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(showing articles 1 to 50 of 50)

    Federal prosecutors still insist Fusco was culpable in the Bruno and Westerman murders and are asking a federal judge to sentence him to 45 years in prison.

    emilio fusco mug horz.JPGEmilio Fusco

    NEW YORK - Emilio Fusco, a Longmeadow, Mass., loan shark and the fourth defendant who went to trial in the 2003 Adolfo Bruno mob murder case, is scheduled for sentencing in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

    Fusco was cleared of murder charges in connection with Bruno's killing after a three-week trial in federal court in Manhattan in April. He also was acquitted of the murder of low-level associate Gary D. Westerman, who disappeared the same year. However, federal prosecutors in New York still insist Fusco was culpable in both killings and are asking a judge to sentence him to 45 years in prison.

    "Fusco has devoted his adult life to working for the mob, committing crimes for a living as a manipulative, professional criminal," Assistant U.S. Attorneys wrote in their sentencing memo, arguing that Fusco committed the Bruno and Westerman murders when he was out on bail on a separate racketeering case that netted a three-year prison sentence from a Massachusetts judge.

    Fusco was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, extortion conpiracy, narcotics dealing by the same jury in New York last spring.

    Defense lawyer Richard B. Lind is asking for far less prison time - even below U.S. Probation officials' recommendation of approximately seven years.

    Fusco is an accused "made man" in the Springfield faction of the New York-based Genovese crime family; he has not disputed that affiliation in recent court filings. He was charged as part of a group of young upstarts in western Massachusetts angling to wrest power from Bruno, 58, gunned down by a paid hitman on Nov. 23, 2003.

    Westerman was shot and bludgeoned to death, then buried in a wooded lot in Agawam, Mass., as part of the same power play, according to witnesses in two trials. Fusco was accused of goading New York gangsters to sanction Bruno's killing by convincing them through a court document that Bruno was an informant. He was accused of directly helping to kill Westerman, also suspected to be a police informant by Mafia associates.

    "The government woefully failed to prove Fusco's participation in the Westerman matter for a host of reasons," Lind wrote.

    Fusco, 44, was one of several defendants indicted in the two murders in late 2009 and 2010. He traveled to his native country of Italy in the spring of 2010 as Westerman's remains were being uncovered, prompting U.S. and Italian law enforcement officials to hunt and arrest him in a small village in southern Italy months later. His lawyer argued at trial that he went there to attend his sister's 50th birthday party, and tend to his sick mother and business affairs. Law enforcement officials argued he fled to avoid prosecution.

    Either way, the trip appeared a boon for Fusco as he was severed from three other co-defendants who went to trial earlier and were convicted of the murders in 2011.

    Onetime Mafia enforcers Fotios and Ty Geas, of West Springfield, and former acting Genovese head Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y., were convicted by a jury of the murders on nearly the same evidence in 2011. They are serving life sentences in prison.

    Government witness Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, who testified he helped orchestrate both killings, has yet to be scheduled for sentencing. Frankie Roche, of Westfield, also has not been sentenced. Informant Felix Tranghese, of East Longmeadow, has been scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 7 in New York. John Bologna, an informant from New York, is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 2.


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    The committee also received a report on the success of the school system's summer enrichment program.

    Longmeadow schools logo.jpg

    LONGMEADOW- The School Committee voted not to fund a school resource officer at Longmeadow High School during its Tuesday night meeting.

    Chairman Michael Clark and members John Fitzgerald, Katheryn Girard, James Desrochers and Jennifer Jester voted against funding the position while member Gerard Kiernan voted in favor of the position. Committee member Elizabeth Bone abstained.

    The position was strongly supported by the high school principal Larry Berte, said Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle.

    Members debated the necessity of the position.

    Clark said with the Select Board requesting all departments to submit a level funded budget for fiscal year 2014 the position could not be paid for.

    The school resource officer is a Longmeadpw police officer who divides his or her time between the school and the town and is paid $65,000 a year. The school would be expected to fund half the cost at $32,500.

    Jester said that while she sees validity in the position it cannot be a priority with other more pressing needs on the list.

    The committee also met with summer enrichment program Principal Stacy Smith who gave results for the program which offers 82 classes from theater and music to science, math and technology .

    "We made a profit of $8,000, which is very good considering we had some
    expenses for new STEM courses we offered this year," Smith said.

    She said with the prospect of a new high school next year she hopes the enrollment will continue to grow.

    "We will be ale to offer air conditioning and newer facilities to prospective students,"she said.

    There were a total of 550 students enrolled over the summer with more than
    400 coming from Longmeadow. East Longmeadow had 71 students participate. There were also students from Wilbraham, Springfield, Chicopee and even Enfield, Conn.

    The committee also began a discussion about capital projects.

    Bone and facilities director Adrian Phaneuf discussed the various projects on the
    list including a $900,000 window repair project at Center School, which he said he would not put on the priority list if it was up to him.

    "There are 282 windows that would have to be replaced and they are large
    single paned windows. They are not a safety issue, but they are also not operational," he said.

    The money for the project would come from the Community Preservation Fund
    since the school is considered a historic building.

    Other items on the list include more than $70,000 to remove the wallpaper
    at all three elementary schools and replace it with paint.

    Phaneuf said the choice of wallpaper for the elementary schools is impractical
    since it is labor intensive to replace, gets dirty easily and is not easy to clean.

    The items will have to go before the Capital Planning Committee for
    approval before going to Town Meeting.


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    The forums are scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.

    LONGMEADOW -- Public forums will be held Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 to discuss the town's Housing Needs Assessment and Action plan and an accessory apartments bylaw drafted by the Longmeadow Housing Authority.

    The Oct. 16 forum will be held at the Fire house Community Meeting Room. The Oct. 22 forum will be at the Dining Room of the Greenwood Adult Center. Both events will start at 7:30 p.m.

    For more information, Contact Ed Kline, Chair of Longmeadow Housing Authority, at edkline@outlook.com.

    Longmeadow Housing Plan


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    U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel suspended an already lengthy hearing because Fusco needed an additional interpreter.

    NEW YORK — A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily suspended a sentencing proceeding for Emilio Fusco, of Longmeadow, a Genovese organized crime family member convicted of racketeering conspiracy and other crimes after a three-week trial in April.

    emilio fusco mug horz.JPGEmilio Fusco

    Fusco was acquitted of the 2003 murders of onetime Springfield Mafia boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and low-level criminal associate Gary D. Westerman. Prosecutors have nonetheless continued to argue Fusco was culpable in the slayings along with gangsters in Western Massachusetts and New York, and are seeking a 45-year prison sentence.

    Fusco, an Italian native, has been using an interpreter throughout two years of court proceedings. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel suspended an already lengthy hearing because Fusco needed an additional interpreter.

    The sentencing will resume in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday.


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    U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel ruled that Fusco, who was acquitted of the 2003 murders of Al Bruno and Gary Westerman, was nonetheless culpable in the murder plots.

    An updated story has been posted


    NEW YORK — Emilio Fusco, a Genovese organized crime family member from Longmeadow, Mass., was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a federal judge on Thursday.

    emilio fusco.jpgEmilio Fusco

    Fusco, 43, was convicted of racketeering and extortion conspiracies after a three-week trial in April, but was acquitted of the 2003 murders of Springfield, Mass., crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and low-level associate Gary D. Westerman.

    However, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, during a lengthy sentencing hearing, ruled that Fusco was culpable in the murder plots nonetheless. Under federal law, judges may establish a defendant's guilt using a lower threshold than a jury's standard of beyond a reasonable doubt and consider it during sentencing.

    "He was not the architect of these murders," Castel said as he handed down the sentence, but believed Fusco was nonetheless complicit in the plots.

    Fusco's lawyer argued the sentence was unfair and excessive.


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    The Collector's and Assessors' offices hours are Monday - Thursday 8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Friday 8:15 a.m.-noon.

    LONGMEADOW -- Payments for second quarter fiscal year 2013 preliminary real estate and personal property tax bills are due Nov. 1.

    When making a payment residents are asked to use the invoice labeled "second quarter payment".

    Residents unable to locate their invoice can contact the Collector’s office at (413) 567-1066 or email townhall@longmeadow.org for a new invoice.

    The Collector’s and Assessors’ offices hours are Monday –Thursday 8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Friday 8:15 a.m.-noon.

    Payments can be made in person, by mail or through the drop box located next to the front door at town hall. Payments can also be made online by going to the town’s website. Under "Quick Links", click on “Pay Bills Online”.

    Credit card payments can now be made -- for a fee -- at the counter using either Master Card or Discover.


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    School Committee Chairman Michael Clark said the policy has taken about a year to put together and if the community approves it, it will be placed in the School Committee's policy manual.


    LONGMEADOW
    — The School Committee will hold a public forum on its new Social Networking and Electronic Communication Policy to get community feedback.

    The forum will be held Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Glenbrook Middle School Auditorium,110 Cambridge Circle.

    School Committee Chairman Michael Clark said the policy has taken about a year to put together and if the community approves it, it will be placed in the School Committee's policy manual.

    The new policy touches on issues of Facebook and email communication between students and teachers and would allow more interaction between the two.

    "Technology and the Internet are moving at a rapid pace," Clark said. "While many
    districts ban its use outright, we have taken a different approach, we are looking to
    include it within the curriculum to help develop digital citizenship. "

    The policy outlines ways in which teachers, students and parents can use the Internet as a way to communicate with each other. Not only through the use of the school website, but through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

    "Now is really the time to get community feedback on the policy. We want to hear their comments and concerns so that a final version of the policy can be put in the manual," he said.

    Clark, plans to present this policy to the Massachusetts Association of School Committee’s at its annual conference in Hyannis in November.

    The policy is posted on the district website www.longmeadow.k12.ma.us for review.

    For more information on the forum,contact the District Office at (413) 565-4200 ext
    4012.


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    The auction could bring more than $500,000 to the state's treasury.

    102711 massachusetts ebay auction.JPG 10.27.2011 | SPRINGFIELD — A few of the hundreds of abandoned items Massachusetts officials planned to sell in an online auction were display at the Western Massachusetts State Office Building on Dwight Street. Another auction is coming up, and items again will be on view in the Springfield state building.

    SPRINGFIELD — State Treasury officials will offer the public a peek Thursday at a sampling of some $435,000 in unclaimed property that will offered at auction on eBay beginning Saturday.

    In all, 2,000 items, ranging from old and rare currency to diamond rings and watches, will be auctioned at eBay.com with proceeds going to the state’s general fund. The auction could generate $500,000 for the state’s general fund, the treasurer estimated.

    Nearly 200 selected items, including a two-karat diamond ring valued at $17,000 and a 100-ounce silver bar, will be on public display Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. at the State Office Building at 436 Dwight St.

    A 305-year-old brandy warmer and an 18th-century pie server were among the selected items previewed Monday by state Treasurer Steven Grossman at his Statehouse office in Boston.

    Grossman will not travel to Springfield Thursday but will send representatives that “will be there to assist the public in viewing items and to get the information necessary to bid on them when the auction begins,” he said.

    Grossman said auction items represent property that has been unclaimed or abandoned by owners for at least the past nine years. Most items are from expired safety deposit boxes from several banks.

    “There is something for everyone from the collector to someone looking for a holiday gift for their spouse,” Grossman said of the auction. “Some items, like the brandy warmer, are tarnished because we are not allowed to touch them, polish them or change their appearance. People will find gold and silver coins, pocket watches and many jewelry items,” he said.

    Aside from the auction, Grossman said there is no “statute of limitation on unclaimed property and if someone recognizes an item and proves it is or was theirs we are obligated to return the item. If it has been auctioned, we must give them the sale price.

    “Reuniting people with their rightfully-owned property is our first priority, but in cases where these individuals cannot be located, we want to ensure that we maximize the revenue that is generated from this auction,” Grossman said. “Selling these items through eBay offers a competitive bidding environment, reaches a high number of potential buyers and maximizes revenue for taxpayers.”

    Last year’s eBay auction of 1,000 items generated more than $434,000 for the state’s general fund. Items sold on average at 55 percent above the appraised value, officials said.

    Beginning Saturday, Grossman will place 100 items for auction on eBay that will be followed with additional items, up to about 2,000 in total that will eventually be placed on the auction site. The auction will run until about Christmas, said Grossman.

    This auction represents the eighth time the state has used eBay to dispose of unclaimed property. The Treasury previously held live auctions but that process was not as profitable because of limited or restricted bidding audiences.

    Grossman said regular auctions of such property is necessary because of storage constraints and logistical needs.

    The treasurer said individuals or their heirs can still claim ownership of auction items and if they can prove ownership they will be compensated the sale price of the item.

    The Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division, since 2011, has increased its outreach efforts to identify owners of unclaimed property by setting up booths at fairs, sporting events and other events. Those efforts have returned $93 million in unclaimed property to owners during the last year.

    The Treasury also maintains a comprehensive list of about $2 billion in unclaimed stocks, insurance payments and bank accounts. The public can search that list at www.findmassmoney.com or by calling 888-344-6277.


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    Police said an officer responding to a burglary report at the C-Mart convenience store, 668 North Main St., saw a man holding a cash register before the suspect bolted from the scene.


    EAST LONGMEADOW — A police officer who responded to an early Wednesday burglary report at a convenience store near the Springfield city line spotted the thief in the act, prompting the man to bolt on foot and sparking a multi-agency manhunt.

    "The guy was inside holding a cash register," East Longmeadow police Sgt. Daniel Bruno said Thursday, referring to the suspect who broke into the C-Mart convenience store, 668 North Main St., around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

    The store is located in a small shopping plaza bordering Springfield, which is why city police joined in the hunt for the still-at-large suspect.

    "He disappeared into the night after a pretty exhaustive search," Bruno said. "We do have a named suspect in mind."

    Longmeadow police and state police, including a K-9 unit, also took part in the search.

    According to authorities, the suspect left behind a key piece of evidence: The car he apparently drove to the scene of the alleged burglary, which was parked in the store's lot.


    MAP showing location of C-Mart convenience store on North Main Street in East Longmeadow, where a police officer interrupted a burglary in progress early Wednesday morning:


    View Larger Map


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    The state will post additional items in 100-item lots every other day throughout the auction.

    101812_treasurer_auction.JPG James F. Roy III, manager of the unclaimed property division of the state treasurer's office, holds a silver brandy warmer made in London in 1707, one of the items bound for an unclaimed property eBay auction beginning Saturday and on display in the lobby of the State Office Building on Dwight Street in Springfield Thursday.







