Articles on this Page
- 11/19/18--09:45: _Devon Williams, cha...
- 11/19/18--10:13: _Judge extends impou...
- 11/19/18--14:17: _Raunchy rap video s...
- 11/19/18--12:22: _Report: US Reps. Se...
- 11/19/18--11:49: _Daily Hampshire Gaz...
- 11/19/18--11:57: _Way Finders begins ...
- 11/19/18--12:47: _Former Baystate Med...
- 11/19/18--12:16: _Welcoming Community...
- 11/19/18--12:17: _Mass. lawmakers say...
- 11/19/18--12:54: _Easthampton propert...
- 11/19/18--13:27: _Nearly 100,000 poun...
- 11/19/18--13:27: _Chicopee pedestrian...
- 11/19/18--13:35: _Springfield committ...
- 11/19/18--14:43: _Man suspected of cu...
- 11/19/18--15:29: _Chicago hospital sh...
- 11/19/18--15:20: _Northampton police ...
- 11/19/18--15:26: _Obituaries from The...
- 11/19/18--19:07: _Springfield Council...
- 11/20/18--04:02: _Easthampton council...
- 11/19/18--22:12: _US preparing to add...
- 11/19/18--09:45: Devon Williams, charged in MGM Springfield assault, denies 7 charges
- 11/19/18--10:13: Judge extends impoundment on police report in Stewart Weldon case
- 11/19/18--14:17: Raunchy rap video shot at Cindy's Drive-in upsets Granby owners
- 11/19/18--11:49: Daily Hampshire Gazette publisher out amid union push
- A city official shall not inquire as to an individual's immigration status unless required by federal or state law.
- A city official shall not target with legal action or discriminate against a medical, educational or faith institution in their mission of providing refuge to immigrants and their families.
- A city official shall not initiate an investigation or take law enforcement action, including regulatory action, on the basis of actual or perceived immigration status.
- A city official shall honor judicial warrants, but shall not respond to an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) request for notification about the incarceration status or pending release of a person in custody nor communicate with ICE about home and work addresses or phone number of the person.
- To the extent permissible by law, a city official shall not perform the functions of an immigration officer.
- 11/19/18--12:54: Easthampton property taxes on the upswing as tax rate falls
- 11/19/18--13:27: Nearly 100,000 pounds of ground beef recalled over E. coli concerns
- 2,000 lb. - bulk pallets of Swift Ground Beef 81/19 (81% lean) Fine Grind Combo bearing product code 42982.
- 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of "blue ribbon BEEF" Ground Beef 81/19 (81% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42410.
- 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of "blue ribbon BEEF" Ground Beef 93/07 (93% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42413.
- 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of "blue ribbon BEEF" Ground Beef 85/15 (85% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42415.
- 8-10 lb. - plastic wrapped chubs of "blue ribbon BEEF" Ground Beef 73/27 (73% lean) Coarse Grind bearing product code 42510.
- 11/19/18--13:27: Chicopee pedestrian struck by plow recovering, driver faces charges
- 11/19/18--15:29: Chicago hospital shooting: Gunman opens fire, wounds at least 4
- NETA is stocked with enough marijuana and marijuana products to meet the Tuesday crowds' needs, officials said.
- A legal identification card such as a driver's license is required to enter NETA and only those 21 and older can gain access.
- Out-of-staters can enter the facility and shop as long as they have a legal ID.
- Marijuana and marijuana products cannot be consumed inside the facility and smoking pot or consumption of medical marijuana products in public is prohibited.
- Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz, a U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard veteran, on the significance of him being chosen to be the first purchaser when NET opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday: "Beyond that, though, I do think that as a supporter, a long-time supporter of both legalization of medical marijuana and as a supporter of adult use marijuana, I think it sends an important message that I be the first person to make that purchase. There's obviously been a lot of stigma around marijuana in this country. Massachusetts has moved forward on it in terms of, first, voting to decriminalize then voting to legalize medical and now recreational. Northampton has been a strong supporter of that."
- 11/19/18--15:26: Obituaries from The Republican, Nov. 19, 2018
- 11/19/18--22:12: US preparing to add Venezuela to list of state sponsors of terrorism
Devon Williams, 27, of Springfield, is charged with armed assault with intent to murder and other crimes for separate assaults on five men.
SPRINGFIELD -- Devon Williams, charged in a Sept. 9 assault on a patron at MGM Springfield, on Monday denied charges related to that attack and four others around the city that day.
In a separate matter Williams was indicted Nov. 14 on two new charges involving incidents Sept. 10 at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow.
He is charged with disturbing a correctional institute and assault and battery.
Williams, 27, of Springfield, is accused of punching and kicking a 55-year-old man at the casino.
For that assault he is charged with armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot) causing serious bodily injury and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury.
In four other assault and battery cases Williams is charged with beating four different men. Three of the incidents happened in different parts of Springfield on Sept. 9, shortly before the assault at the casino.
Another assault happened Sept. 1 in Springfield, according to the indictment.
He was ordered held without right to bail Monday and a dangerousness hearing was set for Nov. 27. At that hearing a judge could order him held without right to bail for 120 days.
Williams is represented by Nicholas Raring in the case being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney James M. Forsyth.
Stewart Weldon, 41, of Springfield, is charged with three counts of murder and 49 other crimes.
SPRINGFIELD -- Springfield District Court Judge Charles W. Groce III on Monday continued the impoundment of a police report on a woman who says accused killer Stewart Weldon tried to drag her into his home in February.
Groce allowed Assistant District Attorney Max Bennett's motion to continue the impoundment until Wednesday, when Springfield District Court Judge John Payne is slated to be back in the court.
Payne has heard all matters relating to impoundment in Weldon's cases.
Another judge on Friday allowed Bennett's motion to impound the report.
