1. Articles from #!/shiraschoenberg

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    1. Long-time Northampton state representative Peter Kocot dies at 61 | masslive.com

      Long-time Northampton state representative Peter Kocot dies at 61 | masslive.com

      Peter Kocot, a long-time state representative from Northampton, has died.  Kocot has served in the state Legislature since 2002 representing the 1st Hampshire District.  He was chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.  He was 61 years old.  Kocot had been ill.  House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, emailed state representatives Thursday afternoon to inform them that Kocot had passed away Thursday morning.  'Chairman Kocot was one of the most kind, decent and selfless individuals that I have had the pleasure to know,' DeLeo wrote.

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    2. $45 million for new Springfield police station included in Senate bond bill

      $45 million for new Springfield police station included in Senate bond bill

      The Senate passed a bond bill Thursday that includes $45 million for a new Springfield police station. The House already included the money in its version of the bill, which makes it more likely that the earmark will be included in the final version and ultimately become law. Springfield police officials say the current headquarters on Pearl Street is old and outdated and does not meet the needs of current policing. The city will contribute another $45 million to the project. "This money and the new headquarters will mark a turning point for public safety in Springfield and be a ...

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    3. Hearing on Massachusetts rail plan scheduled for Springfield

      Hearing on Massachusetts rail plan scheduled for Springfield

      The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold a hearing on its rail plan in Western Massachusetts. The hearing will be held Friday, Feb. 2 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield. "It is critically important to provide the people of Western Massachusetts with an opportunity to be heard on the state-wide rail plan, and to provide input that will be helpful in both developing and implementing that plan," Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said in a statement.

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    4. Solar cap puts drag on Massachusetts projects; alternative program in the works

      Solar cap puts drag on Massachusetts projects; alternative program in the works

      A cap on reimbursements is again stalling some solar energy projects in central and Western Massachusetts. It remains an open question whether a new incentive program for solar projects, which is expected to start this summer, will solve the problem. Gov. Charlie Baker's administration says it will, although solar industry representatives are skeptical. "We are continuing to be a national leader in solar energy and energy efficiency," said Mike Judge, director of the Renewable and Alternative Energy Division at the state Department of Energy Resources. "We're continuing to promote solar, at a lower cost than we have been."

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    5. Massachusetts awards $20 million for 'game-changing' energy storage grants

      Massachusetts awards $20 million for 'game-changing' energy storage grants

      Gov. Charlie Baker plans to announce the grants Thursday at UMass Memorial Hospital in Marlborough. The University of Massachusetts Amherst will receive one of the largest awards, $1.14 million, to install a lithium ion battery storage system in its energy supply system. The battery will provide more resiliency to the system, which currently involves a cogeneration plant and a solar array.

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    6. Gov. Charlie Baker signs bond bill authorizing $45 million for Western Massachusetts...

      Gov. Charlie Baker signs bond bill authorizing $45 million for Western Massachusetts...

      Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bond bill on Tuesday that will authorize the state to spend another $45 million on broadband projects in Western Massachusetts. "It's very hard to keep kids, attract kids, attract businesses, keep businesses, keep families, attract families in this day and age if you don't have high-speed internet," Baker said at a bill signing ceremony. "It's almost like a core piece of infrastructure for someone to succeed in this century."

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    7. Legislature sends broadband bill, including $45M for WMass, to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk

      Legislature sends broadband bill, including $45M for WMass, to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk

      The Legislature passed a $244 million bond bill on Wednesday, sending it to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk. The bill, H.4015, includes $45 million for the expansion of broadband internet in Western Massachusetts. It also includes $199 million for the design and construction of a new Chelsea Soldiers' Home. The bill had a strict deadline, since if it were not passed before the legislative session ended on Wednesday, millions of dollars of federal money for the Soldiers' Home would have been at stake. The broadband money is part of the "Last Mile" project, which uses state subsidies to make ...

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    8. How much did your community get? State transportation grants to rural Western...

      How much did your community get? State transportation grants to rural Western...

      The Baker administration on Tuesday announced that it was awarding $8.5 million in grants for infrastructure projects in 10 rural towns. The grants came through MassWorks, a grant program that funds local infrastructure. Each year, 10 percent of grants are reserved for transportation and roadway projects in small towns, those with fewer than 7,000 inhabitants. Many of these projects are in Western Massachusetts. Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack said in a statement, “These grants will renew critical local infrastructure which connects our residents and visitors in rural communities to the education resources, hospitals, and the good and vital ...

