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    The Cop on Top will include a visit from Santa, a teddy bear toss from the roof, raffles and much more. Watch video

    CHICOPEE - The Police Department will once again go above to raise money for Special Olympics.

    This is the fourth time Chicopee Police will be stuck up on the roof to raise money for the athletes and there will be more attractions, more raffle prizes, more officers from different law enforcement agencies and hopefully more money raised, said Michael Wilk, Chicopee Police public information officer.

    Dozens of officers from different departments plan to spend 12 hours on the Walmart roof for the Cop on Top event to ensure disabled athletes have an opportunity to compete in a wide variety of sporting events, he said.

    The officers will be on the roof from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday asking shoppers to make donations to get them off the roof. Chicopee Police won't be alone either, officers from Monson, Pelham, Ludlow, West Springfield, the Hampden Sheriff's Department and at least one Western Massachusetts college department will join in the effort, he said.

    And two officers have agreed to stay up there even longer, Wilk said.

    Palmer officer Todd Mongeon and Chicopee Officer Nick Smith will be raising extra funds by taking sponsorships from people and businesses who want to see them kick off the event by spending Friday night in a tent on the roof, he said.

    "Every year we have raised more for Special Olympics. This year our goal is $8,000," he said.

    One of the favorites events of the Cop on Top -- the teddy toss -- will continue and expand this year. Police stuck on the roof will throw a teddy donated by Kay Jewelers or a stuffed moose, donated by the Moose Family Center, to anyone who gives $20 to Special Olympics. The toss will end when the stuffed animals run out, he said.

    "It's a lot of fun throwing them off the roof," Wilk said. A special challenge for the officers is to try to deliver the teddys directly into a donor's car via their open sunroof.

    There will also be a wide variety of raffle prizes donated by businesses. Others include Coffee Cozies from the Love Mich Collection of Longmeadow, gift baskets being made by volunteers and the police department is raffling off a package of two popular police patches made for autism and breast cancer awareness and a police pin, he said.

    There will be plenty of activities on the ground too for people who visit.

    The Police Department will have cruisers, ATVs and other specialized equipment for people to look at and in some cases, children will be allowed to sit on them. Other local businesses will also be parking trucks at the event for children.

    Santa will also make a special visit to the event between 1 and 4 p.m. to pose for photographs and hear children's Christmas wishes, Wilk said.

    Special Olympics athletes will be working different booths at the store entrance. They will be greeting donors and team members and their coaches will be there to answer questions and share information about the program.

    Participants in the Sunshine Village program in Chicopee also made a special sign for the event to help volunteers spread the word.

    All the money raised will remain in Massachusetts to help support the athletes, Wilk said.

    Officials for Special Olympics said they appreciate the commitment they receive from police, including the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

    "The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the strongest community partner of Special Olympics because of their ability to build strong grassroots fundraising and awareness building campaigns that continue to spread the mission of our organization," said Charles Hirsch, director of development, brand and marketing for Special Olympics.

    In addition to the Chicopee event, there will be Cop on Top fundraisers at Walmart stores in Hadley and Pittsfield on Saturday, he said.

     "The officers taking part in this weekend's Cop on Top are providing invaluable support to the Special Olympics Movement in the Pioneer Valley. Their commitment to building a more inclusive community will not only provide the vital financial support needed to provide year-round inclusive sports training and competition, but their visible display at the Walmart in Chicopee will help increase awareness of local Special Olympics programs in the neighboring towns," he said.


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    The city has obtained a $200,000 grant for a walking trail project at Ruth Elizabeth Park, and is seeking approval of a $400,000 grant for improvements at Emily Bill Park.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The state recently awarded $200,000 to the city to create a walking trail at Ruth Elizabeth Park in Six Corners.

    The project will be part of a multiphase effort to create and improve trails and public access in several city parks.

    In addition, the city is awaiting a decision from the state on its application for a $400,000 grant for renovations and improvements at Emily Bill Park in lower Liberty Heights.

    State grants for parks are "extremely important," Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said.

    "Parks are near and dear to my heart -- my 'Riviera' growing up was Forest and Emerson Wight Parks," Sarno said. "It's important we continue to give back to all our residents these green recreational spaces."

    The grant for Ruth Elizabeth Park is for a walking trail and trail signage, and for improvements to handicap accessibility, officials said. The city will be responsible for the balance of the funds for the estimated $450,000 project, by using federal Community Development Block Grant funds, officials said.

    The city plans to create a walking loop at Ruth Elizabeth Park and a trail that will eventually connect it with Harriet Tubman Park, Donna Blake Park, Barrows Park, Gerrish Park, Johnny Appleseed Park and Forest Park, said Peter Krupczak, the city's director of open space.

    "This unique trail, with creative wayfinding graphics, will promote an active and healthy lifestyle while providing patrons with a sense of community and highlighting the historical significance of the Six Corners, Old Hill, and Forest Park neighborhoods," Krupczak said.

    The $200,000 is from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Land and Water Conservation Fund. The grant is contingent on the funds being accepted by the City Council, along with the requirement for the city to allocate its share.

    Sarno said he is thankful to Gov. Charlie Baker and the state Legislature for providing grant assistance.

    The grant being sought for Emily Bill Park is for improved handicap accessibility and infrastructure, new playground equipment, picnic tables, improved lighting, landscaping and field renovations, Krupczak said.

    The city is seeking the $400,000 from the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant program. The city would provide $250,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

    "Our goal is to enhance the aesthetic appeal of this park and provide more amenities for multi-generational utilization," Krupczak said.

    The mayor has worked with the state to obtain significant grant funds for park improvements throughout the city, Krupczak said. The grants "have been instrumental in developing our Springfield parks so impressively that we are now the envy of other park systems throughout New England," Krupczak said.


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    A soaker is likely this weekend in New England.

    A soaker is expected this weekend in New England.

    A mix of light rain and snow is likely Friday. "This would bring a chance of slippery spots on roads at or shortly after the evening rush hour," the National Weather Service said. "Best chance would be in Western and Central Massachusetts, and in the hills of Northern Connecticut."

