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    Work on the $6.2 million project at the former YMCA building was suspended this week by the city.

    SPRINGFIELD - Mayor Domenic Sarno on Wednesday night voiced displeasure at the developers of the SilverBrick Square project after city inspectors found unlicensed plumbers were installing substandard pipes in the 99-unit downtown apartment building by 

    "I am disappointed in SilverBrick Square developers' disingenuous efforts to 'cut corners' by not following required building code standards," Sarno said. 

    "We helped them out and I expect and demand that they abide by the rules and regulations," he said. "I suggest they change course ASAP and bring in local reputable building professionals.

    Work on the $6.2 million project at the former YMCA building at 122 Chestnut St. was shut down by the city after discovering problems with the new plumbing.

    Inspectors found workers using substandard materials on bathroom and kitchen plumbing and sanding the colors off pipe to hide that fact, said Steve Desilets, Springfield building commissioner. The colors on pipes show what grade they are.

    Inspectors visiting the job site Tuesday also found other problems, such as pipes running through concrete walls without protective sleeves and improper venting of plumbing work.

    On Wednesday, the city issued citations to both SilverBrick Group, of New York City, which bought the property in January for $4.8 million, and to plumber Mikhail K. Shtefan, of West Springfield, Disilets said. Fines could go as high as $1,000 per violation of the code.

    The city also sent notice to the state, which might now conduct hearings to revoke Shtefan's license.

    In May, the City Council approved up to $150,000 over 10 years in tax incentives for the project. The incentives are tax savings on the value SilverBrick plans to add to the property, not the assessed value when it bought the building.

    Aaron Papowitz, founder and managing principal of the SilverBrick Group, in an email response sent late Wednesday afternoon to inquires from The Republican, said, "We are gathering info," but provided no further details.


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    The 11 residents will need to find temporary housing until repairs are made, he said.

    SPRINGFIELD - A fire in the second floor of a home at 22 Ashmont St. Wednesday night displaced 11 residents, a fire official said.

    Dennis Leger, aide to Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi, said the fire was reported just before 7:30 p.m. 

    The first firefighters on scene found a fire in the front room on the second floor. It was knocked down quickly, but the building sustained around $10,000 in fire, smoke and water damage, he said.

    The 11 residents will need to find temporary housing until repairs are made, he said.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation by the city Arson and Bomb Squad, he said.

    Asmont Street is a residential neighborhood in Forest Park, running between  Belmont Avenue and White Streets. 

    According to city records the home is owned by Robin Lang of Springfield. It has an assessed value of $147,900.


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    Unnameable Books Amherst plans to open at 48 North Pleasant St. this weekend with a celebration featuring a lot of art: Dozens of writers and performers will share their work Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    AMHERST - Unnameable Books Amherst plans to open at 48 North Pleasant St. this weekend with a celebration featuring a lot of art: Dozens of writers and performers will share their work Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    The business buys and sells used books.

    Unnameable Books describes its offerings as "a first-rate selection of secondhand books, and (soon) a smattering of small press, local & excellent first-hand books, too."

    Adam Tobin, 43, the bookstore's owner, opened the first Unnameable Books in Brooklyn, New York, in 2006.

    "I am really excited to be in Amherst," Tobin said Wednesday.

    "There used to be a lot more bookstores" in town, he said. "There's one; now there will be two."

    The Brooklyn store used to be called Adam's Books. Tobin said he changed the name of his New York store because a textbook distributor, Adams Books Co., threatened legal action.

    In a 2010 interview with Patch.com, Tobin said, "I didn't really want to give it a name more complicated than Adam's Books because I didn't want to brand it with any particular thing. I want there to be some indeterminacy to what the store is or is going to be, so it was kind of a refusal to name it."

    In response to a question about whether a local bookstore can stay in business with all the resources on the internet, Tobin gave reasons, in that interview, as follows:

    "The possibility of browsing is a big one. The possibility of seeing things you don't intend to see, that you're not looking for. That's the reason that I go to bookstores, especially used bookstores."

    Among the 39 artists Tobin invited to perform this weekend is Hampshire College alumna Maria Damon. A poet, literary scholar and visual artist, Damon is now a humanities professor at the Pratt Institute in New York City.

    Also this weekend, on Friday and Saturday night, Amherst College is hosting Pioneer Valley Poetry Productions' second annual Festival of Major American Poets.

    The event, co-sponsored by Amherst College English department, is free and open to the public.

    Reading Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. are Monica de la Torre, Brian Henry, Sawako Nakayasu, Uche Nduka and Eleni Sikelianos.

    Saturday readings begin at 6 p.m. with John High, Ruth Lepson, Michael Leong, Elinor Nauen, Patrick Donnelly and Fanny Howe.


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    The Chicopee police chief's motorcycle accident occurred about 10:35 p.m. July 19, 2018, at the Interstate 391 exit ramp off Grattan Street.

    CHICOPEE -- The Massachusetts State Police continues to investigate the July 19 motorcycle accident of Chicopee Police Chief William R. Jebb and a report could be released this month, an official said Wednesday.

