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    The band comes to West Springfield on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m.

    The legendary Beach Boys will perform on the final night of the 2018 run of The Big E.

    The band, who last played New England's largest state fair five years ago, returns to West Springfield on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m.

    It is a free concert, however, a limited number of premium reserved seats ($29) will go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at  TheBigE.com or The Big E Box Office.

    VIP packages are also available at TheBeachBoys.com and MikeLove.com, but do not include admission to the Eastern States Exposition grounds.

    The Beach Boys are led by co-founder Mike Love and veteran bandmate Bruce Johnston, who along with Jeffrey Foskett, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill, Keith Hubacher, Scott Totten and Christian Love continue the legacy of America's iconic band. 

    The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have sold over 100 million records worldwide.


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    Hours before he planned to tour something new (a mock-up of a Red Line train car), Gov. Charlie Baker had to answer questions about something old (the Alewife station garage).

    Hours before he planned to tour something new (a mock-up of a Red Line train car), Gov. Charlie Baker had to answer questions about something old (the Alewife station garage).

    The garage remains "structurally sound" as the agency is reviewing the parking facility every weekend until they start a major renovation, the governor said.

    The MBTA closed off 500 parking spaces on the second floor, roughly 20 percent of the garage, after a piece of concrete fell on a commuter's car last week. The MBTA then shuttered the entire garage for the weekend and said no overnight parking on weekdays.

    The garage will also be shuttered Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19 for a follow-up assessment.

    The MBTAT will be assessing the state of the garage every weekend until the renovation work, through a $5.7 million contract awarded last week, begins in September, Baker said.

    Asked whether that repair should've happened sooner, Baker said, "Obviously in retrospect, the fact that some of it fell on that car was a shame, but I think like everybody we're glad that it fell on a car that nobody was in."

    Check out a mock-up of the MBTA's new Red Line car on Boston City Hall Plaza this week

    Baker added that the MBTA has increased its spending on items on its state-of-good-repair list, including several garages, to $8 billion over the next five years.

    A day earlier, at a meeting of the MBTA's oversight board, state lawmakers who represent the communities around Alewife station said their constituents are angry at the deterioration of the garage.

    "We keep doing patchwork repairs and not addressing the real problems," state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, told board members.

    "We need fixes, not Band-Aids," she added.

    State Rep. Sean Garballey, an Arlington Democrat, agreed that the $5.7 million won't be enough for a comprehensive repair of the garage.

    "This is not new. We have known about these problems for well over a decade," he said. 

    The Boston Globe reported that a November report from a consultant said the garage was at risk for "imminent failures."

    At Monday's meeting of the MBTA's fiscal management and control board, its head Joseph Aiello said he was "not happy" that the board wasn't told about the consultant report.

    Any report that highlights a public safety issue "needs to come up the food chain," added board member Steve Poftak, "as soon as possible."

    MBTA general manager Luis Manuel Ramirez said the transit agency is still working on a long-term plan for the Alewife parking garage.

    Asked whether the MBTA plans to implement an increase to a $10 parking rate at the garage, Ramirez said, "We're looking at it right now." A decision is likely sometime this week, he added.

    If the $10 parking rate goes into effect in September, Alewife garage will have the highest rate in the MBTA system, according to the State House News Service.

    For the first time in 10 years, the MBTA balanced its operating budget


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    FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) -- A former bookkeeper has been charged with stealing more than $120,000 from a Massachusetts plumbing company where she worked for 13 years. The Sentinel and Enterprise reports that Penny Soderman was arraigned Aug. 7 on nine counts of larceny released on personal recognizance. Police say the Athol woman embezzled $122,132 from Fitchburg Plumbing Supply Co. from 2010...

     

    FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) -- A former bookkeeper has been charged with stealing more than $120,000 from a Massachusetts plumbing company where she worked for 13 years.

    The Sentinel and Enterprise reports that Penny Soderman was arraigned Aug. 7 on nine counts of larceny released on personal recognizance.

    Police say the Athol woman embezzled $122,132 from Fitchburg Plumbing Supply Co. from 2010 to 2018.

