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Springfield Pumping Station Project Kicks Off Phase 1 of Waterworks Upgrade

April 9, 2021

The city of Springfield was founded in 1636, and while the wastewater pipes that are still used today aren’t that old, many of the city pipes date back to the late 1800's.  Springfield’s current pumping station was built in 1938, when Springfield and the surrounding cities and towns had much smaller populations. In order keep up with the growing population as well as environmental needs and concerns, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is

The city of Springfield was founded in 1636, and while the wastewater pipes that are still used today aren’t that old, many of the city pipes date back to the late 1800's.  Springfield’s current pumping station was built in 1938,

The city of Springfield was founded in 1636, and while the wastewater pipes that are still used today aren’t that old, many of the city pipes date back to the late 1800's.  Springfield’s current pumping station was built in 1938, when Springfield and the surrounding cities and towns had much smaller populations. In order keep up with the growing population as well as environmental needs and concerns, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is

The city of Springfield was founded in 1636, and while the wastewater pipes that are still used today aren’t that old, many of the city pipes date back to the late 1800's.  

Springfield’s current pumping station was built in 1938, when Springfield and the surrounding cities and towns had much smaller populations. In order keep up with the growing population as well as environmental needs and concerns, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is taking on the region's largest wastewater project in decades. 

Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan visited the York Street site for phase one of this immense undertaking. 

Read the full transcript:
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: Somehow, construction turned out to be one of the few industries that survived the year of 2020. Sometimes it's the type that's nearly impossible to avoid while driving. And in others, it may be an enormous project that, for the most part, manages to avoid being a public spectacle.

The York Street Pump Station in Springfield falls into that category, partly due to its somewhat off-the-radar location. The overall cost, though, may not have been so easy to overlook.

Josh Schimmel, Springfield Water and Sewer Commission: Price tag of a project like this is one hundred and twenty million dollars. So probably, without a doubt, the biggest project we've undertaken as a Water and Sewer Commission, really, since everything has been built with federal money in the 70s. And this is one hundred percent funded through our rates.

Brian Sullivan: The new pump station project is only phase one in this three tiered endeavor. And while an undertaking like this will likely keep contractors and their crews employed for a good couple of years, workers at the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission could spend their entire careers just cleaning the miles of aging pipes that run throughout the city.

Jaimye Bartak, Springfield Water and Sewer Commission: There's four hundred and seventy one miles of sewer collection system pipes, within just the city of Springfield, that the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission owns and maintains. And in order to be reactive, and make sure that we're staying on top of any repairs or maintenance that needs to be done, we go through the entire system.

And so, our trucks are out there every single day, foot by foot, going through the entire system. It takes us about eight to 10 years to get through the whole thing. And then we start all over again.

Brian Sullivan: And whatever it is that flows through those pipes, will eventually find its way here. Since 1938, this small brick building on York Street in Springfield has been the centralized wastewater and sewer pumping station. And not only for Springfield, but for several of the surrounding cities and towns.

This project taking place in the adjacent lot will be a much more advanced version when it's completed. While we were here in November, that work was taking place underground. Two stories underground.

This will eventually be home to three new outflow pipes that will provide flood control protection, as well as system redundancy to the two already-existing pipes. And again, this is just the first phase of this project. The next engineering task is to lay pipe beneath the railroad tracks here, before eventually tunneling under the entirety of the Connecticut River to the other side where the wastewater treatment plant is.

To be clear, it's the entirety of the width of the river, not the length. But still, 1100 feet from there to here will be challenging enough. While crews on this side of the Connecticut Bondi's Island prepare for that eventuality, the actual dredging out and tunneling across the river is the third phase and is still a ways down the road.

For now, the task at hand is completing the new pumping station. And it's a task that seems even more imperative when words like "aging infrastructure" get tossed around.

Josh Schimmel: When we say aging infrastructure, that's one piece of it that you see above ground. But, below ground you can see there's pipes that go on to that pumping station that are from 1885 and that are in service right now.

Brian Sullivan: Back in 1938, when this structure was built, the volume of wastewater that passed underneath it wasn't nearly what it is in these modern times of roughly 38 million gallons per day.

And since replacing all of the pipes that have crossed the century mark are among the 400 plus miles worth of them isn't on the docket just yet, it underscores the importance of not only the eight to ten year cycle of keeping them cleaned out, but also for the public to be aware of what they should and should not put down their drains.

Jaimye Bartak: We also find sometimes balls of fat and grease that are coming from people's kitchen drains. And we definitely encourage people not to pour grease down the drain for that reason, because a lot of things can stick to it, including wipes or paper towels or things that you generally shouldn't flushed down the toilet. So, that's why we're going through it and cleaning it all that muck.