    "The investigation is not completed but it is expected to be completed very shortly, probably in the next few weeks or so," state police counsel Dan Brunelli said.

    The accident occurred three months ago, but it's not unusual for such investigations to take this amount of time, given the examinations of tire tracks, measurements, estimates of speed and other steps required, he said.

    Jebb's accident occurred about 10:35 p.m. at the Interstate 391 exit ramp off Grattan Street.

    The Republican is seeking state and Chicopee police reports about Jebb's accident under Massachusetts Public Records Law (MGL Chapter 66, Section 10).

    Jebb was released from Baystate Medical Center in Springfield July 29 after the crash, officials said. He returned to work Aug. 13.

    After the crash, officers and Chicopee Fire Department EMTs stabilized Jebb and he was brought to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield by ambulance, officials said.

    He was alert and conscious at the scene. No other vehicles were involved in the crash and no one else was injured, officials said.

    Jebb was shown smiling and wearing a sling on his left arm in a photo posted in August on the Chicopee Police Department Facebook page.


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    Some cities and towns have extracted additional money from marijuana companies and pledges of their employees donating time to community and municipal programs. Watch video

    WARE -- The goodness or gouging in the host community agreements of marijuana companies paying fees to cities and towns has been a statewide topic, including here at Town Hall Tuesday.

    The Board of Selectmen approved a host community agreement with proposed recreational marijuana business B'leaf Wellness Centre LLC. The retail dispensary would pay the town quarterly over five years 3 percent of gross sales of marijuana and marijuana products.

    That's on top of a 3 percent annual excise tax established on such companies by town meeting, Town Manager Stuart Beckley told the five-member board.

    Other cities and towns have extracted additional money from marijuana companies in the form of grants to community groups and pledges of employee time helping at events or with municipal services.

    "The town attorney wouldn't shy away if you asked for additional impacts...other towns have asked for $10,000 for this, $3,000 for that," Beckley said.

    But his view is that whatever programs the town chooses to fund with the money from marijuana companies can come from the 3 percent of gross sales that state law has stipulated for host community agreements instead of seeking more, he said.

    "How much of these extra fees do liquor stores pay?" Selectman Alan G. Whitney said.

    None, Beckley said.

    Selectman Tracy R. Opalinski said other communities use additional money from host community agreements with marijuana companies to fund programs that could help here such as health education.

    "But do we ask liquor stores to contribute to Alcoholics Anonymous?" Whitney said.

    "I'm not sure you should be comparing these to liquor stores," Opalinski said.

    "Why?" Whitney said.

    "Because this is cannabis," Opalinski said.

    People can be affected with ingestion of alcohol and marijuana, Whitney said.

    Seeking extra money in a host community agreement could fund programs to help Ware's substance abuse problem, Opalinski said.

    "I agree. I just think the 3 percent" suffices," Beckley said.

    Later in the discussion, Selectman Keith J. Kruckas said, "To me, alcohol is just as dangerous and we're not taxing them."

    Lori and Megan Sinclair, both Ware natives and residents, want to open a retail marijuana business at 60 Main St. under the name B'leaf Wellness Centre. It would be less than 1,000 square feet and have five to eight employees, they said.

    The majority of voters in this Hampshire County town followed the statewide lead in approving a ballot question in 2012 to legalize marijuana for medicinal use and another in 2016 to legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

    Beckley said his sense is that the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and the Legislature eventually will take action as cities and towns hit up marijuana companies for fees that go beyond the law's 3 percent of annual gross sales.

    But in August the commission declined to revisit the host community agreement issue. Some members of the five-member commission said that enforcing additional regulations was outside the commission's authority and that reviewing every host community agreement in the state would take too much time.

    Cannabis Control Commission declines to review agreements between municipalities and marijuana businesses

    Commissioner Shaleen Title disagreed. The time was now to set a standard on such agreements and ensure cities and towns and marijuana companies follow the law, she said.

    It is important to make the marijuana industry in Massachusetts inclusive by blocking a big company from trying to exercise undue influence by offering a seven-figure payment to a city or town on top of the 3 percent of gross sales cap, she said.

    In Holyoke, a program has been established in addition to the 3 percent of annual gross sales allowed by the state in host community agreements. The intention of the "Verde (Green) Fund" in Holyoke is to solicit voluntary contributions from marijuana companies of money that would go directly to neighborhood associations without government involvement, City Councilor Nelson R. Roman has said.

    Marijuana money sparks dispute between Holyoke councilors

    The Holyoke City Council also attaches conditions on the special permits it issues to marijuana companies that call for giving Holyokers hiring preference for jobs.

    In Montague, the host community agreement also exceeds the 3 percent gross sales contribution for proposed recreational marijuana business 253 Organic LLC. The agreement there includes a goal of making $15,000 in donations to community groups and donations of employee time to events such as those dealing with substance abuse, senior citizens and military veterans.

    The Ware Board of Selectmen approved the host community agreement with B'leaf Wellness Centre 4-1.

    "Anybody who's been to these meetings knows I'm not in favor of marijuana," said Chairman John E. Carroll, who voted no.