    Investigators say she started small, taking $1,383 from the company in 2010, and the amounts peaked at $22,324 in 2012.

    The company's owner alerted police to the alleged crime and provided company records and bank statements to investigators.

    A lawyer for Soderman did not respond to a request for comment.

    She is due back in court Sept. 20.


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    The town is also grappling with an enforcement order it agreed to with the state Department of Environmental Protection that cited the town for lack of licensed water operators.

    WARE -- A staff shortage at the department of public works in town continues, with no director on the job and two retired DPW employees, including the former director, agreeing to pitch in for now.

    The town is also grappling with an enforcement order it agreed to with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that cited the town for lack of licensed water operators.

    Town Manager Stuart Beckley has been officially in charge of the DPW as interim director for administrative tasks only since April when Richard Kilhart resigned.

    Beckley has been unable to fill the director's position since.

    One candidate recently met with the board of selectmen for an interview, but the candidate did not posses either a water or sewer operator license.

    Beckley said Tuesday another applicant would be interviewed later this month by selectmen.

    The DPW director's position is budgeted at an annual salary of $86,000.

    Asked why the town has been unable to fill the job, Beckley said, "I think a couple of things. The town's pay scale likely plays into it. Right now, statewide, there is a low unemployment rate -- there's a lot of competition."

    Beckley confirmed that Kevin Lizak, a water operator for the DPW since February 2016, gave his notice to resign.

    "The importance of filling the position grows," Beckley said.

    Gilbert St. George-Sorel, who retired in 2010 as Ware's DPW director, recently agreed to work part time as a water operator in an as-needed capacity, as has retired water operator Donald Dunbar Sr., Beckley said.

    The manager said Dunbar worked a few hours last week and St. George-Sorel has not yet been on the clock.

    Beckley said the amount the men would be paid has not been determined.

    He said Charles Niedzwiecki is the highway supervisor and David Comeau the sewer supervisor.

    There currently is no one in the role of chief water operator, Beckley said. He said selectmen could interview a candidate for the position later this month.

    Ware selectmen also function as the water and sewer commissioners.


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    Kaylena Sayers, 20, was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery on a child. Watch video

    It began with unreturned texts.

    Tony Paulyk had accompanied his wife Christy to a doctor's appointment, leaving their four children in the care of 20-year-old babysitter Kaylena Sayers.

    But when they texted her to check in, she did not respond. Nor did she pick up the phone, or reply to Facebook messages. It was stormy that day in Pittsfield; maybe the house had lost internet service, Paulyk thought. But the radio silence worried him.

    "I kept having a weird feeling that something was off," Paulyk said in an interview. "I said, let me check the camera."

    When Paulyk watched a stream of the family's nanny cam on his phone, what he saw was shocking: Sayers appearing to slap his crying 19-month-old son in the face.

    "Immediately on my other phone I called the Pittsfield police department," Paulyk said. "I'm beyond relieved she's behind bars."

    Sayers was arrested Thursday and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery on a child under 14 without bodily injury, the Berkshire Eagle reported. She is being held pending a hearing for violating probation on a domestic assault conviction from October 2017.

    The incident was unexpected, Paulyk said. Sayers had repeatedly babysat for the family since last summer, after meeting Christy while they worked at the Golden Phoenix Chinese restauraunt in Pittsfield. There had been no previous problems, and his children had never before complained of mistreatment.

    In response, Paulyk has publicized the video on Facebook and given MassLive permission to publish it as a warning to other parents, he said. 

    "I posted the video because I wanted people to be aware of her actions. We considered her a friend for the last year and half. It's a you-think-you-know someone scenario," Paulyk said. "Be careful of who you're hiring to watch your kids."

    Sayers' attorney Dean Manuel did not immediately return a request for comment. But the Eagle reports that Sayers told her probation officer she thought the child was choking.

    The video, however, shows a woman attempting to feed the child and eventually resorting to violence when he does not eat.

    The footage shows the woman ordering children to bed just after 2 p.m. on Aug. 7 if they do not finish their food. She attempts to feed the youngest boy, who is seated in a highchair, but appears to grow increasingly frustrated about his reluctance to eat.

