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    MGM Springfield was a bright spot in what was otherwise a lackluster quarterly earnings report for MGM Resorts International. In his remarks, Murren acknowledged that all Las Vegas resorts, not just MGM, saw a bit of a summer slump in business. It's something he promised to resorts with a strong holiday season and upcoming high-profile boxing matches.

    SPRINGFIELD - MGM Springfield brought in $42.5 million in net revenue over its first five weeks of operation, according to the third-quarter earnings report released this week by parent company MGM Resorts International.

    That revenue resulted in earnings of $7.6 million. MGM reported $31.6 million in start-up preopening expenses recorded just in the third quarter.

    Regarding MGM Springfield, MGM Resorts chairman and CEO Jim Murren had this to say during a conference call with stock analysts:

    "While it's still in its early days, we're encouraged that the resort is performing in line with our expectations on both the gaming and non-gaming side."

    This third quarter report, for the three months ending Sept. 30, counts only a short period of operations at MGM Springfield. The nearly billion-dollar casino opened Aug. 24.

    MGM Springfield was a bright spot in what was otherwise a lackluster quarterly earnings report for MGM Resorts International. In his remarks, Murren acknowledged that all Las Vegas resorts, not just MGM, saw a bit of a summer slump in business. It's something he promised to rebound from with a strong holiday season and upcoming high-profile boxing matches.

    Casino revenue for the third quarter across all of MGM properties increased 1 percent compared to the same three months a year earlier. MGM told shareholders Wednesday that this was due primarily to the opening of MGM Springfield. Casino revenues decreased 3 percent on a same-store basis -- that is not counting the new MGM Springfield -- compared to the prior year quarter.

    Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that MGM Springfield collected nearly $27 million in gross gaming revenue in its first month of operation. That's a slightly different time frame than referenced in the MGM earnings report.

    "Our third quarter operating performance exceeded our expectations despite the tough year on year comparison, resulting from robust casino business and an exceptionally strong event calendar last year." Murren said in a news release. "During the quarter, we successfully opened MGM Springfield, which has been well received by our customers."

    MGM Resorts International also told investors this week that its spinoff real estate arm, MGM Growth Properties, will potentially buy the real estate at MGM Springfield along with Bellagio, Circus Circus Las Vegas, and MGM Grand Las Vegas.

    The sale would generate revenue for MGM and real estate investment trusts like MGM Growth Properties enjoy tax advantages.

    MGM reported earnings of 26 cents a share. That 's the same number it reported in the third quarter of 2017.

    The company's stock, ticker symbol MGM on the New York Stock Exchange, traded at $26.34 at midday Wednesday. That was up $1.15 or 4.5 percent on the day.

    MGM also distributed a $64 million quarterly dividend of 12 cents per share in the third quarter and repurchased $176 million of the its own stock in the third quarter.


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    Keisha Tucker, a 2006 graduate, was a stunt double for Okoye, the character played by Danai Gurira.

    AMHERST - The last time people might have seen University of Massachusetts alumna Keisha Tucker, she had had a shorn head on the big screen in "Black Panther." 

    Tucker, a 2006 graduate, played the stunt double for Okoye, the character played by Danai Gurira. She also appeared in the film as a member of the Dora Milaje, the all-women honor guard that protects the monarch in the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

    Tucker will be back on campus Thursday night to talk about her journey from UMass to "Blank Panther," as part of the universty's homecoming festivities.

    Her 7 p.m. talk at the Campus Center is free and open to the public. 

    She will talk about her favorite roles, stunt double challenges, and "what it takes to make it big," according to a press release. 

    In March article on the university's website, Tucker said she was happy to play a part in the film, which was deemed culturally important. 

    Jamil Smith in Time magazine wrote "rather than dodge complicated themes about race and identity, the film grapples head-on with the issues affecting modern-day black life."

    In the UMass article, Tucker said, "I didn't really realize as much as I do now how much representation matters, but I feel like everybody has their eyes more open now. It's cool to see -- maybe there's a little shift going on with more cultures being represented."

    Tucker was a theater major at UMass, taking dance classes and performing in theater and dance productions. She also performed at Six Flags in Agawam, according to her IMDb page.

    She has been a stunt double in a number of productions, including three episodes on the TV series "9-1-1."

    But she wants to act. 

    She told UMass, "Just because you're doing a stunt doesn't mean you're not acting...Sometimes, as a stunt person, you're your own character. Like in Black Panther, I was one of the Dora Milaje, and I had to do a lot of acting on the battlefield.

     "Just, hopefully that leads to acting with lines."  


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    The South Hadley Select Board approved a new contract for Town Administrator Michael J. Sullivan. Sullivan's new contract takes effect July 1, 2019.

