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State and Region Briefs

EPA extends comment period on Housatonic plan

LENOX — The public is getting an additional two months to submit comments on a proposed environmental cleanup of the Housatonic River.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the deadline was pushed to Oct. 1 from Aug. 8 in response to several requests for more time to analyze the proposal.

The EPA in June unveiled its 13-year, $613 million proposal for a cleanup of PCB contamination from a 10-mile stretch of the river south of Pittsfield.

The Berkshire Eagle reports the plan calls on General Electric to remove through dredging and capping up to 90 percent of the chemicals from designated areas that would be drained, excavated and refilled.

The cleanup is needed because GE released polychlorinated biphenyls, a probable cancer-causing agent, into the river from its Pittsfield transformer plant from 1932 until 1977.

Police say woman was selling heroin on Craigslist

Police tell the Norwich Bulletin they received an anonymous tip that led them to contact 18-year-old Alexis Chidester online and set up a drug deal.

They say she and 28-year-old Thomas Birkbeck arrived Thursday at the predetermined location in Norwichtown with several hundred dollars’ worth of prepackaged heroin.

Both were charged with possession with heroin and possession with intent to sell. They were released on bonds of $25,000 and are due in court on July 24.

Neither Birkbeck nor Chidester has a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

State, private trust, preserve western Mass. lands

HADLEY — The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has purchased 243 acres of forest and wetlands in eleven parcels in Granby and Hadley to add to the Mount Holyoke Range State Park.

In addition, the Amherst-based Kestrel Trust has purchased two parcels in Granby and Belchertown totaling 93 acres. A conservation restriction on the land will be held by state Department of Fish and Game.

The acquisitions add to the 10,000 acres already conserved on the Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom ranges.

Benjamin Wright, land conservation specialist for Kestrel Land Trust, tells The Republican newspaper that the acquisitions are “a big deal.”

Kestrel is working to line up the remaining 677 acres for conservation within the next six months.

Patrick signs $36B state budget, announces vetoes

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick has signed into law the final state budget of his administration.

The governor also announced $16 million in line-item vetoes, representing only a fraction of the total spending in the budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1. He also vetoed a provision to exempt the MBTA’s retirement system from the state’s public records law.

In an unexpected development, Patrick also asked the Legislature to expand his power to make targeted spending reductions during his final months in office, without first seeking approval from lawmakers.

An administration official said the request was not tied to any specific budgetary concern.

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