Lucas Willard

Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief/Weekend Host

Lucas Willard graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. He also attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2010, where he studied audio and multimedia storytelling.  Prior to joining WAMC in 2011, Lucas worked with the Sound and Story Project of the Hudson Valley, the Big Shed Audio Documentary Podcast, the Albany Broadcasting Company, WDVL & WCVF-FM Fredonia, and WSUC-FM Cortland.  

Ways to Connect

Emerald Ash Borer
courtesy NYS DEC

Connecticut officials say a beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the U.S. has been found in the state for the first time.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Friday that the emerald ash borer was found in Prospect on Monday by experiment station staff members. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the identification.

State officials also suspect an infestation in Naugatuck State Forest, but that hasn't been confirmed.

As part of an ongoing process to find a place for an opioid addiction treatment center in Pittsfield, an informational public meeting will be held early next week. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard tells what city residents should expect.

After a second failed attempt by Worcester-based Spectrum Health Services to find a suitable location for methadone clinic in Pittsfield without public input, the City of Pittsfield announced this week that an informational meeting for town residents will be held next week.

A Berkshire County man is planning to open a Holocaust Museum in North Adams within the next several weeks. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief reports…

Darrell P. English says he has been collecting antiques and World War 2 memorabilia since he was a kid. But in recent years, he’s had a growing interest in searching out items and artifacts from the holocaust.

The North Adams resident says that over the years he’s collected over 10,000 World War II pieces.

A request from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to local officials to fix potholes near his Berkshire home before a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama has created a media buzz. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief reports that the local officials are left scratching their heads at the attention.

Massachusetts legislators are considering an August sales tax holiday. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas took a look at the effect of the popular measure in the Bay State.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A year after Vermont inmates at a Massachusetts jail rioted over conditions there, Vermont has discontinued the contract under which it sent inmates there.

Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito says the Franklin County Jail and House of Detention in Greenfield reduced the number of Vermont inmates it would take from about 100 to below 50. He says at that point, it didn't make sense to continue the contract, which was allowed to expire June 30.

Vermont inmates rioted at the jail last July, amid complaints about conditions at the facility.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Emails between top state officials show that a week before Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced last year that the state will build a costly and contentious bus-only corridor between Hartford and New Britain, federal transportation officials still did not know if he would support or kill it.

According to a recent report, capital investments in health care have fallen in Massachusetts, while investments in New York have made modest gains. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

In a report released by venture capital database CB Insights, the numbers show that investments in the Massachusetts health care industry are down to a five quarter low in deals. CEO of CB Insights Anand Sanwal explains that investing firms target a large variety of sectors in the health care industry.

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station / © Bugwood.org

An invasive insect has been discovered moving further into the forests of Southern Vermont. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard brings us a report about a migrating pest.

According to the State of Vermont, the hemlock wooly adelgid – a tiny invasive insect – has been found for the first time in Bennington County in the town of Pownal. The insect, which feeds on the sap from hemlock trees, was first brought to the US from Japan in the 1950s. In Vermont, the animal was first found in neighboring Windham county five years ago.

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

A combination of state, federal, and local funding has been collected to continue expanding biking trails in Berkshire County. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail – a former railroad corridor that runs North to South from the Berkshire town of Adams through Cheshire to Lanesborough – will we be given a paved expansion to North Adams.

Picture of solar panels
WAMC

Two Berkshire communities are participating in a statewide effort to expand the use of solar energy in private homes and small businesses. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to expand small-scale solar projects throughout the state with in its Solarize Massachusetts program.

Pittsfield and Lenox, two designated Green Communities, will be holding community forums to educate the public about solar energy and the Solarize Mass program.

..::WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas::..

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin recently announced three initiatives that would be included on the upcoming November ballot. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Galvin on Wednesday announced that voters will be the ones to decide on three controversial ballot questions this November.

Numbers released by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles show that almost 1,000 drivers with five or more drunk driving convictions are still legally driving in the State. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The numbers initially obtained from the Registry of Motor Vehicles by the Boston Herald indicate that 947 chronic drunk-drivers with five or more offenses in the Commonwealth are still on the road.

The three Democratic candidates in the race for a seat in Congress representing Massachusetts’ 1st District have agreed to a series of debates. WAMC’s Lucas Willard has more…

Congressional candidate and former state senator Andrea Nuciforo recently issued a challenge to his rivals to four regional debates across the new Western Massachusetts district. Mr. Nuciforo mentioned the need for the debates as essential for voters to learn the distinctions between himself and fellow candidate current 2nd District Congressman Richard Neal.

Steps towards improving the area’s airports are underway. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard gives us an update on the progress of two regional transportation hubs.

