Articles on this Page
- 10/18/18--15:12: _Lt. Gov. Karyn Poli...
- 10/18/18--15:46: _Obituaries from The...
- 10/18/18--15:59: _SilverBrick promise...
- 10/18/18--16:16: _'All about collabor...
- 10/18/18--16:19: _SJC refuses to gran...
- 10/18/18--16:59: _Palmer High School ...
- 10/18/18--16:53: _WWII veteran and wi...
- 10/18/18--17:48: _Springfield man cha...
- 10/18/18--17:48: _Downtown smoking ba...
- 10/18/18--18:41: _Fire causes $15K da...
- 10/19/18--06:45: _Orange firefighters...
- 10/19/18--06:34: _South Hadley narrow...
- 10/19/18--06:57: _Westfield City Coun...
- 10/19/18--07:01: _Old Dominion withdr...
- 10/19/18--08:42: _Massachusetts lost ...
- 10/19/18--09:51: _'I've waited a long...
- 10/19/18--09:05: _MGM Springfield gen...
- 10/19/18--08:59: _Columbia Gas has pa...
- 10/19/18--09:01: _1 person unaccounte...
- 10/19/18--08:57: _Poll: Sen. Elizabet...
- 10/18/18--15:46: Obituaries from The Republican, Oct. 18, 2018
- 10/18/18--17:48: Springfield man charged with 8 car break-ins in East Forest Park
- 10/18/18--17:48: Downtown smoking ban topic of Northampton public forum
- 10/19/18--06:45: Orange firefighters battle blaze in Ball Street area
- 10/19/18--06:34: South Hadley narrows new police chief search to 7 candidates
- Trade, Transportation and Utilities added 1,600 (+0.3 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Trade, Transportation and Utilities gained 600 (+0.1 percent) jobs.
- Education and Health Services added 1,300 (+0.2 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Education and Health Services gained 10,400 (+1.3 percent) jobs.
- Professional, Scientific and Business Services added 600 (+0.1 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Professional, Scientific and Business Services gained 28,300 (+5.0 percent) jobs.
- Construction added 63,400 jobs in September 500 (+0.3 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Construction has added 10,300 (+6.7 percent) jobs.
- Financial Activities gained 500 (+0.2 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Financial Activities added 1,800 (+0.8 percent) jobs.
- Other Services jobs remained unchanged over the month (0.0 percent). Over the year, Other Services are up 3,500 (+2.5 percent) jobs.
- Information lost 300 (-0.3 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Information added 300 (+0.3 percent) jobs.
- Manufacturing lost 1,100 (-0.4 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Manufacturing gained 3,400 (+1.4 percent) jobs.
- Leisure and Hospitality lost 9,100 (-2.4 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Leisure and Hospitality added 2,300 (+0.6 percent) jobs.
- Government lost 200 (0.0 percent) jobs over the month. Over the year, Government added 2,400 (+0.5 percent) jobs.
- 10/19/18--09:05: MGM Springfield generating 2,000 trips a week for Uber
Polito met with Western Mass. police and community leaders to speak in favor of a bill proposing tougher measures on releasing violent inmates on bail before trial.
SPRINGFIELD - Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito met with local law enforcement and municipal leaders Thursday to lobby on behalf of a Baker administration-backed bill that would allow police and prosecutors to go after repeat-violent offenders who commit new crimes while out on bail.
At the meeting at the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, Polito spoke in favor of the bill, titled "An Act to Protect the Commonwealth from Dangerous Persons," which was proposed in August by Gov. Charlie Baker in response to the recent killing of two police officers in Weymouth and Yarmouth.
"Recent tragedies have demonstrated that tremendous damage that can occur when our criminal justice system fails to identify and detain dangerous people charged with serious crimes," Polito said.
Present at the meeting were Massachusetts Executive Director of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and police officials from Springfield, Chicopee and surrounding communities.
The bill, H.4903, is currently before the House Committee on Rules. To become law, it would need to be approved by the House and Senate and then ratified by the governor.
Polito said the bill would, among other things, allowed police to immediately detain people who are seen violating the terms of their pretrial release, rather than ask the courts to issue a warrant, and allow judges to order the arrest of any defendant who violates a court order to keep away from a victim. At present, judges need to go through a process of determining dangerousness.
Polito said the Baker administration has worked with police departments, district attorneys and victim advocacy groups to pass legislation that would keep dangerous offenders off the streets before trial.
"We want to provide police officers with the tools they need to protect their communities and hold trial defendants who pose a continuing danger to our community," Polito said.
