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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.

UMass says it's hired a men's basketball coach. The announcement comes almost a week after the school's last pick backed out of the job.

If it all goes smoothly this time, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Matt McCall will take the job. He's led the Chattanooga Mocs for two seasons now, earning a 48 and 18 record. His team made it to the NCAA tournament last year, losing in the first round.

McCall, who's 35 years old, arrives at UMass with fewer years of head-coaching experience than the school's first choice -- Pat Kelsey of Winthop University.

On March 29, 2017, Holyoke welcomed home the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Jules Hauterman Jr. who was killed 67 years ago in the Korean War. This was the scene as the casket arrived at the Farrell Funeral Home on Northampton Street.
Don Treeger / The Republican

The remains of an Army medic missing in action and declared dead during the Korean War finally returned home to Western Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people, from school children to seniors, lined a procession waving American flags as a motorcade escorting the remains of Cpl. Jules Hauterman Jr. arrived in Holyoke after nearly seven decades.

Marijuana activists celebrated outside the Mass. State House on Dec. 15, 2016, the first day pot became legal in the Bay State. Here, Ellen Brown holds a handful of pot.
Gintautas Dumcius / MassLive

Massachusetts lawmakers this week met in West Springfield to take testimony about marijuana.

Voters in Massachusetts approved the recreational use of the drug in November. The legislature and governor have already delayed parts of the law -- and they're posed to make more changes.

That's nothing new, according to Lawrence DiCara, a lawyer and former president of the Boston City Council, who wrote about this for CommonWealth magazine.

Health factor rankings, by county, in Massachusetts.
County Health Rankings 2017 / University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Hampden County finished at the bottom in a public health ranking, again this year.

The report, which is published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ranks Hampden County 14th out of 14 Massachusetts counties in health factors -- like smoking and obesity -- and outcomes -- like premature death. 

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.

File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette

At least two communities in western Massachusetts could lose federal funding from the Department of Justice. That's if the department follows through on its pledge to cut grant money from cities that do not comply with federal immigration requests to detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

Last week, both Amherst and Northampton landed on a federal list of so-called "sanctuary cities." 

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. 

Gov. Charlie Baker in November of 2016.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The failure in Washington of GOP  healthcare legislation was welcome news to Governor Charlie Baker. The Bay State Republicans said the bill would've cost Massachusetts about $1 billion a year.

As we do most Mondays, we turn to Matt Murphy of the State House News Service for an update from Beacon Hill. Matt said that even with the failure of the federal legislation, Baker's healthcare headache remains.

Millers River near Erving, Massachusetts
jkb / Creative Commons

Athol, Massachusetts, may soon build a handicapped accessible dock on the Millers River. It will allow people to paddle to an existing accessible dock, a little downstream.

The dock would enable people to move from a wheelchair to a kayak or canoe on the Millers River.

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