweat and Matt are long gone and they are past any danger.

“I’m not worried about it,” Jackie Trombley said.

Referring to the searchers swarming the area, she said: “We’ve got these guys down the road. They’re everywhere, so it really doesn’t bother me.”

SOUTHWICK - Town offices may be closed today but the Transfer Station is open until 4:20 p.m. for trash disposal.

The station, located at 25 Industrial Rd., will also be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.. It will be closed Sunday as well as Jan. 1 and Jan. 4.

The station will also be open Dec. 29 and Jan. 2 from 8 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.. Hours for Dec. 30 are from 11:30 a.m. to 7:20 p.m.; Dec. 31 from 8 a.m. to noon and Jan.3 from 8 a.m. to 3:50 p.m..

Town offices are scheduled to be open regular hours on Jan. 2.

HOLYOKE -- After taking testimony Tuesday (March 31) for more than two and a half hours, city boards continued to April 14 a public hearing on a request from Gary Rome Hyundai for a zone change to build a dealership on Whiting Farms Road.

"I believe in Holyoke and I want to help grow Holyoke," Rome said.

The hearing had to be moved from City Council Chambers upstairs to the City Hall auditorium to handle the large crowd.

Rome wants to build a $10 million dealership that would produce 50 new full-time jobs and some part-time positions on a vacant site of nearly 19 acres.

The City Council Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board held the hearing.

Most who spoke in the hearing -- including Mayor Alex B. Morse -- praised Rome's plan for the jobs and property taxes it would bring.

Some said approval would help set a new tone for Holyoke as a city friendly to business projects instead of just being one with a high commercial tax rate.

Rome said before the event that he had about 100 supporters there, including dealership employees.

Three residents spoke against the plan and instead in favor of a multi-family use they said would be more compatible with their neighborhood.

The Ordinance Committee and Planning Board were considering a petition from Rome to change the zoning designation of the property to Business Highway, which would allow an auto dealership, from the current Business General, which prohibits such a business.

Rome's plan to buy the property from the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department for $2,050,000 is contingent on getting the zone change.

If he secures the zone change, Rome would need to seek a special permit from the City Council to run an auto dealership on the site, officials said.

Rome said his family has business roots in Holyoke dating to 1890. He would still operate the current dealership at 1000 Main St. here if the city approves the Whiting Farms Road plan, he said.

"I am not selling it to anyone. I will retain ownership," Rome said.

The proposed dealership and the existing one would mean Rome would have a yearly employee payroll of more than $7 million, he said.

"The new Gary Rome Hyundai will bring 50 -- yes, 50 -- new full-time employees," said Rome, along with some part-timers.

Lawyer Thomas N. "Toby" Wilson, representing Rome, said Rome is a local business, not a big-box outsider. That was a reference to how plans from Walmart and Lowe's Home Improvement in previous years for the site Rome wants to develop were fought by residents.

"This is a great night for Holyoke," Wilson said.

What this project is not, Wilson said, is spot zoning. He noted how concerns about spot zoning have kept councilors and other officials busy recently -- such as with a proposal from the Greater Holyoke YMCA that was shot down recently.

"This project is key to Holyoke's future....It's going to remove that cloud that Holyoke's not business friendly," Wilson said.

Perhaps anticipating the incompatibility argument, architect Timothy Murphy said Rome's project would fit because the area between Interstate 91 and Route 5 has developed in mixed-use fashion over the years.

Current property uses in the area include industrial park, general business, residential and Donahue School, he said.

"So you can see how the parcels developed over time in a totally mixed-use kind of way," Murphy said.

Rome wants the dealership built as "green," or environmentally friendly, as possible, with LED lighting, solar panels and water retention and recovery, he said.

Morse said Rome's project would add to the expansion of the tax base the city needs. Other projects include the planned redevelopment of the former Lynch School at Northampton and Dwight streets, the marketing of the former Holyoke Geriatric Authority at 45 Lower Westfield Road and the expansion of Marcotte Ford on Main Street, he said.

"I'm here to express my full support for the expansion of Gary Rome Hyundai," Morse said.

Gayle Keith of Farnum Drive stepped to the microphone. She is among those who oppose an auto dealership for the nearly 19-acre site and would rather see a residential use, she said.

Hearings on the residents' zone-change proposal and Rome's should have been separate, she said.

"This is really not a great way for us to do this...I don't know why we're doing this as one thing....I don't feel comfortable talking to this many people," Keith said.

"It's a big family neighborhood and what we don't need is a car dealership stuck smack dab in the middle...Why do we deserve this? Why do we deserve the highway, the mall...At what point do we have peace in our homes?" Keith said.