    Voting yes were board members Michael Fountain, Whitney, Opalinski and Kruckas.

    The B'leaf Wellness Centre needs final approval from the town and a license from the Cannabis Control Commission before it could open.


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    Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church will preach Oct. 21 in Pittsfield and Worcester as part of an Episcopal revival.

    "I am not trying to play humble," says Presiding Bishop Michael Curry when asked about the global headlines that followed his May 19 sermon on the power of love at the televised wedding of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at England's Windsor Castle.

    "But I didn't have much expectation beforehand and we were not allowed to use our cellphones there and afterward I accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury to a youth rally so it wasn't until much later when I was at Heathrow Airport that I looked at my phone and wondered why I had so many messages."

    The charismatic preacher who is the first African American to be elected Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church will take part in a one-day revival this weekend in the commonwealth sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the Episcopal Church.

    Curry will preach Sunday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church in the Berkshire County city of Pittsfield, and at 5 p.m. at the Hanover Theatre of Performing Arts in Worcester.

    Its theme, "Rekindling Hope, Sharing Light, Loving Jesus," the result of a year's planning around what would meet the needs of the members of the diocese's more that 50 parishes, fits Curry's abiding belief in the transforming power of sacrificial love that he sees as embedded in his Christian faith.

    "The theme is right on time. It fits the love Jesus of Nazareth was talking about," Curry said.

    "Hope casts out despair, light brings love and love is the way."

    He adds, "I hope I can be an evangelist of some really good news."

    "The message that is central to me is the message that Jesus taught that love is the way to create human community and I am not talking about sentimental love."

    Curry packed much about love into his 13-minute royal wedding sermon which he said was based on the biblical reading from the "Song of Solomon" chosen by the royal couple. 

    "It is a book in the Bible that is overlooked and early in the book a couple expresses love for each other and later the woman begins to sense their human experience of love has an origin greater than either one them or both together," Curry said. 

    "So, my sermon followed the pattern of the text itself."

    The sermon did weave in quotes from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 20th century French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

    Curry acknowledged that Teilhard, who studied paleontology as well as geology, can be a "pretty dense read," but said he could not resist paraphrasing Teilhard's quote, "Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire." 

    "I read philosophers like Ayn Rand in college who taught selfishness is the way, and that is hogwash," Curry said.

    "You will not have human civilization long where the guiding principles are might makes right."

    "Christ," he added, referenced love "16 times during the Last Supper."

    "He talks about wrestling with the sacrifice he was going to make to show the way to others," Curry said.

    "The love he was talking about is not self-centered but directed to others."

    Curry, who has a ready sense of humor, noted that "it is nice to be doing a revival in New England" where Connecticut-born Jonathan Edwards helped spur the 18th century religious revival known as the "Great Awakening."

    He said he hoped Sunday's revival would help do the same.

    "We will have the equivalent of a football game without the intermission," said Curry, confident in his ability in the short time period to help attendees "hear the message of good news about the way of love and think about whether this is something I want to do with my life right now." 

    Curry admits that "we have work to do" in "catalyzing the better angels of our nature to make a collective decision that we are going to take loving our neighbor as we love ourselves seriously."

    "We have work to do but we can do it," Curry said.

    "In our best moments we have done it."

    Curry said he hoped his message of the redemptive power of love in his royal wedding sermon will continue to resonant over time as a message of "real hope."

    "I am very aware that the messenger only delivers the message," Curry said.

    Shortly after his royal engagement, Curry led a prayer vigil outside the White House for policies more directed at the United States being part of the international community and two months later was among those who prayed outside a Texas detention center for women run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

    "We are children of one God who has created us all," Curry said.

    "And we should be living that way and as instruments of God's love in the world."

    Curry, who visited Springfield last October for the 200th anniversary of Christ Church Cathedral, said he enjoyed seeing the "good work" the diocese does in its outreach.

    He added he told diocesan Bishop Douglas Fisher, who did a getting-to-know you 170-mile pilgrimage around the diocese, that next time he would follow along by car.

    Curry said he was "doing well" after undergoing recent surgery for prostate cancer that he said was detected early during a routine examine. It is a cancer not always detected early in African-Americans and he said he now encourages men to get regular check-ups.

    The Worcester gathering will include a procession from Fuller Park at 4:30 p.m. as well as a program featuring faith sharing and the combined choirs of churches throughout the diocese.

    The Rev. Victoria Ix, diocesan communications director, said tickets for the revival were free and all are taken for the 2,300-seat Hanover Theatre, and for the Pittsfield venue at First United that seats 1,100 people.

    However, people can still registered for overflow seating with video screen at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield.

    "We started planning the revival last October. There is a great deal of excitement and pride among Episcopalians to share their faith through prayer, the gospel and great music," Ix said.

    People have also been encouraged to bring a friend so there may be people who have never set foot in a church and that is the evangelism piece of a revival."

    Ix added, "Both events will be live streamed so the revival "will go far and wide."

     

     


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    Beth Herbert responded to the reports that the guitarist's body was found in a pond at their Stafford Springs, Conn., home.

