Regional News

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.

The former Southbridge High School, now home to administrative offices for the school district.
Henry Epp / NEPR

NEPR News Now is a collection of recent features, interviews and commentaries.

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.

The Massachusetts State House in Boston
Henry Epp / NEPR

It's budget week for the Massachusetts House. Representatives will consider about 1,200 amendments that were tacked on to the spending proposal for next year. The first measures up for debate will be tax and revenue proposals.

Reporter Matt Murphy of the State House News Service explained to us how this annual process works.

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

A Massachusetts legislative committee charged with recommending changes to the state's marijuana law holds its final public hearing in Boston Monday. And one of the state's U.S. senators is urging lawmakers to respect the will of the people.

Senator Elizabeth Warren said she was in favor of the ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana. She said she understands there are a few things that do need to be addressed by the legislature.

A timber rattlesnake in Berkshire County, Masachusetts.
Patrick Randall / Creative Commons

Our panel of journalists looks at the big stories in the news.

What made The Short List this week?

Aaron Hernandez, in 2010.
Karen Cardoza / Creative Commons

Following the suicide of former New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder at the state's maximum security prison in Shirley, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has faith in his Department of Correction commissioner.

The governor said the number of prison suicides in Massachusetts has declined over the past decade, but said, "Anytime anybody kills themselves in a prison, something clearly went wrong."

A timber rattlesnake in Berkshire County, Masachusetts.
Patrick Randall / Creative Commons

The proposal to create a protected habitat for timber rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir is suspended, but still on the table. That's according to Joseph Larson, the chair of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

Larson said in a Thursday interview that the board's vote this week was based on a review committee's recommendation to instead examine all the rattlesnake populations from greater Boston to the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires.

"That's probably what we should have done in the first place," Larson said.

A syringe.
ZaldyImg / Creative Commons

There's legal uncertainty at this hour about whether Arkansas will be allowed to go ahead with a pair of executions Thursday night. Eight executions had been scheduled to begin on Monday -- and there have been conflicting court decisions since then.

While this has been playing out in court, a western Massachusetts folk singer has been playing a song he wrote called "Eight Men Dying."

Tom Neilson of Greenfield, Mass., is on tour now. He said he played a few gigs in Arkansas earlier this month.

Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Dave Roback / The Republican

As she looks to her 2018 re-election campaign, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is touting her efforts on behalf of the western part of the state.

Warren is a regular these days on national TV and radio shows with most of her public appearances in Massachusetts in the eastern part of the state. Asked if she feels she's been in western Mass. enough, she did not directly answer the question.

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