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Daily News

HOLYOKE — River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) named Anna Dyrkacz to be its director of Finance. She was appointed to the position last month by Rosemarie Ansel, RVCC’s executive director.

“Anna’s financial expertise and knowledge within the healthcare industry will be a valuable asset to River Valley,” Ansel said. “We look forward to having her support in being fiscally strong, as we continue to grow and meet the mental-health needs of our community. We are pleased to have her join us during this exciting time.”

Dyrkacz has more than 17 years experience in the healthcare and human-services industry and came to River Valley Counseling Center from a leadership position at Pathlight. She has also held leadership positions at Southgate Retirement Community, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and Kindred Healthcare of Springfield.

“I’m excited to be joining the leadership team at RVCC,” Dyrkacz said. “I look forward to supporting the mission to improve the health of all people in our community, which includes being good stewards of our resources and providing efficient and cost-effective care to all.”

Dyrkacz has a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Western New England University, majoring in finance.

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SPRINGFIELD — Mary Ann Coughlin, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Springfield College, was recently awarded the John E. Stecklein Distinguished Member Award from the Assoc. for Institutional Research (AIR). The award recognizes an individual whose professional career has significantly advanced the field of institutional research through extraordinary scholarship, leadership, and service.

“It was a real honor to receive this award,” said Coughlin. “This association is best known for the collegial and collaborative work performed by its members; thus, to receive this award meant that I truly had made a difference.”

Coughlin has a long-standing relationship with the AIR, including serving as a past president and as a trainer for national workshops sponsored by the association. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Assoc. for Institutional Research Outstanding Service Award, recognizing her professional leadership and exemplary service to AIR and for actively supporting and facilitating the goals and mission of the association.

During her tenure at Springfield College, Coughlin has served in a variety of positions, including faculty member, president of the faculty senate, and her current administrative position in Academic Affairs. Coughlin worked as a professor of Research and Statistics at the college prior to moving into administration. In her current role, she supervises academic support services and provides leadership for program review, outcomes assessment, faculty development, student success initiatives, and institutional research.

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BOSTON — The state Department of Transportation recently awarded five grants totaling more than $1.8 million as part of the Industrial Rail Access Program (IRAP), which helps increase rail and freight access, economic opportunity, and job growth.

IRAP is a competitive, state-funded, public/private partnership program that provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to invest in improvement projects in rail infrastructure access. State funding for these five projects will be matched by more than $2.4 million in private funds.

“These awards will help support economic development and job growth throughout Massachusetts by providing businesses better access to rail and freight infrastructure and connecting them with customers and opportunities throughout the region,” Baker said. “We are pleased to partner with these companies to leverage public and private funds to continue strengthening our transportation system through the development of rail infrastructure projects.”

Locally, $500,000 was awarded to the Western Recycling rail-spur project in Wilbraham. The project will allow an existing solid-waste-handling facility to load outbound waste into rail cars for shipment to out-of-state landfills. With the restoration of rail service to the site, the facility will start processing municipal waste, in addition to construction and demolition debris.

The project includes the construction of one loading track and five storage tracks for a total of 6,000 feet of new track. With completion of the project, the facility will be served by more than 1,500 rail cars each year, eliminating 7,500 regional truck trips each year and supporting the creation of eight to 10 additional jobs at the facility.

IRAP provides grants to railroads, rail shippers, and municipalities that identify a public benefit gained through improved rail transportation usage or economic growth that would be realized through improved access to rail assets. The other four grants went to projects in Littleton, Peabody, and Upton.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Rotary Club of Springfield elected its new President, Susan Mastroianni, and board of directors at its recent meeting.

“I am humbled and honored to have been inducted as president of the Springfield club for 2018-2019,” Mastroianni said. “We have a dedicated board of directors, and we’re all looking forward to a productive year together. This past June, the Springfield Club was able to give away $6,000 in grants to local area nonprofits, and I’m looking forward to increasing that amount for next year. The Springfield Rotary Club has a long legacy, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Originally from the Bronx, N.Y., Mastroianni worked in Springfield for more than 26 years, first as media director for FitzGerald & Robbins Advertising and then as a partner and director of Media Services at FitzGerald & Mastroianni Advertising in Springfield, which closed in 2016. She has been a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield since May 2006. In addition to being president, she chairs the club’s publicity committee also serves as vice president of the board of directors for the Gray House in Springfield. She is a graduate of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts.

The Rotary Club of Springfield meets every Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the MassMutual Room at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Education Division at Elms College has postponed its conference titled “Trauma-sensitive Schools: Meeting the Needs of Traumatized Students and Their Teachers,” which was originally scheduled to be held this week.

The conference is now rescheduled for Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1-2, and will be held in the Chicopee Public Library. More details will be released at a later date.

Daily News

Westfield city officials and leaders with Westfield Gas & Electric, the city’s municipal utility, unveiled a new marketing campaign Tuesday called ‘Go Westfield.’

The slogan might not fall into the categories of ‘highly imaginative’ or ‘cutting-edge,’ but the campaign itself is a worthy initiative and an example of what more cities and towns in this region need to be doing — building their brands.

