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...

Read More
‘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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
New mixed use building at North Square coming to Amherst Mill District next year
Jun15

New mixed use building at North Square coming to Amherst Mill District next year

By the summer of 2019, Amherst will have a new mixed-use development of 130 low to moderate income apartments and eight to 10 new spaces for businesses at North Square in the community’s Mill District. A groundbreaking ceremony for the development took place with local and state officials on June 14, including a rare visit from Gov. Charlie Baker, who said funding for the project was partially made possible by MassHousing Partnership...

Read More
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...

Read More
Students ask the questions at Northampton High School event for state rep and senate candidates
Jun14

Students ask the questions at Northampton High School event for state rep and senate candidates

“I am consistently inspired by the youth activists in this community,” said Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton in front of a room full of students, teachers, parents, and community members at the Northampton High School auditorium on June 13. Sabadosa, a candidate for the 1st Hampshire state Representative seat, was one of eight candidates to participate in a question-and-answer forum at the school where the questions were fielded by...

Read More
North, South, East, West: More rail coming to Springfield
Jun13

North, South, East, West: More rail coming to Springfield

Tuesday afternoon at Union Station in Springfield, Gov. Charlie Baker announced increased rail connectivity in the city’s future. Going north and south, there will be a pilot program beginning in 2019 for passenger rail service that would run twice a day from Greenfield and make stops in Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield and connecting with Connecticut rail services to go to New York City and back in a single day. As for...

Read More
Gov. Baker announces expanded Western Mass north-south rail service, money for east-west rail study
Jun12

Gov. Baker announces expanded Western Mass north-south rail service, money for east-west rail study

Tuesday afternoon at Union Station in Springfield, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a pilot program beginning in 2019 for north to south passenger rail service that would run twice a day from Greenfield and make stops in Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield and connecting with Connecticut rail services to go to New York City in a single day. “We’ve reached a deal with Connecticut to expand the passenger rail service on a...

Read More
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...

Read More
Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer
Jun11

Confronting Childhood Abuse as an Adult Writer

When Lisa Zarcone was 11 or 12 years old, she came home to find her home a hot 90 degrees and her mother smoking on the sofa. She turned down the thermostat and her mother attacked her with a meat tenderizer, violently hitting her more than 20 times. She had bruises on her back that lasted for more than a month. Now, Zarcone, a 52-year-old Springfield resident, is the Massachusetts national ambassador for the National Association of...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
Activists protest ICE office in Springfield in response to 1,500 lost in ICE custody
Jun06

Activists protest ICE office in Springfield in response to 1,500 lost in ICE custody

A group of more than 30 activists affiliated with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Mass Jobs with Justice protested outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office at 1550 Main St. in Springfield on June 6 in response to children being separated from their parents through deportation. The group marched seven times around the building, an action known as a Jericho Walk, which is inspired by the Biblical tradition...

Read More
Downsize Me: Tiny houses celebrated in Vermont while barriers remain in Massachusetts
Jun06

Downsize Me: Tiny houses celebrated in Vermont while barriers remain in Massachusetts

If you think that tiny house movement is just a passing fad for young people, think again. Lisa Kuneman, 53, of Brattleboro, said that tiny houses are definitely more than just a trend, and that many tiny house enthusiasts are retirement-aged. “Other options aren’t attainable or desirable. We want to maintain our chosen life right now. There are other options like retirement communities, but the entry point is $300,000,” Kuneman said....

Read More
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...

Read More
Northampton High School students to question candidates for state races
Jun06

Northampton High School students to question candidates for state races

Northampton High School are organizing an event to put questions to students local candidates running for 1st Hampshire County state Representative and Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester state Senator. It will take place at the school’s auditorium at 380 Elm St. in Northampton on Wednesday, June 13, at 6 p.m. “In a year of high stakes midterms, people often forget about local races that also are immensely impactful,” said Tadea...

Read More
Back Talk: Joe Magrone had a marshmallow center
Jun06

Back Talk: Joe Magrone had a marshmallow center

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. Joe Magrone had a marshmallow center In response to “‘Big-hearted’ Problem with Dragons...

Read More
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...

Read More
Bizarro Briefs: Lava S’mores Are Not Cool
Jun05

Bizarro Briefs: Lava S’mores Are Not Cool

Taking a break from posting about the volcanic doom on Hawaii, The U.S. Geological Survey’s Twitter account fielded this question: “Is it safe to roast marshmallows over volcanic vents? Assuming you had a long enough stick, that is? Or would the resulting marshmallows be poisonous?” The USGS replied, “Erm… we’re going to have to say no, that’s not safe. (Please don’t try!) If the vent is emitting a lot of SO2...

