Paul Tuthill

Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston.  He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester.  Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011.  Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.

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Municipalities have been wrestling with when to hold preliminary elections to avoid conflicts with Jewish holy days that fall on three consecutive Tuesdays in September.  The largest city in western Massachusetts will hold its preliminary election a week earlier than originally scheduled.

WAMC

A western Massachusetts-based order of Catholic sisters, consisting mostly of retired teachers, has apparently been saved from financial ruin.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski Monday announced a $1 million donation from the diocese to the Sisters of St. Joseph, a 130- year old religious order, whose members taught generations of students in parochial schools throughout western Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England.

"Now, it is our turn to repay the tremendous debt we owe these sisters for all they have dne for us," said Rozanski.

UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has hired attorney and former town official Eric Beal as the first neighborhood liaison. The new position was a key recommendation from former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis , who was hired by the university to consult on how to handle large off-campus disturbances in the wake of the infamous 2014 “ Blarney Blowout.”  

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Beal.

Massachusetts election officials are advising communities to reschedule preliminary elections to avoid conflicts with two Jewish holy days.

Several cities in Massachusetts have preliminary elections scheduled on either Sept. 15th, or Sept. 22nd. Both dates conflict with Jewish religious observances.  

The Springfield City Council is holding a special meeting Monday to consider moving the preliminary to Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. City Councilor Bud Williams fears that date will result in a low voter turnout.

WAMC

Summer is being extended in one western Massachusetts city.

Municipal swimming pools in the city of Springfield will stay open one extra week.  Mayor Domenic Sarno and several city councilors made the announcement Friday at the Forest Park pool.

" It is the right thing to do. Not only for our young people and their families for recreation and excercise but it helps on the public safety front that we keep our kids busy, " said Sarno.

The city council will vote at a special meeting to appropriate $41,000 to keep the pools open an additional week. 

WAMC

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker filed a bill Friday to provide incentives for the solar power industry.

The legislation would lift a cap on net metering credits that compensate the owners of large-scale solar projects for the energy produced.  Solar industry officials say that would allow dozens of stalled projects to move forward. 

Ben Hellerstein, state director of Environment Massachusetts said the governor’s bill would change the solar incentive program in ways that could slow the growth of solar.

WAMC

The mayor of the third- largest city in Massachusetts is claiming a victory in a fight over the expansion of a state-funded program to shelter homeless families in congregate housing.

A state board has ruled that the use of single apartments to “co-shelter” multiple families is a violation of the city’s of Springfield’s building codes and has “life safety implications.”   The city cited a nonprofit social service agency for residential code violations after inspectors discovered 3-4 families to a single apartment in several buildings in one neighborhood.

WAMC

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening date for the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.   The casino regulators Thursday also signed off on an historic preservation plan that should clear the way for the Las Vegas-based entertainment giant to obtain the final permits required to begin building the state’s first resort casino. 

MGM Springfield

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening of the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.

The commission voted 5-0 Thursday to set a September 2018 opening date for the $800 million resort casino — a year later than originally planned.  

Although MassDOT says the reconstruction of I-91, which is right next to the casino site, could be done as soon as December 2017, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis argued it was prudent to plan for a later finish.

Holyokemall.com

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Thursday signed a law declaring a sales tax free weekend August 15 and 16.

Baker acknowledged the tax break costs the state revenue, but he said it is something consumers and retailers have come to expect.  Massachusetts has had a sales tax holiday weekend in all but one year since 2004. 

Jon Hurst , president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said it helps local stores capture sales that would otherwise go to other states or online where no sales tax is collected.

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