    Rain is expected to hit most communities across the state Saturday night into Sunday, dropping just over a half-inch of precipitation. 

    Flooding of small streams and rivers is not expected. 


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    The arbitrator concluded that Police Chief Jody Kasper, Capt. John Cartledge and Alfred Donovan, a private consultant, botched an internal probe.

    NORTHAMPTON -- An arbitrator has vacated a two-day suspension meted out last year to Lt. Alan Borowski and ordered the city to pay him for the lost wages.

    The arbitrator concluded that Police Chief Jody Kasper, Capt. John Cartledge and Alfred Donovan, a private consultant, botched an internal probe.

    Borowski was accused of misconduct related to accessing the police department's public drug drop-off box and removing 11 narcotic pills he had previously placed inside on behalf of a friend, and failing to make a written record that he had done so.

    Kasper, in a written statement, said: "We are disappointed in the outcome, but are respectful of the process. We are pleased that there has been a ruling in this matter so that the department can move forward. We remain committed to ensuring that our staff are held to the professional standards that our community members expect."

    Borowski's two-day suspension began Oct. 26, 2017. Separately, he was suspended for three days the following month for other alleged violations of department policy. That matter is expected to go to arbitration early next year, according to a lawyer representing Borowski.

    The lieutenant was in charge of the Northampton Police Department's detective bureau at the time of the drug box incident. He was subsequently transferred to the patrol division.

    A member of New England Police Benevolent Association Local 187, Borowski was represented by the labor union's attorney Gary Nolan.

    Borowski's private lawyer, Thomas Kokonowski, said in a telephone interview: "Terrific job by the union lawyer. The decision says it all."

    Asked about the upcoming arbitration on the three-day suspension, Kokonoski said he would comment once that matter is resolved.

    Invoices provided by the city show that Donovan, who owns APD Management Inc., was paid $3,130 to conduct the investigation. That included 27.5 hours of work and 35 pages of transcribed interviews.

    "There are concerns about the investigation," the arbitrator, Mary Ellen Shea, wrote in the Nov. 23, 2018, decision.

    Shea found that Kasper and Donovan did not respond appropriately to another officer's claim that Cartledge "knew about and failed to address Detective Borowski's handling of the pills, an allegation that suggests the Captain may have tacitly approved Lieutenant Borowski's actions."

    The decision also said the chief did not inform Donovan that she had reprimanded Cartledge over the claim. "The Chief's testimony about her decision to discipline Captain Cartlege was evidence of 'mitigating circumstances,' information also required by department policy, but not included in the investigative report," Shea wrote.

    "Captain Cartledge continued to manage the investigation and made disciplinary decisions despite evidence he had multiple potential conflicts of interest," the decision says.

    Detective Peter Fappiano claimed Cartledge knew about the pills but walked away instead of dealing with the matter.

    According to the arbitrator's ruling, Fappiano told Donovan: "So, in conversation the pills come up and (Borowski) reached over to his desk in his papers he pulls out a little envelope, he opens the envelope ... there were small blue pills ... and Captain puts his hands up and uh ... he just kind of shakes his head and says I don't see nothing and I'm outta here."

    When Donovan told Kasper about the allegation, the chief decided to question Cartledge about it herself. According to the arbitration decision, Kasper told Donovan that Cartledge said he "could not recall" the incident.

    The arbitrator wrote: "The Chief did not explain why she decided (to interview) Cartledge herself even though she had known him for 20+ years, a decision that contradicts the Chief's goal of hiring an outside investigator to avoid appearance of preferential treatment or a conflict of interest."


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    "He is not a violent man," the defendant's lawyer said, adding that Misiruk "had never experienced anything like this before."

    WESTFIELD - A Westfield teenager arrested three times in three months on assault charges is too dangerous to be released on bail, a judge has ruled.

    Vadym Misiruk, 18, will be held for the next 120 days at the Hampden County House of Correction in Ludlow under an order issued Thursday in Westfield District Court by Judge William O'Grady.

    The ruling came after Assistant District Attorney Magali Montes said the defendant punched, kicked and spat on four Westfield police officers attempting to arrest him Oct. 7 after he reportedly assaulted a man on Western Circle. He also punched a police dog, prompting officers to use a Taser to subdue him, the prosecutor said.

    That arrest came three weeks after Misiruk was charged with indecent assault and battery after allegedly accosting a woman in Westfield, and eight weeks after he was arrested for allegedly punching his brother during a family argument, Montes said.

    The prosecutor also cited Misiruk's disruptive behavior in a booking video from his latest arrest, and said no bail conditions would assure the safety of his family or the public.  

    Defense lawyer Andrew Ott said his client had no history of mental illness or violence. He suffered a sudden psychiatric breakdown several months ago, and initially failed to take medication prescribed to treat his symptoms, Ott said.

    "He is not a violent man," the lawyer said, adding that Misiruk "had never experienced anything like this before. He knows what he needs to do -- he needs to take his medication," Ott said.

     

    He requested that Misiruk be released from custody, placed under house arrest and required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet, among other conditions. Being in a "supportive environment" at home would allow him to continue his recovery, Ott said, citing a recommendation made by a doctor who examined Misiruk during his stay at Bridgewater State Hospital.

    The defendant's family supports the recommendation, Ott said.

    The judge rejected the defense request, saying too little time had elapsed between the alleged assaults and the recovery described by Misiruk's defense lawyer.

    "I'm sympathetic to the mental health issues here, but I don't feel at this point that there are conditions that will assure the safety of the community," O'Grady said.

    He ordered Misiruk held for the next 120 days, the longest term allowed by law. When the order expires, prosecutors can seek to renew it for another 120 days.

    Misiruk is due back in court on Dec. 19 for pretrial hearings in his three cases.


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    Peter Rosskothen said he has further plans to add more locations in Wilbraham, Westfield and at his Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. Watch video

    SPRINGFIELD -- Restaurateur Peter Rosskothen will expand his Delaney's Market take-home meal concept with a location on Main Street in downtown Springfield to open in early 2019.