    SPRINGFIELD – Steven M. Sinclair, of Auburn, and Dino S. Zabean, of Lenox, have their eyes of several items they will bid on beginning Saturday when the state auctions $435,000 in unclaimed property.

    Some 200 selected items, a sampling of the eBay auction that begins at noon Saturday and runs through Dec. 22, were on display at the State Office Building here Thursday.

    “This is a representative sample giving people an idea of how to identify items they may want to bid during the auction process,” said James F. Roy III, manager of the state treasury’s unclaimed property division.

    The auction will begin with 100 items and another 100 will be added every other day until a total of 500 are on display, Roy explained. In all, a total of 2,000 lots, either single or in groups of similar items, will appear at the eBay auction by Dec. 22, he said.

    Last year’s auction of 1,000 items of unclaimed property brought the state more than $434,000 to its general fund. This year’s auction is expected to generate more than $500,000, state Treasurer Steven Grossman said this week.

    Agawam’s Barbara Santaniello also came to view the display but said she will not participate in the auction. “I came to what is available but only for the education aspect,” she said.

    Sinclair said he hopes to add to his 40-year collection of silver and gold and he plans to also submit a bid on a 305-year-old Queen Anne brandy warmer. Numerous gold, silver, copper and steel coins were on display at the State Office Building.

    Zabean, a jeweler and collector, called the display a collection of “very interesting pieces. He checked out several pieces of diamond jewelry along with coins and paper currency.

    101812 diamond ring unclaimed property ebay auction.JPG A diamond ring in a gold setting valued at $17,000 is one of the items bound for an unclaimed property eBay auction.

    “The coins and currency are a personal interest,” he said. Zabean will be part of the bidding Saturday but he said “auctions are hit or miss. Sometimes it is very worthwhile.”

    Sinclair picked up a few silver and gold bars in last year’s eBay auction. He said “sometimes people bidding lose sight of the actual price of an item. I like to hold out for the sleepers.”

    Of the 1,000 items auctioned on eBay last year, a total of 960 were sold, according to Roy.

    Roy reminded residents that if they recognize an item that is up for auction and can provide proof of their or family ownership those items will be returned. If already sold, the owner will receive the purchased price.

    The public can call the treasury at 888-344-6277 to check of unclaimed property or search a list at www.findmassmoney.com.


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    School Committee Chairman Michael Clark drafted the proposed policy which will allow teachers, students and parents to communicate through means like Facebook, Twitter and educational blogs.

    Michael Clark horiz 2010.jpg Michael Clark

    LONGMEADOW- The draft version of a social media policy for Longmeadow schools is now available for viewing on the district website before a public forum scheduled for Wednesday to discuss it.

    School Committee Chairman Michael Clark drafted the proposed policy which will allow teachers, students and parents to communicate through means like Facebook, Twitter and educational blogs.

    Clark encourages people to view the policy before the forum and come prepared with questions and suggestions before the policy is voted on by the School Committee. The policy touches on many areas including use of district owned email addresses, the use of wiki pages and blogs and how teachers and students can use other social media sites appropriately.

    The policy clearly states that teachers may not “fraternize” with students using social media sites and also prohibits direct messaging and texting between teachers and students.

    Section 2 of the policy gives the superintendent and administration the right to monitor all activity on district related social media.

    Section 3E of the policy focuses directly on the use of Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites.

    “With nearly one billion users worldwide Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have become ubiquitous,” the policy reads.

    Staff may use the social networks with various conditions mainly that teachers may not friend, follow, message or engage students in an way on social media via personal sites.

    However the policy would allow teachers to reach out to students via a professional work profile.

    If teachers choose to use these sites to contact their students they must use privacy settings to prohibit access to students to any personal social networking sites.

    Parents must also be notified if a teacher chooses to use one of these sites and must provide other means to disseminate information for those students who do not have access to Facebook and Twitter.

    Section 3F would allow staff to use “ blogs, wikis, or any other website for instructional purposes including homework pages and blog pages.”

    Clark said he has worked on this policy for a year and believes it is an innovative approach to dealing with the issue of social media in the schools.

    “While many districts ban its use outright, we have taken a different approach, we are looking to include it within the curriculum to help develop digital citizenship,” he said.

    The forum will be held in the Glenbrook Middle School Auditorium, 110 Cambridge Circle at 7 p.m. 


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    Richard Engelson said many of the residents have flooding in their driveways and basements on a regular basis.


    View Larger Map

    LONGMEADOW – Residents of Woodside Drive met with selectmen recently to express their concerns about what they called constant flooding on their street.

    “We have been complaining about this issue for 10 years. This problem has existed forever and last time we were here we left with the impression that the town was studying alternative fixes until a permanent solution could be found,” said one resident, Bill Degiulio.

    The board listened to the residents during the visitor comments section of the meeting. Chairman Paul Santaniello said the visitor comments section is not a question and answer period, but he did address the residents by saying the town will look into the issue once more.

    Richard Engelson has lived in a home on Woodside Drive since 1986.

    “Throughout that time the weather patters have changed the rains have gotten heavier and the flooding has become more constant,” he said.

    He said he has spent thousands of dollars putting in drainage systems that have not resolved the issue.

    Many of the residents have flooding in their driveways and basements on a regular basis, he said.

    Santaniello said he has discussed the issue with Department of Public Works Director Michael Wrabel.

    “ Alternatives to fix the issue were discussed three years ago, but nothing was actually done,” Santaniello said. “One of the plans called for a pipe to go into Williams Middle School, but it was never looked into.”

    Degiulio said he would like to see the issue put on the agenda for a future meeting so that the public works department could come in and explain what they plan to do to fix the drainage problems.

    Select Board member Mark Gold said he remembers discussing this issue a few years ago.

    “We heard about this three or four years ago. There was an interim solution that cost a reasonable amount and the alternative cost an awful lot, about $1million. At the time I said it was difficult to spend that amount if there is a possible $150,000 solution,” he said. “We have to find out and pursue a more affordable option to fix this problem and we intend to do so,” he said.

    The issue will be put on a future agenda for discussion.


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    The meals tax will add 75 cents to a bill of $100, Selectman Mark Gold said.

    111511_longmeadow_storm_cleanup.JPG Excavators and a large grinder turn tree debris collected from around Longmeadow from the October snowstorm last year into mulch at the athletic fields on Wolf Swamp Road. The effort was run by a group of private wood collection companies and paid for, in part, with money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    LONGMEADOW - Residents approved the use of $900,000 to help pay for damage from the October 2011 snowstorm as well as a meals tax during the special Town Meeting held Monday night.

    Article 1 asked residents to approve the use of $900,000 to pay for the town’s portion of the costs for the October storm.

    It cost $11.8 million for the cleanup after heavy snow broke leaf-laden branches and caused widespread power outages. Federal emergency funds paid for most of the cleanup, but the town is expected to pay $2.4 million of it.

    During the annual Town Meeting earlier this year residents appropriated $790,000 towards the debt. Now that voters have approved this most recent article there will only be about $700,000 left to pay the town’s portion.

    Select Board member Mark Gold said most of the articles were housekeeping issues and were easily approved.

    Article 7 granted the School Department $30,000 to equip the meeting room within the central office in order to broadcast consequential committee meetings.

    Voters also approved Article 9 which will put $159,960 in the Operations Stabilization Fund for any future needs.

    There was some discussion about Article 10 which asked voters to approve a local meals tax.

    Gold said while some people expressed concerns about restaurants losing business because of the tax, ultimately voters approved the article.

    “There is no documentation proving that any restaurants have lost business over this tax,” he said.

    Gold said the tax will be .75 cents on every $100 bill.

    “In the long run it will save taxpayers between $14 and $17 on their real estate taxes,” he said. The amount is based on a home assessed at $351,000.

    Gold said the full impact of the new Longmeadow High School bond payments will hit people in 2014 and the meals tax offers some relief.

    He made it clear that this is not a tax on groceries, but a meal tax which will apply to restaurants in town.

    Residents took no action on Article 11 which dealt with vacant properties in town.

    There was some discussion about Articles 13 and 14 which placed regulations on fences being erected on private properties, particularly on corner lots. Both articles failed. 


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    After a year of mind-bending weather, with ice storms, blizzards, tornadoes, a tropical storm and earthquake, the Halloween nor’easter was the most wicked storm of all.

    Gallery preview

    By 8 p.m., wet snow was blanketing the highway and whipping against Caro Lambert’s windshield.

    It was October 29, 2011 – three hours into a fierce pre-Halloween snowstorm – and the speech pathologist was driving home from a workshop in Amherst.

    The snow was piling up fast, and her 2002 Honda was one of the few cars on Route 9 in Belchertown. Everything was so quiet, so peaceful, Lambert recalled last week.

    “Then I heard this horrific crack,” she said.

    A huge tree slammed down on the car, crushing the front end and exploding the windows, with just a few feet separating Lambert from a gruesome death.

    “I was lucky. Not a scratch or a bruise,” the 50-year old Belchertown resident said. “I could have been squashed like a bug.”

    With Hurricane Sandy – another massive coastal storm – expected to arrive Sunday night, the first anniversary of the October nor’easter, nobody is rooting for a replay of last year’s ordeal.

    “No. Not again,” said Wilmarie Grajales, 25, of Holyoke, who moved here from New York City less than 48 hours after last year’s storm.

    “I took one look at the streets and went back to New York. I didn’t come back until August,” she said.

    After a year of mind-bending weather, with ice storms, blizzards, tornadoes, a tropical storm and earthquake, the Halloween nor’easter was the most wicked storm of all.

    With a crippling mix of wet snow and high winds, the storm plunged 3 million people into darkness on the East Coast that Saturday night, ravaging trees and power lines from Maryland to Maine.

    On Sunday, the region woke up to a frozen, deforested landscape, with towering snowbanks, dangling electrical wires and fallen or mangled trees.

    With snow totals reaching 2½ feet, the storm shattered records dating back to the 1880s for early season snowfall. But it was the storm’s timing – arriving during an unusually late foliage season, when many trees still had leaves – that magnified the tree damage, creating chain-reaction power outages.

    In Western Massachusetts, nearly 250,000 people found themselves with no heat or electricity. In Springfield, school was canceled for a week. Gas stations, hardware stores and even doughnut shops were swamped.

    Indeed, the search for morning coffee created a block-long traffic backup Monday at Dunkin’ Donuts in West Springfield.

    “It was crazy. You saw lines in places you’d never seen them before,” said Joel Dorval, of Chicopee.

    By mid-week, not much had changed.

    Homeowners in Springfield, Longmeadow, Agawam and other communities were still waiting for power. Emergency shelters were still open.

    Side streets remained blocked; trees were stooped or splintered into grotesque shapes.

    “Everything looked different after the storm – everything was different,” said Chris Brown, 20, of Riverton Road, Springfield.

    Recounting a week without heat, hot showers, television, the computers or even school, Brown said: “I missed everything.”

    Gallery preview

    “It was not a lot of fun,” added Shirley Morgan, 86, of Holyoke, whose week got off to a bad start when she broke her ankle several days before the storm.

    At her nephew’s request, Morgan spent Saturday night in Palmer, sleeping on the floor with four other relatives in front of a fireplace.

    The arrangement left something to be desired, Moran said.

    “The next morning, I said to him, ‘Bring me home.’”

    A few hours later, Morgan was thrilled to be back in Holyoke, where power had already been restored by the city’s Gas & Electric Department.

    “We hardly lost anything,” Morgan recalled.

    “I think my nephew didn’t get power back for five days.”

    In Wilbraham, Michael C. Mannix discovered the joys of indoor camping. With his wife and daughter, the Springfield post office manger spent five nights sleeping in front of the fireplace.

    “I slept in a recliner,” Mannix said, wincing at the memory.

    Nine trees fell in his driveway during the storm; one very large tree also landed against his house.

    “Our house used to be surrounded by trees – not anymore,” said Mannix, a former Holyoke city councilor. “You lose the shade, and you lose privacy.”

    By Monday, the impact of the storm was becoming all too clear.

    In Springfield, the scenes at local gas stations were reminiscent of the long, panicked lines from the 1970s Arab oil embargo, when the quest for gasoline became a national obsession.

    To keep order, police were deployed at particularly busy gas stations, including at Breckwood and Wilbraham roads, St. James Avenue and Tapley Street, and Bay Street.

    The temperature rebounded to the 50s by afternoon, but snowbanks lined many streets, some draped with downed telephone or electric wires.

    By Monday afternoon, Natalia Navarro was forced to cancel her daughter’s first Halloween.

    “It was too bad; I had a little Tootsie Roll (costume) for her,” Navarro, 19, recalled. “But this year, she’ll be going as a gnome.”

    For many families, Halloween was replaced by Malloween, with hundreds of children paraded from shop to shop at the Holyoke Mall, getting candy from the staff.

    “A lot of communities canceled Halloween, so the kids had nowhere else to go,” said William Rogalski, general manager of the mall.

    The turnout was larger than expected.

    Gallery preview

    “It was insane; I don’t think anyone was 100 percent prepared for it,” he added.

    I-Party, the Dedham-based party supply chain, had the opposite problem. The storm struck on the busiest weekend of the year, cutting power to a dozen stores, with four remaining closed into November.

    Sales for the month dropped 12 percent from the previous October, a $2 million loss linked to the storm, the company reported.

    In East Longmeadow, the collapsing power grid represented a different kind of business opportunity for Floyd Cumby, who picked up a fast $5,000 by breaking into two restaurants and a credit union early Sunday morning.

    Alerted by a battery-operated alarm at the credit union, police responded – following a trail of money dropped by the suspect as they chased him through the snow.

    In July, Cumby, 51, of Springfield, was sentenced to five years in state prison for the break-ins, which occurred while he was on probation for receiving stolen property.

    The failure to quickly restore power turned into a debacle for Western Mass Electric Company, triggering a public backlash and a $4 million fine from state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

    The public uproar was worse in Connecticut, where the president of Connecticut Light and Power, the state’s largest utility, was forced to resign three weeks after the storm.

    For all the outrage, the sudden loss of basic necessities – lights, hot showers, warm food, cable television – also created a grudging appreciation for electricity and the role it plays in modern life.

    “It’s true. You don’t really appreciate something like that (electricity) until it’s gone,” said Brandon Crespo, 18, of Indian Orchard, who found his Honda buried in snow to the windows Sunday morning.