 

The city of Springfield was founded in 1636, and while the wastewater pipes that are still used today aren’t that old, many of the city pipes date back to the late 1800's.  Springfield’s current pumping station was built in 1938, when Springfield and the surrounding cities and towns had much smaller populations. In order keep up with the growing population as well as environmental needs and concerns, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is

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WordxWord: Being Different in America

April 9, 2021

April is National Poetry Month, and central to expression in the United States is the First Amendment to the Constitution. Among other liberties, the First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech, a pillar that defines American values. Based out of Pittsfield, Word X Word is a program that embraces freedom of speech in its series “Poets Creating Conversation.” The project tackles some of the biggest issues Americans face today. Connecting Point at

April is National Poetry Month, and central to expression in the United States is the First Amendment to the Constitution. Among other liberties, the First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech, a pillar that defines American val

April is National Poetry Month, and central to expression in the United States is the First Amendment to the Constitution. Among other liberties, the First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech, a pillar that defines American values. Based out of Pittsfield, Word X Word is a program that embraces freedom of speech in its series “Poets Creating Conversation.” The project tackles some of the biggest issues Americans face today. Connecting Point at

April is National Poetry Month, and central to expression in the United States is the First Amendment to the Constitution. Among other liberties, the First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech, a pillar that defines American values.

Based out of Pittsfield, Word X Word is a program that embraces freedom of speech in its series “Poets Creating Conversation.” The project tackles some of the biggest issues Americans face today. Connecting Point attended a Word X Word event in 2019, where in their own words and voicing their own opinions, people talked about being “different in America”. 

This story originally aired on July 4, 2019.

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: April is National Poetry Month, and central to expression in the United States is the First Amendment to the Constitution, otherwise known as freedom of speech. It's a pillar that defines American values.

Based out of Pittsfield, Word X Word is a program that embraces freedom of speech in its series Poets Creating Conversation. The project tackles some of the biggest issues Americans face today.

Connecting Point attended a Word X Word event in 2019, where, in their own words and voicing their own opinions, people talked about being different in America.

Melissa Cairns, Word x Word Poet: I asked my two year old daughter what different means. She kind of quirked up the side of her face and made a sound like, "huh?"

Melissa Cairns: Word x Word is -- it's a concept more than it is a group of people. It's not one set group of people like a dance troupe or a theater group. It is this idea of bringing people together and creating community through words.

Melissa Cairns: And so tonight we will celebrate our differences.

Evan Goodermote, Word x Word Poet: Dark clothes, dyed hair hiding behind a mask, and yet here I stand wide open to all of you, do you see me or do I see you?

Steve Klepetar, Word x Word Poet: Which is why I seem so normal. Just another white kid going to school as if the world were clean and safe, a snug home with doors wide open to receive the free, the brave, the native born.

Greer Hed, Word x Word Performer: No one else shares your holidays or traditions, your peculiar family practices, tolerations of racist uncles, memories of boardgames on stormy nights, unspoken pacts to let elderly relatives pass into dementia with dignity. These are signposts of your unique, nay bizarre, identity.

Curtis Elfenbein, Word x Word Performer: What's different? No one says diff-er-ent. It's "diffrent." And he's like, "no, it's diff-er-ent. It's different."

So we ran into my mom, and we're like "listen to this! Diff-er-ent. Diffrent. Which of us is right?" And she couldn't tell the difference, or hear the difference between the different differents.

Ollie Kipp, Word x Word Performer: A man with a smile and kindness about him walks in the door and exchanges one sweater for another.

Won't you be his neighbor?

Mr. Rogers, who taught us what it's like to be neighbors, who taught us everyone could be a neighbor, that everyone was important.

If robots became our new neighbors, what would you do? Would you smoke them out and run them off like we did to the Blacks, then the Irish, the Jewish, the Blacks again, the Mexican children at our borders? Or would you do something new?

What would Mr. Rogers do?

Won't you be their neighbor?

Carol Durant, Word x Word Performer: Unless we change our view of the person to the left or to the right of you?

Who doesn't have your hue?

Who doesn't speak the English and has the etiquette that you aspire to?

Stanley Spencer, Word x Word Performer: You want something different? I'll give you something different. The federal government claims we need to take care of our own.

Evidently, Puerto Ricans are not considered our own. Evidently, people of color are not considered our own.

Evidently, the Rainbow Community is not considered our own. Evidently, women are not considered our own.

For some, being yourself has no rewards. Being who you are is punishment.

You want something different? So do I.