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    9. Study finds improving rail service is top transit priority for Western Mass. residents

      Study finds improving rail service is top transit priority for Western Mass. residents

      Ask a Massachusetts resident how to get across the state and the answer, in many cases, is "You can't get there from here." At least not easily, and not using public transportation. A group of Massachusetts senators asked residents what transportation improvements are most important to them. The answer in Western Massachusetts was similar to the answer around the state: residents want improved rail service, followed by better buses. "Whatever region people came from, people saw as a top mobility priority regional rail," said Jim Aloisi, a former state transportation secretary who worked on the Senate study.

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    10. Health Connector adds employee choice to new small business insurance exchange

      Health Connector adds employee choice to new small business insurance exchange

      Springfield and Worcester-based health insurers were among the first companies to adopt a new state platform for selling health insurance to small businesses. The Massachusetts Health Connector recently updated its exchange for companies with fewer than 50 employees. Insurers will be required to participate, but only three are involved in the first stage of the launch: Health New England of Springfield, Fallon Community Health Plan in Worcester and Boston Medical Center Health Plan in Boston.

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    11. Massachusetts affordable housing projects get $72 million: What's coming to your town?

      Massachusetts affordable housing projects get $72 million: What's coming to your town?

      Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced $72 million in direct funding and $28 million in state and federal tax credits for 25 affordable housing projects around the state including in Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield. “It’s not just about the money, it’s not just about the construction,” Baker said during a press conference at Olmsted Green, a housing complex on the former Boston state hospital site in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston. “It’s about the opportunity that’s attached to a lot of this and stability” for people who are seniors, formerly homeless or have disabilities.

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    12. House budget earmarks $1M for new Baystate medical school

      House budget earmarks $1M for new Baystate medical school

      The budget bill passed by the Massachusetts House on Tuesday includes $1 million for Baystate Health's new medical school campus in Springfield. That is less than the $3.4 million that Baystate had asked for. But state Rep. Michael Finn, D-West Springfield, who sponsored the amendment, said he was "ecstatic" that some money made it through the House budget process. "It's a big step for Springfield, and anything we can do to help get the medical school off the ground will do a lot toward improving the overall community," Finn said.

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    13. Rep. Seth Moulton: Boston rail project would benefit Springfield

      Rep. Seth Moulton: Boston rail project would benefit Springfield

      U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts, a major booster of a proposed rail link between Boston's two major train hubs, is arguing that the project will also be good for Springfield. Moulton, in an interview with The Republican after an unrelated event in Boston, tried to distinguish between the North-South rail link proposal to connect Boston's North Station and South Station and the Big Dig -- the massive Boston highway project plagued by cost overruns and design flaws.

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    14. Baystate Health seeks $3.4M from state for medical school

      Baystate Health seeks $3.4M from state for medical school

      Baystate Health and UMass Medical School are hoping to get $3.4 million in state money to build their new medical school in Springfield. "We think this would be a worthy investment in primary care for the region for the next several decades," said Ben Craft, a spokesman for Baystate Health. The new Baystate medical school is expected to open in August with 25 students. Baystate has touted the program as a way to attract more doctors to Western Massachusetts. The school's focus will be on training primary care physicians and teaching population health in both urban and rural ...

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    15. Western Mass. tourism councils offer treats at Statehouse event (photos)

      Western Mass. tourism councils offer treats at Statehouse event (photos)

      Massachusetts' 16 regional tourism councils visited the Statehouse on Thursday to showcase locally produced goods. The tourism industry in Massachusetts accounts for 135,000 jobs and 23.5 million visitors, according to industry numbers. In 2015, visitors spent $20.2 billion in the state, yielding $1.3 billion in local and state tax revenue. "Tourism is a very powerful economic driver in Massachusetts," said Mary Kay Wydra, president of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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    16. WMass communities awarded $1.4 million for clean energy projects

      WMass communities awarded $1.4 million for clean energy projects

      Massachusetts energy officials have awarded $1.4 million in grants to seven Western Massachusetts communities to fund clean energy projects. The grants will go to Chicopee, Agawam, Blandford, Granville, Ware, Warren and Westfield. The largest grant, $266,000, will go to Westfield, followed by $208,000 to Agawam. The grants were part of the "Green Communities" program, in which communities make certain commitments related to energy and the environment, such as reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years, and are then eligible for state grants and assistance.

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    17. Massachusetts Broadband Institute OKs proposal for internet service to six towns

      Massachusetts Broadband Institute OKs proposal for internet service to six towns

      Peter Larkin, board chairman of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, said there is no perfect solution, but the institute is committed to helping each town find the best possible project. "We're going to stumble, and we're going to be successful," Larkin said. "This administration is committed to this cause." Last year, Gov. Charlie Baker's administration revamped the state's "Last Mile" broadband program and brought Larkin on to oversee it. The goal of the program is to bring high-speed internet connectivity to 40 rural towns in Western Massachusetts that do not have it.

