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In this Sept. 4, 2014 photo provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto, the Civil Rights Project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), poses for a portrait in Boston. Bonauto was named Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, as one of 21 people to receive a "genius grant" from the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Winners of MacArthur ‘genius grants’ unveiled

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CHICAGO — A professor whose research is helping a California police department improve its strained relationship with the black community and a lawyer who advocates for victims of domestic abuse are among the 21 winners of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.” The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced on Wednesday the 2014 recipients, who will each …

Area briefs

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Amherst CULTURAL GRANTS: Artists, performers and educators interested in seeking grants from the town’s Cultural Council are invited to an informational meeting in the Goodwin Room of the Jones Library at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. There will be information about eligibility, funding priorities and special criteria. Priority will be given to Amherst projects. In January, the Cultural Council funded 75 projects in arts, sciences …

Easthampton High School Class of 1944 will hold 70th reunion Saturday

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

EASTHAMPTON — When members of the Easthampton High School Class of 1944 wanted to get their senior yearbook to all of their classmates, it meant having to track down Army Post Office addresses for some of them. “It was a carefree time in your life, but a tough time in the world,” recalls class member Theresa (Nowakowski) Peterson. She is among 18 members …

Area briefs

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Northampton TEACHING POLISH: Beginning this week, the Rev. Adam Czarnecki of St. Valentine Parish, 127 King St., is teaching Polish language classes at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the parish hall of the church. There is no charge. For further information, call the rectory office at 584-0133. Deerfield ART …

Coakley’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten draws GOP rebuke

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BOSTON — Democratic candidate for governor Martha Coakley says her plan to eliminate a waiting list of 17,000 children seeking state vouchers for pre-kindergarten programs would cost an estimated $150 million annually. Coakley, who hadn’t previously put a price tag on the plan, vowed to begin moving children …

Belchertown School Committee names Karol Coffin new superintendent

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BELCHERTOWN — After a brief deliberation, the School Committee voted unanimously Tuesday night to name Karol Coffin, currently principal of the Wamsutta Middle School in Attleboro, the new superintendent. After the vote, committee Chairman Richard Fritsch telephoned Coffin …

Hampshire Regional School District reviews applicants for interim assistant principal of middle school

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WESTHAMPTON — Hampshire Regional High School is seeking a new interim assistant principal to head the middle school. Superintendent Craig Jurgensen said that Jesse Porter-Henry left his job as interim assistant principal for middle level programming and academic affairs at the combination middle and high school. Porter-Henry, formerly …

South Hadley teachers reach agreement on three-year contract with 2 percent annual raises, benefit reduction

Friday, September 12, 2014

SOUTH HADLEY — A new three-year contract for teachers includes a 2 percent annual pay raise and added longevity pay. It also contains a reduction in benefits and increased work hours. Similar agreements were reached with four other bargaining units. Superintendent Nicholas Young said he is currently negotiating …

Amherst School Superintendent Maria Geryk gets $11,000 raise, increasing her salary to $158,000

Thursday, September 11, 2014

AMHERST — Amherst School Superintendent Maria Geryk has been given an $11,000 salary increase by the school boards that serve the Amherst-Pelham Regional School district, boosting her annual salary to $158,000. The raise was announced in a press …

Bob the horse, Smith Voke’s unofficial mascot, dies at 34

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Bob, a Belgian draft horse who became the “unofficial mascot” of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, received a mint every day for the last 15 years of his life. This was his reward for saving …

HILLTOWN VOICES: Renovated Anne T. Dunphy School impresses students, teachers and parents

Friday, September 5, 2014

Anne T. Dunphy School Principal Stacey Jenkins said it for many Tuesday morning as Williamsburg students and families streamed in for the first day of school in a long-awaited new building. “We are very excited today, I can’t …

UMass unions rally on campus, claim existing benefits at risk during contract negotiations

Friday, September 5, 2014

AMHERST — Contentious contract negotiations and claims that University of Massachusetts administrators want to take back union benefits prompted an hour-long campus rally led by employees Friday. Holding yellow signs and wearing yellow stickers reading “UMass Unions United to Protect Our Rights,” more than 200 members, joined by …

Principal Jill Pasquini-Torchia to move from Mosier to Plains School in South Hadley

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SOUTH HADLEY — Jill Pasquini-Torchia will be the new principal of the Plains Elementary School when it opens in a new building next year, succeeding Jill Flanders, who is retiring in June. Pasquini-Torchia will leave her current job as principal of the Mosier Elementary School to take on …