The bill was introduced in part because of the shooting death of Weymouth police Sgt. Michael Chesna, who was shot in July by a 20-year-old man who was due back in court for violating prerelease conditions and failing to appear for a mandatory drug test. The suspect, Emanuel Lopes, is now charged with killing Chesna and a bystander, 77-year-old Vera Adams.
Bennett spoke in favor of the bill, saying it would affect suspects who are identified as dangerous, or who openly flout the terms of their pretrial release should remain in custody until they are tried.
"A person who is so dangerous that his or her release threatens the safety of a specific victim or of the community at large does not become safe to release merely because three or four months have passed since the time of their arrest," Bennett said.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who for the last few years has been openly critical of violent, repeat offenders being released on bail only to be arrested for new offenses, spoke in favor of efforts to pass the legislation.
"A hard line has to be taken on these repeat violent offenders, the gangbangers, gun offenders, and drug dealers that continue to victimize our Springfield and Commonwealth residents," Sarno said. "It has to stop."
Among other provisions of the bill would be to create a felony offense for anyone out on pretrial release who cuts off or tampers with a court-ordered GPS monitoring device, and allow district attorneys to have the same right as defense attorneys to appeal bail amounts set by judges.
Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Here are the obituaries published Thursday in The Republican:
On Tuesday, city inspectors stopped plumbing work at 122 Chestnut, which was once the YMCA building, after fining unlicensed plumbers using substandard materials. According to the city, the workers sanded off colors identifying the grade of pipe being used.
SPRINGFIELD - The SilverBrick Group Thursday promised to correct any substandard work found at its 122 Chestnust St. apartment redevelopment project.
"We are extremely disappointed to hear that any renovations done at 122 Chestnut could possibly be substandard, although we know the vast majority, if not all, is to standard," wrote Aaron Papowitz, founder and managing principal of SilverBrick Group.
On Tuesday, city inspectors stopped plumbing work at the site, which was once the YMCA building, after finding unlicensed plumbers using substandard materials. According to the city, the workers sanded off colors identifying the grade of pipe being used.
The city is also notifying state license authorities and there might be a hearing regarding plumbing subcontractor Mikhail K. Shtefan, of West Springfield.
"We have worked diligently since the article was released yesterday gathering facts and are hereby guarantying if any work is substandard it will be corrected immediately," Papowitz wrote in an email to The Republican. "We thank the City of Springfield and neighboring cities, and the State of Massachusetts for its support."
Papowitz said he would provide more details Monday at a meeting of the City Council's subcommittee on economic development.
In August, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents cited a different subcontractor on the site, JLRN Home Framing of New Haven, Connecticut, for not having a valid workers' compensation policy. The state fined JLRN $300. The contractor got the required coverage and the stop-work order was lifted three days later.
SilverBrick said its agreement with general contractor A&G Contracting Inc., of New Haven, requires it to hire only licensed subcontractors, file permits with the city of Springfield and the state, and ensure that work has been inspected.
Papowitz said the city has requested a drawing of the venting system and that the plumber has hired a local engineer. No plumbing work will go forward until the drawing is approved, he said.
Papowitz said the project has never been shut down by any government agency. But when reminded of the plumber and of the framing contractor, he said there might have been delays regarding individual subcontractors.
In May, the City Council approved up to $150,000 over 10 years in tax incentives for SilverBrick's 122 Chestnut St. 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.
But the incentive package didn't pass on the fist vote. And after news of the code enforcement went public, City Councilors Orlando Ramos, Jesse Lederman and Adam Gomez asked that SilverBrick voluntarily abide by new city regulations requiring developers who get tax breaks to hire responsible local contractors, with an emphasis on local.
SilverBrick bought the building in February for $4.8 million. It plans a $6.2 million, 99-apartment project.
SilverBrick also has a deal in place to renovate the Cabotville property in Chicopee Center using another tax incentive program. Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos said Thursday that project now deserves more scrutiny.
Rediker hosted an open house Wednesday at a new 33,000-square-foot office space for its 30-member development and operations (DevOps) team. The new offices are in what was an unfinished second floor of an office building expansion from 2005. Watch video
HAMPDEN - One of the conference rooms at Rediker Software is called "The Bridge."
The other - a more relaxed space that's got comfy couches and is around the corner from the shuffleboard table - is "Ten Forward," a reference to the lounge on the Starship Enterprise in "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
It's an indication of how Rediker's new office space here in the center of Hampden has a lot in common with the trendy work spaces of Silicon Valley and Boston's tech hubs.
The narwhal - a sort of unofficial mascot - is everywhere as a cartoon, a photograph or a toy stuffed animal decorating desks.
"Agile software development is all about collaboration," said Andrew Anderlonis, president of the family-owned company. "That's why I wanted the work spaces set up so people can communicate."
Agile software development is a method of writing computer code that better accommodates adjustments as the process moves forward.
