FRANKLIN COUNTY

Coverage of Franklin County, Massachusetts.

In the play "This Is Your Captain," an airplane wing catches fire and elicits strong feelings among the passengers. It's being rehearsed and performed online.
ruifo / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/ruimc

Actors and directors are finding ways to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic by producing theater online. Among the plays in rehearsal in western Massachusetts is a 10-minute piece, "This Is Your Captain."

Even though school is closed, on a given day there are about a dozen cars lined up in the parking lot of Sanderson Academy in Ashfield with people using the school’s WiFi.

Natalie Szewczyk is one of them. The 18-year-old has turned her Toyota Corolla into a mobile work station.

“I stay in my driver’s seat. I push my seat all the way back,” she explained. “And then I prop my Chromebook on the steering wheel with my work on the passenger seat.”

Her sister, who is in 10th grade, usually takes the back seat.

Saint Michael's is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic  Diocese of Springfield. It is the city's oldest Catholic church.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese and three western Massachusetts prosecutors have reached a deal on how the church will report sexual abuse allegations.

A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 last month at a drive-through testing area at Somerville Hospital.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Western Massachusetts health care providers say they have much better access to COVID-19 testing than a month ago, but ideally, they would like even more.

Art hangs in a window at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Paul Franz / Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

A new survey indicates Massachusetts cultural businesses have lost more than $250,000,000 in revenue since mid-March. 

A N95 respirator mask.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Massachusetts has more than 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections as of Thursday, one of the highest state totals in the country, as Gov. Charlie Baker said the peak demand on hospitals is approaching fast.

The COVID-19 drive-through testing station at Lawrence General Hospital.
Robbin Lubbock / WBUR

A researcher at MIT projects three counties in western Massachusetts have seen the peak in daily new cases of the novel coronavirus, while a fourth will see the top in about a week.

As the coronavirus continues to ravage links in the supply chain, food banks across the state are struggling to feed hungry families while keeping staff and volunteers safe. But a new partnership between the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and local farmers promises to increase access to fresh, organic produce at a time when it’s needed most.

Falasha Paul of Springfield, Massachusetts, after the home birth of her daughter in January 2020.
Submitted / Jharna Harvey-Ahmei

COVID-19 is upending many aspects of life, including the beginning of it.

Firefighter gear on a table at a volunteer fair in Georgia, as a local volunteer firefighter explains the job.
Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley / U.S. Air Force

For a number of years, small communities across Massachusetts have been struggling to staff their volunteer fire departments. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there are signs that's changing in Franklin County.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The COVID-19 outbreak is taking its toll on some newspapers in New England. Already-sagging advertising revenues have dipped even more. That’s led to layoffs and other cuts.

The RECOVER Project on Federal Street in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Paul Franz / The Recorder / recorder.com

A lot of recovery programs happen in person — meetings for people who are trying to overcome addictions of all kinds. That sort of in-person interaction is now limited by social distancing guidelines meant to control the spread of the new coronavirus. 

Sarah Devine, along with her father and brother, is behind the counter at their restaurant, Brad's Place, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, Tuesday, March 18, 2020, was the first day of no tableside service because of the coronavirus.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

As the effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic continues, many waitstaff, cooks and bartenders in Massachusetts lost their jobs almost overnight this week, as Governor Charlie Baker ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms.

Some are shutting down completely, but others are trying to survive through takeout and delivery.

A voting sign.
Keith Ivey / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/kcivey

The voter registration deadline for the March 3rd Massachusetts presidential primary is this Wednesday. And a new state law is causing some people to be registered more than once. 

UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
Rob Carlin / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Some western and central Massachusetts hospitals say they've checked out people for coronavirus, but so far, there's been no positive cases.

MAXPIXEL.NET / CREATIVE COMMONS

A lawsuit alleging inadequate education funding in Massachusetts has been dropped after the legislature passed new money for public schools. 

A rendering of a possible Green Fields Market in the Wilson's Department Store building in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Franklin Community Co-op

Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield, Massachusetts, could become the new home of the food co-op in Franklin County. 

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner of Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

When Roxann Wedegartner takes office January 2 as the mayor of Greenfield, Massachusetts, it won’t be as a newcomer to city government.

Downtown Athol, Massachusetts.
Domenic Poli / Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

In western Massachusetts this week, the Athol Daily News shut its office in town. The paper will still be published, but will be based some 25 miles away in Greenfield. 

A stack of newspapers.
Jeff Eaton / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/jeffeaton

The Daily News in Athol, Massachusetts, will no longer have an office in the North Quabbin town. The cost-cutting move for parent company Newspapers of New England means seven positions have been eliminated, according to the publisher.

Items for purchase during a liquidation sale at Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield, Massachusetts, is shutting its doors after 137 years, once everything is sold — including the mannequins. For many, the family-owned store has been a fixture both on Main Street and in their own families' lives. 

The Rev. Thomas Lisowski of St. Patrick's Church in Northfield, Massachusetts.
Paul Franz / The Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

Updated at 10:57 a.m. on November 29, 2019

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, said it's decided to put in place a "temporary pastoral team" to step in for a Northfield pastor who's on leave pending a criminal investigation.

Wilson's in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Andrew Varnon / NEPR

After almost 140 years as a downtown department store, Wilson's in Greenfield, Massachusetts, announced it is closing.

Outgoing Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin, at left, talks with Mayor-elect Roxann Wedegartner on election night.
Paul Franz / The Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

Contested mayoral elections took place in a half dozen western Massachusetts cities this week. Two of the closest races were in Westfield and Greenfield.

Rep. Neal: East-West Rail Should Be 'Price' Of Boston-Area Rail Investments

Nov 7, 2019
Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

If Massachusetts is going to invest in fixing the Boston-area MBTA transit agency, as it appears leading lawmakers intend to, then state officials also need to invest in an east-west rail connection, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal told business leaders in Boston. 

A polling place sign in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

Updated at 1:25 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2019

Election results are in for the six western Massachusetts cities with a mayoral contest this year.

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, at left, and City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo at right.
Tyer: Rosanne Frieri / Tyer for Mayor Facebook / Melissa Mazzeo for Mayor Facebook

With election day next Tuesday, the mayor's race in Pittsfield is proving to be the most expensive of a half-dozen contests across western Massachusetts.

Homes in Holyoke, Massachusetts, including a for-sale sign.
Simtropolitan / Creative Commons / creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

Home sale prices across Massachusetts are up this year. And two of the counties with the biggest jump were in the western part of the state.

Greenfield holds its local elections at the high school.
MELINA BOURDEAU / The Recorder / recorder.com

Voters in a half dozen communities in the four western counties of Massachusetts have some big decisions to make on November 5. Chicopee, Greenfield, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield and Westfield each have contested races for mayor.

From left, candidatFrom left, candidates Brickett Allis, Sheila Gilmour and Roxann Wedegartner at a mayoral forum broadcast on Greenfield Community Television es Brickett Allis, Sheila Gilmour and Roxann Wedegartner at a mayoral forum broadcast in August.
Dan Little / The Greenfield Recorder / recorder.com

There's an open seat for mayor up for grabs on November 5 in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Longtime incumbent Bill Martin is not seeking re-election.

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