News in brief: New drought map shows dry state

Drought conditions in Massachusetts, including this keeled over sunflower near seen last month at Quincy Bay, have been apparent for some weeks.
Drought conditions in Massachusetts, including this keeled over sunflower near seen last month at Quincy Bay, have been apparent for some weeks.


Most of state experiences severe drought

Most of Massachusetts is currently under “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions, the National Drought Monitor said Thursday. An updated map released by the monitor Thursday said Southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands were in the extreme drought category, as was a stretch of the northern part of Middlesex County. The monitor describes extreme drought as a level that can bring significant crop and pasture losses, as well as “water shortages or restrictions,” according to its website. Meanwhile, most of Central Massachusetts, southern Middlesex County, and Essex County in the northeastern part of the state were under “severe” drought conditions Thursday, according to the monitor. Severe drought conditions can result in water shortages and some water restrictions, and crop or pasture losses are “likely,” the monitor said.



Golf pro killed by falling tree

The golf community in Western Massachusetts is mourning the loss of a longtime club pro who was killed by a falling tree Wednesday as severe storms swept through the state. Thomas Sullivan, the head pro at Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington for more than 20 years, was out on the course checking for stranded players as the storm moved in, the club said in a statement Thursday. Police responded to the club on West Sheffield Road at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday after a neighbor reported seeing a golf cart with a tree on top of it on a dirt road that runs alongside the course, police said in a statement published on Facebook. Sullivan was found lying on the ground next to the golf cart, which was covered with branches and debris. Police said officers tried to administer first aid but could not revive him. Sullivan was named the head pro at the club in 1999. The course owner, Jennie Van Deusen, declined to comment but she shared a statement written on behalf of the club that described Sullivan as an “icon in the golfing community.” “Tom was well-known for his love of the game, the spirit of competition, and as an ambassador for golf,” the club’s statement said. “Tom will be sorely missed by the staff and members of Wyantenuck as well as those beyond . . . who sought his legendary golf lessons.” Sullivan was a sitting board member with the Northeast New York PGA Association, according to the club’s statement. He was elected Golf Professional of the Year in 2017 and was voted into the NENY PGA Hall of Fame in 2018.



Hockey ref may have exposed hundreds to virus

A hockey referee who tested positive for COVID-19 may have exposed of hundreds of people at games he officiated last weekend in Maine and New Hampshire, a public health official said Thursday. Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, disclosed the information during his regular remote briefing with reporters. Shah said the referee, whom he didn’t name, officiated eight games Saturday and Sunday. The games were played at the Biddeford Ice Arena in Biddeford, Maine; North Yarmouth Academy in Yarmouth, Maine; and Merrill Faye Arena in Laconia, N.H He said the referee’s Biddeford games were played at 8:35 a.m. and 10:05 a.m. Saturday, and Sunday games were played at 7:40 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. The official’s North Yarmouth Academy games were played Sunday between 6:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., and the single Laconia game started at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, according to Shah. “If you or a family member was on the ice for one of these games, you should consider yourself a close contact of someone who has COVID-19,” quarantine for 14 days and also get tested, he said.



Man arrested for illegal voting

A man was arrested in Atlanta Thursday and charged with illegally voting in the 2016 general election, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office announced Thursday. Michael L. Lewis, 47, was indicted by a Merrimack County Grand Jury in Dec. 2018 and a warrant for his arrest was issued in January 2019, prosecutors said in a statement. On Nov. 8, 2016, Lewis allegedly cast a ballot in Hooksett, where he was not qualified to vote “because he was not domiciled there for voting purposes,” the statement said. He was arrested on the warrant Thursday by Atlanta Transit Police. He is awaiting extradition proceedings in Atlanta before being returned to New Hampshire, the statement said.