Bennett said the appearance of the woman's name and address in a police report made public Thursday and obtained by a number of media outlets "has placed the victim in immediate danger of being publicly outed which would place her life in peril."
The Republican / MassLive and The Boston Globe went to court in June seeking the release of the report, which was impounded at Weldon's June 4 arraignment on charges of kidnapping and assault with attempt to rape.
On Thursday The Republican / MassLive received a PDF that included two versions of the report: one with the woman's name and address redacted, and one in which the information was not blacked out.
The Republican / MassLive did not identify the woman by name in its reporting on the documents, which also included a list of evidence collected during a weeklong search of the 1333 Page Blvd. property where police found three other women's bodies.
The Globe -- which interviewed the woman and published an account of her story in June -- has not identified her by name, either.
In a version of the report made public in late June, after the news organizations sought its release, large portions of the narrative written by officer James M. Crogan were blacked out, as were names, addresses and phone numbers in other sections of the report.
Weldon is charged with kidnapping and assault with intent to rape in connection with the woman.
The disclosure of the woman's name in the documents violates a state law protecting the identity of victims of sexual assaults or attempted sexual crimes, Bennett wrote in his motion.
Weldon, 41, is charged with murder in the deaths of of Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow, and Springfield residents Ernestine Ryans, 47, and 34-year-old America Lyden. Their bodies were found in and around the 1333 Page Blvd. property where he lived with his mother.
He was arrested after a traffic stop on May 27, when a woman in his car -- the mother of his children -- told police he'd been holding her captive and brutalizing her for weeks.
A grand jury indicted Weldon on a total of 52 counts, including kidnapping and aggravated rape. The indictments list a total of 11 victims.
The music video, "Ice Cream" by rapper Troy Ave, features several twerking bikini clad women on the counters at Cindy's.
GRANBY -- Cindy's Drive-in, best known for its foot-long hot dogs and thick shakes, is getting what owners consider unwelcome attention following a raunchy music video shot there.
The music video, "Ice Cream" by rapper Troy Ave, features several twerking bikini clad women on the counters at Cindy's, who are eating ice cream in a highly suggestive manner. The rapper, who is awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder, released his new album More Money More Problems on Friday.
With its picnic tables and children's playground amusements, Cindy's has been a family favorite along Route 202 for five decades. It was chosen one of the 10 best places in Massachusetts to get ice cream by MassLive this past summer.
Owners Anthony and Cynthia Maloni said the family rented out the 1950s style drive-in on East State Street for a few hundred dollars during the off-season for a music video shoot, which they mistakenly thought was for a local band.
"We strive to be wholesome and we do things for the community," Cynthia Maloni said. "I am 70 years old. I don't know rap music. If I had known what it was, we never would have allowed it."
Anthony Maloni said he was in church when someone told him about the raunchy video shot in the restaurant he has owned for nearly 25 years.
"This is horrible," he said. "You couldn't pay me enough money to allow this to happen ... not $100,000."
On social media, there had been some criticism of Cindy's Drive-in because of the video shoot.
After Troy Ave tweeted the video, a Chicopee resident asked the rapper, "How on earth did you come across Cindy's Drive In?? I need to know the story behind this."
So far, Troy Ave has remained mum.
The Brooklyn based rapper has released his first album since he was involved in a May 25, 2016 shooting at Irving Plaza's VIP section, where he took a bullet to a leg and bodyguard, Ronald "Banga" McPhatter, was killed.
Security camera footage shows Troy Ave firing a gun during the incident, according to The New York Times.
Two members of Massachusetts' congressional delegation announced Monday that they are among more than a dozen House Democrats who plan to oppose Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's bid to take over as the chamber's next speaker.
Two members of Massachusetts' congressional delegation are reportedly among more than a dozen House Democrats who plan to oppose Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's bid to take over as the chamber's next speaker.
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, and Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston, joined 14 Democrats in sending a Monday letter to chamber colleagues vowing to block Pelosi's speakership bid when the House flips back to the party's control in January, according to various news reports.
Although Democrats who signed the letter praised Pelosi's "years of service to our country" and the caucus, they argued that midterm voters supported Democrats out of a desire for change in Washington -- something which they said should begin with the party's leadership in Congress.
"Democrats ran and won on a message of change," they reportedly wrote. "Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise."
"Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our caucus meeting and on the House floor," they continued, according to a copy of the letter published by Axios.
Moulton's reported signing of the letter does not come as a surprise. The Salem Democrat has publicly come out in support of Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge's bid for U.S. House speaker.
"Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio is the kind of new leader that we deserve in this party, and I hope she runs for speaker," he tweeted last week. "We need more women, including women of color, in congressional leadership."
Moulton further told The Republican that he had two goals heading into the 2018 election: To win back the House of Representatives and to "fundamentally change Congress."
"There's no millennial in America that looks at Leader Pelosi and says, 'That's the future of our party,'" he said in a late-October interview, arguing that the Democrat's bench "has been kept down" by current leadership.
Lynch, meanwhile, raised concerns about Pelosi's leadership during a 2015 interview with a Boston television program.
"Nancy Pelosi will not lead us back to the majority," he reportedly said at the time, adding the he believed she should resign from her leadership post.
Although Fudge has said she's considering a run for speaker, she was not among the Democrats who signed the letter.
Democrats hold a 232 to 200 member majority in the House with three races yet to be called, Axios noted. Opposition from 16 Democrats -- including one candidate whose race has not been called -- however, could put Pelosi's speakership in jeopardy, if the minority leader falls shy of the 218 needed to secure the role.
The caucus is expected to hold it's leadership vote on Nov. 28. The floor vote will be held on Jan. 3.
Aaron Julien, president and CEO at parent company Newspapers of New England, Inc., has taken over as publisher effective immediately.
The publisher of the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Valley Advocate in Northampton, the Amherst Bulletin, The Recorder in Greenfield and the Athol Daily News has been reassigned.
