Adam Frenier

Berkshire County Reporter

Adam is based at New England Public Radio’'s Berkshire County news bureau in Pittsfield, where he has been since August, 2015. He joined NEPR as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.

Adam graduated from UMass Amherst in 2004 with a B.A. in History.

Smoke from a 2016 brush fire on Tekoa Mountain in Montgomery, Mass.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican

Weather forecasters are warning the current windy, dry conditions can contribute to a heightened risk of outdoor fires. And officials in Massachusetts have been dealing with blazes popping up all over the state.

Over the weekend, 35 to 40 brush fires took place across Massachusetts.

Dave Celino, the chief fire warden for the state's department of conservation and recreation, said it's been a typical fire season so far. He said fire crews are seeing one lingering impact from the recent drought.

Exterior of Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Mass.
File photo / The Republican

New legislation filed Tuesday by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker would allow those fined by a court a chance to work off the debt through community service, instead being thrown in jail.

In a statement, Baker said the hope is to keep more people from going behind bars just because of their inability to pay.

Richard Dohoney, president of the Berkshire County Bar Association, said the bill would have some positive impacts beyond that.

The 2016 Massachusetts income tax form.
Mass. Department of Revenue

Massachusetts taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 18, to file their returns. And some -- although not many -- will choose to pay the state a little more than they have to.

The latest drought survey map for Massachusetts, as of April 6, 2017.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Recent wet weather has put a dent in the drought that's been plaguing most of New England for much of the past year. 

In western Massachusetts, most of the area is tagged by forecasters as just "abnormally dry." Only a swath along along the Connecticut River in Hampden and Hampshire counties, extending into western Franklin County is still under a moderate drought.

Anthony Artusa with the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said the chances are good for above average rainfall over the next few months, which will help wipe out the drought completely.

House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, left, and state Rep. Thomas M. Petrolati, D-Ludlow, share a laugh during a political fundraiser in 2004.
Christopher Evans / The Republican file photo

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran will be stripped of his pension after a ruling Wednesday by the state's highest court.

Finneran, a Boston Democrat, pleaded guilty in 2007 to obstruction of justice. He gave false testimony in a law suit over a legislative redistricting plan.

A winter storm hit Pittsfield, Mass., on March 14, 2017.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

If forecasters are correct, March won't exactly be going out like a lamb. The winter storm expected to hit New England Friday will further strain the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's budget.

The Massachusetts fiscal year 2017 budget includes $62 million for snow and ice removal. By law, state transportation officials are allowed to go $50 million over

MassDOT said it was already up against that cap two weeks ago and will work with lawmakers to cover all winter clean-up costs.

A map showing the fiber optic in western Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Broadband Institute

The Baker Administration is rolling out a new grant program designed to speed up broadband expansion in rural parts of Massachusetts. $20 million will be available to towns looking to build their own networks.

Before, communities were forced to work with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute on the design phase, with MBI holding back state money for that purpose.

Many town officials, like Brian Hawthorne, who chairs the broadband committee in the Hampshire County community of Plainfield, complained the whole thing was taking too long.

The police station in Pittsfield, Mass.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

The former head of the Pittsfield police union pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $200,000 from the organization.

The Berkshire County District Attorney's office said the thefts took place between 2008 and 2015 when Jeffrey Coco was the treasurer and later president of the police union in Pittsfield.

A police investigation concluded Coco wrote checks from a union account to either himself or his wife for personal use. He was fired from his job as a police officer in 2015. 

A map showing the fiber optic in western Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Broadband Institute

The operator of a state-owned broadband network in Western Massachusetts is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And it is just the latest in a legal battle between the company and the state. The bankruptcy filing by KCTS-USA goes along with a 2014 suit it brought against the state. The company said construction delays and a dispute over how many subscribers it would have caused it financial harm. That case has yet to be resolved. KCTS operates the so-called "middle mile" network, which provides broadband to libraries, schools and town governments.

Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D) of Amherst.
File photo / State Legislature's Website

Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg said one possible change to the state's marijuana law could involve who oversees the regulation of pot sales.

Voters last year passed a legalization ballot question, which gave control of the Cannabis Control Board to the state treasurer.

Rosenberg told Boston Herald Radio, that ultimately, any changes are up to a legislative committee reviewing the law.

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