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    Federal, state legislation governs how and under what circumstances there may be public disclosure.

    Hospital emergency departments treat a diverse population that includes victims of abuse, individuals with substance abuse disorder and those who may have been involved in crime.

    Do situations arise where they are obligated to share patient information with law enforcement without patient authorization or cause them to initiate such cooperation in the interest of public and patient safety?

    Sometimes.

    That includes reporting evidence to law enforcement of a crime believed to have occurred on a hospital's campus, but a combination of federal and state laws exists to protect patients' privacy rights around disclosure of medical information without their consent to outside parties by entities like hospitals. 

    Last month, the family of Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir filed a suit against the Springfield Police Department and the city of Springfield for records about the Vermont woman's death in custody. In a series of texts, an ailing Linsenmeir expressed concern to family members that if she sought care at a hospital, it would check for warrants and she would be sent to jail.

    There are provisions that allow health care facilities to release patient  information to law enforcement without patient consent but no requirement for such cooperation under federal patient privacy laws.

    A hospital may, for example, disclose to law enforcement "protected health information that they believe is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a person or the public" or to respond under state law to a court order, summons or administrative request from a law enforcement official that meet certain criteria or to comply with mandatory reporting requirements for victims of child abuse, gunshot wounds as well as cases of communicable diseases.

    Disclosure of individually identifiable protected health information for other than routine care or payment generally requires written patient consent. 

    Legislation related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which dates to 1996 and is often referred to as HIPAA, requires providers to inform patients of their privacy practices developed in accordance with state law and to have a patient's written acknowledgement of this notification.

    The notices generally tell patients of their rights to access their medical information, request it not be shared for such things as treatment or payment and explain under what circumstances a provider must comply under the law with outside requests for protected health information as well as how to file a complaint.

    Federal HIPAA legislation has evolved to refine who must comply, what information is protected and penalties that can be enforced when it is not.

    A covered entity, that is, a provider covered by HIPAA, must disclose protected health information in only two situations, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    This includes to individuals - or their personal representatives - specifically when they request access to, or an accounting of disclosures of, their protected health information as well as to HHS when it is undertaking a compliance investigation or review or enforcement action.

    They may under HIPAA respond to a law enforcement request for an individual's protected health information for purposes of identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person.

    The covered entity in this case must limit disclosure to the name and address, date and place of birth, Social Security number, blood type and rh factor, type of injury, date and time of treatment, date and time of death and a description of distinguishing physical characteristics.

    Other information related to the individual's DNA, dental records, body fluid or tissue typing, samples or analysis cannot be disclosed under this provision, according to HHS, but may be disclosed in response to a court order, warrant or written administrative request.

    An administrative request not from a judicial officer must include an attached letter from law enforcement stating that the "information requested is relevant and material, specific and limited in scope, and de-identified information cannot be used."

    Law enforcement may be given access to certain protected health information for a patient who is in custody but not once that person is released from custody.

    States like Massachusetts have enacted legislation to reinforce that hospitals and other health care settings are not extensions of the criminal justice system in terms of criminalizing opioid use disorder, something those with the disorder may not always realize.

    In 2012, Massachusetts General Law, chapter 94, section 34A, governing controlled substances and drug-related overdoses was updated to include the following provisions:

    • A person who, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug related overdose shall not be charged or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance under sections 34 or 35 if the evidence for the charge of possession of a controlled substance was gained as a result of the seeking of medical assistance.
    • A person who experiences a drug-related overdose and is in need of medical assistance and, in good faith, seeks such medical assistance, or is the subject of such a good faith request for medical assistance, shall not be charged or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance under said sections 34 or 35 if the evidence for the charge of possession of a controlled substance was gained as a result of the overdose and the need for medical assistance.

    In drafting their Notices of Privacy Practices providers must be in compliance with both state laws, which can be more restrictive about disclosing protected health information without prior patient consent, as well as HIPAA regulations.

    What can be disclosed to law enforcement without a court order, subpoena or patient authorization can become a matter of debate as demonstrated by a case in Utah last year in which a nurse refused to let a police officer draw blood without a warrant from an unconscious patient.

    Generally, HIPAA and state laws allow for disclosure of protected health information when issues of public health and safety are deemed to arise as well as around issues of child and elder abuse.

    The HIPAA Privacy Rule includes 12 provisions that allow for the disclosure of protected health information without individual authorization by providers to whom HIPAA applies.

    Two of these provisions related to legal requests are reiterated below:

    • Judicial and Administrative Proceedings. Covered entities may disclose protected health information in a judicial or administrative proceeding if the request for the information is through an order from a court or administrative tribunal. Such information may also be disclosed in response to a subpoena or other lawful process if certain assurances regarding notice to the individual or a protective order are provided.
    • Law Enforcement Purposes. Covered entities may disclose protected health information to law enforcement officials for law enforcement purposes under the following six circumstances, and subject to specified conditions: (1) as required by law (including court orders, court-ordered warrants, subpoenas) and administrative requests; (2) to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person; (3) in response to a law enforcement official's request for information about a victim or suspected victim of a crime; (4) to alert law enforcement of a person's death, if the covered entity suspects that criminal activity caused the death; (5) when a covered entity believes that protected health information is evidence of a crime that occurred on its premises; and (6) by a covered health care provider in a medical emergency not occurring on its premises, when necessary to inform law enforcement about the commission and nature of a crime, the location of the crime or crime victims, and the perpetrator of the crime.