Read More
Activist gather in Springfield to support Poor People’s Campaign
Jun04

Activist gather in Springfield to support Poor People’s Campaign

Historic Court Square was filled with almost 200 people on Monday, June 4, in downtown Springfield, where one of many rallies for the Poor People’s Campaign was launched. The campaign is doing a six-week launch which they’ve titled “A National Call for Moral Revival,” and made its way to the Valley after campaigning for about three weeks in Boston. Khalil Saddiq, a representative of the Poor People’s Campaign, was one of several...

Read More
Undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez to speak at potluck at Amherst church where he takes sanctuary
Jun04

Undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez to speak at potluck at Amherst church where he takes sanctuary

Lucio Perez, an undocumented immigrant and a native of Guatemala who has been taking sanctuary in the First Church of Amherst since October, wants to personally show his gratitude towards the community through a potluck dinner on June 18 at 6 p.m. The dinner, which will be hosted by Amnesty International group 128 (Connecticut Valley chapter), the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, the First Church UCC Amherst, and the Interfaith...

Read More
O Cannabis: Local cannabis start-up Treeworks aims to have something for everyone
May31

O Cannabis: Local cannabis start-up Treeworks aims to have something for everyone

A new start-up cannabis business called Treeworks is taking a grassroots approach to the burgeoning legalized marijuana industry in Massachusetts by working out of a home kitchen to develop a line of locally sourced products, including cannabis oils, edibles such as gummies, tinctures, topicals, and cannabinoid infused Kombucha. Treeworks is the brainchild of three Pioneer Valley residents in their mid-to-late 20s – Timothy...

Read More
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...

Read More
The Beerhunter’s guide to the 2018 Western Mass Beer Week
May30

The Beerhunter’s guide to the 2018 Western Mass Beer Week

Raise a glass across the Valley (and throughout the Berkshires, too!) as the third annual Western Mass Beer Week rolls in this month. The eight-day celebration of local craft beer — which runs June 9 to 16 — is jam-packed with limited releases, special collaborations, beer dinners, cask tappings, and local products at breweries, bars, and restaurants across Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, and Berkshire counties. Typically, we might say...

Read More
Gardening the Community to open first ever farm stand in Springfield this Saturday
May29

Gardening the Community to open first ever farm stand in Springfield this Saturday

Springfield-based nonprofit, Gardening the Community, which practices urban gardening in the Mason Square neighborhood and hosts programs teaching youth about urban agriculture, will host a grand opening for its first ever farm stand at 200 Walnut Street this Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Ibrahim Ali, co-director for youth and programs with Gardening the Community, told the Valley Advocate the farm stand has been four years...

Read More
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...

Read More
Nonprofit art space, Looky Here, to have art thrift shop, lectures, music, and workshops in Greenfield
May25

Nonprofit art space, Looky Here, to have art thrift shop, lectures, music, and workshops in Greenfield

A nonprofit art space called Looky Here at 28 Chapman St. in Greenfield will feature everything from tarot card readings to instrument building classes as well as a thrift shop for art supplies. Looky Here is slated to have its grand opening on June 24 at 9 a.m. Hannah Brookman, president of Looky Here, told the Valley Advocate the nonprofit’s mission is firstly to serve as a community-oriented creative reuse store offering art...

Read More
Letters to the Editor: Sex workers, sanctuary, and Trump’s poor decisions
May25

Letters to the Editor: Sex workers, sanctuary, and Trump’s poor decisions

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. No need for law that endangers sex workers In response to “Taking to the Streets: Local...

Read More
Pam Victor is making the Valley happier in a dirty vanilla box
May24

Pam Victor is making the Valley happier in a dirty vanilla box

“A dirty vanilla box” is how Pam Victor lovingly describes the new location of Happier Valley Comedy. The 1,300 square foot room at the end of a strip of shops on Route 9, is the culmination of years of comedic toil. “It’s the first ever improv theater and training center in Western Mass,” she says proudly. And like one of the tenets of improv, Victor says she got there “moving forward forward in positivity one small step at a...

Read More
Editorial: Remembering Columbine and Santa Fe and everywhere in between
May23

Editorial: Remembering Columbine and Santa Fe and everywhere in between

I remember the Columbine shooting like it was yesterday. It was a rainy April afternoon in 1999, very bleak but mild. When I turned on the television, I was hardly prepared for what I saw and what I heard. Two boys had committed what was, at the time, a shocking crime at their Littleton, Colorado, high school. They had shot and killed 12 students and one teacher. They’d injured 21 additional people. On Friday, another school, another...

Read More