    The widow of Oli Herbert, guitarist for the Springfield metal band All That Remains, asked for privacy amid reports the 44-year-old rocker's body was found in a pond at their Stafford Springs, Conn., home.

    "Hello everyone this is Beth, Oli's widow. Thank you all for the kind thoughts and words. I don't want to go into what happened until we have a complete picture, but as soon as we do there will be a statement from the family on this page. In the meantime, please respect our privacy as there are still relatives being informed of Oli's passing. Thank you," according to her statement on Facebook.

    The couple wed in 2004.

    TMZ cited law enforcement sources as saying the 44-year-old Herbert's body was found in a pond on his property after he was reported missing. Foul play was not suspected.

    The late guitarist's publicist confirmed that "Herbert passed away (Tuesday) unexpectedly as a result of an accident which occurred on the property of his home."

    All That Remains reveald Herbert's death on its Facebook page on Wednesday morning.

    "We were devastated to learn that Oli Herbert, our friend, guitar player, and founding member of All That Remains, has passed away," the band said in a statement.  "Oli was an incredibly talented guitarist and song writer who defined Rock and Metal from the Northeast. His impact on the genres and our lives will continue indefinitely. No further details are available at this time. The band and family request that you please respect their privacy and remember Oli by celebrating the great music he made."

    Herbert began playing guitar at 14. His first paid gig was a Battle of the Bands on his final day of his senior year at Longmeadow High School. His band won third place, earning $25.

    He made a name for himself in Western Massachusetts clubs with Netherworld, a thrash metal band he formed in 1991.

    Herbert co-founded All That Remains with frontman Phil Labonte in 1998.

    The band played Springfield clubs, like Fat Cat and Mars Nightclub, before being signed to Prosthetic Records, a division of Metal Blade, back in 2002.

    All That Remains has released five studio albums, a live CD/DVD, and have sold more than 1 million records worldwide.  The band is scheduled to release a new album, Victim of the New Disease on Nov. 9.


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    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak has been confirmed in 29 states, including Massachusetts, but not deaths have been reported

    At least 92 people -- including nine in Massachusetts -- were infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella linked to raw chicken.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak has been confirmed in 29 states, but not deaths have been reported. The source of the outbreak is believed to be various types of raw chicken products from a variety of sources.

    A single, common supplier of raw chicken products or live chickens has not been identified, according to the CDC.

    The agency urged consumers to handle raw chicken carefully to avoid infection. Hands should be washed before and after preparing or eating food.

    Chicken breasts, whole chickens and ground poultry, including chicken burgers and chicken sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165degF to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165degF.

    Hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils should be washed with warm, soapy water after they touch raw chicken.

    Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four days to a week, and most people recover without treatment.

     

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    The new charges date to Dec. 22, when jail officials allegedly found Mimitz with a packet of cocaine, a glass pipe and a lighter minutes after a visit from her boyfriend, court records show.

    CHICOPEE - A Connecticut woman awaiting sentencing Friday for terrorizing an elderly victim during a home invasion is facing an unrelated drug charge after she was allegedly caught with crack cocaine in jail.

    Melissa Mimitz, 36, Enfield, was released on bail in March, seven months after pleading not guilty to home invasion, kidnapping, armed robbery and related charges in Springfield District Court. 

    Mimitz and Lily Bodenlos, 29, of Naugatuck, Connecticut, allegedly tied up, assaulted and pepper sprayed the victim before stealing $8,000 in cash, several bottles of prescription pills and other valuables on Aug. 30, 2017, in Springfield.

    Both women were initially held without right to bail after Assistant District Attorney Mary Sandstrom said they "tortured" the victim and stole her life savings.

    Mimitz was eventually released on $10,000 bail, only to have it revoked after new charges were filed in May in Chicopee District Court.

    The charges date to Dec. 22 when officials at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center in Chicopee allegedly found Mimitz with a packet of cocaine, a glass pipe and a lighter minutes after a visit from her boyfriend, according to court records.

    Jail officials observed the exchange and confronted Mimitz, who said she planned to give the cocaine to another inmate, records show.

    Lsat month, Mimitz and Bodenlos pleaded guilty in Hampden Superior Court to charges from the Springfield home invasion and are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

    Sandstrom has recommended state prison sentences of 20 to 21 years for both women, while requests from defense lawyers range from three years in prison to three years probation.

    A pretrial hearing in Mimitz's drug case was held Tuesday in Chicopee District Court. The case was continued to Dec. 17.


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    It may still be fall but flurries fell in Massachusetts this week.

    It may still be fall but flurries fell in Massachusetts this week. 

    A dusting of snow fell in part of Central Massachusetts. Multiple residents in the Northern Worcester County community of Winchendon recording the brief burst of snowfall overnight. 

    Snowfall was also recorded overnight in Westminster, another Central Massachusetts community around 1 a.m. Thursday. 

    Snowfall hit further west in Massachusetts earlier this month. It was spotted on Mount Greylock in the Berkshires on Oct. 13. 

    Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect snowfall in the Berkshires on Oct. 13. 


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    According to the CDC, 80,000 people died from the flu last winter.