Aaron Julien, president and CEO at parent company Newspapers of New England, Inc., has taken over as publisher effective immediately.
The move was announced Monday in a news story on the Gazette's website. Julien told staff of the changes Monday morning in the newsroom.
The former publisher, Michael Rifanburg, has been named vice president of the company's third-party services group, which handles commercial printing, digital services and other businesses, according to the Gazette.
The move came exactly one week after employees at the Gazette, the Bulletin and the Advocate announced plans to form a union affiliated with the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America.
Employees at The Recorder and Athol Daily News are not involved in the organizing efforts.
Union backers said about 70 percent of 72 Gazette, Advocate and Bulletin workers have signed a petition. They are in the process of working with the National Labor Relations Board to schedule an election among workers.
Julien had already sent a letter to employees last week saying despite the challenges in the industry, a union is not the answer.
Construction on the new building will begin in December and the new offices will be ready for occupancy in January 2020. Watch video
SPRINGFIELD -- Demolition workers began razing the former Peter Pan Bus Terminal on Monday, making way for a new 33,000-square-foot Way Finders housing center and corporate offices.
Once open in early 2020, the housing center will allow Way Finders (formerly HAP Housing) to provide housing assistance, financial literacy education, job search help, vocational education and first-time home buyer programs to more people. It expects to boost the number of families through its doors from about 20,000 a year now to 30,000 a year or more.
"This is an important project," said Peter Gagliardi, Way Finders president and CEO. "This will make us so much more accessible via public transportation to our urban-based clients and by car to those who drive to us. We'll have parking. We'll be right off the highway, and it's in a visible location."
It was a bittersweet day for Peter Pan Chairman Peter A. Picknelly. The family-run bus company opened the terminal in 1969, and it was the first intermodal terminal bring together multiple bus lines, city transit and taxi services all in one location. Over its 49 years of service, more than 20 million intercity bus passengers were welcomed to Springfield through its doors, making the Peter Pan terminal the most visited building in the Pioneer Valley.
"This was the first building my dad ever built," Picknelly said. "I feel sad for Peter Pan, but very happy for my friend Peter (Gagliardi). I know the new building will serve Way Finders as well as the old building served Peter Pan."
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said that as much as Peter Pan is about moving people from place to place, Way Finders is about moving folks forward in life toward stable housing and eventually home ownership.
Gagliardi said the cost of the project is now about $16 million, including $9 million in construction and the $2.75 million Way Finders paid Peter Pan for the building in December 2017. He said Way Finders plans to borrow about $8 million through a bond guaranteed by MassDevelopment. The other half will come from funds Way Finders either has in hand or will raise, including a $2 million grant from the state, proceeds from the sale of its old building and $4 million from the federal New Markets Tax Credit program.
Gagliardi said the new Way Finders building is part of a chain reaction of development in the city.
Way Finders, founded in 1972, sold its current headquarters at 322 Main St. to Balise Motor Sales for $1 million in 2017. Way Finders has been renting the space since. When it moves out, Way Finders will clear the way for Balise, which has amassed many properties in the South End over the past three years or so, to develop the neighborhood, Gagliardi said.
Peter Pan was able to sell the terminal after it moved its bus operations and offices into Union Station following the $103 million rehab there.
"This is all building off the development of Union Station," Gagliardi said. "I know there are a number of underutilized buildings in the neighborhood."
That would include the former welfare office at 95 Liberty St., just a block away, which is being renovated and offered as office space.
"And people have been talking about the former Kittredge Building (at Liberty Street and East Columbus Avenue) for years," Gagliardi said. "Maybe this will help something to happen."
Prosecutors charge Fabrizio Pluchino used a fake Social Security number, bogus references, and an inflated resume to get hired by Baystate 5 years ago.
SPRINGFIELD - A Georgia man is facing federal fraud charges after he reportedly falsified employment documents,his work history, and references in order to be hired as a cardiac surgical technologist at Baystate Medical Center.
Fabrizio I. Pluchino, 55, originally from Atlanta, Georgia, was arrested Monday after a federal grand jury indicted him on single counts of using a false social security number and wire fraud.
He was arraigned on the charges Monday in U.S. District Court in Springfield. He denied each charge.
According to the indictment that was unsealed Monday, Pluchino between 1988 and 2000 false obtained three Social Security numbers, and between 2000 and 2018, he used them on a variety of documents.
The indictment charges that in November 2013 while applying for work at Baystate, he used one of the fraudulent numbers on two official documents: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9, and the Department of Treasury Form W-4.
He also provided the hospital with two false references, as well as a resume that falsely represented his work history.
The wire fraud charge apparently has to do with Pluchino transmitting at least one false reference to the hospital via email.
Pluchino would be hired by Baystate and would work there for an unknown period of time, during which he was paid a total of $190,000.
A surgical technologist is responsible for preparing an operating room and then assisting the surgeon during a procedure.
Baystate spokesman Keith O'Connor said Monday that he could not speak about when Pluchino was hired or his work history.
He said he could confirm that Pluchino is no longer employed at Baystate.
If convicted of using a false Social Security number, he could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. Conviction of wire fraud could result in a sentence of up to 20 years.
The Springfield City Council will consider a proposed ordinance that would direct municipal employees not to question the immigration status of any resident unless required by law.
SPRINGFIELD -- The City Council on Monday night will consider a proposed ordinance that would direct all municipal employees to promote Springfield as a "welcoming city" without questioning any person's immigration status unless required by federal or state law.
The Welcoming Community Trust Ordinance is slated for first-step consideration at the meeting that begins at 7 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall. A public speak-out is planned at 6:30 p.m.
The sponsors of the ordinance are Councilors Adam Gomez, Jesse Lederman, Orlando Ramos, Michael Fenton and Justin Hurst. The ordinance could get first-step approval, with final approval at a subsequent meeting.
