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    The Holyoke Finance Committee approved two federal law enforcement grants, which the police department will use to purchase 30 Tasers and step up enforcement at Holyoke's most accident-prone intersections.

    HOLYOKE -- The City Council's Finance Committee on Monday approved several state and federal law enforcement grants awarded to the Holyoke Police Department. The full council must approve the awards during its Dec. 18 meeting.

    Holyoke Police Sgt. John Hart outlined the grants Monday. He asked the Finance Committee, led by City Councilor Joseph M. McGiverin, to accept a $17,560 U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Grant.

    The grant represents the second part of an award from fiscal 2015 that allows the police department to purchase 30 Tasers. Officially known as the Governor's Local Law Enforcement Equipment and Technology Grant, it does not require a match or contribution from a municipality.

    A Taser zaps a suspect with a massive electrical charge, enough to incapacitate the person. Hart told the committee the Taser is a "less lethal tool," reducing the risks of an officer-involved shooting. He added that Police Chief Manny Febo supports the use of Tasers.

    Tasers cost around $1,200 each and require users to undergo annual training and recertification, Hart said. The yellow Tasers stand out on an officer's utility belt. The grant pays for the equipment, extra cartridges and batteries.

    The second federal award, the Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program Grant, will target 10 problem intersections around Holyoke with increased patrols, ticketing and possible arrests.

    The grants were awarded the grants to 12 municipalities in Massachusetts, including Holyoke. Holyoke will receive a total award of $67,500.

    "It helps reduce the risks of accidents at our intersections throughout the city," Hart said.

    The police department will step up enforcement at 10 intersections accident data indicates are the most dangerous in Holyoke. The department culled data from state crash reports and local sources.

    The grant pays for overtime and other costs, according to Hart, and does not require the department to hire new officers.

    Councilor James Leahy recused himself from the discussion as he has two brothers on the police department.

    Hart said enforcement would commence in January and continue until September. The grant includes performance requirements such as stops made and fines issued. For example, during a four-hour detail, police must make 12 stops.

    The police department will send a report to the City Council when the program ends, Hart said.


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    Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Here are the obituaries published Tuesday in The Republican:

    Obituaries from The Republican, Dec. 11, 2018

     

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    Gov. Charlie Baker got a preview of the paid internship program, directed by Delcie Bean of Paragus IT.

    LONGMEADOW -- Students from Bay Path University and Springfield Technical Community College are planning cyberattacks against local businesses -- and Gov. Charlie Baker won't do anything to stop them.

    In fact, the state has already bankrolled the operation, and Baker offered his encouragement on a tour of the Bay Path campus in Longmeadow.

    The attacks will be for cybersecurity assessments the businesses will order. Students might send "phishing" emails in search of passwords, or just call up and ask for access to sensitive files. It'll be sophisticated work performed by interns under the direction of Delcie Bean and his Paragus IT team in a new course of study Bay Path showed off to the governor Tuesday.

    Stolen data and compromised computer networks are a threat not just to business but also to government, Baker said. Preventing these attacks both safeguards the state and is a business opportunity for those trained in the science of data security.

    "This is the kind of thing that often keeps me up at night because of my current job," Baker said.

    He turned to Bean.

    "How often are you successful at getting in?" Baker asked.

    Bean smiled.

    "We always get in," he said. "Sometimes it takes a few days."

    Baker spent the afternoon touring Greater Springfield, including stops on the STCC campus and a session at Make IT Springfield, a community workshop and maker space on Worthington Street.

    At Bay Path, Baker also met with trustees and toured biology labs in Carr Hall before meeting with computer science classes.

    In 2015, Bay Path received $500,000 from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to purchase lab equipment and supplies that will enable the university to expand collaborative student research and prepare young women for life sciences careers.

    Bay Path received $250,000 from the state for the cybersecurity program in September of this year. The university is leading a project that will engage undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity students, primarily women, in a full year of challenging experiences as paid interns on cybersecurity teams.

    Bean said there is plenty of call for cybersecurity assessments, and companies like his need employers to do the work. But it's hard to get a job in the field with no experience and no way to get experience.

    "So we came up with the idea of an internship program," he said.

    Thomas Loper, Bay Path's associate provost and dean for the School of Arts, Science and Management, said students from the program will come from STCC, Bay Path's undergraduate and graduate programs in cybersecurity, and from its American Women's College online program.

    Starting in February, the students will have paid internships with Paragus IT doing cybersecurity assessments for local companies. The companies will pay a reduced rate. At the end, the companies will get a list of their weak points and learn how to strengthen their data security, Bean said.

    The Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts will recruit the companies, said president and CEO Richard Sullivan. He hopes to get small to midsize manufacturers to participate.


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    Vehicles heading south have been detoured onto Route 7A south into downtown.

    LENOX -- A vehicle crash has closed part of Route 7 southbound, forcing drivers to be detoured onto Route 7A and into the downtown area, Tuesday.

    Police are on the scene of the crash that occurred before 6:25 p.m. The road is expected to open shortly after 7 p.m., officials said.

    The Fire Department has also responded to the scene.

    Police declined to release any information about the crash and did not say if anyone was injured.

    This is a breaking story, Masslive will update when more information becomes available.


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    Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hailed the incoming MBTA general manager and said he didn't have much of a relationship with his immediate predecessor.

    Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hailed the incoming MBTA general manager and said he didn't have much of a relationship with his immediate predecessor.

    Massachusetts transportation officials said Tuesday that Luis Manuel Ramirez, hired by Gov. Charlie Baker and his transportation chief Stephanie Pollack, is leaving after just 15 months on the job at the public transit agency.