    Rosskothen opened the first and at this point only Delaney's Market in the Longmeadow Shops in 2016. He said Thursday he has further plans to add more locations in Wilbraham, Westfield and at his Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, 500 Easthampton Road in Holyoke. The Wilbraham and Westfield locations are not done deals yet, he said.

    In Springfield, Rosskothen said he has a lease for the Cafe Du Jour space at 1365 Main St. in the Market Place mall. Cafe Du Jour, across Main Street from the new Monarch Place Starbucks, is leaving, and Rosskothen hopes to start construction on the Delaney's Market in January.

    He said he applied Thursday to the city for a liquor license so he can sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption.

    Everything at Delaney's Market is for off-premises consumption. Delaney's sells ready-to-reheat entrees and appetizers, soups and side dishes as well as desserts, wine, beer and a few other food products so folks can go home and put together their own restaurant-quality meal with little or no effort. Delaney's Market offers sandwiches as well.

    The food is prepared at The Log Cabin's kitchens.

    "The trick of the business is to have fresh meals every day," Rosskothen said. "I've got to make them in the morning and sell them in the afternoon. Our goal is dinner for $8 to $12. We're pretty good at that."

    He figures the prep time for most Delaney's Market foods, once the customer gets home, is about 20 minutes.

    Entrees include a traditional turkey dinner, beef Stroganoff with noodles or Korean beef tips with peanut sauce.

    The Springfield location will offer delivery, just as the Loongmeadow Shops location does.

    Rosskothen sees the Springfield location, next door to Northwestern Mutual Life and surrounded by offices, as a good place to find customers.

    "I like the energy in downtown," he said. "I think downtown is on the comeback."

    Rosskothen said he owns Delaney's Market himself and is partners with Michael "Mick" Corduff, executive chef at the Log Cabin, Delaney House and Log Rolling catering.

    A Delaney's Market location has six to 10 employees in addition to the prep work at the kitchen.


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    President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen confessed in a surprise guilty plea that he lied to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal he pursued on Trump's behalf during the heat of the 2016 Republican campaign. He said he lied to be consistent with Trump's "political messaging."

    President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen confessed in a surprise guilty plea that he lied to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal he pursued on Trump's behalf during the heat of the 2016 Republican campaign. He said he lied to be consistent with Trump's "political messaging."

    The plea agreement made clear that prosecutors believe that while Trump insisted repeatedly throughout the campaign that he had no business dealings in Russia, his lawyer was continuing to pursue the Trump Tower Moscow project weeks after his boss had clinched the Republican nomination for president and well beyond the point that had been previously acknowledged.

    Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president's family, according to documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Cohen acknowledged considering traveling to Moscow to discuss the project.

    There is no clear link in the court filings between Cohen's lies and Mueller's central question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. And nothing said in court on Thursday, or in associated court filings, addressed whether Trump or his aides had directed Cohen to mislead Congress.

    Still, the case underscores how Trump's business entity, the Trump Organization, was negotiating business in Moscow when investigators believe Russians were meddling on his behalf in the 2016 election, and that associates of the president were mining Russian connections during the race.

    Trump, who's in Argentina for the Group of 20 summit, on Friday blasted the investigation in which Cohen pleaded guilty . In a tweet, Trump recalled "happily living my life" as a developer before running for president after seeing the "Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly)."

    "Against all odds," he continued, "I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail. Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn't do the project. Witch Hunt!"

    The Cohen revelation comes as Mueller's investigation is showing fresh signs of aggressive activity. Earlier this week, Mueller's team accused Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort , of lying after his own guilty plea, which Manafort denies. The special counsel continues to investigate whether campaign associates had advance knowledge of hacked emails becoming public. Another potential target, Jerome Corsi, has rejected a plea offer and faces a possible indictment. Last week, Trump for the first time provided Mueller with responses to written questions.

    Cohen is the first person charged by Mueller with lying to Congress, an indication the special counsel is prepared to treat that offense as seriously as lying to federal agents and a warning shot to dozens of others who have appeared before lawmakers.

    Cohen told two congressional committees last year that the talks about the tower project ended in January 2016, a lie he said was an act of loyalty to Trump. In fact, the negotiations continued until June 2016, Cohen acknowledged.

    His court appearance Thursday marked the latest step in his evolution from trusted Trump consigliere to prime antagonist. Prosecutors say Cohen is cooperating with Mueller and has met with his team at least seven times. It is the second time the lawyer's legal woes have entangled Trump, coming months after Cohen said the Republican president directed him to make hush money payments to two women who said they had sex with Trump.

    Trump on Thursday called Cohen a "weak person" who was lying to get a lighter sentence and stressed that the real estate deal at issue was never a secret and never executed. His lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that Cohen was a "proven liar" and that Trump's business organization had voluntarily given Mueller the documents cited in the guilty plea "because there was nothing to hide."

    "There would be nothing wrong if I did do it," Trump said of pursuing the project. "I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?"

    He said the primary reason he didn't pursue it was "I was focused on running for president."

    About an hour later, Trump canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit.

    During the campaign, while publicly espousing a conciliatory relationship with Putin, Trump was repeatedly dismissive of claims that he had connections to the Kremlin, an issue that flared as especially sensitive in the summer of 2016 after the Democratic National Committee and a cybersecurity company asserted that Moscow was behind a punishing cyberattack on the party's network.

    "I have a great company. I built an unbelievable company, but if you look there you'll see there's nothing in Russia," Trump said at a July 2016 news conference.

    "But zero, I mean I will tell you right now, zero, I have nothing to do with Russia," he said.

    Mueller's team included a question about Russian real estate deals in a list of queries presented earlier this year to Trump's lawyers, but it was not immediately clear whether it was among the questions Trump answered last week. If he did answer questions on the topic, Trump could have problems if the responses deviate from prosecutors' factual narrative.

    The Cohen case in New York is the first charge filed by the special counsel since the appointment of Matthew Whitaker, who has spoken critically about the investigation, as acting attorney general with oversight of the probe. Whitaker was advised of the plea ahead of time, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

    The nine-page charging document traces behind-the-scenes communication about a project that had first been discussed more than 20 years ago. It almost became reality in October 2015 when an obscure Russian real estate developer signed a letter of intent sent by Cohen for a 15-floor hotel, condominium and retail complex in Moscow.