In Rediker's new space, teams are clustered together in pods with low cubical walls. All the desks are along the wall, leaving the middle of the room as unobstructed as possible. Anderlonis said he stations interns where they can collaborate with all the teams.
The company hosted an open house Wednesday at the new 33,000-square-foot office space. The offices are in what was an unfinished second floor of an office building expansion from 2005. Rediker used the downstairs office space while waiting for the opportunity to expand upstairs.
Guests included state Sen. Eric. Lesser and state Rep. Brian Ash, both Longmeadow Democrats whose districts include Hampden.
Rediker Software was founded in 1978 by CEO Rich Rediker, Anderlonis' father-in-law. The company provides software tools for teachers and school districts that do everything from tracking discipline and grades to managing admissions at private schools to communicating with parents and running school district websites.
Until about two years ago, Rediker outsourced its software development to a contractor in India. But Anderlonis said the company had concerns about the quality of the work and he wanted more control and better responsiveness to customers.
Five years ago he started bringing in interns form local high schools and giving them little software development projects. Eighteen months ago, he started hiring development engineers and building his team, even though their desks were scattered about Rediker's offices.
Today the 30-member development and operations (DevOps) team has 18 software developers working in teams of six. Others in the new work space are technical writers who do the instruction manuals and FAQs for users and "product owners" with oversight of specific software titles.
There are about 120 Rediker employees in total in Hampden, including software developers, technical writers, salespeople, people who train users on the software and a call center for users with problems. At night, call center duties are switched over to a team in India to maintain 24-hour service worldwide.
One of Rediker's motivations in hosting the open house, Anderlonis said, was to get its name out there and help it recruit additional staff.
Anderlonis said it was hard to hire the people he needed for software development.
"The talent pool is a little thin here for what we need," he said. "But we smoked them out. For a lot of people, they were living here and commuting into Boston. We're happy to be able to provide that opportunity here."
He's also hired people from his high school and college internship programs.
Rich Rediker was a chemistry teacher at Longmeadow High School when he started working with early personal computers in the late 1970s. He came up with a way to use a computer -- a 45-pound Commodore PET that stored data on a cassette tape -- to help him keep track of students who'd been warned about being late to class.
His work grew from there and he made his first software sale in 1980 to St. Mary's schools in Westfield. Anderlonis said St. Mary's is still a customer.
Rich Rediker is still involved with the company, as his is wife, Gayle, and their daughter and Andrew's wife, Amy Rediker Anderlonis. Amy's sisters are not in the business.
Rediker Software said it helps schools in more than 120 countries manage administrative tasks, maximize school-to-home communication and inspire students. Products include AdminPlus, TeacherPlus Gradebook, Admissions Plus Pro and Teacher Evaluator.
Edwin Goitia was convicted of first-degree murder in 2013 for killing his 6-month-old son in a Chicopee apartment four years earlier.
BOSTON - The state's highest court on Thursday declined to grant a new trial to Edwin Goitia, a Chicopee man sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 murder of his 6-month old son.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it could find no grounds to grant a new trial nor any errors in the original prosecution that would necessitate one.
In the ruling issued Thursday, the court declined to grant a new trial, saying "Considering the case as a whole, we conclude the conviction was amply supported by the evidence."
Goitia, then 28, was convicted on March 13, 2013 of first-degree murder for killing his 6-month-old son, Naiden Goitia, on July 29 in a Chicopee apartment.
Naiden Goitia died of two distinct fractures on the side and the base of the skull, and prosecutors argued the injuries with the result of the child being hit with something or slammed into something hard.
A Hampden County Superior Court jury deliberated for about 4 hours before finding guilty. The sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison.
Goitia did not live with his son or the mother, Amanda Arsenault, at the time of Naiden's murder, but he had been allowed to visit by her.
The child's mother in July 2013 pleaded guilty to a single count of reckless endangerment of a child, after she admitted to allowing him to be with the baby without supervision.
One month before to the murder, the state Department of Children and Families had placed Naiden in the custody of Arsenault's father and stepmother while the agency after bruising on the baby aroused suspicions of abuse.
Arsenault had also been charged with murder, but the charge was dismissed when the investigation ruled her out as a suspect. She would testify against Goitia at his trial.
In his request to have his conviction overturned, Goitia argued that his lawyer offered an ineffective defense by failing to adequately challenge Arsenault's credibility during the trial.
He also argued that his right to due process was violated with the prosecution failing to consider charges against Arsenault's parents in exchange for her testimony against him, and that prosecutors had handled evidence improperly.
The ruling, issued by Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Judges Frank M. Graziano, David F. Lowy, and Scott L. Kafker, notes the court found no grounds for overturning the original jury verdict.