    SOUTH HADLEY - The Board of Selectmen has ratified a new contract for Town Administrator Michael J. Sullivan that offers a symbolic $500 raise for 2019 to 2020 and a $10,000 cut for the final year.

    The $10,000 reduction coincides with an agreed four-day workweek in the contract's final year.

    Select Board Chairman Ira Brezinsky said Sullivan's working hours far exceed the town's expectations.

    "Mike has been a tremendous addition to South Hadley from the day he set foot in town. Our finances have never been in better shape," Brezinsky said in a statement. "Sullivan is constantly looking for ways to improve service to residents, upgrade technology, and always with the best interests of taxpayers in mind."

    He added, "We could not be more fortunate to have had him here for the past five-and-a-half years and are thrilled that he has agreed to remain for the next two-and-a-half-years."

    Brezinsky said the contract proposal Sullivan presented the Select Board "could not have been more friendly to the town."

    Sullivan will receive a $500 raise for fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019, when the new contract takes effect. His current annual salary is $128,500.

    In an email, Sullivan said, "I am thankful for the Select Board for giving me the opportunity to be a small part of so many interesting projects in South Hadley. "

    The board discussed Sullivan's contract offer during a recent executive session. Municipal boards hold the right to call an executive session on personnel matters, including contracts under consideration.

    Brezinsky said the board unanimously agreed to Sullivan's contract terms.

    The board ratified Sullivan's contract during the body's Oct. 30 regular session. Selectwoman Sarah Etelman thanked Sullivan for his service to South Hadley.

    The vote and the meeting took less than three minutes.

    Sullivan gave an update on the police chief hiring process. He expects the vetting process to end Nov. 9, followed by his recommendation to the board Nov. 13.

    Sullivan said the process remains confidential as he considers any early revelations "imprudent" for the town and the candidates. "I am confident we will have it all tied down by Nov. 9," he said.


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    Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said the indictment of a local police officer, Gregg Bigda, is "very troubling" adding that any officer who breaches the public trust should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said Wednesday that the indictment of a city police officer Gregg A. Bigda is "very troubling," adding that the episode "reflects unfairly" on the majority of the police force.

    "This is very troubling, as our police officers are sworn to enforce our laws, not break them," Sarno said. "Any officer that breaches the public trust should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

    Sarno said there is "zero tolerance for this type of behavior." 

    Sarno's comments came as Police Commissioner John R. Barbieri said Bigda was suspended without pay in the wake of a federal indictment charging him with excessive force, abusive interrogations and falsifying reports.

    Former officer Steven M. Vigneault has also been charged in the case, which involves the arrest and interrogations of three juvenile suspects who allegedly stole an undercover police vehicle in February 2016. 

    Sarno said the matter "reflects unfairly on the vast majority of our brave and dedicated police officers, who put their lives on the line protecting our citizens day in and day out."

    Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos called for the immediate termination of Bigda.

    "I'm not going to mince words here; Greg Bigda has to be fired immediately!" Ramos said. "I'm calling on commissioner Barbrieri to fire him right away!"

    Council Vice-President Kateri Walsh said she is pleased to see action was taken regarding Bigda.

    "With the indictment, I'm glad to see there is public action," Walsh said. "This is a situation that needed attention. I'm happy that the police commissioner has taken direct action. Now, the legal process that protects our citizens will take over. I have great faith in the justice system."

    Walsh said she agrees with the mayor that the indictment is not a reflection of the many good officers in Springfield.

    The story will be updated as reporting continues.


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    James "Whitey" Bulger's death inside a West Virginia federal prison is being investigated as a homicide, federal authorities confirmed Wednesday.

    James "Whitey" Bulger's death inside a West Virginia federal prison is being investigated as a homicide, federal authorities confirmed Wednesday. 

    Bulger, 89, was killed inside the USP Hazelton facility in West Virginia Tuesday around 8:20 a.m. He was transferred to the prison on Monday. 

    Reports by the Boston Globe say Bulger was attacked by inmates at the facility. One of those inmates is convicted mob hitman Freddy Geas, who rose to prominence in the organized crime hierarchy in Western Massachusetts in the early 2000s.

     

    Both Bulger and 51-year-old Geas were in federal prison serving life sentences. For Bulger, he was serving life for 11 murders. Geas was among those convicted of the 2003 murders of Springfield mob boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and low-level associate Gary Westerman in 2003. 

    The U.S. Attorney's Office in West Virginia has not released any more details about Bulger's death. The Federal Bureau has released few details.

    "The United States Attorney's Office and the FBI are investigating the death of James Bulger as a homicide," the recent statement from the US Attorney's Office read. "To protect the integrity of the investigation, no further details will be released at this time."