    Massachusetts has a website that addresses disclosure of confidential health information.

    Among its key point on state confidentiality laws:

    • Massachusetts laws applicable to institutional health care providers (hospitals and clinics) are, in general, not as stringent as HIPAA. G.L. c. 111, SS70. Those that apply to hospitals and clinics operated by the Department of Mental Health (DMH), however, permit disclosure of a patient's health information without a patient's written consent only in very limited circumstances, including: at DMH's request, pursuant to a court order, or where the disclosure is determined to be in the patient's best interests and it is not possible or practicable to obtain the patient's written consent. G.L. c. 123, SS36; 104 CMR 27.17.
    • There is no state confidentiality law that applies to physicians. However, Massachusetts courts have recognized a duty of confidentiality that all doctors in the Commonwealth owe to their patients. Physicians generally must not disclose a patient's health information without the patient's written consent, subject to limited exceptions (such as to meet a serious danger to the patient or to others or pursuant to a court order). Alberts v. Devine, 395 Mass. 59, 68 (1985).

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    With just two weeks until Christmas Toy for Joy needs to raise $126,286 to reach its goal.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Every week the members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield  choose a charity to donate to.

    Rev. Jason Seymour explained that these weekly offerings are important to the congregation.

    "We are called personally - and as an institution - to respond out of generosity to the needs of the world, in support of our neighbors and friends whose organizations are building community and working to manifest love, justice and peace," he said in a letter sent a long with the donation.

    Today's contributions included the society's donation of $375.

    "Please continue your good work and know that it is appreciated," Seymour said.

    Toy for Joy, a collaborative effort by the Salvation Army, The Republican and MassLive provides toys and books to children in needy families in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

    Now in its 96th year, the campaign's goal is to raise $150,000 by Christmas Eve. Today's list of donations totaling $2,564 bring the total raised thus far to $23,714, leaving $126,286 to be raised by Christmas eve.

    Today's list of donations includes a gift of $100 in memory of Springfield Patrolman Michael J. Schiavina and his now late parents, Anne and Caesar Schiavina, from his siblings, Kathy, Mark and Maura. It is a tradition begun by Mrs. Schiavina following the 1985 death of the patrolman when he and a fellow officer, Alain Beauregard, were gunned down while on duty that November.

    Toy for Joy is also partnering this year with the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation for a second year to help ensure each child receives a new book.

    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. You can also donate online here.


    CONTRIBUTIONS AMOUNT
    Happy Holidays from Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield 375
    In memory of Norman and Theresa Cournoyer 25
    In remembrance of my husband Crawford 50
    In memory of Loren 100
    God bless all of the children 50
    In memory of Rae and Babe 50
    In memory of Captain Dave Piquette, miss you my friend, Mike 50
    Merry Christmas and peace to all 25
    The Hansens of Monson 50
    In memory of Bobbo and Dad, miss you, Bev 20
    Anonymous 50
    Loving memory of two little angels Thomas J Doyle Jr and Maureen O Lamoureux 50
    In memory of Matt Walsh, Alice and Joe Haggerty 50
    In loving memory of our son Steve, 9 years 25
    Lolita lives 100
    From my grandkids Mya, Kayla, Alexa, Riley and Gavin with joy 100
    In loving memory of members of the Hagan, Heroux and Lynch families 50
    Anonymous 50
    From Hads, Coop, Bobby, Maya, Fiona, Ally, Avery, Aurora, Mika, Elle, BB, Emmys and Vivian 66
    In loving memory of Michael Schiavina and his parents Anne and Caesar Schiavina, loved and miss by Kathy, Mark and Maura 100
    In memory of Michael F Rybczyk 100
    Happy Holidays from the Anfang family 25
    In memory of Roger DeGrandpre from Smith and Barbara Rovelli 25
    Peace 50
    In loving memory of Mary and Paul Gibbs and Paul Jr from their children and siblings 60
    God bless the children always 150
    In loving memory of my parents Mary and Pete Bagge 50
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Pete, Katy, Mackenzie and Shannon 100
    In memory of Neil C Cormier from his wife, children and grandchildren 25
    In memory of Annie and Philip Mirarchi 35
    In memory of Heidi and Wendy 50
    In memory of Art, Mom, Dad, Bob, Cora and Wanda 50
    In memory of Papa, Tony Pa and Gradma Connie 75
    In memory of Mike and Gerry Garrity 20
    In memory of the Lavelle, Sieron and Skorka families 25
    In loving memory of Sally Drucker 18
    In loving memory of Norma Kindig from family 50
    Patricia 100
    In memory of Ma and Dad K, Mom and Dad B, Ragz, Shy, Sparky, Tuney and Taste Tempter from LKB and SHB 20
    Anonymous 10
    To honor the great class of 1960 High School of Commerce 20
    Happy Holidays Moma and Poppy, love Jacob, Sam and Rachel 50
    To a child, thanks to Jesus and St. Jude 20
       
    RECEIVED $2,564
    TOTAL TO DATE $23,714
    STILL NEEDED $126,286

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    Luis Vargas, 48, of Slater Avenue, was charged with armed and masked robbery.