    Ramirez, a former General Electric executive who started in September 2017 at an annual salary of $320,000, is leaving with a payout that totals more than $150,000.

    His exit came on the same day that the system's employees grappled with signal problems on the Red Line during rush hour. Delays mounted and station platforms filled up with people attempting to get to work.

    Rumors of his departure circulated for months within the state transportation building, even before state officials delayed talk of a first-year bonus for Ramirez.

    Steve Poftak, vice chair of the board tasked with overseeing the MBTA after the system buckled from a battery of 2015 winter storms, starts as general manager on January 1.

    Poftak briefly served as interim general manager and has been the executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School since 2012.

    "I think he'll be a good leader for the MBTA," Walsh told reporters. "I really didn't have much to do with the last general manager. He was in a couple of meetings with me, we didn't have much interaction. But I know Steve's career and his background is really strong."

    Walsh said Poftak provided advice after Walsh had won the 2013 mayoral race.

    Walsh added that the job of MBTA general manager is a "complicated position" and referred to Poftak as someone who understands the dynamics of a transit agency that often struggles to provide reliable service in and around Boston.

    "As our population grows here in Boston -- you know, we've added 100,000 new jobs in five years, means more people coming into Boston -- we're trying to encourage people to rely more on public transportation than take cars," the mayor said. "So to do that we have to have reliable service."

    At the time of the hiring of Ramirez in 2017, the six permanent or acting general managers had led the MBTA since 2011.

    "Someone like Steve, if he took this job, it's for the long term," Walsh said. "It's not for a short term and it's not a launching pad. He doesn't operate like that."

    Walsh said he didn't have more details on Ramirez's departure. "When I read about it today, I was kind of as shocked as anybody," Walsh said.

    After 15 months, exiting MBTA general manager Luis Ramirez gets big payout from agency

    Pollack, the transportation secretary, said she and Ramirez agreed now was a good time for a change in leadership.

    "This is a really tough job, running the MBTA, and almost no matter who is in the role, there's going to be challenges and there's going to be times where people feel there's not enough progress being made," said Chris Dempsey, director for the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts. "And our sense of it is there was just a feeling that there's time for a change, that there's an opportunity for the T to do better."

    Dempsey predicted Poftak will be a visible presence in public.

    "When you're interviewing people about him, they're going to say, 'Yeah we met with Steve, we know Steve,' and he'll have real engagement," he said. "And I think that's important. Especially given some of the talented people in transportation."

    Dempsey continued: "You have Secretary Pollack, who is really deep in on the policy and excellent on the policy. You have Jeff Gonneville, who's really good at keeping the trains running as best he can, given what he's dealing with on a day-to-day basis. And Steve will sort of slot in the middle there and be almost an ambassador for the T, and I say that in a complimentary way."

    Luis Manuel Ramirez, MBTA general manager, out after little more than year in job

    For his part, Baker focused on Pollack staying on as state transportation chief, as his administration heads into its second term.

    "I think Louis did very well for us on some issues, particularly around contracting and procurement," Baker said after an event in Springfield.

    The most important thing going forward is Pollack staying where she is, he added.

    "I have every confidence in her," Baker said.

    Reporter Jim Kinney contributed to this report.


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    The Jewish Community Relations Council is paying for the $4,500 trip.

    EASTHAMPTON -- Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, in Israel for an "economic and cultural exchange trip," said she is "proud to represent Easthampton on a global scale."

    The week-long study tour, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston, is for Massachusetts municipal leaders "to look into the economic, political, and security challenges and successes facing Israeli society," according to a release from the nonprofit.

    "This trip will allow Massachusetts leaders to deepen their understanding of Israel's politics and culture, and examine some of the economic ties that bring Israel and Massachusetts together," said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston.

    LaChapelle suggested that the trip has trade mission value, and that Easthampton would gain economic benefit from her sojourn.

    "As I have said numerous times, the City of Easthampton needs to be at the table to leverage the same prospects for growth and economic development from which other communities have benefited," she wrote in a Facebook post. LaChapelle said Massachusetts "has had a longstanding economic partnership with Israel."

    The mayor said she also hopes "to gain a broad understanding of a range of issues related to civil rights and economic justice, which are challenges not unique to Israel." 

    In response to an online comment, LaChapelle said the $4,500 trip was funded by the Jewish organization, that other expenses would come from her own pocket, and that "absolutely no taxpayer dollars or city money are used for this trip."

    "The trips are developed according to the requirements of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, and I filed an ethics disclosure approximately two weeks before the trip," she added. 

    Among other things, the municipal officials will "develop city-to-city connections" and "develop a nuanced understanding of the complex economic and security challenges facing Israel," according to the JCRC.

    Also on the trip are Boston city councilors Andrea Campbell, Jim Kaney, Mark Ciommo, and Edward Flynn; Elizabeth Pimental, chief of staff for Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell; Quincy councilor Nina Liang; Brookline Select Board member Heather Hamilton, Randolph councilor Katrina Huff-Larmond; Springfield councilor Justin Hurst, and Melrose alderman Mike Zwirko; according to the JCRC. 

    The news comes days after Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper canceled her planned trip to Israel, which was to be funded by the Anti-Defamation League. Local activists, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace, had protested Kaspar's anti-terrorism training trip, citing Israeli's military occupation of Palestine. Vermont State Police also canceled their training in Israel.

    LaChapelle said on Facebook that the trips are different.

    "We will have opportunities to meet with and learn from entrepreneurs, business leaders, elected officials, security experts, professors, and medical professionals, among others. The agenda is not focused on policing," she wrote.

