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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Falcons, in partnership with the Springfield Museums and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, announced Dr. Seuss Night, to be held on Saturday, March 12 against the Portland Pirates at 7 p.m. Dr. Seuss Night and the game will be sponsored by Berkshire Bank.

For the first time ever, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has partnered with the Falcons and the Springfield Museums in presenting this special night to honor Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, who was born and raised in Springfield. The Springfield Museums are preparing to open the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in 2016, an exhibit featuring interactive activities for children and a one-of-a-kind experience that will provide a look at the man behind the drawing board.

“We are excited to partner with the Springfield Museums and Dr. Seuss Enterprises in presenting this special night to honor one of Springfield’s most famous native sons,” Falcons President Sarah Pompea said. “We have been anticipating this night since the summer months and are excited to aid the launching of the new museum in support of a unique family entertainment night around a favorite children’s author.”

The night will include appearances by the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumed characters. In addition, specialty jerseys will be worn by Falcons players and auctioned off, with proceeds donated to the Springfield Museums to help support the creation of the new museum.

“We are thrilled that the Falcons are stepping up in support of our fund-raising campaign,” said Kay Simpson, president of the Springfield Museums. “It’s wonderful to have the support of one our best downtown neighbors.”

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HOLYOKE — The Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce announced an art design contest and invites artists from the Holyoke community to participate. A $300 cash prize will be awarded for the design that best represents the city of Holyoke.

The design will be on display at the chamber’s office and used in all of the chamber’s communication and marketing programs, including print media, online media, merchandise (mugs, T-shirts), signage (posters, banners) and television.

“The chamber has been fostering a sense of community, vitalizing the business district, and advocating on behalf of Holyoke businesses and residents for 125 years,” said Kathleen Anderson, chamber President.

Members of the chamber as well as Holyoke residents are invited to vote for their favorite designs via Facebook and the chamber’s website. Contestants should submit their artwork electronically to the chamber by 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29 at [email protected]. Design specifications and other contest details are posted on the chamber’s website, holyokechamber.com. The top three designs will be on display at the chamber’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, and the winner will be announced on March 17.

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SPRINGFIELD — Local law firm Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. announced that attorney Steven Schwartz is the recipient of the Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award.

The award is presented annually by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in partnership with the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council. Each year, the award’s recipient may recommend a Hampden, Hampshire, or Franklin county charity of their choice to receive a $1,000 grant. This year, Schwartz has decided to recommend the grant be made to the Children’s Study Home in recognition of its 150 anniversary.

Schwartz concentrates his practice in the areas of family-business planning, mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, and estate planning. His practice involves representation of principals in family-business planning (including exit planning for business owners), representation of individuals and corporations in the purchase and sale of business enterprises, strategic planning for the future of clients’ businesses, and providing advice on alternatives in financing through loans and venture capital.

Schwartz is a graduate of the Boston University School of Law and Babson College. He is regularly selected to both the Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America lists. He is a member of the Hampden County, Massachusetts, and New York State bar associations.

He is also a member of several civic and community organizations, including the William J. Gould Associates Inc. residential therapeutic community, Pioneer Valley Council Boy Scouts of America, Berkshire Hatchery Foundation, Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises, and Family Firm Institute. He previously served as a member of Springfield Technical Community College, major gifts campaign, steering committee; World Affairs Council Inc.; Parents Fund, Rhode Island School of Design (of which he is also a founder); Institutional Advancement Committee, Rhode Island School of Design; Western New England Enterprise Forum (of which he is also a co-founder); Springfield Tax Club; Urban League; Jewish Community Center; and South End Community Center.

“I am deeply humbled to have been selected for this award,” he said. “The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has continued to devote itself to promote charities and nonprofits and has enhanced the quality of life for many people in our region.”

Founded in 1991, the Community Foundation administers a charitable endowment consisting of nearly 600 separately identified funds serving Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.

Daily News

HADLEY — Get ready to start your engines — Autobahn Indoor Speedway will open in March in the Hampshire Mall.

“Indoor kart racing has been popular in Europe for many years and has recently found a strong following on the West Coast of the United States,” said Autobahn Managing Partner David Larson. “Autobahn Indoor Speedway is extremely excited to be bringing the first European-style indoor electric kart-racing facility to the Amherst area.”

The Italian-made adult racing karts approach speeds of 50 mph.  The speedway utilizes zero-emission electric karts that accelerate faster than their noisier, gas-powered counterparts.

“These are not the slow, rattling go-carts you may be used to as a kid,” Larson said. “Our karts are the highest-performance available, state of the art and built for safety.  One of the first things people notice is the torque of our electric motors — that acceleration is amazing. The handling is also top of the line, with hydraulic disc brakes, a rear differential, and competition-style racing tires.”