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    A drowning at the Amherst pond earlier this year underscored the need to design roadway and parking changes so that first responders will not be impeded, the police chief said in a letter to the Select Board.

    AMHERST - Long-standing safety concerns have prompted town officials to recommend traffic alterations at Puffer's Pond.

    A drowning at the pond earlier this year underscored the need to design roadway and parking changes so that first responders will not be impeded, the Police Chief Scott Livingstone said in a letter to the Select Board last week.

    "This pay May, we had an unfortunate drowning incident that occurred on a cold day. Due to the weather the pond was deserted that day. During my conversations with (Fire) Chief Tim Nelson we concurred that had this incident occurred on a day of normal activity on a warm day, we would never had been able to access the pond with basic emergency equipment," Livingstone wrote.

    "Parking near Puffers Pond has been an ongoing problem in Amherst for several decades," the police chief wrote.

    "In recent years the problem has been magnified as the location has grown in popularity with both college students and people traveling from outside Amherst," Livingstone wrote.

    "It is not unusual to have vehicles parked on both sides of State Street, making it difficult for an average size vehicle to pass down the street in either direction. An ambulance or fire vehicle would never make it," the chief wrote.

    "The pond just can't support an unlimited number of visitors" during peak times in the summer.

    The town has proposed limiting the amount of parking along the side of the road, warnings that vehicles would be towed and making travel one-way on a section of State Street.


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    Springfield Police Officer Gregg Bigda pleaded not guilty to four criminal counts in a federal indictment alleging he and a former colleague used excessive force during the arrest of three teens who stole an undercover car in 2016.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Now-suspended city police officer Gregg A. Bigda denied several criminal counts in U.S. District Court Wednesday. 

    He pleaded not guilty to charges of exercising unreasonable force by allegedly beating two juveniles under arrest for stealing an undercover police car in 2016 and later threatening them with injury and trumped up criminal charges.

    Video recorded at the Palmer police station showed Bigda interrogating the suspects, telling one: "I'll crush (your) skull and f---ing get away with it." 

    The teens were arrested in Palmer following a car chase through several communities.

    Bigda appeared in court without handcuffs, wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and a down coat after his arrest by federal agents at his home early this morning.

    He quietly entered not guilty pleas and was released without bail. Bigda was ordered to surrender his passport, firearms and license to carry weapons.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Deepika Baines Shukla also asked that Bigda be evaluated for alcohol abuse.

    "There was quite a bit of evidence that arose during the investigation about alcohol abuse by the defendant and excessive drinking by the defendant, including while on duty," Shukla told a magistrate judge.

    Under federal sentencing guidelines Bigda could face up to 15 years in prison. 

    Bigda was previously suspended for 60 days over his behavior on the video footage, and was suspended without pay indefinitely when a five-count indictment handed up by a grand jury on Oct. 25 was unsealed today.

    Bigda was indicted along with his former colleague, Steven M. Vigneault, who resigned from the police force in 2016 after being accused of kicking a juvenile in the face after three boys stole an undercover car left running outside a pizza shop.

    Vigneault has steadfastly denied he kicked the teen and was a cooperating government witness in a long-running federal investigation. He recently found himself a target instead.

    He is also slated to be arraigned Wednesday.


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    Patrick Connolly threw the beverage can at one of the Duck Boats, striking a man who was on board, according to Boston police.

    A 19-year-old Sandwich man has been arrested for throwing a full can of beer at one of the Duck Boats carting Boston Red Sox players through the city to celebrate the team's World Series victory.

    Patrick Connolly threw the beverage can at one of the Duck Boats, striking a man who was on board, according to Boston police.

    The Duck Boat was in the area of 560 Boylston St. in the Back Bay neighborhood when Connolly threw the beer, around 11:40 a.m., police said.

    Police did not identify the person struck by the beer can and did not say if the person was a Boston Red Sox player.

    The man hit by the can was not injured.

    Connolly is expected to appear in Boston Municipal Court for charges of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct. 

    Also during the parade, a fan threw a beer can at the World Series trophy, causing some damage.


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    Sean Doyle, 56, of East Longmeadow, pleaded guilty to drunken driving, 4th offense, after a March 30 arrest in Springfield.

    SPRINGFIELD -- An East Longmeadow man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to operating under the influence of alcohol, fourth offense.

    Sean Doyle, 56, was sentenced to two and one half to five years in state prison, followed by five years probation by Hampden Superior Court Judge John S. Ferrara.

    Doyle had been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, fifth offense, but it was reduced to fourth offense as part of the plea.

    He also pleaded guilty to violating a restraining order and driving with a suspended license (subsequent offender).

