Here are the top New England regional stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at

Here are the top New England regional stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at

If your paper has a story, digest item, opinion piece or standalone photo to share, please send it to us via Zope or by e-mailing

- Chris Biondi, 508-626-4343,
- Jean Hodges, 630-956-8834,
- Michael Toeset, 630-835-8870,


POLL QUESTION IDEA: What did you think of President Obama’s State of the Union address?

TOYOTA: 5 tips for telling the Toyota recall and sales suspension story.

TOYOTA CONTENT: Our package of sidebars, localization tips, photos and more related to the Toyota recall and suspension.

BEST OF GATEHOUSE: Contest submissions are due Feb. 1.
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READER CALLOUT ADS: Ask for readers’ love stories this Valentine’s Day.


SNEAK PREVIEW: 'Edge of Darkness' and other new movies -- Mel Gibson returns to the screen for the first time since his drunken tirade in 2006. The question is: will his fans still support him? By Al Alexander.

FLICKS: Flicks: Gibson embodies the dude movie -- There’s little not to like about Mel Gibson, aside from the alcoholism (he had treatment!) and the anti-Semitism (um, a product of the media?) and so it’s nice to see him back on the big screen. By John Meo.


PIETASTERS: Pietasters still among ska’s upper crust -- The heyday of the ’80s and ’90s ska movement still seems too recent to think of the career of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in decades instead of years. Same goes for The Pietasters, the Washington D.C., ska/soul collective that is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a band. For them, that’s a “perfect soundtrack for a bender,” as singer Stephen Jackson put it in a recent interview. By Chad Berndtson.

MOE.: Popular jamband moe. marking 20th year -- The upstate New York quintet moe. celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and performs Friday at the House of Blues in Boston. Even after two decades the band hasn’t lost the elements that make their appeal enduring: personnel, commitment, quirky style and a fierce jam. By Chad Berndtson.


JOHN WILLIAM WATERHOUSE: Enchantment blooms at Waterhouse exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - An exhibit of his paintings is on view in “John William Waterhouse, Garden of Enchantment,” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in the only scheduled North American stop of a tour of the paintings. By Margaret Smith.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: Cambridge artist finds success in abstract -- Leon Steinmetz has come full circle, and then some. The Moscow-born artist, a Cambridge resident since the late-1970s, recently returned to his hometown with “Contemplating Gogol,” a solo show of his works at the renowned Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. By Ed Symkus.

CONTEMPORARY ART: Full house for DeCordova's Biennial exhibit
-- Seventeen artists from across New England are showing exciting, often challenging, never boring paintings, videos, photos, collages, installations and slippery performance pieces that defy easy categorization at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. By Chris Bergeron.


DREAMGIRLS: Moya Angela follows in the footsteps of Holliday, Hudson in 'Dreamgirls' -- There’s a moment in the musical “Dreamgirls” that must soar for the production to live up to expectations. Nearly everyone remembers the powerful Broadway and film performances of Jennifer Holliday in 1981 and Jennifer Hudson in 2006 when they sang “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Moya Angela, who stars as Effie White in the national tour of “Dreamgirls,” explodes with a similarly intense yearning and determination. By Jody Feinberg.


YOUNG-ADULT BOOKS: Author specializes in the trials and tribulations of middle-schoolers -- Growing up all over the country, Erin Dionne knew how it felt to get picked on and teased as the new kid trying to fit into school. Now, Dionne is celebrating the publication of her second novel for young readers, "The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet." By Chris Bergeron.


CHURCH TRANSITION: Former Somerset market making a graceful transition to church -- People who drive past the former Grand Central Market in Somerset can see Grace Gospel Church’s prayers being answered. The former market will re-emerge in about a year as the new home of Grace Gospel Church, currently located at 271 Sharps Lot Road, Swansea. Those driving by may have noticed the steeple added to the front of the building in recent weeks. By Marc Munroe Dion.


GRANLUND CARTOON: Old man winter

CONROY CARTOON: Rolling the dice on campaign finance reform

EDITORIAL: State’s mixed message on health reform -- Was last week's special Senate election in Massachusetts a referendum on health care reform? Many national commentators assume it was. But if so, Bay State voters' message to the nation on this issue is complicated. By the MetroWest Daily News.


