Worcester Sun, Aug. 24: In this issue

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On- and off-ramps to the Mass Pike will start looking very different this fall, and some in the Worcester and Springfield areas will become free.

Wikimedia Commons

On- and off-ramps to the Mass Pike will start looking very different this fall, and some in the Worcester and Springfield areas will become free.

MassDOT aims for toll spike to push Pike drivers toward transponder use |  Drivers traveling from New York to Logan Airport without a toll transponder would pay $13.75 under the new, proposed rates, compared to $7.65 for EZPassMA drivers. A vote on the final rates to coincide with the elimination of toll booths in the fall is planned for Oct. 6.


Gov. Charlie Baker, left, listens as Marylou Sudders, state health secretary, speaks at a press conference on plans to fight the opioid epidemic.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker, left, listens as Marylou Sudders, state health secretary, speaks at a press conference on plans to fight the opioid epidemic.

Baker targets fentanyl, New England drug trafficking in opioid battle [with video] |  Fentanyl was confirmed by the Department of Public Health in 66 percent of the 488 confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths the first six months of 2016. “Clearly one of the things we’re going to need to do, especially to deal with the fentanyl issue, is to take a harder run at some of the issues around trafficking,” Gov. Baker said this week.


Ativan is among the common prescription opiates.

Wikimedia Commons

Ativan is among the common prescription opiates.

Editorial: A tool to help in the war against opioid abuse |  Recently updated numbers from the Mass. Department of Public Health paint a dire picture of the toll opioid abuse is taking in the state, Worcester County and city of Worcester. However, with little fanfare, the state went live on Monday with an upgraded system that can begin to stem the tide of prescription opioid abuse. We look at the numbers and the promise of this new tool.

Related
Prescription tracking adds ‘key tool’ in fight against rising tide of opioid deaths |  Announced in July by the Department of Public Health, the new monitoring tool is intended to be more efficient and user-friendly than the existing system, and data from Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York are now accessible through the program, with information from other states to follow.


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Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 87]: Downtown Worcester — forget all your troubles? |  Behind City Hall Saturday afternoon hundreds gathered to celebrate Latin heritage, while a few blocks away a similar crowd congregated for the weekend-long Italian Festival. Populations new and old to the city finding common ground on a bright, optimistic late-summer day. And then … the sound of gunfire. People running, screaming. One person shot, several arrested. This, Hitch is sure, was not what city leaders (or Petula Clark) had in mind.


Then-U.S. Sen. Scott Brown talks to WRKO's Howie Carr in a 2012 radio interview. No longer a senator, Brown today faces different questions.

State House News Service / file

Then-U.S. Sen. Scott Brown talks to WRKO’s Howie Carr in a 2012 radio interview. No longer a senator, Brown today faces different questions.

Ex-Fox News host Andrea Tantaros levels sexual harassment allegations at Scott Brown |  Tantaros’s lawsuit, in which Brown is not a defendant, described Fox News as “a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” According to the complaint filed in the New York Supreme Court, Brown, the former U.S. senator, “snuck up behind” her after the show “Outnumbered” as she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist, among other incidents.


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Inbox [Aug. 24]: Program offers Worcester kindergartners $50 college savings headstart, GWCF announces workshops, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ auditions set, Worcester Airport gets $1.4M for taxiway lights |  Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about. Have a release or a photo you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.


New in Free to Read

Ray Mariano, on the lookout for his next mission.

Fred Hurlbrink Jr. / Worcester Sun

Ray Mariano, on the lookout for his next mission.

Ray Mariano, a Worcester conversation
“When you leave, you should just leave.” It’s easy to believe him too. At first. But Mariano, famously a product of the Great Brook Valley housing complex with degrees from Worcester State and Clark, is about as quintessential a public servant as this city has ever seen. The longtime mayor, city councilor and school board member seems to have more he wants to accomplish. We sat down for a few questions, and a few more stories with the “retiring” Worcester Housing Authority director.

Vaporize owner Adrian Pelka, right, talks with a customer Friday, June 24.

Matthew Wright / For Worcester Sun

Vaporize owner Adrian Pelka, right, talks with a customer Friday, June 24.

Vape shop owners at odds with Worcester health board
Vaping quickly became not only a popular alternative to tobacco smoking but a trend among young people. Vape places in Worcester know they will be losing some clientele when the legal age for purchasing tobacco products goes up to 21 in September. Whether this is a good thing depends on who’s talking, these small businesses or the city’s Board of Health.

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