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Posted on April 1, 2015 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (1380)

Holyoke Superintendent critical of state recommendation for receivership


Posted: Mar 31, 2015 7:37 PM EDT

Updated: Mar 31, 2015 7:43 PM EDT

By Michelle KingstonCONNECT


There is only a month left before the State Board of Elementary and Secondary education is expected to vote on whether to put the Holyoke Public School district into receivership.


Superintendent Sergio Paez says he has an accelerated improvement plan in place to keep Holyoke in the hands of the city.


This comes after the State Education Commissioner, Mitchell Chester, recommended last week that the board vote to put the Holyoke school district into receivership.


This would mean an outside provider would manage the Holyoke public schools.


Tuesday, the superintendent told CBS 3 he does not agree with the recommendation from the commissioner and says it's a difficult one to accept.


"But I'm asking my staff, my partners and everybody who cares about what we've been doing in the last two years, to speak up and to support what we are saying, that we have a message that is transformational, that we have a plan to be able to transform the Holyoke public schools," he said.


The superintendent has less than a month to convince the state to vote against the receivership for the Holyoke schools.


The Board of Education will be at Holyoke High School on April 27 for a public hearing before they meet and potentially decide on the future of Holyoke schools in Fitchburg on April 28.


Copyright 2015 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.




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Posted on March 28, 2015 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (673)


Traffic has cleared on Interstate 91 North after a nightmare commute for drivers earlier Friday evening.


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation closed the left and center lanes of the elevated segment of I-91 N near the Memorial Bridge and Boland Way for emergency deck repairs.


“That is bad,” said Amy Entel, of Springfield. “We were stuck in it right on our way to get here actually.”


Lane restrictions began right around exit 6 at about 5 p.m. on Friday. Traffic was also jammed on Columbus Avenue with drivers not allowed to enter the highway and MassDOT says to expect these restrictions to last late into Friday night.


“I came actually from the other side and I saw people almost stuck at a crawling pace so definitely kind of a preview of what's to come for sure,” said Max Kizilov, of East Longmeadow.


With MGM Springfield construction beginning and the I-91 viaduct project set to begin soon and last nearly three years, drivers are preparing for more traffic to come.


“It's definitely going to cause a headache,” said Jordan Karnes, a Springfield College student. “Obviously there are positives toward the building of MGM, but I know a lot of business workers around here who are trying to get places, get to their job on time and get home obviously at the end of the night, and it's going to be tough for them.”


“I mean looking at the plans and what they are going to do, it's definitely going to be tough to get around for a while,” Kizilov added.


MassDOT said tonight that the elevated segment of I-91 requires frequent emergency repairs, often on short notice.


“If possible, MassDOT makes every attempt to schedule work that will disrupt traffic outside of peak hours, however, in instances such as this, the work cannot be deferred," MassDOT said in a statement.


They said the long term $260 million viaduct project is expected to get underway in the coming months.


Copyright 2015 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.




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Posted on March 19, 2015 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (357)

AMHERST — Monday night's rescue of three hikers at the Quabbin Reservoir cost the Amherst Fire Department about $2,300, money that won't be recouped.


Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson in an email said that there isn't a mechanism for that.


More than 20 Pelham police, fire, state police and Amherst rescue crews were called to Quabbin Reservoir in Pelham to rescue three hikers. The trio, who were unprepared for the conditions, became cold and exhausted as their day hike turned into night.


One of the three was able to meet police near Gate 12, two had to be taken out on sled. One was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton and was treated and released.


Nelson said the notion of billing for costs "has come up from time to time. For instance rescues of unprepared hikers from the Notch."


But Nelson explained that the fear of being billed "could cause victims to delay calling for assistance or not call at all because of a fear of the cost. So for us, victim safety overrides any thoughts of cost recovery."


He said the costs of providing more than 10 emergency personnel, an ambulance, a snowmobile and sled "was a lot of money for some really bad decision making." And while rescue workers were at the Quabbin, the department had a critical call during the rescue and needed three paramedics, but they only had two available.


He said the call came in when it was reported that one of the hikers was having chest pain. "We had an ambulance dedicated to the rescue with a third on another call; all while other AFD personnel were coming in to cover the town," Nelson said.


He said the "outcome of the critical call was positive, my paramedic needed assistance, had none but did a great job at keeping the patient alive long enough to get to the hospital.


"Whether it's college kids who choose to get drunk or hikers who don't think about preparation, they have chosen their behavior without consideration of those who will need our assistance who have no choice at all," Nelson said.


The hikers were wearing boots, not snowshoes. The snow was up to their knees, Nelson said. Plus, they did not have appropriate clothing.


The hikers have been identified as Thomas C. Wills, 39, of Belchertown, Clyde H. Watson, 42, of Northampton, and Job Morgan, 28, of Norwich, Connecticut. None of the hikers could be reached for comment. However, one of the hikers using the screen name "Cambion" posted a comment on the MassLive story reporting the rescue and wrote this:


"We had redundant protective gear, backpacks with snacks and water, hot coffee in a thermos, and multiple flashlights and cell phones. I think the missing data for readers here is how difficult wet snowpack can be to walk through. Our trail started at an area with less snow-cover and more compaction; but as we descended, it became thicker and wetter.


"The first half of the trail was relatively passable snowpack; but as we approached the Quabbin lowlands, past the point of no return (distance-wise) the snow became deeper, wetter, and the terrain rose sharply and continuously.


"All we wanted was to hike the Quabbin. No shenanigans or "Urban Warrior" ([email protected]) behavior. As for preparedness, I myself had a heavy shirt, sweater, wool coat, mittens, hat and hiking footwear (too bad the first half of the trail hadn't been the worst, or we would have turned back nearly instantly)."


Legislators Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, John W Scibak, D-South Hadley, and Randy Hunt, D-Barnstable, meanwhile, have a bill before the Legislature called "An Act relative to the recovery of emergency response costs" that would allow for police or fire to seek reimbursement.