    SPRINGFIELD -- A 48-year-old man accused of holding up the clerk of an electronics store and fleeing with cash was arrested Monday night after police were able to track him to a house.

    Luis Vargas, of Slater Avenue., was charged with armed and masked robbery. He is expected to be arraigned in Springfield District Court Tuesday.

    A masked man wearing a hooded sweatshirt entered the Metro PCS store on 1045 Boston Rd. at about 7 p.m., told the clerk he was armed with a gun and demanded money. Police did not disclose how much he took, said Ryan Walsh police spokesman.

    In an investigation of the crime, police located Vargas at 44-46 Slater Ave. Detectives then received a warrant to search the home, he said.

    "Detectives executed the search warrant and located the cash, mask and hoodie the suspect was wearing during the incident," Walsh said.


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    Luis Manuel Ramirez, the general manager of the MBTA, is out after little more than a year on the job.

    Luis Manuel Ramirez, the general manager of the MBTA, is out after little more than a year on the job.

    His departure is effective today, with Steve Poftak, a member of the fiscal and management control board overseeing the MBTA, taking over on January 1.

    Ramirez, a former General Electric executive who signed up as a turnaround CEO of the public transit agency, started the job September 2017 at a base annual salary of $320,000.

    He did not have public transit experience, though Gov. Charlie Baker said in August 2017 that he was confident "in Luis's ability to both do the job and to succeed mightily in doing it." He added that he expected most people to agree with him a year later.

    When Ramirez's hiring was announced in 2017, the MBTA had seen six permanent or acting general managers since 2011. Poftak was one of them, having briefly served as interim general manager.

    Ramirez's original contract, which included potential bonuses, ran through 2020.

    But in the last few months, persistent rumors inside the state transportation building pointed to a departure after the end of the 2018 election cycle in November.

    MBTA's new chief tried to take the train on his first day on the job and the fare machines weren't working

    In November, Ramirez and Gov. Baker's transportation chief Stephanie Pollack announced they agreed to delay a decision on a possible $32,000 first-year bonus until 2019.

    "I was brought in to the MBTA from the outside corporate world to bring a fresh business perspective and skills to the MBTA," he said in a statement. "With the progress we have achieved around financial and operational execution, this is a good time to transition to someone with different skill sets."

    On Tuesday, Pollack told MassLive she and Ramirez agreed that the time was right for a change of leadership at the public transit agency.

    Poftak is leaving his job as executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School to take the post of general manager. Poftak has also worked as director of research at the Pioneer Institute, a local think tank.

    Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he's 'quite confident' in new MBTA general manager 


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    The crash occurred at about 8:20 a.m. near St. James Avenue and Tapley Street.

    SPRINGFIELD - A school crossing guard was taken to the hospital after being struck by a car Tuesday morning.

    The driver hit the woman at about 8:20 a.m. while she was working near St. James Avenue and Tapley Street, said Ryan Walsh, Springfield Police spokesman.

    The operator drove away from the crash but police were able to identify the suspect, he said.

    The crossing guard was taken to Baystate Medical Center to be examined for possible injuries. Her condition is not immediately known, he said.

    Charges are pending against the driver, Walsh said.

    This is a breaking story. MassLive will update as more information becomes available.


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    Following a $2.4 million dam rehabilitation project at Van Horn Park in Springfield, the city will use state and federal funds to evaluate the conditions of the park's upper earthen dam.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The city, having completed a $2.4 million rehabilitation project at the lower dam of Van Horn Park, once deemed a "high hazard' for flooding, is now turning its attention to study an upper dam at the park to further safeguard the area.

    The city recently received an $84,000 state grant for a Phase 2 study of the Upper Van Horn Reservoir Dam, officials said. The grant was received from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

    In 2016, officials launched the project to rehabilitate the lower earthen dam, with the work occurring eight years after the dam was classified a "high hazard" for flooding.

    At the time, officials raised concerns that it posed a flood risk to the Liberty Heights neighborhood including Baystate Medical Center.

    Patrick J. Sullivan, the city's director of parks, buildings and recreation, said the upper earthen dam is not as big of a concern but fits in with the task of flood protection. The upper dam forms the embankment for Armory Street, above the lower dam area, officials said.

    "We want them both in operating condition and safe condition," Sullivan said. "Now that the lower dam is done, we can breathe a little easier."

    The study has an estimated cost off $112,000. In addition to the state funds, the city is using $28,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the study, as authorized by Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.

    The Phase 2 evaluation includes an engineering analysis of the upper dam structure including rehabilitation options needed to bring the dam into compliance with dam safety regulations, officials said.

    Both dams are upstream from homes, commercial buildings and Baystate.

    City officials have heard many positive comments about the results of the lower dam rehabilitation in making the dam safe and providing greater recreational opportunities for walking, jogging and biking.

    In 2007, the lower dam was cited for non-compliance by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, listed as "structurally deficient and in poor condition."

    The funding for the lower dam rehabilitation project included $1 million from the state, $1 million from MassMutual in connection with a federal grant program and city funds.

    The contractor was Northern Tree Services of Wilbraham.

    The project included the removal of trees and stumps from the dam area designed to reduce erosion and potential dam failure. In addition, the project involved repairs to the concrete outlet structure for the dam, steel bar grates and a pipe that goes through the dam to allow normal flow, officials said.


