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YOSHITAKA HAMADA
The climber is seen at the Bridge Street School's playground in Northampton Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.  The equipment is one of new additions to the playground.

Improvements made to Bridge Street School playground in Northampton

Saturday, October 25, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Bridge Street School’s colorful playground has long been an eye-catcher. The community recently celebrated special new features to the beloved play structure. Over the summer, the hard-packed dirt outside the school was transformed into a bouncy rubber surface, where children can play without worrying about kicking up dirt or getting muddy. There is also now an asphalt area for basketball and wall ball, tables for arts and crafts, and a playhouse. “There’s lots of places for them to explore and just be kids,” Bridge Street School Principal Beth Choquette said recently while looking out at the new play area from her office window. …

Easthampton Matters to host informational forum on ballot questions

Saturday, October 25, 2014

EASTHAMPTON — A community group is hosting an informational forum Wednesday for voters who want to learn more about the four state ballot questions in the Nov. 4 election. The free forum takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 50 Payson Ave. It will also be broadcast live on local cable channel 5 by Easthampton Community Access …

Power back on in Northampton after 90-minute Friday afternoon failure linked to squirrel in substation

Saturday, October 25, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Power was restored to more than 5,000 customers, many in downtown Northampton, about 90 minutes after a power failure knocked traffic lights out of service and forced diners and shoppers from darkened restaurants and stores. Much of downtown turned into a parking lot as drivers inched along major routes. The power …

Amherst bylaw dating back to 1966 jeopardizes farm intern program

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AMHERST — Driving stakes into the ground and stringing up tomato plants on them was hard work for Samantha “Sam” Bavelock. Despite the many hours of planting, weeding and harvesting she put in as an intern with the …

Bankers say data breach over that affected Easthampton, Southampton businesses, including Big E’s

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

EASTHAMPTON — Local bankers said this week that data breaches at some retailers in Easthampton and Southampton, including Big E’s Supermarket, appear to be over, thanks partly to businesses’ efforts to upgrade security. Easthampton Savings Bank President and …

Moderator breaks tie vote at Whately special Town Meeting over spending $10,000 to revive Town Hall project

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WHATELY — Voters this week deadlocked over spending $10,000 to explore options for improving the Town Hall building. Town Moderator Paul Fleuriel broke the 23-23 tie vote at a special Town Meeting on Tuesday by ruling in favor of the article to approve spending the $10,000 to hold …

Alleged leader of auto insurance fraud ring based in New York indicted on 29 more charges

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The alleged leader of an auto insurance fraud ring has been indicted on 29 new charges. Lefen “Helen” Chen, 55, of Flushing, N.Y., is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on those charges of insurance fraud, perjury and conspiracy. Chen is accused of being the ringleader of a New …

Proposed zoning amendment requiring affordable housing prompts disagreement in Amherst

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AMHERST — With a mixed-use redevelopment project proposed to replace the Amherst Carriage Shops, proponents of increasing affordable housing in town are seeking to leverage developers’ requests for special permits by mandating that a portion of the units be set aside for low- and moderate-income families. A zoning …

Stephanie Solivan denies charges resulting from alleged beating of woman at Meadowbrook Apartments; warrant issued for Veronica Lisenby

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Police arrested one city woman and are seeking another who they believe were responsible for dragging a third woman from her home at Meadowbrook Apartments in Florence on Sunday and beating her with a chain. Stephanie A. Solivan, 26, of 241 Jackson St., Apt. 4B, pleaded …

State Department of Housing and Community Development official due Thursday at Rolling Green in Amherst

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AMHERST — Just two days after Gov. Deval Patrick came to Amherst to announce a $1.5 million MassWorks infrastructure grant, a second state official will be in town Thursday afternoon for an event at Rolling Green Apartments. Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development, …

Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies sponsors harvest banquet fundraiser

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AMHERST — Without stepping away from western Massachusetts, residents will have an opportunity to spend a few hours reveling in Renaissance-era Italy by sampling its food, music and customs. The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies holds its annual harvest banquet fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. …

Appeal must be decided before third murder trial for Cara Lee Rintala scheduled

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A possible third murder trial for Cara Lee Rintala must wait until the Supreme Judicial Court rules on an appeal filed by her lawyers who continue to seek dismissal of the case. Rintala is accused of …

South Hadley fire that killed 11 dogs apparently resulted from electrical failure in kitchen

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SOUTH HADLEY — A fire that killed 11 rescue dogs and displaced a woman at 5 Grandview St. on Friday is believed to have been accidental, likely the result of an electrical failure, according to the state fire marshal’s office. The fire started in the kitchen where the …