"The purpose of the Ordinance is to affirm that Springfield is a welcoming city," the draft ordinance states. "To promote trust between employees of the city and all members of our community, and to facilitate effective law enforcement and public safety."
Specifically, the ordinance states in part:
Organizations involved in coordinating the ordinance include the Pioneer Valley Project, Springfield Neighbor to Neighbor and The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice, a news release said.
In April, the council voted unanimously to order the city not to interfere with South Congregational Church, which was providing sanctuary to a Peruvian woman facing deportation. The woman, Gisella Collazo, stayed in the sanctuary until she was granted an extension of time on the deportation threat.
Tara Parrish, director of Pioneer Valley Project, said she expects many immigrant residents and other supporters will attend the meeting and some will offer comments during the public speak-out.
The ordinance states that once approved, the policies, practices and training must be promptly developed and implemented.
Federal lawmakers this week condemned pharmaceutical company kaleo, Inc. after a U.S. Senate investigation found it "exploited the opioid crisis" by substantially raising the cost of its overdose reversal drug -- leading to millions in charges to taxpayers.
Federal lawmakers this week condemned pharmaceutical company kaleo, Inc. after a U.S. Senate investigation found it "exploited the opioid crisis" by substantially raising the cost of its overdose reversal drug -- leading to millions in charges to taxpayers.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs' Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report Sunday looking at how the drug manufacturer raised the price for its naloxone drug, EVZIO, from an initial per unit price of $575 to $4,100 -- a more than 600 percent increase.
The report further suggests that kaleo launched a distribution model that planned to "capitalize on the opportunity" of opioid overdoses being at "epidemic levels," and had its sales force focused on ensuring doctors' offices signed paperwork indicating EVZIO was medically necessary so it'd be covered by government programs.
Noting that an estimated 72,000 Americans died last year from an opioid overdose, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, said it's important that lifesaving drugs, like naloxone, "be made more attainable and affordable to the general public."
"We cannot let companies profiteer during this drug addiction crisis, deny people access to medication and have the taxpayer pick up the bill. These tactics are becoming too much of a financial drain on our public health system," he said in a statement.
Neal, who is expected to become the new House Ways and Means Committee chairman, added that he intends to work with lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle "to make this issue and the subject of rising out-of-pockets costs a priority in the next Congress."
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, agreed that Congress "must do more to hold drug companies like kaleo accountable for price gouging life-saving drugs."
The senator noted that she and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, have "introduced legislation to create a federal Naloxone distribution program, so that overdose-reversal products are always available to first responders, public health departments and the public."
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, meanwhile, has called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a "stockpile" of naloxone so the drug can be rapidly deployed when needed.
The senator, in a May letter, further raised concerns that "the higher naloxone prices and the increase in overdoses, particularly from synthetic opioids, are preventing many communities and their first-responders from procuring naloxone in the quantities necessary to respond to this public health emergency."
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chairman, said "the fact that one company dramatically raised the price of its naloxone drug and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in increased drug costs, all during a national opioid crisis ... is simply outrageous."
He added that the sub-panel will continue to fight to protect taxpayers "from drug manufacturers that are exploiting loopholes in the Medicare and Medicaid system in order to profit from a national opioid crisis."
The report alleges that kaleo, facing lagging sales of its EVZIO drug at its initial $575 list price, implemented a new distribution model that increased the drug's price to $3,750 and later to $4,100 by 2016. Consultant Todd Smith, who reportedly proposed the model, installed similar plans at Horizon and Novum pharmaceuticals, according to the report.
It also found that company documents suggested the new model was designed to "capitalize on the opportunity (of) opioid overdose at epidemic levels," and that the sales force focused on having doctors' offices sign paperwork indicating EVZIO was medically necessary so it'd be covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
The report suggests that "kaleo's new distribution model worked" with EVZIO fill rates jumping from 39 percent to 81 percent. The majority of its initial revenues, it further noted, came from Medicare and Medicaid, resulting in more than $142 million in costs to taxpayers in the last four years alone -- even though less costly versions of naloxone exist.
The company paid Smith's consulting firm more than $10.2 million for about two years of work -- a rate based on revenue generated by the distribution model, the report contends.
The subcommittee further noted that the price increases came despite kaleo stating that the cost for EVZIO is roughly $174 and industry experts advising the company to price the drug between $250 and $300.
The report recommends a series of legislative changes, including that: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services review its policies governing physician use of medical necessity formulary exceptions for Medicare Part D to prevent inappropriately influenced prescribing; Congress require CMS to improve transparency regarding the total amount spent for drugs purchased by government health care programs; and Congress allocate funding for research to develop innovative, more potent opioid overdose reversal drugs and non-opioid pain relief drugs.
Kaleo, in response to the U.S. Senate's report, said it's "disappointed with the way in which some of the facts are being presented and believe there is much more to this very complex story."
"First, we have received voluntary reports from recipients of donated product that EVZIO has saved more than 5,500 lives since we launched the product in 2014. Second, we have never turned an annual profit on the sale of EVZIO. Patients, not profits, have driven our actions," it said in a statement. "We believe patients and physicians should have meaningful choices. There is no doubt, the complexity of our health care system has had unintended negative implications for everyone involved, but most importantly, for patients. To this end, we explored viable paths within the current health care system to make EVZIO available to patients in a responsible, meaningful and affordable way."
The company added that it agrees "changes need to be made" and believes all patients should have access to products at reasonable prices.
"We are actively working with stakeholders in the health care system, including insurers, policymakers and government officials, to provide EVZIO at a lower cost while ensuring patients and their loved ones have access to this life-saving drug," it continued. "This issue is personal to all of us at kaleo."
The assessed value of all residential properties in the city has topped $1 billion for the first time.
EASTHAMPTON -- The average single-family tax bill in the city will increase 3.6 percent in 2019, from $3,830 to $3,968, according to new figures from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
However, the city's tax rate will go down, from $16 to $15.46 per thousand dollars of assessed value, according to numbers calculated by Easthampton Assessor Lori Stewart and certified by the DOR.
