Regional News

Bill Galvin is the Massachusetts secretary of state.
Don Treeger / The Republican

Massachusetts uses private collection agencies to go after delinquent taxpayers. And the secretary of state said more needs to be done to make residents aware of the practice.

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

Back in January, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took a moment in his State of the Commonwealth address to mention struggling school districts that have been taken over by the state, a process known as receivership.

"We encourage the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to continue to use this tool," Baker said.

No more districts have been taken over since then, but there are currently three under state leadership: Lawrence, Holyoke and the most recent, Southbridge, a town of about 16,000 people in the central part of the state, on the border with Connecticut.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has released his $612.9 million budget proposal to the City Council, one that avoids layoffs, cuts funding to most community organizations, assumes more labor concessions, understaffs departments, and still has a $49 million hole.

But there's no more to cut, Bronin said, without compromising the city. 

Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson in "A Quiet Passion."
Music Box Films

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

The former Clinton A.M.E Zion Church in Great Barrington, Mass.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

A church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois attended as a young man may have a new lease on life. 

The Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church is on the National Register of Historic Places, but has been closed for a few years and has fallen into disrepair. Now community members are buying the 130-year-old structure, with hopes of renovating it.

Millers River near Erving, Massachusetts
jkb / Creative Commons

Massachusetts is still in the process of recovering from a drought.  The next few weeks are a critical time for recharging ground water supplies.

Most of Massachusetts, except for Berkshire County, is under a drought advisory -- a step above normal conditions, with some limits on watering and irrigation.

And yet the state is in much better shape than last fall when most of Western Massachusetts was in a severe or even extreme drought.

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.

The Massachusetts State House in Boston
Henry Epp / NEPR

Prosecutors in Massachusetts have to make some decisions by Tuesday. That's their deadline to decide whether to follow through with the thousands of cases that were tainted by the 2012 scandal at a state drug lab, where a chemist repeatedly falsified her analysis of evidence. Many of the cases could be thrown out.

We spoke to reporter Matt Murphy of the State House News Service. He said 24,000 convictions may have been compromised.

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 Hartford Yard Goats minor league baseball team has their home opener at Dunkin Donuts Park Thursday, April 13, 2017.
NATHAN RUBINSTEIN / MASSLIVE

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