    Defense lawyer Joseph Bernard asked Ferrara to sentence Doyle to a two and one half year sentence in the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, with 18 months to be served and the rest suspended with probation.

    He said a long state prison sentence would not help Doyle deal with his alcoholism, asking that Ferrara recommend the 18 months be at the Western Massachusetts Recovery and Wellness Center at Mill Street.

    Police responded to a call March 30 saying Doyle was parked outside of his estranged wife's Springfield house despite her having a restraining order against him. Officers found him sleeping in his car which was running and had the radio on, Assistant District Attorney James M. Forsyth said.

    When police took him out of the car he was unable to stand on his own, Forsyth said.

    He said Doyle has similar charges pending in Connecticut. He has new charge of assault and battery and resisting arrest in Springfield District Court. Alcohol was a factor in that case, Forsyth said.

    Bernard said Doyle did not hurt anyone and was parked with the car running when police found him drunk. He said Doyle parked in front of his estranged wife's house and "gets himself bombed with a bottle of brandy."

    Bernard said, "It doesn't matter how long you take away the drink." He said the program at the Mill Street facility is "nationally renowned."

    Doyle asked to speak to Ferrara and the judge said he would hear him.

    After offering apologies to the court, lawyers and his family, Doyle said, "I'm begging the court to send me to Mill Street."

    In addition to Doyle's past operating under the influence of alcohol charges he has past assault convictions and has had other restraining orders taken out against him, Forsyth said. 


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    Freight trains block the Vietnam Veterans Bridge for lengthy periods of time -- and with the nearby Morgan-Sullivan bridge under construction, officials fear a traffic nightmare.

    WEST SPRINGFIELD -- It can happen three to four times a day. Long freight trains coupling and decoupling at the CSX rail yard block the Vietnam Veterans Bridge that links the city to neighboring Agawam.

    Motorists can wait anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour as the freight cars block Front Street in West Springfield. The long line of containers moves back and forth as cars are attached and detached at the multimodal freight facility, located about a mile away.

    Drivers have no prior warning of the random bridge blockades. When they occur, many motorists turn around, head east, and cross the Westfield River at the nearby Morgan-Sullivan bridge instead.

    However, the Morgan-Sullivan bridge is now undergoing a $21 million reconstruction, and will see lane closures for three to four years. Already, the construction is causing backups -- even without any extra traffic diverted from its sister span.

    In recent interviews, mayors from Agawam and West Springfield said it's time for CSX and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to come to the table, agree to some concessions, and help keep traffic flowing between the two communities.

    "What we're seeing now is the combination of bridge construction, more activity by CSX, and poor communication between CSX and MassDOT," said West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt. "We need a legitimate long-term solution, or at least a band-aid for the next several years."

    "I haven't given up on this, and I'm not going to give up on this," said Agawam Mayor William Sapelli.

    The mayors said their short-term goal is to find a way to set up electronic "early warning signs" to inform motorists when the intersection is blocked.

    "It's written into the Morgan-Sullivan bridge contract that MassDOT will pay for the early warning signs," said Reichelt. "What's not known is if CSX will let us tap into their signal."

    A CSX electronic signal tracks the location of freight cars, and that information could be shared to help the motoring public, Reichelt said. In previous years, he said, CSX refused to share that signal, or wanted too much money.

    Reichelt said if CSX won't cooperate the city or MassDOT might set up their own infrared sensor to animate such early warning signs. "The state will pay to have the sensors talk to the sign," he said.

    The two said CSX has listened to community concerns, then taken little action to allay them.

    "Our words have fallen on deaf ears," said Sapelli, who took office in January.

    "They were very polite," said Reichelt, who added that West Springfield has been trying to work with CSX for more than four years, ever since a nearby Route 20 bridge was replaced to let the rail yard accept double-stack cargoes.

    State Rep. Michael J. Finn, D-West Springfield, said he has worked over the years to bring CSX to the table, but that the corporation has not been responsive.

    "Our conversations have never been very productive," said Finn.

    Reichelt said West Springfield once set up a temporary video camera to document the problem. During a meeting this spring involving CSX, Reichelt and Sapelli, counsel for both towns and state lawmakers, a live feed from the camera was projected on a 70-inch screen in Reichelt's office.

    "The whole time CSX was here, their train was blocking the road," said Reichelt. "So they could see that we are not just making this up."

    Reichelt and Sapelli said they are hopeful progress could be in store.

    "MassDOT has taken an interest," said Sapelli. He said rail division Deputy Administrator James Eng is working to solve the problem, and that Eng's assistant at MassDOT, Scott Conti, is also on task.

    Reichelt said electronic warning signs would help, but that a longer-term strategy is needed.