    The Jewish Community Relations Council exists "to advance Jewish values in the halls of government," according to its website.

    LaChapelle plans to return to Easthampton on Monday, said mayoral aide Alan Wolfe.


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    An expanded corridor through Cecchi Plantland would make it 'unreasonable to do any business on the parcel,' a lawyer for the family told FERC.

    AGAWAM -- The owners of Cecchi Farms Plantland are protesting plans by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company LLC to forcibly widen a pipeline corridor through their property at 1342 Suffield St.

    Edward J. Cecchi and Kathy Gaynor "vehemently oppose" any expanded easement through their flower and vegetable farm, according to their lawyer, Gary B. Liquori, of West Springfield.

    "There will be a significant decrease in the value of my clients' land," Liquori wrote to a federal agency. "The whole 4.3 acre parcel is being decreased in size and use, and this makes it unreasonable to do any business on the parcel."

    The taking "will be killing both their business and the value of their land," the protest letter states. "Please eliminate the proposed permanent easement."

    Liquori made the comments in a letter he filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 29. The five-member FERC has permitting authority over interstate natural gas pipelines.

    Companies building such pipelines have the power of eminent domain -- meaning they can seize land in exchange for "fair market value" -- according to the U.S. Natural Gas Act, which was enacted by Congress in the 1920s.

    In Agawam, Tennessee plans a set of undertakings known as the 261 Upgrade Projects. The projects would increase horsepower at the company's compressor station near the Connecticut border at 1615 Suffield St., and build two new miles of pipeline heading north.

    Tennessee proposes to widen its permanent easements through a number of Agawam properties. At the Cecchi farm, an existing 50-foot-wide corridor would be widened to 75 feet, according to a project map.

    It's not known if Tennessee has approached the Cecchi family with an offer.  Edward Cecchi did not respond to messages seeking comment. A woman who answered the telephone at the farm said that Edward Cecchi and Kathy Gaynor are her son and daughter, and that the pipeline easement issue "is a real mess."

    Northeastern Gas Transmission Co., a precursor to Tennessee, took the current farm easement by eminent domain in 1951, according to Hampden County property records. At that time, the Cecchi family was awarded $60, and given a $300 damage release, for a 50-foot-wide strip of land starting at Shoemaker Lane heading north to farmland then owned by Antonio L. Farina.

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities that year authorized dozens of land takings in Holyoke, Westfield, Northampton, Southampton, Agawam, Southwick and Easthampton as "necessary for the construction and use of a line for the transmission of natural gas for distribution to customers in the Commonwealth by other gas companies."

    The so-called "200 Line," owned by Tennessee Gas, a Kinder Morgan subsidiary, now traverses the southern tier of Massachusetts. There are various spurs, including the Northampton Lateral on the west side of the Connecticut River.

    Tennessee's 261 Upgrade Projects would enable more fuel for Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which plans an expansion in the Springfield area. In a related endeavor, Tennessee plans more pipeline and a new meter station in Longmeadow.

    Matthew Beaton, Gov. Charlie Baker's energy and environment secretary, has ordered Tennessee to complete a full environmental impact report for the Agawam and Longmeadow projects.


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    A volunteer group of general aviation pilots, under the banner of "Turtles Fly Too," transported the reptiles on Tuesday.

    Officials say 32 cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles rescued off New England's coast have arrived in the Florida Keys to warm up at the Turtle Hospital.

    A volunteer group of general aviation pilots, under the banner of "Turtles Fly Too," transported the reptiles on Tuesday.

    Hospital officials say several of the turtles suffer from compromised immune systems and pneumonia as a result of "cold stunning," a hypothermic reaction that occurs when turtles are exposed to cold water for prolonged periods.

    The turtles were rescued over the past month off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They were initially treated at the New England Aquarium in Quincy, Massachusetts.

    Upon their arrival at the Turtle Hospital, on-site veterinarians and staff conducted full physical examinations and began caring for the reptiles.


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    The bar has been open for nearly 50 years, but hasn't been profitable for several years.

    NORTHAMPTON -- After nearly 50 years in business, Hugo's Cafe will be closing its doors for good Wednesday at midnight.

    The bar, which is on Pleasant Street next to Northampton Bicycle, has not been profitable for several years, prompting owner Gerard Paquin to make the decision to close, said Linda Omasta, the manager at Hugo's for 22 years.

    "It's sad for me," Omasta said Tuesday. "I'm just trying to get through today and tomorrow and then it's going to hit me I'm sure. I've been coming here for 25 years. My life is changing."

    Hugo's first opened in 1970. The business started to suffer after Diva's nightclub closed in 2016, Omasta said. It was nearby and used to bring in patrons who'd stop at Hugo's before continuing to Diva's. 

    Since Hugo's announced its closing about a week and a half ago, it's been busy. Omasta said she's been glad to see the bar busy again, like it used to be in 1996 when she started, but that she's sad it took this announcement to bring people back in.

    "I used to think it was a home away from home here," she said. "People feel comfortable here. It was a big family."

    "I just want to say sorry, and thanks to everyone for their years of patronage. I'm going to miss everybody."


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    "This is a dangerousness hearing by ambush," defense lawyer Ellie Rosenbam said.

     

    CHICOPEE - Lawyers for three Chicopee home invasion suspects, including one who was shot by police, have expressed frustration about delays in releasing arrest reports and related documents.

    The complaints arose Tuesday in Chicopee District Court before a scheduled hearing to determine if the defendants were too dangerous to be released on bail.

