New England News | WAMC

New England News

http://berkshirerecord.net/ / Berkshire Record

With local publications across the country facing a dire future during the coronavirus pandemic, a Berkshire County outlet is calling it quits.

The Pittsfield city seal
The City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Two Pittsfield, Massachusetts residents were arrested early Thursday morning on illegal firearm possession charges. 

Nicole LaChapelle Facebook

A 17-member panel of business, health care, and municipal leaders has started working on recommendations for reopening the economy in Massachusetts.

Following an aborted campus consolidation plan, the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees met late into the night Wednesday and accepted the resignation of the system’s chancellor.

Crane Stationery Plant / Mohawk

Cohoes, New York-based Mohawk Paper is refuting published reports that Crane Stationery Plant in North Adams, Massachusetts will close in June. But most of the workforce is being let go.

An SUV is parked on the street in front of a brick building with "Pittsfield Police" on its doors
Josh Landes / WAMC

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pittsfield, Massachusetts Police Chief Michael Wynn’s role as the city’s deputy emergency management director has meant he is coordinating county-wide responses to the crisis. Wynn spoke with WAMC Wednesday about how his department is handling the risks of policing during the coronavirus outbreak, an uptick in domestic violence reports, and what role the department plays in enforcing public health guidelines on the streets of Pittsfield.

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Many sectors in agriculture were struggling before the coronavirus pandemic and in its wake some are reaching crisis points, including dairy producers. This afternoon, Vermont at-large Democratic Congressman Peter Welch held an online meeting with the state Farm Bureau to discuss the situation and what federal help is needed.

A thermal image thermometer in use.
WAMC

            With the surge in coronavirus hospitalizations apparently reaching a plateau in Massachusetts, planning has started for what comes next –the gradual lifting of restrictions that shut down large parts of the state’s economy and social life. 

Burlington City Council meets virtually to hear budget projections from Mayor Miro Weinberger
Zoom screenshot

The requirement that people stay at home and businesses close or reduce hours is effecting finances for business, government and individuals alike. Municipalities face a loss of sales tax, parking fees, tourism income and other revenues. Burlington, Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger provided a “bad case” budget scenario to the city council this week.

The Pittsfield city seal
The City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Through the recently signed CARES Act, Pittsfield, Massachusetts has received almost $790,000 from the federal government in COVID-19 relief funds. Tuesday night, the city council approved Mayor Linda Tyer’s plan for how to distribute that money to city residents and business owners. WAMC spoke to Tyer about her plan, and how residents can access the funds.

Massachusetts Broadband Institute / https://broadband.masstech.org/

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute was created by the state in 2008 to bring high-speed internet to communities struggling to get online. One of its efforts – the Last Mile Program –  focuses on more than 50 underserved and unserved towns in Western and Central Massachusetts. MBI Board chair Peter Larkin says as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the institute is working to open up Wi-Fi hotspots in some communities to fill the pressing need for internet access as schools and many businesses remain closed. Larkin spoke with WAMC.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Massachusetts Health Connector is continuing a special enrollment period through May 25.

Poultry in an area with electric fencing
John Hall / Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Vermonters with chickens and other birds on their property are being advised to take precautions against predators.

Vermont officials are urging interested businesses to sign up quickly for the relief fund Congress created to help small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of Vermont is taking deliberate steps to reopen businesses.

     The coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions in Massachusetts will continue until at least mid-May.  

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande
Champlain College

Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont recently announced the selection of Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande as its ninth president. An economist originally from Nigeria, Akande is currently the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs-Africa and the Associate Director of the Global Health Center at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  He previously served as president of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  Dr. Akande tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley he is impressed by Champlain College’s commitment to student success.

Vermont State Colleges logo
Facebook: Vermont State Colleges

After submitting a controversial plan to consolidate and close campuses that was subsequently withdrawn, the Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System has announced he will resign.

State Senator Adam Hinds holds a microphone at an outdoor event.
Becki Joppru Connolly

Massachusetts State Senator Adam Hinds represents Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden counties. The Democrat is concerned about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on his district, whose economy is heavily reliant on summer tourism. Hinds spoke with WAMC.

Since the coronavirus outbreak there has been a dramatic drop in child abuse reports.

A limited number of Vermonters are returning to work this week but must abide by safety precautions set when Republican Gov. Phil Scott eased some of the restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Burlington, Vermont police say a 38-year-old man is dead and police are searching for two men who fled the scene after a Sunday night shooting.

WAMC

Signs indicate that western Massachusetts may be past the peak of COVID-19 cases, but experts say the true extent of the infection can’t be known without more widespread testing.  

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande
Champlain College

This past week Vermont's Champlain College announced the selection of its ninth president.

photo of Burlington Police logo on a podium
Photo - Pat Bradley/WAMC

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger appointed Jennifer Morrison the city’s interim police chief in January. But she is temporarily leaving the post because her husband must undergo a stem cell transplant in Boston.

The state of Vermont is taking another small step toward reopening the state's economy by expanding the number of people who may work in certain jobs from two to five as long as the workers stay at least 6-feet apart.

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

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council is set to vote Tuesday on a spending plan for emergency federal funding proposed by Mayor Linda Tyer.

A sign hangs from a brick arch against a grey sky
Josh Landes / WAMC

This week, President Trump signed an executive order to temporarily suspend green cards from being issued to migrants attempting to enter the country. WAMC spoke with Berkshire Immigrant Center Executive Director Michelle Lopez, who says the move is an attempt to exploit the pandemic to promote an anti-immigrant agenda.

  In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Massachusetts is seeing an alarming new trend.  People with serious medical conditions including heart problems and cancer are staying away from hospitals.

Two older white men stand in front of a marble colonnade
Josh Landes / WAMC

As COVID-19 related closures wreak havoc on Berkshire County cultural institutions, two state legislators are moving to create a relief fund to support them.

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