    He said rail yard operators could choose to "break the train in half" at Front Street after a certain number of cars are linked, and at least temporarily open free passage for motorists during any lengthy train coupling.

    "Having to wait for 10 or 15 minutes is better than having to wait for an hour," said Reichelt, who added that the trains can be a mile and a half long.

    According to the mayors, having both bridges hobbled has implications for mutual aid between fire departments. West Springfield last year hired more firefighters and established a third ambulance, so it is no longer quite as vulnerable, said Reichelt.

    "At this point, Agawam is more dependent on us than we are on them," Reichelt said.

    A third road link between the two communities, involving Routes 5 and 57, involves more miles, but can be used if both bridges are blocked.

    Sapelli said that's not adequate. "Time delays can result in possible death," he said. "For safety reasons we need something done."

    In the meantime, a Facebook group has been set up where drivers post updates when Front Street and the Vietnam Veterans Bridge are blocked by freight trains.

    It's not clear how much jurisdiction MassDOT has over the situation. The state agency has not responded to multiple requests from The Republican for comment and information.

    CSX submitted a statement Monday pledging to be part of the solution.

    "CSX has worked closely with local officials and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to fully understand and discuss potential solutions for the Front Street blocked crossing issue," the statement reads. "Most recently, in the pre-planning meetings for the Morgan-Sullivan Bridge Project, CSX officials reviewed our public project process and reiterated our willingness to partner with the road authority and MassDOT on both a long-term solution and a project-specific fix to assist with the traffic challenges."

    The statement said CSX "remains focused on being a good neighbor to West Springfield residents and businesses," and "looks forward to keeping an open line of communication" with city leaders and MassDOT.

    Sapelli said he's skeptical, and that CSX so far has not come up with any solutions.

    "West Side has been upset abut this for some time," added Reichelt. "Now that Mayor Sapelli is in office, he is pushing this hard. We're going to keep working together."

    CSX in 2010 completed a $10 million upgrade of its West Springfield rail yard. Several years ago, in order to accommodate double-stack operations by CSX, MassDOT replaced and reconstructed six bridges in the towns of Chester, Hinsdale, Richmond and West Springfield.

    Earlier this month, CSX announced record third-quarter earnings of $894 million, versus $459 million in the same period last year.


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    Geovonny Hernandez, 24, of Springfield, is charged with armed assault with intent to murder and other crimes in connection with a July 3 incident in Springfield.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The lawyer for Geovonny Hernandez, the man shot by Springfield police after allegedly driving into an officer July 3, argued Wednesday that his client should not be held without right to bail.

    "It seems rather improbable the incident took place the way police officers' said it took place," said Timothy M. Farris, who is representing Hernandez. 

    Assistant District Attorney Christopher E. McDonald said Hernandez drove directly at city police officer Darrin Fitzpatrick, who landed on the car's hood. While on the hood of Hernandez's accelerating car, Fitzpatrick fired his gun into Hernandez's chest, according to police reports.

    McDonald argued to Hampden Superior Court Judge Daniel M. Wrenn that Hernandez should be held without right to bail for the 180 days allowed under the state's dangerousness law.

    Wrenn took the matter under advisement.

    Farris said he believes police reports from officers at the scene are not reliable, and said the idea that Fitzpatrick shot Hernandez while he was on the hood of Hernandez's moving car is not believable.

    "I suggest it's totally illogical it occurred this way," Farris said.

    He said he believes Fitzpatrick was standing in front of Hernandez's car when he shot Hernandez -- and that Hernandez then lost control of the car and hit Fitzpatrick.

    McDonald said Fitzpatrick fired the shot and then was thrown off the car and "went airborne" as Hernandez accelerated.

    Hernandez, 24, of Springfield, has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including armed assault with intent to murder.

    Other charges are illegal possession of a firearm, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, assault and battery on a police officer, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The dangerous weapon is the vehicle Hernandez was driving. No guns or drugs were found on Hernandez or in his car.

    The incident unfolded outside 68 Fort Pleasant St. after police said they saw Hernandez bring a gun there and give it to someone else. An officer said he watched the transaction via binoculars while doing surveillance on that address during a drug investigation.

    After Hernandez was shot and drove away, police stopped him again about a half-mile away on Kensington Avenue, near the intersection of Oakland Street. Officers provided first aid until an ambulance arrived. Hernandez was bleeding heavily from his chest, police said.

    Fitzpatrick was treated at the hospital and released later that night. Hernandez was released from the hospital July 9, according to police.

    About a dozen people were arrested on drug charges from the investigation of 68 Fort Pleasant Ave. Some were alleged to be customers and some were charged as drug dealers.