The company, which will have a total of nine tracks on the East Coast by April, provides racing instruction to newbies and offers competitive leagues to more seasoned drivers. There are even Junior Karts (with slightly slower speeds) suitable for the younger crowd if they are at least 48 inches tall.

Autobahn Indoor Speedway will be available for company outings, social groups, and birthday parties. Various group race packages are designed to meet the needs of most events, but a custom package can be arranged (including private, full-facility rentals). Groups have reserved race times and exclusive use of the track during their races, and they can compete individually or in teams.

For more information, visit www.autobahnspeed.com or e-mail [email protected].

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SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Domenic Sarno and Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy announced upgrades to Springfield’s downtown technology infrastructure. The initiatives include providing free public wi-fi access beginning in the downtown area this spring, then expanding to other areas of the city, including public parks.

Working with city partners, the initiative will also bring high-speed fiber into buildings, which will provide the growing entrepreneurship sector with quicker, cost-effective, easier-to-access technology.

“Springfield has a history of innovation,” Sarno said. “These investments will keep us competitive in the market to attract entrepreneurs and to assist those here today in continuing to grow. This will also serve as a matter of convenience for residents and tourists who will be able to access Internet in our parks and public spaces.”

The initial investment will range between $50,000 and $100,000 and will ensure free wi-fi access throughout downtown.

The investment comes on the heels of the city’s announcement of a National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) award, part of which will dedicate funding to a pair of key innovation projects in the district: DevelopSpringfield’s Springfield Innovation Center and an IT workforce-training program through Tech Foundry. Funding is expected to be $300,000 for each project.

All of these activities fall in the city’s Transformative Development Initiative district, a designation the city applied for and was awarded through MassDevelopment, which has since provided staff, an equity investment, and technical and financial assistance as the Worthington Street master plan continues to advance.

“This has all been part of a dedicated planning process to establish an innovation district in our downtown,” Kennedy said. “The private and nonprofit sectors have been doing their share in creating a great deal of excitement with programming; these key city infrastructure investments will only help further these efforts. It’s been a great partnership.”

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Kathleen McCormick and Peter Mirante have been appointed to the Berkshire Community College board of trustees.

McCormick is a partner with McCormick, Murtagh & Marcus, a law firm in Great Barrington. She joined the firm in 2004 and was named partner in 2009. Her focus is on residential and commercial real estate, land use and permitting, construction law, business law, and estate planning. She previously clerked for First Justice David Kopleman in the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court and later served as an associate with the litigation firm Herlihy, Thursby & Herlihy in Boston. She has worked for well-known companies such as the Boston Celtics, the Jane Blalock Co., and Reebok International.

McCormick holds a juris doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Berkshire County Bar Assoc., and the Real Estate Bar Assoc. of Massachusetts. She is dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged youth and is an active community member serving on boards of numerous charitable organizations.

Mirante, who has worked in the banking industry for more than 20 years, is senior vice president of Branch Administration at Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield. He joined Greylock in 1998 and has served in numerous management positions. Prior to joining Greylock, he worked for Patten Corp. and then Berkshire Bank.

Mirante holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the former North Adams State College. He has a long history of community service and currently serves on the boards of the Northern Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Family & Individual Resources, Berkshire Compact for Education, and North Adams Parks & Recreation.

Darlene Rodowicz, who was recently reappointed board chair by Gov. Charlie Baker, noted that “the new board members bring a wealth of knowledge from their respective roles in the community. We are happy to have them join the BCC board of trustees as we continue to advance the mission of the college.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank, a mutually owned savings bank serving the Pioneer Valley through nine branch locations, has earned a spot on the Bank Innovation website for creating one of the 20 best banking videos of the year.

 

The commercial was produced by Sean Tracey Associates, Florence Bank’s advertising agency of record for the past three years and a key contributor to the bnk’s rebranding campaign.

As one of Bank Innovation’s top 20 video ads of the year, the Florence Bank commercial is in good company with banks from around the world, including such high-profile institutions as Capital One, PayPal, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Lloyds Bank, Ally Financial, Bank of Scotland, Bank of Ireland, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The Bank Innovation website was launched in 2009 and is produced by Royal Media, a media company that has served the financial industry since 1995. Bank Innovation tracks and encourages innovative banking worldwide.

According to Sean Tracey, principal of Sean Tracey Associates, the 30-second video was a follow-up to a commercial produced two years ago in which local talent danced to the beat of Florence Bank’s theme music, titled “Always.” That year, professional singers were used on the music tracks.

“Since that was a hit market-wise, we thought it would be a great idea to follow up the dancing commercials with a series of singing commercials,” said Tracey. “Since the bank’s customer base is full of talented artists and musicians, we felt we could use all local singers, performing the bank’s theme music in their own style.”