Volunteers throughout the Connecticut River Valley are continuing their fifth season of monitoring for harmful bacteria in the river and its tributaries. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the state’s FY 2013 budget on Sunday, but some proposals didn’t make the cut. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard took a look at what items the governor vetoed and filed a report…

Governor Patrick vetoed 32.1 million in line items from the 32.5 billion dollar budget signed earlier this week. Among the items cut were reforms to immigration policy, health and social services.

Six cultural non-profits in Berkshire County are receiving awards as part of the the latest round of cultural funding grants from the state of Massachusetts. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Earlier this week Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced 5 million dollars in matching grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund have been distribuited to 57 cultural non-profits across the Commonwealth. The program is designed to support non-profits by providing money for improvement, upkeep, and expansion efforts.

Berkshire Environmental Action Team

Beginning next week, General Electric will be begin work on removing PCBs from Pittsfield’s Silver Lake. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard…

Authorities say a Sudbury, Massachusetts man has died after being struck by a tree while walking back to his car following a James Taylor concert at Tanglewood. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

The Berkshire district attorney's office announced Thursday that 61-year-old Lester Holtzblatt was struck by a 20-feet section of a dead tree while walking with his wife along a Lenox road at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

He was taken by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The death is under investigation but is considered an accident.

A mosquito infected with West Nile Virus was recently found in Pittsfield. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau chief Lucas Willard spoke with regional health officials to get more information on the disease in the region.

The mosquito carrying West Nile virus was obtained in Pittsfield by the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project and was confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The State of Massachusetts is looking for its residents to take part in monitoring populations of local animals. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

MassWildlife is launching its Citizen Scientists campaign, calling for help from state residents to report populations of 3 animals – wild turkeys, rabbits and bats.

Marion Larson, Outreach Coordinator from MassWildlife, says that by reporting sightings of wild turkeys, which are numerous throughout the region, is part of the state’s  annual Turkey Brood Survey.

BOSTON (AP) -- Electric and natural gas utility National Grid is warning its customers not to fall for a bill-paying scam that asks them to disclose Social Security and bank routing numbers.

The utility says scammers claim customers can have their utility bills paid under a federal government program.

No such program exists.

The solicitations have been made door-to-door, online and in through phone calls. The company says customers are asked for Social Security and bank routing numbers, then given fake account numbers said to be for payment on their behalf.

Several groups in Massachusetts are advocating for a bill that would provide funds to repair or replace dams in the state. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Senate Bill 1985 – legislation that would provide funds to repair dams across the states – passed the Senate last year. Now, several groups are advocating for its passage in the House before the end of the session.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association is one of them. Executive Director Geoff Beckwith…

This week, the Transgender Rights Equality Act takes effect in Massachusetts. Transgender citizens in Massachusetts are receiving protections against housing, education, and employment discrimination. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The Federal Health Care Law has people divided across the country, but how will it affect access to care in Massachusetts -a state with its own insurance mandate in place since 2006? WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Chip Joffee-Halpern, executive director of Ecu Healthcare – a private organization in North Adams that connects citizens with health care options – says that the Affordable Care Act will help fill in some of the gaps in coverage for those who may be ineligible for Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care – but can’t afford their own coverage.

http://www.massaudubon.org/

Environmentalists in Massachusetts are concerned over a controversial bill they say could effectively eliminate endangered species protections in the State. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard Reports…

Sponsor of Senate Bill 1854, Gale Candaras says that the rumors and ideas circulating about her proposal to enforce landowner protections by amending the state’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species laws are misleading.

WINDHAM, Vt. (AP) — A major wind power company is interested in setting up a commercial wind turbine development in Vermont's Windham County. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports..

The Brattleboro Reformer reports Iberdrola Renewables has issued a notice of pending application to place two meteorological-testing towers in Windham and in Grafton.

The towers will allow the company to determine whether to buy construction of a wind farm on 5,000 acres owned by New Hampshire-based Meadowsend Timberlands Limited.

The Massachusetts House has approved a measure calling on school districts to implement a new teacher evaluation system and place performance ahead of seniority in deciding future layoffs.  WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

The legislation, which has already been approved by the Senate, resulted from a compromise struck between the Massachusetts Teachers Association and an advocacy group called Stand for Children that had proposed a statewide ballot question.

The organization has said it would be willing to drop the ballot initiative if the bill becomes law.

Over the past 5 years, Pittsfield has had several economic investments in the arts. As WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, a new study details the financial impact on the city…

 The study was conducted by American’s for the Arts – a national non-profit that advocates for advancing arts and cultural programs.  The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV economic study looked at 182 different communities across the country over a five-year period, Pittsfield was the only in Massachusetts to participate.

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