    The suspects -- Ayman Khalifa, 20, of Springfield, Austin Shephard, 20, of Adams, and Efrain Diaz-Martinez, Jr., 23, of Springfield -- have been held since their arrest Dec. 3 following an alleged home invasion at a Plante Circle apartment.

    Khalifa, who allegedly pointed a pistol at two victims, was by a shot by an unidentified Chicopee police officer during a chase. The two other suspects were arrested nearby, according to court documents.

    Defense lawyer Susan Hamilton, representing Shephard, told a judge Tuesday that prosecutors have not turned over police reports, witness statements and other potential evidence despite repeated requests.

    She asked Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega to either drop charges against her client or release him on $5,000 bail.

    Attorney Ellie Rosenbaum, who represents Diaz-Martinez, said she was still waiting for records that are routinely turned over to the defense in advance of  dangerousness hearings. 

    "We don't even have the gist of what is in the reports," Rosenbaum said.

    "This is a dangerousness hearing by ambush," she added.

    Assistant District Attorney Tyson Fung said the prosecution is making records available as soon as possible.

    "This is an ongoing investigation," Fung said, adding that the prosecution has responded to multiple document requests and even offered to deliver records to a defense lawyer's office late Monday.

    Defense lawyer Terrence Dunphy, representing Khalifa, also criticized the slow pace of discovery, but said it was likely caused by Chicopee and Massachusetts State Police, not the district attorney's office.

    The judge canceled the dangerousness hearing and continued the case for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 23. All three defendants will remain in custody, the judge ruled.

    Khalifa was shot in the shoulder and arm during a chase. A 9mm Berretta pistol was found nearby, the same weapon he had allegedly pointed at two home invasion victims several minutes before, according to the arrest report.

    The report offers no explanation for why the officer shot Khalifa, but states that both the officer and suspect were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. Khalifa was released into police custody later that night, the report said.

    The shooting is being investigated by Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Hampden District Attorney's office. The officer who shot Khalifa has been placed on administrative duties during the investigation. 


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    Berkshire Bank's parent company said Tuesday that it would buy a $1.6 billion bank with branches in Rhode Island and Connecticut, an announcement that comes two weeks after long-time CEO Michael Daly stepped down abruptly.

    Berkshire Bank's parent company said Tuesday that it would buy a $1.6 billion bank with branches in Rhode Island and Connecticut, an announcement that comes two weeks after long-time CEO Michael Daly stepped down abruptly.

    Boston-based Berkshire Hills Bancorp is acquiring Willimantic, Connecticut-based SI Financial Group Inc. and its subsidiary, Savings Institute Bank and Trust Co., in an all-stock deal valued at $180 million.

    The acquisition should put Berkshire further ahead of Eastern Bank and Rockland Trust as the largest independent Massachusetts-based bank, based on total assets. The deal would increase Berkshire's assets to $13.6 billion. As of Sept. 30, Eastern had $11.2 billion in assets. If its still-pending acquisition of Blue Hills Bank is included, Rockland Trust had $11.2 billion in assets as of Sept. 30 as well.

    The deal would give Berkshire its first retail branches in Rhode Island and significantly increase its existing Connecticut footprint. Savings Institute's five Rhode Island branches are in Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, Wakefield and Westerly. It has 18 branches in eastern Connecticut. Berkshire currently has nine branches in the Nutmeg State.

    Savings Institute "strengthens our Northeast presence, as we gain scale in Connecticut and enter into attractive Rhode Island markets," Berkshire CEO Richard Marotta said in a statement.

    In addition to those two states and Massachusetts, Berkshire has branches in Vermont, upstate New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Though it is now headquartered in Boston, it only has four retail branches in Boston and its immediate environs.

    Marotta took over as CEO on Nov. 26, the same day that Daly resigned. He had been the bank's president.

    Berkshire has not given an explanation for Daly's departure. Last year, the 56-year-old Daly moved Berkshire's headquarters from Pittsfield to Boston and oversaw the acquisition of Worcester-based Commerce Bank. He said at the time that he wanted to remake Berkshire as the next Fleet Bank, a Boston-based regional bank.

    After Daly's resignation was revealed, an analyst said that he had received a letter the previous month that claimed to be from a group of anonymous Berkshire employees that referenced a "toxic workplace environment."


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    Now in its 96th year, the campaign's goal is to raise $150,000. Today's list of donations totaling $4,156 bring the total raised thus far to $27,870, leaving $122,130 to be raised by Christmas eve.

    For David Mathews and his siblings Christmas was always filled with joy.

    "I am one of 11 siblings and we know what it's like to have a nice Christmas," said Mathews, owner of Keating & Moran Insurance Agency of Springfield, Inc.  which made a $250 donation to Toy for Joy this year.

    "We feel every kid should have a toy and a nice Christmas Day," he said.

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

    Now in its 96th year, the campaign's goal is to raise $150,000. Today's list of donations totaling $4,156 bring the total raised thus far to $27,870, leaving $122,130 to be raised by Christmas eve.

    Other local businesses contributing to the toy drive today include $125 from Gallerani Electric Co. in Wilbraham.

    La Cucina di Hampden House restaurant continued its annual tradition of collecting toys for Toy for Joy at an event held Dec. 10.

    The restaurant offers patrons a free pasta dinner with a donation of a new toy for Toy for Joy.

    "La Cucina, its staff and owners are the epitome of Christmas spirit," said Danielle LaTaille, social services director for the Springfield Salvation Army. " They open their doors, most notably on their day off, each year to collect toys for our program. We couldn't do it without them. We also want to extend a special thank you to their patrons that participate every year."