    Cohen looped in Trump's adult children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, copying them on emails about it in late 2015, according to a person close to the Trump Organization. In one email, Ivanka Trump even suggested an architect for the building, the person said. The company's email traffic about the project ends in January 2016, said the person, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    On Jan. 14, 2016, just weeks before the Republican party caucuses in Iowa, Cohen emailed the office of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asking for help getting the Trump Tower Moscow project off the ground. He later had a 20-minute phone call with one of Peskov's assistants and asked for help "in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction," prosecutors say.

    The dialogue continued over the next several months with the Republican primaries in full swing.

    In early May, prosecutors say, Cohen and Felix Sater, an executive who worked on and off for the Trump Organization, discussed having Trump visit Russia after the Republican National Convention. They also discussed the possibility of Cohen meeting in June with Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

    On June 9, 2016, Trump Jr., Manafort and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer at Trump Tower in New York about getting "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton. Around that time, prosecutors say, Sater sent Cohen several messages about the project and Cohen said he wouldn't be traveling then to Russia.

    On June 14, the DNC announced that its computer networks were penetrated by Russian hackers.

    Cohen and prosecutors referred to Trump as "Individual 1" throughout Thursday's proceedings. Cohen said he lied out of loyalty to "Individual 1."

    Cohen said he also lied about his contacts with Russian officials and lied when he said he never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project and never discussed with Trump plans to travel to Moscow to support the project.

    Thursday's charges were handled by Mueller, not the federal prosecutors in New York who handled Cohen's previous guilty plea in August to other federal charges involving his taxi businesses, bank fraud and campaign work for Trump. Cohen is to be sentenced Dec. 12. Guidelines call for little to no prison time on the new charge.


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    The annual Toy for Joy toy drive depends heavily on donations to purchase gifts for children in need during the holidays.

    "No child should be left without a smile upon their face," read Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno's note along with his annual donation to Toy for Joy.

    Sarno is one of the many donors who have been contributing to the annual toy drive for decades.

    "Since my days at our old South End Community Center, we always made sure we had gifts for all of the kids and their families - no child should be left without," said Sarno, who served as the director of the center many years ago.

    The 96th annual Toy for Joy campaign is a collaborative effort by the Salvation Army, The Republican and MassLive. The goal is to raise $150,000 by Christmas Eve.

    Sarno said he knows how important donations are to keep this longstanding tradition going.

    "To all your readers I say please donate and put a smile on a child's face," Sarno said.

    Registration is now closed in Springfield and  Holyoke, but will continue in Greenfield until Dec. 8.

    Danielle LaTaille, social services director for the Salvation Army in Springfield, said registration went really well, with 1,600 families registered in Springfield alone.

    "All of the clients were great - cooperative and prepared," she said. "Everyone commented on how fast the line went and how smooth the process was."

    LaTaille said volunteers from Eversource, Trueheart Entertainment, Veterans Inc., Berkshire Bank X Team, Exquisite Peaches and several other private citizens made the process go smoothly.

    Children will receive at least one toy and one book this year thanks to a collaboration with the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. For a second year the foundation is ensuring each child receives a new book.</p>

    For the third year in a row, Pride Stores is partnering with Toy for Joy. Pride locations in Western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut will rally its customers in November and December to help contribute to Toy for Joy. Customers can go into any Pride in the area and purchase a $1, $5 or $10 donation card for Toy for Joy.

    To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, 1860 Main St., Springfield, MA 01101. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon which accompanies this story to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through noon on Dec. 21.


    TOY FOR JOY REGISTRATION

    Here are the times for families to register at Salvation Army sites for the 96th annual Toy for Joy campaign. The Springfield citadel will assist families whose communities are not listed below:

    Greenfield: 72 Chapman St., Greenfield; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. until December 8th, for info, call (413) 773-3154, serves all Franklin County communities;

    Required documentation: Photo ID for parent/guardian, proof of address dated within last 30 days, birth certificates or passports for each child 16 years and younger and proof of financial need (MassHealth, WIC card, EBT card, current pay stub, or other acceptable documentation)


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    The incident started in Webster in the early hours of Thursday and did not end until 28-year-old Foy was captured by police on a roof in Worcester Thursday night.

    Donald Foy, the Spencer man accused of leading authorities on a multi-interstate chase before using a handgun to carjack a man, is scheduled to face a judge Friday morning.

    The incident started in Webster in the early hours of Thursday and did not end until 28-year-old Foy was captured by police on a roof in Worcester Thursday night.

    Troopers from the State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section on Thursday night saw Foy leave a Hudson Street apartment in Worcester and get into a car, State Police said. 

    The troopers followed Foy. While stopped at traffic lights on Chandler Street, the troopers and Worcester police converged in Foy's direction, State Police said.

    But Foy put the car in reverse and intentionally swerved at a trooper, striking the trooper's foot, State Police said. Then Foy allegedly rammed into a State Police cruiser and drove off.

    Foy drove to the Worcester Auto Center at 115 Chandler St., State Police said. When Foy realized there was no rear exit in the parking lot, he intentionally backed into a second State Police cruiser, drove through a metal gate and around the back of the building, officials said.

    Then Foy got out of his car and ran to the roof of the auto center, State Police said. 

    According to State Police, a violent struggle ensued on the roof and Foy was arrested.

    Authorities had been searching for Foy in the Worcester area all day Thursday in connection with the multi-interstate chase and carjacking.

    Foy drove away from a motor vehicle stop in Webster after being told he was going to be cited for driving an unregistered pickup truck, according to court documents.

    Webster police officers had to jump out of the way of the truck as Foy sped off. One officer was grazed by the truck's mirror, according to Webster police.

    State and local police followed Foy on Interstate 395 and then onto Interstate 290, where Foy drove in the wrong direction.

    Then, Foy is accused of using holding a handgun to the head of a man driving a Buick Encore, court documents read.

    Foy drove off in the Buick and police eventually terminated the pursuit for safety reasons.