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    Big Y's sock drive was part of the company's annual flu shot initiative in all 39 Big Y World Class Market pharmacy locations. Big Y donated a pair of socks to a local shelter for every flu shot given in one of their pharmacies during the "Sock-tember" program.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Big Y Foods collected  6,759 pairs of new, still-in-the package  socks which will be donated to the homeless in local communities  thanks to its  first-ever "Sock-tember" program.

    "Sock-tember" ran from Sept. 13 through October 3.

    Big Y's sock  drive was part of the company's annual flu shot initiative in all 39 Big Y World Class Market pharmacy locations. Big Y donated a pair of socks to a local shelter for every flu shot given in one of their pharmacies during the "Sock-tember" program.

    All Big Y locations with pharmacies were encouraged to have a "Crazy Sock Day" for employees to raise awareness and socks were also available for purchase in these stores so customers who aren't getting flu shots could add to the donations.

    Big Y operates 80 locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut including 70 supermarkets, 39 pharmacies, Fresh Acres Market, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors and 8 Big Y Express gas and convenience locations with more than  11,000 employees.


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    In response to questions from citizens attending the public hearing, about the size of the cottages, Planning Board Chairman Michael Marciniec said: "These units have to 1,200 square feet or under."

    PALMER - The Planning Board at Monday's meeting told Joseph Paolini, a property owner seeking approval to build 222 seasonal cottages on land he owns bordering Forest Lake, that some minor issues remain.

    The board scheduled another public hearing in December, when a final decision could come.

    Paolini told the board he would be the general contractor for the project. In an interview following the meeting, he said he hopes building can begin next year, once permits from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission have been approved.

    In response to questions from citizens attending the public hearing, about the size of the cottages, Planning Board Chairman Michael Marciniec said: "These units have to be 1,200 square feet or under."

    Marciniec asked the developer to submit a comprehensive set of documents so that the board can properly adjudicate the project at the next meeting. "The communication has been kind of partitioned. ... There are pieces that are missing from the file," he said.

    "We apologize for any miscommunication," said the project's senior coordinator, Rick Licht. An engineer, he is a president of Licht Environmental Design of Maine.

    Resident Elaine McNeill told the Planning Board that the Forest Lake area is a nesting place for bald eagles, and that any endangered species matters should be resolved before any town permits are issued for the project.

    Marciniec said in response that neither the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife nor the Department of Environmental Protection had contacted the town.

    The board said town bylaws allow three-season housing developments that can be used from March 1 to Nov. 30.

    At the conclusion of Monday's meeting, Marciniec said: "We hope to wrap this up" at the next public hearing scheduled for Dec. 10.

    Paolini owns nearly 100 acres of land surrounding Forest Lake.


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    Luis Figueroa, 50, was arrested on multiple charges including possession to distribute heroin, subsequent offense; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; possession of ammunition without a permit and receiving stolen property under $1,200.

    SPRINGFIELD - Police raided a home in the Old Hill neighborhood, arrested a 50-year-old man and confiscated a stolen gun and more than 300 bags of heroin Tuesday.

    After an investigation, Capt. Brian Keenan and members of the department's Strategic Impact Unit which he supervises, received a warrant to search Figueroa's home on 21 Ladd St., said Ryan Walsh, police spokesman.

    While heading to the home at about 9:20 a.m., police spotted Figueroa, whose license is suspended, driving on nearby Hancock Street. Officers pulled him over and arrested him, he said.

    Detectives and officers in the unit then searched the home and reportedly found 310 bags of heroin, a gun later found to be stolen in Barnstable, ammunition and more than $6,100 in cash, he said.

    Figueroa was charged with possession to distribute heroin, subsequent offense; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; possession of ammunition without a permit; receiving stolen property under $1,200 and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, he said.


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    Former Springfield Police Officer Steven Vigneault faces up to 15 years in prison after being charged with a single count of deprivation of civil rights in U.S. District Court. Watch video

    SPRINGFIELD -- Former Springfield police detective Steven M. Vigneault denied an excessive force charge in U.S. District Court Wednesday.

    He and his former colleague, Officer Gregg Bigda, were arrested earlier this morning and charged in a five-count indictment alleging the two brutalized teen boys who had stolen Vigneault's undercover SUV in 2016.

    Vigneault's attorney, Daniel D. Kelly, said during remarks outside the courthouse that Vigneault will likely be exonerated. 

    "There is a tendency to rush to judgment in cases like these. We would ask that the public not rush to judgment," Kelly said.

    The chain of events leading to the indictments began when Vigneault left his vehicle running outside a Worthington Street pizza shop while he ran in to get take-out food for the narcotics unit one night. He and Bigda were part of that unit at the time. At least three boys hopped in the car and took off, according to police reports. They were later stopped and arrested in Palmer.