    According to the CDC, 80,000 people died from the flu last winter. Many people say that getting a flu shot is not only common sense, but also your civic duty. Flu shots are critical to avoid spreading what can easily become a deadly disease. Others believe if they are typically healthy, or if they've never gotten the flu, it's not necessary to get the flu shot. After a record-breaking flu season, will you be getting the flu shot this year? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    If you live with your family, have a roommate, work with other people, or go out in public at all, it's your duty to get a flu shot. The 2017-18 flu season topped the last four decades in the total death toll: 80,000 people died, 180 of which were children.

    The flu is not a more severe version of the common cold, and it's not something that time and a few meds will heal. Depending on your health circumstances, the flu could easily be fatal. Regardless of whether or not you view yourself as susceptible, it's undeniable that someone around you is. Therefore, it is a shared burden for everyone to get the flu shot. 

    CNN's Susan Scutti spoke with  US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams on the topic: 

    Adams said that getting the flu shot by the end of October is not just about keeping yourself safe and healthy, it's also about community. It's your 'social responsibility to get vaccinated,' he said, since it protects others around you, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

    Flu season deaths top 80,000 last year, CDC says

    Every year, the world sees a new flu strain, which means the flu vaccine itself changes along with it. According to Time's Richard Webby: 

    It's a game of cat and mouse trying to chase the newest strain. That's why flu vaccines also change each year. As part of a team that comes up with the vaccine for the season, I am the first to acknowledge that we don't always get the vaccine exactly right.

    There are antivirals that treat the flu, should you actually get it. Plus, if doctors are off-base with their flu vaccine for the year, getting a flu shot might not prevent you or the people around you from contracting the disease at all. Counting on the flu shot is somewhat of a gamble, and it cannot be argued as a civic duty for that reason. 

    The flu is incredibly contagious, and you can spread it to other people before you're even aware it is in your system. Kids under the age of five and adults over the age of 65 are most susceptible to the flu. Prolonged health is a privilege, and getting a flu shot is one of the few things everyone can do to help spread that privilege around. 

    Regardless of how accurate the flu shot is for the year, the vaccination still limits the number of flu-related hospitalizations. Refusing to get the shot based off of presumed inaccuracy of the people developing the vaccine reflects a reckless lack of trust in the doctors and organizations whose main goal is to "do no harm." According to the CDC

    ...during 2016-2017, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.

    And as Webby puts it for Time

    ...preventing a flu outbreak isn't just the responsibility of scientists and immunologists. The other half of the equation is the public's civic duty to help protect one another by getting the flu vaccination even if you don't think you need it.
    Getting the flu shot isn't just about protecting your health. Vaccinations are also about protecting others.

    The flu shot is not just about you

    One's health is his or her own personal business. There are many reasons why people do get the flu shot, and why they do not. With the flu, there is no perfect answer. There are other ways to stay healthy for the sake of people around you other than succumbing to the flu shot: wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, eat healthily, and don't cough in your co-worker's face. 

    No one should be forced by society to seek treatment they do not want, including the flu shot. 

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company announced Thursday that Invesco will acquire OppenheimerFunds.

    Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company announced Thursday that Invesco will acquire OppenheimerFunds, an asset management affiliate of MassMutual. 

    Invesco will pay about $5.7 billion as part of the agreement, including $4 billion of preferred shares and 81.9 million of common stock. The deal will bring Invesco's total assets under management to more than $1.2 trillion, making it the sixth-largest investment manager in the United States. 

    "This is a compelling, highly strategic and accretive transaction for Invesco that will help us achieve a number of objectives: enhance our leadership in the US and global markets, deliver the outcomes clients seek, broaden our relevance among top clients, deliver strong financial results and continue attracting the best talent in the industry," Martin L. Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco, said. 

    MassMutual is expected to own an approximate 15.5% stake in the common equity of Invesco, becoming the company's largest shareholder.

    "MassMutual is excited for the next chapter in our successful asset management strategy," said MassMutual Chairman, President and CEO Roger W. Crandall said. "This strategic combination positions us well to continue to benefit from a strong, diversified global asset management business, which will further strengthen our financial position and support our ability to invest in the long term, provide increased value to our policyowners and customers, and help us deliver on our purpose to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love."

    The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019. 


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    Police, alerted by a ShotSpotter activation, found the suspect in the area, Ryan Walsh, spokesman for Springfield police, said.

    SPRINGFIELD - A city man who fired a gun on Maple Street Wednesday night was arrested and found to be in possession of PCP and cocaine, police said.

    Police, alerted by a ShotSpotter activation, found the suspect in the area, Ryan Walsh, spokesman for Springfield police, said.

    After the suspect, Steven Santiago, 29, of State Street, was taken into custody at about 9 p.m., police found he was in possession of the drugs.

    A review of video evidence showed that Santiago fired a gun in the 100 block of Maple Street, Walsh said. There were no victims.

    Santiago was charged with carrying a loaded firearm without a license, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building and two counts of possession of a Class B drug (cocaine and PCP).