    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.


    Today's Contributions Amount
    In memory of Irma Chretien 50
    In loving memory of Carol Meaney and Georgianna Marshall, love Mom and Kathy 25
    In loving memory of William E Meaney, love Lil and Kathy 25
    In honor of our grandchildren, Kenzie, AJ, Dominic and ?, love Grammy and Pop Pop 10
    Merry Christmas from Finn 30
    Marie 20
    Sharon Davis, love you forever, Mom, Dad and Mark 25
    In loving memory of my husband Harold from Patricia 50
    Merry Christmas from Chris and Mike Q. 50
    In loving memory of Victor and Jennie Paluck and Stephanie Collins 100
    Merry Christmas in heaven to Vo-Vo Lilly and Vo-Vo Joe, love from Ava and Cole 20
    Mark and Debby 50
    In memory of Rita and Vincent Bongiorni from the Bongiorni & Asselin families 50
    In memory of all of God's children, living and deceased 30
    In loving memory of Carolyn Duchesneau, love Rita, Mitzi, Carole and David 10
    In loving memory of Duke Duchesneau, love Rita, Mitzi, Carole and David 10
    Have a good diggin Christmas from Gabby Hayes 100
    Merry Christmas to our family and friends from Roland and Eileen 25
    In loving memory of our dear friend Bo Melas 150
    For Boppy's angels 100
    In memory of all our deceased members from the Italian American War Vets, Post 64 200
    Merry Christmas from Jim, Judy, Chris, Kim, Nick, Josh, Jeff, Sarah and Casey 300
    With God all things are possible, Matthew 19:26 25
    Anonymous 100
    In memory of Lew, Marilyn and Maurice Cour, parents and Linda, Peter and Conrad Cour, siblings 50
    Thank you St Jude, Barbara 50
    Merry Christmas 20
    In memory of Tiz and Gus, love Aimee 25
    In loving memory of Jason DeGray 50
    In memory of Joyce and Henry Baush 25
    Happy 64th anniversary Faye and Mario 50
    Missing my buddy-AC 15
    In memory of parents, the Browns and the Duseks 50
    In memory of my Dad who always said "Christmas is for children" 25
    In memory of Ray and Phyllis Kupec 30
    Memory of Linda Gelineau, I love you so much from Leo Gelineau 25
    Thank you St. Jude, Constance 25
    In memory of Mal 50
    Merry Christmas to all from Carol 25
    In memory of Sandra Bostwick, love Kathy 100
    In memory of Kevin Fitzgerald 10
    Johan and Maya 50
    Merry Christmas from my 10 wonderful grandchildren, love Pop 100
    Bob and Di 25
    Peace on earth 25
    In memory of Jackie Pyzik, John, Becky, Kyle, Riley and Delaney 50
    In memory of Mike Megliola-2015 200
    In loving memory of Bob and Jackie Sullivan, love Gabby, Kylie and Jackie 60
    In memory of Maura Parent 20
    Louis the cat 10
    In honor of Kim's 50th birthday 50
    In loving memory of Maureen Lamoureux and Thomas Doyle Jr. 100
    In loving memory of Marlene, Kowboy and Tom Vincent 50
    Remember Pearl Harbor 30
    In memory of deceased family members, wishing all a peaceful and Merry Christmas from the Kwasny family 50
    Antonio and Deborah 250
    In memory of my grandparents Anna and Walter, love Buzz 10
    In memory of Albert and Lucy DiStefano, love family 20
    In memory of my mother, Julia Skowera 50
    We miss our Grandpa, Frank Orszulak, Love Chris, Matt, Justin and Lindsey 50
    In memory of Tucker Moran 25
    Keep Christ in Christmas 50
    In honor of families at US-Mexican border 100
    In memory of Rachel, a cat who loved Christmas 2
    In memory of Harry and Claire Broderick, love your family 10
    In memory of Marie L Brunelle and Thomas J Murphy, love your family 5
    In memory of our Jackie Bear, we miss you, love your family 3
    In memory of Maggie our beautiful girl, love your family 3
    In memory of Tessa, Charlie and Linus, love your family 3
    Merry Christmas Mason James Ward, love Grammie and Papa 5
    Merry Christmas Nora Grace Hazelwood, love Grammie and Papa 5
    In memory of Midas, the Golden Boy of York Beach, the Montagna family 10
    In memory of Flynner, love the Montagna family 10
    Merry Christmas to all 25
    Sullivan, Keating & Moran Insurance Agency of Springfield, Inc. 250
    Stephen A. Phifer Contactors Inc. 100
    Merry Christmas to all and thank you St. Jude, BB 20
    Nick, Carolyn and Buddy Athas 25
    Merry Christmas and God bless America from Gallerani Electric Co., Inc. 125
       
    RECEIVED $4,156
    TOTAL TO DATE $27,870
    STILL NEEDED $122,130

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    McAuliffe, 40, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged wth embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds. He s scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston later Wednesday.

    Heath McAuliffe of Hopkinton is the eighth Massachusetts State Police trooper to face charges in connection with a scandal of overtime abuse, officials said.

    McAuliffe, 40, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds. He's scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston later Wednesday.

    McAuliffe was assigned to the now disbanded Troop E, which was responsible for enforcement of the Massachusetts Turnpike, when he allegedly received overtime pay for hours that he did not work or for shifts in which he departed one to four hours early, according to the office of United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

    McAuliffe earned $164,680 in 2016, including approximately $60,908 in overtime, and earned $180,215 in 2015, including approximately $83,496 in overtime, Lelling's office wrote in a statement. 