"We discern no reversible error, and decline to exercise our authority ... to reduce the degree of guilt or order a new trial," the ruling states.
According to police, no weapons were found at the student's home.
PALMER - A Palmer High School student is facing charges for reportedly threatening to bring a gun to the school's planned active-shooter evacuation drill on Thursday, police said.
The student, who was not identified, was arrested at his home Wednesday night and charged with making threats to use deadly force, according to Palmer police.
The threat was apparently made in the hallway of the school and was overheard by several students. The threat had to do with the school's planned active-shoot evacuation drill that was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The drill, which went off as planned, involved the school responding to a report of an active shooter by evacuating to a safe location nearby.
The drill is part of the school's A.L.I.C.E training, which is an acronym for "Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate."
According to police, the student was talking to a friend in the hallway Wednesday afternoon when he made a comment about guns and a school shooting. The hallway was crowded at the time and the remark apparently made "for the purpose of public consumption with the intention of causing harm."
One of the students who over heard it told a parent, who reported it to the school administration, which reported it to police.
The student was arrested Wednesday night at 10 p.m.
Police went to the house and found no weapons in the house. They also found neither the student nor his family members had "any realistic means of obtaining firearm," either legally or otherwise, police said.
The student was held overnight and arraigned in Palmer District Court on Thursday. He is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing planned for next week.
If convicted the punishment for threatening deadly force can be up to 20 years in prison, police said.
Charlie Allard and his wife Joanie were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary with a NASA astronaut Thursday at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
HOLYOKE -- Any anniversary is a special one, but to celebrate 70 years together is a major milestone. And that milestone is just what Charlie Allard and his wife Joanie were celebrating Thursday at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Charlie Allard is 93 years old. He is a resident veteran of the Soldiers' Home. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and served in World War II. Charlie met Joanie after coming home from the war in the late 1940s. They were married on Oct. 16, 1948, at St. Patrick's Church in South Hadley.
Charlie Allard was a deputy chief for the South Hadley Fire Department. The couple also had a family business called College Limousine, as they used the family station wagon to provide rides for Mount Holyoke students, faculty, staff and trustees.
They would transport patrons to appointments, the airport, the bus station and other locations. It was through their business that the couple met South Hadley resident and NASA astronaut Daniel T. Barry. Barry was a mission specialist for the space shuttle crews from 1996 to 2001.
It was on one of his three missions that he took the old station wagon keys into space. Barry came to the Soldiers' Home on Thursday to celebrate with the Allards.
Date night for the couple is usually enjoyed at the Soldiers' Home in the canteen for weekly bingo.
Waldemar Rivera was arrested by officers who were investigating several recent car break in the area., police said.
SPRINGFIELD - A 26-year-old Springfield was arrested Wednesday night and charged with breaking into 8 vehicles on Warehouse Street, police said.
Waldemar Rivera was arrested by officers who were investigating several recent car break in the area.
They spotted him walking on Warehouse Road, a dead-end street off Island Pond Road, and grew suspicious because none of the businesses on the road were open, Walsh said. Then they spotted a number of cars on the street that had been broken into, he said.
Rivera had several items on him that had been taken from the cars, Walsh said.
He is charged with 8 counts of breaking and entering into a motor vehicle, and larceny from a motor vehicle of less than $1,200.
New public health rules would prohibit smoking or vaping in the central business districts of Florence and Northampton.
NORTHAMPTON -- A proposal by the Board of Health to ban smoking in downtown Northampton and Florence drew strong support from residents who attended a public forum Thursday night.
"I'm completely for it," said James Winston, an attorney with offices on Main Street. "If people don't care about their own lungs, they're not going to care about second-hand smoke. I see no negatives."
"I have a really severe reaction to nicotine," said Florence resident Elaine Kersten. "You can't walk down the street in Northampton without confronting a tremendous amount of smoking."
City Councilor Marianne LaBarge described groups of smokers who congregate outside Thornes Marketplace, Starbucks, and the Happy Valley gift shop on Main Street.
"It's so bad that I myself could not handle it," said LaBarge, a smoker who said she has gone from "a pack a day to a pack a month."
Listening were members of the Board of Health; city health director Merridith O'Leary; Mayor David Narkewicz; Police Chief Jody Kasper; and Cheryl Sbarra, an attorney with the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards.
"This is not meant to be punitive," said Sbarra. "It's about education and public health."
O'Leary said she has received numerous emails and phone calls from residents and business owners, the vast majority of whom expressed support for the ban.
The Board of Health has been discussing the matter for about a year. O'Leary said public input is necessary to identify any "unintended consequences" from enacting new regulations.
