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Northfire Recording Studio owner Jason Metcalf (left) and programmer Josh Braska (right) size up the sound paneling as musician Seth Newton readies to record a test track at the new David S. Dow Community Recording Studio.

Valley Free Radio’s free-to-use recording studio now open for business

Saturday, February 13, 2016

NORTHAMPTON — Valley creatives have differing reasons to utilize the new free-to-use David S. Dow Community Recording Studio, which laid down its inaugural tracks Saturday. For his part, 9-year-old Darren Chraplak plans to use it to edit his own comedy and music clips. Darren, of West Springfield, sat watching intently as Valley Free Radio programmer and project mastermind Joshua Braska …

Rev. Andrea Ayvazian: The black history pigeonhole

Friday, February 12, 2016

I have always had a somewhat ambivalent relationship with Black History Month. While I believe deeply in the need to honor and celebrate the black experience in America, I have had questions about why this is supposed to occur during the shortest month of the year. The black experience in the United States — including enslavement, resistance, struggle, courage, discrimination, perseverance, art, music, …

Editorial: ‘Pause’ in final mile broadband funding by state should be brief

Friday, February 12, 2016

The “final mile” push for broadband Internet in 32 unserved communities in western Massachusetts was never going to be quick and easy. The geographical and population issues that discouraged private cable companies from offering service present the same challenges to others who try, be they private, public or something in between. Those challenges may pale in comparison to what the effort faces on …

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Jeannette Muzima: Protect our public schools from financial suffocation

Friday, February 5, 2016

To the editor: Right on to the recent letter reminding us why charter schools are not in the best interests of the Commonwealth — to say the least. Let’s be very clear. While there may certainly be some benefits to some children who attend charter schools, the motivation …

Phil Nash: Republican field should produce our next president

Friday, February 5, 2016

To the editor: It’s time to reflect on our presidential choices. Our overstocked field of Republicans continues to chip away its weakest candidates while Donald Trump consumes all the oxygen. Republicans have a stocked a field that includes a couple young firebrand senators certain to leave their mark. …

Bill Newman: Whose free speech is on display in Black Lives Matter banner on City Hall?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Shortly after the Black Lives Matter banner was raised at Northampton City Hall on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the president of a city police union, denying any connection, requested that Mayor David Narkewicz fly a …

Editorial: Valley’s spirit of neighborliness transcends global boundaries

Friday, February 5, 2016

If presidential candidates want a glimpse of the human face of immigration in the United States, they should spend some time in the Pioneer Valley. While western Massachusetts is not a hotbed of immigration issues, increasing numbers of people come here from foreign lands to give their children …

Editorial: UMass will train new cadre to ward off cyberattacks

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Call them cyber cousins of James Bond, though this new crop of secret agents will likely never face the kinds of dangers of going undercover in the field. But increasingly, their jobs are proving just as vital — and will be for years to come. That’s why a …

Lissa Pierce Bonifaz: Standardized tests got you down? Consider opting out

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Amherst Regional school system was recently notified that its students would take two high-stakes, standardized tests this spring. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) for third to sixth grade will be augmented with items from another standardized …

Richard Fein: Presidential candidates do not warrant second interviews

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To the editor: Before retiring, I was director of the undergraduate career office at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts for almost 30 years. Over those years I looked over hundreds of job descriptions. The good news is that almost all of the 10,000 …

Sigrid Schmalzer: Bridge Street School report card does not paint a complete picture

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To the editor: Recently, parents of children in Northampton’s public schools received “report cards” providing grades for their school’s performance. My child’s school, Bridge Street Elementary School, received the low grade of “Level Three.” This was disheartening, but not because I have any doubt about the quality of …

Susan B. Allan: When it comes to snakes, ‘city’ people don’t know ‘country’ life

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To the editor: I am writing in regards to the proposal by the state Division of Fisheries & Wildlife to make a “sanctuary” for venomous timber rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir. I personally think if the state has so much money to spare to save …

Thomas F. Plaut, M.D.: The dollars make sense behind Medicare for All

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

To the editor: Your family spends $10,000 for food each year. But you could get all that food free if you agree to pay a $5,000 tax hike. You could save $5,000. Would you do it? It’s the same as Medicare for All. Thomas F. Plaut, M.D. Amherst …