    For others, the ordeal reinforced the importance of family – especially relatives with fireplaces, snowblowers and hot showers.

    “There’s only one thing I can’t live without, and it’s my family,” said Judy Gonzalez, 20, of Springfield. “And thank God, nothing happened to them.’

    For Lambert, her close call on Route 9 was just the start of a week without heat, light, water, telephone or e-mail – a plight she shared with many Belchertown residents.

    The accident gave her a perspective on the storm and its seemingly endless hassles.

    “You realize what’s really important – I tried to call my father, and my brother and sister as soon as I got home,” she said. “I couldn’t get through.”

    Her Honda, meanwhile, had been reduced to a junk sculpture on display at a local towing garage.

    On Sunday, Lambert and her husband Paul went to retrieve her possessions. Route 9 was littered with fallen trees and abandoned cars. “It was a war zone,” she said.

    To her relief, a scrapbook with pictures of her late mother, Ann, survived the crash without damage.

    The garage’s owner seemed surprised to see her.

    “He said, ‘You are one lucky lady. I’ve seen a lot of wrecks like this, and they don’t usually turn out this well.’”


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    Waddell traveled to Connecticut for several days in 2009 to have sex with the defendant at motel and to make a pornographic video, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Grant.

    SPRINGFIELD – Sixteen months after being arrested on child sexual exploitation charges, James “Jimmy White Trash” Waddell has agreed to plead guilty to luring a Longmeadow teenager into making pornographic videos, according to a federal prosecutor.

    Waddell, 33, of Montrose, Ill. was scheduled to plead guilty Monday in U.S. District Court, but the hearing was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. The hearing will be rescheduled, but no date has been set, according to the court’s docket.

    Under federal guidelines, Waddell could receive between 17 and 24 years in prison for a guilty plea.

    The defendant, whose aliases are listed as “Jimmy White Trash” and “Yo Jimbo” was arraigned in July, 2011 on 16 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, one count of inducing travel to engage in sexual activity and one count of online enticement.

    Waddell pleaded innocent to the charges and was ordered held without bail.

    Announced by U.S. Attorney for Masachusetts Carmen Ortiz, the case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a six-year initiative by the U.S. Justice Department to protect children from online sexual exploitation.

    The encounters between Waddell and the girl began in June, 2009, when she was 14 or 15, according to the indictment, which lists 16 instances of her engaging in sexually explicit conduct while being filmed by Waddell.

    In three cases, the videos were filmed after the victim’s custodial parent had obtained a restraining order in February, 2010, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant wrote in a motion opposing bail for Waddell.

    Waddell traveled to Connecticut for several days in August, 2009 to have sex with the defendant at a motel and to make a pornographic video; in January, 2010, he returned and took the defendant back to Illinois, according to Grant, who said police tracked the pair down and returned the victim to her custodial parent.

    In arguing against bail, Grant cited the defendant’s criminal record dating back to 1995, with convictions for theft, burglary and attempted robbery.

    In 2002, police foiled an attempt by Waddell and an accomplice to rob a Papa John’s Pizza shop, leading to a five-year prison sentence, according to Grant.

    If convicted at trial, Waddell would be eligible for a prison term of 325 to 405 months under federal guidelines, according to Grant; for pleading guilty before trial, the punishment could be reduced to 235 to 293 months, Grant said.

    Any plea agreement must be approved by a judge; the defendant has the option of changing his mind and withdrawing his plea before the so-called Rule 11 hearing is held.


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    LONGMEADOW - Officials said the storm did not cause any major damage in town unlike the 2011 storm which caused major devastation to the old trees in Longmeadow. " Everything seems back to normal. There are no current power outages in Longmeadow, and an outage on Converse Street was restored quickly last night, " said Selectman Mark Gold. "There were...

    LONGMEADOW - Officials said the storm did not cause any major damage in town unlike the 2011 storm which caused major devastation to the old trees in Longmeadow.

    " Everything seems back to normal. There are no current power outages in Longmeadow, and an outage on Converse Street was restored quickly last night, " said Selectman Mark Gold. "There were no significant trees down in town, school is in session and trash pick up is going on as scheduled."

    Gold said Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief Eric Madison and his team did an outstanding job preparing for Hurricane Sandy.

    "We are thankful that we did not need to implement any of the plans or contingencies that they developed," he said.

    East Longmeadow Selectmen James Driscoll said the town was well prepared to handle any emergency, but everything went smoothly.

    "There were no significant outages, 52 total, but most were short outage times and are all restored thanks to the efforts of National Grid," he said.

    "The shelter was ready to go live if we needed it, but thankfully we didn't. It was a great exercise for us, however, to make sure we closed the gap on some real issues that we identified from last year's tornado and devastating Halloween snowstorm and have worked on improving since then with our Shelter Committee," Driscoll said.

    As for Halloween, parents are urged to use common sense and be as cautious and careful as possible, when trick-or-treating with their children.

    "We also encourage parents to drop one Butterfingers and or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that each child collects to the Board of Selectmen office in Town Hall," Driscoll said jokingly.


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    Longmeadow Planning Board hopes to meet with residents to discuss corner lot bylaws.

    LONGMEADOW — Good fences may make good neighbors, but not good town bylaws.

    The Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals hope to meet with owners of corner lots in order to establish new definitions for rear and side yards. The meetings are a direct result of a recent special Town Meeting in which residents made it clear they are unhappy with the current bylaws.

    Rear yards are less tightly regulated than side yards under Longmeadow's bylaw.

    Dennis Gordon, a longtime resident and owner of a corner lot, drafted a warrant article that would change the definition of rear yard and the requirements for primary setbacks on corner lots.

    Planning Board Chairman Walter Gunn said that while he understands Gordon’s frustration, the article he drafted would resolve only the problems for his particular situation.

    Although the article failed, many residents who own corner lots expressed their frustration with the current definition, which regulates whether they can put a fence in their yard.

    The current bylaw states, “The rear lot line is the lot line opposite to the street line. In the case of a corner lot the owner may designate which line will be the rear lot line provided their choice does not violate provisions of the bylaw.”

    A rear yard is defined as “a required open, unoccupied space the full width of the lot between the rear wall of the building throughout its height and rear lot line.”

    Gordon said his issue started when the town building inspector told him a six-foot fence he installed in what he believed was his rear yard would have to come down because according to town definition it is actually in his side yard.

    “This will not help up to 60 percent of the corner lots in Longmeadow,” Gunn said. “We represent the town, not just Dr. Gordon. (The definition that works for him) might not work for other people in town.”

    Resident and former selectman Kathy Grady said the Planning Board needs to come up with a less complicated and clear bylaw.

    “The corner lot zoning laws have been a problem for a long time,” she said. “We have to settle this…somebody in this commonwealth might have gotten it right. We need expert advice on this,” she said.

    Town Attorney David Martel said this is an extremely complicated technical matter that should be resolved after everyone who is affected can be heard.

    Roy Johansen is a member of the Planning Board and lives on a corner lot.

    “This needs thoughtful consideration and experts weighing in. We (the Planning Board) are accountable. We are on notice. Let us have the time to talk about this, hold public meetings and come back in the spring with a better article,” he said.


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    Smith was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court by Gov. Francis Sargent in 1972, and associate justice of the Appeals Court by Gov. Edward King in 1981.

    kent.JPGKent B. Smith

    LONGMEADOW - Colleagues remembered retired Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice Kent B. Smith who died Wednesday.

    Smith, 85, retired from the Massachusetts Appeals Court at age 70, but continued to serve as a recall judge on the Massachusetts Appeals Court. He last presided in August.

    Retired Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice John Greaney of Westfield, 73, a law professor at Suffolk University, said Smith was a mentor to him.

    “He helped acclimate me to the Massachusetts Superior Court,” Greaney said.

    In 1972 Smith was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court by Gov. Francis Sargent. He served on that court until 1981, when he was appointed an associate justice of the Appeals Court by Gov. Edward King.

    After reaching mandatory retirement age in 1997, Smith remained with the Appeals Court as a recall justice.

    Smith was always “compassionate, fair and understanding,” Greaney said. He added, “He was still working.”

    Smith was born in Burlington, Vt., on March 11, 1927. He received a B.A. from American International College and graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1951.

    In August of 1954 Smith became the first attorney appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants in Western Massachusetts.

    Smith is the author of Criminal Practice and Procedure, a three-volume work in the Massachusetts Practice series. The work has been issued in three editions and more than 20 supplements since its original publication in 1970.

    Arthur Wolf, of Wilbraham, a longtime law professor at Western New England University, remembered Smith as “a tall, husky mountain of a man.”

    “He was funny, and he brought humor to the court,” Wolf said. “His questions were always right on the mark.”

    Many lawyers consulted his work on criminal law, Wolf said.

    Greaney said one of Smith’s more noteworthy trials in Superior Court occurred in Franklin County in 1974 when Samuel Lovejoy, as an act of civil disobedience, toppled a tower in Montague that was to be used for a nuclear power facility. At the close of the prosecution’s case, Smith ordered that a required finding of not guilty be entered for Lovejoy, who went on to become an attorney.

    “Civil disobedience in those days was quite common,” Greaney said. He added, “Maybe the judge’s finding caused Lovejoy to think law a noble career.”

    “Smith had many notable findings while on the Appeals Court,” Greaney said. “He was known for his correctness, clarity and fairness.”

    Smith’s daughter, Barbara Carra, of Longmeadow, said her father inspired her to go to law school.

    “His love for the law was second only to his love for his family,” she said.

    She added that “Western Massachusetts meant so much to him.”

    Carra said her father had “an encyclopedic mind” and remembered cases from years ago. She said he also had a wonderful sense of humor.

    When he was seriously ill in the hospital, he continued to lighten the situation, even to the end, she said.

    Smith leaves his wife, Marguerite Irwin Smith, and two daughters: Carra, of Longmeadow, and Margaret Kennedy ,of East Longmeadow; a grandson and a granddaughter.


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    The highest-profile state representative’s contest is in the 3rd Hampden District, where incumbent Brian Ashe, D-Longmeadow takes on Republican challenger Marie Angelides, a member of the Longmeadow Select Board.

    2012 election logo.JPG

    SPRINGFIELD – Voters across Western Mass. go to the polls Tuesday to decide local races and ballot questions overshadowed by the Obama-Romney presidential showdown and the Brown-Warren battle for the U.S. Senate.

    The huge turnout expected for the federal election will boost vote totals in Springfield and across the region, Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola predicted.

    “The (presidential and senate) race is having a major impact on the turnout in Springfield,” Oyola said, adding she expects a turnout of 60 to 70 percent, far higher than for most local elections.

    Ten state representative races are on the ballot, along with three statewide referendum questions, the 8th District seat on the Governor’s Council and the Hampshire County register of deeds.

    Local ballot questions – from a binding vote on a $1.4 million school override in Easthampton to a non-binding question on legalizing and taxing marijuana in the 2nd Berkshire District – are also up for a vote.

    The highest-profile state representative’s contest is in the 2nd Hampden District, where incumbent Brian M. Ashe, D-Longmeadow takes on Republican challenger Marie Angelides, a member of the Longmeadow Select Board.

    Angelides emerged from a September primary roiled by a voting fraud scandal involving her opponent, Enrico J. Villamaino, of East Longmeadow. By the time the primary was held, Villamaino, a former chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen, had effectively abandoned his campaign, giving Angelides a lopsided victory.

    In October, Villamaino pleaded innocent to 12 counts of voter fraud, along with a town employee who allegedly helped change party affiliations of 200-plus Democratic voters, then requested absentee ballots in their names.

    The battle for the 3rd Hampden District legislative seat has also produced sparks, with one-term incumbent Nicholas A. Boldyga, R-Southwick, repeatedly clashing with Democratic challenger Samuel S. Di Santi of Agawam.

    Other contests include incumbent Democrat Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr. D-Springfield, against Republican D. John McCarthy, of Wilbraham, in the 12th Hampden District; longtime incumbent Benjamin Swan, D-Springfield, 79, against unenrolled candidate Norman Oliver, 75, of Springfield - the third challenge by Oliver for Swan’s 11th Hampden District seat.

    Also in Springfield, four-term incumbent Sean F. Curran, D-Springfield, faces unenrolled candidate Robert J. Underwood, of Springfield, in the 9th Hampden District.

    The 6th Hampden District race features one-term incumbent Michael J. Finn, D-West Springfield, against 23-year-old unenrolled candidate Lincoln A. Blackie, also of West Springfield.

    In Holyoke’s 5th Hampden District, a three-way contest pits Democrat Aaron M. Vega, a city councilor, against Republican Linda L. Vacon, also a city councilor, and Jerome T. Hobert, the Green-Rainbow Party nominee.

    In the 2nd Franklin District, state Rep. Denise Andrews, D-Orange squares off against Republican Susannah M. Whipps Lee, Athol’s selectwoman. Self-proclaimed longshot Richard Schober, Jr. an independent from Templeton, is also running.

    In the 5th Worcester District, Rep. Anne M. Gobi, D-Spencer, is challenged by Republican Jason M. Petraitis, the North Brookfield selectmen's chairman.

    The race for the vacant Hampshire Register of Deeds post features Democrat Mary Olberding, of Belchertown, against Northampton City Treasurer George R. Zimmerman, an independent.

    Voters will also choose a member of the eight-person Governor’s Council, a state board that confirms judicial appointments. Seeking the post are former Springfield Mayor Michael J. Albano, of Longmeadow, a Democrat, and Michael Franco, a Republican, of Holyoke.


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    The fall into the lure of drugs for tens of thousands of young people across Western Massachusetts begins as early as middle school and most likely by high school when they begin using and abusing pharmaceutical drugs – oxycodone, hydrocodone, Percocet, and Ritalin, police and medical experts say.

    110712_grace_dias.JPG Grace Dias, of Ludlow, is pictured at home with a photograph of her son, Michael, who committed suicide in 2009.

    Michael J. Dias was born on Oct. 18, 1989, but instead of celebrating his birthday, his family in Ludlow now mourns his death.

    Dias committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in May 2009.

    “This was my son. He was a pianist; he had an extremely bright future. He went to school at Northeastern, interviewed with (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He was extremely bright; he had a straight A average,” says his mother, Grace Dias.

    Her son graduated third in his class at Ludlow High School, but, while he was pounding the books, he was also illegally popping prescription pills, Dias said.