The city already bans smoking or vaping within 25 feet of a municipal building, at city-owned parks and playgrounds, inside private clubs, at nursing homes, bus stops, and outdoor areas where food or beverages are sold, served, or consumed.
If enacted, the new language would prevent the use of tobacco in the entire Northampton central business district, and in Florence's general business district, as delineated on the city's zoning map.
Questions were raised about whether the city should identify "designated smoking areas," away from city sidewalks, for those who need to light up.
"You do not need to have alternative areas," said Florence resident Larry Cadorette. "You are in the business of promoting public health, not finding places for people to smoke."
Dr. Suzanne Smith, a physician and health board member, said she supports the ban, but that areas for smokers should be allowed.
"If you do not have designated areas, people will still light up," she said. "That's addiction speaking. If you provide an area, people will make the effort. If there is no area, they will smoke anyway."
She said in her work as a doctor, she has seen people have a harder time quitting cigarettes than quitting heroin.
Smith said there are many types of smokers -- including restaurant workers, recovering alcoholics, the mentally ill, and students. Nonetheless, public health data shows that enacting bans helps reduce smoking, she said.
Some who spoke said that smokers already ignore Northampton's rules, and that many puff away at bus stops and in Pulaski Park.
Language on enforcement has not yet been crafted. Currently, the city's health agent has power to enforce smoking regulations. Police could become enforcers if they are defined as "designees," said O'Leary.
Kasper said the Northampton Police Department would be willing to take on an enforcement role, but would emphasize education instead of punishment.
"Our officers don't want to be writing people tickets," she said. Kasper said police would inform people about the ordinance and direct them to areas where they may smoke legally.
Narkewicz said that Northampton would be the first city in Massachusetts to enact a downtown smoking ban, but that such regulations exist in other states.
O'Leary said that a public hearing on the proposed rules will be held this winter or spring.
Firefighters found a small fire on the floor of one apartment and it was quickly extinguished before it could spread.
SPRINGFIELD - A small fire in a vacant apartment on Dunmoreland Street caused an estimated $15,000 in fire, smoke and water damage, according to a fire official.
Dennis Leger, aide to Fire Commissioner Bernard J. Calvi, said the fire, was reported just after 6:30 p.m. at 25 Dunmoreland St.
Firefighters found a small fire on the floor of one apartment and it was quickly extinguished before it could spread.
No one was injured.
The cause of the fire was determined to be the spontaneous combustion of rags that were being used for refinishing and painting, he said.
The apartment was undergoing a renovation, he said.
The two-family home, built in 1909, has an assessed value of $132,600, according to city records. The owner is listed as Yvonne Hill.
Dunmoreland Street is off Wilbraham Road near American International College.
West Main Street, from the Orange Innovation Center to the town square, is closed to traffic, according to a post on the police department's Facebook page.
ORANGE -- Firefighters were summoned to a structure fire in the Ball Street area Friday morning.
West Main Street, from the Orange Innovation Center to the town square, is closed to traffic, according to a post on the police department's Facebook page.
As of about 8:35 a.m., police shut-down the entire square to accommodate firefighting efforts. Police are asking drivers to avoid the area.
Orange Fire Rescue EMS reported on its Facebook page the road closures will likely be in effect for several hours.
This is a developing story. Additional information will be posted as soon as it is available.
The Town of South Hadley continues to interview candidates for a new police chief. Seven applicants remain. Town Administrator Michael Sullivan expects a finalist will be selected in the coming weeks.
SOUTH HADLEY - A three-member selection committee will choose the finalists for South Hadley's next police chief. After 30 years on the job, Police Chief Steve Parentela will retire in January 2019.
Town Administrator Michael J. Sullivan, who spoke before a public forum on the hiring process, said 28 candidates applied for the position. Around seven applicants remain, whom the committee will interview.
Sullivan said he would likely interview one to three finalists, select a candidate and forward his recommendation to the Select Board for approval. The town would then enter into contract negotiations with the finalist.
All applicants had to possess a bachelor's degree in a related field and have five years supervisory experience in policing or public safety. Master's degrees applicants were preferred.
Until Thursday, town officials withheld committee members' names, a way to prevent outside interference during the application and review process. "We try to keep the politics out of it," Sullivan said.
He thanked committee members including Northampton Police Chief Jody D. Kasper, Assistant Town Administrator Jennifer L. Wolowicz and Town Accountant William Sutton. "It's an important choice for this town or any town," Sullivan said.
Ideally, Sullivan would like the new chief "onboard" before Parentela's Jan. 4, 2019, retirement date. "If it doesn't work out that way, we'll make other provisions," he said.
For Sullivan, hiring a police chief is not a new process for him. The latest appointment will count as his fifth, which included appointing chiefs in Holyoke and Maynard.
