CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As we approach the end of 2022, 22News takes a look at the top stories our viewers were most interested in throughout the year. See the top 20 stories below:

20. Massachusetts lottery winners

  • Raymond Roberts Sr. of Fall River
  • Lillieth Hanson
  • Zetta Eastman
  • Karen Andrews
  • NorthLand Adventures Nominee Trust
  • Paul Romanovicz
  • Joppu Lukose
  • Sonia Aube
  • Charles Lukasik
  • Anthony Bousquet
  • Sean Sullivan
  • Kevin Miller
  • Ramon Rivera Reyes
  • Brian Parisi
  • Meghan Judd
  • Eric Cochrane (right) and John Galvin (left)
  • Thomas Boileau
  • Christine Gustafson
  • Stanley Godere
  • Michael Martin

Throughout the year, dozens of Massachusetts residents were winners of large prizes in the Massachusetts State Lottery! Here are just a few of those stories:

19. DA: Springfield man building AR-15’s in Hancock Street home

Joshua Buffum, 38, of Springfield was been arrested in May after an investigation revealed he was allegedly building AR-15s inside his Hancock Street home.

When police executed a search warrant on Buffum’s home, they found a makeshift workstation equipped with a 3-D printer and several tools and machinery used to build and manufacture firearms. An AR-15 rifle, 8MM handgun, .380 handgun, 12 extended magazines and other various ammunition was also found. Three additional AR-15’s in the process of being built were located as well.

18. MassDPH issues updated mask advisory

For the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our day-to-day life, with the biggest one being mask wearing in public places. Mask requirements were on and off in 2020, 2021, and 2022. In June 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that masks indoors would become optional for residents, regardless of vaccination by July 1.

Since then, masks have not been a requirement in the state.

17. Here is when school starts in Massachusetts

After two years of remote school and mask requirements, the return to school in late August and early September this year was one of the first school years where most children did not need to wear masks or go to school remotely.

Schools this year were also no longer supplied by the state with self-tests or other COVID testing services.

16. Massachusetts painting company owner arrested at Miami airport for $2.5M Covid-relief fraud

Vinicius Santana, 34, of Boca Raton, Florida was arrested in June at Miami International Airport for fraudulently filing COVID-relief loans.

Santana is the owner of Complete Home Care, LLC (CHC), a painting company in Massachusetts. It is alleged that he filed four fraudulent loan applications to obtain $2.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Santana allegedly used the money to buy cars and invest in cryptocurrency allegedly. 

15. Auto body repair industry in Massachusetts fed up

Roughly 300 auto body workers and owners took to the steps of the State House in May to advocate for an increase in labor rate reimbursement for collision repairs.

The current labor reimbursement rate is $40 an hour and Massachusetts currently ranks last in the country. The rates have not changed in 34 years.

Springfield’s own Rick’s Auto Body has been in business for 50 years and 30 of their employees traveled to Boston to join the rally.

“They work so hard for what they’re getting paid, and to make a living wage. They want to be compensated and we want to compensate them, that’s what we want to do. We feel so strongly about that,” said Owner Mari Tarpinian.

14. Chicopee man catches record size fish in Connecticut

Chicopee resident John Bertolasio went fishing in August off the coast of Connecticut but little did he know he would become the new record holder for catching the largest Cobia fish!

Bertolasio was fishing on Long Sand Shoal on August 13 when all of a sudden he got a hit on his line. The fish put up quite the fight, even snapping his fishing pole in half once the fish got closer to the boat. At first sight, he thought it was a shark he had just caught, but it turned out to be a Cobia and he decided to keep it.

The Cobia officially weighed 43 pounds and was 56″ in length.

13. “Drug factory:” Cocaine, marijuana, narcotics seized from Connecticut home

(Connecticut State Police)

Detectives seized approximately 66.8 grams of cocaine, approximately $1,950, approximately 2.1 pounds of marijuana, 38 Percocet pills, drug paraphernalia, a drug ledger, a digital scale with the cocaine residue, and several items consistent with operating a drug factory from the residence of 39-year-old Felix Rios in March.

12. Massachusetts Personal Income Tax refund checks from Chapter 62F in some mailboxes

Massachusetts gave money back to residents in November after it was discover that the state’s total tax revenue exceeded the annual cap tied to wage and salary growth in the Commonwealth. This was due to a law passed in 1986 and has only triggered once before in 1987.

In FY22, total state tax revenue collected was $41,812,654,358, which exceeded the allowable revenue threshold for FY22 as defined by Chapter 62F of $38,871,154,627 by a total of $2,941,499,731.

Some residents reported getting their refund early November while others received it at the end of the month.

11. Second Round: Low-income Massachusetts workers will receive $500 this month

An estimated 330,000 Massachusetts residents were eligible to receive a $500 payment from the state in June. This was the second time this $500 was offered from the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program.

Residents that received the first payment in March were not eligible for this payment. Eligibility was based off your tax returns in 2021.

10. Water devil on Five Mile Pond in Springfield

A water devil was captured on camera traveling across Five Mile Pond in Springfield In August. 22News Storm Team Meteorologist Adam Strzempko says this is actually called a “water devil.” Clear air on a sunny day creates a vortex that forms over the water.

