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KEVIN GUTTING 
The Greater Holyoke YMCA at 171 Pine St.

Claim of rapes roils swim community

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sitting in a coffee shop in Southampton, Monica Strzempko of Westfield recalled when her now 20-year-old daughter, Anna, was a happy, popular 13-year-old who was good at most everything — especially swimming. She had Olympic aspirations and was training hard with the Greater Holyoke YMCA Vikings club, an elite team that drew swimmers from across the region. But 2½ years …

Obama faults Sony decision to cancel ‘Interview’ release

Friday, December 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama criticized Sony Pictures Entertainment on Friday for retreating on a film that seemingly instigated a devastating cyberattack now blamed on the North Korean government. Amid escalating concerns over porous U.S. electronic security, the FBI said it had amassed evidence linking North Korea to the massive hack. Obama denounced the cross-border assault even as he said Sony “made a …

Two men arraigned on weapons, drug charges after Hatfield traffic stop

Friday, December 19, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Two men from New York and Vermont were held on $25,000 bail after they denied weapons, drug, and motor vehicle charges in Northampton District Court on Friday, a day after they were arrested during a traffic stop in Hatfield. Anthony Brundage, 37, of Staten Island, New York, pleaded not guilty to charges of two counts of possession of a firearm without …

Family, friends rally to help Chloe Rombach as she recovers after being struck in Northampton crosswalk

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — The family and friends of Chloe Rombach, the 22-year-old city woman critically injured when struck by a vehicle in a Bridge Street crosswalk last week, have started an online fundraiser to aid in the expenses associated …

Former Southampton Fire Chief Stephen Hyde Sr. fined $7,500 for violating conflict of interest law

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SOUTHAMPTON — The state Ethics Commission has fined former Southampton Fire Chief Stephen Hyde Sr. $7,500 for violating the state’s conflict of interest law in connection with falsified payroll records for his son, a firefighter, in 2011. In …

Lefen ‘Helen’ Chen pleads guilty in insurance fraud ring, may face deportation

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A woman from Taiwan may face deportation after she admitted in Hampshire Superior Court Wednesday that she led a scheme that defrauded insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over six years. Lefen “Helen” Chen, 56, of Flushing, New York, accepted a plea agreement …

Hadley Treasurer Constance Mieczkowski and Public Works Director Gary Girouard to retire

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HADLEY — The retirements of two town officials, Treasurer Constance Mieczkowski and Department of Public Works Director Gary Girouard, were announced this week. Girouard told the Select Board on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of March, three months before his five-year contract ends. “I’m retiring …

State approves tax deal for Mohawk Fine papers envelope plant in South Hadley

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SOUTH HADLEY — Mohawk Fine Papers moved a step closer to bringing up to 37 manufacturing jobs to South Hadley by winning unanimous approval Wednesday from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development Economic Assistance Coordinating Council for a tax incentive crafted by the town. The company announced last …

Easthampton City Council approves $5,000 increase in mayor’s pay to take effect in 2016

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

EASTHAMPTON — The City Council unanimously approved a $5,000 increase in the mayor’s salary Wednesday that will take effect in 2016. The mayor currently earns $70,000 annually, according to City Clerk Barbara LaBombard. The 7.14 percent increase to $75,000 will take effect in January 2016, after the first …

Area police news

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Amherst ■ A resident of an East Pleasant Street home reported at 4:39 p.m. Tuesday that the word “molly” was spray-painted on the side of the building. The resident told police the vandalism may be linked to a disturbance Dec. 5 in downtown Amherst. Easthampton ■ Shawn M. …

Serena Desantis admits role in Christmas Eve theft of donated items from Unitarian Society in Northampton

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A Holyoke woman admitted in court Wednesday that she took part in the theft last Christmas Eve of items donated to a Northampton church. Serena Desantis, 34, pleaded guilty to larceny over $250 in Hampshire Superior Court a day after her accomplice in the crime also …

Robert Caret resigns from UMass presidency to become chancellor of University System of Maryland

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AMHERST — University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret has resigned to return to the University System of Maryland, where he will become chancellor. The University System of Maryland late Wednesday afternoon announced Caret’s hiring, effective July 1. …

State grant expands precision-machinist training in Franklin and Hampshire counties

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

GREENFIELD — With a $276,705 state grant, Greenfield Community College and Franklin County Technical School will be able to continue to offer its precision-machinist training over the next two years as well expand offerings to include blueprint reading, metrology, grinding and lean manufacturing. A total of 56 adults …