Sullivan said the forum drew ideas and comments from residents on what they expect from a new police chief.
He favored a chief steeped in the community policing or preventative model, a leader who build strong ties with residents and understands a diversified population.
"The one thing in police work that is important is training, training, and training," Sullivan said. "You have to be prepared for every situation."
He expects a decision on the new hire by next week, followed by contract negotiations.
Select Board Member Sarah Etelman said, "We've had a couple of really good police chiefs. We had people who were invested in the community and wanted to see the community the best it can be."
She said the nation faces "difficult times" as divisiveness has become the norm. "There's intense feelings out there. People have specific things they want to see in their community," Etelman said.
She added, "There are things happening in local, state and national politics that affect how people think about their community. As we bring in a new chief, we want a person to be aware of those issues and respond to the community."
Resident Pamela Stawasz said she heard about the forum through Facebook and was curious about the process. Her work in academia puts her in close contact with campus police departments.
"I'm interested in hearing in what people want in our new chief," she said. "I appreciate community policing and restorative justice."
She wants a chief with a keen awareness of diversity, whether it pertains to race or gender identity, someone not mired in assumptions.
Stawasz hopes to meet and get to know the new police chief. "My experiences have been in a much smaller environment, on college campuses. I appreciate my relationships with campus police. I would love that with my town," she said.
The Westfield City Council discussed an increase to the mayor's salary
WESTFIELD - After discussing the mayor's salary review, the Westfield City Council on Thursday voted to keep the measure in the Long Range Financial Overview Committee.
Committee Chairman Councilor Robert A. Paul Sr. said he supported a significant increase in the mayor's salary, which is currently $100,000 plus an additional $5,000 for a vehicle. Paul said the mayor should receive more for what the position requires.
"It's a 24/7 job," he said, adding that the scope of the position includes managing a $300 million budget, heading the School Committee, being responsible for bonding, managing city departments and more without an assistant.
Paul said the Committee did not recommend a specific salary, but used $135,000 as a potential salary.
Councilor Andrew Surprise said he would not support a salary increase at this time and added it was not a reflection on the current mayor, who Paul said was not in the top 10 highest paid city employees.
Instead, Surprise said, he would prefer to decrease other salaries so the mayor would be in the top 10.
Councilor Ralph J. Figy said he would like to see a base salary with the option of increases based on experience, education and longevity.
Councilor Brent B. Bean II said when he was first elected in 2002 the mayor's salary was $65,000 and there have only been two increases in 16 years. Councilor Daniel Allie agreed that there should be more frequent increases while Councilor Nicholas J. Morganelli said he believes the current salary is "in line" with other communities.
The council unanimously agreed to keep the review in the Long Range Financial Overview Committee for further discussion. Paul said any change would not take effect until the new fiscal year July 1.
Councilor Cindy Harris noted that Mayor Brian P. Sullivan did not request a review or an increase of the mayor's salary.
Westfield residents expressed concerns about traffic during Old Dominion Freight special permit hearings
WESTFIELD - Old Dominion Freight Thursday night withdrew its application for a special permit for a truck terminal on Medeiros Way.
The withdrawal was accepted without prejudice by the Westfield City Council.
Councilor Brent B. Bean II addressed speculation made by a resident during public comment at the Oct. 4 meeting when the council voted to table Old Dominion's special permit application. The resident said by tabling the item, the council would "run the clock" on the application for 90 days and it would then automatically be granted.
Bean said this was not the case.
"I've been on this council for 16 years and we don't do that," he said. "That wasn't the intent of that."
Bean said tabling the application allowed time for Old Dominion to find out whether or not it could withdraw without prejudice.
"There were conflicting legal opinions on whether or not they could withdraw," said Bean.
The company was able to withdraw, which means it could resubmit an application at another time. Old Dominion planned to have a 24-hour truck terminal that would add 26 daily truck trips to the Southampton Road area. Several residents spoke out against the approval, citing traffic concerns as well as some concerns about the nearby water aquifer.
Ward 1 Councilor Mary Ann Babinski said Thursday that while Old Dominion was a good company, residents on the north side of the city have spoken and do not want additional trucks.
"We have an overabundance of planes, trains, automobiles and trucks," she said.
Babinski said it's time to seek options to alleviate the traffic.
Councilor Ralph J. Figy said her ward was not the only one plagued by traffic woes.
"Ward 2 has its share of traffic," Figy said. "Traffic is everywhere - it's not just on the north side."
Councilor Andrew Surprise, Ward 3, echoed figy's remarks.
"In Ward 3 we have a ton of traffic," he said, noting there are 6,000 vehicles per day on Western Avenue alone.