9. Meghan Marohn Missing in Lee

Near the end of March, New York teacher Meghan Marohn went on a hiking trip in Lee but never returned home. Her vehicle was found at Longcope Park and police began a several day search for Marohn.

Meghan Marohn (Peter Naple)

The story made national news and her family never gave up looking for her. It wasn’t until September 1 when a hiker discovered remains in a heavily wooded area near Fox Drive in Lee. In December, those remains were confirmed to be identified as Marohn.

8. 7 arrested after heroin, cocaine found in two Ware homes

Seven people were arrested by police after officers found heroin, cocaine and other illegal narcotics in two homes in Ware in February.

Ware Police Chief Shawn Crevier said officers were investigating two homes in Ware for distributing heroin and cocaine. One Saturday morning, officers from Ware, Warren, Monson, and Palmer Police Departments executed two search warrants simultaneously at the two homes on Pearl Street and Church Street.

7. UMass Amherst student scammed at gas station on Route 9 by woman with checkbook

In October, a student that stopped for gas along Route 9 was approached by a woman who said she had no cash or card to buy gas and the station would not accept a check. The woman told the student she would write a check if she swiped her card so she could get gas, and the student agreed.

Later that night money was taken out of the student’s account. Police say a card skimmer was used to obtain the student’s credit/debit card information to steal money from the account.

6. Massachusetts ban on clothing, fabrics in trash

Beginning in November this year, it was prohibited for items such as clothing, footwear, bedding, towels, curtains, fabric, and similar products from being thrown in the trash at landfills and incinerators to help put them into the hands of those in need and recycle their fibers into other products.

According to Mass.gov, every year Massachusetts residents and businesses throw away about 230,000 tons of usable textiles, 95 percent of this material can be reused as clothing, converted to wiping cloths, or recycled into new fiber-based products.

5. 8 men, 1 juvenile arrested in Springfield “Anti-John” operation

A total of nine people were arrested in August during an undercover “Anti-John” operation by the Springfield Police Department.

Police conducted the operation in the South End neighborhood due to complaints from neighbors about solicitation of prostitution. The nine men, including one juvenile, were all arrested within a four hour operation by undercover officers.

The Springfield Police Department have conducted several of these operations.

4. Massachusetts inspection sticker changes take effect November 1

There’s a new procedure with how your car receives an inspection sticker from the RMV and many viewers were interested in how this will work.

Vehicles that pass the annual required inspections will get a new sticker with the month of your previous sticker’s expiration month. This means if you get a late sticker after the one-year mark of your previous inspection sticker, the new sticker will no longer display the month you got the inspection, but the month your sticker expired.

3. Low-income Massachusetts workers will receive $500 this month

Low-income workers were offered a $500 payment in March, based on their 2020 tax returns, as part of the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program.

More than 500,000 Massachusetts residents were eligible to receive a payment, which were automatically mailed out to residents. This was just round one of payments. The second chance to receive a payment was in June where checks were given to residents based on their 2021 tax returns. You could only receive one of these checks.

2. Driver License Bill becomes law in Massachusetts

(Massachusetts RMV)

Lawmakers were able to pass a bill after Governor Baker initially vetoed it in June. The law would legally give undocumented immigrants a chance to get a driver’s license. However, this law had enough people against it, that it became a question on the November election.

Opponents of the bill believe this could lead to voter fraud, and disincentives undocumented immigrants to seek citizenship. Supporters of the bill believe this will make roads safer by making sure all drivers are educated and insured.

Question 4 was a close race but ultimately those in favor of the law won with 53.7% of the votes.

The law will continue to go into effect next July, allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license.

1. Chicopee Superintendent of Schools arrested on federal charges

In April, 22News received a tip from a viewer that FBI agents were outside a home in Belchertown. It was shortly discovered after that this was the home of Chicopee Superintendent Lynn Clark, who was arrested after allegedly lying to federal investigators.

According to a complaint filed in federal court, in December 2021, the City of Chicopee was in the process of hiring a new Chief of Police. On Dec. 3, 2021, law enforcement received a report that a candidate was receiving threats.

In November 2021, after submitting their application for Chief of Police, the candidate received numerous text messages from unknown numbers with “threats to expose information that would cause the victim reputational harm.” Messages were also allegedly sent to the individual’s spouse. The unnamed victim withdrew their application, and it caused the city to delay the selection process.

According to federal court documents, Clark allegedly sent 99 text messages “that were threatening in nature using an app to disguise her phone number.” Clark allegedly used an app to purchase and use fake phone numbers.

Superintendent of Chicopee Public Schools Lynn Clark

Clark pled not guilty at her arraignment to charges of making false statements and denies these allegations against her that she lied to FBI investigators. The case is still ongoing.

On April 15, the City of Chicopee announced Captain Patrick Major as the next Chief of Police.

Thank you!

Happy New Year from the 22News team! If you have a story, tip, or even a photo of a bear in your neighborhood, you can always email them to reportit@wwlp.com!