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    Among the purchases are Friendly's that remain open and one that closed last week: 65 Sumner Ave. in Springfield's Forest Park neighborhood.

    Sun Capital Partners -- The Florida-based private equity firm that owns Friendly's restaurant business -- has spent $12.2 million over the past few months buying back a dozen Friendly's restaurant locations across Massachusetts.

    But the company remained tight-lipped Monday as to what -- if anything -- these purchases mean for the future of the beloved-but-troubled Friendly's brand.

    The 12 transactions are on record in October and November at registries of deeds in Hampden, Franklin, Worcester and Middlesex counties, according to an online records search.

    Among the purchases are Friendly's that remain open and one that closed last week: 65 Sumner Ave. in Springfield's Forest Park neighborhood.

    All the purchases were made by SIC Property LLC, a corporate entity established by Sun Capital in Delaware in March and registered in Massachusetts in October.

    Sun Capital also owns  other restaurant chains, including Johnny Rockets and Smokey Bones as well as some regional chains in Seattle and a string of Mongolian restaurants in, Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota.

    The seller in all cases was O Ice LLC, another Delaware corporation. O Ice LLC is owned by Realty Income Corp., a publicly held real-estate company that owns 5,600 commercial properties across the country including 78 in Massachusetts.

    O Ice LLC and Realty also owns the Friendly's headquarters building and ice cream plant on Boston Road in Wilbraham. That ownership has not changed, according to the Hampden County Registry of Deeds.

    And not every operating Friendly's was sold. For example, the one at 21 Southampton Road in Westfield is still owned by Pride Limited Partnership -- the company has long wanted to build a gas station on its adjacent plot -- and by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

    The Friendly's at 190 Springfield St. in Agawam remains owned by Rocco J. Falcone of Rocky's Ace Hardware. Rocky's has a store in the plaza adjacent to Friendly's.

    The locations that sold and their sale prices are:

    • Auburn: 697 Southbridge St., $868,000
    • Chicopee: 529 Memorial Drive, $1.57 million
    • East Longmeadow: 562 North Main St., $1.274 million
    • Gardner: 18 Pearson Blvd, $915,000
    • Greenfield: 200 Mohawk Trail, $1.758 million
    • Holyoke: 1745 Northampton St., $1.198 million
    • Palmer: 1519 North Main St., $348,000
    • Springfield: 65 Sumner Ave.: $529,000, now closed
    • Springfield: 1811 Boston Road, $558,000
    • Stoneham: 611 Main St., $468,000.
    • West Springfield: 1094 Riverdale St., $1.57 million
    • Worcester: 966 Grafton St., $1.2 million

    Calls Monday to Sun Capital's headquarters in Boca Raton went unanswered.

    In Massachusetts, Friendly's spokeswoman Alyssa Stevens said real estate changes hands from time to time, but Friendly's leases remain in place. When informed that it was Sun Capital that was buying the property, she said she would have to check and get a response. One was not forthcoming Monday.

    Then known as Friendly Ice Cream Corp., Friendly's in 2007 sold its headquarters campus in Wilbraham and 160 of its restaurants to Realty Income Corp. That sale followed a protracted legal battle between co-founder S. Prestley Blake and Don Smith and others in the Friendly's management team.

    Blake felt that Smith and his team were spending and borrowing too much.

    As a result of the dispute, which ended up chronicled in a Harvard Business School case study, Smith's team sold the company to Sun Capital. Sun Capital sold the real estate soon after buying Friendly's.

    Time has not been kind to the property values. Realty Income Corp. paid $2.17 million for the Memorial Drive in Chicopee location, for example.

    The East Longmeadow location sold for $1.75 million in 2007.

    Last week, Friendly's shut down six restaurants in four states including the Sumner Avenue and Seekonk locations in Massachusetts, as well as restaurants in Bennington and Rutland, Vermont, Dover, New Hampshire, and East Greenbush, New York, a suburb of Albany.

    Today, the chain is down to 224 locations, about 125 of them franchises and the rest corporately owned. In Massachusetts, Friendly's restaurants also closed this year in Bourne, Gloucester, Ludlow, South Hadley and Westfield.

    Brothers S. Prestley and Curtis Blake founded Friendly -- the apostrophe-s wasn't added until years later -- in 1935 in Springfield and grew the company quickly in the years following World War II. The brothers, who are both still living past their 100th year, sold to Hershey Foods in 1979.

    Friendly's sold its retail ice cream and manufacturing business to Dallas, Texas-based Dean Foods Co. in 2016 for $155 million. Dean sells ice cream to supermarkets and Friendly's restaurants.

    Dean Foods leases the plant in Wilbraham and supplies ice cream to stores and Friendly's restaurants.


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    Autumn Harris, 42 of Boston, has been charged in connection with the crash that killed 5-year-old Adrianna Mejia-Rivera and the infant on Sunday.

    The 2-month-old baby who was injured in a Revere crash on Sunday has died, the family told NECN.

    Autumn Harris, 42 of Boston, has been charged in connection with the crash on Sunday that killed 5-year-old Adrianna Mejia-Rivera and the infant.

    Authorities say Harris was driving a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox that left the roadway and hit five pedestrians on a sidewalk just before 5 p.m. Sunday. The Suffolk County District Attorney's office said the group was walking along the median strip of Route 145 near North Shore Road.

