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New England News

UVM Medical Center main entrance
Pat Bradley/WAMC

An update on the continuing recovery from a cyberattack that crippled the University of Vermont Health Network’s computer systems shows significant progress, but work continues on a number of systems.

The Pittsfield city seal
The City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

In its last meeting of 2020, the Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council unanimously passed a petition challenging a city plan to evict unhoused residents from public parks.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stands at a podium in front of a marble building with a row of people standing on either side of him
Josh Landes / WAMC

As Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker rolls back statewide reopening plans due to COVID-19 surges, Berkshire County municipal leaders are working on implementing the updated public health orders.

Springfield City Hall
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

New property tax rates have been set in the largest city in western Massachusetts.

A state committee tasked with helping to address the urgent needs of the Vermont State Colleges System has made draft recommendations that the institutions be restructured, administrative services consolidated and that the state adopt a strategic plan for funding the system.

The committee has advised that Castleton University, Northern Vermont University and Vermont Technical College be unified under one leadership structure and accreditation while the Community College of Vermont remain a separate institution.

Vermont Statehouse  (file photo)
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont Governor Phil Scott and state officials provided the latest COVID-19 update today. Officials are planning for the impending rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and awaiting the full ramifications of any potential Thanksgiving spread of the virus.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) speaks at a State House news conference where he issued an emergency declaration because of the spreading coronavirus.
Governor's press office via Twitter

Gov. Charlie Baker is reinstating some restrictions meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as the state experiences a second surge in COVID-19 cases.

The 2021 Burlington Town Meeting Day election is taking shape as Progressives and Democrats have now chosen their candidates for mayor and city council seats.

Last week the Burlington Progressive party held a virtual caucus to choose candidates in the March 2nd Town Meeting Day city races. On Saturday, they held another virtual meeting to launch the mayoral campaign and embrace what they perceive as a high level of support for their policies. 

Andrea Harrington stands at a podium with a row of people behind her.
Josh Landes / WAMC

The District Attorney of Berkshire County says she supports the police reform bill the Massachusetts legislature passed this month.

a brick medical building
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

         A new initiative has launched in western Massachusetts to respond to the soaring mental health issues brought about by the pandemic.

Four smiling people and a dog are in a tent made of blue tarps
Josh Landes / WAMC

Americans are living longer. For people already on the fringes, that poses a variety of new challenges. In the second part of our special series on aging, we meet a community of unhoused people living in a public park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. WAMC Berkshire Bureau Chief Josh Landes got to know the residents of an encampment who have become the focal point of a local debate over how to provide for the neediest during the COVID-19 pandemic – and how they think about their lives as they age.

     Members of a task force created to address the scourge of systemic racism in the suburb of Longmeadow, Massachusetts are seeking public input.


             The Longmeadow Coalition for Racial Justice Task Force has scheduled an open listening session for this Thursday, December 10th.   It will be held virtually.


              WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Zach Verriden, who is the chair of the task force.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announces new policing initiatives
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Democrats in Vermont's largest city have nominated incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger to serve another term.

On Sunday about 500 city Democrats participated in a virtual caucus in which they nominated Weinberger to run for what would be his fourth term in office.  Burlington party Vice Chair C.D. Mattison offered the formal nomination.  “Miro has dedicated himself to the people of Burlington and delivered building a financially strong and nimble city. A Burlington ready to respond to the pandemic.”

The Literacy Network of South Berkshire logo
The Literacy Network of South Berkshire

In September, Leigh Doherty became Executive Director of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire. The nonprofit offers free educational support to adults in the region through one-on-one tutoring, with a focus on the county’s immigrant community. Doherty spoke with WAMC about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the group’s work and her vision for LitNet’s future.

A banner for the new Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park season hangs off scaffolding
Josh Landes / WAMC

Heading into its sixth season, Pittsfield Shakespeare In The Park is undertaking what it calls its most ambitious fundraising campaign yet. It comes after COVID-19 curtailed the organization’s 2020 plans. WAMC spoke with founder and artistic director Enrico Spada about 2021, and how it intends to use the $20,000 it’s hoping to raise this winter.

The Berkshire Healthcare logo
Berkshire Healthcare / https://www.berkshirehealthcare.org/

A nursing and rehabilitation center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is up to 24 COVID-19-related deaths as of Sunday.

Baystate Medical Center sign
Baystate Health

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in western Massachusetts and healthcare officials are alarmed.

Baystate Health Monday reported 136 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 – the most of any hospital in the state.

"The amount of virus in the community and its rate of rise is alarming," said  Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, who warned that if hospitalizations continue to grow exponentially in December, Baystate would reach its capacity to care for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont Governor Phil Scott and members of his administration provided a regular update on the state of the coronavirus pandemic today.  Officials urged Vermonters experiencing COVID-related stress to seek help from mental health services.

The Pittsfield city seal
The City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

The public schools in Pittsfield, Massachusetts will not return to in-person education until the city’s COVID-19 rates drop.

Citizens' Climate Lobby logo
Citizens' Climate Lobby / https://citizensclimatelobby.org/

This weekend, the grassroots nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby is holding both a virtual conference and a nationwide lobbying push for bipartisan climate legislation.

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Springfield City Hall
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

New property tax rates are about to be set in the largest city in western Massachusetts.  

In the midst of a pandemic that has brought economic hardships including a double-digit unemployment rate to Springfield, average tax bills for homeowners and business property owners are expected to increase next year.


             Enough revenue must be raised to balance the $728 million budget approved last spring.   Property taxes account for roughly 30 percent of the budget.

Tri-Town Health Department logo
Tri-Town Health Department / https://www.lee.ma.us/tri-town-health-department

The town of Lenox, Massachusetts remains in the state’s COVID-19 red zone. The high risk designation is based on an Average Daily Incidence Rate of over 70 per 100,000 and a 5 percent positive test rate  over the last two weeks. The spike in cases is tied to an outbreak in the Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center, which accounts for around 40 cases in Lenox alone.

Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week that the next three months will be the most difficult in the public health history of the nation.

UVM Medical Center main entrance
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Officials say Vermont’s largest hospital experienced a delay in reporting about 50 coronavirus test results to the state Health Department.

Burlington wastewater COVID monitering results released by Burlington Mayor's office
Burlington VT Mayor's Office

Burlington, Vermont officials are expressing concern about the first wastewater coronavirus test results since the Thanksgiving holiday.

December is Impaired Driving Prevention month.  A virtual ceremony this week remembered Vermonters killed this year by impaired drivers." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">

A stone building is lit up by lights under an indigo night sky.
Berkshire Museum

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is closing down for two days as it responds to a possible COVID-19 exposure.

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Executive Director Jeff Rodgers says the museum found out around noon Thursday, and is shutting down until the weekend to do a deep clean of the facility on South Street.

A woman in a mask stands at a podium with microphones in front of her with a row of politicians around her.
Josh Landes / WAMC

The Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office launched a new Domestic Violence High Risk Team Thursday. A warning to listeners – this story contains a disturbing description of domestic violence. DA Andrea Harrington announced her office’s newest undertaking at a press conference in a pavilion at The Common in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Senator Becca Balint
Vermont Legislature

When the new biennium of the legislature begins on January 6th, the first woman to serve as the Vermont Senate Pro Tem is expected to be confirmed. During a caucus in November, Democrat Becca Balint won the nomination and with Democrats controlling the Senate, her election to the post is secure. Balint, a Brattleboro resident who is openly gay, is one of a cadre of women assuming top positions in the Statehouse in 2021.  She tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley why she wants to be pro-tem of the Vermont Senate.

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

The city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts has rescinded a ban on indoor dining.

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