    According to court documents, between Aug. 1, 2015, and Aug. 31, 2016, McAuliffe was paid $9,825 for overtime hours that he did not work. 

    McAuliffe was allegedly able to conceal the overtime abuse by submitting citations that were issued prior to the overtime shift, altering the citations to create the appearance that citations were issued during the overtime shift and/or submitting citations that were never issued to drivers. 

    Before sitting down with members of the media Wednesday morning, Lelling said his office will keep investigating the use of overtime at the State Police while they have leads.

    "I can't give you an end point," he said.

    In addition to announcing that McAuliffe has been arrested and charged, Lelling's office said two retired troopers have agreed to plead guilty in the scandal.

    Retired Troopers David Wilson, 58, of Charlton, and Daren DeJong, 57, of Uxbridge, have both agreed to plead guilty pursuant to plea agreements filed Wednesday.

    Wilson and DeJong were arrested and charged with embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds on June 27, and July 25, respectively.

    A date for their plea hearings has not yet been scheduled. 

    In 2016, Wilson, who was a lieutenant, earned approximately $259,475, which included approximately $102,062 in overtime pay, Lelling's office said.

    Wilson has agreed to plead guilty to having been paid $12,450 for overtime hours that he did not work, according to the statement. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of between six months and 12 months of incarceration. 

    In 2016, DeJong earned $200,416, which included approximately $68,394 in overtime pay.

    DeJong has agreed to plead guilty to having been paid $14,062.50 for overtime hours that he did not work, the statement read. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of between six months and 12 months of incarceration.

    A total of seven troopers facing charges in the scandal have pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty.

    On Wednesday, suspended Trooper Eric Chin, 46, of Hanover, is scheduled to plead guilty.

    On July 2, former Trooper Gregory Raftery, 47, of Westwood pleaded guilty; on Sept. 14, suspended Trooper Kevin Sweeney, 40, of Braintree pleaded guilty; on Oct.11, suspended Trooper Gary Herman, 45, of Chester, pleaded guilty; on Nov. 28, former Trooper Paul Cesan pleaded guilty.

    Some of the troopers implicated in the scandal are also facing state charges.

    A Suffolk County grand jury indicted three former lieutenants on state charges earlier this year.

    Wilson, 68-year-old John Giulino of Lanesborough and 52-year-old David Keefe of Norfolk were indicted in September.

    State Attorney General Maura Healey said at the time that more indictments were expected in the future.


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    The end of the federal investigation into overtime abuse at the Massachusetts State Police isn't in sight yet, a top prosecutor said Wednesday.

    The end of the federal investigation into overtime abuse at the Massachusetts State Police isn't in sight yet, a top prosecutor said Wednesday.

    US Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters his office doesn't "relish" the ongoing investigation.

    "But I think it's necessary to do it," Lelling said. "It appears necessary, at least from what we've seen so far,  to clean house a little bit at the State Police. We're going to keep investigating the use of overtime at the State Police while we have leads. So I can't give you an endpoint. I do think it's in the public interest we do this with all deliberate speed."

    Heath McAuliffe becomes 8th Massachusetts State Police trooper charged in overtime scandal; Two retired troopers agree to plead guilty

    Lelling spoke to reporters the Moakley federal courthouse in South Boston, minutes after his office sent out a release announcing the arrest of an eighth State Police trooper in federal investigation into the overtime abuse scandal. Heath McAuliffe, a 40-year-old Hopkinton man, was expected in court later in the day.

    Attorney General Maura Healey is conducting her own investigation at the state level.

    Lelling's office also announced two retired troopers, 58-year-old Charlton resident David Wilson and 57-year-old Uxbridge man Daren DeJong, agreed to plead guilty to earlier federal charges of embezzlement, bringing the total to seven who have pleaded guilty or agreed to do so.

    In the previously planned sit-down with reporters, Lelling noted both Gov. Charlie Baker and Col. Kerry Gilpin, the governor's pick to overhaul the State Police, have both said the law enforcement agency needs to "turn a corner" and "get past this."

    Lelling said he's instructed his office to do a "thorough investigation" but to move quickly so the embattled agency "can move on from this."

    Asked if he anticipates further indictments, Lelling said, "I think I anticipate further investigation."

    Investigators are reviewing "reams" of data and payroll records, though the information they've obtained goes back just a couple of years.

    Mass. State Police scandal: Charges against troopers are just the beginning of dive into 'rot,' federal prosecutor says

    Lelling was also asked how systemic the problem is, as the charged troopers hail from Troop E, which Baker and Gilpin abolished earlier this year as part of a series of reforms.

    "You just have to watch to see what becomes public from this office," Lelling said. "I think the fact that we're still doing this is an indicator of our view of the scope of the problem."


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    Holyoke High School's Madrigal Chorus to perform at Gary Rome Hyundai showroom on Tuesday morning. Watch video

    HOLYOKE - The Holyoke High School's Madrigal Chorus performed a carol at the Gary Rome Hyundai showroom Tuesday morning.

    The Madrigal Chorus is conducted by Mark Todd, the high school's music educator. Todd created the exclusive acapella ensemble when he joined the school system 21 years ago.

    There are currently about 32 students in the chorus, all of whom auditioned and were chosen to become a member.

    After the carol, owner Gary Rome presented Todd and students with tickets to "The Nutcracker" performed by Albany Berkshire Ballet at Springfield City Stage on December 15.


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    Banker J.P. Morgan Chase has owned the mall since foreclosing on former owner Centro Enfield defaulted on a $240 million that was secured with a number of properties.