    Foy is slated to be arraigned in Worcester District Court on Friday morning, facing various charges.

    In connection with his Thursday night apprehension, Foy is facing charges including attempted murder; four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; resisting arrest; three counts of assault and battery on a police officer; negligent operation; malicious destruction of property; and motor vehicle violations.

    Foy is facing charges in connection with the highway chase including armed carjacking; carrying firearm without a license; assault with a dangerous weapon; assault and battery; receiving a stolen motor vehicle; and motor vehicle violations. 


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    Connecticut's Mohegan Sun gaming company has said it is willing to buy out Wynn Resorts $2.5 billion Everett casino project.

    Connecticut's Mohegan Sun gaming company has said it is willing to buy out Wynn Resorts $2.5 billion Everett casino project, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission faces a lawsuit over its investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the Wynn's founder and former CEO Steve Wynn.

    "The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has stated that it will conduct adjudicatory hearings as part of the Wynn Resorts suitability review, and make a determination with regards to the Region A license to operate a resort casino in Everett. If that determination finds Wynn Resorts unsuitable to hold a gaming license in Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun is prepared to participate in a process that would assign that license to another operator - and enter into negotiations with the appropriate parties to acquire the facility under construction in Everett," Mohegan Sun said in a statement. "Mohegan Sun has always believed it is the best choice as gaming operator and license holder for a Region A resort casino, and will be committed to opening the Everett facility in a timely manner should it get the opportunity."

    Mohegan's interest in buying the project was first reported by the Boston Herald.

    Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria expressed opposition to a sale to Mohegan, the Herald reported, saying the Connecticut company was "not welcome to operate a casino in Everett" and that the city had the right to veto any sale.

    Mohegan Sun was a chief competitor to win a Boston-area casino license in 2014, but lost out when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded the project to Wynn.

    Wynn Resorts' $2.5 billion resort casino project in Everett was thrown into question following an explosive Wall Street Journal report in January that revealed allegations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn.

    Wynn denied the allegations but stepped away from the company Feb. 6. Wynn Resorts later changed the name of the casino to Encore Boston Harbor.

    For months, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission's investigative branch has been preparing a report on the company's continued suitability to hold one of Massachusetts' casino licenses. In October, the gaming commission said it expects to hold a hearing on the report in December.

    But a new lawsuit by Steve Wynn appears likely to delay any action on the report. Wynn has sued the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to block the release of the report, saying its release would violate his privacy rights.

    Mohegan has also sued the gaming commission, seeking to overturn its award of the Region A casino license to Wynn Resorts.

    If Mohegan were to take over the Everett project, it would place the MGM Springfield casino between competing Mohegan properties to the east and south. The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, which operates Foxwoods, are currently engaged in a legal battle with the federal government as they seek to build a commercial casino on MGM Springfield's doorstep in East Windsor.


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    President Donald Trump joined the leaders of Mexico and Canada Friday in signing a new trilateral trade agreement, which seeks to update relations between the three countries under NAFTA.

    President Donald Trump joined the leaders of Mexico and Canada Friday in signing a new trilateral trade agreement, which seeks to update relations between the three countries under NAFTA.

    Trump, a vocal critic of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, endorsed the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a morning ceremony in Buenos Aires.

    The North American leaders, who were in Argentina for the Group of 20 summit, lauded the $1.2 trillion trade deal to replace NAFTA. It must receive approval from Congress and its foreign counterparts before it can take effect.

    Trudeau praised the agreement for maintaining "stability for Canada's entire economy" and offered that it will modernize NAFTA.

    "The new agreement lifts the risk of serious economic uncertainty that lingers throughout a trade renegotiation process. Uncertainty that would have only gotten worse and more damaging had we not reached a new NAFTA," he said.

    Pena Nieto, who signed the trade deal on his last day in office, argued that it builds on progress toward more integration between the three countries.

    "The agreement that we have signed today will allow each country to gain individually, but also North America will grow stronger and will grow to be more prosperous," he reportedly said.

    Trump, meanwhile, cast the USMCA as a good deal for farmers, autoworkers and the middle-class.

    "This is a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever," he said. "And this is an agreement that, first and foremost, benefits working people -- something of great importance to all three of us here today."

    The president later tweeted that USMCA is "one of the most important and largest trade deals in U.S. and world history."

    "The United States, Mexico and Canada worked so well together in crafting this great document. The terrible NAFTA will soon be gone. The USMCA will be fantastic for all!" he tweeted.

    Although the deal must still receive further approval before it can take effect, Trump offered that he doesn't "expect to have very much of a problem" moving the USMCA through Congress. 

    Some, however, have offered a different take on the new trilateral trade agreement. 

    U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, a Springfield Democrat who is expected to take over the House Ways and Means Committee, said while the USMCA marks "another milestone in the administration's efforts to renegotiate NAFTA ... many key questions remain unanswered."

    Arguing that "the agreement must do more than make some improvements on the margins," Neal said it needs to establish economic conditions and incentives that will lead to good paying jobs for middle class families.

    "As the administration unveils the final, scrubbed legal text of the USMCA for the first time today, I will continue to scrutinize the details of this deal to determine whether it will deliver on creating the American jobs that the this administration has promised, particularly in the towns and communities across our country that have borne the heaviest losses over the past two and a half decades," he said in a statement.

    Neal said his assessment will look at whether the commitments put on paper are enforceable and "will translate into real world impacts for American workers and communities."

    Elizabeth Warren says she'll vote against 'NAFTA 2.0,' but believes trade agreement should be renegotiated

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, meanwhile, cast the USMCA as "NAFTA 2.0" in a Thursday foreign policy speech at American University. 

    The senator, who is considering a 2020 White House run, argued that while the deal has better labor standards on paper, it falls short on enforcement tools.

    Warren further contended that it's "stuffed with handouts" and "does little to reduce pollution or combat the dangers of climate change."

    "For these reasons, I oppose NAFTA 2.0 and will vote against it in the Senate unless President Trump reopens the agreement and produces a better deal for America's working families," she said.

