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

A bank has sued Curt Schilling to recover $2.4 million in loans it made to the former Boston Red Sox pitcher's video game company. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

The Boston Globe reports that RBS Citizens, better known as Citizens Bank, says Schilling personally guaranteed the debt to the bank but has "failed and refused" to pay it.

Schilling's 38 Studios filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last week. It laid off its entire workforce in May soon after it was late in making a $1.1 million payment to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp.

A bill that would expand Massachusetts’ recycling laws to include a five-cent deposit for plastic containers for noncarbonated beverages has again failed to pass a committee vote to enter legislative debate, drawing criticism from proponents. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

North Adams is one of 46 cities and towns in the Commonwealth announced earlier this week to receive part of the 26.8 million dollar Federal Community Development Block Grants – or CDBG. The federal program is designed to fund neighborhood revitalization projects including supporting local infrastructure repairs, public works projects, housing rehabilitation, and a number of other initiatives.

U.S. Senator Scott Brown is urging JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to take back bonuses and incentive pay from those involved in risky trading that led to a $2 billion loss. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

Brown said Wednesday that taking back the bonuses, including any money Dimon might have received, would demonstrate the bank is serious about fixing the mistakes that led up to the loss.

Brown's comments came as Dimon told Congress that senior bank executives responsible for a $2 billion trading loss will probably have some of their pay taken back by the company.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association reached an agreement with the non-profit group Stand for Children, which advocates for improved public education in the state.

Stand for Children has been collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to let voters decide if teachers in Massachusetts should face stricter evaluation and give up certain seniority rights. The deal reached between the MTA and Stand for Children hinges on new legislation that would mark compromise between both sides.

Executive Director of Stand for Children Jason Williams…

 

New scientific data shows that Massachusetts is home to many ecosystems resistant to climate change, while communities across the region this past spring have experienced record temperatures. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

According to new data acquired from the Climate Systems Research Center at UMass Amherst, mean temperatures across the state for the past few months are among the highest on record.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Northern Berkshire Healthcare, owner and operator of the North Adams Regional Hospital, has announced they have recovered from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Northern Berkshire Healthcare entered Chapter 11 restructuring in June of last year. Now the parent organization of North Adams Regional Hospital and source of about 575 jobs in North Adams has announced profits and a plan to move forward.

As legislators in the State of Massachusetts and attorney General Martha Coakley are pushing to amend drunk driving laws, a bill has been filed in the House with a new initiative to identify repeat offenders. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

In the last of a series of interviews with democratic candidates in the race for Massachusetts’ First Congressional District, WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard spoke with US Representative Richard Neal.

Congressman Neal is running against former state senator Andrea Nuciforo and writer and activist Bill Shein in the race for Massachusetts’ First Congressional District.

 

The vice chairwoman of Rhode Island’s economic development agency has resigned, becoming the second official there to step down as the agency grapples with the future of former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's troubled video gaming company. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

Economic Development Corp. Vice Chairwoman Helena Foulkes said in a statement Thursday she spoke with Governor Lincoln Chafee and that thinks it's best that she resign.

She said she wished him luck "in this very difficult challenge."

A spokeswoman for Chafee had no immediate comment.

The report, titled “The Continuing Challenge of CORI Reform”, sponsored by the Boston Foundation and the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice, aimed to gauge if a key provision in recent reforms to the Criminal Offender Record Information System have been effective.

Project Coordinator Len Engel, of the Crime and Justice Institute, said that the Boston Foundation approached CRJ with a simple question in mind.

In the second of a series of interviews with democratic candidates in the race for Massachusetts’ First Congressional District, WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard spoke with former state senator Andrea Nuciforo, Jr.

Nuciforo is running against writer and activist Bill Shein, and Congressman Richard Neal, in the race for Massachusetts’ First Congressional District

The Board of Trustees at Berkshire Community College unanimously voted to appoint interim president Ellen Kennedy as the college’s 7th president. Ellen Kennedy took some time to speak with WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard.

Kennedy’s appointment will still need to be approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

In the first of a series of interviews with democratic candidates in the race for Massachusetts’ First Congressional District, WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard spoke with candidate Bill Shein  a writer and activist from Alford.

Nearly 60 Massachusetts cities and towns are urging Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case. WAMC’s Lucas Willard has more…

A total of 56 cities and towns from across the state have passed resolutions on the issue, with more expected to vote on similar resolutions in the coming weeks.

The state of Connecticut is requiring a private security company hired to protect several office buildings to provide its guards back pay after a review showed the firm breached its contract with the state. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

In a letter to SOS Security Inc., obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Connecticut’s Department of Administrative Services said it wants the New Jersey company to provide a plan for rectifying the breach, including a complete payroll audit for all affected employees.

Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington is looking for ways to save money but provide the same access to information that their Middle School enjoys, access to laptop computer for every student.

Frank Barnes is the Director of Technology for the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union. He’s helping develop an experiment to determine which technologies fit different styles of classroom learning.

The solution might just be to let students use a tool that many schools forbid in the classroom, their smartphone.

Berkshire Environmental Action Team

The Housatonic River Status Report released by the US EPA last week comes after extensive meetings with the state governments of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The report outlines goals set by both states and the EPA, but no final cleanup plan has yet been identified.

PCB’s or polychlorinated biphenyls, are any of over 200 different believed to be cancer causing chemicals released into the Housatonic by General Electric in Pittsfield until the 1970s.

Picture of solar panels
WAMC

Pittsfield’s Zoning Board of Appeals gave unanimous approval to a 22 acre solar array on the former YMCA Camp at Ponterril. The $20 million project would sit on the 77-acre site overlooking Pontoosuc Lake, and generate three megawatts of electricity. The electricity would then be sold to the Western Massachusetts Electric Company.

Deanna Ruffer, Pittsfield’s Community Development Director, said that the project owned by Connecticut-based CTC electric, will be welcome as the city’s fourth solar project.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has revealed an outreach effort to help more than 12,000 long-term jobless workers receive social services and job training after losing extended unemployment insurance benefits. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

Less than an hour before the initiative was announced Thursday, the state Labor Department said the unemployment rate in April remained stuck at 7.7 percent.

On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives passed a modified version of the bill that will now head to the senate. The bill would help prevent foreclosures by requiring banks to be more flexible with borrowers in their repayment plans.

The bill would require lenders to analyze loans under new standards and offer modifications that can financially benefit the borrower and bank to prevent forclosure.

In December, Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation amending a commission that would look at EBT fraud in Massachusetts. The commission was created after it was found that the state public assistance cards were being used to pay for tattoos, alcohol, tobacco, and other things not intended in the program. After a report was filed on April first by the Commission, the House of Representatives began working on their own EBT reform plan, which was included in their FY 2013 budget proposal.

The Massachusetts budget proposed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee is winning praise from municipal officials. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

Senate leaders say the spending plan for the fiscal year beginning on July 1 would boost local aid by $275 million over current year levels and provide full funding for unrestricted local aid. An earlier budget proposal by Governor Deval Patrick had made $65 million of unrestricted aid contingent on state revenues reaching certain benchmarks in the current year.

The study released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection shows that the Wind One industrial turbine in the Cape Cod town of Falmouth produces noise louder than the state allows.

The report marks the first time the state has recommended a shut-off of a wind turbine.

Rhode Island's governor has signed an executive order saying the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

The order signed by Governor Lincoln Chafee on Monday directs state agencies to afford same-sex married couples the same rights as heterosexual ones. Chafee says some same-sex couples married outside Rhode Island have been denied rights because state law isn't clear on the subject.

The state is plans to cut back HIV testing and education spending in jails. Over $1 million dollars have been eliminated from programs in houses of correction.

Kevin Cranston, director of the state Bureau of Infectous Disease, says that due to the tight budget, the state is making cuts they believe will have the least amount of impat.

State prisons will be spared the cuts. Cranston also says that not all HIV programs in county jails will be eliminated.  

After State Representatives and Senators passed special legislation this week that would allow school districts to exempt themselves from the provision in the Nutritional Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools that would prevent school from selling sugary sweets during school hours for special events such as fundraisers, the Department of Public Health has come up with amendments to the regulations that would take effect in August.

Next week, the people of Williamstown will vote on municipal efforts to expand and begin the process of developing new state funded Affordable Housing in the Northern Berkshire town. According to Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law, every community in the Commonwealth has an obligation to develop ways to provide 10% of their housing stock available to moderate and low income families. Many Berkshire communities are well below that goal, including Williamstown.

A key Connecticut lawmaker says efforts to enact state legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified food died in the face of threatened lawsuits by food producers. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

Representative Richard Roy, the House chairman of the Environment Committee, said Thursday that he unsuccessfully lobbied House Speaker Christopher Donovan and Governor Dannel P. Malloy. The legislation got no further than his committee.

Aime Kunes is President of the LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts. She says that President Obama’s support for gay marriage falls in line with other efforts his administration has made, such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.

Kunes says that the she thought the president spoke his mind despite political risk.

Jason Verchot, president of Berkshire Stonewall, a nonprofit supporting the well-being of the gay and lesbian community in the Berkshires, says that president Obama’s support at the federal level is significant.

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