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    According to the Massachusetts State Lottery, the East Wareham Stop and Shop on Cranberry Highway sold the ticket.

    Though no one won Wednesday night's $900 million Mega Millions jackpot, one person in Massachusetts did win a cool $1 million in the Powerball.

    According to the Massachusetts State Lottery, the East Wareham Stop and Shop on Cranberry Highway sold the ticket.

    The $1 million prize is won when the ticket matches the first five numbers. The jackpot, however, requires those numbers as well as a matching Powerball number. The store will receive a $10,000 bonus for the ticket sale.

    In addition to that ticket, three $50,000 tickets were sold in the following Massachusetts locations:

    • Bob's Beer & Wine, 220 Pulaski Blvd., Bellingham
    • Convenience Plus, 241 Main St., Lee
    • Market Basket, 1900 Main St., Tewksbury

    These prizes must be claimed within a year of the drawing.

    The jackpot for Saturday night's Powerball drawing is an estimated $430 million, with a cash option on the prize at an estimated $248 million.

    According to the Mass. State Lottery, "The estimated jackpot for Friday night's Mega Millions is currently $900 million, the largest jackpot in the game's history and the second-largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history, trailing only the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot from January 13, 2016."


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    An electrical malfunction in a truck-mounted sander was the cause of a blaze at a Pine Point neighborhood business that damaged six other vehicles Wednesday night.

    SPRINGFIELD -- An electrical malfunction in a truck-mounted sander was the cause of a blaze at a Pine Point neighborhood business that damaged six other vehicles Wednesday night.

    The fire at Springfield Auto & Truck Equipment, located at 1626 Bay St., was reported shortly after 7 p.m., Dennis Leger, aide to Commissioner Bernard J. Calvi, said,

    The sander fire spread to a 2019 Ford F-350 owned by the Huntington Fire Department. When firefighters arrived both trucks were ablaze, Leger said.

    The Huntington pickup was heavily damaged in the fire and five other vehicles sustained damage from heat exposure, Leger said.


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    Massachusetts' wild bumblebees could be at risk even from low environmental levels of neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a new study.

    Massachusetts' wild bumblebees could be at risk even from low environmental levels of neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a new study.

    Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute have found that queen and male bumblebees, who are essential to the formation of bee colonies, are particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids. The study, published in the open-access scientific journal PLOS One, is the first granular look at how these pesticides affect individual queen and male bees.

    "As our bumblebees and other native pollinators disappear, so too will our native flowering plants and the animals that use them for food, shelter, and nesting sites," study co-author Robert Gegear said in a statement. "We need to understand all the factors that are contributing to the decline of wild bees, but the evidence is mounting against neonicotinoids in agricultural and urban areas. Because neonicotinoids are readily translocated from the soil to the nectar and pollen of wildflowers growing in these areas and can persist in the environment for long periods of time, they pose a potential hazard to wild bumblebees at every stage of their annual life cycle."

    Gegear, an assistant professor of biology and biotechnology, wrote the study with WPI PHD candidate Melissa Mobley.

    Each fall, newly spawned male and queen bees leave their wild colonies to mate. Queen bees then find a place where they can survive the winter, staying there as their original colonies die off in the cold. In the spring, they emerge, nest and lay eggs, starting a new colony.

    It is that delicate cycle that may be at risk from neonicotinoids, the study says. Gegear and Mobley's research found that while worker bees can survive the low levels of pesticide bees may encounter in the real world, males and queens suffer increased mortality rates.

    It is a potential harm missed by previous research on bees, which has largely focused on how neonicotinoids affect managed honeybees kept by humans to use for pollinating crops, Gegear said.

    "All of these vulnerable points get missed when you focus on bees in an agricultural context," Gegear said in an interview.

    The fate of American bees became a national cause for concern in 2006, when beekeepers and scientists noticed the widespread and unexplained loss of honey bee colonies -- known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Managed honey bee colonies saw loss rates of over 30 percent in the winters of 2006 and 2007, according to the Bee Informed Partnership, a USDA-funded research coalition -- well above acceptable rates of about 15 percent.

    Loss rates dropped to the mid-20s, but remained above normal levels. And in 2017-2018, rates spiked about 30 percent again, according to preliminary results from Bee Informed.

    The mysterious nature of the colony disappearances drew headlines and outcry from environmental groups, who warned that the loss of pollinating honey bees could pose a threat to the American agricultural ecosystem.

    Researchers posed a number of theories about the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder. While parasites and diseases are largely responsible for annual bee deaths, researchers questioned whether a new class of insecticides called neonicitinoids were causing unintended harm to bee populations.

    The "Beepocalypse" warned of by breathless media reports has not come to pass for honey bees. Overall managed honey bee populations have rebounded since the mid-2000s, largely due to efforts by beekeepers in the face of continuing colony losses,.

    But while Colony Collapse Disorder has largely subsided, die-off rates are still high, Science News reported earlier this year. And that recovery has only been measured for bees kept by humans, leaving the fate of wild bees uncertain.

    Those wild bees -- bumblebees and other species who pollinate native plants, rather than tended crops -- are the focus of Gegear and Mobley's research.