    "Put it in your mouth, put it in your mouth," she says, attempting to feed the child by hand. The child then begins to cry and the woman appears to react with force, rising from her chair and slapping him in the face with her left hand.

    As the boy continues to cry uncontrollably, she returns to eating her plate of food. After about 40 seconds of the child's vocal distress, she turns to him again and delivers three right-handed slaps to his face.

    She then leans in and yells indecipherably into the child's face. When he continues to cry, she raises a hand and yells again, before returning to her seat.

    Paulyk said Sayers had babysat for the family a few times in the summer of 2017. They fell out of contact for several months, but about two weeks ago Sayers texted his wife offering her services again, he said.

    The Paulyks hired Sayers to watch the children while Christy went to a doctor's appointment. They never expected anything like this to happen, Paulyk said.

    "We didn't see any cause for alarm," he said.


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    Four Democrats seek to fill Stanley Rosenberg's shoes on Beacon Hill.

    Four contenders in the Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester Senate District contest will field questions on food security at a candidates forum tonight in Turners Falls.

    Democrats Jo Comerford, Steve Connor, Chelsea Kline, and Ryan O'Donnell will participate in the forum, which will be moderated by Rep. Paul Mark (D-Peru) and held at the Shea Theater.

    The event is sponsored by the Food Bank of Western Mass, the Franklin County Resource Network Public Policy Task Force, the League of Women Voters of Franklin County, and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, or CISA.

    The Democratic primary is Sept. 4, and no Republican has declared, so the winner will fill the shoes of former Senate president Stanley Rosenberg.

    Rosenberg stepped down May 3 following an ethics investigation involving Rosenberg's relationship with his husband, Bryon Hefner, who has denied criminal sexual assault charges. The couple also face a civil lawsuit that alleges Rosenberg knew of Hefner's behavior.

    The Senate district comprises Amherst, Bernardston, Colrain, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Pelham, Royalston, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell, and Whately.

    If you go:

    What: Candidates Forum on food security
    Where: Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, Turners Falls
    When: Aug. 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m.


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    One of the arrests was made Monday night in the Old Hill neighborhood. The arrest was made early Tuesday in the North End.

     

    SPRINGFIELD - Police, during two separate arrests overnight, got two stolen guns off city streets.

    The first arrest was made about 7 p.m. when officers were summoned to Queen Street in the Old Hill neighborhood for a report of a man with a gun.

    Officers found a large crowd gathered near a gray Acura. A passenger in the back, later identified as Jose Vargas, 32, of Pearl Street, was acting suspiciously, Ryan Walsh, spokesman for Springfield police, said.

    When officers were able to clear the car and secure the occupants, they found a loaded firearm under the floor mat in the back seat where Vargas had been sitting.

    The gun had been stolen out of Nashua, N.H.

    Several hours later, at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, police saw a car in the North End that was wanted in connection with an incident in Greenfield, Walsh said.

    Police pulled the car over on Plainfield Street near the ramp to Interstate 91. The suspect, later identified as Luis Gonzalez-Miranda, 26, of Chester Street, was scene reaching towards his center console.

    During a protective sweep of the vehicle, police found a loaded firearm in the center console. It has been reported stolen out of Colchester, Conn.

    Vargas was charged with carrying a loaded high capacity firearm, carrying an illegal firearm on a public way, breach of peace while arms, improper storage f a large capacity firearm, receiving stolen property less than $1,200.

    Miranda-Gonzalez was charged with possession of a firearm without an FID card, possession of ammunition without an FID, receiving stolen property less than $1,200 and number plate violation.


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    This year's event is dedicated to a retired dairy farmer, Jeanne Hanson, who used to milk cows at the Goddard Road homestead, where she was co-owner of Hanson and Roberts Farm.

    HARDWICK -- The town's annual Community Fair, recognized as the oldest one in the country, will take place Friday and Saturday on the Town Common on Route 32A at the Junction of Greenwich and Barre roads.

