Editorial: Vote for Chelsea Kline for State Senate on Sept. 4
Jul29

Editorial: Vote for Chelsea Kline for State Senate on Sept. 4

So often with candidates running for public office, one must rest the decision to vote for them primarily on their words. In her short political career as a candidate for state Senate, however, Chelsea Kline has amassed some impressive actions. Kline is running in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary to replace former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, who resigned following censure by an independent ethics investigation. Kline will be the...

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State organization calls for 100 percent renewable energy in Massachusetts by 2035
Jul24

State organization calls for 100 percent renewable energy in Massachusetts by 2035

For Ben Hellerstein, state director of advocacy organization Environment Massachusetts, the state is moving in a good direction with regard to renewable energy, but it needs to do more. “Even being number one is not enough,” he said, adding that Massachusetts is ranked seventh in the nation for new solar projects and first for energy efficiency. Hellerstein was among the speakers at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Tuesday, July 24,...

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Parents bring their small children to rally at Greenfield jail and ICE facility opposing family separation practices
Jul20

Parents bring their small children to rally at Greenfield jail and ICE facility opposing family separation practices

Two days after the state Legislature removed a set of provisions in its budget that would have protected immigrants in Massachusetts, a group of activists met in front of an immigrant detainment center in Greenfield to sing songs and demand an end to cruel treatment of immigrant families. More than 50 people participated in the action, which took place at 11 a.m. Friday, July 20, at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and jail...

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Massachusetts high court provides cover for those who want to stop you from voting
Jul17

Massachusetts high court provides cover for those who want to stop you from voting

Sometimes living in deep blue Massachusetts can feel comforting when observing the daily horror show that now passes for our federal government. A case in point: as the U.S. Senate edges toward nominating President Donald Trump’s second arch-conservative Supreme Court pick, who could seriously endanger the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the Massachusetts House is working to pass a bill to protect abortion rights in...

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Evolution of a Star: Dwight Pogue’s retrospective at Smith College Museum of Art
Jul17

Evolution of a Star: Dwight Pogue’s retrospective at Smith College Museum of Art

Printmaker and Smith College art professor Dwight Pogue is retiring and he’s having quite a send off. His opus, if you will, is called Flowering Stars and is on view at The Smith College Museum of Art. Pogue’s collection is a retrospective of his lithographs and screenprints over almost 40 years at Smith College, and it’s something to behold. ; and his changing styles are evident from the samples taken from his portfolio between the...

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Bizarro briefs: A waking nightmare
Jul13

Bizarro briefs: A waking nightmare

A waking nightmare Don’t you hate it when you wake up to find a six-foot-long snake has fallen from the ceiling into your bed? An Albany-area man certainly did. He called the police in a panicked state after finding himself next to a red-tailed boa constrictor. The boa, it turned out, was the pet of the tenant above him and had escaped from its enclosure. It then fell through the floor and into the man’s bed. After the ordeal, the...

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Springfield celebration honors students who earned their high school equivalency
Jun29

Springfield celebration honors students who earned their high school equivalency

In the midst of the season of high school graduations, a group of dedicated students who had failed to get through high school the first time around earned recognition for passing their high school equivalency test, known as the HiSET, at the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Adult Learning Center. Among those present during the ceremony on Tuesday, June 26, was Morgan LaBelle, 26, of Feeding Hills in Agawam. She said she...

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Editorial: A Supremely Bad Decision
Jun28

Editorial: A Supremely Bad Decision

They say that elections have consequences. This is one of the terrible ones. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday, June 27, effective the end of July. With Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and control of the Senate in the hands of Republican lackeys ready to bend to his every whim — and the decision Senate Republicans made last year to eliminate the need for 60 votes to confirm judicial...

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Activists with children in their arms protest family separations at Springfield ICE office
Jun28

Activists with children in their arms protest family separations at Springfield ICE office

In an effort to combat families being torn apart through American immigration policy, activists with the Pioneer Valley activist network supporting undocumented immigrants called Sanctuary in the Streets came with their children to a small rally at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Springfield. Sienna Baskin, an immigrant rights attorney who lives in Northampton, brought her daughter to the event, held Thursday,...

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Lucio Perez, himself separated from his family, to call for humanity at the border with Congressman McGovern
Jun22

Lucio Perez, himself separated from his family, to call for humanity at the border with Congressman McGovern

Congressman James McGovern, D-Worcester, and undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez, who is taking sanctuary at the First Congressional Church in Amherst, will make a joint call to end inhumane practices at the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday. “President Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents is cruel, it is un-American, and it is evil,” McGovern said in a written statement. “There is no law requiring...

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Haymarket owner, who raised pay, ended tipping in 2015, praises minimum wage legislation
Jun21

Haymarket owner, who raised pay, ended tipping in 2015, praises minimum wage legislation

While the Legislature was debating raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in a ‘grand bargain’ bill passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday, Haymarket Cafe owner Peter Simpson was increasing his lowest paid workers wages to $15.50. Simpson announced a few years ago that he would increase the minimum wages of his workers to a living wage. He said he applauded the Legislature’s decision to do the...

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‘Grand bargain’ $15 minimum wage bill passed by Legislature
Jun20

‘Grand bargain’ $15 minimum wage bill passed by Legislature

The Massachusetts House has unveiled and quickly passed a long-awaited “grand bargain” bill aimed at keeping citizen petitions off the ballot this year, including measures supporting a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and sales tax adjustments. Later on Wednesday, the bill passed the Senate with no amendments, meaning it will go to Gov. Charlie Baker for a signature. Both houses passed the bill with veto-proof...

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Massachusetts high court quashes democracy in decision on Fair Share Amendment
Jun19

Massachusetts high court quashes democracy in decision on Fair Share Amendment

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court did an extreme disservice to voters this week, taking away the potential to vote on the popular “Fair Share Amendment,” which would have created a 4 percent tax on the wealthy and used the money for education and transportation funding. Rather than let the voters decide, the court stripped the provision off the ballot on a technicality, basically stating that the wording might confuse voters because...

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Can Legal Marijuana Snuff Out the Black Market?
Jun19

Can Legal Marijuana Snuff Out the Black Market?

The long-awaited moment is nearly here: marijuana will be legal to sell in the state of Massachusetts as of July 1 — with a license. But a question that has arisen for many long-term users of marijuana is: what is going to happen to the unlicensed, illegal marijuana black market. Many believe it’s here to stay. No licenses have yet been granted by the state or are likely to be by July 1, and longtime users and dealers alike argue that...

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Editorial: Zero tolerance for U.S. ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy
Jun19

Editorial: Zero tolerance for U.S. ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy

I’m angry these days. I try to hide it as best I can, but the piling up of atrocities committed by the Trump administration is taking its toll, and I doubt I’m the only one concealing a bubbling rage as I go about my day. But the recently-implemented “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in just shy of 2,000 children being taken from their parents from the border during a six-week period from April to May — and probably many more...

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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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