    Springfield detectives showed up, by all accounts, uninvited at the scene and essentially hijacked the arrest, by most accounts.

    Vigneault and Bigda both stand accused of kicking and beating two boys when they were in handcuffs.

    Bigda allegedly screamed "Welcome to white town!" during the arrest and was later recorded on surveillance video at the Palmer police station verbally terrorizing two of the boys.

    The incident has been a persistent embarrassment for the police department for over two years. The pair's arrests this morning ended months of speculation over whether federal prosecutors would move forward with criminal charges.

    Vigneault resigned over the kicking allegation in 2016, though he denies assaulting any of the juvenile suspects. He has a civil lawsuit pending in Hampden Superior Court against the city. Vigneault argues he was bluffed into resigning while Bigda was treated with favoritism. 

    Bigda was suspended for 60 days when the video footage came to light two years ago. He was suspended indefinitely without pay after his arrest this morning.

    Vigneault was released without bail and ordered to stay away from witnesses and alleged victims in the case. He faces up to 15 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.


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    Wayne Hairston, 56, was last seen on Oct. 21 when he was attending morning church services.

    SPRINGFIELD - Police are asking for help to locate a resident who has been missing for 10 days.

    Wayne Hairston, 56, was last seen Oct. 21 after he attended morning church services. He takes medications and family members who have not heard from him are concerned, police spokesman Ryan Walsh said.

    He is about 5 feet, one inch tall, weighs about 260 pounds and wears glasses. He usually stays at the Springfield Rescue Mission, he said.

    Anyone who has seen Hairston or has information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the police department's non-emergency at 413-787-6302 or to share tips or other information call 413-750-2253.


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    In a Facebook post, Josh Davis said he was sore, but recovering in a hospital.

     

    A Boston Red Sox fan was attacked outside Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles following the Red Sox World Series victory in Game 5, according to NECN.

    They report that Josh Davis was stabbed multiple times, suffered a fractured nose and lost several teeth in the attack.

    In a Facebook post, Davis said he was sore, but recovering in a hospital.

    "After getting into a brawl with two Dudes the third one whistled for more help, in the blink of an eye I was surrounded by a large group of them and started to fear for my life and just started going Tanzanian devil after they started striking me.," he said in the post.

    The station reports Davis, a Massachusetts native who now lives in Los Angeles, was attacked by about 10 people.

    An investigation is underway and no arrests have been made.


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    Two women used credit cards stolen in car breaks to try to buy more than $1,000 in goods from Walmart.

    CHICOPEE - Police are asking for help to identify two women suspected of breaking into cars earlier this month.

    Vehicles were broken into on Oct. 1 at Planet Fitness on Memorial Drive and credit cards were taken from at least one of the cars, said Michael Wilk, police public information officer.

    Soon after the breaks two women used the stolen credit cards at Walmart, also on Memorial Drive. They attempted to make more than $1,000 in purchases but were only successful in buying about $500 in goods, Wilk said.

    The two were caught on the store camera and police are now asking for help to identify them. Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call the detective bureau at 413-594-1730 and reference case 4654, he said.


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    City Councilor Justin Hurst sharply criticized top local officials including Police Commissioner John Barbieri and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno in how they handled the case of police officer Gregg Bigda, now under federal indictment in a 2016 arrest case involving juveniles.

    SPRINGFIELD -- City Councilor Justin Hurst, in response to the federal indictment and suspension of Police Officer Gregg Bigda, has sharply criticized the police commissioner, mayor and district attorney for their handling of excessive force allegations.

    "Thank goodness that the U.S. Attorney's Office of the United States is not afraid of Mayor (Domenic) Sarno or the corrupt system that allowed Police Detective Greg (sic) Bigda to remain on the force when he should have been fired and locked up a long time ago," Hurst said in a statement. "The very fact that justice had to be served by the United States Attorney's Office means that our local law enforcement failed miserably to protect our citizens both before and after Bigda tarnished the badge and the department."

    Hurst, who is chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, made the statement after The Republican/MassLive reported Wednesday that Bigda had been indicted on federal excessive force and other charges and suspended without pay by Police Commissioner John Barbieri.

    Sarno said on Wednesday that the case is "very troubling," adding that any officer who breaches the public trust "should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

    Former officer Steven M. Vigneault has also been charged in the case, which involves the arrest and interrogations of three juvenile suspects who allegedly stole an undercover police cruiser in February of 2016.

    Bigda was caught on a video at the Palmer Police Department threatening two juveniles in police lockup. He is accused of threatening to kill one of the teens and to plant drug evidence on the other in order to send him to prison.