    This year's fair is the 256th and is dedicated to a retired dairy farmer, Jeanne Hanson, who used to milk cows at the Goddard Road homestead, where she was co-owner of Hanson and Roberts Farm. She has been a Hardwick Communty Fair volunteer for decades.

    Food, entertainment, cattle judging, a tractor pull, and several contests including bragging rights for the best apple pie, home-brewed beer and horseshoe pitcher are among the potpourri.

    The fair begins with a supper Friday at 5:30 p.m. That evening's events include a lumberjack contest, to see who can saw through a log quickest, blacksmith and pottery demonstrations, and live music by The Otters.

    Saturday's pancake breakfast is served from 7:30-10 a.m.

    A mountain bicycle race begins at 9:30 a.m. Runners compete in a 5.7-mile road race with a 10 a.m. start.

    Belgian draft horses pull a wagon for hay rides from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    The craft beer and wine garden will be open from noon to 6 p.m.

    An antique tractor parade begins at 12:30 p.m., as does the chicken barbecue.

    The frog jumping and horse shoe pitching contests start at 1:30 p.m.

    The popular antique tractor pulling contests -- to see which old rig has the most power -- begins at 2 p.m.

    An auction of items that were exhibited takes place at 3:30 p.m.

    Full details are available at HardwickFair.com.


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    The nutrition and cooking program at Oxford Place in West Springfield is in both English and Russian.

    WEST SPRINGFIELD -- Ascentria Care Alliance and SNAP-Ed have partnered to offer a free cooking and nutrition class at Oxford Place Wednesday.

    The event is open to West Springfield Housing Authority residents, as well as the community at large from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Oxford Place Community Room, 37 Oxford Place.

    According to SNAP-Ed Program Manager Kristen Lussier, the interactive nutrition lesson is based around a cooking demonstration on how to make easy, healthy recipes. All participants will have the opportunity to taste test, take home the recipe, and ask questions about healthy eating and cooking.

    The program, which is offered in both English and Russian, is grant-funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service.

    "If anyone from outside the Housing Authority would like to attend, it would be helpful to register with myself or the Housing Authority beforehand to ensure adequate space for all," said Lussier.

    Lussier said the program will be offered in English and Russian because there is a large Russian population living in the West Springfield Housing complexes.

    "The deputy director of the West Springfield Council on Aging, who organized this event, asked if we might have the capacity to hold one of the sessions with a Russian Interpreter," Lussier said. 

    The SNAP-Ed Program is one of the services offered through the Ascentria Care Alliance's Services for New Americans Program. Ascentria offers resettlement and case management, English as a second language classes, employment services, and legal services to clients. Refugee and immigrant populations are one of Ascentria SNAP-Ed's target audiences for its nutrition programming.

    "Therefore, we have several staff available who can translate the common languages of those clients we resettle, Russian/Ukrainian being one of the current prominent languages of the resettled populations," Lussier said.  

    Lussier said the goals and objectives of the Ascentria SNAP-Ed Program are to provide nutrition education programs and activities that improve the likelihood that members of the local community in Hampden County, specifically those who receive SNAP or who are SNAP eligible, will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose active lifestyles consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Choose MyPlate Guidance System.

    "Our objectives are directly linked to addressing the nutrition and health problems seen in Massachusetts: overweight, obesity, inadequate physical activity, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, inadequate fiber intake, and excessive fat and saturated fat intake," Lussier said. "We also address improving food safety and food resource management behaviors since these are also important topics for the community."

    Lussier said most of the classes are held with schools or community organizations. Ascentria offers one free public nutrition-based gardening class series open to families. That program is held on Monday evenings, weather permitting, from 5-6 p.m. at Mittineague Park.


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    The governor joined people in recovery and behavioral health advocates to celebrate the signing of a major opioid bill, which will expand access to medication-assisted treatment for people in jails and emergency rooms.

    BOSTON -- Gov. Charlie Baker joined people in recovery and behavioral health advocates on Tuesday to celebrate the signing of a major opioid bill that will expand access to medication-assisted treatment for people in jails and emergency rooms.

    "It's about the individuals who are suffering, families who are struggling and communities that are straining to save lives," said Rep. Denise Garlick, D-Needham, House chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.

