HAMPDEN COUNTY

Coverage of Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Holyoke Teens Develop Anti-Bullying App

May 18, 2017
Girls Inc. Holyoke participated in Technovation Challenge. Pictured (left to right): Stella Cabrera, Crystalee Mendez, Meghan Bone (staff) and Jaylynn Rentas.
Sean Teehan / NEPR

Inside a stuffy second-story conference room in Holyoke’s innovation district, a small group of developers spent about three months creating a mobile app meant to combat bullying.

But they're not employees at a hot new tech startup. They’re teenage girls from Holyoke tasked with building an app that addresses an issue in their community.

Governor Baker gets an update on the Springfield Empowerment Zone at Forest Park Middle School.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Governor Charlie Baker was in Springfield to hear the latest on the Springfield "Empowerment Zone, which consists of six middle schools and a high school.

In an "Empowerment Zone," principals and teachers have broad autonomy over everything from the curriculum to the budget. The results after the first year were mixed, with some test results up and some down.

Honey bees.
Courtney Collison / Creative Commons

Longmeadow, Massachusetts, voters will determine the fate of beekeeping on day two of the annual Town Meeting. One citizens' petition would basically ban beekeeping, by limiting it to agriculturally zoned land west of I-91.

Mark Lantzakis is one of about a half-dozen beekeepers in Longmeadow. He said the proposed restrictions aren't typical for this part of the state. 

"There is not, as far as I know, anything going on in other towns that would bar beekeeping," he said.

Blandford Ski Area in Blandford, Mass.
Dave Roback / The Republican

The future appears uncertain for the Blandford Ski Area in western Hampden County. And the non-profit club that owns it is blaming Mother Nature for some of its woes.

In a statement, officials for Blandford Ski Area sAid they are exploring all options to stay open, but also concede that selling the property could be an option.

Springfield Signs 'Treaty' For Migratory Birds

May 7, 2017
A little blue heron at Springfield Plaza on Liberty Street in August 2014.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican

Springfield, Massachusetts, has adopted an Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds.

The city's science museum is introducing a new wildlife garden and residents will be encouraged to help create a network of neighborhood habitats.

Roxanne Bogart of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Springfield and the Connecticut River are important stops for birds migrating between South America and the Arctic.

Candace Neilson (left), tenor; Angie Clark, coach; Pia Kroes, lead; Mary Blewitt, baritone; Lin Robinson, bass, is not pictured.
Tema Silk / NEPR

On Friday, women Barbershop singers from all over New England and some parts of Canada will descend on Springfield. They're competing for a spot in the international competition taking place in Las Vegas this fall.

Dr. Nettie Maria Stevens
Carnegie Institution of Washington / Creative Commons

A pivotal but unheralded scientist is getting a building named after her at Westfield State University on Friday.

More than a hundred years ago, Westfield alum Nettie Stevens was studying beetle chromosomes when she noticed a critical difference between males and females.

"She noticed that one chromosome was smaller than the other, and because of that research, we were able to then apply that to the human genome as well," said Westfield biology professor Jennifer Hanselman.

Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, which is closing for part of May 1, 2017, to support workers and immigrants.
Jim Kinney / The Republican

The first day of May — May Day — is also known as International Workers Day. In honor of it, roughly 20 businesses and organizations in the Pioneer Valley are closing their doors for the day.

It's part of a nationwide effort, and immigrants are a key part of the focus.

WGBY headquarters In downtown Springfield, Mass.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

At a recent FCC auction, the broadcast frequency for WGBY in Springfield sold for $57 million.

The station will move to a different channel. The license for the current frequency is owned by WGBH in Boston, and the money will go into its endowment, with annual disbursements to WGBY.

"We will probably increase local content, education services -- things that we've been doing for a long time, but things that we haven't been able to enhance and grow because of financial reasons," said Lynn Page, the station's acting general manager.

The Hampden County Hall of Justice.
File Photo / The Republican

Springfield-area lawyers are frustrated that the Hampden County Courthouse did not make the state's priority list for renovations or replacement.

The Trial Court of Massachusetts released a master plan summary this week that put several courthouses, including in Northampton, Pittsfield, and Boston, into a first phase of repair, scheduled to take place through 2022.

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