    ENFIELD -- The Enfield Square Mall sold at auction Wednesday to an unknown buyer for $10.85 million.

    The website for the online-only auction run by Ten-X Commercial doesn't list the winning bidder. But the new owner will become public after the deed is recorded in Connecticut, according to an auction spokesman.

    The sale is expected to close and become final in about 30 days.

    Banker J.P. Morgan Chase has owned the mall since foreclosing on former owner Centro Enfield, which defaulted on a $240 million loan that was secured with a number of properties.

    J.P. Morgan touted the mall's lease with Target as a major selling point. The department store, which has doors leading to the parking lot and doesn't require customers to walk through the mall, is a major draw for shoppers from both Connecticut and Massachusetts.

    Target will remain open.

    But Enfield Square has lost all its other anchor stores as well as many of its in-mall shops over the years.

    Macy's, which closed its Enfield location in 2016, still owns the store there, according to Enfield town records.

    The mall property sold Wednesday includes 66 acres of land.

    Economic development boosters in Enfield pitched the site as a possible casino location and as a possible site for an Amazon headquarters.

    Neither proposal worked out. East Windsor got the casino project, which still has not begun construction. Amazon is building headquarters in Virginia, Queens, New York, and Tennessee.

    Centro bought the mall property in 2006 for $82 million, according to Enfield records.

    Today, its appraised at $27.5 million. The starting bid at the auction was $3.8 million.

    The auction site says the property is 57.5 percent occupied, a figure that would include the Target, movie theater and Panera restaurant.

    The 677,000-square-foot mall was built in 1971. In those days it had Hartford department store G. Fox, JC Penney and Steiger's of Springfield as anchors.


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    The top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts declined to confirm or deny whether there is an investigation into a district judge who may helped an undocumented immigrant avoid federal immigration authorities in a Newton courthouse earlier this year

    The top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts declined to confirm or deny whether there is an investigation into a district judge who may helped an undocumented immigrant avoid federal immigration authorities in a Newton courthouse earlier this year.

    The Boston Globe recently reported a federal grand jury is looking into Judge Shelley Joseph. The newspaper reported the judge said "ICE is going to get him" to a state prosecutor and the defendant's attorney, and instructed a clerk to stop recording the court proceeding. The defendant later left the courthouse and avoided an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent inside.

    "I have no plans to prosecute judges," US Attorney Andrew Lelling said Wednesday during a sit-down with reporters.

    "I'll say this: I think that the coverage on that story... should be a reminder that the ICE agents who are enforcing immigration laws, they're doing just that," Lelling added. "They're enforcing a federal law. And so if you don't like that federal law, change the law."

    Until that happens, Lelling said, prosecutors and federal agents will enforce the law.

    "And as a corollary to that, if you obstruct what they're doing, you're committing a federal crime because you are obstructing enforcement of a federal law," he said. "And in an environment as politicized as this one, it seems to me people need to be reminded about this sometimes."

    "You mean judges?" one reporter asked.

    "Everybody," Lelling said.

    Massachusetts judge, under scrutiny for possible role in immigrant's escape from ICE, should be benched, Gov. Charlie Baker says

    Asked whether ICE should be allowed in courtrooms, Lelling said, "ICE has its own guidelines that it follows, which actually are far more strict than people think they are, about when ICE agents...should or should not be in courthouses."

    Lelling maintained that ICE agents in courtrooms is not a common occurrence. Advocacy groups like the ACLU of Massachusetts have decried incidents of ICE agents arresting immigrants who show up for a court appearance, arguing such actions undermine the justice system and equal protection rights.

    Lelling claimed the practice has not had a chilling effect on immigrants cooperating with law enforcement, saying people already in the country illegally have always been leery of assisting federal officials. The problem hasn't ben exacerbated by ICE, Lelling said.

    In Newton, the defendant pursued by the ICE agent had current and prior drug charges, and was in the country illegally, according to Lelling.

    Massachusetts judge's status unchanged amid federal probe, Gov. Charlie Baker's call for her to step aside

    Lelling said he's had discussions with federal immigration, and when they request the prosecution of someone who was deported and reentered the country again, he responds with a request for the case to include a person with drug, gun or other felony charges.

    "That's where I'd like to focus our efforts because there appear to be more than enough of those people to fill whatever capacity I have and it lets me address two problems at the same time: One is the illegal immigration problem, the other is drug distribution and [the] gun violence problem," he said.


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    The superintendent said the plan is to make a presentation to the school board next month, followed by a meeting with selectmen in February.

    BELCHERTOWN -- Superintendent Karol G. Coffin announced on Tuesday the "possibility of a new school" that would replace Jabish Brook Middle School.

    She said right now is the beginning of a process that would include a request to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for money that would underwrite more than half of the costs.

    But first, Coffin said, a request will be made for the Belchertown Board of Selectmen to support the proposal with a "statement of interest" forwarded to the School Building Authority.

    Speaking at a meeting of the School Committee, Coffin said the plan is to make a presentation to the school board next month, followed by a meeting with selectmen in February.

    She said the deadline to submit the statement of interest to the School Building Authority is in March.

    If all of that happens, Coffin said, the school board would request an appropriation to fund a feasibility study at May's annual Town Meeting. The study would determine, with specificity, the problems with Jabish Brook Middle School, and what it would cost to build a new facility.

    In an interview, Coffin said the school, built in 1962, no longer meets the needs of the seventh- and eight-graders who attend. She said the building is outdated, not energy efficient and has numerous other problems that are expensive to fix.

    Coffin said "wire and cable connection challenges" are inadequate "for the technology we use now."