An auto dealership wasn't a priority in a survey the city did last year of residents to gauge what was desired for the nearly 19 acres, she said.

"Mr. Rome is a very nice guy, that's what everybody says. We're nice people, too...At what point do we get respect? I guess that's all I have to say," Keith said.

Planning Board Chairwoman Mimi Panitch said the plan Rome was displaying showed about half the property would be paved.

"How much of this paving is really necessary to the economic success of this project and is there any chance of scaling it back?" Panitch said.

Rome said that actually, a significant part of the nearly 19 acres would remain green, unpaved. Also, at least 20 to 30 feet of greenery would exist between Whiting Farms Road and the front of the proposed dealership, he said.

Panitch said a concern is that while residents now look upon the site as a meadow, the plan would change that to pavement.

Rome said he wanted to differ with a point Keith made that the building in the planned dealership would be a "sheet-metal behemoth." The structure would have brownish earth tones, he said.

"It should fit in with the neighborhood," Rome said.

Ordinance Committee member Gordon P. Alexander also asked Rome about the site having extensive paving when fully developed.

"It will be pretty well paved," Rome said.

Alexander asked if the greenery between Whiting Farms Road and the dealership would be a lawn or would include trees. The space would include shrubs but no trees, Rome said.

"By the way, thank you for developing in Holyoke," Alexander said.

"You're welcome," Rome said.

Alexander asked if Rome considered other sites in the city.

Wilson said this site was appropriate because it is vacant, which means no building demolition costs, and the site is attractive because of its proximity to Interstate 91.

Again, questions arose about the content of the hearing. Planning Board member John Kelley said the discussion should be about the proposal to change a property's zoning designation, not a site-plan review debate about a project's specifics.

When Keith spoke, Kelley said, he heard remarks that were more opposition to Rome's project instead of a support for the residents' zone-change petition for the site, to RM-20, a multifamily residential use.

Planning Board member Eileen Regan underscored what Kelley said.

"I think we need to be very careful about what we're here for," Regan said.

"So I take very seriously the recommendation of Mr. Kelley and Ms. Regan," said Lisi, inviting Keith to the microphone again to discuss the multifamily residential zone option.

The plan to get a use agreeable to the neighborhood for the nearly 19 acres gained speed with the eventually withdrawn Walmart plan in 2013, Keith said.

If residents don't want such a big-box or certain other uses, she said, what do they want? she asked, and they came up with a mixed-use residential desire to allow for flexibility.

Planning Board member Mark A. Joy asked Keith why such an intensive kind of residential use was chosen.

Keith said residents studied various uses. The so-called RM-20 allowed the flexibility signaled by those who completed last year's the survey, which noted desires for clean air, aesthetics and low traffic, she said.

"It definitely pointed to something that was more low key," Keith said.

Joy said such a use would allow for 300 residential units and that would produce a lot of traffic.

"I think an RM-20 would create a more intense use than anything else before us," Joy said.

"We're not claiming to be perfect," Keith said. "It would create a certain amount of traffic."

Eileen Bresnahan, of Bresnahan Insurance Agency Inc., 100 Whiting Farms Road, was among more than a dozen speakers who lined up to urge approval of the zone change for Rome's project.

Too often, she said, a business owner who wants to expand "has to come and beg," noting the difficulty businesses face here sometimes.

"We have plenty of housing. We have vacant buildings we can put more housing in...So let's grow Holyoke," Bresnahan said.

Tom Terry, of South Hadley, said he works on Bobala Road as an accountant. A deal is only as good as the people proposing it, he said, and Rome is among the best.

"I hope that you will unanimously support this project," Terry said.

Peter Rosskothen, owner of the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House and the Delaney House, said the Rome project is about helping Holyoke.

"I think Whiting Farms Road is an asset and I think we need to exploit" that to help Holyoke, he said.

Elizabeth Butler, a school teacher, said the city must realize the asset it has in Rome.

"We need to retain and grow businesses such as this one," Butler said.

James M. Lavelle, the manager of Holyoke Gas and Electric Department (HGE), said the department has owned the property for about 15 years. The property is among HGE assets after acquiring the hydroelectric dam.

No residential-project developers have pitched plans to buy the site. Rome's is the best option, he said.

"They're committed to doing a quality development at the site, bringing much-needed jobs and tax revenue ...," Lavelle said.

Michael J. Moriarty, former School Committee member, said new business in the city is what makes sense to help Holyoke. Whiting Farms Road already has all kinds of business, he said.