     

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    Police, cracking down on recent violence within the city and anticipating dangerous driving during the holiday season, conducted four of the expanded patrols starting on Nov. 16., according to a post on the department's Facebook page.

    PITTSFIELD -- A series of high-visibility patrols, conducted in recent weeks by Pittsfield police and various law-enforcement partners yielded 32 arrests and the seizure of 340 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $34,000.

    Police, cracking down on recent violence within the city and anticipating dangerous driving during the holiday season, conducted four of the expanded patrols starting on Nov. 16., according to a post on the department's Facebook page.

    The four operations, the last conducted on Saturday, also yielded six criminal summonses, 418 traffic stops, 14 criminal motor vehicle summonses, 253 motor vehicle citations and 145 verbal warnings, police said.

    Saturday's operation, which focused on the Morningside and Westside neighborhoods, led to 14 arrests, including two for drunken driving, and one out-of-state sex offender registration violation.

    The cocaine, as well as numerous illicit pills, were seized on that day.

    Approximately 75 members of the department, Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, Massachusetts State Police, District Court Probation Office and the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission participated in the Saturday operation.

    The first three operations, which included Nov. 20 and Nov. 28, were conducted by Pittsfield Police uniformed patrol and the department's anti-crime unit, assisted by members of the sheriff's office and state police.

    Police based their operations on data provided by the department's crime analyst and on the principles of Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS).

    The department's command staff and crime analyst examined call-for-service data and crime data from across the city for the calendar year to date. This data was compiled according to crime type, crime location, day of week, and hour of day. This data was used to focus deployment strategies for all enforcement activities.

    Police said they have not conducted an operation of such scale since 2016.


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    After multiple failed attempts, the city is once again seeking bids for the purchase and redevelopment of the former Oak Street fire station in Indian Orchard, and a block building at 135-155 Lyman St.

    SPRINGFIELD -- After multiple failed attempts, the city is once again seeking developers for two properties it owns: the former Oak Street fire station in Indian Orchard and a long-vacant downtown block on Lyman Street.

    Brian Connors, the city's deputy director of economic development, said Tuesday that both properties have great potential if the right buyers can be found.

    The two-story station, built in 1910, is at Oak and Berkshire Street.

    Separately, the city is seeking to sell the six-story block is at 135-155 Lyman St., also built in 1910.

    "Both of these are opportunities that have been out multiple times, but we believe with increased interest in Springfield now is a great time to seek proposals for these important properties," Connors said.

    The city has attempted to sell the fire station five times in recent years.

    In the last effort, the city received two competing proposals in August: one for a proposed live-in art studio, and the other to provide clinical services for opioid addiction.

    Connors said a city review committee rejected both proposals, saying they did not meet the listed goals for the site. Each developer offered $100 for the property, and the city's criteria included that any reuse would need to fit in with the neighborhood and meet neighborhood goals.

    The city is once again offering a $50,000 incentive to any selected bidder for the station property. The incentive, funded by the city's federal Community Development Block Grant allotment, is for exterior improvements such as roof repair, masonry repair and window repair, the city solicitation states.

    "This is an important historic building in Indian Orchard and we think it has great potential," Connors said. "We are seeking a project that preserves and restores the building and a use that will complement the neighborhood."

    The building has not been in use as a fire station for more than 10 years, and is currently used by the city for storage. It is being sold "as is," according to the city's request for proposals.

    Proposals for either the fire station or the Lyman Street building are due by Jan. 16, at 2 p.m., at the city's Office of Procurement at City Hall.

    The Lyman Street building drew no bidders in the last sale effort in 2017. Connors said the building is admittedly in "rough shape" due to years of water damage.

    The redevelopment of the nearby Union Station, however, is hoped to help spur interest, Connors said.

    "There has been much more interest in development downtown since the opening of Union Station and MGM Springfield," Connors said. "We're hopeful developers will see the opportunity that exists on Lyman Street, just a short walk to Union Station and commuter rail."

    The Lyman Street property is zoned Industrial A, and includes the building and four adjacent lots, with a total area of 20,002 square feet. The city is requiring off-street parking, and the vacant lots provide an opportunity for that use, the city said.

    City review committees will be established to evaluate any proposals received for the two city properties.

    Conditions for the sale of the fire station property include a requirement for an "exterior preservation restriction." Under that restriction, the owner must obtain approval from the Springfield Historical Commission for any exterior alterations.

    There is also a condition that the owner must get a certificate of occupancy within 18 months of the property transfer, or the property reverts back to the city.

    The station property is zoned Residence B, and is on a 13,500 square foot lot. The building area is approximately 11,732 square feet.


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    Jonathan Carrion, of Holyoke, is charged with murder for the fatal shooting of Carmen Rosario in Holyoke in June 2016.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The Hampden Superior Court trial of Jonathan Carrion, charged with murder for the 2016 fatal shooting of Carmen Rosario in Holyoke, was slated to start Wednesday, but the case got an emergency postponement.

    Judge Daniel Wrenn on Monday allowed defense lawyer Jared L. Olanoff's emergency motion to continue the case.

    In his motion, Olanoff said the defense's independent telecommunications expert is refusing to cooperate with him or appear for trial. He said the telecommunications evidence is essential to the defense.