    She did not speculate what the feasibility study would cost.


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    The Holyoke City Council's Ordinance Committee reviewed a proposal for a 100-unit market-rate rental complex on Holy Family Road, which requires a zone change.

    HOLYOKE -- Developer Tom Adamczyk unveiled plans this week for 100 rental units at 15 Holy Family Road in the city's Ingleside neighborhood.

    The City Council's Ordinance Committee is considering a zone change for the site that would allow for multifamily use.

    Ron Levesque, of R. Levesque Associates, a Westfield design firm, presented plans for the proposed development at the committee's meeting Tuesday.

    The property sits directly across from the back of Maurice A. Donahue School, with Tokeneke Road lying north. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield owns the parcel and is currently negotiating a final sale with Adamczyk.

    Levesque said Adamczyk has a purchase-and-sale agreement with the diocese. In an email, Mark Dupont, the diocese's spokesman, said the diocese does not comment during real estate negotiations.

    Levesque told the committee the developers already conducted a traffic analysis and preliminary site surveys.

    An access road would lead to three separate apartment complexes, which will hold one- and two-bedroom, market-rate apartments. The buildings would have common parking areas for residents and visitors.

    Adamczyk said he envisions 76 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom units.

    The zone change is needed to proceed with the sale and the development, Levesque said. The present zoning, R-1A, only allows for single-family homes.

    "We looked very closely at the RM-20 zoning district, and it works well for us," Levesque said. "It allows us to utilize the 6 acres."

    Levesque added the parcel would contain several green spaces and a possible playground. He said the developer held a meeting about the plans with residents at the nearby Devonshire Apartments.

    Sisters of Providence operates the Mount St. Vincent Care Center at 35 Holy Family Road. John Wesolowski, the organization's chief financial officer, said his organization only recently learned about the zone change hearing. He asked for information on how increased traffic would impact the neighborhood.

    Levesque said the developer would speak with Sisters of Providence and provide information about the planned development, which includes traffic data.

    City regulations require a minimum 15-foot landscape buffer from the main road. "We anticipate significant landscaping around the perimeter will be part of the project," he said.

    Committee member David K. Bartley said he hoped the developer would use trees grown by the city's nursery on Berkshire Street. "There are approximately 400 trees waiting to be transplanted. Those trees are available to the public," he said.

    He said he supports the project despite the diocese owning the property. Bartley continues to voice dismay over the city of Holyoke's failure to purchase the former Mater Dolorosa Church, which the diocese began demolishing Tuesday.

    Bartley added the city is working with the diocese to purchase a large parcel on Cabot and Chestnut streets. The city proposes a middle school for the site.

    The full City Council must approve the zone change for the proposed Holy Family Road development, followed by an extensive site plan review by the Planning Board.

    Councilor Linda Vacon, the Ordinance Committee's chairwoman, said the council would determine if the zone change is compatible. The Planning Board recommends any zone change before the council votes on the matter.

    If the project gets full approval, Levesque expects construction would get underway in the spring or early summer of 2019.


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    Mayor Domenic J. Sarno has once again urged the City Council to drop plans to create Springfield as a "Welcoming Community" for immigrants regardless of their legal status, saying it would trigger financial and legal challenges.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Mayor Domenic J. Sarno has once again urged the City Council to drop plans to make Springfield a "welcoming community" for immigrants regardless of their legal status, saying it would trigger financial and legal challenges.

    "In discussions with my cabinet heads if the City Council passes its sanctuary city ordinance, it will create unanticipated and unbudgeted financial and legal challenges to our schools, health, housing and police departments," Sarno said in a statement.

    Citing a February report from Forbes, Sarno said unauthorized immigrants cost the U.S. billions of dollars in subsidized care.

    Councilors have defended the ordinance, and have denied it will make Springfield a sanctuary city.

    The ordinance has received initial approval from the council, and could get a final vote Monday, with a promised veto by Sarno. Councilors in favor of the ordinance, including President Orlando Ramos, said they stand ready to override a veto.

    The ordinance states in part that city officials, including police and other city employees, "shall not inquire as to an individual's immigration status unless required by federal or state law." In addition, city officials "shall not target with legal action or discriminate against a medical, educational or faith institution in their mission of providing refuge to immigrants and their families."

    Councilors and supporters of the ordinance have said questioning residents about their immigration status can be discriminatory and harmful, and may lead some immigrants not to contact city agencies or police when in need or in danger.

    Sarno said Police Commissioner John Barbieri cited a number of cases in which police officers have reason to question someone about his or her immigration status. Examples include "persons that have been convicted of serious crimes, resulting in deportation and are later discovered in Springfield, criminally organized gangs, human trafficking, drug trafficking, fraud and identity theft."

    "This is a very complicated issue - public safety leaders agree that there may be instances where there is a concern regarding the release of some individuals back into our neighborhoods," Barbieri said in a statement.

    He said the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police have both endorsed Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed legislation that would allow public safety officials to hold individuals on requested Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers in cases where the detainee has prior criminal convictions for serious violent offenses.

    "The proposed legislation would allow public safety to honor a written request from ICE to detain if the person has engaged in or is suspected of terrorism or had been convicted of a serious felony," Barbieri said.

    Sarno restated that, as the son of immigrants, "I've always been a supporter of legal immigration and a positive pathway towards citizenship."

    He urged federal officials to stop the rhetoric and resolve the immigration issue.

    "Again, as Mayor of the City of Springfield, I have a responsibility to uphold the laws that provide for the public health and safety of all of our citizens and business community," Sarno said.


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