    The drug use began when Michael Dias was 16; the abuse continued until he graduated from high school. His mother thought that getting him out of Ludlow to attend college would solve the problem, but it got worse in Boston.

    After just one semester at Northeastern University, Michael Dias quit school and came back to Ludlow, but not back home.

    “I didn’t even know where he was,” his mother remembered recently. “He wasn’t living with me at the time, and it just went down from there. The reason he killed himself was because of a combination of prescription pills and steroids. I was having dinner at my sister’s house, and the police came over to tell me. He had been with me just an hour before. He put a gun to his head and killed himself.”

    This has not been an easy year for area families or for law enforcement in regards to young people and drug use. From the end of March to the beginning of July, East Longmeadow police say they responded to five medical emergencies involving heroin overdoses.

    “Two people were rushed to the hospital; three were rushed to the morgue. We’ve had three heroin deaths in this town, yes,” said East Longmeadow Sgt. Patrick Manley.

    The victims were all male, between the ages of 20 and 28, according to Manley. Their stories were similar to what police have been witnessing, a story that begins with prescription meds, switches to heroin, and then ends with an autopsy and an epitaph, the sergeant said.

    101912 robert burke john field.JPG Agawam police officers Robert Burke, left, and John Field show the Drug Display Unit they use in the Addiction Resource Center at Agawam High.

    The fall into the lure of drugs for tens of thousands of young people across Western Massachusetts begins as early as middle school and most likely by high school when they begin using and abusing pharmaceutical drugs – oxycodone, hydrocodone, Percocet, and Ritalin, police and medical experts say.

    “The statistics are pretty scary. The number of middle schoolers who have tried oxycodone or hydrocodone-type prescription medications is fairly alarming, but in high school it’s become an epidemic,” said Dr. Louis Durkin, emergency room medical director at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield.

    In Longmeadow, police haven’t dealt with an overdose death in several years, but the department has fear it may just be a matter of time because young people appear to be now hooked on “pharm parties.”

    “This is where kids bring medicines they find in the house. They throw it on the table and everybody just starts taking medication, and they have no idea what it is. They just take it and see what it does for them, and that’s extremely dangerous,” said Longmeadow patrolman Dan Jacek.

    “When you get people combining all kinds of drugs together and they have no idea what the effects are going to be, it’s extremely dangerous and potentially deadly,” he said.

    Even though pharmaceutical drugs are available only by prescription, they’re easy enough for kids and teens to access, according to police. Authorities say children are taking the meds from their parents who leave prescriptions open and available all over the house – in medicine cabinets, purses, drawers or right on kitchen counters.

    “They don’t have to go on the street to buy their drugs. It’s right in their home,” said Agawam school resource officer Robert Burke. “The kids take a couple of pills at a time so no one notices.”

    Authorities say they have a tough time tracking down who’s taking pills because the tell-tale signs are few; drug-sniffing dogs can’t detect the narcotics, police, parents can’t smell drugs on a child’s breath, and, because young people are taking the drugs orally, or snorting them, teens don’t have needle marks on their arms.

    “It’s probably more accessible than alcohol. It’s another thing they can get into,” says Ludlow patrolman and school resource officer Paul Dobek. “For the kids, it’s just like popping candy. It’s simple, it’s clean, and tough to get caught.”

    092912 dan jacek.JPG Longmeadow Police Officer Dan Jacek holds prescription drugs collected from a recent drug drop off held across Western Massachusetts and in Longmeadow. Drugs

    Authorities say when kids aren’t popping pills, they’re crushing and snorting the medication, making a dangerous drug even deadlier. “The reason they snort it is the same reason it’s more dangerous. It enters the blood stream faster and you get higher faster. But the higher the concentration in the blood stream the more likely it is to cause death,” said Durkin.

    Middle- and high-school students have even easier access to drugs when the prescription is for them. Law enforcement officers say children who are being treated for attention deficit disorder, depression, anxiety, or hyperactivity may skip taking their meds and give, or even sell the narcotics to their classmates.

    “We call that diversion of the medication,” said Durkin. “That’s a big issue and doctors are now monitoring their patients more closely by calling them in for random checks to make sure they actually have the medication in their system,” he said.

    Doctors are also ordering their young patients to bring in their medication and counting how many pills are left in the bottle, according to Durkin. Too few could mean the child is over-medicating or selling the drugs, he said.

    “That child needs that medication and a lot of times they’re not taking it the way they’re supposed to because they’re selling it to make money or they’re getting their friends high with it,” said Burke in Agawam.

    Pharmaceutical drugs are highly addictive, hooking students not only on the medication but also the dealer. In high school, when the supplier graduates, students left behind are forced to find another source. Very often this pursuit of drugs takes a dangerous turn into the city. The young drug users are now forced to buy from drug dealers in metropolitan areas, like Springfield and Holyoke, where law enforcement officers say the suburban kids can wind up being in over their heads.

    “We see people coming into our city all the time driving through our high-crime areas, looking to score either heroin or oxycodone,” said Springfield Police Sgt. John M. Delaney.

    Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William Fitchet, says teens from across Western Massachusetts, including some who come from the Berkshires as well as northern Connecticut and southern Vermont, are shopping for drugs in Springfield. He says the City of Homes has become a major drug distribution center for southern New England. But, when teens come with cash and shop for drugs, they don’t always get the goods, according to Delaney.

    “What happens more often than not is that instead of buying the drug they’re getting a gun in their face or they’re getting carjacked. They’re going to an area that is high crime and the dealers see the buyers as easy marks, especially if they’re from out of town,” said Delaney.

    Teenagers from suburbia aren’t coming to Springfield and Holyoke just to score illegal pharmaceuticals, according to Delaney. They’re also after heroin to buy, too, because it has the same effect as oxycodone.

    “Heroin is so much cheaper now, and the purity level is at an all-time high. These kids can buy a $5 bag of heroin as opposed to $50 for a single oxycodone pill,” said Delaney. “Officers in the district know when somebody’s patrolling the area looking for drugs. We’ll pull them over and tell them to get out of Dodge because we don’t need any more crime victims.”

    In Ludlow, Dobek worries about kids literally crossing the line from oxycodone to heroine and Ludlow to Springfield. “It’s a gamble. You don’t know who you’re dealing with. There’s no honor among thieves. You go over there to buy drugs, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get ripped off, especially if you’re a kid from a small town who’s unfamiliar with the city,” he said.

    Stealing and using prescription medication intended for someone else isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal – and authorities don’t differentiate between first-time users and hard core dealers, police say.

    “It’s illegal to have someone else’s prescription medication. If it’s not prescribed to you, you can’t have it,” says Burke in Agawam. “It’s not like alcohol. It doesn’t matter what your age is with drug offenses. There’s no break if you’re a minor. You can be 8 years old and have somebody else’s prescription, and you’re going to be charged the same way as a 30 year old.”

    The suicide of Michael Dias is just one reason the Ludlow Cares Coalition is now focusing on children and drugs, creating awareness of and trying to prevent drug abuse.

    “We’ve had our share of tragedy and we don’t need it; we don’t need it and it can be prevented,” said coalition chairperson Laura Rooney. “I’ve had to talk to my kids about tragedy and it’s very, very difficult.”

    Grace Dias formed the Michael J. Dias Foundation, a non-profit organization trying to raise money to build a “sober home” where drug abusing children and teens can go to beat the addiction.

    prescription drugs.JPG Prescription drugs collected from a recent drug drop-off held across Western Massachusetts.

    Although promoting drug awareness is now one of Dias’ missions in life, she’s got little advice for parents. “I’m at a loss for what to say to parents because I never want to make them feel like they had a part in this,” she said.

    Dias says she kept a close eye on her son, insisting that he do his homework and practice playing the piano. He had a curfew and she could enforce it because she was a stay at home mom. Dias simply doesn’t know what went wrong with her son.

    “You can talk to a child until you’re blue in the face, but how much effect does that really have? When you’re 16, all that matters are your friends,” Grace Dias said. “If you’re not accepted at school you’re going to do what it takes. The influence that’s out there is much greater than the influence you have with your child.”

    When a child pops his first prescription med, illegally, he takes the biggest gamble and makes what could be the biggest mistake of his life, Dias and the officers agree.

    “The drugs are prescribed by a doctor that knows your body, knows what you’re allergic to and what your body can handle,” said Dobek. “It’s like playing Russian roulette. If you randomly take a pill, you don’t know how it’s going to affect you.”

    In Ludlow and other area communities, parents are talking with their children about drugs and choices, hoping their point is well-made. “Kids need to know that as parents we support their good choices,” said Rooney. “The use and selling of drugs is something that we don’t support.”


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    Longmeadow's full-time Veterans Services agent, Jason Dieni, has taken a job in Rhode Island.

    LONGMEADOW — The Select Board is considering joining the Veterans Service District of Eastern Hampden County now that its full-time Veterans Services agent, Jason Dieni, has taken a job in Rhode Island.

    A U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, Dieni was hired by the town in November 2011.

    Initially, Longmeadow was looking to regionalize with East Longmeadow to hire a joint agent. East Longmeadow joined the Veterans Service District of Eastern Hampden County, but Longmeadow decided to hire its own full-time agent.

    Dieni, who has taken a job at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., has been keeping up with the job through online and phone contact with veterans, said Acting Town Manager Barry Del Castilho.

    The board met recently to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of joining the Eastern Hampden County district.

    There was some concern over whether one full -time agent could handle all of the towns, Del Castilho said. The district currently includes Monson, Hampden, Holland, Wales and East Longmeadow.

    Del Castilho said the board is researching what the current staffing is for all the towns. If there is a full-time agent as well as a part-time agent, then the town will consider joining as opposed to hiring a full-time agent of its own.

    Dieni’s salary was around $36,000. It is unknown at this time what Longmeadow’s portion of the cost would be if it joined the district.

    Del Castilho said the board will meet on Nov. 19 to vote on whether it will approach the district about joining. Del Castilho said that while there would be less cost associated with joining the established district, there are also benefits to having a full-time agent.

    “Since the agent is stationed at the Greenwood Center there has been some discussion about assigning the person to other duties including assisting the staff at the Adult Center and the Parks and Recreation Department, which are both housed in the building,” he said.


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    Project Manager Thomas Murphy of Joslin, Lesser and Associates said so far the town has spent $46 million and has received $17 million in reimbursements from the state.

    Longmeadow high school construction Septembet 2012.jpg Construction on the new section of Longmeadow High School is seen in September.

    LONGMEADOW – Members of the School Building Committee said the new Longmeadow High School project is moving along steadily and the school is set to open officially in February.

    Project Manager Thomas P. Murphy of Joslin, Lesser and Associates and several members of the committee met with the Select Board recently to provide an update on the construction and the budget.

    Murphy said a monthly report is available online showing exactly how much money is being spent and where it is being spent.

    The project, which broke ground in May of 2011, will cost about $78.4 million. The town will pay $44 million while the state School Building Authority will pay the rest.

    Murphy said so far the town has spent $46 million and has received $17 million in reimbursements from the state.

    “They are pretty quick to dispense the funds once they receive our expenses every month,” Murphy said.

    The budget also includes about $3.9 million in contingency fees. Murphy said the town has spent about $850,000 or 27 percent in construction cost contingencies.

    The school is currently open although the School Department is still operating out of Wolf Swamp Road School while renovations are done in their wing of the building at the high school.

    Murphy said the school has been weather proofed and sealed so that construction many go on inside regardless of any winter storms or bad weather.

    Construction continues on the natatorium as well as the auditorium and art rooms.

    Murphy said the academic wing of the school is the furthest along and will be ready for use in February. In January, furniture and equipment will be moved into the room.

    “The floors and walls are done and in another month or so it will be ready for the town authorities to come and do their inspections,” he said.


    School Committee Chairman Michael Clark said most parents and teachers seem to be in favor of the change.

    LONGMEADOW — The Longmeadow School Committee is still considering a social media policy that will allow teachers, students and parents to communicate through means like Facebook, Twitter and educational blogs.

    A public forum was held recently to obtain feedback on the policy. School Committee Chairman Michael Clark said most parents and teachers seem to be in favor of the change.

    "There were not a lot of people at the forum, but we have received a lot of e-mails from parents and teachers about this," said Clark, who drafted the new policy.

    Clark said many teachers are in favor of the cell phone regulation in the policy.

    "The current policy does not allow teachers to give out cell phone numbers to students,"
    Clark said.

    However, many teachers take students on day trips out of the state or on trips abroad and being able to give their cell phone numbers out would make it easier to track each student and make sure they are safe, he said.

    The new policy would allow cell phone contact between teachers and students as long as several guidelines are followed.

    According to the draft policy, the school principal must give authorization to the teacher to give out the number to students. Parents must also be made aware that the cell phone number has been given to a student and a teacher must only use it to communicate with a student on a trip, not to discuss academic performance.

    The School Committee is now working to revise certain language in the policy before taking an official vote during its next meeting.

    To view the draft policy visit www.longmeadow.k12.ma.us.

    Clark will present the draft version of the policy during a Massachusetts Association of School Committees conference this week.


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    The Toy for Joy campaign partners with Hasbro and is sponsored by The Republican and the Salvation Army to provide needy families with toys and gifts.

    111412toy-for-joy.jpg

    SPRINGFIELD — The 90th annual Toy for Joy campaign, sponsored by The Republican and the Salvation Army, kicks off today with the help of campaign partner Hasbro.

    The program, which aims to provide toys and gifts to needy families in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, has a fund-raising goal of $150,000 by Christmas Eve. Last year, fund-raising topped $167,000.

    "We kick off our 90th year of Toy for Joy against a backdrop of high unemployment, especially among our most vulnerable residents. In this climate of need our local citizens have consistently come through year-after-year to add joy to the holidays for area children," said Wayne E. Phaneuf, executive editor of The Republican.

    Toy maker Hasbro jumped on board as a campaign partner last year, ending its own program, the Giving Tree, which also aimed to provide gifts to needy families.

    “We have a long history in this area distributing toys and games in the holiday season. We look forward to doing more this year to make the campaign even more successful than last year,” said George Burtch, vice president of global integration at Hasbro.

    “We will work hard to put a gift under the tree for every child this season,” said Burtch.

    The Greater Springfield Citadel of the Salvation Army has new commanders this year, John and Ronda Ferreira, who are excited to co-sponsor the Toy for Joy campaign.

    “We are thrilled for the partnership. We think it’s great that the Salvation Army and The Republican and Hasbro have come together like this,” said Ronda Ferreira.