    A court date of Jan. 15 was set to check on the status of the case.

    Carrion, of Holyoke, was 19 when he was arrested for the June 25, 2016, shooting of Rosario, 31.

    He is charged with murder and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

    Israel Rosado, 23, also of Holyoke, faces a charge of accessory after the fact of murder in connection with the shooting.

    In a pretrial hearing last week before Judge William J. Ritter, who will hear the trial, Assistant District Attorney James M. Forsyth said Rosado will be the main witness in the case against Carrion.

    He said there is no written cooperation agreement between Rosado and the prosecution.

    Rosario, a mother of two who worked as a pharmacy technician at the Holyoke Health Center, was shot outside an apartment at the Beaudoin Village housing project on Barrett Avenue. She died the next day.

    At the time of her death, Jay Breines, chief executive officer of the Holyoke Health Center, described Rosario as the "shining light of the pharmacy."

    When Carrion and Rosado were arraigned, officials said the shooting was not random.

    "The suspects involved brought a gun to a dispute to settle a dispute," said James M. Neiswanger, who was Holyoke's police chief at the time.

    "There was a period of time for this to cool down and for the people involved to make better choices," said Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni. "It's a very tragic situation that was avoidable."

    Olanoff, in an affadavit submitted in support of his emergency motion to continue, said he had retained Paul Daubitz as a telecommunications expert in August.

    "As the trial date approached, it became clear that Mr. Daubitz was not performing the work he promised," Olanoff wrote. "Mr. Daubitz eventually informed me that he would not be able to perform the particular type of work he promised."

    He said on Monday that Daubitz said he would not be testifying in the case. He terminated Daubitz's further involvement in the case.

    Olanoff said he has spoken to another expert who he can use but needed extra time.


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    Former parishioners wanting to save the building and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, which cited hazards in the structure, battled over the building's fate for years after it was closed.

    HOLYOKE -- The demolition of the former Mater Dolorosa Church is underway.

    WWLP 22News and Western Mass News reported Tuesday that the building was being razed. 

    Last week, stained glass windows and a cross that once sat atop the controversial steeple were removed and workers removed asbestos.

    Former parishioners wanting to save the building and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, which cited hazards in the structure, battled over the building's fate for years after it was closed.

    This is a developing story; a reporter from The Republican is at the scene and will be filing an update later Tuesday afternoon; check MassLive and MassLive on Facebook for updates


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    The two Massachusetts marijuana retail shops that are open have brought in a total of $7 million since opening on November 20.

    The two Massachusetts marijuana retail shops that are open have brought in a total of $7 million since opening on November 20.

    Numbers released by the state's Cannabis Control Commission say the two stores pulled in $2.2 million over seven days in December. That's on top of $4.8 million they took in the first two weeks of operation.

    The two open stores are Cultivate in the Worcester County town of Leicester and New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton.

    They sold a total of 57,127 "units," or measured-out marijuana and marijuana products, like chocolate bars and lotions, between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9.

    The stores are taxed, with the 6.25 percent sales tax, a 10.75 percent excise tax, and a 3 percent local tax.

    The commission released the numbers the same day that regulators gave a third shop in Salem, Alternative Therapies Group, the okay to open later this week, making it the first one in eastern Massachusetts.

    Alternative Therapies Group, Inc. approved to begin recreational marijuana sales this month

    INSA in Easthampton, not far from NETA, and Pharmacannis in Wareham have final approvals from the commission but still need clearance to commence operations.

    The agenda for Thursday's meeting of the five-member commission includes final licenses for three retail applicants. The list includes Northeast Alternatives, Inc., Temescal Wellness of Massachusetts Inc., and Theory Wellness, Inc.

    Temescal is hoping to open retail shops in Hudson and Pittsfield. Theory Wellness has submitted an application for a retail shop in Great Barrington, while Northeast Alternatives is seeking a retail license for a shop in Fall River.

    Commissioners have also signed off on a variety of final and provisional licenses for product manufacturing, cultivation and independent testing labs.

    Marijuana in Massachusetts: Here's where the next retail shops will likely open


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    The Planning Board voted 4-0 to grant site plan approval and a special permit to Joseph Paolini.

    PALMER -- The Planning Board on Monday unanimously approved a businessman's request to construct 222 seasonal cottages at Forest Lake, following numerous public hearings on the proposal that began in June.

    The board voted 4-0 to grant site plan approval and a special permit to Joseph Paolini. He owns more than 90 acres surrounding the lake.

    In an interview following the vote, he said additional permits would be required prior to any groundbreaking.

    Paolini said the Palmer Conservation Commission is reviewing the proposal, owing to potential wetlands issues, and that the state Department of Environmental Protection also must approve the idea, otherwise construction cannot begin.

    One aspect of the plan involves hooking into the Thorndike water district's system -- to be done at Paolini's expense -- that will require laying pipes underground.

    "I hope to break ground by May," he said.

    The businessman said that if all goes to plan and the other needed permits are obtained, the first cluster of about 30 cottages could be ready for occupancy in 2020. He said a full buildout would depend on market conditions.

    The units would have about 1,200 square feet of living space. The gated community would be open to owners of the homes from spring through the fall, and would be closed all winter.

    Amenities at the lakeside facility would include access to the water for nonmotorized boating and swimming, a community center overlooking the lake with an adjacent swimming pool, athletic fields, walking trails, fishing and a recreation center.