"I can't endorse strongly enough that you should all support this endeavor," Moriarty said.

David Lempke, who works at ISO New England off Whiting Farms Road at 1 Sullivan Road, said despite worries about traffic, that hasn't been a concern in his experience.

"I don't ever have to wait in traffic. I don't ever have to sit and wait to get out into the road," Lempke said.

Kathleen G. Anderson, president of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, urged the boards to approve the Rome zone change.

"Gary Rome has had a great track record. This project would be an appropriate fit for this parcel," Anderson said.

Maria Ferrer, owner of MD Beauty Salon and Supplies here, said the city was fortunate to have a business like Rome's and should support it.

"We need more revenue, we need more jobs for our people," Ferrer said.

Terri Laramee, of HolyokeFirst, which opposes the Gary Rome dealership plan, said her understanding was the hearing was to be about a zone change.

"I didn't realize that this was going to be a testimonial for Gary Rome," Laramee said.

Residents who live there want Holyoke to grow, too, but why should they have to live across from an auto dealership? she said.

She also noted a protest that has been raised by former city councilor Helen F. Norris, that the hearing was being held inappropriately because at least four abutters weren't notified by mail, as required by state law.

Assistant City Solicitor Kara Cunha said earlier that the hearing could proceed as long as the abutters who didn't get notices about the hearing get to participate in the hearing at some point. The hearing being continued was partly to ensure additional time to accommodate such residents, officials said.

Norris said she was concerned about how the hearing proceeded. Sticking a Business Highway use in the middle of the neighborhood isn't the best use, she said.

"Just because he's a great guy" doesn't merit Rome getting a zone change, Norris said.

The HGE has said the property hasn't yielded residential property buyers, but the property has yet to be marketed that way, she said.

Residents in that area have fought inharmonious uses for the Whiting Farms Road area, she said.

"They're all taxpayers," Norris said. "It's a long-lived neighborhood, it's not transient. And the values of their homes is going to change."

The city should help Rome seek a more suitable site, she said.

Keith took the microphone again. She wanted to address the point that residents have chased away businesses, she said.

The reason Lowe's Home Improvement withdrew its plan in 2009 was not because of residents, she said.

Lowe's at the time said it was backing away from the Holyoke plan on Whiting Farms Road because of economic reasons.

Residents have fought for good quality of life uses for properties in the Whiting Farms Road area, Keith said.

"It's always ended in tears," she said.

"People aren't happy about this, but it's an astoundingly bad use of that property, to put it Business Highway," she said.

Lisi proposed the hearing be continued to May 12, given the other hearings and numerous other business items on the Ordinance Committee's schedule.

Ordinance Committee member David K. Bartley asked why the hearing wouldn't be resuming until nearly a month and a half.

Lisi noted the multiple hearings and items on the schedule.

Bartley said officials probably have heard all the information needed on the Rome zone-change bid.

"We're already heard everything," Barltey said.

Bartley amended the motion to resume the hearing April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

That was approved 3-2 by the Ordinance Committee.

Voting in favor of having the hearing resume on April 14 were members Linda L. Vacon, Jennifer E. Chateauneuf and Bartley.

Voting against that were Lisi and Alexander.

AMHERST - Berkshire Gas announced Friday evening that it will not allow any new gas hook-ups or expansions of existing gas service in its Hampshire County territory until the controversial Kinder Morgan Tennese Gas pipeline is built.

Berkshire Gas, based in Pittsfield, serves the towns of Amherst Amherst, Hadley, Hatfield and Sunderland

The announcement was a formalacknowledgment of a policy that had been in place for weeks. Berkshire Gas already had a moratorium in place in its Franklin County territory - Greenfield, Deerfield, Montague and Whately and - since the end of 2014.

A separate gas utility, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, had a similar new-hookup ban in place in two cities it serves: Easthampton and Northampton.

The ban has already caused problems, making it hard for restaurants to open both on the busy Route 9 corridor in Hadley and in the congested part of downtown Amherst where it is hard to bring in propane tanks.

In Greenfield, the ban has raised questions about future development and forced the city to keep the utilities flowing to tax-seized properties lest the service be lost forever.

In a news release issued Friday, Berkshire Gas said that the moratorium  will last at least three years  if the pipeline is approved. If not, the ban would be permanent.

Berkshire gas says the spur pipeline, called the Northampton lateral, that now carries gas to it from a main line in Southwick, is at capacity. The same line serves Easthampton and Northampton where the ban is in place.Municipal utilities in Holyoke and Westfield also use the line, although Westfield Gas & Electric has another gas line and is not entirely reliant on the Northampton lateral.