    The problems facing honey bees are an economic rather than existential problem, Gegear said, with the most likely negative effects being a rise in food prices as the cost of pollination rises for farmers.

    But for some of Massachusetts' native bees, the die-offs could could cause extinction. Geager, who has personally surveyed bee populations across much of the state, has found that two of the 11 bee species historically living in Massachusetts are likely no longer present. Another four are in decline, while the rest are stable or increasing in population.

    And while farmers are concerned with the raw numbers of workers available to pollinate crops, the state's environment has more specific needs, Gegear said. Wild bumblebees are a keystone species whose pollination habits maintain ecological diversity. And disruptions to those species could ricochet up the foodchain, affecting herbivores who feed on pollinating plants and the predators who eat those animals.

    "There are cascading negative effects that ripple throughout the ecosystem," Gegear said. "I don't think people realize when we see birds going extinct, it ultimately could come down to pollinators."

    Gegear views his study as evidence of the real-world harms of neonicotinoids, saying that when used on crops, lawns or flower beds, the pesticide can linger in the soil for years and contaminate wildflowers used by wild bees.


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    'The Power of Women' highlights 1,000 influential Massachusetts women throughout history. Watch video

    From Susan B. Anthony, one of the country's most recognized women's rights activists and Ruth E. Carter, an Oscar-nominated costume designer, to this year's winner of NBC's singing competition "The Voice," Brynn Cartelli, women in Massachusetts have powerful stories to tell and many of those stories are shared in "The Power of Women."

    The book, authored and edited by Wayne E. Phaneuf, executive editor of The Republican, and historian Joseph Carvalho III, highlights influential women from the 1600s until present day.

    "This book was written mostly by women, for women and to women," Phaneuf said, adding that 1,000 women are featured in the book. "This book celebrates what was a long and trying struggle (for equality) that lasted way too long."

    A launch party was held at The Log Cabin in Holyoke on Wednesday night to honor many of the women featured.

    Cartelli, the youngest winner of "The Voice," performed at the event. The singer, who edged out three fellow finalists to win $100,000 and a record deal, is the youngest woman featured in the book.

    "It's such an honor to be included in the book with all of these amazing women who are from around my hometown and I like to keep that close to me," said Cartelli, who is working on her first album due for 2019. She is also getting ready to go on tour with Kelly Clarkson and country singer Kelsea Ballerini.

    The tour will hit 28 states starting in January 2019 and will include stops in many states Cartelli has never visited.

    "I haven't been to South Carolina, Arizona, Utah and to most of the Midwest. I'm just so excited. It's going to be total girl power on the tour," said Cartelli, who is a sophomore in high school and is now doing her schooling online.

    Cartelli was introduced to the audience by Kathy Tobin, mistress of ceremonies for the event, and director of annual giving and events at Baystate Health. Tobin said Cartelli is still the same girl who participates at Rays of Hope every year and visits the Children's Hospital to sing to the kids.

    "You haven't changed," Tobin said.

    The event also included a speech by Elizabeth Cardona, the executive director for Multicultural Affairs, International Student Life, and assistant to the provost for Diversity and Inclusion, who also served as the senior director and civic engagement adviser to Governor Deval L. Patrick, was the keynote speaker.

    "I'm truly humbled to be here as we lift up these amazing honorees and celebrate the power of women," she said.

    Cardona thanked the many powerful women who have shaped her life beginning with her mother, who she described as "' a force to be reckoned with," and her abuela (grandmother) who raised 15 children and was a survivor of sexual assault.

    "As a child I was aware of the power of women. The early messages I received came from my abuela, who taught me to be resourceful and that first impressions matter," she said.  

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also sent in a video as she was unable to attend in person. 

    "This November, a record number of women are stepping up to run for office at all levels. From women's marches to the Me Too Movement, women are speaking out," Warren said in the video. "We're changing the country to make life better for all the girls who come after us."  

    The book features women in education, social activism, politics, the arts, sports and many other areas.

    Phaneuf said he and Carvalho reached out to women who were  knowledgeable about a particular subject to write the introductions for each of the 20 chapters.

    "We had Jeanne Douillard, an author and wonderful historian write the introduction to the first chapter which is about women of the colonial era," he said. "There are so many women who helped make this book a reality."

    Tobin said she hopes will be used as a way to inspire future generations of women.

    "When I heard  that 'The Power of Women' was coming out I thought how could they possibly do that? Tell all of the stories," Tobin said. "When you open this book you will see a number of accomplished women from every field and every part of our rich  history in the region...This book will be an inspiring resource for generations to come who will follow us and lead us into a great future."


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    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, called on the Trump administration this week to provide details on the implementation of its "zero tolerance" immigration policy, following a report suggesting that officials may have provided misleading or inaccurate information on how separated migrant families were being tracked.

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, called on the Trump administration this week to provide details on the implementation of its "zero tolerance" immigration policy, following a report suggesting that officials may have provided misleading or inaccurate information on how separated migrant families were being tracked. 

