Worcester Weekly: WPI softball, WSU baseball, ‘Music Man’ + more, April 16-22

Road trip! | School vacation week

Sunday, April 16 — Family Farm Fest, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge  No Easter brunch reservations, no problem. Hop on down the Pike to everyone’s favorite school field trip destination. This will be the second day of a weeklong celebration of spring at OSV, featuring living history characters preparing their fields for summer crops — and did we mention baby animals?!

That’s right — newborn lambs, chicks, piglets and calves might just get your kids in the right mood to try some 1830s farm chores (at OSV, definitely not at home!) or listen to “Laura Ingalls Wilder” talk about her “Little House on the Prairie” days. Maybe, maybe not. But odds are pretty solid they’ll be up for the 2 p.m. Great Easter Egg Hunt (for children 10 and under). Additional programs, including live music on the weekends, will be featured through Sunday, April 23.

$40.3B House spending plan brings fiscal 2018 budget battles into focus

BOSTON — Democratic leaders of the Massachusetts House put forward a $40.3 billion spending plan for fiscal 2018 that Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey said focused “first and foremost on the fundamentals” – health care, pensions and local aid.

Increases of $322 million in MassHealth, $198 million for pensions and $164 million for local aid consumed $684 million of just more than $1 billion in projected revenue growth, leaving just one-third of new revenue to spread around to other programs and services.

The House also signed off on Gov. Charlie Baker’s controversial employer assessment plan to generate new revenue to cover a shift of workers off employer-sponsored health coverage to MassHealth, but left the details for the administration to work out.

Watch: House leaders talk spending priorities

Elm Park Bridge

Editorial: Want to make Worcester a better place? Step up by stepping out

Volunteers have done their part and Mother Nature is doing hers. If you live, work or play in Worcester, the rest is up to you.

The Regional Environmental Council’s 28th annual Earth Day cleanup last Saturday saw more than 1,000 volunteers clear 50 tons of trash from more than 60 public spaces throughout the city. Blue sky and above-average temperatures earlier this week sent an unmistakable signal that spring is here. Thus, it’s as good a time as any to remind people that the responsibility of making Worcester a better city and community ultimately falls to its residents.

In other words, now is the time for you to step up by stepping out.

There are personal benefits of enjoying the more than 60 parks and playgrounds throughout the city, to be sure. Better physical health and mental well-being top the list.

Lesser known are the civic benefits.

Worcester teachers union wins PCB battle, will begin testing at Burncoat and Doherty

[Updated 4:57 p.m., April 1]

The Educational Association of Worcester has prevailed in its long and hard-fought quest to investigate the presence of potentially cancer-causing PCBs in the air at Burncoat and Doherty Memorial high schools, the union president said.

The tests are set to begin 3 p.m. Monday at Burncoat, and April 24 at Doherty (time to be determined).

Roger Nugent, EAW president, first confirmed to the Sun Friday, March 31, that the School Committee’s ongoing appeal before the Commonwealth Employee Relations Board (CERB) was denied late Thursday, paving the way for window-caulk testing for polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at the two schools in the district where the concern — and potential danger — has been highest.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this happen and making sure those buildings are safe for kids and adults,” he said.

Nugent said Saturday morning that while the School Committee has not yet committed to halting further legal action, the two sides are “moving in the right direction for a binding agreement” and that union officials were reviewing a draft of such an agreement this weekend.

Inbox [March 29]: UMass Medical boosts minorities in science, Worcester Common Ground nets $800K for Jacques Ave. rehab, Clark listed among World’s Best Small Universities, Community Harvest Project sets April vacation camp

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.

UMass Medical School establishes chapter of national organization to advance Latinos/minorities in science

Today [March 29] UMass Medical School will officially launch its new student-led chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. SACNAS is an inclusive organization and all members of the UMMS community are invited to become involved.

“You don’t need to be Hispanic or Native American to join us,” said Teresita Padilla-Benavides, Ph.D., faculty co-advisor and advocate for SACNAS at UMMS. “Our student chapter is also open to faculty and postdocs and all are welcome.”

Padilla-Benavides, instructor in biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, spearheaded formation of the UMMS chapter with the students. Jaime Rivera Perez, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics, will serve as faculty co-advisor.