In a press release last week, the office of Mayor Nicole LaChapelle touted the lower rate, while mentioning that "the average taxpayer will pay an additional $139 in property taxes for FY2019."
The higher taxes stem in part from higher assessed values citywide. The average single family home is now valued at $256,678, as opposed to $239,362 for 2018, according to the DOR. That's a jump of 7.2 percent.
Under state law, a municipality's total tax levy may grow only 2.5 percent per year, exclusive of new growth, and excluding any voter-approved override or debt exclusion. Easthampton's tax levy will grow from $23,868,643 to $24,744,516 in fiscal 2019 -- a jump of $875,873, or nearly 3.7 percent. Without new growth, the tax increase would be limited to $596,716.
The 2019 levy includes debt service on the $39 million Easthampton High School, which is due to be paid off in 2032. It does not yet include debt service on the yet-to-be-built $109 million elementary and middle school approved by voters in May.
The city's hot real estate market continues, and the new assessor's figures mirror that trend. Last year, the average sale price of a single-family home in Easthampton rose by $14,500 -- $268,450 to $272,500 -- a bump of 5.6 percent, according to Trulia.com. On the city side, for the first time in history, Easthampton's total assessment for single family homes exceeded $1 billion, the DOR data shows.
Assessed values are tied, via a formula, to prior-year sales data as recorded in the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds, said Stewart. The city visits properties on a nine-year cycle to see if there have been any modifications, such as a new detached garage, that would affect the assessment.
Commercial and industrial property taxation will also rise in Easthampton this year, but the proportion of taxes paid by commercial and industrial property owners will stay about the same, at just under 13 percent.
Easthampton maintains a single tax rate pertaining to all classes of property.
When LaChapelle prepared her fiscal 2019 municipal budget, she estimated $24,487,095 in property tax revenues. Non-tax revenues were slated at nearly $17 million for a $41.5 million operating budget.
Easthampton in fiscal 2019 saw a 1.4 percent drop in total state aid, LaChapelle conveyed in her budget message. "Undoubtedly, this budget year was challenging for my administration," the mayor wrote.
When it comes to property taxes, Easthampton is still relatively affordable compared to other Massachusetts communities. The city in 2018 ranked 256th of the state's 351 municipalities in that metric, according to the state data.
Those looking for a deeper dive into municipal property tax trends, including those in Easthampton, will find a trove of public data within the Massachusetts Department of Revenues's Municipal Databank.
E. coli is a potentially-deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Nearly 100,000 pounds of raw ground beef have been recalled due to concerns the product may be contaminated with E. coli.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, Swift Beef Co., based out of Hyrum, Utah, said the beef was produced on Oct. 24, 2018.
FSIS responded to Swift Beef Co. on Nov. 15 after a sample of the beef tested positive for E. coli. When it was determined that Swift Beef Co. was the sole producer, a recall was established on Nov. 16. A total of 99,260 pounds of beef are affected in the recall.
The following products are impacted in the recall:
E. coli is a potentially-deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. There have been no reported incidents of sickness from consumption of the beef.
The pedestrian was in a crosswalk when he was struck.
CHICOPEE - A pedestrian seriously injured after being struck by a plow truck Friday is recovering and the driver faces a variety of charges and the revocation of his license.
The 72-year-old man was in the crosswalk near the Lucky Strike restaurant on Grattan Street at about 5:40 p.m. when he was struck by the truck. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance with serious injuries, said Michael Wilk, police public information officer.
Police investigating the crash determined the victim was in the crosswalk and the driver, 30, was negligent. Police will be charging him with multiple offenses including negligent operation, crosswalk violation and operating an unregistered and uninspected motor vehicle, he said.
The man's name will not be released until he is officially charged, Wilk said.
Investigators also requested an immediate suspension of the operator's license through the Registry of Motor Vehicles, he said.
The 13 city councilors, who are each paid $19,500, would see their salaries rise to $25,000, also effective Jan. 1.
SPRINGFIELD -- A three-member committee appointed by City Council President Orlando Ramos is recommending a $20,000 annual pay raise for the mayor and a $5,500 raise for city councilors.
As proposed by the new Compensation Advisory Committee, the mayor's salary would rise from $135,000 to $155,000, effective Jan. 1.
The 13 city councilors, who are each paid $19,500, would see their salaries rise to $25,000, also effective Jan. 1. The council president is paid $500 more.
The advisory committee is also recommending a raise for the School Committee from the current $12,500 to $16,000.
The council will also consider a proposal by some councilors to raise the salaries even higher for the mayor and council.
Under a proposal forwarded by some councilors led by E. Henry Twiggs and Kateri Walsh, the mayor's salary would rise by $25,000 to $160,000 and the council salary would rise by $10,000 to $29,500. The proposal does not include a raise for the School Committee.
Ramos said both proposals -- from the advisory committee and individual councilors -- could be discussed.
The Compensation Review Committee said the raises proposed by its three members take into account that the mayor and council have not had a salary increase since Jan. 1, 2014.
The proposed mayor's raise amounts to approximately a 3 percent raise per year and the proposed council's raise amounts to approximately a 5 percent raise per year, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, the committee said.
Any raises for the council or mayor need council approval, Ramos said.
The advisory committee consisted of Judith Matt, president of Spirit of Springfield; Vanessa Otero, deputy director of Partners for Community of Springfield; and David Cruise, president and CEO of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County.
Ramos, in recently announcing the creation of the compensation advisory committee, said the discussion of raises for elected officials is "never an easy conversation, but it is a conversation that is warranted."
The committee said it also considered factors such as the needs of and the time spent by local officials in the performance of their duties.
It also evaluated the pay scales for elected officials in several other communities in Massachusetts, including Worcester and Lowell, in considering pay raises in Springfield, the committee said. It took into account factors such as population and city budgets, it said.