    The Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel, located at 170 Pearl Street in Springfield, has been busy with preparations for the campaign.

    “We have great staff in place. Danielle, who is our social services director, has been working very hard coordinating the effort with Hasbro and our other locations and with toy deliveries. We are also getting ready for our registration next week,” said Ronda Ferreira.

    The Ferreiras expect an increase in the number of families registering to receive toys and gifts this year.

    “Coats for Kids was up 30 to 40 percent this year overall. If that’s an indication of what’s going on in the county, then we expect an increase,” added John Ferreira.

    About 20,000 children, from infants through 16 year olds, received gifts through Toy for Joy last year, with about 3,500 families receiving donations.

    nov2011 george burtch mug.JPG George Burtch

    “We thought he campaign did a great job to raise as much money as we did with all the challenges like tornadoes and hurricanes and snow, it’s a testament to the program. We were also happy our employees got to participate with unloading and handing out the games. It served Hasbro well on many fronts,” said Burtch.

    Books play a large part of the Toy for Joy gifts, as an increasing effort to increase literacy. Literacy is a main goal of the Salvation Army’s community efforts.

    "We hope that this tradition of giving will continue and thank all those who have given before and plan on continuing this year along with new doors to this important cause," said Phaneuf.

    Salvation Army units in Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Westfield are participating in Toy for Joy.

    Registration officially starts on Nov. 26; dates and hours vary with each unit. For more information, call (413) 733-1518. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Dec. 21.


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    The new technology specialists at all three elementary schools met with School Committee members to discuss how they are using technology to enhance the learning experience for students.

    LONGMEADOW — Elementary schoolchildren in Longmeadow are using iPads to make short movies, create books and slideshows and more as part of the school curriculum.

    The new technology specialists at all three elementary schools met with School Committee members Tuesday to discuss how they are using technology to enhance the learning experience for students.

    Specialists include Silvia Scott at Blueberry Hill, Laura Guiggio at Center School and Krishna Longanecker at Wolf Swamp Road School.

    The new positions were approved by the School Committee during the fiscal year 2013 budgeting discussion last spring.

    “We are thrilled with the work you are doing,” said Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle.

    Students at all three schools are doing similar activities depending on grade level.

    Kindergarteners at Blueberry Hill are using iPads to create picture books and to write letters and words.

    First grade students are making their own short video clips complete with drawings and at the fifth grade level they are interacting with the Web and creating videos and graphs.

    School Committee member Jennifer Jester said she is excited to see the work the specialists have already done. She asked them each to what extent they rely on the teachers lesson plans or curriculum when they prepare their own lessons.

    All three specialists said curriculum is a key part of their planning.

    “I work side by side with the teachers and the activities I prepare are pretty much all tied to curriculum,” said Guiggio.

    Longanecker said Wolf Swamp will have a parent information night soon so that parents can come to the school, use the technology and learn ways to incorporate it at home.

    “We will also talk about how to keep our kids safe online,” she said.

    Longanecker said it’s amazing what can be done to enhance a lesson with the use of technology.

    “We’ve come a long way from my high school classroom where I learned how to use the first Apple computer years ago,” she said jokingly. 


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    Longmeadow Select Board continues search for town manager after two failed attempts.

    LONGMEADOW — The Select Board continues to look for a permanent town manager and is currently accepting applications for the position.

    Select Board Chairman Paul Santaniello said the board wants to have a new town manager by March of next year.

    “With the holidays coming up it’s a busy time of year, so we are hoping to have applications in by December and select someone by the end of the first quarter next year,” he said.

    The town website currently has a profile of what they are looking for in a town manager complied from interviews with all of the town department heads and public officials.

    The profile lists qualifications, ranging from seven to 10 years of experience as a town or city manager to an ability to communicate with employees, the public and the media.

    Acting Town Manager Barry Del Castilho will review the applications and present the board with possible options.

    “He has experience working with the Collins Center for Public Management and has been involved in town manager searches before, so we are lucky to have his assistance,” Santaniello aid.

    Santaniello said once the applications are in, the board will discuss whether to form a committee to conduct the interviews.

    “We have not made a decision on that yet,” he said. “ We will have to have a discussion about how we will handle the interview process this time around,” he said.

    The Select Board initially wanted to hire Thomas Guerino, the town administrator in Bourne, for the position in August, but failed to negotiate a contract with him. After several more weeks of searching, they went into contract negotiations with Bonnie L. Therrien, the interim town manager in North Branford, Conn. Therrien accepted a position with another town.

    The salary is listed at $115,000. Applications are due Dec. 10. For more information visit the town’s website www.longmeadow.org.


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    The original tree was destroyed by the October snowstorm last year.

    TREE.JPG Longmeadow- Workers finishing planting the new Holiday tree on the Longmeadow Town Green after it was brought to town Monday.

    LONGMEADOW - Residents will enjoy a beautiful Holiday tree on the Town Green this year courtesy of town resident Dennis Thompson and other local business owners.

    Thompson, who owns Oak Ridge Nursery in Feeding Hills, donated the 27 foot balsam fir tree.

    "I heard from Mike Wrabel that the town needed a tree since the previous one was damaged in the storm last year and I just wanted to do this for the town," he said.

    The former tree which was about 55 feet tall was damaged during the October snowstorm last year and although the Department of Public Works was able to trim it and keep it going for last year's tree lighting ceremony a new tree was necessary to replace the broken one, Wrabel said.

    "The town has always made a special effort to take care of its trees and as a longtime resident I wanted to show my appreciation for that," Thompson said.

    "We are just really thankful that Dennis offered the tree. A lot of people in town enjoy seeing it lit up during the holiday season,"Wrabel said.

    The tree was moved from Feeding Hills to Longmeadow on Monday with the help of Northern Tree Service, based in Palmer, which donated its services.

    "We have a long standing relationship with the town and wanted to do this for them," said Mark Lacombe, project manager for the company.

    Wayne Ottani, also of Longmeadow, owner of Tree Corp. in Agawam, has volunteered to decorate the tree with holiday lights later this week.

    Wrabel said Ottani's family donated the former tree many years ago.

    "A lot of people came together to make this happen," Wrabel said.

    The tree lighting ceremony is tentatively set for the day after Thanksgiving on the green in front of the First Church of Christ.


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    Waddell's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2013. He faces up to 20 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.

    BOSTON -- An Illinois man accused in a child sexual exploitation case involving a 15-year-old Longmeadow girl has entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor.

    James Waddell, 34, pleaded guilty to inducing travel to engage in illegal sexual activity, according to an FBI press release and court documents filed Nov. 14.

    Waddell's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2013. He faces up to 20 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release, as well as a $250,000 fine.

    Waddell, of Montrose, Ill., was scheduled to enter his plea in October, but the hearing was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.

    Federal authorities announced the charges against Waddell in June, 2011. He was arraigned in July, 2011 on 16 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, one count of inducing travel to engage in sexual activity and one count of online enticement.

    According to the press release announcing Waddell's plea, the defendant met the girl in 2008 through an online role-playing game. After establishing the relationship, Waddell eventually coaxed the girl into performing sexual acts on a webcam while he recorded video.

    In August 2009, officials said, Waddell traveled to Enfield, Conn., where he recorded video of a sexual encounter with the girl in a motel. At the time, Waddell was 31 and the girl was 15 -- a violation of Connecticut law.

    The federal indictment lists 16 instances of Waddell filming the girl engaging in sexually explicit conduct, but the guilty plea pertains only to the Connecticut encounter.

    In three cases, Waddell made videos of the girl after the victim’s custodial parent had obtained a restraining order in February, 2010, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant wrote in an earlier motion opposing bail for Waddell.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant prosecuted the case.


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    Customers depended upon the tax professional to prepare and file returns.

    A Longmeadow man has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of preparing false tax returns, federal prosecutors said.

    Jonathan Fein, 53, a tax preparer with offices in Springfield and Greenfield, was charged with 29 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, according to a release by U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

    Fein is scheduled to plead guilty to the charges and to be sentenced during a Dec. 20 hearing in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

    carmen2.jpg Carmen Ortiz

    Fein will have to pay $138,474 to the federal Internal Revenue Service and $29,909 to the state Department of Revenue to compensate the agencies for their losses, according to court records.

    Between 2007 and last year, Fein prepared numerous fraudulent tax returns so that his customers could receive larger tax refunds from the IRS, the release said. Fein generally deducted his tax preparation fee from the fraudulently obtained tax refunds, the release said.

    Most customers were unfamiliar with tax laws and depended on Fein to prepare and complete returns, prosecutors said.


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    Needy families with children can register to receive gifts.

    SPRINGFIELD — Registration begins Monday at Salvation Army sites across Western Massachusetts for the 90th annual Toy for Joy campaign.

    The campaign provides holiday gifts for children through the age of 16. Families must register and provide financial need documentation to participate.

    Toy for Joy is co-sponsored by The Republican and the Salvation Army. This year's goal is to raise $150,000 in donations by Christmas Eve. Last year, Toy for Joy donations totaled $167,333.

    Toy company Hasbro joined as a campaign partner last year, and will be donating a portion of the toys distributed again this year in Toy for Joy.

    “We will work hard to put a gift under the tree for every child this season,” said George Burtch, vice president of global integration at Hasbro.

    Salvation Army locations in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties are participating, and preparing for the annual campaign.

    The Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel at 170 Pearl St. will accept registration beginning Monday. Registration dates and times elsewhere vary by unit.

    The Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel has new commanders this year, John and Ronda Ferreira, who are working hard with preparations for Toy for Joy.

    “We have great staff in place. Danielle, who is our social services director, has been working very hard coordinating the effort with Hasbro and our other locations and with toy deliveries. We are also getting ready for our registration next week,” said Ronda Ferreira.

    The Ferreiras expect family registration for Toy for Joy to increase this year, since registration for their program Coats for Kids is up 30 to 40 percent this year, they said.

    Last year over 4,000 Springfield families received gifts through Toy for Joy.

    The Greenfield Salvation Army, located at 72 Chapman St., is currently accepting registration applications, but their official day to register for Toy for Joy is Dec. 3.

    For more information, call (413) 733-1518. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Dec. 23.


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    Last year, the program donated gifts to nearly 20,000 Western Massachusetts children.

    111412toy-for-joy.jpg
    Registration for the 90th annual Toy for Joy officially begins today at participating Salvation Army locations, where needy families with children 16 and under can register to receive gifts in time for Christmas.

    Toy for Joy is jointly sponsored by The Republican, the Salvation Army and Hasbro, the toy company that joined as a new partner last year. The program’s goal is to raise $150,000 by Christmas Eve.

    Hasbro will be donating a portion of the toys distributed through Toy for Joy, and is excited to have its employees help out and personally distribute toys to registered families, said George Burtch, vice president of global integration at Hasbro.

    The program is already receiving donations, including one of $1,275 from Wel-Design Alarms Inc. in Wilbraham that jump-started the campaign last week.

    Last year, over 4,000 families in the Greater Springfield area received gifts through Toy for Joy, providing presents to nearly 20,000 children in Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.

    Registration is expected to increase from last year, said Springfield Salvation Army Citadel commanders John and Ronda Ferreira. Registration for the Salvation Army program “Coats for Kids” is up 30 to 40 percent this year compared to last year in Springfield, they said.

    The couple noted that the great staff at the Springfield Salvation Army has helped tremendously in preparing for Toy for Joy, including working with other Salvation Army locations and planning for family registration and gift distribution dates to registered families.

    Salvation Army units in Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Westfield are participating in Toy for Joy.

    Registration officially starts on Nov. 26; dates and hours vary with each unit. For more information, call (413) 733-1518. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Dec. 21.

    The following contributions have been made to this year’s drive:

    In memory of Hazel and Athos Rossi and their children Peter, Nolan and Tina – $20

    Chauncey – $20

    In memory of Peg and Ernest Robbins – $20

    Barbara – $10

    In loving memory of the Kenney and Prenderville families, love Donna – $10

    RECEIVED – $80

    TOTAL TO DATE – $1,380

    STILL NEEDED – $148,620



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    Service should remain uninterrupted because two other water mains are in service. Watch video

    Agawam water break 112712.jpg Here are two views of the washed out area Tuesday caused by the Provin Mountain 54-inch-diameter water main break at East View Drive and North West Street Monday afternoon.

    AGAWAM – A break Monday in a major water main in the city's Feeding Hills section could take up to four weeks to repair, but water services should remain uninterrupted, according to an official with the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission.

    Katherine J. Pedersen, executive director of the commission, said Tuesday that the break occurred about 3 p.m. Monday in a 54-inch-diameter water transmission line on North West Street near East View Drive. The 1928 steel main brings water from the Springfield commission’s Provin Mountain Reservoir in Agawam to customers in Agawam, Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow and Ludlow.

    Customers experienced low water pressure until the break was isolated and the water main was shut down about 4:30 p.m. Monday by Springfield Water and Sewer Commission workers, according to her.

    However, Pedersen said there was no loss of water service because two other major water transmission lines have been able to take up the slack. The break sent a geyser of water 30 feet high, creating the low water pressure, according to her.

    “That is normal, particularly for a break of this size,” she said.

    Pedersen said there have been complaints of discolored water in Agawam as well as in parts of Springfield. She said customers experiencing it should run their cold water traps for about 5 minutes or until the water runs clear. If that does not work they should try the process again. If the problem persists, Pedersen said customers may call the commission in Springfield at (413) 787-6206. The line is manned 24 hours a day.

    The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission supplies drinking water to about 250,000 customers in the area.


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    Longmeadow's fiscal year 2013 tax rate has been set at $21.54 or $1.86 higher than the fiscal 2012 tax rate.

    LONGMEADOW — The fiscal year 2013 tax rate has been set at $21.54 per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $1.86 higher than the fiscal 2012 tax rate, said Robert P. Leclair, principal assessor for the town.

    Most of the increase is the result of the annual proposition 2 1/2 allowable increase, plus the increase in excluded debt from the Longmeadow High School building project, Leclair said.

    The new high school is set to be completed in February. The total project cost is about $78 million. The town is responsible for $44 million. The state will reimburse the town for the remaining $34 million on the project.

    The average home in Longmeadow is currently assessed at $341,789 down from last year's average assessment of $352,613. That means that the owner of the average home will see an increase of about $439 in his tax bill from the previous year, from around $6,927 to about $7,366.