 

April is National Poetry Month, and central to expression in the United States is the First Amendment to the Constitution. Among other liberties, the First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech, a pillar that defines American values. Based out of Pittsfield, Word X Word is a program that embraces freedom of speech in its series “Poets Creating Conversation.” The project tackles some of the biggest issues Americans face today. Connecting Point at

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FULL EPISODE: April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021

Local Brewer Bikes to Benefit Food Bank of western MassThe vibrant local craft beer community in western New England is also active in the local cycling community. Brewer Chris Sellers decided to combine his passion for craft brews and his passion cycling into a fundraiser to fight food insecurity. Visit Northfield, MA, where Sellers is completing a 100-mile charity bike ride — without leaving the Brewery at Four Star Farms. And more western Mass

Local Brewer Bikes to Benefit Food Bank of western MassThe vibrant local craft beer community in western New England is also active in the local cycling community. Brewer Chris Sellers decided to combine his passion for craft brew

Local Brewer Bikes to Benefit Food Bank of western MassThe vibrant local craft beer community in western New England is also active in the local cycling community. Brewer Chris Sellers decided to combine his passion for craft brews and his passion cycling into a fundraiser to fight food insecurity. Visit Northfield, MA, where Sellers is completing a 100-mile charity bike ride — without leaving the Brewery at Four Star Farms. And more western Mass

Local Brewer Bikes to Benefit Food Bank of western Mass
The vibrant local craft beer community in western New England is also active in the local cycling community. Brewer Chris Sellers decided to combine his passion for craft brews and his passion cycling into a fundraiser to fight food insecurity. 

Visit Northfield, MA, where Sellers is completing a 100-mile charity bike ride — without leaving the Brewery at Four Star Farms. 
And more western Mass stories tonight...
Last year’s deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldier’s Home sparked an investigation that revealed outdated facilities badly in need of an upgrade. State Senator John Velis shares the latest news about legislation to fund the construction of a new building. 

Then, visit the York Street Water Pumping Station, where the first phase in the city of Springfield largest modern wastewater project in decades in underway. 

Finally, the pandemic has greatly impacted women in the workforce. Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts joins us to discuss how they are supporting local women during this time.  

Local Brewer Bikes to Benefit Food Bank of western MassThe vibrant local craft beer community in western New England is also active in the local cycling community. Brewer Chris Sellers decided to combine his passion for craft brews and his passion cycling into a fundraiser to fight food insecurity. Visit Northfield, MA, where Sellers is completing a 100-mile charity bike ride — without leaving the Brewery at Four Star Farms. And more western Mass

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DIGITAL EXTRA: Springtime in Western New England

April 2, 2021

Spring has sprung in western New England and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan offers up a look at the beauty of the region as it wakes from its wintertime slumber. 

Spring has sprung in western New England and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan offers up a look at the beauty of the region as it wakes from its wintertime slumber. 

Spring has sprung in western New England and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan offers up a look at the beauty of the region as it wakes from its wintertime slumber. 

Spring has sprung in western New England and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan offers up a look at the beauty of the region as it wakes from its wintertime slumber. 

Spring has sprung in western New England and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan offers up a look at the beauty of the region as it wakes from its wintertime slumber. 

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West Springfield’s “American Dream” Street

April 2, 2021

To the casual observer, at first glance, Main Street in West Springfield may seem like just another street in Anytown USA. But upon closer inspection, you'll find there's an ethnic makeup that runs the gamut from Myanmar to Romania and all points in between.   Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan met with two of the street's shopkeepers with two entirely different stories, but one similar pursuit: the American Dream. Read the full transcript:Zydalis

To the casual observer, at first glance, Main Street in West Springfield may seem like just another street in Anytown USA. But upon closer inspection, you'll find there's an ethnic makeup that runs the gamut from Myanmar to Romani

To the casual observer, at first glance, Main Street in West Springfield may seem like just another street in Anytown USA. But upon closer inspection, you'll find there's an ethnic makeup that runs the gamut from Myanmar to Romania and all points in between.   Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan met with two of the street's shopkeepers with two entirely different stories, but one similar pursuit: the American Dream. Read the full transcript:Zydalis

To the casual observer, at first glance, Main Street in West Springfield may seem like just another street in Anytown USA. But upon closer inspection, you'll find there's an ethnic makeup that runs the gamut from Myanmar to Romania and all points in between.   

Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan met with two of the street's shopkeepers with two entirely different stories, but one similar pursuit: the American Dream. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: To the casual observer, at first glance, Main Street of West Springfield may seem like just another street in Anytown, USA. But upon closer inspection, they'll see that there's an ethnic makeup that runs the gamut from Myanmar to Romania and all points in between.

Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan met with two of the street's shopkeepers with two entirely different stories, but one similar pursuit: the American Dream.

Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: Oftentimes, main street of blue collar America has certain elements that not only give it its unique charm, but also separate it from its more metropolitan contemporaries.

Maybe it's the freight train that cuts through its center. Or the crosstown bus tearing through at breakneck speeds. It might be the side street neighborhood that rests on the edge of a busy highway with rows of triple-decker homes separated by chain link fences.

A century ago, these storefronts may have had traditional French, Italian, or Irish names. Now they cater to the most recent groups who have crossed the ocean to become citizens here in the United States.

This is West Springfield, home to the third highest refugee population in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And according to the paintings on the side of Merrick station, they have truly traveled from all points on the globe to get here.

I was here back in the fall of twenty eighteen when they painted this mural, celebrating the ethnic diversity of the entirety of West Springfield. But just within a couple of blocks here on Main Street, I can find businesses owned by people who came here from Russia, Nepal, Turkey and Lebanon, just to name a few.  So for those who arrived here with that entrepreneurial spirit, this has been the street built on the American dream.

For one entrepreneur, that dream had the sounds of buzzers, scissors, and satisfied customers. But hearing them here in the United States, that wasn't really on his radar when he was just a kid working with his uncles at their barber shops in Baghdad.

Ali Alsaadi, Under the Edge Barber Shop: After the war, like to be honest, I wasn't even thinking about leaving Iraq. But opportunity came to my door and I had a chance to to move to the US, and and I took it and I took it. And I'm a big believer that there's an opportunity for me there, you know, and it's -- I always thought about owning my own business.

Brian Sullivan: Before opening shop here in West Side. In October of twenty eighteen, Alsaadi spent his first eight stateside years learning the ins and outs of American culture while cutting hair in an Iraqi community in Hartford, Connecticut. It was those first few weeks in the Nutmeg State that really helped set the tone for his American experience.

Ali Alsaadi: It was definitely helpful for the beginning, because you need some support in the first couple of days when you move to a new country. You have to develop a skills of speaking different language, of course. And then and then you have to take it from there to navigate what route You want to take.

Brian Sullivan: In 2016, Alsaadi, who had been a refugee only a few years prior, became a full-fledged American citizen, joining an Iraqi-American community that makes up less than one percent of West Springfield's overall population. But here on the corner of Russell and Main Streets, that presence feels much greater.

Lebanese Americans, meanwhile, make up a slightly larger contingent in West Springfield. Roughly one and a half percent, although they've been a part of the American fabric since the 1980s. But for all of the assimilation they've achieved over the centuries, sometimes the smell of traditional Lebanese cuisine is just enough to spark a craving for a taste of the Old Country.

Taste of Lebanon Customer: I myself from Lebanon. So this Lebanese food here and and I like -- actually I like the most, the people are very generous, very nice, great cook

Brian Sullivan: That generosity and love of cooking turned out to be the driving force behind opening the restaurant in August of 2014. But the idea at first seemed a bit out of left field when owner Nisrine Awkal's husband proposed that he quit his job as a mechanical engineer and she quit hers as an interpreter and social worker to give this thing a go.

Nisrine Awkal, Taste of Lebanon: And in the beginning I was like, "Are you okay?" Like business that we don't know anything about. We love cooking, like I used to always host a lot of parties, host a lot of dinners, you know? We love cooking, sharing food with everybody. Like this is an Arab-Mediterranean culture, that you're always cooking and sharing with everybody.

And he said, "let's do it." And so, he he quit his job, I quit my job and we opened the restaurant.

Brian Sullivant: Coming to the United States on a green card with her husband in 1997, Awkal's journey to American citizenship was different from Alsaadi's, who arrived in these shores as a refugee. But my question for each of them, as they navigate the rocky waters of running a successful business, is the same. Is the American dream still alive?

Nisrine Awkal: You have a plan, you can do it. Anyone can do anything in this country. Anyone. Like that's what I tell my kids. Take advantage, because the blessings and opportunities that gives you, I see very few countries give that.

Ali Alsaadi: Is still alive, still exists. This is the land of opportunities. If you put in the work and you put in the discipline, if you put in the hard work, it will definitely exist.

To the casual observer, at first glance, Main Street in West Springfield may seem like just another street in Anytown USA. But upon closer inspection, you'll find there's an ethnic makeup that runs the gamut from Myanmar to Romania and all points in between.   Connecting Point's Brian Sullivan met with two of the street's shopkeepers with two entirely different stories, but one similar pursuit: the American Dream. Read the full transcript:Zydalis

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