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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O Cannabis: Swapping bongs to benefit the Holyoke Creative Arts Center
Jul26

O Cannabis: Swapping bongs to benefit the Holyoke Creative Arts Center

The Great New England Marijuana Accessories Swap Meet will be “like an Antique’s Roadshow for bongs.” According to Jeff Bianchine, director of the Holyoke Creative Arts Center, which will benefit from the fundraiser event, potentially hundreds of people swapping, selling, or purchasing marijuana accessories and two appraisers of marijuana accessories available to buyers or sellers. The bong swap is slated for Aug. 26...

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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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Expressing a love for humanity through cutting hair in Amherst
Jul24

Expressing a love for humanity through cutting hair in Amherst

You can pretty much get any hair cut or styling that you could think of from around the world at Global Cuts International World of Barber Styling in Amherst, whether that’s highly stylized facial or hair cuts or something out of the ordinary. Khayyam Mahdi, owner of Global Cuts, said he’s seen everything under the sun when it comes to his professional experience as a barber and hair stylist. Everything old becomes new again in terms...

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Fighting back against the fitness summer slide
Jul24

Fighting back against the fitness summer slide

Summer vacation is a much needed break for both kids and parents and often serves as a respite from rigorous schedules that might include music lessons, team sports, and other extracurriculars. But while many parents concern themselves with summer learning loss, or summer slide, fewer focus on the potential decline in their child’s physical fitness. Just as summer brings an end to academics, for many it also closes the door on...

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Podcast: Local author Kathy Harrison discusses being prepared for your own personal apocalypse
Jul23

Podcast: Local author Kathy Harrison discusses being prepared for your own personal apocalypse

Kathy Harrison doesn’t believe the zombies are coming to get us. But she does believe in being prepared for the worst. Harrison, of Cummington, just wrote her fifth book, called Prepping 101: 40 steps you can take to be prepared. Stocking up on necessities might seem obvious, but another thing Harrison takes pride in is stocking up on the good will of her neighbors. “I’m not food secure unless my neighbors are food...

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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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Infrared saunas: Sweating it out — in a dry heat
Jul20

Infrared saunas: Sweating it out — in a dry heat

It’s warm — very warm. I’m sitting on a wooden bench leaning against an ergonomic backrest. The small room within a room is lined on three sides by cedar paneling with a glass door looking out into a small dim entryway where towels had been provided to wrap myself in. There is a chromotherapy light on the ceiling designed to provide different colored lighting to ease various ailments: blue light to fight inflammation, orange for...

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Western Mass millenials find fitness in the extreme
Jul20

Western Mass millenials find fitness in the extreme

Think of a gym. Muscle-bound men do tricep curls while women in spandex pedal endless miles on exercise bikes. Now forget all that. Those things may still happen, but you’re more likely to see it with people over 50. Those in their 20s and 30s, known as millennials, have something different in mind. Nicole Harvey, the manager and a certified personal trainer at Asylum Fitness in Palmer, said their clients range in age from 12-92,...

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Make your own dog food? Some local pet owners swear by it
Jul19

Make your own dog food? Some local pet owners swear by it

A big yellow lab named Jack laid down on the couch while his black litter-mate, Sophie, slept stretched out on the floor. At 11 years old, both dogs are old for their breed but aside for some arthritis in Jack’s hips and a diagnosis of Lyme disease for Sophie, they are in remarkably good health. Their owner, Amy Ingalls, 45, of Ware, attributes this to their diet, a homemade mixture of pig and cow hearts and livers from the butcher,...

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Out of the spotlight: Sexual assault lurks in the Pioneer Valley local music scene
Jul17

Out of the spotlight: Sexual assault lurks in the Pioneer Valley local music scene

Author’s note: This article discusses sexual assault and trauma and includes personal stories from victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. The Pioneer Valley is unique for its thriving and diverse music scene with dozens of venues and hundreds of local musicians. Groups like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Staind all got their start in the area in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2015 online music magazine Pitchfork declared that...

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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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Podcast: Ashfield Resident Tom Leue Invents Heating System that Runs on Vegetable Oil
Jul16

Podcast: Ashfield Resident Tom Leue Invents Heating System that Runs on Vegetable Oil

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Ashfield inventor Tom Leue. When making his own brand of biodiesel, an alternative fuel made from plant matter, he accidentally set fire to his workshop and burned it to the ground (hear about the fireball that ensued at minute 15). Still, his commitment to selling biodiesel (made by other people) has lasted 19 years. Now Leue has come up with an invention that will allow users to heat their...

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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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Letters to the Editor: Why is Massachusetts putting up obstacles to solar?
Jul12

Letters to the Editor: Why is Massachusetts putting up obstacles to solar?

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. Why is Massachusetts putting up obstacles to solar? I began working as a rooftop solar...

