PUBLIC SAFETY

Varieties of marijuana.
File photo / The Republican

The Massachusetts House has delayed a vote scheduled for Thursday on changes to the state’s marijuana law. There were problems with the bill's language and plenty of criticism of some of the proposed changes to what voters okayed last year.

The ballot question law has not been fully implemented, but possession of small amounts of pot has been legal for adults since mid-December. Police across Western Massachusetts tell us that -- so far -- little has changed.

Seven members of the Worcester police force trained to join the new mounted unit.
Scott J. Croteau / Masslive

For the first time in more than sixty years, police officers on horseback will soon patrol the streets of Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Worcester police decided to bring four horses into the force because they offer unique advantages. They can help reach places inaccessible by car or bike, including wooded areas in the city's sixty parks. They can also make community policing easier, providing a conversation starter with residents.

What's more, Police Chief Steven Sargent said, horses — or "mounts" — are an effective force multiplier.

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.

Fire quickly consumed the building at 106 North East Street in Holyoke on Jan. 1, 2017.
Dave Canton / The Republican

A fire on New Years' Day in Holyoke left three dead. Some survivors have filed a lawsuit, saying negligence was involved.

State fire safety investigators determined that faulty wiring was the cause of the blaze, which destroyed a four-story apartment building. And they found that the alarm was not connected to a monitoring company, which could have alerted the Holyoke Fire Department.

The former toll booth at Exit 8 of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

What made The Short List this week?

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