    Baker held a ceremonial bill signing at STEPRox Recovery Support Center in Roxbury several days after he signed the bill into law last Thursday.

    Baker said the issue of opioid addiction is everywhere. "If it's not your family, God bless you and be grateful, but it could be," Baker said.

    Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said her own mother died at age 40 of cirrhosis after turning to alcohol to deal with mental illness. Sudders said the state is making policy with the perspective that "there is no wrong pathway to treatment."

    "We will treat everyone with dignity and respect," Sudders said.

    Approximately 2,000 Massachusetts residents died of opioid overdoses in 2017, representing a massive increase in addiction-related deaths over the past five years.

    A key component of the bill is expanding access to medication-assisted treatment among the populations that are most vulnerable to overdoses -- prisoners and people who have already overdosed and landed in the emergency room. 

    Until now, some jails and prisons have been hesitant to offer medication-assisted treatment, since the medications -- generally buprenorphine and methadone -- are a form of opioid and can potentially be diverted and abused.

    Sheriffs in five county jails -- Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex and Norfolk -- will set up pilot programs to offer medication for drug addiction to prisoners, both those who were getting treatment in the community and those who were not. Three state prisons and the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center will also offer medication-assisted treatment.

    "This is the most aggressive, most progressive program that will be undertaken in the entire country," said Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.

    The programs will collect data to see how effective they are and to what extent people continue treatment after release. 

    Vic DiGravio, president of the Association for Behavioral Health Care, said state statistics show that people with a history of incarceration are 120 times more likely to die of an overdose than the general population. DiGravio said if jails are able to treat people for addiction and connect them to services post-release, that could make "a significant difference" in reducing the overdose rate.

    The bill will also require emergency rooms to offer medication-assisted treatment when medically warranted. If an overdose patient requests treatment for addiction, the emergency room will be required to admit them or refer them to an outside treatment program.

    Lawmakers did not include a provision championed by Baker that would have allowed someone to be involuntary held by the hospital for a short time if their addiction posed a danger.

    Opponents of Baker's provision said forcing someone into treatment was unlikely to be effective and could result in violating someone's civil liberties.

    "We have so much to do to address this problem, but let's start with the people who come to us and who want treatment," said Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. "Let's make sure that those people get the treatment that they need right away without having to wait or having to go out there on their own and figure out how to do it."

    Asked whether there are enough treatment beds in the community to accommodate anyone who ends up in a hospital and wants treatment, Friedman said, "We're going to find out. That will be our job going forward to ensure that those centers are in place."

    According to Baker officials, the state has added 1,200 treatment beds since 2015.

    One focus for Baker when he introduced his version of the bill was credentialing recovery coaches. Provisions included in the new law will set standards and establish a credentialing process for coaches who help someone through recovery. That will then make it more likely for recovery coaches to be paid by insurance. 

    "You've got to find some way to help people stay in the game and stay clean once they get clean," Baker said. "Creating a credentialing framework and making it possible for services to be reimbursed is a huge part of how we ultimately win this fight."

    The new law will also:

    • Require doctors to use only electronic prescriptions for addictive drugs by 2020.
    • Require doctors to check a prescription monitoring database when prescribing addictive drugs.
    • Allow anyone to get the anti-overdose drug naloxone from a pharmacy without a prescription. 
    • Provide remote consultations for doctors who are treating adult patients with either chronic pain or substance abuse disorder.

    This is the third major opioid-related bill the Legislature has passed since 2014. 

    A 2014 bill signed by then-Gov. Deval Patrick focused on increasing insurance coverage for addiction treatment. A 2016 bill signed by Baker focused on preventing addiction and educating students and doctors.

    House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, said each of the bills builds on one another, and lawmakers will continue monitoring the issue.

    "This is going to be a subject that's going to be on our yearly docket year after year after year," DeLeo said. "I don't think anything's going to change. This isn't just going to go away. This is going to be a long-term battle."


