Northampton resident and lifelong activist Rose ‘Arky’ Markham dies at 102
Jun14

Northampton resident and lifelong activist Rose ‘Arky’ Markham dies at 102

Some sad community and activism news — longtime political activist Rose “Arky” Markham passed away earlier this week. Sad in that she passed away, but among the things she has left behind are the results of a life well-spent, as can be seen in her obituary. I got the chance to interview Markham and attend her 100th birthday celebration, a packed house full of change-makers, activists and political figures alike. I...

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O Cannabis: Support grows for bipartisan weed legislation leaving federal law up to states
Jun12

O Cannabis: Support grows for bipartisan weed legislation leaving federal law up to states

Local marijuana businesses — and federal legislators — are supporting bipartisan legislation that would leave marijuana regulation up to the states, a change from the blanket federal prohibition now in place. That’s a positive sign for Easthampton resident Karima Rizk, whose dream of opening a local cannabis cafe has been stifled both by state and federal laws. “I think it’s great news and it’s showing there is an increasing level of...

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Police: JFK gun incident suspect claims he was picking up a friend for target practice
Jun08

Police: JFK gun incident suspect claims he was picking up a friend for target practice

In a statement released on Facebook on Friday morning, Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper wrote that the suspect arrested at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton after allegedly bringing two pellet guns onto the campus said he was there to pick up a friend and go target shooting. The man , Matthew Borsuk, 27, of Florence, was seen removing a long-barreled rifle from the trunk of his car, and police were called at 2:10 p.m....

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Warren, Gardner introduce bipartisan bill to let states regulate marijuana for themselves
Jun07

Warren, Gardner introduce bipartisan bill to let states regulate marijuana for themselves

In a show of bipartisan support for clarity around marijuana laws, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado held a joint press conference about a bill they are sponsoring to allow states to make their own decisions regarding marijuana legislation. Massachusetts and Colorado are two of a growing number of states to have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and Warren said that...

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Holyoke Children’s Museum adds 2,000-piece Pez display to collection
Jun06

Holyoke Children’s Museum adds 2,000-piece Pez display to collection

Over 15 boxes of Pez candy and accessories were shipped to the Children’s Museum at Holyoke just weeks ago. Susan Kelley, executive director of the museum, mounted a third of them onto the wall in the middle of the bustling chaos. She said she is glad the museum can display the Pez collection. “Just the whole concept that adults and kids would like it equally for different reasons, I thought it was the perfect fit,” Kelley said. The...

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Some voters see gender bias in write-in campaigns challenging Chelsea Kline for State Senate
Jun05

Some voters see gender bias in write-in campaigns challenging Chelsea Kline for State Senate

The five write-in candidates in the race to replace longtime state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, of Amherst, are coming under scrutiny for their late entry into the race, with some calling their challenge to progressive Chelsea Kline — the only candidate to have her name on the ballot — sexist. Rachel Gordon, a Greenfield resident who is campaign manager for 1st Franklin House district candidate Francia Wisnewski, said she is dismayed at...

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Poor People’s Campaign rally in Springfield to focus on poverty and environmental issues
May30

Poor People’s Campaign rally in Springfield to focus on poverty and environmental issues

A growing national activist movement called the Poor People’s Campaign will host its first rally in Springfield on Monday, June 4, around environmental issues. Michaelann Bewsee, executive director of Arise for Social Justice in Springfield and one of the chairs of the Massachusetts arm of the Poor People’s Campaign, said the rally would take place at 1 p.m. at Court Square. “We’ll be joined by some folks from Boston and elsewhere in...

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NASA experiment sends local man into space … kinda
May29

NASA experiment sends local man into space … kinda

Have you dreamed of travelling through space? UMass Amherst Post Doctoral Research Associate William Daniels is doing the next best thing this month and next — spending 45 days cooped up in a tiny space with three other people. Daniels, 33, of Hadley entered what he called “the habitat” on May 4 (“May the 4th be with you,” he says) as part of a NASA experiment to test software they plan to use on space missions...

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‘Big-hearted’ Problem with Dragons bassist Joe Magrone dies at 38
May21

‘Big-hearted’ Problem with Dragons bassist Joe Magrone dies at 38

Known as a big-hearted guy, a talented musician, and, sometimes, a gruff-but-lovable curmudgeon, Joe Magrone, bassist for Problem with Dragons, died on May 18 at the age of 38, two weeks shy of his 39th birthday. Dave Fournier first met Magrone in 1985, when he went to his sixth birthday party. “He became my best friend for 32 years 347 days,” Fournier said. Fournier recalled that only days before his death, Magrone had made a lasagna...

