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Activists: Tuition hike wrong tack for UMass
04-11-2024 4:08 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — As a University of Massachusetts Amherst doctoral student in physics, Mark Murdy has seen his wages as a graduate employee decline relative to inflation, meaning he, like others who work on campus, is taking home less money.Amid these...

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Shutesbury Elementary School principal leaving in June after 10 years
04-15-2024 12:49 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

SHUTESBURY — After 10 years as principal at Shutesbury Elementary School, Jacqueline Mendonsa is leaving the position at the end of June to relocate to the Boston area.“It is very hard for me to put into words my true love and appreciation for our...


Farming challenges aired at state hearing
03-29-2024 5:18 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — Climate change’s impact on farming, as well as emerging areas like urban agriculture, soil health and pollinators, are a focus for the University of Massachusetts Extension Agriculture Program, which continues to help farmers adapt and...


Pioneer Valley farmers spotlight agricultural drainage ditch troubles
03-27-2024 8:38 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — During a summer in which area farms dealt with significant rainfall and flooded fields, keeping agricultural drainage ditches cleared became essential to protecting crops by ensuring excess water could be removed.Often, though, farmers found...


Talking up state’s farmland protection program: Farmers on board, but effort faces housing headwinds
03-18-2024 2:49 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — The owners of a Shelburne farm have permanently protected 100 acres through the Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, ensuring that the fertile land won’t be turned into a large, upscale housing estate or put to other uses.“That’s...


Shutesbury library lands $10K accessibility grant
03-17-2024 12:01 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

SHUTESBURY — A project to improve accessibility for patrons at the current Shutesbury library and the new library building that will break ground in June is being supported by a $10,000 grant from the American Library Association.Library Director Mary...


Researcher brings initiative, $2.65M grant to UMass to explore story of enslaved people in U.S. North, Canada
03-10-2024 11:32 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — In film, literature, paintings and other forms of art, palm trees and warm climates are almost always the settings depicted for slavery in North America, from the plantations of the American South to the transatlantic ships transporting...


Postmarking history: Leverett kicks off 250th anniversary celebration
03-08-2024 10:19 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

LEVERETT — At one time, the U.S. post office in town center doubled as a general store, a place where adults picked up and sent their mail or filled their gas tanks and children could choose from a wide variety of penny candy on their way to and from...


Leverett busts out cake, events to begin 250th anniversary celebration
02-27-2024 11:50 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

LEVERETT — A large commemorative wooden cake in the field between the Leverett Library and Leverett Elementary School will be lit up in Leverett for the first time as night falls on March 5, exactly 250 years after the town officially separated from...


Leverett, Shutesbury, Westhampton join digital equity program to expand internet to all residents
02-25-2024 6:01 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

All Leverett and Shutesbury residents have access to high-speed Internet connections, following the municipal build-out of broadband over the last decade or so, but a small portion of households continue to opt against becoming subscribers.In...


FAFSA fiasco: Financial aid form meltdown trips up students, colleges
02-24-2024 10:53 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — A continued challenge for some prospective students and their families in accessing federal financial aid applications, and a corresponding delay in relaying the information from these forms to colleges and universities, is raising...


Can you get there from here? Online tool tracks how to reach food pantries and stores without a car — or not
02-23-2024 2:12 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — Food and other necessities can be found at the Goshen General Store on Route 9. For low-income individuals in Goshen and surrounding communities, the Hilltown Food Pantry, at the nearby Town Office Building, distributes food every...


Athol principal selected as superintendent for Erving School Union 28
02-20-2024 3:57 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

ERVING — Athol Community Elementary School Principal Shannon White-Cleveland is being tapped as the next Erving School Union 28 superintendent, overseeing four K-6 elementary schools attended by children in Shutesbury, Leverett, Erving, Wendell and...


Digging out from deluge: Municipal clerks scramble amid flood of ballot requests, paperwork
02-12-2024 5:20 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

A temporary worker in the Holyoke City Clerk’s Office brought on to deal with the influx of mail-in ballot requests for the presidential primaries is ensuring that 2,700 or so ballots are already in the hands of those who want to cast their votes...


McGovern, House group seek help for unhoused in Biden budget
02-09-2024 5:46 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — A call for an increase in federal money to support homeless services and programs related to substance use disorders, and for keeping unhoused individuals from being targeted by federal law enforcement agencies, is coming from the House...


When a rural road goes bad: Leverett’s unpaved Dudleyville Road illustrates challenges facing local towns
02-07-2024 2:06 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

LEVERETT — Restoration of a 1.4-mile section of the mostly gravel Dudleyville Road from Moore’s Corner to the Shutesbury town line could cost at least $2 million, and possibly as much as $4 million, according to a draft evaluation recently completed...


Cute and calming: Shutesbury swears in Charlie, its first police comfort dog
02-06-2024 10:19 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

SHUTESBURY — On his first day at Shutesbury Town Hall, a week before officially being sworn in as the Police Department’s first K-9 officer, Charlie provided a calming distraction for a stressed and flustered resident who had come to the town...


Historic guideboard on Shutesbury town common packed up for repairs
02-03-2024 10:22 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

SHUTESBURY — An historic guideboard on the town common since 1837, helping travelers to navigate to Massachusetts communities both near and far, is temporarily absent from the green as a restoration project begins.Last Tuesday morning, the wooden...


PFAS, slew of other agriculture-related bills on the move on Beacon Hill
02-01-2024 3:33 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — Prohibiting PFAS from consumer products sold in Massachusetts remains an objective for Sen. Jo Comerford, who sees a recently advanced legislative bill to protect soil and farms from such contamination as an important first step to...


New wetlands bylaw in place in Shutesbury
01-30-2024 1:28 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

SHUTESBURY — After a series of amendments and nearly three hours of discussion and debate, a new wetlands protection bylaw is in place in Shutesbury, adopted without a sentence that some interpreted as giving developers veto power over certain...


Families of overdose victims press for passage of bill allowing safe drug use sites
01-26-2024 9:23 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

BOSTON — On her 26th birthday on Nov. 30, 2018, Eliza Harper died from an accidental opioid overdose on the living room couch in her South Deerfield home, despite being in recovery for 10 months.Her then 14-year-old brother, Jackson, was the first to...

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