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New England News

A CTrail passenger train leaves Springfield's Union Station.
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

        After two years of study, MassDOT is out with a draft report on what it would take to connect western and eastern Massachusetts by passenger rail.

The Coalition for Safe and Secure Data logo
https://safeandsecuredata.org/

Yesterday, we examined the argument in support of Question One on the Massachusetts ballot, the “’Right to Repair Law’ Vehicle Data Access Requirement Initiative.” Today, we’ll hear the argument against it. Conor Yunits is the spokesperson for the No On One campaign, the Coalition For Safe And Secure Data. He made his case to WAMC.

A table covered in drugs, heroin and various law enforcement badges
The Berkshire County District Attorney's Office

The Berkshire County District Attorney’s office says a multi-agency drug and weapons bust Tuesday night secured thousands of bags of heroin, weapons, and cash. 

Vermont’s top election official is urging voters to return their ballots to town clerks soon.

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC

During Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s regular COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, a new round of grants for businesses impacted by the pandemic was announced, and officials provided an overview of infection predictions for the fall.

An  AK47 and bags of crack cocaine
Springfield Police Dept

   With gun violence on the rise, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts met with several big city police chiefs today to discuss how federal authorities can help. 

The door of the Berkshire District Attorney's office.
Josh Landes / WAMC

On Monday, 49-year-old Michael Lavigne of North Adams was found guilty on two counts of assault and battery on a household member in Northern Berkshire District Court. Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington has made domestic violence a policy focus, and her office pursued the conviction using evidence gathered from a correctional facility phone, with the victim unwilling to testify. Harrington spoke with WAMC.

Miriam Berry
Miriam Berry for Congress / Facebook

Vermont has one representative in the U.S. House, and the seat is has been held by Democrat Peter Welch since 2007. In the state’s August primary, Republican Miriam Berry won a four-way race to advance to next month’s general election.
Berry grew up in a Democratic family and when she first started voting in her teens supported Democrats.  Berry tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley she soon found that her beliefs were more in line with conservative Republican values. Berry says she is undaunted as she challenges a popular long-time incumbent.

A logo based on the American flag, with a car sending out wifi/data signal in the blue of the flag with "Right To Repair" over 3 red stripes
The Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee

Earlier this month, we examined the arguments for and against a ranked choice voting system — Question Two on the Massachusetts ballot. Now, we’re focusing on Question One, the “’Right to Repair Law’ Vehicle Data Access Requirement Initiative.” Tommy Hickey is the director of the Right To Repair coalition, a group of 4,000 independent and local auto parts and repair shops – as well as consumers and drivers – who support Question One. He spoke with WAMC to make his case.

A poster of the drug-take back locations in western Massachusetts
https://www.facebook.com/NorthwesternDADaveSullivan/

There is an opportunity this weekend for people to safely get rid of unneeded medications. Saturday, October 24 is National Drug Take-Back Day.

William Drinkwine
Vermont State Police

Vermont State Police say a Burlington police officer has been cited to appear in court on suspicion of trespassing in a woman’s home while off-duty.

Corey Ramos
Vermont State Police

Vermont State Police say a fugitive wanted for questioning in the killing of a Connecticut woman was caught trying to cross the U.S.-Canadian border on foot in Vermont.

Congressman Peter Welch
http://www.welch.house.gov/about-peter/

Compared to the rest of the country, Vermont is a rare bright spot when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19. But its economy is facing challenges related to the pandemic, as Congressman Peter Welch discussed on Monday.

The Holyoke Soldier's Home
Mass.Dept of Veterans Services

     A special legislative committee in Massachusetts created to investigate the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home heard today from family members.

Two wings of a concrete complex meet in a quad.
https://www.mass.gov/

Berkshire Community College says after a positive COVID-19 test earlier this semester, it now has no active cases of the disease.

A federal judge has ruled in favor of states that filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump Administration from eliminating food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

     With COVID-19 case counts remaining high in the greater Springfield, Massachusetts area, officials are wary about the upcoming holidays.

The Vermont Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among members of youth and adult recreational hockey and broomball teams.

The city of Burlington is celebrating the reopening of a park adjacent to city hall.

W.E.B. Du Bois
CORNELIUS MARION BATTEY / WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Great Barrington, Massachusetts is celebrating the 51st anniversary of the dedication of civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois’s home on Sunday. 

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
The Great Barrington Declaration / https://gbdeclaration.org/

An argument for herd immunity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic reached in Great Barrington, Massachusetts has led to international criticism and local dismay.

smoke from a landfill fire
Agawam Police Department via Twitter / Agawam Police Dept

      The air quality in the Springfield, Massachusetts area is being monitored as a fire continues to burn at a landfill.

The MGM lion at the entrance to the Springfield casino parking garage
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

The opening two years ago of the first Las Vegas-style casino in Massachusetts – MGM Springfield – boosted the local and state economy, provided job opportunities, and did not increase rates of problem gambling.

Burlington sign
Pat Bradley/WAMC

In September the Burlington City Council invited protesters who had camped out, calling for police reforms, to an executive session. Two days later, the weekly newspaper Seven Days filed a formal complaint claiming the council had violated the state’s Open Meeting law.  The council subsequently agreed and part of the recommended cure for the violation included educating councilors about the law.  During its most recent meeting the council heard from experts about open meeting requirements.

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Police departments across the country have come under increasing scrutiny this year. In Burlington, Vermont, a month-long encampment at a park adjacent to the city police department and nightly marches to City Hall emphasized activists’ demands for changes. While the camp has disbanded, city officials are working on policing issues.  At the most recent Burlington City Council meeting, the panel heard reports on racial equity and policing issues.

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission logo
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission announced two new grant programs today that will bring over $1.6 million dollars in CARES Act funding to county small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Community and Economic Development Program Manager Patricia Mullins says the grants are targeted at low- to moderate-income business owners. Mullins spoke with WAMC.

A columned building with a golden dome is lit with lights
Kevin Rutherford, CC BY-SA 4.0 / https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15761289

State lawmakers in Berkshire County are reacting to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal.

A stone building with a colonnade lit by lights sits in front of a brick churck and a street lamp
Josh Landes / WAMC

Pittsfield, Massachusetts has unveiled a new additional compensation scheme for bilingual employees.

Springfield bishop-elect William Byrne
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

    A priest from the nation’s capital, who has attracted a following for his YouTube video series, has been picked to lead the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

Burning bales of hay send up thick clouds of smoke over a farm field at night
PHOTO PROVIDED TO WAMC BY MEGAN WHILDEN

A Dalton, Massachusetts man was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court Tuesday on a charge of burning personal property after being accused of setting a political display on fire Friday.

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