    President Donald Trump says new Mexico, Canada trade deal will be fairer than NAFTA, protect US workers

    Trump announced in October that his administration has reached a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to salvage NAFTA.

    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the deal is based on three main pillars: Fairness, ambitious intellectual property provisions and new provisions to eliminate unfair trade practices, like currency manipulation.

    According to the White House, the USMCA will: "Help incentivize billions of dollars in additional vehicle and auto parts production in the United States," update rules of origin that require 75 percent of auto content to be produced in North America and incentivize the use of high-wage manufacturing labor in the auto sector. 

    It also includes "the strongest labor and environmental provisions of any trade agreement ever negotiated," more comprehensive intellectual property protections and enhanced digital trade and financial services provisions, among other things, administration officials said.


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    Westfield residents will pay $19.70 per $1,000 valuation and commercial taxpayers will pay $38 per $1,000 valuation

    WESTFIELD - The City Council this week set a split tax rate of 1.66 and agreed during a special meeting to use $1 million in free cash to offset a tax increase.


    The shift means a residential rate of $19.70 per $1,000 of property valuation, and a commercial and industrial rate of $38. Last year, residents paid $19.36, while owners of commercial and industrial property paid $36.82 per $1,000 of valuation.


    Councilors Robert A. Paul, Michael Burns, William Onyski, Daniel Allie, Andrew K. Surprise, Mary Ann Babinski and John J, Beltrandi supported the 1.66 shift at the meeting on Thursday.

    Councilors Nicholas J. Morganelli Jr., Matthew Emmershy, Dave Flaherty and Cindy Harris voted against it. Councilors Ralph J. Figy and Brent B. Bean II were absent.


    Several factors were discussed, from 1.69 to 1.61.


    "I'm here as the chamber executive representing the business community," said Kate Phelon, executive director of the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce. She said the theme of her comments was about being fair and equitable.


    "I don't know why we hear the same argument every year for the residents. Do you not care about your business community," Phelon said. "I'm asking for a shift of 1.61. This will only increase the rate for taxpayers 20 cents per thousand. We are not treating our businesses fairly when year after year you put the burden on them. I really think it's time the City Council take a look at controlling spending. You'll have to make tough, unpopular decisions, but if you don't, we will hit the levy ceiling."


    Phelon also urged councilors not to use free cash to lower taxes by applying it to recurring expenses.


    "Westfield is unique (in) that we have land to develop," Phelon said.
    Phelon read a list of tax rates in surrounding communities: "For single rates, Easthampton's rate is $15.46. Ludlow $19.22. Southwick $17.47. How nice for those businesses. Currently for split-rate communities, Agawam is $16.65 residential and commercial is $31.92. West Springfield $16.96 residential and $32.55 commercial. Chicopee $17.96 $34.58."


    Phelon's view was supported by Morganelli.


    "This isn't a tax shift issue. It's a spending and budget issue," said Morganelli, who stated he was speaking as a resident, not a councilor. Morganelli said he supports "a business-friendly tax shift" so that businesses "survive and thrive."
    Pail said businesses are not looking at the split rate when deciding where to locate. Instead, he said they look at things such as which community has the most consistent, quality power. He said Westfield is attractive because "gas rates are the best, streets are getting fixed and water pressures don't change."


    Assessor Robin Johnson said that historically, her staff assessed personal property every three years but will now assess every year. She noted this year there were many building permits, including 15 new houses, Dollar General and another large shed business building. Johnson also noted that a couple of Tax Increment Financing agreements came off and several of the tax incentive financing agreements - totaling about $40 million in tax revenue for the city - will come off in the next two years.


    While most councilors approved using $1 million from free cash to lower taxes, Flaherty was not supportive.


    "I'm not in favor of this. I really don't think we should use one-time money for budgets. We can't live this way every single year," Flaherty said. "It's a one-time win and we have recurring costs. This one-time money will run out eventually."


    Flaherty added, "If we want to save money, we don't spend it on tax reductions. It's great for tax payers but not so great for the city."


    The council also approved $200,000 in cuts to the current budget due to unspent funds, including a $50,000 reduction in the school fuel account and several purchase-of-service reductions to several accounts across City Hall.


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    A group of black and Latino former drivers sued the online retailer, alleging that Amazon discriminated against them when it fired them based on an overly strict background check policy.

    A group of black and Latino former drivers for Amazon have sued the online retailer, alleging that Amazon discriminated against them when it fired them based on a background check policy.

    "Amazon's decision to fire them had nothing to do with their ability to perform the job, but was based solely on an overly strict background check policy," said Oren Sellstrom of Lawyers for Civil Rights, who is representing the drivers along with an attorney from Fair Work, in a statement. "That is not only poor business practice, it also violates federal and state anti-discrimination laws."

    The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, is a class action suit that seeks to represent all Massachusetts black and Latino drivers who were terminated under Amazon's background check policy. It was originally filed as a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which has not yet issued a decision.

    The drivers claim that in 2016, Amazon began implementing an overly strict background check policy, which caught old and minor offenses and did not take into account a driver's current job performance. It then fired many drivers, who were disproportionately black and Latino, based on the results of those background checks.

    "It is well documented that communities of color, including Black and Latino communities, are subjected to over-policing and traffic enforcement, and are arrested and convicted, at rates significantly higher than the White population," the lawsuit writes. "As a result, Amazon's policy and practice of terminating delivery drivers who are successfully performing their jobs, based solely on their background history, has a disparate impact on Black and Latino workers."

    The six plaintiffs all worked for Amazon in 2016, generally for a period of months, before they were fired based on the results of background checks.

    Matthew Soler, a Latino, had been delivering packages for Amazon for 60 to 70 hours a week when he was terminated for an old charge of driving after a license suspension. His license was reinstated more than four years before he was fired from Amazon, according to his lawyers.

    Dexter Andrews, who is black and drove for Amazon on the weekends for a couple of months, was fired for charges dating to 2009 -- despite having worked in construction and as a mentor to at-risk youth since that time, according to his lawyers. 

    The lawsuit does not provide details related to what the background checks turned up that led to the drivers' termination. The other plaintiffs are Raymond Dunn, Nuno Gomes, Titus Royal and Nicholas Young.

