Regional News

The Airbnb posting for a bedroom rented out by Northampton, Mass., resident Rachael Naismith.
Screen shot / Airbnb

The budget recently approved by the Massachusetts Senate would add a new tax to short-term room rentals such as Airbnb. The company is in favor of the tax, but not everyone is as enthusiastic.

The Senate proposal would apply the 5.7 percent state hotel tax to Airbnb-type rentals. Cities and towns would be able to tack on another six percent.

Rachael Naismith of Northampton has been renting a room in her home through Airbnb for more than four years, and doesn't sound thrilled with the plan.

A warning sign posted by opponents to a proposed toxic waste disposal site in the woods, near the Housatonic River  in Great Barrington, Mass.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Environmental Protection Agency's Appeals Board hears arguments Thursday on the second phase of cleaning up the Housatonic River in Berkshire County.

Though they won’t have a budget by the time the regular legislative session comes to an end Wednesday night, Connecticut legislators have debated bills ranging from economic development to highway tolls. 

The federal government estimates that on any given night, 3,000 to 4,000 female veterans are homeless.

But that estimate is probably on the low side, according to Sara Scoco, who directs the Women’s Program of the western Massachusetts-based nonprofit group Soldier On.

“When people are doing homeless counts, they’re going to shelters, they’re seeing people on the street,” Scoco said. “A female veteran is not the person you see on the street holding a sign.”

Kevin Burnham in Hampden Superior Court in December 2016, as his case was continued.
Dave Roback / The Republican

The death of Kevin Burnham, a retired Springfield police officer accused of stealing money from evidence, could impact the pension he leaves behind.

Burnham was supposed to appear in court Monday to plead guilty to stealing almost $400,000 from the narcotics evidence room. But he didn't show up.

A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was found at home, dead of an apparent suicide.

An online petition urged the school committee to change the mascot of Turners Falls High School.
Screen shot / Change.org

Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg said he opposes a ban on Native American mascots in public schools. A bill proposed in the legislature would do just that. Rosenberg was asked about the proposal during an interview on WGBH radio.

"It should be a matter of local decision," Rosenberg said. "One of my communities just went through this debate and it is really about local standard."

Peace activist Frances Crowe poses for a portrait Dec. 2, 2016, in her Northampton home.
File photo / The Daily Hampshire Gazette

A venerable peace and social justice group responsible for many anti-war protests in the Pioneer Valley is shutting down. The western Massachusetts chapter of the American Friends Service Committee said it will close its doors at the end of September after nearly 50 years of activism.

For five straight days this spring, Patty — who doesn’t want her last name used to protect her son’s privacy — sought refuge in the chapel at Heywood Hospital in Gardner. That’s where her 28-year-old son Eric had been waiting for a psychiatric treatment bed.

“The person that’s having that breakdown is not the son that I know,” Patty says. “I don’t want him to see me crying over it, so sometimes I walk to the chapel and just be quiet in here.”

Eric was hospitalized because Patty called for help because he had taken too many psychiatric medications.

Lou Cove and Howie Gordon, together in 1979.
Courtesy / Lou Cove

In 1979, 12-year old Lou Cove had just moved to Salem, Massachusetts -- his family's eighth home in a decade -- when an eccentric family friend named Howie came to live with them.

Massachusetts state Senator Karen Spilka, in a photo taken May, 17, 2017.
File Photo / State House News Service

A clarifying moment will come Monday, as the Massachusetts Department of Revenue releases tax collection numbers for May.  The current fiscal year, and the state budget for next year, hang in the balance.

State House News Service reporter Matt Murphy tells us there's a particular group of lawmakers eagerly awaiting these numbers.

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