TOYOTA RECALL: Toyota dealerships brace for recall, sales shutdown -- Toyota Motor Corp. halted sales of some of its top-selling models Tuesday to fix gas pedals that could stick and cause unintended acceleration. Last week, Toyota issued a recall for the same eight models affecting 2.3 million vehicles. By Maria Papadopoulos.

TOYOTA SURPRISE: Toyota’s recall takes mechanics by surprise -- Some auto mechanics say reports of malfunctioning gas pedals on eight Toyota models run counter to the automaker’s reputation for reliability. Patriot Ledger staff reports.

DAMAGE CONTROL: Toyota needs to do 'immediate damage control,' car expert says -- The Toyota recall will negatively impact sales for the auto manufacturer, predicted Junior Damato, a GateHouse auto columnist and auto shop owner. Toyota can address the deficiency in the accelerator in its recalled models by adding a “built-in” safety system to deal with the problem, Damato said. By Maria Papadopoulos.

TOYOTA CONTENT: Our package of sidebars, localization tips, photos and more related to the Toyota recall and suspension.

MEMORY APP: Bad with names? She's got an app for you -- Kelly Nowlin calls it "hey, buddy-itis": the fudging that occurs when someone's name can't quite be recalled. "I can't stand that feeling," she says. "It's a problem so many of us share." Well, now there's an app for that. By Michael Morton.


COLLEGE LOANS: 10 things to know before applying for college aid -- The deadlines for college aid forms are approaching. Before filling out your loan applications, know these tips. By Robert Weitzman


‘IS HE KIDDING ME?’: Reaction to Obama’s State of the Union address -- Opinions were as hot as the coffee at Uno’s Chicago Grill in Hanover, where a handful of Massachusetts residents sat watching President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Wednesday night. By Amy Littlefield.

DEMS ON STATE OF THE UNION: Democrats call Obama's speech 'a step forward' -- About 40 MetroWest Democrats packed into a small downtown art gallery Wednesday night to watch President Barack Obama's State of the Union address and try to regroup after Scott Brown's Senate win last week. By Kendall Hatch.

RAIL CRIME: MBTA: Crime levels drop on commuter railroad -- Crime on local commuter rail lines fell in 2009, part of a system-wide drop that saw crime rates reach an overall 29-year low, according to a new MBTA report. By Erik Potter.

FRAUD CHARGES: Former South Shore Hospital exec charged with stealing $200,000 in donations -- The former director of South Shore Hospital’s cardiovascular center is charged with allegedly soliciting and stealing more than $200,000 in donations to the hospital. William S. Burke, 38, of Plymouth, was charged with one count of “knowingly causing the use of the United States mail as part of a scheme to defraud in order to obtain money or property.” By Allison Manning.

HIGHWAY KILLINGS: Former suspect in New Bedford-area highway killings case found dead -- For years, Chandra Gregory wondered if the lawyer living in New Bedford was the person who killed her mother and at least eight other women in the late 1980s. Now, more than 20 years later, that man, Kenneth Ponte, has been found dead and Gregory believes he wasn’t involved. By Maureen Boyle.

COACH RESIGNS: Brockton High hockey coach resigns amid conduct allegations -- Brockton High School varsity hockey coach James Connors has resigned amid an investigation into allegations of “unbecoming conduct,” school officials said. He has held the position since late 2007. By Kyle Alspach.

PROSTHETICS FOR HAITI: Braintree hospital seeks artificial limbs for Haitian amputees -- Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital is accepting donations of unused prosthetic arms and legs for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Patriot Ledger staff reports.

KICK FOR HAITI: Karate kick-a-thon to raise money for Haiti -- American Kempo Karate Academy will hold a kick-a-thon for Haiti earthquake relief at noon Saturday at its Rockland studio, 12 West Water St. Students will kick as many times as they can in the one-hour event and are seeking sponsors who donate a pledged amount per kick or a flat donation. Patriot Ledger staff reports.

HAITI LINKS PACKAGE: Massachusetts stories of the disaster in Haiti are linked to here. Several items were added today, and we’ll keep updating as stories come in.


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