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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Letters to the editor: King Sarno overstepping his royal office
Apr24

Letters to the editor: King Sarno overstepping his royal office

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our letters to the editor page. Here you’ll find reader comments on Advocate articles and other news. We collect readers’ opinions from emails, letters, Facebook comments, and comments to valleyadvocate.com. Want to get in on this? Email deisen@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. King Sarno overstepping his royal office Jesus Christ!! Springfield has anointed a...

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Father of Parkland shooting victim recalls son through art in Springfield
Apr23

Father of Parkland shooting victim recalls son through art in Springfield

When the hammer first punched through the drywall people flinched. The crowd was silent as Manuel Oliver began to destroy parts of the art he had just created, mirroring the destruction of his son’s life in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Oliver, the father of shooting victim Joaquin “Guac” Oliver visited the South Congregational Church in Springfield Friday for the latest in a series called “Walls of Demand,” an art project...

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Valley Advocate Readers’ Poll 2018 winners announced!
Apr19

Valley Advocate Readers’ Poll 2018 winners announced!

We are excited to announce the 2018 Valley Advocate Readers’ Poll winners! The categories and winners are available to view here. Thank you to all of our incredible local businesses, and of course to The Valley Advocate readers that vote! Congratulations!  ...

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Puerto Rican families living in Western Mass could lose housing after April 20
Apr19

Puerto Rican families living in Western Mass could lose housing after April 20

For the past four and a half months, Rosa Ortiz has been living with her 14-year-old son at hotels in West Springfield after her home of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, was devastated by Hurricane Maria nearly seven months ago. But now, their temporary housing is in jeopardy and they could end up homeless.   Ortiz and other families who relocated to the Pioneer Valley after the hurricane will likely lose housing when the Federal Emergency...

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Bizarro Briefs: No Singing Zone Ahead
Apr19

Bizarro Briefs: No Singing Zone Ahead

Dutch residents formed a chorus of opposition to a newly installed “singing road” earlier this month, prompting the road to be shut down after only one day of use. Workers had installed strips that act like rumble strips on 490 feet of road near the village of Jelsum, but instead of the familiar rumbling sound, the strips used vibration to play a popular portion of the regional anthem “De Alde Friezen,” or “The Old Frisians.” But like...

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Bank bails on Mass cannabis businesses
Apr13

Bank bails on Mass cannabis businesses

April 20 (4/20) can be an auspicious day for cannabis-related businesses. But this year, some of them will see their bank accounts abruptly closed. Citizens Bank, based in Providence, Rhode Island, informed an unknown number of customers with connections to the cannabis industry that they would be closing their accounts on April 20, offering no explanation in the letter as to why. “We felt like having the account closed on 4/20 was...

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Western Mass Women’s Fund to honor Northampton Chief Jody Kasper
Apr13

Western Mass Women’s Fund to honor Northampton Chief Jody Kasper

Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper will be honored on June 4, 2018, with the She Changes the World award from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM). “We are excited to spotlight Chief Kasper as a leader who is breaking barriers and who serves as a great role model for other women and girls,” said Ellen T. Moorehouse, programs officer for the WFWM. Kasper is being recognized for her “exceptional contributions” and “leading...

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Massachusetts readies for legal fight over ‘Student Loan Bill of Rights’
Apr13

Massachusetts readies for legal fight over ‘Student Loan Bill of Rights’

State legislators hope to create a “Student Bill of Rights,” which passed in the state Senate on April 11 and aims at granting better protections for students in disputes with loan service companies. There’s one catch though: the federal government doesn’t want states regulating the student loan service industry and Massachusetts may have to fight for the proposed law in court. “Right when [students are] about...

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Springfield police union pickets Sarno following contract negotiation breakdowns
Apr11

Springfield police union pickets Sarno following contract negotiation breakdowns

Sarno repeatedly calls himself a “law and order mayor,” but for Springfield’s police union president, his recent decision to leave the bargaining table speaks louder than his words. “The fair thing to say is that we judge people on how they treat us,” said Joseph Gentile, president of the Springfield Patrolman’s Union, IBPO Local 364. “This is very disrespectful, I would say that it would make me question some of what he’s said in the...

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Spring Arts Preview in Western Mass
Apr11

Spring Arts Preview in Western Mass

When spring blooms burst forth, you’ll want to rove the Pioneer Valley looking for fantastic things to see and do. We’ve pulled together some of the best events happening in the area April through June. 4/14: Radically interconnected There’s a plethora of arts events happening across downtown Turners Falls during the Full Disclosure Festival on April 14, whether that’s poetry, visual art, song, dance, or theatre. There’s “The Pass,” a...

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UMass unions take contract demands to trustees
Apr10

UMass unions take contract demands to trustees

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees meet at UMass Amherst once a year, and this year, on April 6, they were met by union employees from all over the state demanding “respect and fair contracts.” “Our belts are as tight as they’re going to get,” said Eve Weinbaum, president of the Massachusetts Society of Professors union and a associate professor in the department of sociology at UMass Amherst. “We’re expecting them to...