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    Joshua Figueroa, 27, and Derrick Gentry-Mitchell, 28, both of Springfield, have each denied two counts of aggravated rape in Hampden Superior Court. Watch video

    SPRINGFIELD -- Lawyers for two city police officers charged with aggravated rape told a judge Tuesday they want their clients tried quickly.

    Patrolmen Joshua Figueroa, 27, and Derrick Gentry-Mitchell, 28, both of Springfield -- who have each denied two counts of aggravated rape -- were in Hampden Superior Court for what was docketed as a pretrial hearing.

    Assistant District Attorney Melissa G. Doran said she wanted to postpone the pretrial hearing because she does not feel ready to select a trial date. She said the men were just arraigned in June in the case that involves one alleged victim.

    That drew a quick response from lawyers Raipher D. Pellegrino for Figueroa and Terrence M. Dunphy for Gentry-Mitchell, who told Judge Michael K. Callan they wanted quick trials.

    Pellegrino said the men were suspended without pay in May. They have had their reputations sullied, he said.

    "It really would be an injustice to these two individuals to prolong this trial," he said. "We want a final pretrial conference and trial date as soon as possible."

    Outside the courtroom after the hearing Pellegrino said, "They'll be exonerated. We're looking to end this chapter as soon as possible."

    Callan, in cooperation with Doran and the defense lawyers, set dates in the case. He set a Jan. 16 date for trial and a Nov. 8 date by which defense lawyers must file motions.

    Pellegrino and Dunphy said they don't expect to file motions in the case.

    Dunphy said the office of Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni has had information about the woman's allegations for one and a half years.

    "I don't understand what the delay is," said Dunphy, who asked for a trial in November.

    The officers are free on their own recognizance with a condition that they must stay away from the alleged victim.

    The charges stem from an alleged incident on March 16, 2017, in Springfield. The officers have been charged in connection with a single alleged victim not identified in court records.

    Pellegrino said the prosecution has given the defense lawyers "substantial discovery" and the defense will give Doran the last bits of their discovery this week. Discovery is the term for information each side may use in the case.

    He said although the men were arraigned in June, the prosecution has had the information alleged by the woman for more than a year.


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    Massachusetts prosecutors have reduced charges against a woman who allegedly threatened a newspaper journalist.

    WRENTHAM, Mass. (AP) -- Massachusetts prosecutors have reduced charges against a woman who allegedly threatened a newspaper journalist.

    Prosecutor Courtney Kiernan said at a hearing in Wrentham District Court on Monday that 64-year-old Amy Zuckerman would not be indicted for making terroristic threats.

    The MetroWest Daily News reports the prosecutor filed a motion to amend the charge to threatening to commit a crime, a misdemeanor. Zuckerman's lawyer didn't argue against the motion and the judge approved it.

    Zuckerman, of Shutesbury and formerly of Amherst, was arrested in July after police say she sent an email to a Walpole Times reporter that referenced shooting through the window of the newsroom.

    Police say the threat was in response to the reporter asking to be removed from an email list.

    Her lawyer previously said her comments were taken out of context.


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    The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will allow MGM Springfield to change images every 8 seconds on its parking garage sign facing Interstate 91, but will not allow animated, moving images due to concerns about distracted drivers.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will allow MGM Springfield to periodically change images on its parking garage sign that faces Interstate 91 traffic, but the panel unanimously rejected a request to allow animations.

    At a meeting Tuesday in Boston, the commission voted 5-0 to deny the use of animations, but agreed to reconsider the issue in 90 days, spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said. Commissioners raised concerns about public safety and distracted driving as reasons for rejecting animations, she said.

    "MGM is permitted to rotate static images every eight seconds, but is not permitted to include animated images," Driscoll said.

    The screen is directly below the MGM Springfield marquee sign atop the seven-story parking garage on East Columbus Avenue. It will promote the casino and its programs along with downtown attractions, MGM officials said. It will not be for third-party commercial advertising.

    The sign was lit up last week with the message "We're ready to roar." The $960 million resort casino opens Aug. 24 in the downtown-South End area.

    The commission began considering the sign in March. MGM Springfield said at the time that its consultant, VHB of Watertown, evaluated multiple studies of dynamic signs and driver distraction and concluded "there is no statistically significant correlation between on-site outdoor electronic signs and driver safety or crashes."