    When the Planning Board closed Monday's public hearing prior to deliberating and then voting to approve the cottage project, it marked the eighth meeting on the proposal -- prompting Chairman Michael Marciniec to wonder if any board hearing had so many meetings for any other single project.

    It "could be a record," he said.


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    A 38-year old Easthampton man died of injuries he sustained while cutting down a tree on Flat Hills Road in Amherst, around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

    A 38-year old Easthampton man died of injuries he sustained while cutting down a tree on Flat Hills Road in Amherst, around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

    Amherst Police and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Northwestern District Attorney's Office responded to the scene, but report that no foul play is suspected.

     A compliance officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also responded to the scene at the request of police and will complete an investigation, according to the district attorney's office. 


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    Demolition of the church, built by members of the Polish community 117 years ago, began Tuesday morning when a large excavator began punching out sections of the buildings northern wall and roof

    HOLYOKE - Parishioners of the former Mater Dolorosa Church gathered there Tuesday to witness and mourn the demolition of their beloved spiritual home.

    Built by members of the Polish community 117 years ago, the church was razed beginning Tuesday morning when a large excavator began punching out sections of the building's northern wall and roof.

    Little by little, larger and larger sections of the interior of the church became open to cold December air and a pile of bricks and other debris grew in the churchyard beyond the ruined wall.

    Work halted mid-afternoon. A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said the demolition likely would be finished within a week and the site would be cleared by early 2019. Any future use of the land will be up to Our Lady of the Holy Cross Parish.

    On Tuesday afternoon, former parishioners and others continued to stop by Mater Dolorosa singly or in small groups to pay their respects, vent a wide range of emotions and share stories of their time within its sheltering walls.

    "There are a lot of emotions going through my mind" said former parishioner Leonard Los. "Sadness, anger, happiness. There's a lot of memories here. My first communion, my confirmation, my wedding, my family. I think about going as a child here, taking my kids here as they grew up. It's a very sad day."

    "Today is a very bad day, a very sad day," said former parishioner Mary Wolanin. "Probably (the saddest day) of my whole life."

    Wolanin and some of the others there had harsh words for the diocese and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski for proceeding with the demolition.

    "The Polish people did not deserve what he did to us," Wolanin said. "There is nothing wrong with the church, the church is very strong, very strong. It could have stayed another one hundred and something years, no problem."

    Mark Dupont, diocese spokesman, acknowledged the demolition was difficult for former parishioners but said it was necessary due to the deteriorate state of the building and the cold weather ahead.

    "We understand how painful this will be for many, especially this time of year, however safety had to be our priority and no matter when we had to undertake this demolition it would have been difficult for former parishioners," he said in a statement.

    Mater Dolorosa's ornate stained-glass windows were removed some time ago, as was the cross that once soared atop its steeple, the church organ and other artifacts. Many of the items have gone to other parishes.

    "It is our hope that through their new uses in churches and places of worship elsewhere, the legacy of this beloved parish will live on in some manner," Dupont said.

    The diocese has long maintained the building was structurally unsound, something parishioners dispute to this day.

    The battle began in the spring of 2011 when then-Bishop Timothy McDonnell announced the church would close and the parish would merge with Holy Cross on Appleton Street and worship there. Members named the new parish Our Lady of the Cross.

    But Mater Dolorosa members protested the closing and went to extraordinary lengths to keep it open. They occupied the church around the clock for a year, appealed the decision to the Vatican, applied to turn the church and surrounding neighborhood into a historic district and negotiated to buy the building. Several times their battles with the diocese ended in court.

    Earlier this year the City Council rejected a proposal to have the city buy the building for $50,000.

    "We did not undertake this action without having provided ample opportunity for a potential buyer to step forward," Dupont said of the demolition. "It has been nearly eight years since the diocese was alerted to structural safety issues involving the former Mater Dolorosa Church. During the intervening years we have been consistent in expressing our concerns."

    As recently as last week, John Fydenkevez, president of the Mater Dolorosa Preservation Society of Holyoke, said those who have been fighting to save the church were holding out for a "miracle" meeting with Rozanski.

    "The diocese is making big mistake," said Sharon Fydenkevez, wife of John Fydenkevez, as she looked through the chain-link fence at what was left of the church late Tuesday afternoon. "There are too many memories here. This is a big mistake."

    "I can't believe this is actually coming down," said the Fydenkevezes' 12-year-old son, Jack, who said he last stepped foot inside the church in 2011.


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    Despite recent shakeups to Western Massachusetts' representation on Beacon Hill, the state's new Senate leader stressed Tuesday that she's committed to addressing the region's unique needs and tackling inequities that have plagued its funding over the years.

    HATFIELD -- Despite recent shakeups to Western Massachusetts' representation on Beacon Hill, the state's new Senate leader stressed Tuesday that she's committed to addressing the region's unique needs and tackling inequities that have plagued its funding over the years. 

    Senate President Karen Spilka told local food bank, housing, transportation and other officials that while she hails from the greater Boston area, she understands the challenges facing small and rural communities.

    The Ashland Democrat, who joined state Sen.-elect Jo Comerford in touring parts of the the 1st Senate district, acknowledged Western Massachusetts' importance to the rest of the state and said she understands the need for regional equity.