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Russian-born undocumented immigrant gets sanctuary in Northampton church amid supportive community
Apr10

Russian-born undocumented immigrant gets sanctuary in Northampton church amid supportive community

Irida Kakhtiranova faced discrimination in her home in the Ural region of Russia due to her same-sex relationship with the woman she loved. In 2003, she left to come to the United States. Fifteen years later, she is married to U.S born man and has three children, but faces the threat of deportation due to her undocumented status. On April 6, Kakhtiranova entered into sanctuary at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence at...

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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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Back Talk: Hurrah for ranked choice voting!
Apr10

Back Talk: Hurrah for ranked choice voting!

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our letters to the editor page. Here you’ll find reader comments on Advocate articles and other news. We collect readers’ opinions from emails, letters, Facebook comments, and comments to valleyadvocate.com. Want to get in on this? Email deisen@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. Hurrah for ranked choice voting in Amherst (In response to “Voting politicians off the...

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Wellness: PCOS, affecting fertility and appearance, quietly plagues many reproductive-age women
Apr10

Wellness: PCOS, affecting fertility and appearance, quietly plagues many reproductive-age women

“I was the fat girl complaining about back pain,” said Becca Minardi, 24, of Longmeadow about the early symptoms of her polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Diagnosed just six months ago, Minardi feels as though doctors didn’t take her seriously before her diagnosis. She believes she fell victim to what she calls “the stigma of women’s health.” PCOS affects between 8 and 20 percent of reproductive-age women but many don’t know that...

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Valley Advocate Podcast: Tahirah Amatul-Wadud discusses her historic candidacy for Congress
Apr09

Valley Advocate Podcast: Tahirah Amatul-Wadud discusses her historic candidacy for Congress

A woman, an African American, and a Muslim, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud’s candidacy for the First Congressional District of Massachusetts makes her a first for the district in a couple respects. But for her, the campaign is about representing interests of the people of the district, something she accuses her opponent, longtime Congressman Richard Neal, of taking for granted. Neal and Amatul-Wadud will face off in the Democratic Primary...

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Inspection of Springfield church offering sanctuary to undocumented woman finds building habitable
Apr09

Inspection of Springfield church offering sanctuary to undocumented woman finds building habitable

South Congregational Church in Springfield, which is offering sanctuary to an undocumented Peruvian woman and her two American-born children, has passed the minimum requirements for an inspection by the city with only minor violations.  Mayor Domenic Sarno sent out an email to city officials on March 27 calling for a re-inspection of the church in response to South Congregational offering sanctuary to Gisella Collazo and her two...

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Bizarro Briefs: Dog Doesn’t Bite Man
Apr09

Bizarro Briefs: Dog Doesn’t Bite Man

In 2016, dogs bit human postal service workers a total of 156 times in Colorado. But that shouldn’t deter any prospective mail carriers. A recent study shows that the number went down in 2017 … to 132 times. Nationwide, the number of dog bites to postal employees went down by about 500, which the Postal Service attributes to new technology that allows customers scheduling package pickups to indicate whether dogs will be at the...

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Progress and backlash highlighted in Springfield MLK assassination 50th anniversary commemoration
Apr05

Progress and backlash highlighted in Springfield MLK assassination 50th anniversary commemoration

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Springfield, NAACP president Bishop Talbert Swan, Mayor Domenic Sarno, a host of interfaith clergy, and a roomful of citizens gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s April 3 “Mountaintop” speech and his assassination on April 4, 1968. Bishop Swan, who organized the event in conjunction with the mayor’s office, said he couldn’t let the day go by without...

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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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Easthampton-based singer-songwriter Seth Glier takes home three Independent Music Awards
Apr04

Easthampton-based singer-songwriter Seth Glier takes home three Independent Music Awards

Easthampton-based folk pop multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Seth Glier won three Independent Music Awards on March 31 during the 16th annual awards ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York City. Glier, an Emmy nominated musician, took home awards for best album in the folk/ singer-songwriter category for his 2017 album Birds recorded at Eastworks in Easthampton as well as best song in the same category for “Like I Do” and...

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Holyoke Public School bus drivers irked over contract change
Apr04

Holyoke Public School bus drivers irked over contract change

When Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) announced in March that they will be changing their special education transportation contract from minibuses to vans, Anna Gonzales was concerned for her son’s well-being. Gonzales, who lives in Holyoke, has three children who have special needs. Her 10-year-old son is currently transported to and from a public school in Holyoke on a minibus, with the assistance of a bus monitor. For Gonzales and her...

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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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Workers Center hoping to deliver 1,000 letters supporting undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez to ICE
Apr03

Workers Center hoping to deliver 1,000 letters supporting undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez to ICE

The Pioneer Valley Workers Center plans to hand deliver 1,000 letters from Western Massachusetts residents in support of Lucio Perez, an undocumented immigrant receiving sanctuary in Amherst, to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office in Hartford on April 9. During the April 2, Sanctuary in the Streets meeting at the Parlor Room in Northampton, organizers and volunteers with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center wrote...