    The Longmeadow Select Board voted to keep a single tax rate for all classes of property.

    Leclair said the town has never had a split tax rate.

    "There are approximately 100 commercial properties compared to almost 5,700 residential properties in town. For every penny you reduce for residential you are increasing the commercial rate by 22 cents," he said. "As long as I've been here the board has not been in favor of such a dramatic shift."

    Third quarter real estate and personal property tax bills (known as the “actual” bills) will go out toward the end of December. The annual impact of the increase will be split between the remaining two bills which are due Feb. 1, and May 1, 2013. Feb. 1, 2013 is also the deadline for filing abatement applications if a property owner believes the value to be excessive.

    Questions about the assessed value should be addressed to the Assessors’ Office at (413) 565-4115, while questions about payments should be handled by the Collector’s Office at (413) 567-1066. Town Hall offices are open Monday through Thursday 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 8:15 a.m. until noon on Friday.
    Online lists will be available after Dec. 11 at: www.longmeadow.org under Board of Assessors or at http://data.visionappraisal.com/longmeadowma


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    Kiltie is well known at Mont Marie Health Center in Holyoke, where she is a frequent visitor to the nursing home.

    pratt.JPG Ann Marie ("Nancy") Pratt takes brings cheer to the Mont Marie Health Center when she takes her Scottish terrier Kiltie II with her.

    BELCHERTOWN — Gaudium omnibus pueris et puellis!

    That’s Latin for “Joy to all boys and girls!” and it’s the message from the former head of the foreign languages department at Longmeadow High School.

    Her name is Ann Marie (“Nancy”) Austin Pratt, of Belchertown, and at 81 she is a longtime donor to Toy for Joy.

    This year Pratt and her sister, Margaret Moran, sent a donation in honor of their late parents. Pratt also sent a donation in honor of her late husband, and another in the name of her two furry companions, a dog named Kiltie II and a cat named Eighty, who are still very much alive. Eighty wandered into her life the year Pratt turned 80.

    Pratt gives anonymously when she donates to other places, but she was pleased to honor the loved ones in her life.

    Her dog Kiltie is well known at Mont Marie Health Care Center in Holyoke, where she is a frequent visitor to the nursing home.

    Pratt has always had animals in her life. Her father, Francis Austin, was a veterinarian, and young Nancy was his “constant companion.”

    In fact, she planned to be a veterinarian until she got to Mount Holyoke College and studied French and Latin.

    Her father was the first veterinarian in the country to use penicillin on an animal, a Guernsey Bull in Hardwick, during World War II, said Pratt.

    Pratt also recalls that in 1944, her mother, Ann, sewed an “oxygen tent” out of burlap for Dr. Austin to use in the treatment of another bull, this one in Hampden. The story was featured in Life Magazine.

    Pratt never had children of her own, but she has extended family on Belchertown lands that go back to her grandfather – a man who used to drive his draft horses to Bondsville to clear the land for the building of the former St. Bartholomew Church.

    “My father was from a family of 11,” said Pratt. As a result, she is surrounded by several generations of relatives, including little children.

    She is proud to be godmother to another veterinarian named Dr. Austin – Megan Austin, who specializes in equine medicine in Kentucky. For her graduation from veterinary school, Pratt presented her with a book she had written about Dr. Francis Austin.

    Pratt tells how on Valentine’s day of 1992, her uncle Joe Austin asked if she would like to move back to Belchertown. When she said yes, he gave her the gift of the lot on which she built her home.

    Three years later Pratt married Edward A. Pratt, chairman of the science department in Longmeadow High.

    Her stepson, Timothy Pratt, lives in Longmeadow and works for the Wall Street Journal..

    The memory of her “wonderful, compassionate husband” is part of what makes her who she is, says Nancy Pratt. And who she is will make Christmas brighter for the children who benefit from Toy for Joy.

    Toy for Joy registration is taking place at Salvation Army locations throughout the Pioneer Valley. For more information on Toy for Joy, call 733-7581. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon at The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Dec. 21.

    Here’s the most recent list of generous spirits who contributed to Toy for Joy: 

    — In gratitude, Anne H. $25 

    —In memory of my Mom, I love you from Beth $25 

    —In memory of our son Chris from Joe and Mary $25 

    —In memory of Gary Lockwood $10 

    —In loving memory of Dr. and Mrs. Francis M. Austin $30 

    —In loving memory of Edward A. Pratt $100 

    —From Kiltie II and Eighty, pets who love children $20 

    —God Bless $20 

    —Paul and Mary $100 

    —In loving memory of my husband Herb Curry $10 

    —In thanksgiving for my grandchildren Caelin, Brenna and Ronan from Nanie Curry $10 

    —In memory of Ray Dupre $5 

    —In memory of Helen Knight $10 

    —In loving memory of Timothy P. Martin by his family $25 

    —In memory of John Martone, Walter Kasheta and Kevin Stefanik from Eva M. $30 

    —In memory of Marty, Sis, Francis Martone, Joe, Theresa, Jim, Tom Martone and Madeline Bressani from Eva M. $40 

    RECEIVED: $485 
    TOTAL TO DATE: $3,355 
    STILL NEEDED: $146,645


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    This year Galineau decided to donate to Toy for Joy in memory not only of his wife, but of others he has lost.

    ToyForJoyLogo2010.JPG

    BRIMFIELD – Leo Gelineau says he sent in his donation to Toy for Joy as a way of saying “Merry Christmas” to his wife, Linda.

    He was 21 when he married her. She was the same age.

    They met in high school. “Tantasqua High School in Sturbridge,” said Gelineau. “I lived in Holland and she lived in Brimfield.”

    “She was just a special girl. Right away I knew she was the one.”

    Linda Gelineau died a year ago on Dec. 1. The couple had been married for 46 years. He feels she is still close to him.

    “It’s very rough, but I’m getting through,” he said, the day before the anniversary of Linda’s passing. “I just keeping going, doing this and that.”

    Gelineau is 68, and has been retired for four years. He used to repair tractor-trailers for “the best company in the world, R.M. Sullivan.”

    He and his wife had no children, though Gelineau still has family in his two brothers.

    This year he decided to donate to Toy for Joy in memory not only of his wife, but of others he has lost, including his parents, Ernestine and Leo Gelineau Sr., and his sister Carol Bradway.

    He also gave in memory of Linda’s mother, Alma Howlett, who died just a few months before her daughter did.

    The three of them – Leo, Linda and Alma – had planned an outing to a casino last year, but it never happened.

    So that’s what Gelineau is planning to do for Christmas this year. He is going to Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.

    When asked what he would do if he won a big pot of money, he said he would donate some of it to churches and kids. As for the rest of it, he doesn’t know what he would do with it.

    “The only thing that would make me happy,” he said, “was if I had my wife back.”

    For more information, call (413) 733-7581. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon at The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Dec. 21.

    Here’s a list of the latest contributors:

    • Merry Christmas to all from Liz and Steve, $200
    • In memory of our beloved Beth Alissa, forever remembered, $25
    • God bless everyone, $25
    • Richard, $500
    • In memory of Chiara and Renzo Vedany, $20
    • In loving memory of Dottie Pelter, love Mom, $25
    • Luke and Caleigh wish everyone a Merry Christmas, $50
    • For Chuck, $25
    • Merry Christmas to all the children from Jeanne, $10
    • The Parish family, $100
    • For Julia, $25
    • Happy Holidays to all from Shirley and Philip, $5
    • Memory of Marilyn Urdzela, $15
    • In memory of my Mom Barbara Kupec, $25
    • Wendy, $50
    • In memory of Fred and Eleanor Albano and Albert and Marie Laplante from Paul and Jan Laplante, $25
    • Anonymous, $10
    • Sunny, $50
    • In memory of Kathleen and Maurice Murphy, $20
    • Giving thanks for 7 healthy and happy grandchildren, Courtney, Nick, Jacob, Joshua, KinCaed, Angelina and Samuel from Papa and Grammy, $25
    • In memory of Linda Gelineau from husband Leo, $10
    • In memory of Alma Howlett from Leo, $10
    • In memory of Ernestine Gelineau from Leo, $10
    • In memory of Father Leo Gelineau Sr. from Leo, $10
    • In memory of Carol Bradway from Leo, $10
    • For the care from the East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center from Eleanor Pianowski, $50
    • Hi, $11
    • For the kids, Geography Gerry, $5
    • Remembering Griffin Keough, $100

    RECEIVED: $1,446
    TOTAL TO DATE: $7,306
    STILL NEEDED: $142,694


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    Under her plea agreement, she will serve one year of probation and will have to pay $25,000 in restitution to St. Mary's Academy.

    LONGMEADOW -- An East Longmeadow woman accused in the theft of more than $25,000 from St. Mary's Academy has been placed on one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution, police said Tuesday.

    Longmeadow police Capt. John Stankiewicz said Annalisa L. Dagostino-Tollis, 48, of 15 Deerfoot Rd. in East Longmeadow entered a guilty plea Monday in Springfield District Court.

    Under her plea agreement, Stankiewicz said, she will serve one year of probation and will have to pay $25,000 in restitution to St. Mary's Academy.

    Town police filed charges against Dagostino-Tollis in Nov. 2011, alleging she stole $30,000 from a fundraising program at St. Mary’s. At the time, Mark Dupont, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, said officials had become aware that someone was stealing funds from the school’s Scrip gift card program.

    Under the program, Stankiewicz explained, St. Mary’s Academy purchased gift cards at a discounted rate from the Scrip fundraising company and sold them to parents at face value.

    Dagostino-Tollis had managed the program since Jan. 2010, Stankiewicz said.

    She was arraigned in Jan. 2012 on a charge of larceny of more than $250 by a single scheme. Michael Jennings, her lawyer, denied the charge, a felony, on her behalf, and filed paperwork that allowed her to skip the court appearance.

    St. Mary's Academy is a school operated by the diocese that serves kindergarten through 8th-grade students.


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    Distribution for the 90th annual Toy for Joy will begin next week in Springfield.

    120412-toy-for-joy-toys-unloading.JPG Volunteers work to unload a tractor trailer full of toys for the 90th annual Toy for Joy campaign at the Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel at 170 Pearl Street on Tuesday.

    SPRINGFIELD — A 53-foot tractor trailer arrived at the Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel on Tuesday morning, packed full of boxes of gifts for the 90th annual Toy for Joy campaign.

    Sponsored by the Salvation Army, The Republican and Hasbro, Toy for Joy brings holiday gifts to children in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. The goal is to raise $150,000 by Christmas Eve.

    “We want to make sure everyone in need can benefit from this program. I think with all our partners, The Republican and Hasbro, it’s definitely going to be possible,” said Danielle Lataille, Social Services Director for the Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel. “The toys look great this year, I’m really excited.”

    The truck was lined top to bottom with approximately 20,000 toys from NAMCO. This marks the first of two shipments the Springfield Salvation Army will receive before distributing the toys starting next week.

    “Today is when we start getting the toy warehouse set up in the gym, and we have 12 volunteers from the Massachusetts Trial Court Community Service Program coming in to help with the setup,” Lataille said.

    At 9 on Tuesday morning, the room looked like any other gymnasium, complete with basketball hoops for children in the Salvation Army’s programs to play with.

    “This room will be covered from floor to ceiling,” said Lataille, looking around the empty gymnasium. The gifts will be divided into seven sections for each age group from ages infant to 16, then each age group will be divided into gender.

    Volunteers from the Massachusetts Trial Court Community Service Program poured into the gymnasium one by one, each carrying boxes upon boxes as the truck sat outside the Salvation Army gymnasium. Familiar names such as “Fisher-Price” splashed across the boxes for the youngest age group.

    Each child will receive three to four toys, two for their gender and one unisex. The gifts will most likely be one book, one game and one toy, all specifically for the child’s age range.

    So far, 3,000 families with about 15,000 children have registered in Springfield for Toy for Joy. The Springfield Salvation Army will have one make-up registration day this Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In Holyoke, registrations are being taken through Saturday.

    “It’s been very smooth. We have a great staff, so there haven’t been any glitches,” said Ronda Ferreira, co-commander of the Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel.

    “It’s my favorite program. It’s great to see how happy everyone is. It’s for the kids, and we want to make sure everyone is happy on Christmas,” said Lataille.

    This will be Lataille’s fourth Toy for Joy as director of social services for the Springfield Salvation Army.

    The toys from partner Hasbro will be delivered on Thursday in preparation for the first distribution on Monday.

    Private organizations and individual donors have also been donating toys throughout the season.

    The Greater Springfield Salvation Army Citadel expects to receive about 60,000 toys before distribution.

    Salvation Army units in Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Westfield are participating in Toy for Joy.

    For more information, call 733-7581. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon at The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Dec. 21.

    Here’s a list of the latest contributors:

    • Love, peace and joy to all in need, Merry Christmas from Ed and Bev, $50
    • In loving memory of Roland and Gary Deyette from family, $20
    • Happy Holidays to all from Sandy Kane, $100
    • In memory of Rose and Walter Polchlopek, $50
    • In memory of my son Tommy who always supported the cause, $100
    • God bless Theresa Roberts who passed away on 11/14/12, $60
    • In loving memory of my brothers Walter and Daniel Devine, $50
    • In loving memory of Nicole M. Beliveau, $25
    • In loving memory of Richard Petzold from Marilyn, $50
    • In memory of Albert IV, Mom and Dad, $25
    • In memory of our members who have gone west from Western Mass Aviation Assoc., $50
    • Merry Christmas from Barb and John, $20
    • From Gracie, Zachary and Moo, $100
    • In loving memory of my dear parents Rena and Mike Panetta, $50
    • In memory of Manser and Tootsie Hapcook, love your grandchildren and great grandchildren, $25
    • In memory of Chip Grimaldi, $50
    • In loving memory of our Uncle Billy, love Anna, Michael, David and Tony, $50
    • In loving memory of my wife Ann O’Brien from Steve O’Brien, $600
    • In memory of Big H and John, $25
    • Happy Holidays from Holly, $25
    • We are thankful for Keegan, Kaylee, Brendan, Jack and Tyler Myers, $100
    • Memory of Dr. William Hennessey and all my loved ones in heaven from Joanne, $50
    • Merry Christmas from Alexa, Evan and Ben, $200
    • William, $100
    • In loving memory of Steve Pacholec, love Jeanine, $25
    • In memory of Marion Melius Dickey and Maurice Woodburn Dickey, $50
    • In gratitude for all our blessings from the Matejczyk family, $25
    • In loving memory of my father Samuel Rigby, $10
    • In memory of Albert Santaniello, Armand, Alice and Darlene Corbeil, $50
    • God bless from Edwin and Chris, $50
    • From the members of American Legion Auxiliary Liberty Unit #430, $25

    RECEIVED: $2,210
    TOTAL TO DATE: $9,516
    STILL NEEDED: $140,484


    The board granted an entertainment license to Ume Asian Bistro for 1 or 2 musicians on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.

    First look: Max Burger in Longmeadow The Max Burger restaurant in the Longmeadow Shops.  

    LONGMEADOW — The Select Board has issued two warnings and a three-day suspension to three restaurants that served patrons alcohol without requesting identification.

    Representatives from Max Burger, Iron Chef and Bertucci's in Longmeadow were all reprimanded for violating the terms of the liquor licenses.

    According to police, on Nov. 15, Max Burger, which opened in the Longmeadow Shops this summer, did not request identification from two people who ordered beer. The patrons were volunteers with the Police Department and alerted officers when they were served.

    Timothy Taillefer, the general manager of the restaurant, and Scott Smith, a partner in the restaurant, attended the meeting and did not refute the police report.

    Because it is its first violation, the restaurant received a written warning. However, Select Board member Mark Gold said it is disappointing that the restaurant would have a violation only months after obtaining the license.

    “It was less than a year ago when you came before us requesting the license and at that time we told you that we take liquor licenses very seriously and I’m not thrilled that a brand new restaurant failed its first test," he said.

    Volunteers also visited Bertucci’s in the Longmeadow Shops and were served alcohol without being asked for identification, the police report stated.

    Bryan Schwanke, senior vice president of Bertucci’s, said the employee who served the volunteers was immediately terminated.

    “We have been at that location for 17 years and as far as I can tell this is the first time we have ever had a violation,” he said.

    The restaurant received a written warning.

    This was the second violation for Iron Chef on Shaker Road and the board voted to suspend its license for three days effective Dec. 10.

    Owner Michael Chen attended the hearing and said he will put a sign outside his restaurant telling all customers they will be carded if they are under 40.

    In other action, the board granted an entertainment license to Ume Asian Bistro for one or two musicians on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.

    The restaurant's attorney, Haian Lin, said the restaurant would like to add light jazz or classical music a few times a week.

    “The idea came about after some of our patrons asked if there could be a place for their children to perform. As you know Longmeadow High School has one of the best music programs in the state,” she said.

    The restaurant will have to reapply for the license in 2013. 


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    After a menorah-lighting ceremony, more than 100 people packed the Dickinson Street facility for traditional holiday food and activities.

    meorah lighting.JPG Ron Gabayan, of Shimshit, Israel, lights the menorah to mark the first night of Hanukkah during a Saturday evening ceremony at the Springfield Jewish Community Center on Dickinson Street.  


    SPRINGFIELD — As Jews from around the world gathered to mark the beginning of Hannukah on Saturday evening, dozens of locals flocked to the Springfield Jewish Community Center on Dickinson Street to light the first candles of a large menorah outside the Forest Park facility.

    "We're here just to be a part of the community," said Adam Peck, of Longmeadow. "And to welcome the first night of Hanukkah," added his wife, Rhonda Goldberg.

    The couple were joined by their children, Alyssa, 11, and Joshua, 9. "It represents the oil that burned for eight nights," said Alyssa, referring to the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights that takes place each December.

    Alyssa said she was looking forward to playing with dreidels, or four-sided spinning tops that are decorated with the first letter forming each word in the saying "A great miracle happened there." In Israel, the saying is "A great miracle happened here."

    "Attendance is great," said Michael Paysnick, executive director of the Springfield JCC.

    More than 100 people packed the lobby of the JCC at 1160 Dickinson St. for the First Light Hanukkah Celebration, which included such traditional snacks as potato latkes and jelly donuts. The celebration also featured activities for children including an indoor rock-climbing wall, basketball in the JCC gymnasium, and a dance with a DJ in the center's auditorium.

    Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 164 BC. The Maccabees recaptured Jerusalem and reconsecrated the Temple after leading a successful revolt against Syrian rule. The lighting of the ceremonial candles symbolizes triumph over oppression and recalls the story of a one-day supply of oil that burned miraculously in the Temple for eight days.

    For many Jewish people, Hannukah symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Observant Jews light a candle on each night of the eight-day holiday.

    For some, Saturday's ceremony was a chance to share some food and fun with family and friends. Dalia Davis, JCC's Jewish educator, helped her young daughter get a drink of juice after the candle-lighting ceremony, which drew a crowd of at least 150 people.

    "I came with my family to celebrate the first night of Hannukah," Davis said.

    On Tuesday, the Bobby Levin Nifty 90s Hanukkah Celebration will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the JCC, which straddles the Longmeadow town line. Twelve people who are age 90 or older will be honored at the event.


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    Jimmy Newton, Billy Swan and Jimmy Punderson used to get together to play pick-up games in a vacant lot at the end of Riverview Street, where 2 of them lived.

    swan.JPG From left, Jimmy Newton, Billy Swan and Jimmy Punderson were featured in the Springfield Union in the late 1930s for collecting money for the newspaper's Toy Fund. The caption said, in part: "The Toy Fund salutes you 'little kids' and hopes your fine spirit will inspire other folks to help make this Christmas a happy one for thousands of little girls and boys who depend on the Toy Fund for a merry holiday."  

    SPRINGFIELD — When James B. Newton died at 84 in August, his obituary said he considered himself the luckiest person in the world for having the friends and family that he did.

    Others might say the world was lucky to have had him. Newton was an Amherst College graduate, a veteran of World War II, a father of five, prominent in the electrical industry, honored for his creativity, and an inveterate writer of letters to this newspaper for many years.

    He was not always all that. Today a donation to Toy for Joy recalls a time when Newton was just Jimmy, one of a trio of best friends who grew up in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield.

    The donation is from Wilbur Swan, of Longmeadow, and James Punderson, of East Longmeadow. Newton was living in South Hadley.

    Swan provided the archival photo that shows the little troika when they were still living in Springfield in the late 1930s.

    The caption identifies them as Jimmy Newton, Billy Swan and Jimmy Punderson, known as the “three little kids.” They were about 10 years old.

    The buddies had gone door-to-door raising money to buy toys for underprivileged children. The caption of the old photo reads: “The ‘three little kids’ ... again came to the help of the Toy Fund Santa Claus this year, bringing in $12.30 and a box of toys.”

    Their contribution was worth a lot in those days. Some 75 years later, two of the friends would donate 25 times that amount to Toy for Joy to honor the third.

    Swan tells how the three boys used to get together to play pick-up games in a vacant lot at the end of Riverview Street, where two of them lived.

    Kids found ways to amuse themselves in those days, said Swan. They would play kick the can and set off fireworks. They didn’t wait for adults to organize activities for them, and parents didn’t have to worry the way they do now.

    The three buddies also frequented Porter Lake, which was full of lights and skaters and a big warming hut in winter. Swan used to walk over after dinner. “I would walk through the park in the middle of the night and nobody thought a thing about it,” he said.

    Punderson became head of Punderson Oil and a volunteer pilot for AirLifeLine. He still skis at Okemo Mountain.

    Swan moved to Chicago, moved back to Springfield and founded United Chemical and Plastics. He volunteers twice a week at the information desk at Baystate Medical Center.

    In later years, Newton would arrange for the old friends to keep in touch over lunch.

    Swan has had the picture from the Springfield Union on his desk for years. He used to think about having another photo taken of the trio, this time as octogenarians. Then Jimmy Newton died.

    The end of Newton’s obituary read: “In lieu of flowers, Jim would love it if you would take a friend to lunch.”

    For more information, call 733-7581. To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, P.O. Box 3007, Springfield 01102. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon at The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Dec. 21.

    Here’s a list of the latest contributors:

    • In memory of Jimmy Newton from Jimmy Punderson and Billy Swan, $300
    • Have a wonderful holiday, $25
    • In loving memory of the six Worcester firefighters, $25
    • In memory of our Grandpa Bob Wheeler, love Ryan, Nicole, Brandon and Bobby, $25
    • With gratitude for our beautiful granddaughter Delilah from Grampa and Nana Lord, $25
    • Merry Christmas to all, love Paul and Deb, $25
    • Happy Holidays, Reina, Nikki, Emmy Louise and Beeger, $50
    • In memory of my husband Horton from Marion, $10
    • Anonymous, $60
    • In loving memory of George and May Burgess, $25
    • From the ACL Residential Support Administration Team, $50
    • Grammy, love you and miss you, Marissa, $33
    • In loving memory of the Smith and Dudek family, $10
    • In memory of Shane and George, $5
    • A blessed Christmas to everyone, $25
    • In loving memory of my dear sisters Arline, Roberta and Dorothy, $10
    • In memory of Mae Egan, $10
    • Remembering Elda, Red and Gary Duncan from Bruce, Mars, Dan and Maryanne, $25
    • Nancy, $50
    • Jacqueline, $25
    • Anonymous, $25
    • Merry Christmas from Jack and James, $10
    • In loving memory of my parents Stanley and Angela Skorka, $100
    • Anonymous, $20
    • In memory of our dads and Bob, $25
    • In memory of our children, $25
    • Memories…, $100
    • James and Barbara, $40
    • In loving memory of Erm from your wife Chris, $15
    • In loving memory of David and Martha, $100
    • In memory of my husband Randolf Robinson and son-in-law Ernest Tetreault, $50
    • In loving memory of Joe-Maureen and Danny, $15
    • Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season, $25
    • In memory of Anne M. Warren, $50
    • Happy Holidays from Meme and Papa Wands, $20
    • Claudia and Harry McElhattan, $20
    • In memory of Skip Foresti, we miss you from his wife and children, $25
    • In loving memory of my husband Frank Orszulak, love Shirley, $25
    • Merry Christmas to all the little ones, $25
    • In loving memory of Ellie Mae, $25
    • In memory of Frank and Olga Boda and Bill Grady, $25
    • In memory of our dear son David, from Mom and Dad, $10
    • Blessed Christmas to the Logan nieces and nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews from Aunt Marilyn, $50
    • In loving memory of my husband John Lenilko, $20
    • In memory of Manook, $150
    • Loving memory of Jimmy and Theresa Chechile from Tom and Fran, $25
    • In loving memory of Harding J. Stewart, $50
    • In memory of the Blanchot family and Rob and Bobby, $20
    • In memory of Edwin, Edna, Chris, Tom and Therese Leary, $30
    • For all our many blessings, $50
    • From Kenn and Kathy, $100
    • Merry Christmas and God bless us all, $20
    • Wishing all a healthy, happy holiday and 2013 from George and Joan, Wales, $25
    • In thanks for the most generous, loving families, love Lynne and Alan, $25
    • In memory of our dads and uncle, $50
    • In memory of Thomas and June Bailey, Patrick and Catherine Long and Harry and Helen Galletti, $100
    • From the Dugan family, $200
    • In memory of Memere and Pepere Boissy, Meme and Pepe Wheeler and Steve Boissy from the Wheelers, $50
    • In memory of my Doggie Butch, $10
    • In loving memory of my parents Sotiri and Potoula from Sue, $20
    • In loving memory of my dad Kenneth B. Chapin Jr, my son Kenneth B. Chapin and Michael O. Miller, love and miss you so very much, always in my heart, Ken, $40
    • In loving memory of my mother Mrs. Marjorie Chapin, Mom it is my greatest wish that I will see you again someday, love Kenny, $20
    • Harriette, $10
    • Anonymous, $25
    • Anonymous, $10
    • In memory of our deceased parents, love Ray and JoAnn, $50
    • In memory of Jane Spiewak, miss you Mom, love Joni, Ray and family, $25
    • David, $80

    RECEIVED: $2,843
    TOTAL TO DATE: $19,884
    STILL NEEDED: $130,116


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    The new Longmeadow High School will include a variety of green initiatives.

    Longmeadow High School drawing.jpg This is an artist's rendering of what the new Longmeadow High School will look like when work is completed.  

    LONGMEADOW - When the new Longmeadow High School is completed in February the school department's "green team" is hoping there will be an advanced and comprehensive recycling policy in place.

    Arleen Miller, a member of the green team, which looks at ways to promote recycling and other earth-friendly programs in the schools, said the team is working on a memo that would give clear guidelines about recycling.

    "The idea is to raise the issue of sustainability and environmental responsibility as being part of the core culture of the Longmeadow school district," she said. "We are hoping to use the new building project as a catalyst to raise this as an umbrella policy."

    Miller, who works for the Department of Environmental Protection, said she and several other members of the team visited the Manchester Essex school system where a well established recycling program is already in place.

    "Their sustainability program is looked at as one of the best in the state and as part of that there was some educational and informative signage around the school," she said.

    Miller is hoping some of that reimbursement can be used to purchase signage that will be place d around the school.

    Superintendent Marie Doyle said the new high school has been built in a way that will maximize its ability to receive money from the state Community Health Information Profile program.

    "Essentially Mass CHIPS is a way to maximize reimbursement from the state by making sure you are environmentally current and using best practices," added School Committee member Jennifer Jester. "We did maximize our credits through the program."

    Green team and School Committee member Elizabeth Bone said she hopes the memo will be prepared before the new school officially opens.

    "Just to show where we are going," she said.


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    Organizers said nonprofits that used social media aggressively often received more donations.

    Valley Gives Day helped almost 270 nonprofit organizations in the Pioneer Valley raise money for necessary projects, due largely in part to the use of social media.

    The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, sponsor of Valley Gives Day, provided social media training to nonprofits as a requirement for their participation.

    “Online giving has been doing really well this year. People want to make a difference that way,” said Kristin Leutz, Vice President of Philanthropic Services for the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

    Fundraising totaled nearly $1 million on Valley Gives Day alone. Previously, $200,000 had been raised for nonprofits participating in Valley Gives Day, making a total of almost $1.2 million that was distributed to nonprofits.

    Motherwoman, a Hadley-based nonprofit aimed at providing support to mothers and families across the Pioneer Valley, came in fifth place in the “Small nonprofit, dollars raised” category. “We will use (the money) to provide more support groups for diverse mothers, and we will use it to provide scholarships for low-income women and professionals who work in nonprofits,” said Motherwoman Executive Director Beth Spong.

    Motherwoman will also use the money raised during Valley Gives Day to continue its work to build coalitions of medical, mental health and social service providers who serve mothers and families in each county. Spong said Motherwoman will also continue advocating for support of policies that help families, like earned paid sick time.

    Nonprofits such as Motherwoman relied heavily on the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness and fundraising efforts.

    Still, some people would rather give in person than online.

    The Easthampton Community Center, which has a food pantry as well as community dinners, received $2,200 in total donations on Valley Gives Day, but received only $1,185 online. The rest were made through people stopping by and handing in their checks in person.

    “I think some people still are getting used to donating online. We did encounter that yesterday, that’s why we had mobile teams onsite, even just to help people navigate how to put something into a web form and make a donation that way,” said Leutz. “People still like to see the recipient of the gift.”

    Regardless of how the donation was made, the Easthampton Community Center is grateful for the support.

    “We have an emergency food pantry that serves 670 families in the Greater Easthampton area. We also have dinners that feed anyone in the community for free. Right now we want to make sure everyone has food for the holidays,” said Robin Bialecki, Executive Director of the Easthampton Community Center.

    The hard work of the nonprofits, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and all others involved helped surpass initial goals for Valley Gives Day. The success of similar fundraising days around the nation was an inspiration to the Pioneer Valley.

    “We had looked at what other communities were doing, and those were much bigger than we are. They were doing a couple million in the first year. We thought if we could just do one million this year, that would be huge,” said Valley Gives Day supporter Paul Doherty.

    Organizers were impressed with the strong numbers, but some were not surprised.

    “We knew this valley was incredibly generous, and yesterday was just a demonstration of what we already knew, that people would rally around causes they believe in and make their lives better,” said Katie Allan Zobel, Vice President of Philanthropic Services at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

    Organizers said nonprofits that put in more effort on social media strategies were often more successful with fundraising during Valley Gives Day.

    “We started intentionally posting at the peak times of Facebook activity, morning, lunchtime and 7:30 to 9 at night. We also know that new mothers and fathers are up in the middle of the night, and we were very surprised when we got a lot of responses to our posts in the middle of the night,” said Spong of Motherwoman.

    Spong said Motherwoman's official Twitter account had been tweeting about Valley Gives Day for the past two weeks.

    For next year, organizers said they hope they can raise the bar in every respect, including better and more social media training to nonprofits.


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    Fein was chairman of the town’s Board of Assessors before resigning that post last week.


    SPRINGFIELD - Jonathan Fein, former chairman of Longmeadow Board of Assessors, pleaded guilty Thursday to 29 counts of preparing fraudulent tax returns for clients of his financial consulting firm.

    Fein, 53, pleaded guilty to preparing fraudulent returns from January 2007 to April 2012 during in a hearing U.S. District Court before Judge Michael A. Ponsor.

    Sentencing was set for May 16.

    By law, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine for each count. But under federal sentencing guidelines, he qualifies for between 27 and 33 months in prison.

    As part of his plea, Fein also agreed to pay back $138,474 to the Internal Revenue Service and $29,909 to the state Department of Revenue.

    The indictment charged that Fein, doing business as JFL Tax Group Inc., prepared income tax returns for clients in Springfield and Greenfield.

    In the 19 cases cited in the indictment, Fein exaggerated itemized deductions that his clients qualified for while also overstating business losses.

    Because Fein usually based his fee on the percentage of the return, he profited from the scheme, the indictment states.

    Fein was chairman of the town’s Board of Assessors before resigning that post last week.

    He is also listed as treasurer for the Longmeadow Republican Committee.

    Ponsor released the defendant on personal recognizance until the sentencing.

    Prosecuting the case was Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow; Michael O. Jennings was the defense lawyer.


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    American International College student and Longmeadow resident Rick Roque offers a $100,000 fund-raising idea to School Committee.

    Longmeadow schools logo.jpg  

    LONGMEADOW -The Longmeadow School Department has received a proposal from an American International College doctoral candidate looking to raise $100,000 for the district.

    Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle recently presented a proposal to the School Committee for a strategic partnership between businesses and the school district offered to her by American International College student and Longmeadow resident Rick Roque.

    Roque, who is studying higher education at the college, was a businessman for many years and has many business contacts whom he thinks would each be willing to donate $10,000 to this project, Doyle explained.

    Some of the money would go toward creating several 22-page color brochures that would go out to every citizen of Longmeadow informing them about the district, she said.

    The businesses that donate would be considered strategic partners and would meet with Doyle several times a year.

    "I would share what's going on in the district and talk about strategic goals with them," she said.

    In turn the businesses would get advertising in the brochure.

    School Committee member James Desrochers said he is skeptical of the proposal.

    "I'm concerned what the motive of this actually is, what the goals and objectives are," he said. "What is the control people are looking at for giving us this money?..It's unusual for someone to come and give you money just because he is a nice guy."

    He also wanted to know whether this would be an annual donation and whether the amount would change from year to year.

    Doyle said if the committee decides to approve the proposal, it would serve as a pilot program for other schools.

    "Roque and his mentor at the college would like to see how you can make public alliances with schools right now, given the budget demands," she said.

    School Committee member Jennifer Jester said there are many unanswered questions about this proposal.

    "He refers to a strategic partnership that these businesses would have with the school district, and I need to understand what that means," she said. "There is a slippery slope. While it may not be advertising in the physical facilities of our schools, it clearly is the district promoting these businesses."

    Jester said she is also concerned about the meetings the businesses would get with the superintendent.

    "Essentially, you are selling access to our superintendent. Before we want to go there, we need to have a discussion about this and understand what this means," she said. "While I think it would be great to be able to make an additional $100,000 to fund a program that otherwise would be difficult, it's disconcerting to me the unknowns here."

    The committee will be meeting with Roque in the future to discuss the proposal.


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    A motorist called police Sunday night to report an erratic driver on North Main Street.


    EAST LONGMEADOW - Police charged a 57-year-old Longmeadow man with drunken driving (5th offense) after stopping his vehicle on North Main Street Sunday night.

    Sgt. Patrick Manley said a motorist called police to report an erratic driver shortly before 7:30 p.m. The suspect was driving on North Main Street, approaching the Springfield line.

    The suspect, who pulled into a parking lot at 513 North Main St., showed signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test, Manley said.

    Manley said records indicate the suspect, Stephen T. Smith, 232 Maple Road, Longmeadow, has been charged with drunken driving three times in Massachusetts and once in New Hampshire.

    Smith was also charged with marked lanes violation and operating a motor vehicle with a license suspended for drunken driving.


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    The fire at 16 Westmoreland Ave. forced residents out of their home. A fire official declined to provide details about the incident.

    LONGMEADOW — An early Saturday fire forced a family from its Westmoreland Avenue home, according to reports.

    There were no apparent injuries in the blaze at 16 Westmoreland Ave., which broke out shortly before 1 a.m.

    A fire official said information about the incident must come from Longmeadow fire Chief Eric Madison, who was off duty late Saturday afternoon and unavailable for comment.

    Media reports indicate the fire apparently began in the chimney and spread to interior walls in the home. Working smoke detectors alerted the residents, who are "staying with neighbors," according to 22News .


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    Longmeadow Schools encouraged to recycle, promote environmentally friendly behavior.

    LONGMEADOW — Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle has issued a statement to all staff and students encouraging them to think green and promote recycling.

    The statement encourages the "use of best environmental practices to control and reduce direct impact on the environment."

    School Committee and Green Team member Elizabeth Bone said she hopes the statement will show the school district's intention to promote green schools and create a green policy.

    ”Its important to have a statement out there to let people know this is what we are planning to do,” Bone said.

    The letter that is on the school district website, www.longmeadow.k12.ma.us, touches on everything from the use of Styrofoam to yearly energy efficiency checks at the school.

    Member John Fitzgerald suggested turning the statement into a green policy that would go in the School Department's policy handbook.

    "Currently we do not have a policy in place. Why not make this something more solid?" he said.

    Bone said the Green Team is working on something more permanent.

    "Some of the suggestions in this statement already incorporate other policies we have in place," Bone said. "It would be a matter of making a new policy to encompass it all or create a separate green one."

    The statement encourages the use of double-sided copies or electronic communication as a way to save paper, the regular practice of energy audits to develop resource and energy conservation plans for all schools, and even the use of non-toxic, hypoallergenic building and maintenance products.

    Teachers are encouraged to teach students to take ownership of green initiatives and to help educate the public on recycling issues.

    The schools will also comply with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's waste ban, which prohibits disposal of glass and metal containers; recyclable paper, cardboard, and paperboard; and single-resin, narrow-necked plastics.

    Member Jennifer Jester said if the committee decided to turn the statement into policy it would have to post the memo for 30 days and hold hearings for the public.

    "I think this is a wonderful statement. I wouldn't recommend this as policy, but it can inform policy," she said.


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    Principal Assessor Robert Leclair said Fein was not involved with taxation or valuations in town.

    LONGMEADOW -Officials have said daily operations in the assessor’s department have not been altered due to the legal troubles of the former chairman of the Board of Assessors Jonathan Fein.

    During a hearing in U.S. District Court on Dec. 20. Fein, 53, pleaded guilty to 29 counts of preparing fraudulent tax returns for clients of his financial consulting firm from January 2007 to April 2012 Sentencing was set for May 16.

    Principal Assessor Robert P. Leclair said Fein was not involved with taxation or valuations in town.

    “Since we changed to a charter form of government a few years ago some of the the Board of Assessors responsibilities shifted and now its primary concern is the approval of abatement applications,” he said.

    Currently the two remaining members of the board Michael Zeller, who is serving as the chairman, and Jeffrey A. Rahn will continue meeting while a third member is appointed.

    Select Board Chairman Paul Santaniello said selectmen are responsible for appointing a new person.

    “Our only concern is that there will be a rise in requests for abatement applications since the full impact of the new high school will take effect this year,” said Santaniello said. “We would like to have a third person there to help handle that.”

    The town is responsible for paying $44 million towards the construction and renovation of Longmeadow High School. The rest of the $78 million for the project will come from the state School Building Authority.

    Leclair said the tax rate went up by $1.86 this year.

    “The tax rate went up and about 92 percent of that is due to the school. At the same time home values went down by about three percent,” he said.

    When residents apply for an abatement they will be applying to reassess the value of their home. If the home value remains the same, their tax rate will still go up, Leclair said.

    The Board of Assessors next meeting will be held on Jan. 15. 


    Bay Path's Women's Leadership Conference will be held at the MassMutual Center in March.

    This is an updated version of a story posted at 12:20 this afternoon.


    Queen Latifah 2011.jpg Queen Latifah is seen at the 39th Annual American Music Awards on Nov. 20, 2011 in Los Angeles. The actress is scheduled to address Bay Path College's 18th annual Women's Leadership Conference in Springfield in March.  

    LONGMEADOW- Queen Latifah, a female king and several other "bold" women will be keynote speakers during Bay Path College’s 18th annual Women's Leadership Conference.

    “This year’s theme is be bold,” said Kathleen Wroblewski, director of communications and public relations at the college. “Given everything that has happened in our country lately between the economy and tragic events, we are looking for people to take action in an individual way and be bold in their own manner.”

    The event, to be held at the MassMutual Center on March 22, will include several speakers including African-American actress, singer, producer and entrepreneur Queen Latifah.

    “She is really a woman who has done it on her own. She came from humble beginnings and is now a powerful and successful woman in the entertainment industry,” Wroblewski said.

    Also speaking will be Susan Cain, author of the book “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

    “I think a lot of women who attend the conference will be able to relate to that. In a world where everything revolves around extroverts and who can talk the loudest she highlights the power there is in being a subtle leader,” Wroblewski said.

    Jenn Lim, the chief executive officer of “Delivering Happiness” and a consultant for Zappos, will discuss ways in which to maximize employee happiness at work.

    “She will talk about how you can shape an organization based on an individual’s happiness in order to enhance their productivity,” Wroblewski said. “She did this at Zappos which is now one of the largest online retailers in the country.”

    Peggielene Bartels, known as “King Penny,” will also be a speaker. Bartels was born in Ghana in 1953 and moved to Washington, D.C., in her early 20s to work at Ghana’s embassy. She became an American citizen in 1997. In 2008, she was chosen to be King of Otuam, a Ghanaian village of 7,000 on the west coast of Africa.

    “There were no male heirs in line and she was the person selected. They thought she would just be a figurehead, but it turned out that she wanted to do things to improve the lives of the villagers in Otuam,” she said.

    Major sponsors of the event include PeoplesBank, Yankee Candle, MassMutual, Aramark and Six-Point Creative Works.

    The event costs $275 per person. For more information visit www.BayPath.edu


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    Raymond Fontana, a well known lawyer and political figure in Western Massachusetts, lived in Longmeadow and Agawam before retiring to Florida.

    RAYMOND FONTANA.JPG Raymond Fontana  

    LONGMEADOW — The same description came to mind when two of Raymond J. Fontana's colleagues remembered the well-known Republican who died on Jan. 6 at age 89.

    "He was a gentleman," said Agawam City Councilor Robert Magovern. "We weren't best friends, but we did get to know each other very well over they years and he was just a good human being."

    Fellow colleague and lawyer Richard Brooslin also described Fontana as a gentleman.

    "He was always available if you needed him and he was a very hard worker for the Republican Party," he said.

    Fontana, who was born in Springfield in 1923 and lived in Longmeadow and Agawam for some time before retiring to Florida, was an avid member of the Republican Party and was elected to the Governor's Council for two terms, serving from 1966 to 1970. He was the last Republican from Western Massachusetts to hold a seat on the council. Fontana also served as registrar of probate in Hampden County from 1969-71. He also served as a member of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and as the authority's resident legal counsel in 1983.

    "He was someone who was not afraid to go across party lines if it meant getting things done," Magovern said.

    Fontana also owned a successful insurance company in Springfield and practiced law in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida. His son, Dante Fontana, is the vice president of the insurance company now called Chase, Clarke, Stewart & Fontana.

    He leaves behind his wife, Lynda Lind and his sons Dante of Suffield, Conn., John of Waltham, and Raymond Jr. of Westbrook, Conn., and their respective families.

    The funeral will be held on Saturday at 8:45 a.m. at Forastiere Smith Funeral Home, 220 North Main St., followed by a 10 a.m. service at St Mary's Church, 519 Longmeadow St. in Longmeadow at 10 a.m. and a military honors and burial in Longmeadow Cemetery on Williams Street in Longmeadow.