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9/11 memorial made from Twin Towers I-beam to be unveiled in Springfield
Jul11

9/11 memorial made from Twin Towers I-beam to be unveiled in Springfield

A memorial to first responders who gave their lives saving others on Sept. 11, 2001, that includes a large section of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center in New York City will be a installed at the soon to be renovated Riverfront Park on West Columbus Avenue in Springfield by Sept. 11. A special preview of the monument was given to local elected officials, police and fire department heads, media, and others on July 10 at...

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A chat with medieval folk rocker Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night
Jul10

A chat with medieval folk rocker Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night

For more than two decades medieval folk rock duo Blackmore’s Night has been performing its unique blend of rock meets medieval folk on authentic period instruments. The band is led by husband and wife duo Ritchie Blackmore (formerly of Deep Purple and Rainbow), who plays guitar and an assortment of medieval stringed instruments and lead vocalist Candice Night, who also performs woodwind instruments. Ahead of the band’s upcoming...

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Independent Streak: Against the odds, small book stores are on the rise
Jul05

Independent Streak: Against the odds, small book stores are on the rise

Raven Books in Northampton is the quintessential New England used bookstore. Winding stacks of books create a delightful maze that loops in and out of corners. There doesn’t seem to be a square inch of wall that remains unoccupied, and tables of books, live plants, and suspended artifacts makes for a satisfying and unique browsing experience. Raven’s owner Betsy Frederick publishes a simple trifold brochure called Bookstores of the...

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Letters to the editor: What ever happened to ‘Give us your tired, your poor’…
Jul04

Letters to the editor: What ever happened to ‘Give us your tired, your poor’…

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. What ever happened to ‘Give us your tired, your poor’… In response to “Separation...

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Valley Advocate Podcast: Artist Dara Herman Zierlein on cutting plastic out of her life
Jul02

Valley Advocate Podcast: Artist Dara Herman Zierlein on cutting plastic out of her life

Dara Herman Zierlein made a choice to have an affect on the planet by eliminating plastic from her life. Even despite that decision, she sometimes does use plastic. But she holds onto it rather than throwing it away or recycling. She says that only about 9 percent of plastic that is sent to be recycled actually gets recycled. Zierlein is also an artist and her art tackles environmental issues, which was recently on display at 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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Pioneer Valley Project and Stop & Shop union partner to host job fair for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricanes
Jun27

Pioneer Valley Project and Stop & Shop union partner to host job fair for Puerto Rican families displaced by hurricanes

A partnership between grassroots activism group, the Pioneer Valley Project, and UFCW Local 1459, a union that represents workers with regional grocery chain Stop & Shop, yielded potential job opportunities for local Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria during a job fair at the Clarion Hotel in West Springfield on June 26. “[UFCW Local 1459] is a member of the Pioneer Valley Project and we brought up the issue of a...

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Podcast: Undocumented immigrant Eduardo Samaniego discusses family separations
Jun25

Podcast: Undocumented immigrant Eduardo Samaniego discusses family separations

Eduardo Samaniego is an undocumented Hampshire College student turned immigrant rights activist at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. Having arrived in Georgia at the age of 16, he graduated high school as student president, but was precluded from attending the University of Georgia because of his immigration status. Now in Massachusetts, Samaniego has been active in trying to get the state Legislature to pass an immigrant bill of...

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In bid for seventh term, Mass. Secretary of State William Galvin clarifies his history of support for same-day and automatic voting
Jun22

In bid for seventh term, Mass. Secretary of State William Galvin clarifies his history of support for same-day and automatic voting

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who is running for his seventh term in office after serving in the position for more than two decades, is facing a challenge from Boston City Councilor and Democratic opponent Josh Zakim, pushed back on the notion that he has been slow to embrace expansive voting policies such as same-day registration and automatic voter registration during a visit to Amherst on Thursday, June 21....

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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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Bizarro Briefs: Keep Your Eyes Off The Road
Jun20

Bizarro Briefs: Keep Your Eyes Off The Road

Keep your eyes off the road A county coroner in Kentucky has been accused of working with at least two others — a retired police colonel and a current state police trooper — of illegally transporting a number of items. The most serious appeared to be $40,000 worth of illegally obtained weapons and ammunition, but the most eye-popping was a literal pair of eyeballs. Prosecutors allege the coroner, who is running to be re-elected as...

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Fresh off Democratic endorsement, Secretary of State challenger Josh Zakim visits Northampton
Jun19

Fresh off Democratic endorsement, Secretary of State challenger Josh Zakim visits Northampton

Josh Zakim, a Boston City Councilor and a Democratic candidate for Massachusetts Secretary of State, visited the Northampton farmers’ market this afternoon alongside Mayor David Narkewicz, speaking with customers and vendors about how he plans to implement progressive changes to the election system in Massachusetts if elected. Zakim, who said he considers himself a progressive, was endorsed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as well as...

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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, and longtime users and dealers alike argue that higher quality and lower...

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Letters to the editor: Tiny houses? How about tiny families.
Jun19

Letters to the editor: Tiny houses? How about tiny families.

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. Tiny houses? How about tiny families. In response to “Downsize Me: Tiny houses...

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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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