    Roughly 100,000 vehicles travel on Interstate 91 through Springfield daily, officials said.


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    Lively won the 2017 suit in U.S. District Court in Springfield - but he appealed the ruling anyway.

    A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by controversial anti-gay pastor and Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively that protested the language used by the judge in a civil suit that ultimately ended in Lively's favor.

    Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries of Springfield, appealed the 2017 ruling because he was offended by some of the language used by U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor. Specifically, Lively protested Posner describing his views as "ludicrous," "abhorrent," "pathetic" and examples of "crackpot bigotry."

    Ponsor dismissed the lawsuit against Lively, filed in 2012, by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the Ugandan group "Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). The suit charged Lively with crimes against humanity for his anti-gay preaching in Uganda that resulted in the persecution of gay people, and in some cases imprisonment, injury and death.

    Posner dismissed the case in part because the suit lacked jurisdiction to proceed in the United States. And then he unloaded on Lively, peppering his decision with descriptions of his views that he found to be offensive, abhorrent and pathetic.

    The ruling, issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit justices Jeffrey R. Howard, Bruce M. Selya, and David S. Barron, essentially says taking offense at a judge's language, descriptions and personal opinions is not a sound basis for an appeal -- especially if the ruling is ultimately in the plaintiff's favor.

    "In his most loudly bruited claim of error, Lively beseeches us to purge certain unflattering statements from the court's dispositive opinion," the ruling notes.

    But none of the offending statements "have any bearing on the analytical foundations" of Posner's ruling or impact the final outcome, the ruling notes.

    "Generally speaking, only a party aggrieved by a final order or judgement may avail himself of the statutory right to appeal," the ruling notes. "As a practical matter, this means that we typically review appeals by parties who lost in the lower court."

    Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Scott Lively vs SMUG by Patrick Johnson on Scribd


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    A study by British and American researchers has found that atomizing the liquid of electronic cigarettes may result in a more toxic effect on cells that protect the respiratory system from infection.

    The debate over the safety of e-cigarettes continues.

    A study by British and American researchers has found that atomizing the liquid of electronic cigarettes - something known as vaping - may result in a more toxic effect on cells that protect the respiratory system from infection.

    The research, published in the Journal Thorax, compared the effect of unvaped e-cigarette liquid to e-cigarette vapor condensate with and without nicotine on the function of cells regarded as primary defenders against bacteria, allergens and toxins in the lung's air spaces.

    While both impacted these cells viability, the study found the vapor to be "significantly more toxic" to them than the non-vaped liquid.

    The vapor was said to increase reactive oxygen species - something that can damage cell structure - approximately 50-fold and "significantly inhibited" the defensive mechanism of the cells.

    The vapor was found to result in cell death at lower concentrations and to induce a process that could result in a state of inflammation within these cells in the lungs that is partly nicotine dependent.

    "While further research is needed to fully understand the effects of e-cigarette exposure in humans in vivo," the study's authors concluded, "we caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe."

    E-cigarettes are generally promoted by their manufacturers here and abroad as a safer alternative to smoking and an aid in smoking cessation, a claim that researchers and others continue to dispute.

    On its web site, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that e-cigarette aerosol contains fewer toxins than the mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes but is "not harmless."

    E-cigarettes are generally used to vaporize a liquid into an inhalable aerosol containing fine particles of nicotine derived from tobacco as well as flavorings. The devices usually have a battery, a heating element and a place to hold the pre-filled pods or e-liquids for what is sometimes referred to as "vaping."

    A 2016 study found that smoking suppressed 53 genes in the immune system. Vaping did as well, but was said to also suppress 305 others.

    The 2016 study took swabs from the noses of smokers, vapers, and non-users of both to evaluate the impact of e-liquid as well as some flavorings in e-liquid on immune cells.

    The Food and Drug Administration regulates all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars but does not as yet regulate the liquid of e-cigarettes.

    Last month, Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation raising to 21 the legal age as of next year to buy tobacco products in Massachusetts, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes.