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First look at how little Amherst’s police alternative being used called troubling
04-17-2024 3:55 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — The tiny number of emergency dispatch calls directed to the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service since mid-December, when the department began taking 911 calls, is prompting worries by members of the Community Safety and...

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Petition to block auto dealership on King Street falters in Northampton
04-17-2024 3:35 PM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

NORTHAMPTON — A joint meeting between the Northampton City Council’s Committee on Legislative Matters and the city’s Planning Board heard public comments on a petition to ban further automobile dealerships near the city’s downtown, an issue that...


Developer pitches new commercial building on Route 9 in Hadley
04-17-2024 12:44 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — An Amherst developer is proposing to construct a new commercial building on Route 9 that will become the headquarters for a Holyoke metal roofing and gutter company.At Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting, Thomas Reidy, an attorney at Bacon...


Holyoke schools on path out of state receivership
03-26-2024 4:24 PM

By Sam Drysdale

HOLYOKE — Almost a decade after the state took control of Holyoke Public Schools through the controversial and rarely used receivership model, the district is now on the path back to local control.The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education...


Black business association contests Amherst’s final $3.8M in ARPA spending
03-21-2024 5:40 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — Black-owned business owners and supporters made a final appeal to the Town Council this week for $1.5 million of the $3.8 million in remaining American Rescue Plan Act money, though it appears that money is being directed to other...


Voters to decide cannabis bylaw in Chesterfield
03-21-2024 11:07 AM

CHESTERFIELD — The town will hold a special Town Meeting Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. at the Community Center to allow votes on paying an unpaid bill from last year and amendments to the cannabis bylaw.Article 1 seeks voter approval for the transfer...


Eversource ‘jumped the gun’ on utility pole project in Easthampton
03-21-2024 10:49 AM

By JAMES PENTLAND

EASTHAMPTON — City councilors preparing to meet with Eversource representatives last month to discuss a permit for new and replacement utility poles on Loudville Road were shocked to find the job was already completed.In addition, several shade trees...


State eyes simplification of college aid process
03-20-2024 4:06 PM

By Allison Kuznitz

BOSTON — With an array of more than 50 state financial aid programs available to college students, public higher education officials are embarking on an effort to simplify those offerings by 2026.The Department of Higher Education plans to evaluate...


Senate tries again on early ed bill aimed at helping more Massachusetts families
03-17-2024 1:01 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — More Massachusetts families would become eligible for subsidized child care and “transformational” grants that kept the early education system afloat during the pandemic would be made permanent, under a bill the Senate unanimously passed late...


Sunshine week meets shade on Beacon Hill
03-15-2024 10:38 AM

By COLIN A. YOUNG

BOSTON — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in 1913 that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” and Bay Staters on both ends of the political spectrum agreed this week that Beacon Hill could stand to open the curtains quite a...


Phelps House fixes, Town Hall repair plan in line for $190K in Hadley CPA funds
03-11-2024 1:42 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — Community Preservation Act money for an initial phase of fixing up an early 19th-century farmhouse at the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum and hiring an architect to evaluate and prepare the 1840 Town Hall for renovations is being recommended...


New director seen as ‘major step’ at Cannabis Commission
03-11-2024 8:47 AM

By COLIN A. YOUNG

BOSTON — Aiming to have its new executive director on board by this summer, the Cannabis Control Commission spent hours Thursday crafting the contours of the job and detailing what qualities a successful applicant will demonstrate.The CCC has not had...


Northampton’s historic Memorial Hall to get urgent repair
03-10-2024 11:47 AM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

NORTHAMPTON — Mold grows out of several locations. Its structural support slowly deteriorates. And a large chunk of plaster has fallen from the ceiling, not far from an office desk where a worker sits.These are just some of the issues currently...


Six towns in Hampshire, Franklin counties seek regional conservation agent
03-09-2024 3:03 PM

By BELLA LEVAVI

ASHFIELD — Six towns are pooling resources to hire a paid conservation agent to serve their communities as the number of permit filings exceeds the capacity of the all-volunteer conservation commissions.Williamsburg, Whately, Goshen, Ashfield,...


State legislators leery of ballot question ending MCAS graduation requirement
03-05-2024 3:36 PM

By CHRIS LISINSKI

BOSTON — Over more than three hours of discussion about a proposal to stop using MCAS exam scores as a high school graduation requirement, lawmakers kept returning to one specific question: If the ballot measure were passed, how would Massachusetts...


Hadley negotiating new 10-year cable contract
03-04-2024 11:02 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — Hadley Media could see a small boost in revenue from a new 10-year contract with cable and internet provider Charter Spectrum, though there is uncertainty about the reliability of this funding source as people continue to choose streaming...


Decision time nearing on state’s to-go cocktails policy
02-28-2024 12:45 PM

By CHRIS LISINSKI

BOSTON — The industry group representing package stores signaled this week that it’s ready to “beg” lawmakers to end the authorization for takeaway drinks, a pandemic-era policy allowing many bars and restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails to...


Amherst town officials leery of playground surfaces
02-19-2024 9:31 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — With the Conservation Commission and Board of Health registering objections to the proposed poured-in-place rubber surface of a playground at the town’s new elementary school, the design team is asking the Elementary School Building...


Desperate for cease-fire in Gaza: Activists press cause at Northampton council meeting, ‘die-in’
02-16-2024 5:17 PM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

NORTHAMPTON — Activists in Northampton calling for a cease-fire in Gaza have stepped up their efforts in recent days, hoping to pressure the city to quickly pass a resolution in support of their goals and to condemn recent actions by the Israeli...


Local officials tout governor’s municipal tax plan as ‘very exciting’
02-13-2024 4:16 PM

By CHRIS LISINSKI

BOSTON — Gov. Maura Healey’s proposal to give cities and towns new tax-hike authority would provide “game-changers” at the local level, especially for less populated areas, one mayor said Tuesday.A bill Healey filed last month would offer...


January tax slump in Massachusetts creates new budget pressure
02-06-2024 10:57 AM

By COLIN A. YOUNG

BOSTON – Make it seven months.Having already made mid-year budget cuts and dimmed the outlook for tax collections through June based on six consecutive months of underwhelming receipts, the state reported Monday that tax revenue came in below even...

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