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Protesters block access to Otis State Forest in Sandisfield, Mass. where a natural gas pipeline is being built.
Mary Serreze / MassLive

Eighteen demonstrators were arrested Tuesday in southern Berkshire County at the construction site of a natural gas pipeline in Otis State Forest.

State police say the protesters blocked access roads to the job site in an effort to keep construction workers away. Police spokesperson Dave Procopio said those arrested will be charged with trespassing.

A view from the hilltop at Bree-Z-Knoll dairy farm in Leyden, Mass.
File Photo / The Republican

New research from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments makes clear that rural towns in the western part of the state face far different challenges than those closer to Boston. 

Researchers took a look at towns with fewer than 500 people per square mile -- that's about half the cities and towns in the state. 

Linda Dunlavy is executive director of the Franklin Regional Council of Government. She said rural communities across the state face education challenges, but for different reasons.

Amid a dispute brewing over an elephant act in the Melha Shrine Circus coming to Springfield, a Beacon Bill committee this week will be taking up bills dealing with wild and exotic animal acts. Of course, this also comes as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus is set to close its tent for good.

Reporter Katie Lannan from the Statehouse News Service joined us to discuss some of the legislation being considered.

Peter Ives gets his bike packed and ready to go on a eight day bike trip from Northampton to Washington DC, where his group will join the Peoples Climate March on April 29th, 2017.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette

Activists will gather in Washington D.C. and locally on Saturday to protest President Trump's agenda on climate change and the environment.

Tom Crowe from Northampton is part of a group who spent eight days biking to Washington for the People's Climate March. He said peddling there is symbolic.

"The bicycle is one of the most fuel-efficient modes of transportation that humans have ever devised," Crowe said. "It only relies on carbohydrates. It doesn't need fossil fuels directly."

But Crowe said he'll be taking a bus back to western Mass.

In Edie Meidav's New Book, 'Silver Cords' To Youth

Apr 28, 2017
Edie Meidav's new book, "Kingdom of the Young."
Sarabande Books

"A probing and deeply ruminative cross-genre odyssey."

That's how Kirkus Review describes the newest book of short stories from UMass Amherst professor Edie Meidav, called "Kingdom of the Young."

I sat down with Meidov this week and asked her how she describes her writing.

Billy Alicea, 22, stands in a back office of Roca's headquarters in Springfield. Alicea is currently in a pre-release program in Hampden County Jail in Ludlow, where he was incarcerated for multiple vehicle breaking and entering charges.
Leah Willingham / NEPR

Massachusetts lawmakers are still working on this session's criminal justice reform package. One proposal -- among many -- would allow offenders to stay in the juvenile court system longer -- until they turn 21. But not all juvenile justice advocates support it.

Massachusetts Congressman Richard E. Neal.
File Photo / The Republican

Massachusetts Congressman Richie Neal is calling President Trump's proposed tax overhaul plan more of a tax cut than reform. The Springfield Democrat said the White House plan appears to be a return to Reagan-era supply side economics.

DNA double helix.
Mehmet Pinarci / CREATIVE COMMONS

Scientists want to know why some people exposed to trauma develop PTSD and some don't. A new Harvard University study suggests genetics play a role.

Bennington residents who have been dealing with contaminated water are starting to get frustrated with the state's ability to find a long-term solution to their problem.

In November 2016, Damien Johnson was one of several people who painted a solvent on rocks atop Mount Tom to get rid of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic messages.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by more than a third in 2016 over the year before, according to an annual audit from the Anti--Defamation League. The jump was especially steep in Massachusetts, with a 150 percent increase.

Compared to other states, Massachusetts had the fifth highest number of anti-Semitic incidents last year, with a total of 125 episodes -- topped by only California, New Jersey, New York and Florida.

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