    "I think that Western Mass. has a lot of the same issues that the rest of the state has: Transportation, homelessness, food insecurity, the need for early education. But, when you break that down and get into the specifics, there are some very specific needs in those areas to address the concerns of the residents and communities of Western Massachusetts," she said, following a morning event at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield. 

    The Senate president, who noted that Tuesday's visit marked her third to Western Massachusetts since she took over the leadership post in July, further pledged to ensure Western Massachusetts will not be forgotten when it comes to funding and other decisions made on Beacon Hill.

    Karen Spilka installed as president of Massachusetts Senate: 'We will continue to be a leading light in our nation'

    "Clearly, I am reaching out to Western Mass. to try to allay any concerns that people have," she said. "Western Mass. is a critically important part of our state and we need to do everything we can to help the economy, to help the residents. When Western Mass. thrives, the commonwealth will thrive too."

    To help achieve that, Spilka said she hopes the legislature will soon pursue overhauls to the health care system, public education and housing policies.

    Comerford, who was recently elected to represent former Senate President Stan Rosenberg's district, said she shares many Spilka's legislative priorities. 

    Jo Comerford, who will replace Stan Rosenberg in Mass. Senate, attributes win to 'people power'

    The Democrat added that it was important for her to bring the new Senate president back to the region ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

    "I wanted two things to happen today: I wanted people here in Western Massachusetts to get to know the Senate president as I have begun to do and to hear her speak so passionately about the issues we care about," she said. "And, I wanted the Senate president to have, from our perspective out here, the top line ... of issues that we're talking about, that I will be talking about with them."

    Comerford and Spilka discussed poverty, food insecurity, housing and transportation-related issues during a panel discussion with local stakeholders at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts' Hatfield facility. 

    They then traveled to Greenfield Community College, where they met with GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernandez, University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and local school officials on public education policies. 

    The Senate president and senator-elect ended their tour with a stop at the Northampton Community Arts Trust, which focused on what Western Massachusetts' economy needs to thrive and create jobs. 


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    David Carrasquillo was charged with possession of a firearm without a permit and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Police arrested a city resident in a six-month-old shooting, following an investigation.

    David Carrasquillo, 27, of Almira Road, was arrested at his home at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday by members of the Springfield Police Warrant Apprehension Team and Massachusetts State Police, Springfield police spokesman Ryan Walsh said.

    He was charged with possessing a firearm without a permit and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, Walsh said.

    Police in the Major Crimes Unit under the direction of Capt. Trent Duda applied for a search warrant after identifying Carrasquillo as a suspect in a shooting that was captured on video.

    The shooting occurred at about 4:30 p.m. on June 14 in the 400 block of Boston Road. The victim was taken to Baystate Medical Center and recovered from the gunshot wound, Walsh said.


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    The September 11th Monument Committee has reached its goal of raising $300,000 to build a memorial at Riverfront Park tied to the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The September 11th Monument Committee has reached its goal of raising $300,000 to build a memorial at Riverfront Park.

    Members of the committee and city officials including Mayor Domenic J. Sarno will gather at City Hall on Wednesday to formally announce the completion of the eight-month fundraising campaign, including the presentation of three final checks.

    The event is at 11 a.m., in Room 220.

    "I am so thankful for our very generous business and philanthropic community -- they always step up," Sarno said.

    Checks will be presented by Big Y World Class Markets for $5,000, Springfield Ride to Remember for $10,000, and Crowley & Associates for $15,000.

    The campaign raised more than $300,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, the city said.

    The memorial will feature a beam of structural steel from the World Trade Center in New York City, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    It was initially hoped that the monument would have been ready on Sept. 11, 2018, the 17th anniversary of the attacks. The new date for completion has not yet been announced.


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    The ad-hoc committee will convene public meetings, keep minutes and keep the Palmer Town Council abreast of developments in a $1 million east-west passenger rail study commissioned by the state.

    PALMER -- The Town Council on Monday named 13 people to an ad-hoc committee charged with keeping tabs on plans for east-west passenger rail and the possibility of creating a stop in Palmer.

    The Rail Stop Steering Committee will convene public meetings, keep minutes and monitor developments in the $1 million east-west passenger rail study commissioned by the state.

    That study, which is expected to be completed in 18 months, will determine if it is feasible to invest the money needed to connect Springfield, and possibly Pittsfield, via passenger rail with Worcester and Boston.

    The steering committee is made up of advocates for placing a passenger rail station in the town as part of any east-west rail corridor.

    The 13 committee members are as follows:

    • Lorinda Baker, town councilor
    • Mary Salzmann, town council vice president
    • Paul Burns-Johnson, Planning Board member
    • Linda Leduc, town planner/economic development director
    • Sarah Szczebak, community development director
    • Jan McCoy, Palmer Redevelopment Authority
    • Ben Hood, Palmer Redevelopment Authority Rail Advisory Board
    • Karl Williams, owner of Day and Night Diner in Depot Village
    • Scarlet Lamothe, owner of Union Station/Steaming Tender restaurant in Depot Village
    • Lenny Weake, Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce and Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce
    • Rob Gromosky, Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop
    • Nathaniel Fischer, representing commuters from Springfield to Boston
    • Tracy Opalinski, regional representative and Ware Board of Selectmen member


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