The singing styles featured in the video range from country and jazz to pop and rock, with the 10 performers showcased culled from close to 50 who auditioned. Casting and pre-production spanned three months, with post-production and editing taking another month. Photography was shot over a two-day period on the Academy of Music stage in Northampton.

Music producer and writer Dan Serafini, a long-time friend of Tracey’s, produced the music for the ad.

“It was a dream-team production experience and extremely rewarding. As far as we know, this concept has not been done before, much less by a local bank — it was bold and daring,” Tracey said, thanking Monica Curhan, the bank’s senior vice president and marketing director, and President and CEO John Heaps Jr. “for their immense bravery and trust in our team to do something truly innovative and allow us to push the creative envelope. I think it paid off in spades.”

Heaps added, “we are thrilled at the attention our latest television spot is receiving and feel honored that it has earned a spot on the Bank Innovation website. We thank Sean Tracey Associates for their vision and remarkable work and also our talented customers for their contribution to this award-winning video.”

Daily News

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank announced that a grant proposal it submitted to the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Charitable Foundation on behalf of Rachel’s Challenge has resulted in a $2,000 award to that organization.

Rachel’s Challenge provides intervention programs designed to provide a safe, caring, and supporting learning environment and is named in honor of Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. in 1999.

The award will help fund local anti-bullying efforts in the Greater Westfield area, and is in addition to the $3,500 Future Fund grant Westfield Bank awarded Rachel’s Challenge in 2015.

“Bullying, harassment, and violence have no place in society — and especially not in our schools,” said James Hagan, president and CEO of Westfield Bank. “This generous grant from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. will help support local anti-bullying initiatives and assist the ongoing efforts of local educators and law-enforcement professionals to provide students with a safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment. We are so pleased to have been part of this process.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University School of Law will host prospective students at an open house on Saturday, Jan. 30 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at the Blake Law Center. This free event is open to the public, but advance registration is encouraged. To register or for more information, call (800) 782-6665 or (413) 782-1406, or e-mail [email protected].

The open house will feature tours of the Blake Law Center conducted in small groups by current students, discussions about how to apply to and pay for law school, a mock law class conducted by a faculty member, and sessions on lawyering in law school. There will also be opportunities to speak informally with professors, students, and admissions officers.

Western New England University School of Law offers both full-time and part-time programs leading to the juris doctor (JD) degree, along with six dual-degree programs: a JD/MBA, a JD/MSA, a JD/MRP (with UMass Amherst), a JD/MSW (with Springfield College), a JD/MSOL, and a JD/MSEM. The School of Law also offers a master of laws degree in estate planning and elder law, and a master of science degree in estate planning and elder law.

Daily News

HADLEY — With the grand opening approaching for Cultivate and Nest, an innovative co-office space in Hadley that incorporates on-site child care, local entrepreneur Terra Missildine has designed a scholarship contest for what she calls ‘parent-preneurs,’ or parents who are entrepreneurs.

The winner of the contest will be granted a six-month membership to the co-office space; the nominee will be revealed at the grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 13. Missildine, the founder of Cultivate and Nest, plans to continue accepting nominations until Monday, Feb. 8.

Individuals must be nominated in writing by someone other than themselves. Nominations should be e-mailed to [email protected], and each must include a description of the individual, why they need the membership, and why they deserve the opportunity.

The cluster of offices dedicated to Cultivate and Nest are located on the first floor in the Hadley Crossing business park, with 1,650 square feet dedicated to Cultivate and Nest members. There is space for four dedicated desks with other work areas that will be rented on a ‘use as you need’ basis. Members will pay in cost tiers that range from $100 to $600 per month, depending on amenities and level of office access.

The grand opening will be held in the space in an all-day event on Feb. 13 that will also mark the 10th anniversary of Beloved Earth, the green cleaning business Missildine owns with her husband, David. Networking events will be held at 9 a.m., and the Beloved Earth celebration will be held from 1 to 5 p.m.

The grand opening event is co-sponsored by the Missildines and Lydia Irons, owner of the Flexible Farmer massage company and a Cultivate and Nest member.

Children are encouraged to attend the event. The ‘kid’s space’ at Cultivate and Nest will be staffed that day by an early-childhood care specialist, who will be available going forward from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so members and clients alike can bring their children to work.

Missildine explained that the idea to develop Cultivate and Nest came to her more than two years ago as a way to build a support system for working parents. “You shouldn’t have to choose between growing your business and being a great parent.”

Contest nominees will also have the chance to win other prizes, including an invitation to share their business story on the Cultivate podcast and website, and free day passes. In addition to the scholarship contest, Cultivate and Nest is offering charter pricing on memberships until the grand opening on Feb. 13. New members also have the opportunity to gift a free membership to anyone they choose, provided they are a good fit for the Cultivate community.