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Immigrant taking sanctuary in Amherst church gets treated for ‘life-threatening’ condition at Cooley Dickinson in Northampton
May17

Immigrant taking sanctuary in Amherst church gets treated for ‘life-threatening’ condition at Cooley Dickinson in Northampton

Lucio Pérez, a Guatemalan father of four who has been living in sanctuary at the First Congregational Church in Amherst since October 2017, left the church to be treated at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton for a life-threatening condition, according to a statement from Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Jobs with Justice organizer Rose Bookbinder. “Lucio has been, and continues to be, in sanctuary here,” said Rev. Vicki Kemper,...

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A Thrilling ‘Who Dun It’ in the Local Art World
May16

A Thrilling ‘Who Dun It’ in the Local Art World

A reader came in with an unusual request earlier this week: she had a piece of art work she bought at an auction in Greenfield nearly a decade ago and wanted to see if we could identify the artist. Arts and Culture Editor Gina Beavers, herself a local artist, looked at it with me and neither one of us could come up with an answer. It was a mystery. The black and white piece of line art displayed a person of indistinct gender wearing...

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Local Green-Rainbow candidates trying to make change at state level
May09

Local Green-Rainbow candidates trying to make change at state level

“Why vote for the lesser of two evils, when you can vote for the greater good?” Juan Sanchez wants voters to consider this question when they enter the ballot box on November 6. Sanchez, 29, of Holyoke, is running for Secretary of State in the 2018 statewide elections. He is one of three local candidates running for state offices as a Green-Rainbow party candidate. The Green-Rainbow Party, the Massachusetts branch of the national...

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The Soaring Beauty of Paul Goodnight’s Imagination
May08

The Soaring Beauty of Paul Goodnight’s Imagination

Given Paul Goodnight’s international stature, it’s difficult to understand the lack of fanfare and the dearth of coverage he receives when his work is exhibited at Rosemary Tracy Woods’ Art for The Soul Gallery in Springfield. Since 1984, Goodnight’s work has been awarded and acquired by scores of individuals, institutions, and museums, including The Smithsonian American Art Museum. He has also exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine...

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Taking to the Streets: Local sex workers speaking out on how new anti sex trafficking law endangers them
May08

Taking to the Streets: Local sex workers speaking out on how new anti sex trafficking law endangers them

Editors note: Many of the names of those quoted in the story were changed or assumed names were used because of the inherent danger and legal standing of some sex work. Wearing a green dress, pink tights, and a tiara, transgender woman and former sex worker Lorelei Erisis held her fist high at the Northampton Pride parade on Saturday, May 5. Behind her, holding red umbrellas and signs that said “sex work is real work” were...

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Editorial: Rosenberg resignation the right move to regain trust
May04

Editorial: Rosenberg resignation the right move to regain trust

We had been waiting a long time for it, but the speed of the events it set in motion once it finally arrived was breathtaking. The state Senate announced an independent ethics investigation of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst in December. It took five months for a report to be delivered to the public, along with a rebuke for Rosenberg. And one day after that, Rosenberg resigned. Rosenberg ascended to the Senate...

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So … that’s it for Rosenberg
May03

So … that’s it for Rosenberg

Former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg will soon become former Senator Stanley Rosenberg. Following an ethics committee report made public Wednesday, Rosenberg announced Thursday he would be stepping down in his role as a state Senator effective the end of day Friday. Here is his statement: “As I have stated repeatedly over the last 5 months, I deeply regret the difficulties that this situation has created for the members,...

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Ethics probe finds fault with Rosenberg, recommends barring senator from leadership positions through 2020
May02

Ethics probe finds fault with Rosenberg, recommends barring senator from leadership positions through 2020

The Senate Committee on Ethics has recommended former Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) be barred from Senate leadership or leadership of any committee for the duration of this legislative session or the next. State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics, announced Wednesday that Rosenberg allowed his husband, Bryon Hefner, unfettered access to the goings on in the Senate. “The firewall...