Michael Robinson, 40, of Gloucester is suspected of robbing the Institution for Savings bank Monday.
LYNN - A man who is suspected of cutting off his court-assigned ankle bracelet several days before robbing a bank in Gloucester, was arrested after police stopped the bus he was riding.
Michael Robinson, 40, of Gloucester, was taken into custody by Massachusetts State Police troopers Monday after Lynn Police stopped the bus. He faces charges in connection of the unarmed robbery that occurred Monday at the Institution for Savings bank on Parker Street, state police officials said.
State Police from the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section were searching for Robinson because they suspected of having cut off his monitoring bracelet several days earlier. Officers investigating the armed robbery then identified Robinson as a suspect in the robbery, police said.
Troopers from the Apprehension Section then learned Robinson may be on a bus heading to Lynn, police said.
Robinson was required to wear the bracelet as a condition of his probation. He had already served a prison sentence after being convicted of kidnapping.
Police did not say when Robinson would be officially charged or did not reveal they connected him to the robbery.
A shooting at a Chicago hospital has wounded multiple people, including a suspect and a police officer, authorities said.
CHICAGO (AP) -- A gunman opened fire Monday at a Chicago hospital, wounding at least four people, including a police officer and a hospital employee, authorities said.
A police spokesman said the gunman was dead, but it was not immediately clear if he took his own life or was killed by police.
The shooting unfolded at Mercy Hospital on the city's South Side, and officers were searching the facility.
NotifyChicago: Please avoid the area of Mercy Hospital 2520 S Prairie due to Police Activity. Seek alternate route. Tune to local media for more information.-- Chicago OEMC (@ChicagoOEMC) November 19, 2018
A witness named James Gray told reporters that he saw multiple people shot: "It looked like he was turning and shooting people at random."
Four people were in critical condition, including an officer. At least one of the four was a hospital employee, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
Authorities asked people to avoid the area.
A message left for hospital officials was not immediately returned.
Television footage showed several people, including some wearing white coats, walking through a parking lot with their arms up.
Hundreds of police cars, fire trucks and ambulance lined the streets encircling the hospital. Police blocked off streets into the near South Side neighborhood.
Mercy has a rich history as the city's first chartered hospital. It began in 1852, when the Sisters of Mercy religious group converted a rooming house. During the Civil War, the hospital treated both Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners of war, according to its website.
By AMANDA SEITZ, Associated Press
Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper said the priority is keeping drivers and pedestrians safe during the opening of the first recreational marijuana store. Watch video
NORTHAMPTON -- Fulton Avenue between Pleasant and Conz streets will temporarily be one-way from east to west to accommodate expected crowds at Tuesday's opening of a shop selling marijuana for recreational use.
"So we're certainly anticipating that we're going to see an increase in vehicles as well as folks who are walking around the area...Our biggest concern is the safety of everyone in the area and we know we're going to have, we're anticipating a large crowd," Police Chief Jody Kasper said Monday.
Kasper was among officials who spoke at a pre-opening press conference detailing steps to deal with traffic and crowds at New England Treatment Access (NETA) at 118 Conz St. -- one of only two on the East Coast selling recreational pot.
Despite the Conz Street address, NETA actually fronts on Fulton Ave., so police officers will be stationed to direct traffic to the east, at Fulton Avenue and Pleasant Street, and to west, at Fulton and Conz, Kasper said.
"And then over time we'll just have to take a look and see how traffic is, if it's impacting other areas and make adjustments from there. So we feel confident that it's going to be a busy day and we're ready for the busy-ness."
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission said Friday the agency had granted the final approvals for NETA here and Cultivate Holdings LLC in the Worcester County town of Leicester to open the state's first recreational marijuana shops, both on Tuesday.
Over 100 staffers have been added at NETA and service stations for customers have increased to about 25 from the normal 15, said Amanda Rositano, NETA director of operational compliance.
"I am so honored and excited as NETA Northampton gets ready to launch a new era when we open our doors to adults over 21 to answer the call of the Massachusetts voters to provide access to safe, legal, regulated cannabis here in Massachusetts," Rositano said.
NETA began operating as a medical marijuana dispensary in October 2015. Medical marijuana patients will continue to receive priority access at the facility regardless of the crowds seeking recreational marijuana purchases, officials said.
"While we are honored and very excited to welcome everyone tomorrow, we want to make sure that our patients are aware that they remain our top priority and can count on having the same quality of products and services that they have come to expect," said Kim Napoli, NETA director of diversity programs.
Other points made at the press conference include:
Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Here are the obituaries published Monday in The Republican:
The first reading of the ordinance passed 12-0. The council must take a final vote to make the ordinance law. Watch video
SPRINGFIELD - The City Council took the first step to pass an ordinance that would help protect immigrants - especially those without documentation - after more than a 100 people flooded the meeting and spoke in support of the proposal.
A high school teacher talked about her students who are worried they will be separated from their parents, an immigrant talked about being taken advantage of by landlords who rent unsafe apartments and many more said the adoption would make Springfield safer for all residents.
"Everyone has the right to be accountable to its citizens," said Bruce Miller, who teaches constitutional law at Western New England College. "Secondly it is the humane and right thing to do."
The Welcoming Trust Ordinance bans city employees from inquiring about a resident's immigration status unless required by federal or state law and bans them from serving as an immigration officer. It also stops city employees from targeting any medical, educational or faith institution from providing refugee to immigrants and their families.
The ordinance was spearheaded by Councilor Adam Gomez and co-sponsored by four other councilors. All 12 councilors who attended the meeting voted for the proposal in a first step. It will now go to ordinance committee and then the Council will take final votes on it soon.
"We have the ability to stand up against persecution," Lederman said. "The Springfield City Council says this ends now."
Before the vote, Councilor E. Henry Twiggs urged the council to pass the ordinance as soon as possible.
"It reminds me of the days when I was in the south marching for equal rights and the right to vote. Those were some difficult days," he said. "We have an opportunity to do something tonight that will enhance the lives of some of our citizens."
Councilor Marcus Williams was the only one to critique the ordinance, and that was just to ask to add non-profit agencies to the list of groups that would be protected if they assisted immigrants.
He said worked for the YWCA as a grant writer and often would see victims of domestic violence in the agency and does not want to see people avoid getting help from non-profit agencies.
The remaining councilors voted in favor of the change to the applause of the audience. When councilors explained that was not the final vote, one woman yelled: "We like the amendment."
The ordinance was supported by multiple outside groups including the Pioneer Valley Project, The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union.
"I'm asking you to support this because our families need it," said Adan Abi, of Springfield. "This will make all of us feel more welcome. We have to help each other."
The ordinance means people will not have to feel afraid to ask a teacher for help for their child, to report a landlord has not turned on the heat in December and to report they had witnessed a crime, he said.
Shanique Spaulding, who has received multiple awards for her community service and activism said she is the daughter of two formerly undocumented immigrants from Jamaica. She said her father, a mason, and her mother, a store manager, were successful because people were willing to take a chance to help them.
"Undocumented immigrant people are people and when given a chance we will thrive," she said.
City Councilors occasionally referred to Gisella Collazo, an immigrant from Peru, who sought sanctuary in the South Congregational Church for three months after facing deportation and being split from her husband and two American-born children.
Collazo attended the meeting and spoke in favor of the ordinance through a translator.
"We live in houses in poor conditions but we do not feel we can report it because there are repercussions," she said.
She added there are people who do not report they are victims of a crime because they are afraid to be deported.
High School of Commerce teacher Suri Ramos said students who are American born but have undocumented parents, feel so much anxiety it interferes with their education. They are often vulnerable to bullies and it prevents parents from getting involved in their schools.
"Students refuse to go to the hospital because parents are afraid to go with them," she said. "This will offer them the same sense of security as their peers, nothing more, nothing less."
Not all people who spoke for the ordinance were recent immigrants. Several talked about their grandparents from Ireland and other countries taking in, helping and protecting families generations ago, similar to those who have come to the city today looking for a better life.
"All people are created equal and every life is precious," said Cheryl Moynahan, adding the city has an obligation to ensure all residents are safe.
If approved, anyone caught smoking pot near a school or daycare center could be fined $300.
As Easthampton prepares for the influx of legal, adult-use cannabis, one city councilor is proposing rules to discourage public consumption.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, at-large councilor Owen Zaret introduced a local bylaw that would fine a person $100 for smoking, "combusting," or openly displaying or using cannabis in public, and impose fines up to $300 for imbibing near a school or daycare center.
The matter was promptly referred to the ordinance subcommittee for further discussion.
After the meeting, Zaret said he supports the cannabis industry, and is happy with the city's adult-use cannabis zoning bylaw, but wants to make sure that people don't smoke marijuana in places where youth and children congregate.
"Our argument always has been that the presence of these businesses themselves do no harm -- but the exposure to someone using the products can be harmful to children," Zaret said. "And so what can we do as legislators to prevent that? We can make rules around it."
The city's adult-use cannabis zoning ordinance, adopted in March after seven months of public debate, prohibits new establishments within 350 feet of an existing elementary, middle, or high school, but does not create a buffer zone around daycare centers for children.
Zaret said he is fine with that, and does not believe that the mere presence of a cannabis establishment near a daycare center presents a problem.
"I don't believe that the presence of a retail or a cultivation facility will increase the exposure to youth," Zaret said. "But, but people using around youth creates exposure."
Zaret introduced his proposal days after Karen Pilgrim, owner of All About Children on Industrial Drive, spoke to The Republican about her unease with a proposal by the Herbology Group to open a cultivation and retail shop at the former Cook Builders Supply on Rt. 10. The daycare center and the cannabis center would abut each other.
Pilgrim was highly critical of the city's cannabis zoning ordinance, but admitted that she did not participate in any of the well-attended public hearings on the matter. She said that public officials had recently told her the Herbology Group proposal could not be stopped. She added that she had not been satisfied after speaking with Zaret and Mayor Nicole LaChapelle.
Zaret on Monday emphasized that the City Council has no power to block the Herbology Group project. The project is compliant with local zoning, which allows adult-use cannabis establishments in the Highway Business zone. The Herbology Group will need a special permit from the Planning Board. The City Council has no jurisdiction over that process.
Even if the city's zoning rules were suddenly changed to require a 350-foot buffer zone around daycare centers, it wouldn't affect the Herbology Group proposal, Zaret noted.
"There's nothing the City Council can do to stop it," he said. "They submitted their application under the current zoning, and you can't retroactively change that."
Zaret said that he had spoken at length with Pilgrim about her concerns.
Zaret's legislation would also change alcohol "open container" fines and rules to be in line with the proposed fines and rules for public cannabis consumption. He said he consulted with Police Chief Robert Alberti and Sergeant Dennis Scribner in crafting his proposed legislation.
"It is my intent to address the very real concerns around public consumption of cannabis within our city, as it not only creates a nuisance, but unreasonably exposes everyone in our city to cannabis products against their will," Zaret wrote in his Nov. 15 letter to the City Council.
Easthampton has welcomed the cannabis industry, while capping the total number of retailers at six. INSA, an up-and-running medical marijuana facility at 122 Pleasant St., in August gained its special permit for adult-use retail sales from the Planning Board, and is waiting for final state approval.
The Herbology Group at 195 Northampton Rd. is part of a second wave of cannabis applicants in the city, including Holistic Industries at 155 Northampton Rd.; The Verb is Herb at 74 Cottage Street; and Green Life Medical Marijuana Cultivation and Dispensary at 19 Wmelco Way.
The discussion comes on the eve of adult use cannabis sales in Massachusetts. At NETA in Northampton, Mayor David Narkewicz, an Air Force veteran, has said he will be the first in line when the recreational side of the co-located venue opens its doors at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
The Trump administration is preparing to add Venezuela to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in what would be a dramatic escalation against the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro.
The Trump administration is preparing to add Venezuela to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in what would be a dramatic escalation against the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro, according to U.S. officials and internal government emails.
The list is reserved for governments accused of repeatedly providing "support for acts of international terrorism" and includes only Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
Republican lawmakers led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have pushed for the designation, citing Venezuela's alleged ties to Lebanese Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and other groups.
Republicans have long accused Venezuela of having ties to terrorist organizations. But experts have played down the threat and strength of those connections. They warn that a designation that does not offer concrete evidence could weaken the legitimacy of the U.S. list, which critics say already is applied inconsistently.
"I suspect this will be based on hearsay and sources of questionable integrity," said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.
U.S. officials declined to say whether a final decision had been made about the designation, but in recent days the State Department has asked for feedback on the proposed move from various agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of HHS, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending decision, calling inquiries about the deliberations a "hypothetical question."
Rubio, a Cuban American who organized a letter in late September calling for the terrorism designation, has clamored for a tough U.S. posture toward Venezuela, a longtime backer of the Castro regime in Cuba.
The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on a number of people in Maduro's inner-circle, accusing the first lady, defense minister, vice president and other allies of helping the socialist leader "plunder" the nation's wealth.
Officials have long said that further measures are under consideration, including an embargo on Venezuelan oil. Despite sharply falling oil exports in recent years, Venezuela is the fourth-largest foreign supplier to the United States, which remains the largest purchaser of Venezuelan crude.
Adam Isacson, a Latin America expert, said the terrorism designation might add momentum for any push for an oil boycott. Republicans in Texas and Louisiana, which is home to refineries set up for Venezuela's high-sulfur oil, have argued against such a boycott. "A terrorist sponsor designation will make their lives more complicated," Isacson said.
The move could limit U.S. assistance to Venezuela and prohibit financial transactions as the country reels from hyperinflation and extreme food and medicine shortages that have sent millions fleeing to neighboring countries. Many Venezuelans blame Maduro for rampant corruption across the government and mishandling the economy.
The country's health-care system has virtually broken down, allowing once-eradicated illnesses such as measles and diphtheria to reemerge.
Deliberations on the potential U.S. move continued last week, when HHS officials were asked to assess the impact of a terrorism designation on "HHS or CDC programming of funding being carried out by a third party in that country," according to emails sent among HHS officials.
Officials were asked to provide a response within 24 hours, something a senior HHS lawyer said was "probably not doable" because of the issue's complexity, according to an official who saw the emails. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
The emails did not specify the country, but a State Department desk officer identified the country as Venezuela in a telephone call last week with about 20 others from agencies that included HHS, CDC and USAID. The State Department officer, Elizabeth Williams, did not say when a decision on the terrorism designation would be made, "she just said they expect to make a decision soon," recalled an official who participated in the call. Williams said she was only able to share limited information on the nonsecure telephone line.
Experts are divided on the wisdom of designating Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism, with some saying it could provide helpful pressure against the increasingly authoritarian Maduro regime, and others expressing concerns that it could play into Maduro's anti-U. S. messaging or be used as a pretext for a U.S. military intervention.
President Donald Trump, publicly and privately, has raised the possibility of U.S. military action in Venezuela, although aides have repeatedly dissuaded him.
U.S. officials secretly met several times with Venezuelan military officers who said they were plotting a coup against Maduro, but the Trump administration ultimately rebuffed their requests for assistance.
Smilde fears that the designation could "portray Venezuela as a threat to U.S. national security to legitimize a military option."
"Many analysts in and around the U.S. government either think military intervention would be effective, or that a credible threat of force would get the Venezuelan government to buckle," he said.
But such threats "contribute to the unity and coherence of the Maduro government and undermine opposition organization and unity," he said. "Since President Trump first suggested a military option in August 2017 the Venezuelan opposition has fallen apart."
Others expressed measured support for a harder line against Maduro, who came to power in 2013, jailed political opponents and took over virtually all legislative and judicial power in the country.
"There are several other governments you could say are involved in more forms of terrorism that have much more impact," said William Brownsfield, the former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "But that is a justification for going after other governments, not a justification for saying don't go after Venezuela."
"The case can be made that it's a positive step in terms of bringing greater pressure to bear on the Maduro regime," he said.
Public health experts have warned of spikes in malaria and tuberculosis cases and a nearly absolute unavailability of antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV in Venezuela. Increasing levels of malnutrition compound the health crisis, making Venezuelans both more susceptible to infectious diseases and more prone to complications when sick.
A topic of the phone call between U.S. officials was Venezuela's growing outbreak of measles, an extremely contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus, which has spread to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Brazil, which is grappling with more than 10,000 suspected infections in its massive Amazonas state alone, is considering sealing its border with Venezuela, according to the discussion.
Programs that could be affected by the terrorism designation include U.S. support for global HIV/AIDS prevention, emergency vaccines and training of public health personnel, according to the discussion. Most U.S. support is funded through the Pan American Health Organization, a U.N. body.
Brownsfield said the president could offset some of the negative humanitarian effects of the designation through waivers.
"I believe the law provides the president with authorities to exempt or waive provisions of the law to allow humanitarian assistance like food or medicine," he said.
The possible action against Venezuela came as a surprise to people on the call, the official said. "That was the first we had heard of it," the official said. "It didn't make sense. And then it was like, 'Oh, crap. What is this going to do to our ability to respond to the slow-moving health disaster that is coming out of Venezuela?' "
(c) 2018, The Washington Post by John Hudson, Lena H. Sun. Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe contributed to this report.