    The Republican / MassLive has emailed an Amazon spokesman seeking comment.


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    Siegal, formerly an assistant coach at Springfield College, was hired as an instructor by the Oakland A's in 2015

    SPRINGFIELD -- Justine Siegal, the first female coach in the history of Major League Baseball, will be the keynote speaker for the sixth annual Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame induction banquet on Jan. 31.

    The ceremony, hosted by the Valley Blue Sox, will take place at 7 p.m. at La Quinta Inn and Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield.


    "The Blue Sox are excited to host another Hall of Fame induction banquet," said Blue Sox President Fred Ciaglo, who is entering his second season as the head of the franchise. "There are so many people that do a great deal of work to help baseball prosper in Western Massachusetts. We hope that this event serves as an avenue to celebrate those individuals and their accomplishments."

    Siegal is the president and founder of "Baseball for All", a nonprofit organization that empowers women to play, coach, and lead in baseball. She earned her doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Springfield College, where she served as an assistant coach for the baseball team from 2008-10. She also coached youth baseball.

    In 2009, Siegal became the first female coach of a professional men's team when she worked as the first-base coach of the Brockton Rox in the independent Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.

    In 2011, she became the first woman to throw batting practice to a big league team, the Cleveland Indians. She also has served as a batting practice pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and New York Mets.

    In October 2015, Oakland invited her to serve a two-week stint as guest instructor in the instructional league in Arizona, making her the first female to coach in the MLB.

    Siegal will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2019. Other members will be announced through the Springfield Republican. This year's class is the sixth since the inaugural banquet in 2014. Since its inception, 35 individuals and four teams who have represented and served the baseball community of Western Massachusetts have been honored. 

    Among those who have been honored are former players Chris Capuano, Billy Joe Robidoux, and Mike Trombley, coaches Arthur "Ace" Adams, Dan Dulchinos, Stan Ziomek, and many others. Guest speakers have included Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione, former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, and former big league player and executive Tom Grieve.

    Tickets for the banquet are $50, or $450 for a table of 10. Dinner is included, and every guest will receive a pair of tickets to a 2019 Blue Sox home game. To purchase tickets, call 413-533-1100 or visit https://valley-blue-sox.ticketleap.com/2019-hof/


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    Herbology Group and The Verb is Herb seek special permits.

    In the face of opposition from an abutting child care center, the Herbology Group will make another appearance before the Easthampton Planning Board on Tuesday.

    The group plans a grow facility and dispensary at the former Cook Builders Supply at 195 Northampton Street, and has an option to lease 22,000 feet of cultivation space, and 6,000 feet of retail space at the vacant building. A Florida-based investor has an option to buy the property and lease it to Herbology, application materials show.

    Karen Pilgrim, the owner of All About Children at 15 Industrial Parkway, has said the marijuana project should be disqualified because of its proximity to the childcare center.

    However, the city's cannabis zoning ordinance, hammered out over seven months, contains no provision for a buffer zone around childcare centers. The ordinance does require a 350-foot buffer between cannabis establishments and existing K-12 schools.

    Also Tuesday, the board will consider a special permit for The Verb is Herb, LLC. The company, headed by CEO William Hartley, wishes to open an adult-use cannabis dispensary at 74 Cottage Street.

    Hartley, in his application, said he plans a "mom and pop store" at the downtown location. The company won't grow its own, but will buy from other licensed cultivators.

    Easthampton has processed several permit applications for cannabis entrepreneurs. Green Life, which plans a cultivation center and dispensary at 19 Welmeco Way, gained a medical marijuana special permit from the board in March, but has yet to open. Holistic Industries plans its "Liberty" dispensary at 115 Northampton St., the former Hairy's Pet Supply.

    INSA, the established medical marijuana facility at 122 Pleasant St., plans to launch adult-use sales before Christmas. The company has won recreational sales and cultivation permits from the Planning Board, and last week gained a final license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. All that INSA needs is a final inspection by the state.

    When the Herbology public hearing began on October 16, some objected to the proposal. Among other things, they said stoned customers could traipse by All About Children while publicly ingesting marijuana, and that pedestrians headed to a nearby PVTA bus stop could litter packaging or edibles.

    In response to those concerns, City Councilor Owen Zaret recently proposed an "open container" ordinance that would impose fines upon those caught consuming cannabis in public.

    Tuesday's continued hearing for Herbology Group was supposed to be held Nov. 13, but was tabled due to a lack of quorum. Herbology also plans a dispensary in Amherst at the former Rafters bar.

    If you go:

    What: Planning Board hearing for Herbology Group and The Verb is Herb
    When: Dec. 4, 6 p.m.
    Where: 50 Payson Ave. municipal building, Easthampton


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    The news comes as Columbia Gas seeks a major expansion in the lower Pioneer Valley.

    GREENFIELD -- A four-year moratorium on new or expanded natural gas accounts in parts of Franklin and Hampshire counties won't be lifted any time soon.

    Berkshire Gas Co. president Karen Zink on Nov. 16 sent a letter to more than 300 people and businesses on a waiting list for service.

    The letter said the moratorium "will have to continue indefinitely due to the limitations on the capacity of the delivery system," and that investments to lift the moratorium would "drive our natural gas service rates well beyond those of competing fuels."

    Berkshire Gas in December 2014 imposed service moratoriums in Greenfield, Montague, Deerfield, Sunderland, and Whately, and extended it to Amherst, Hadley, and Hatfield the following March. The ban was criticized by members of the business community, who said it was impeding economic development. 

    The Pioneer Valley is served by a lateral spur of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, and utilities connected to that line say that it's already at capacity.

    Berkshire previously said to lift the moratorium, it would have to build its own 16-mile pipeline to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system in Hampden County, or expand its liquefied natural gas storage in Whately, options that would cost $70 million to $100 million.

    Any such project costs would be borne by Berkshire Gas ratepayers.

    In filings with state utility regulators, the company rejected more modest options to lift the moratorium, including enhanced conservation, saying such measures wouldn't work.

    Four years ago, Berkshire Gas said its moratorium would stay in place until Kinder Morgan's Northeast Energy Direct pipeline was built. However, Kinder Morgan pulled the plug on that ambitious interstate project in 2016.

    The news about Berkshire Gas comes as Columbia Gas of Massachusetts seeks a major expansion in the lower Pioneer Valley.

    Columbia proposes new lines up either side of the Connecticut River to serve Springfield, Longmeadow, Agawam, West Springfield, Holyoke, Easthampton, and Northampton. Easthampton and Northampton are now under similar moratoriums.

    Columbia would work closely with Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., which now seeks state and federal permits for infrastructure upgrades in Agawam and Longmeadow. Those upgrades are being opposed by local climate activists. Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz said recently that his city, committed to a renewable energy pathway, doesn't want any more natural gas.

    However, much remains in the air. Columbia remains under investigation after explosions and fires rocked the Merrimack Valley in northeastern Massachusetts, killing one mane, injuring dozens, and damaging at least 130 homes. The Sept. 13 tragedy has been linked by the National Transportation Safety Board to problems with Columbia Gas operations.


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    Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Here are the obituaries published Friday in The Republican:

    Obituaries from The Republican, Nov. 30, 2018

     

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    Holyoke Police Lt. Jim Albert said there had been a rape at the facility and that an arrest was made, but said he could not provide other details.

    HOLYOKE -- The head of Holyoke Medical Center said Friday the institution has taken steps to improve patient safety following a recent sexual assault in the emergency room.

    Holyoke Police Lt. Jim Albert said there had been a rape at the facility and that an arrest was made, but said he could not provide other details.

    A spokesman for the Hampden district attorney's office confirmed the defendant in the case is John Robert Zawada, who was charged in Holyoke District Court with rape. Zawada's defense attorney, Joseph Harty, declined to comment on the case.

    Holyoke Medical Center CEO Spiros Hatiras declined to discuss specifics of the incident, citing concern for the victim. He did say that an employee who "exhibited willful misconduct" after the incident was terminated.

    In a statement Hatiras said:

    "In late November, an incident of a sexual nature between two patients occurred in the mental health area of the Holyoke Medical Center Emergency Department. Employees in the Emergency Department acted immediately to address the issue; this included calling the police, supporting the impacted patient and informing the leadership team."

    In his statement Hatiras said "social media accounts of this event have been grossly inaccurate."

    A discussion about the incident on the Hello Holyoke!!! Community Forum on Facebook was deleted.

    "Holyoke Medical Center immediately undertook a thorough review of the matter to determine root causes," Hatiras wrote. "Our initial review indicated an opportunity to improve our processes for supervising patients, monitoring access to patient care areas, and training and supervising personnel. We have already begun to address these issues. In addition, we have notified the Department of Public Health and will work collaboratively with them to implement any recommendations they may have.

    "The safety and security of our patients is of paramount importance. We have reinforced our standards and expectations with all employees and any individual who cannot meet these standards will face immediate action, up to and including termination," Hatiras wrote.


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    Springfield police are investigating a shooting that may involve two victims at the Knox St. Market on Knox Street. One of the victims may have been critically injured.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Springfield police are investigating the apparent shooting of two people at the Knox St. Market at 17 Knox Street. One of the victims may have been critically injured in the incident. 

    The shooting was part of an apparent armed robbery, and police responded to the scene at about 6:45 p.m.

    An apparent victim was seen being wheeled out of the store to a waiting ambulance by police and emergency medical personnel just before 7 p.m.  Emergency medical personnel appeared to be performing CPR on that victim. Other witnesses said the first victim appeared conscious and alert when taken from the scene by ambulance.

    A witness was on nearby Dexter Street when he heard gunfire coming from the direction of Knox and Foster streets, the location of the store.

    The witness, who asked not to be identified, said he heard two loud reports, followed by as many as six rapid shots from what sounded like a different weapon.

    Springfield police spokesman Ryan Walsh could not confirm the conditions of the victims and said Major Crimes detectives are at the scene investigating.


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    The solar farm will save enough greenhouse gases from going into the atmosphere to match 1,044 cars on the road for a year.

    WESTFIELD -- Green Street Power Partners will soon put online its 4.8-megawatt solar array at the intersection of Routes 10 and 202 with Summit Lock Road in Westfield.

    The company hosted a ceremonial ribbon cutting Friday.

    It'll be the fourth large-scale solar project in Westfield providing power to Westfield Gas & Electric and its customers, general manger Anthony Contrino said in interview this week. The rates Westfield Gas & Electric pays for the power are a confidential part of its contract with solar developer Green Street power, but he said the price is matched with market rates for power.

    "It's important that we have a diverse portfolio of power sources," he said.

    In part, such diversity is a hedge against price spikes in one power source or another.

    About 15 percent of Westfield G&E's power comes from solar or wind on average. But on a warm, sunny day, that can hit about 45 percent, Contrino said.

    Hydroelectric power provides another 10 percent of Westfield's power on average.

    Mia Behm, director of marketing for Green Street, said there are 13,700 panels installed at the site.

    The solar farm saves enough greenhouse gases from going into the atmosphere to match 1,044 cars on the road for a year, she said. It's the carbon displacement equivalent of preserving 795 acres of forest.

    Behm said this is a community solar program, the first in Westfield. Green Street needs 250 residents or businesses to sign up as backers.

    By signing up, the customers transfer their net-metering  -- that's when utilities pay for home-generated power -- rights to the project. In return, customers get an annual rebate check on their power bills of $50 to $80.

    There are still openings for participants, Behm said. Details are available at greenstreetsolarpower.com/westfield-community-solar.

    Participants' bills don't change, and the community partners don't pay anything. Green Street is able to get a larger incentive from the state because of their participation, she said.

    Green Street has a project in West Boylston that operates under the same community solar program, she said.

    Contrino said the incentives Green Street gets from the state are solar energy renewable credits (SREC) earned by solar power producers that sell to companies that generate power by other means. The community participation makes SRECs at this project more valuable, he said.

    Participating in a community project like this one makes sense for power customers who don't want to, or cannot, build solar arrays of their own, Contrino said.


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