Mariano: Half-truths and alternative facts about PCBs at Burncoat and Doherty

“And now that everyone knows the truth, the mayor and School Committee still refuse to admit that there is a potentially very serious health risk in these two buildings. They refuse to cooperate with their own teachers and involve the EPA in testing so that everyone knows exactly what they are facing. They hide behind language like there is ‘no conclusive proof.’ “

Worcester Weekly: Holy Cross women’s lax + a duel at Mechanics Hall as March turns to April

Road trip!

Sunday, March 26 — Massachusetts Tattoo & Arts Festival, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sturbridge Host Hotel, 366 Main St., Sturbridge  Been a while since you got some ink? Or maybe you’re stuck on an even number — everyone knows that’s bad luck! You should probably drop what you’re doing then, and head on down Route 20 for the last day of this annual convocation of body-decorating artistry.

The festival features dozens of artists from shops across New England, New York and beyond. Tattooing (demonstrations and by appointment), piercings, live entertainment — including Alakazam the Human Knot — vendors, tattoo contests. All for $20 at the door.

For more information

Tuesday, March 28 — Hands-On History Workshop: “Scientific American: The Art of Science in the New Nation,” 6-9 p.m., Goddard-Daniels House, American Antiquarian Society, 190 Salisbury St.  While the ointment seeps in on your new Tom Brady tattoo, you’ll have time to register for this fascinating forum on the evolution of scientific discovery in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Inbox [March 26]: 3rd annual ThinkWoo set, Worcester joins Make Music Day, Moore receives top nature grade, Hanover tops J.D. Power survey

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.

3rd annual ThinkWoo, Action! Worcester’s community think tank on Tuesday

Action! Worcester will host its third annual ThinkWoo community think tank 5:30-8 p.m., Tuesday at the Idea Lab, 20 Franklin St.

College students, professionals, city officials and members of the community will gather to continue the conversation around challenges affecting the Worcester community.

“ThinkWoo: We can solve that!” will start with an introduction and official unveiling of a new A!W summer program. Attendees will then break into topic-specific focus groups that have been matched with participants’ indicated interests. Participants will discuss topics that were identified through last year’s focus groups, as well as those found in reports produced by the Executive Office of Economic Development, Worcester Regional Research Bureau and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Groups will comprise individuals from each of the different affiliations – students, professionals, local business owners and organizations, and city stakeholders. It is hoped the diversity of these groups will ignite innovative solutions to the city’s most prevalent obstacles. Topics this year include: Creating Inclusive Business Opportunities Downtown, Building National & International Partnerships, Defining the Personalities of Worcester’s Neighborhoods, and more.

Mariano: The problem of PCBs at Burncoat and Doherty high schools could be worse than I thought

“This issue is important to me. Certainly, I feel strongly because my wife is one of the teachers who has had cancer. But Burncoat was my high school and my wife was a student at Doherty. These are our classmates, our friends and our neighbors. These are the students who fill my wife’s classroom.”

Birthday cake

Requiem for Dissent: McGovern-ing in the era of Trump

“We ought to look at this moment as a privilege to be on the playing field and to engage in these battles. … Ten years from now people are going to ask what you did at this time. I think it’s important for people to stand up and to resist when it’s appropriate.”

If the 2nd Congressional District were carved into Worcester County only, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, might have a problem. Many of those towns voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

But the 2nd has roots in Franklin and Hampshire counties as well, with liberal enclaves like Northampton and Amherst that combined with Worcester should keep McGovern safe as long as he wants to hold office.

The 2nd voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. So that would indicate that the district is safe for McGovern for at least the time being.

To that end, it’s not your imagination: McGovern, one of the most unabashed liberals in Congress, has been ubiquitous in active resistance in the weeks since Donald Trump was elected president — calling for, among other things, an independent investigation into Russian influence in the election.

“If you don’t have an independent investigation,” he said, “people aren’t going to believe the results.”

His higher-than-normal profile has been a conscious course of action.

“There’s so much happening that I think it requires more responses and more action, more resistance,” he said in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Worcester Sun. “I want to protect the values I think are important to the country.”