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Northampton principal says accused peeping janitor passed background check
Apr02

Northampton principal says accused peeping janitor passed background check

Following the arrest of a Northampton High School janitor on charges of taking photos of people in a girl’s bathroom, Principal Bryan Lombardi is defending the school’s hiring practices. Lombardi said there had been no way to screen out Michael J. Kremensky, 22, of Florence, since he had never been caught doing anything like this previously. “Any person hired the district goes through fingerprinting and a criminal background check,”...

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Valley Advocate Podcast: Solomon Goldstein-Rose on why he dumped the Democratic party
Apr02

Valley Advocate Podcast: Solomon Goldstein-Rose on why he dumped the Democratic party

First elected as a Democrat in 2016, 24-year-old Solomon Goldstein-Rose of Amherst replaced longtime Amherst Rep. Ellen Story in a crowded primary after Story retired. Now some Democrats are criticizing his decision to leave the party and run as an unenrolled candidate in the 2018 elections. Goldstein-Rose talks about his aversion to the two-party system and some things he hopes to accomplish working outside of it should he be elected...

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Cannabis industry leaders gather at Hampshire College summit to widen appeal of plant
Apr02

Cannabis industry leaders gather at Hampshire College summit to widen appeal of plant

Adult-use cannabis was legalized by Massachusetts voters in 2016, but based on the number of moratoriums and bans that have passed across the state since then, it’s clear that there are still some mixed feelings about cannabis on the local level. “Like every other movement this is about relationships,” said Marie Salgado, who does community outreach in Holyoke and at Hampshire College. “There’s so much education that needs to happen.”...

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Springfield Church not Backing Down in Conflict with Mayor over Shelter of Undocumented Woman
Mar30

Springfield Church not Backing Down in Conflict with Mayor over Shelter of Undocumented Woman

If Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is trying to scare the South Congregational Church, it isn’t working. The historic Springfield church at 45 Maple Street has been sheltering an undocumented Peruvian woman named Gisella, whose last name is being withheld due to her immigration status, since Monday and plans to continue doing so in spite of the pressure. Sarno has taken a hard-line approach to the situation and has proposed the...

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Drummer for ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack visits Pioneer Valley for first view of film
Mar29

Drummer for ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack visits Pioneer Valley for first view of film

Black Panther smashed global box office records when it opened in February, and like any good action movie part of the magic of Black Panther is the soundtrack. While watching the movie, there’s one part of the soundtrack that you might not notice at first: the tama, or the talking drums. The album written by Kendrick Lamar to accompany the movie got a lot of hype, but the music that really carries the action of the film is the...

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Audio: Northampton dispatcher appears to give auto shop owner the OK to tow cars during march
Mar28

Audio: Northampton dispatcher appears to give auto shop owner the OK to tow cars during march

Audio obtained by the Advocate from the Northampton Police Department indicates that a dispatcher from the Northampton Police Department told Jeffrey Tenczar, the owner of Greg’s Auto Repair in Northampton, that he could tow 14 vehicles from his private lot on Saturday, March 24. The issue came to a head on Saturday when people attending the March for Our Lives in Northampton parked in Tenczar’s private lot because it was...

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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno calls on city to end tax exemption for church offering sanctuary
Mar28

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno calls on city to end tax exemption for church offering sanctuary

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is calling for South Congregational Church to lose its tax exemption status after church officials decided to offer sanctuary to Gisella, an undocumented immigrant from Peru who came to the country in 2001 and has two children and an American born husband. Gisella’s name was released through a Pioneer Valley Project news release, which did not disclose her last name. In a press release, Sarno said...

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Springfield Forest Park institution Sportstuff closes after 28 years
Mar28

Springfield Forest Park institution Sportstuff closes after 28 years

Sportstuff on Sumner Avenue in Springfield has long been an anchor business for the curious collection of shops and restaurants that come and go in the blink of an eye at the “X.”  But not for much longer; after 28 years, Springfield residents Toni and Dave Trehey are closing their sports paraphernalia shop in the busiest hub in Forest Park. “We’re retiring at the end of May,” Toni Trehey says simply. “After 28 years, I think it’s...

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Advocates demand legislative action on paid family and medical leave, $15 minimum wage
Mar28

Advocates demand legislative action on paid family and medical leave, $15 minimum wage

For Alicia Fleming of Chicopee, getting paid family and medical leave isn’t about politics, it’s about survival. “As a single mom, paid family leave is of the utmost importance to the well being of my family,” Fleming said. Fleming told a room of about 150 people at the South Congregational Church in Springfield on March 28 about the year her mother passed away, and about how the time she had to take off of work cost her money she...

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Early spring holidays mean revisiting culinary traditions for many
Mar28

Early spring holidays mean revisiting culinary traditions for many

With the last of the snow (hopefully) behind us, many people across the Pioneer Valley are looking forward to celebrating religious holidays in the early Spring. I was not raised Christian Orthodox, but I often celebrated Easter with my family with Orthodox food and traditions from across Eastern Europe. My stepmom taught my brothers and I how to make Pysanky eggs —  Ukranian Easter eggs — by making patterns on the eggs with wax and...

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