Babinski said Southampton Road has 13,000 vehicles per day.
Bean said Old Dominion ultimately withdrew because it could not adhere to one of the several conditions placed on the special permit at this time.
Local jobless numbers won't be available until later this month.
Massachusetts lost 6,200 jobs in September, according to figures released Friday by the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, the Bay State's unemployment rate remained steady at 3.6 percent in September because more people entered the work force.
From September 2017 to September 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Massachusetts has added 63,400 jobs and has gained 48,000 jobs year-to-date.
Over the month, the private sector lost 6,000 jobs. However, gains occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; and financial activities. The jobs level for Other Services remained unchanged over the month.
The September unemployment rate was one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7 percent reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Local numbers won't be available until later this month. But in October, Greater Springfield had an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent.
Statewide, the unemployment rate is higher at 7.3 percent when those working part-time who would rather work full-time and those who have stopped looking for work are counted.
"Last month, preliminary data indicates that there were 17,500 more employed residents and 1,500 fewer unemployed in the Commonwealth. The continued labor force gains and an estimated addition of 48,800 jobs year-to-date, are signs that our economy is attracting more residents to enter and gain employment in Massachusetts." Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said in a news release.
The Massachusetts labor force increased by 16,100 from 3,806,000 in August, as 17,500 more residents were employed and 1,500 fewer residents were unemployed over the month, according to the release.
The state's labor force participation rate - the total number of residents age 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks - is up two-tenths of a percentage point over the month at 67.8 percent. Compared to September 2017, the labor force participation rate is up 2.4 percentage points.
Jobs by sector of the economy
The largest private sector percentage job gains over the year were in Construction; Professional, Scientific, and Business Services; Other Services; and Manufacturing.
On Thursday, MassDOT said it would pay $700,000 toward safety upgrades at the crossing. Watch video
LONGMEADOW -- One year, seven months and five days after her brother died in a collision with a train at Birnie Road and Tina Lane, Cindy J. Cowles says she finally has good news to bring to her 89-year-old mother in Florida.
MassDOT officials on Thursday announced $700,000 in funding to install lights and gates at the crossing -- an estimated 90 percent of the total cost, officials said. Amtrak, which owns the rail line and will complete the work, will pay 10 percent.
Officials said the work will begin next year.
"I've waited a long time for this day, even though I kept being told it's going to be longer," said Cowles, of Springfield, during a Friday morning press conference yards from the crossing.
Cowles said she was set to leave for Florida Saturday. "It's been something she's been waiting to hear for a while," she said of her mother.
State Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who organized the press conference, said safety and frequent, fast rail service are not mutually exclusive.
"As we continue to expand rail service on this corridor, and as the Hartford Line north and south rail link continues to increase in its passenger volume, we're going to make sure it's safe at the same time," Lesser said.
The announcement followed a renewed effort to bring signals to the crossing that began when Warren P. Cowles was struck and killed by a northbound Amtrak train on March 14, 2017. The 59-year-old DPW foreman, who lived near the crossing and worked for the town for nearly 30 years, backed his town plow truck onto the tracks and into the train's path.
Passenger service was canceled for the day as a winter storm battered the region, and in blinding snow there was no way to know a train was coming.
The collision was the seventh at the crossing since 1975, according to court records and Federal Railroad Administration data, and he was the fifth person killed in that time. Town officials began discussing safety issues at the crossing as early as 1981, The Republican found.
"The federal level, the state level, the local level and Amtrak have done, I think, a really good job working together to get this done, no matter how long it took us to get here," said Town Manager Stephen J. Crane. "We are here, and I think that's the key for me today."
Crane said Cindy Cowles was a driving force in pushing him to keep tabs on the project as it moved through layers of local, state and federal bureaucracy.
"Cindy was persistent -- and that's probably not a strong enough word to describe it," Crane said. "As frustrating as it was at times to not have answers for her, and to not be able to give her what we all really wanted to be able to give her -- which was a yes -- she never let up, never lost focus on it, and never let us lose focus on it either. I am eternally grateful to her for that."
This is a developing story that will be updated after further reporting.
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said Union Station and Bradley showing up as destinations indicate that folks are using public transportation - planes and trains - to visit Springfield. Watch video
SPRINGFIELD -- Uber, MGM Resorts' corporate partner in the ride-hailing market, reported this week that riders have made an average of about 2,000 Uber trips a week to and from MGM Springfield since the casino opened in August.
Most of these trips are at night, with hundreds happening between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. The most popular destinations are to hotels in Springfield, to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and to Springfield's Union Station, Uber said in a news release.
According to Uber's website and trip estimator utility, the trek from MGM Springfield to Bradley, a 20-mile drive, costs $22.45. A ride from MGM Springfield to Union Station, just a few blocks north of the casino, is $6.90.