    Some councilors including Hurst have long been critical of Barbieri for not taking action to fire Bigda.

    Barbieri initially suspended Bigda for 60 days, saying he was unable to fire him because he did not learn of the video until after a 90-day disciplinary window required under the union contract.

    Hurst questioned the leadership of both Barbieri and Sarno.

    "No one deserves any mercy on this one," Hurst said. "Our Police Commissioner, John Barbieri was not strong enough to fire Detective Bigda on his own, which means that he is not strong enough to lead our Police Department. And, if he is so beholden to the advice of Solicitor (Edward) Pikula and Mayor Sarno (who both advised him not to fire Detective Bigda) that he is handcuffed when making these types of commonsense decisions, then he should resign from his position effective immediately."

    Hurst said Sarno's leadership "must be called into question as he continues to enable this corrupt system while citizens distrust for local government and our police department is exacerbated."

    Sarno declined comment on Hurst's statement.

    Barbieri, contacted through a spokesman, did not immediate offer comment on Hurst's statement.

    Hurst said District Attorney Anthony Gulluni was "the lead actor in the cover up of the Bigda case."

    "The idea that the District Attorney could sit on evidence that clearly implicated Detective Bigda and then not file any charges is a disgrace to our justice system," Hurst said.

    James Leydon, a spokesman for the DA's office, said in response, that "in fact, in 2016 it was the Hampden District Attorney's Office that discovered Mr. Bigda's misconduct and provided it to the relevant parties."

    "After a meeting that included federal authorities and members of the District Attorney's Office, this matter was cooperatively referred to the United States Attorney's Office for investigation, as documented by a letter dated October 13, 2016," Leydon said. "The federal indictments involve charges that, in large part, have no equivalent in Massachusetts law."

    In a previous statement, Leydon said that if the district attorney's office "hadn't disclosed the Bigda videos proactively the issue wouldn't be in the public consciousness right now."


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    An ACLU attorney has criticized Smith College's policies.

    An American Civil Liberties Union attorney has criticized Smith College's policies, despite the findings of a newly released report that state no employees acted inappropriately during an alleged incident of racial profiling this summer. 

    ACLU lawyer Carl Takei had previously offered representation to Oumou Kanoute, the 20-year-old Smith student who, on July 31, had campus security called on her as she ate lunch in a campus building at the school. Kanoute later alleged that the incident was racially motivated.

    However, two civil rights attorneys that were hired by the school to investigate the incident reported earlier this week that they had found no evidence of bias by the involved employees. 

    Takei initially began representing Kanoute in September after the ACLU announced it would attempt to mitigate a "restorative justice" process surrounding the incident. Takei's representation also coincided with the ACLU's launch of a new initiative designed to prevent racial bias on college campuses. 

    At that time, investigation by the two attorneys with the Sanghavi Law Office-- which specializes in discrimination and civil rights -- had not yet completed its work. 

    However, the Sanghavi attorneys published a 35-page report Monday that showed they had found no evidence of bias. 

    "The report's findings are important in two respects. First, they provide a foundation for potential reconciliation and healing for those involved," Smith College President Kathleen McCartney said in a statement. "Second, they include recommendations about Smith's future, a future in which we recommit to ensuring that every member of our community feels welcome and valued."

    McCartney further stated that the report identified "two areas for improvement regarding employee policies and trainings as well as policies and trainings specific to campus police, all with the aim of reducing the likelihood of bias-related incidents." The President said the school would pursue reforms to these ends. 

    Takei, who had previously claimed the incident was a clear example of bias, said Monday that he still felt that Kanoute had been singled out. 

    "Oumou should never have been reported to the police. Any reasonable person looking at Oumou on the couch would have seen a Black student doing nothing threatening or suspicious," Takei said in a statement. 

    Takei also alleged that the school had "abysmal" policies when it came to handling "race-based suspicious person situations."

    The full statement, released Monday, can be read below: 

    "Smith's investigators determined no policies were violated based on a key finding of its own report: The college's policies provide abysmal guidance on how to deal with race-based suspicious person situations, for both individuals making the calls and dispatchers fielding them.

    "Oumou should never have been reported to the police. Any reasonable person looking at Oumou on the couch would have seen a Black student doing nothing threatening or suspicious."

    "Most importantly, the college's investigators found none of the college's policies provide protection for Black and brown students who are targets of racially motivated suspicious person calls. The ACLU's model policies directly address the faults the investigators themselves found in Smith's existing ones. We urge Smith to adopt the policy changes and institutional reforms that the ACLU provided to the college in September, to protect Oumou and other students of color so this doesn't happen again."


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