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    18. Sen. Eric Lesser meets with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy to discuss high-speed rail

      Sen. Eric Lesser meets with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy to discuss high-speed rail

      State Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, met with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday as part of Lesser's push to establish high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield. "I am glad we have allies in Connecticut who understand the power of regional transportation to transform our economies," Lesser said in a statement. "East-west rail will be a victory not only for Massachusetts but for our region, including Connecticut, and we have built broad regional support for this proposal." Connecticut has been working to develop commuter rail service between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.

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    19. Energy costs factor into business development, expansion decisions

      Energy costs factor into business development, expansion decisions

      When the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center was seeking a location, it chose Holyoke for two reasons: the city's low electricity prices and its access to interstate highways and a fiber optic communications network. "We think about the cost of electricity every day," says the computing center's executive director, John Goodhue. For many businesses, whether they rely on powerful computers or manufacturing equipment, the price of electricity is a major part of the cost of doing business.

       

       

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    20. Western Massachusetts communities get $47,000 for regionalization efforts

      Western Massachusetts communities get $47,000 for regionalization efforts

      Western and central Massachusetts communities will receive $47,000 in state grants to help them with regionalization efforts. Gov. Charlie Baker's administration has awarded $35,310 to establish the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District in Deerfield, Greenfield, Montague and South Hadley. Another $12,500 will be used to establish shared highway services in Phillipston and Royalston. The money comes through a Community Compact program headed by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, which has an initiative dedicated to helping small towns regionalize services and become more efficient. The grants provide funding for one-time or transition costs associated with regionalization.

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      Mentions: Amherst Greenfield
    21. Training, networking among challenges facing WMass manufacturers

      Training, networking among challenges facing WMass manufacturers

      Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, said manufacturing is particularly important to Western Massachusetts, where a study a couple of years ago found there are an estimated 18,000 open manufacturing jobs in the corridor from Springfield to Hartford, Connecticut. A manufacturing job that pays a wage of around $75,000 could move someone into the middle class in Western Massachusetts.

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    22. Boston-area clean tech startup Greentown Labs to open Springfield office

      Boston-area clean tech startup Greentown Labs to open Springfield office

      Greentown Labs, a Somerville-based incubator for clean technology start-ups, plans to open an office in Springfield to connect businesses in eastern and Western Massachusetts. The Springfield office will help hardware businesses in the Boston area connect with manufacturers and startups in the western part of the state. The goal is to ensure that before a company looks for an out-of-state supplier, it will first look at companies in Massachusetts. The Greentown Labs satellite office will be located at Springfield Technology Park, a business complex across the road from Springfield Technical Community College. Greentown Labs CEO Emily Reichert said the new ...

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    23. Springfield, Holyoke receive preschool expansion grants

      Springfield, Holyoke receive preschool expansion grants

      Massachusetts has received a $15 million federal grant to provide a year of free preschool to low-income children in five cities, including Holyoke and Springfield. This is the third year the state has received the grant. "Over the past year, these Pre-School Expansion Programs have begun to show that they are model programs which can help us continue to build high-quality early education programs across the Commonwealth," said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser in a statement. "With this third round of funding, we will not only help more children have access to high-quality early education programs but it will advance ...

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      Mentions: Springfield Holyoke
    24. Report: Meeting state need for vocational education would cost $27M

      Report: Meeting state need for vocational education would cost $27M

      Massachusetts has around 5,400 students who are unable to get into vocational schools because of waiting lists or because of a lack of schools in their community, according to a report released Friday by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Addressing that gap, the report found, would cost $27 million. "Successful implementation of this type of (career, vocational and technical education) expansion would require careful budget and building plans at the local level, along with the active participation of state partners," the report said.

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      Mentions: Springfield Holyoke
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    Issue of work visas for high-tech jobs hits home in Massachusetts | masslive Associated Industries of Massachusetts survey finds huge variability in health insurance premium changes under 'Obamacare' State Sen. Stephen Brewer will not run for re-election Massachusetts announces $15 million "pay for success" grant program for adult Western Massachusetts supportive housing projects to receive millions in state Gov. Deval Patrick announces $5 million state grant for UMass' Springfield Massachusetts House leaders propose $80 million in economic development Economic development bill passes the legislature, setting the stage for Aug. 16-17 sales tax holiday Long-time Northampton state representative Peter Kocot dies at 61 | masslive.com Agawam considering tax breaks for targeted redevelopment zone near Big E | masslive.com Dress for Success, Thunderbirds Partner for Hockey ‘N Heels Development of vacant Chicopee industrial parks could get a boost with state grants