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The Massachusetts State Police Troop embroiled in an overtime scandal has now been eliminated
May02

The Massachusetts State Police Troop embroiled in an overtime scandal has now been eliminated

State Police Troop E, which patrols the length of the Mass Pike, has been eliminated and absorbed into three other regional troops as a result of reforms initiated by Gov. Charles Baker. The change was in part a response to allegations that more than 20 troopers in Troop E put in for overtime that they never worked in 2016. Baker’s office released a statement on Wednesday, May 2, that several reforms to the State Police have...

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Sex workers to march in Noho Pride parade following passage of new law they say endangers their lives
May02

Sex workers to march in Noho Pride parade following passage of new law they say endangers their lives

Spurred on by a new federal law they say makes their already dangerous jobs less safe, sex workers are marching in this weekend’s Noho Pride Parade in Northampton to declare “sex work is real work.” Bella Vendetta, a dominatrix and award-winning porn star who lives in Berkshire County, said the group that is marching, called Team Clear Heels 413, was born out of the need to organize and educate people about the law,...

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Local jazz legend Charles Neville dies at 79
Apr27

Local jazz legend Charles Neville dies at 79

Charles Neville, Grammy award winning saxophonist and member of R&B, soul, and funk group, The Neville Brothers, died on Thursday at the age of 79. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for the past several months. Aaron Neville, Charles’ brother and another member of the Neville Brothers, tweeted a tribute to Charles on Thursday afternoon. “My dear brother Charlie the horn man, just want you to know that if I...

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May 1 will be final Valley Gives Day as organizers shift to year-round strategy
Apr25

May 1 will be final Valley Gives Day as organizers shift to year-round strategy

Valley Gives Day, the day in which Pioneer Valley residents are encouraged to support local nonprofit organizations, will likely be happening for the last time on Tuesday, May 1. Springfield-based nonprofit Community Foundation of Western Mass has run the event since 2012, and announced recently that after this year’s event, the focus would be on a year-round support model for local nonprofit organizations rather than a single...

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Editorial: Listening to people from ‘coal country’ our best chance to change minds
Apr24

Editorial: Listening to people from ‘coal country’ our best chance to change minds

Smith College hosted a fascinating speaker earlier this month who addressed a topic that’s been on my mind for several months leading up to the 2018 midterms: communicating and collaborating with people in what’s called “Trump country.” Without their help, we’re all likely destined for more divisiveness and hate-fueled policy from Washington. Hailing from Appalachia, Nick Mullins used to work for a coal mining company. Now he gives...

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Editorial: Find someone else to pick on, Mayor Sarno
Apr10

Editorial: Find someone else to pick on, Mayor Sarno

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against a Springfield church for offering sanctuary to an undocumented Peruvian woman and her two American children. Immigrant Gisella Collazo’s cause was taken up by the Pioneer Valley Project, which released a statement late in March saying that Collazo had taken up residency in the South Congregational Church. Sarno, sounding a lot like President...

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Congressional challenger Amatul-Wadud says Neal’s seniority won’t help his district
Apr05

Congressional challenger Amatul-Wadud says Neal’s seniority won’t help his district

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Democratic primary challenger to longtime Congressman Richard Neal, is attacking her opponent from an unlikely angle — his seniority. Neal, a Springfield Democrat who has served in the House since 1989, would likely be appointed chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Democrats retake the House in what is increasingly predicted to be a blue wave election in November. But Amatul-Wadud, who hopes to...

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Local anchor Dave Madsen says former boss Sinclair Broadcast Group has put its anchors in ‘horrible position’
Apr03

Local anchor Dave Madsen says former boss Sinclair Broadcast Group has put its anchors in ‘horrible position’

Longtime broadcast journalist and news anchor Dave Madsen, of Western Mass News, is criticizing his former boss, Sinclair Broadcast Group, following its decision to require its anchors to read promos decrying “fake stories” from national news outlets, a line that echoes President Donald Trump’s media-bashing. “It bothers me that people are forced to read something,” Madsen said Tuesday. “I...

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Staff Picks: Brooks Williams, Adam Ezra, Sylvan Esso
Mar28

Staff Picks: Brooks Williams, Adam Ezra, Sylvan Esso

Brooks Williams // Friday, March 30 Wind down your week with some good old fashioned blues at The Parlor Room. Georgia-born guitarist and songwriter Brooks Williams will be performing his special style of soulful blues. He’s been called “a mean finger-picker and a stunning slide guitarist.” Songs like Walk You Off My Mind and Statesboro Blues will have you tapping your toes and swaying in your seat. The Parlor Room, 32 Masonic St., 7...

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Western Mass Year of the Woman? Election could bring all-female delegation to Hampshire County
Mar27

Western Mass Year of the Woman? Election could bring all-female delegation to Hampshire County

Hampshire County has the highest proportion of women of any county in the state, and yet for years has been represented in the Statehouse mostly by men. With the retirement of longtime Amherst Rep. Ellen Story in 2016, this has been especially true. But this year’s elections could alter that in the extreme. There are credible female candidates running for four of the state House seats representing the bulk of the county, and more than...

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Young Teens Blast Gun Laws in Northampton Student Walkouts
Mar14

Young Teens Blast Gun Laws in Northampton Student Walkouts

At John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, a police officer and administrator kept outsiders clear of hundreds of students gathered outside, but their words were audible in the cold, March morning. Students went up to a microphone one by one and gave the name and age of a school shooting victim — often 13, 14, or 15 — then recited statistics and demanded change from legislators in Congress on gun laws. In the crowd before them,...

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Editorial: Sunshine Week Important Now As Ever
Mar13

Editorial: Sunshine Week Important Now As Ever

I’ll never forget the Open Meeting Law conference I covered a few years ago in Northampton. Then State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg held the conference in March 2015 for local civic leaders and venting about the Open Meeting Law, which is in place for all of us to get necessary information about how our government is run, commenced immediately. John Payne, who was then Select Board Chairman in Shelburne, said he found that the...

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Vermont Yankee transfer gaining traction with state agencies and environmental activists
Mar06

Vermont Yankee transfer gaining traction with state agencies and environmental activists

After several weeks of negotiations, Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant owner Entergy, potential buyer NorthStar, state agencies, and citizen activists have come to an agreement on how the shut down plant could be transferred and decommissioned by NorthStar. One agency, however, does not think the plan has enough financial supports in place if something unexpected happens. NorthStar had proposed to buy the plant so that it could...

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Thought this winter was warm? Wait until the coming years
Mar02

Thought this winter was warm? Wait until the coming years

Has this winter seemed unseasonably warm to you? Or what about that shocking cold a couple months ago? It turns out that with one of the warmest Februarys on record and a record-breaking two-week cold snap around New Year’s, the winter itself averaged out to be … well … average. We still have a few weeks to go before the official first day of spring, but meteorological winter — which scientists define as the months...

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TEENS vs. GUNS: Youth anti-gun sentiment spreading and changing minds
Feb27

TEENS vs. GUNS: Youth anti-gun sentiment spreading and changing minds

Born the same year of the Columbine High School Shooting in Colorado, 18-year-old Madison Pease of Southampton grew up hearing about school shootings. But it wasn’t until 17 people were killed in the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, that she began thinking something like that could actually happen to her. “In interviews with the kids, they said they didn’t think it was going to be them, that they felt like they were in the safest...

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Editorial: Guns spark a new student movement — and a fight for their lives
Feb27

Editorial: Guns spark a new student movement — and a fight for their lives

Fifty years ago, in 1968, student protests rocked the Vietnam War debate, and were eventually credited with turning public sentiment against the war. For young people, particularly young men, their very lives were at stake with the instituted military draft sending millions to Southeast Asia. In the end, more than 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the war. The number of deaths from gun violence makes that number look tiny....

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Bravo to Goldstein-Rose for Declaring Independence from Democrats
Feb21

Bravo to Goldstein-Rose for Declaring Independence from Democrats

On Tuesday, Amherst state Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose became the second independent in the Massachusetts Statehouse, changing his party affiliation from Democrat to unenrolled. Predictably, party elders and political pundits — the same ones that predicted a sweeping win for Hillary Clinton — panned the move, saying that Goldstein-Rose is consigning himself to the periphery in a Statehouse organized around party caucuses....

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Northampton Event Encourages Women Activists to Speak Up
Feb16

Northampton Event Encourages Women Activists to Speak Up

The day after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, corporate communications trainer Cathy McNally vowed to join activist communities to oppose the conservative forces that got him elected. Founder and CEO of the Women Speak Up organization, she realized that it was her work with teaching women to be better public speakers that could make a real difference. “Women are the leaders of so much movement work, but they need to be...

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