This is a tricky subject for some industry sectors and especially municipalities — ‘why are they spending money to hype the city when there are roads that need paving and sidewalks to be fixed?’ is an often-heard refrain.

But brand building is as important an exercise for municipalities as it is for businesses in every sector. If you have a good story to tell and you want to grow your business — or if you want to bring more businesses and residents to your city, as is the case here — you need to tell that story.

And Westfield’s story is a very good one. It has ample land on which to build, a turnpike exit of its very own, an airport, a municipal utility offering attractive rates and high-speed internet service, a downtown that’s coming back after years of decline, Stanley Park, a great ice rink, a state university, and much more.

‘Go Westfield’ will tell that story through a new website, a promotional video, and some advertisements in regional outlets and industry journals. As with any branding campaign, one never knows what the results will be, but it’s safe to say that this proactive step is far better than trying to let the city sell itself.

There’s a reason why Coke continues to pound the airwaves with ads even though everyone knows that brand. The same with McDonald’s, Ford, and Geico. If you want to grow your brand, you have to promote it and keep it in the public eye.

“It’s critical that we communicate our strengths,” Westfied’s mayor, Brian Sullivan, said at the unveiling.

He’s right about that, and there are lessons there for all area cities and towns.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College (BCC) has been awarded $5.5 million for a major project that will transform the first floor of the Field Administration building into a One Stop Student Success Center.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced this award on July 10 at Westfield State University. Baker launched a capital investment plan for public higher education and encouraged the submission of proposals that would benefit the Massachusetts economy and support student success and completion.

The governor’s plan includes $190 million in FY19 for public higher education. BCC was selected as one of six projects for higher-education institutions across the Commonwealth.

The One Stop Student Success Center concept was conceived in 2015. It will transform the student experience by making the entire admissions and enrollment process easier. The project will renovate the first floor of the Field Administration building, which currently houses Enrollment Management, Advising, Career and Transfer services, Financial Aid and Student Accounts, and Admission and the college registrar.

“The vision for this project was to create a comfortable and inviting central location where students and community partners have all of their college service needs met efficiently in one place,” said Ellen Kennedy, BCC president. “Receiving the funding for this project is an exciting opportunity for both the college and the Berkshires. We will continue to expand our efforts to reimagine not only our buildings and grounds, but also, most importantly, how we can best serve our students so they thrive in the local and statewide economy.”

BCC is currently completing $34 million in campus projects for the renovation of Hawthorne and Melville halls, including a connector with upper and lower courtyards, paving of the parking lots and access roads, and installing a community turf field for football, soccer and lacrosse.

“When we originally designed the One Stop Student Success Center, we were focusing on student engagement, retention, and graduation rates,” said Adam Klepetar, vice president of Enrollment Management. “The One Stop will do this by making the first floor of Field a student-facing space — a welcoming environment with all key onboarding offices located in one central place — while also creating opportunities for office efficiencies and providing collaborative workspaces for community-based partnerships.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Springfield detailer Paul Frasco of Pro and Local Mobile Detailing has been handpicked for the second year by master detailer Renny Doyle to the 15th annual Air Force One Detailing Team. Frasco and 64 other professional detailers from around the nation will visit Seattle’s Museum of Flight July 15-22.

They will continue their annual cleaning and preservation of the first Air Force One on display at the museum, but they will also take their first shot preserving the museum’s newest acquisition, a Boeing B-52G Stratofortress bomber known as Midnight Express. Built in 1960 as a nuclear-armed Cold War platform, it was used extensively during the Vietnam War, and was active during Operation Linebacker II in December 1972, which led to the release of 591 prisoners of war in 1973.

Frasco is trained and certified by the International Detailing Assoc. and by Doyle’s Detailing Success. He makes the weeklong commitment on a voluntary, pro bono basis.

Doyle has spent 15 years restoring the historic presidential jet to its original glory. The plane was a flying Oval Office for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. It was in distressed condition when Doyle was first approached by the Bush administration in 2003 to put his skills to work to save it. It took more than a decade to fully restore the brilliance of the paint and clarity of the bright work (aluminum). Until 2016, the plane lived outdoors on the tarmac, exposed to the elements, requiring a robust annual cleaning, polishing, and protection for its paint and aluminum.

These past two years, the plane has found a home under the museum’s new, open-air Airpark Pavilion. Although it is mostly protected from the elements, it is still exposed to the region’s damp climate and extreme temperatures, requiring a rigorous cleaning, polishing, and application of a paint sealant to protect it from year to year.

Also on the agenda this year is polishing the B-29 Super Fortress, a WWII bomber the team began restoring in 2011; cleaning and polishing the first-ever Boeing ‘Jumbo Jet’ 747; polishing the supersonic Concorde Alpha Golf, which they have been working on since 2014; and numerous other priceless aircraft on exhibit at the Museum of Flight.

“Cleaning something as big as a jet airplane has its challenges, but when you are cleaning aircraft valued at hundreds of millions of dollars and that have such historical significance in aviation history, it requires unique skills and knowledge of paint and bright work not found in most detailers,” Doyle said. “The first time I laid eyes on Air Force One 15 years ago, I doubted whether it could be saved — that is how challenging the project was; however, I see what Paul has done, and I know what he can do. He is one of the best of the best.”

Added Frasco, “to see Air Force One shining in the sunlight from year to year is a testament to our commitment, hard work, and skill. I am proud to be a part of this project the past two years, and I am excited about tackling that B-52 this year. I look forward to many years ahead as a caretaker of aviation history.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The deadline to nominate an individual or organization for the second annual Healthcare Heroes awards has been extended one final time, to Friday, July 13, at 5 p.m. To nominate someone, visit healthcarenews.com or businesswest.com, click on ‘Our Events,’ and proceed to ‘Healthcare Heroes.’

This recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector was launched last spring by HCN and BusinessWest. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and individuals providing that care.

Nomination categories include ‘Lifetime Achievement,’ ‘Emerging Leader,’ ‘Patient/Resident/Client Care Provider,’ ‘Innovation in Health/Wellness,’ ‘Health/Wellness Administrator,’ and ‘Collaboration in Healthcare.’ Winners will be profiled in both magazines in September and feted at the Oct. 25 gala at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden.

Healthcare Heroes sponsors include American International College (presenting sponsor), National Grid (partner), and supporting sponsors Renew.Calm, the Elms College MBA program, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England.

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WESTFIELD — Gov. Charlie Baker announced during his visit to Westfield State University’s campus on Tuesday that the university will receive a $21.25 million investment from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to renovate its oldest building, Parenzo Hall. The funding to Westfield State is made possible by H.4549, “An Act Providing for Capital Repairs and Improvements for the Commonwealth,” a bill ceremonially signed by Baker during the campus visit.

Through the Parenzo Hall renovation project, the university aspires to transform the dated building into a state-of-the-art hub for student success and workforce development. In addition to optimal space utilization, renovations will create two new centers: the Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships and the Center for Student Success and Engagement. In addition to benefitting Westfield State students, the centers are intended to have far-reaching impact beyond the university’s physical campus.

“The educational and community collaborations that will grow in this newly renovated facility will have a boundless impact on our students, local high-school students, and members of the surrounding communities and businesses beyond our Westfield campus,” said President Ramon Torrecilha. “Westfield State University is greatly appreciative of this vital state investment. The enhancements and new programs made possible with this funding will enable us to further improve accessibility to high-quality, affordable public higher education in Western Massachusetts.”

According to Torrecilha, nearly 94% of Westfield State students are Massachusetts residents, and the majority go on to build their lives and careers in the Bay State following graduation.

Overall, H.4549 authorizes approximately $3.9 billion to address the Commonwealth’s statewide capital needs, including higher-education campuses, health and human services facilities, state office buildings, public-safety facilities, and courts. The bond bill authorizes $950 million for public higher-education investments.

“This plan marks a critical turning point in the Commonwealth’s approach to capital funding for public higher education,” state Education Secretary James Peyser said. “Our goal is to maximize the use and functionality of existing spaces, align programs to meet regional and statewide workforce needs, strengthen partnerships between higher education and private-sector employers, and encourage more creative and efficient use of existing spaces.”

Parenzo Hall has not undergone major renovations since its opening in 1956. The renovation project is consistent with the Baker-Polito administration’s approach to capital investment that emphasizes repairing and modernizing existing assets, while ensuring that spending is always maintained at an affordable level. Nearly matching the state’s $21.25 million investment, Westfield State will invest nearly $20 million of university funds into the project, which has a total cost of $40 million.

Parenzo Hall’s Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships will leverage technology to serve as a nexus for innovative collaboration in Western Mass., partnering with K-12 school districts, community colleges, and industry partners. It will teach students and community partners how to engage productively in online hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment.

The Center for Student Success and Engagement will address the student-outcome goals of the Vision Project (increasing retention and graduation rates while reducing the achievement gap). The project will also address the continuing decline in the number of working-age adults. The center will increase student preparation for advanced learning and support exploration of career pathways in elementary and high schools to prepare them for on-the-job training. New and in-demand certificate programs, as well as advanced study options, will be offered to its business partners, utilizing technology.

According to Torrecilha, the two new Centers will be linked to offer students the opportunity to engage with industry professionals, work on real-world application of their knowledge and skill sets, and explore career opportunities.

“As a graduate of Westfield State, I know how valuable the university is to students from the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire district and throughout the Commonwealth alike,” said state Sen. Donald Humason Jr. “I am pleased that this bond authorization will make important improvements to the infrastructure of the campus, ensuring this important resource will be available for students for years to come.”

Added state Sen. John Velis, “I am thrilled that Westfield State University and other state colleges are receiving these funds. Investing in the facilities at these schools shows the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to improving public higher education. Keeping the buildings up to date is essential to ensuring that our public colleges and universities remain at the forefront of technology, innovation, and creativity. These funds will have a real and substantial impact on the success of students, faculty, and the institutions as a whole.”