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said Union Station and Bradley showing up as destinations indicate that folks are using public transportation - planes and trains - to visit Springfield.
"In just a short amount of time it looks like people are really flocking to the area," Anfang said.
MGM Springfield is also funding The Loop bus service downtown linking hotels, attractions and Union Station with MGM. Riding The Loop is free.
The timing of most trips coincides with Uber's work with MADD, Mothers Against Drunken Driving.
"As visitors flock to the brand-new MGM Springfield, making ridesharing services as convenient as possible is helping to keep Springfield streets safer for everyone. We encourage all visitors to take advantage of safe options like Uber when enjoying a night out at MGM," said Mary Kate Depamphilis, of MADD Massachusetts.
Uber and its ride-hailing app launched in Springfield in spring 2015.
The app and the computer algorithm behind it draw Uber drivers to areas were demand for rides is highest, she said.
MGM offers a promotional code on its website for new Uber users up to $20 off their first trip if they have never used Uber before. The casino also built a ride-hailing pickup and drop-off zone on Level 1 of the parking garage.
Competitor Lyft, which also provides ride-hailing in Greater Springfield, offers rides from MGM Springfield to Union Station for $6 to $8 and from the casino to Bradley for $24 to $28.
The company released claims statistics Friday, showing that it has received 20,831 claims.
Columbia Gas has paid out $19.8 million in claims to Merrimack Valley residents and businesses who suffered losses in the wave of fires and gas explosions that tore through Lawrence, North Andover and Andover on Sept. 13.
The company released claims statistics Friday, showing that it has received 20,831 claims. 71.9 percent of those requests for compensation are still pending, according to data provided to MassLive.
Overpressurized gas lines caused fires and explosions that destroyed or damaged more than 80 homes on Sept. 13, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board. One person was killed and at least 21 injured during the disaster, which sparked a massive emergency response and forced a long-term shutdown of gas service to many Merrimack Valley homes and businesses.
A work crew contracted and overseen by Columbia Gas caused the overpressurization by failing to shut off gas regulator sensors while replacing an old gas line, the NTSB said. When the sensors detected a lack of pressure from the removed line, the system increased gas flow, sending high-pressure gas flooding through residential and commercial pipes that could not contain the gas.
Columbia, a subsidiary of the energy company NiSource, established claims centers in Lawrence and Andover after the explosions. A 42-person claim team has been established for what Columbia is calling its "Back-to-Business" initiative, designed to expedite claims for businesses harmed by the disaster and help them re-open.
1,829 families have been placed in alternative housing as of Oct. 16, the company said.
One person is unaccounted for and a second was taken to the hospital after a fire broke out at a home Friday morning on West Main Street, a spokeswoman for the state Fire Marshal's office said.
ORANGE -- One person is unaccounted for and a second was taken to the hospital after a fire broke out at a home Friday morning on West Main Street, a spokeswoman for the state Fire Marshal's office said.
Jennifer Mieth, as of about 11:40 a.m., did not have any additional information on the fire.
West Main Street, from the Orange Innovation Center to the town square, was closed to traffic, according to a post on the police department's Facebook page.
Orange Fire EMS, in a post on their department's Facebook page, put out at about 11:30 a.m., asks those who have photos or videos of the fire, specifically early on as emergency personnel arrived on scene, to contact investigators.
The post, in part, states: "Please private message our page with your name and phone number and we will contact you to view it. Please do not post photos or videos to this status. If anyone knows of photos or video already published please message our page with where we can view it."
The poll finds Warren narrowly edging out Trump, 46 percent to 44 percent.
A new national poll finds President Donald Trump, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, running neck and neck in a hypothetical 2020 presidential match-up.
The Rasmussen Reports poll finds Warren narrowly edging out Trump, 46 percent to 44 percent, which is within the poll's margin of error of 3 percentage points. Nine percent of respondents were undecided.
The results show that Warren is a divisive candidate, with 41 percent having a favorable view of her and 45 percent an unfavorable view. But Trump is similarly divisive, with an approval rating of just 47 percent, in the latest Rasmussen poll.
The poll found that Warren would get support from 75 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Republicans. Trump would get support from 82 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of Democrats. Warren would beat Trump among independent voters, 53 to 36 percent.
Warren revealed in Holyoke last month that she is exploring the possibility of running for president in 2020.
After releasing a DNA report this week that Warren says confirmed her Native American heritage, Trump continued to take aim at the senator, saying in a tweet it was only being believed by "VERY LOW I.Q. individuals."
Trump followed by saying he hopes she runs in 2020, because she would be an easy opponent to defeat.
The Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Oct. 17-18 by phone and online.