    Warren, a vocal opponent of the White House's immigration approach, joined U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, in pressing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for answers on when the agency launched its "central database" and another computer portal containing information on the location of parents and children separated under the "zero tolerance" policy.

    Noting that a recent Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report has raised questions about Azar's June testimony before the Senate Finance Committee -- particularly the existence of a separation database and accuracy of factsheets distributed following the policy's announcement -- Warren and Wyden asked the secretary to address those concerns by Nov. 2. 

    "We were, and continue to be appalled by the administration's cruel policy of family separation, and disturbed by the possibility that your agency provided inaccurate or misleading information to Congress and to the American public on the administration's ability to locate and track these children," they wrote in a Wednesday letter

    The senators specifically called on Azar to clarify whether the "manually compiled spreadsheet" maintained by HHS and other agencies was created after a June 23 factsheet, and what constituted the database referenced to in the agency's release. 

    They further sought information on the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement's "portal" to track separated children, including, among other things, whether it was created "in response to or in anticipation of litigation," how it relates to the "matching table" described in the IG's report and how HHS obtained matching information on parents and children for it. 

    Azar testified to senators that his agency's Office of Refugee Resettlement had a computer portal that could locate separated children, stating that "there is no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located."

    "I could, at keystrokes -- I've sat on the ORR portal -- with just basic keystrokes, in seconds could find any child in our care for any parent," he said

    The IG's report, however, found that while DHS announced on June 23 -- days before Azar's testimony -- that it had "a central database" containing location information for separated parents and children, which both it and HHS could access and update, "OIG found no evidence that such a database exists."

    It noted that "two officials suggested that the 'central database' referenced in DHS' announcement is actually a manually compiled spreadsheet maintained by HHS, (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel."

    The inspector general found that the spreadsheet -- known as a "matching table" -- was not created until after June 23, "suggesting that it is not the 'central database' referenced in the department's June 23 announcement."

    The report also suggested that "there is no 'direct electronic interface' between DHS and HHS tracking systems."

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April that the administration would take a "zero tolerance" approach to immigration, directing all U.S. attorneys who serve in districts along the United States' southern border with Mexico to criminally prosecute all cases of attempted illegal entry or illegal entry that are referred by DHS.

    The policy reportedly led DHS to separate about 2,000 children from their parents, as children were not allowed in adult criminal detention facilities. The children were placed in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to reports. 


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    City officials were contacted and said the man was not employed by the city and that there was no contaminated water issue.

     

    Newton Police are asking for the public's help with finding a man who pretended to be a Water Department employee to gain access to a person's home Wednesday night.

    The suspect, who was wearing a baseball cap, dark coat with a yellow reflective vest and a name badge hanging around his neck, went to a home on Pierrepoint Road and told the resident he needed to check pipes due to contaminated water, police said.

    The man banged on some pipes and told the resident he needed to replace them. The resident denied the service and the man left, saying he would be back with the Water Department in 10 minutes. He never returned.

    City officials were contacted and said the man was not employed by the city and that there was no contaminated water issue.

    The suspect, who is described by police as "a heavy set, light brown skin male, described as being 5'5" tall, with a mole next to his right eye," left in a white vehicle, similar to an ice cream truck, with no markings on it.

    Anyone with information is asked to call police at 617 796-2100 or use the Tips-Line at 617 796-2121.


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    It's part of the Rocky Hill Greenway, which will eventually connect the Florence neighborhood with the Manhan Rail Trail.

    NORTHAMPTON -- A new multi-use trail is closer to reality with a $200,000 grant from the state.

    The Rocky Hill Greenway will link three Florence neighborhoods and serve as "step one" in a plan to extend safe, non-motorized access all the way to the Manhan Rail Trail near Rt. 10.

    The path through the woods near Burts Bog will connect people to nature near  vernal pools and turtle habitat, according to Wednesday's grant announcement from the Baker-Polito administration. The award is through the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund.

    In an email, Northampton planning director Wayne Feiden said if a matching grant from the city's Community Preservation Committee comes through, construction will start in July on the $400,000 project.

    The Burts Bog and Rocky Hill trail system has been a planning priority for eight years, and was made possible when the city in 2017 bought 114 acres of sensitive habitat in the triangle between Florence Road, Burts Pit Road, and Ryan Road, with its public elementary school.

    "Until the city purchased this land, this section of trail could not advance," said Feiden.

    Feiden said the trail will serve three public purposes: provide wheelchair access to an interesting and ecologically important conservation area; knit three neighborhoods together; and serve as the northernmost leg of the planned Rocky Hill Greenway, which will extend the region's multi-use trail network.

    Access and parking will be available at Overlook Drive and Sandy Hill Road, with separate access at the western section of Burts Pit Road.

    Burts Bog is a peat bog. Bogs, with their highly acid soil and low-oxygen wetlands, host rare plant and animal communities, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

    Northampton in 2014 also purchased 48 acres between Rt. 10 and Rt. 66 as part of the city's overall vision for connected conservation land to protect wildlife and allow for public trails.

    The larger Rocky Hill Greenway project is slated to receive funding from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. That project is currently in the design phase, according to MassDOT records.


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