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New England News

A photo of a smiling white man with grey hair and blue eyes in a white shirt, suit jacket and red tie is next to a photo of another younger smiling white man in a white shirt with reddish hair and a blue tie
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Voters have been voting early and mailing in ballots ahead of the Massachusetts primary Tuesday. WAMC has this recap of the contentious Democratic race in the 1st House district.

A Vermont college town has passed an order requiring residents to limit gatherings to 25 people.

A white, brown-haired woman in a blue blazer stands with a microphone before her in a room lined with purple curtains
Josh Landes / WAMC

From confronting the mounting challenge of housing city residents to broken water mains, it’s been an unusually busy August in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. WAMC got an update today from Mayor Linda Tyer.

Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick
Josh Landes / WAMC

The Elizabeth Freeman Center is Berkshire County’s 24/7 resource for people experiencing domestic abuse and sexual assault. From September 8th to the 18th, its annual fundraiser is going virtual in light of the ongoing pandemic. The Walk A Mile event saw over 900 participants raise more than $90,000 last year. This year, Executive Director Janis Broderick tells WAMC the center faces a sharp increase in the number and intensity of assault and abuse cases around the county.

Vermont House Chamber
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The Vermont Legislature reconvened Tuesday after a month-long break. Just before the virtual session, key House leaders discussed the priorities for the mini-session.

WAMC

Residents of a Springfield, Massachusetts neighborhood joined with elected officials to praise the construction of a pedestrian underpass they believe will save lives.  

Massachusetts Teachers Association logo
Massachusetts Teachers Association

The president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association is sharply criticizing the state’s planning for reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. As public school districts around the commonwealth plan for the fall semester, Merrie Najimy says state guidance has been lacking – and that Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to carry out testing only in districts with signs of the pandemic “recklessly creates false confidence.” While the state has pushed back the start of the fall semester to as late as September 16, Najimy tells WAMC that there are still crucial public health benchmarks Massachusetts has failed to address.

A screenshot of a Zoom meeting
Josh Landes / WAMC

North Adams, Massachusetts has put forward a draft of new municipal bylaws that would regulate short-term rentals.

Umass Amherst

     An effort is underway to promote equity in the bicycle sharing network in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

The Great Barrington Town Seal
Town Of Great Barrington

As an airport in Great Barrington, Massachusetts seeks a special permit to expand, some residents are speaking out against the environmental impact of the project.

Screen capture by WAMC

       A large lake in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts will be drawn down starting this fall to allow for repairs to a dam that state inspectors have categorized as “High Hazard.” 

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley

The Vermont Legislature returns to session today after a month-long break to continue work on the state budget and allocating federal coronavirus relief funds.

An annual volunteer cleanup of trash along the length of the Connecticut River in New England is being held this year. 

A white man stands at a podium
JD Allen / WAMC

MASS MoCA Director Joe Thompson says he will step down from the North Adams, Massachusetts art museum after over 30 years on October 29th. Thompson is the sprawling museum’s founding director. It was first conceived in the late 1980’s and opened in 1999. Thompson will stay on as special counsel  to the museum’s Board of Trustees for another year, and Tracy Moore will serve as interim director. His departure follows a tumultuous year that saw sweeping layoffs at the museum due to COVID-19 closures in March. The museum reopened in July. Thompson’s exit also comes as he faces a charge of motor vehicle homicide related to a 2018 incident where a motorcyclist died after a collision in North Adams. Thompson has pleaded not guilty.

Thompson, 62, spoke to WAMC about his time leading the museum, as well as why he’s chosen this moment to depart.

WAMC

     Officials say Springfield, Massachusetts has achieved a positive milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A black and white photograph of a bald black man in a suit and bowtie with a mustache
Cornelius Marion Battey / Wikipedia Commons

The Berkshire Hills Regional School District committee will soon hold a public hearing on a petition that calls for the Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts to be renamed after local civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois. WAMC spoke with Gwendolyn VanSant of Great Barrington’s W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee to find out more about the decision, and why Du Bois’s support of Communism in his later years has led some in the community to resist past efforts at recognizing the NAACP co-founder. The public hearing is set for September 3rd.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott  (file photo)
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott has proposed using $130 million more in federal coronavirus relief funding to help businesses and others recover from the pandemic.

The Southern Berkshire Regional School District logo
Southern Berkshire Regional School District

The Southern Berkshire Regional School District has finalized its reopening plans for the fall.

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley

At a tricky time for fiscal planning, Vermont Governor Phil Scott this week outlined a budget plan he will present to the legislature.

Massachusetts Teachers Association logo
Massachusetts Teachers Association

The president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association is sharply criticizing the state’s planning for reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

An envelope leans against a wall on a table with a blue tablecloth.
Josh Landes / WAMC

With the Massachusetts primary coming up on September 1st, many residents are taking advantage of early and mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this week, Pittsfield City Clerk Michele Benjamin says over 7,000 requests for early voting ballots have been registered in the city of around 43,000. She spoke with WAMC about voting security and turnout so far.

A drawing of a red barn attached to a black building with windows under a wooded hill and a blue sky
Mass Audubon

The Massachusetts Audubon Society says it’s closing in on the final pieces of a more than $1 million capital campaign. One of the projects to be funded by the campaign is a major expansion to the 18th Century program barn at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox. WAMC spoke with Mass Audubon West Director Becky Cushing about how the project will expand the group’s mission to spread natural and environmental education in the region.

Burlington street sign
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The Burlington City Council met for a  special session today to consider an emergency measure put forth by the mayor to regulate the size of gatherings and the hours that liquor can be sold in the city.  The new restrictions are being considered as colleges in the city are welcoming students back to campus.

A uniformed police officer and a man in a button down shirt and khakis stand outside a blue building with white detailing
Josh Landes / WAMC

After a lawsuit alleging racism and sexual assault in the Williamstown, Massachusetts police department was filed in federal court last week, a protest march is planned for Friday evening.

The Great Barrington Town Seal
Town Of Great Barrington

As the long-serving police chief of Great Barrington, Massachusetts prepares to step down, the town is forming a committee to select his replacement.

Concept drawing of Moran Frame
Burlington VT Mayor's Office

A long-decommissioned power generating station on the Burlington, Vermont waterfront is finally moving toward a new use.  City officials held a reverse groundbreaking Wednesday to celebrate deconstruction of most of the building to create what will be called the Moran Frame.

The Williamstown Town seal
Town of Williamstown

Residents of Williamstown, Massachusetts gathered at Williams College's Weston Field for a socially distanced annual town meeting Tuesday.

A white man in a white shirt and a red tie speaks in front of microphones and a row of masked onlookers
Josh Landes / WAMC

Democratic Congressman Richard Neal of the 1st House district visited Pittsfield, Massachusetts as part of a party-wide effort to emphasize the importance of the post office Tuesday.

        The overall crime rate is said to be down a bit this year in the largest city in western Massachusetts, but complaints about quality of life offenses are up.

Two hands embrace under a rose over a red backdrop with "Berkshires Democratic Socialists Of America" in a ring around them.
Berkshires Democratic Socialists of America

The Berkshire County chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America has endorsed Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey in the Democratic primary.

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