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FAFSA fiasco: Financial aid form meltdown trips up students, colleges
02-26-2024 5:00 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — A continued challenge for some prospective students and their families in accessing federal financial aid applications, and a corresponding delay in relaying the information from these forms to colleges and universities, is raising...

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With 55K at risk of losing internet service, activists call on Congress to extend pandemic-era program
02-23-2024 5:00 PM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

SPRINGFIELD — Local activists, organizations and representatives from western Massachusetts’s congressional delegation are urging the U.S. federal government to extend a pandemic-era program that covers internet costs for more than 55,000 low-income...


Management role: Forestry experts explain efforts to bolster forest health, climate resilience
02-21-2024 5:09 PM

By EMILEE KLEIN

With the state dealing with catastrophic consequences of climate change, the debate around forest management continues to make headlines as Massachusetts policymakers discuss the best way to maximize carbon sequestration in forests.Trees and other...


Athol principal selected as superintendent for School Union 28
02-20-2024 4:24 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

ERVING — Athol Community Elementary School Principal Shannon White-Cleveland is being tapped as the next School Union 28 superintendent, overseeing four K-6 elementary schools attended by children in Shutesbury, Leverett, Erving, Wendell and New...


Deepening divisions: UMass poll chronicles yawning divides on race, immigration
02-14-2024 3:59 PM

By JAMES PENTLAND

AMHERST — Almost a third of Republicans say they agree with former President Donald Trump’s claim that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of the country,” a recent University of Massachusetts poll has found.The poll, which also questioned respondents...


Report: Tourism brings $1.3B to three-county region
02-13-2024 5:00 PM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Tourism contributes more than $1 billion in annual economic impact across Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin counties, according to a recent study released by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.The study was the first of its kind...


UMass to lead $11.9M offshore wind center 
02-12-2024 5:00 PM

By EMILEE KLEIN

AMHERST — UMass Amherst will lead a new $11.9 million center on offshore wind education, research and outreach to expedite development of offshore wind energy and train a national workforce to install and maintain the clean energy...


McGovern, House group seek help for unhoused in Biden budget
02-12-2024 1:34 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — A call for an increase in federal money to support homeless services and programs related to substance use disorders, and for keeping unhoused individuals from being targeted by federal law enforcement agencies, is coming from the House...


A case for ditching natural gas
02-07-2024 3:46 PM

By EMILEE KLEIN

The influential lobby group Mothers Out Front took aim at the natural gas industry this week, using its monthly climate action call to encourage people to push for a future without gas.Each month, the statewide group with local chapters in Pioneer...


Smith wins re-election in Orange; Davis joins Selectboard
02-06-2024 4:50 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

ORANGE – Newcomer Julie Davis will join the re-elected Andrew Smith on the Orange Selectboard following Monday’s Town Election.Davis was the contest’s top vote-getter, with 384, and Smith accumulated 304. The two competed against Sandra Fawn Weinstein...


Billy Goat Boats awarded 10-year deal for Orange boathouse
02-01-2024 5:01 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

ORANGE – It seems Billy Goat Boats isn’t going anywhere, as the town’s Selectboard opted this week to award a request for proposal to the family-run watercraft rental business following a public and contentious leasing fiasco.The company owned and...


Zoom session to garner public input on opioid settlement uses
01-30-2024 5:00 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

As money from the nationwide opioid settlement continues to be disbursed to Franklin County towns, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), in partnership with local boards of health, is inviting residents to share their input on how this...


McGovern legislation would ease access to medically necessary foods
01-29-2024 5:01 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

The Democrat representing the 2nd Congressional District of Massachusetts has teamed up with a Republican colleague from Florida to sponsor a bill aimed at making it easier for Americans to get medically necessary foods.Jim McGovern and John...


‘A huge relief’: Swift River School reports filters, bottled water no longer needed
01-29-2024 5:00 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

NEW SALEM — Swift River School’s new PFAS6 filtration system seems to be working perfectly, and 190 students and staff members will drink to that.A little more than three years after tests of the school’s tap water revealed elevated levels of the...


Franklin Regional Transit Authority offers weekend fixed-route service
01-28-2024 5:00 PM

By BELLA LEVAVI

The Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) now offers weekend fixed-route transportation. With additional funds from the Fair Share Amendment, all free routes will run through the weekend, providing much-needed transportation access in the...


Balancing solar with farms and forestland: Experts tout middle way in picking sites
01-28-2024 5:00 PM

By EMILEE KLEIN

AMHERST — As debate continues over how best to develop solar throughout the state to help meet an ambitious net-zero emissions goal, representatives from Mass Audubon and Harvard Forest are touting a recently completed report that details how solar...


Blue Cross pauses anesthesia policy after doctors raise concerns
01-28-2024 10:46 AM

By MADDIE FABIAN

Less than a month after it began enforcing a longstanding policy restricting the use of anesthesia during colonoscopies and other procedures, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is pausing that action after physicians statewide lobbied the insurer...


UMass basketball: Saint Joseph’s hands Minutemen another heartbreaking loss 78-77
01-23-2024 10:13 PM

By GARRETT COTE

AMHERST — Heartbreak struck the UMass men’s basketball team for the second time in three games on Tuesday night at the Mullins Center.Clinging to a one-point lead with 12.5 seconds left after Rahsool Diggins’ acrobatic layup put the Minutemen ahead,...


Flu cases surge at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, while COVID, RSV less severe
01-22-2024 5:00 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Even with less severe cases of COVID-19 than the past two years and a marked decrease since last fall in RSV, officially known as respiratory syncytial virus, a surge in flu cases is keeping Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s emergency department as busy as...


Orange Special Town Meeting tables proposed animal bylaw
01-21-2024 5:00 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

ORANGE – Voters at the Special Town Meeting on Thursday opted to table a proposed animal bylaw until more people have had an opportunity to contribute input.Residents in Town Hall voted overwhelmingly to take no action on a warrant article prohibiting...


Western Mass. legislators call for changes in Healey housing bill to meet region’s needs
01-21-2024 5:00 PM

By MADDIE FABIAN

As the state considers the governor’s proposed $4.13 billion Affordable Homes Act — a comprehensive roadmap for affordable housing across the Commonwealth — a group of 16 western Massachusetts legislators are advocating for amendments to meet housing...

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