Five College Area News

Forbes Library fire damage estimate as high as $150,000

NORTHAMPTON — A small army of building and artwork restoration workers will spend the next three weeks at Forbes Library repairing and restoring damage from Monday’s deliberately set fire, the damage from which is now estimated at $100,000 to $150,000, far exceeding the original estimate. Library Director Janet Moulding said one of the main drivers of the cost is that there are thousands of books, DVDS and CDs, and their corresponding plastic security cases, that will need to be taken apart, cleaned and put back

UMass dining takes gold again at Tastes of the World conference

AMHERST — UMass Dining took gold for the fourth year in a row at the 20th annual Taste of the World Culinary Conference hosted June 15-20 by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Chefs Anthony Jung, Robert Bankert, Taylor Whitmore and pastry chef Simon Stevenson competed against 16 other culinary teams from across the United States and Canada. The competition was sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and featured some of the top culinarians in college and university dining. Schools such as Harvard, University of Connecticut,

UMass gets $1.35M to develop, test next-generation Internet

AMHERST — Someday soon, the world will migrate away from the old, original Internet to a new, next-generation Internet with far better security, greater mobility and many other improved features, but most of us will never know the change has occurred, says computer science researcher Arun Venkataramani of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “There will be no flag day, no hour when someone flips a switch to move us all over to the new Internet. Instead, the transition will be gradual, one small group at

Amtrak crews hard at work upgrading tracks

NORTHAMPTON — As a special 100-person railroad crew labors long hours this month to install new tracks for Amtrak’s high-speed passenger rail service, a regional planner said Wednesday he is more confident than ever that the long-anticipated service will begin Dec. 29 as planned. “There’s not a place I can go anymore where someone doesn’t ask me about this project,” said Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. “It’s good to see so much work going on now.” The work underway now

Volunteers help track any contamination of Connecticut River

Once one of the more polluted waterways in the nation, the Connecticut River has come a long way from its tainted past when few people were on it to boat, much less swim or fish. “Just 40 or 50 years ago, people that used to row on this river would get a tetanus shot as a preventative step before getting out on the water,” said Andrew Fisk, executive director of the Connecticut River Watershed Council based in Greenfield. Today, the river is healthier than it

Tracking ticks: Getting the big picture UMass testing service collects mail-in insects, data

The UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology in Fernald Hall gets a lot of mail. In the spring and fall — the busiest times of year — that means about 100 to 200 pieces of mail a day. Most people wouldn’t be excited to be inundated with envelopes full of ticks, but this laboratory is in the business of testing people’s ticks. And business is good. People from all over the country are continually mailing ticks of all varieties to the lab to get tested for

Man faces 27 charges for Amherst car break-ins last year

NORTHAMPTON — A Springfield man who police allege broke into 13 vehicles parked at conservation and recreation areas in Amherst over several months last year and made off with “thousands of dollars” of goods pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 27 charges resulting from the incidents. Jose Laboy, 41, of Springfield, denied the charges before Hampshire Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson who ordered him held without bail and set a July 29 pretrial conference. Amherst Police arrested Laboy on Sept. 4 following a rash of break-ins

Sidelined summons: Visiting Suher’s many addresses

NORTHAMPTON — When the Hampden County sheriff’s office tried recently to serve a summons to businessman Eric Suher in person, it couldn’t find him at his main place of business. A judge cut some slack and the department was allowed to leave the summons at the 47 Jackson St. office in Holyoke. Finding Suher at one of his properties isn’t a simple matter. A Gazette reporter hit the road to gain a better understanding of the many places Suher could have been when the sheriff’s

Suher gets month to seek transfer of liquor license

NORTHAMPTON — Area business owner Eric Suher came within one vote Wednesday of losing another liquor license that has not been put into use since it was issued about five years ago. Meanwhile, who ultimately gets the license Suher lost earlier this year may come down to chance as the commission determines if it can grant it to a new applicant via a lottery system. The Northampton License Commission voted 2-1 not to revoke the license for the former Baptist Church on Main Street. Instead,

Northampton tests new emergency messaging system

NORTHAMPTON — The city expects to test a new emergency system Wednesday by sending a message to more than 15,000 residents. The message is intended to raise awareness of the new system, called CodeRED, although it will not actually be an emergency, said Kelly Banister, director of the city’s public safety dispatch center. The call is expected to occur at 4 p.m. CodeRED is a high-speed emergency notification service provided by Emergency Communications Network that will take over as the key feature of the city’s