Home 2012
Bankruptcies Departments

The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

 

Abdou, David G.

Abdou, Andrea G.

322 Lyon St.

Ludlow, MA 01056

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Acevedo, Santos

59 St. Lawrence Ave.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/01/11

 

Agure, Donna

34 Craig Dr., Apt. E 5

West Springfield, MA 01089

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Arpin, Cindy

6 Farragut St.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

B&B Landscaping and Excavating

Piccolo, Robert J.

260 East Center St.

Lee, MA 01238

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/02/11

 

Bak, Bruno M.

Bak, Patricia A.

95 Forest St.

Chicopee, MA 01013

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/04/11

 

BDF Property Improvements

Forgue, Jason R.

23 Bromley Road

Chester, MA 01011

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/02/11

 

Beamon, Tracy

37 Border St.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/11/11

 

Benedetti, Sherri

Benedetti, Michael

180 Green River Road

Greenfield, MA 01301

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/05/11

 

Bessette, Kristen M.

a/k/a Jaskulski, Kristen M.

53 James St.

Feeding Hills, MA 01030

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Bistro 186

Pioneer Tax & Business Services

Hampshire Financial

Lowney, Robert B.

P.O. Box 265

Hatfield, MA 01038

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/03/11

 

Butler, William D.

Butler, Deborah A.

95 Westwood Dr.

Sturbridge, MA 01566

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Camp, Patrick W.

23 Windsor St.

West Springfield, MA 01089

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/07/11

 

Carter, Glenn T.

Carter, Constance A.

363 Bullard Road

Oakham, MA 01068

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Champaca Journeys

Leupold, John Eric

35 New South St., #201

Northampton, MA 01060

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Colon, Carole A.

a/k/a Hall, Carole A.

5 Bellwood Road

Springfield, MA 01119

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Cook, Thomas B.

18-20 O’Connor Ave.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Corbett, Elizabeth M.

189 Springfield Road

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Cosme, Marianne Nina

15 William St.

Chicopee, MA 01020

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/14/11

 

Cote, Gail P.

310 Stafford St., #151

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Crow, Karen A.

a/k/a Moorehouse, Karen

3 Jeane Dr.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Cruz, Edith

100 Division St., Apt. 802

Springfield, MA 01107

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Cruzado-Vila, Concepcion

938 St. James Ave.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Delgado, Mark A.

494 School St. #303.

Athol, MA 01331

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Dessources, Marie Kettelyne

616 Armory St.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

DH Enterprises

Hescock, Danny L.

11 Oak St.

Gill, MA 01354

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Diaz, Luis A.

15 Morris St. 1st Fl.

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Donnachie, Stephen M.

Donnachie, Diane

44 River Road

Worthington, MA 01098

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/02/11

 

Dyl, Stanley A.

350 Meadow St. #69

Agawam, MA 01001

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/14/11

 

Elser, David M.

35 Glenwood Ave.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Etheridge, David R.

59 Sylvester St.

Springfield, MA 01109

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Fernandes, Roberto

21 Jackson St., #2

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Fontaine, Paul L.

873 Springfield St., Apt#7

Feeding Hills, MA 01030

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Fontanez, Gilrolanel

500 Hancock St., Apt G

Springfield, MA 01105

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Forgue, Katharine M.

23 Bromley Road

Huntington, MA 01050

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/02/11

 

Fortier, David L.

90 Main St., Apt. C

Northfield, MA 01360

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Gaspari, Alexander

Gaspari, Fay A.

66 Kon Tiki Circle

Chicopee, MA 01020

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/03/11

 

Gonzalez, Katrina Maria

331 Cold Spring Ave.

West Springfield, MA 01089

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/05/11

 

Goodwin, Roy J.

75 Birch St.

Athol, MA 01331

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/14/11

 

Griswold, Corinna M.

P.O. Box 514

Haydenville, MA 01039

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Griswold, Jr., Ronald J.

Griswold, Emmanouilla

106 Fenton Road

Monson, MA 01057

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Harper, Phillip V.

Harper, Jane V.

15 Webbs Ct.

Ware, MA 01082

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/11/11

 

Harris, Diane Mary

PO Box 557

Pittsfield, MA 01202

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Hart, Laurie A.

19 Greenwood Ave.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Hilson, Arthur L.

Hilson, Cynthia L.

a/k/a Noyes, Cynthia

a/k/a Gonzalez, Cynthia L.

275 Gresham St.

Springfield, MA 01119-1469

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Hopkins, Marla Jean

30 High St.

Easthampton, MA 01027

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Hoynoski, Tina E.

62 Union St., Apt. 1

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Hurst, Jeffrey R.

180 Cherokee Dr.

Springfield, MA 01109

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Jopson, Mildred P.

41 Chestnut St.

Apt. 514

Holyoke, MA 01040-4631

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Jurkowski, Kilean P.

90 Easthampton St.

Westhampton, MA 01027

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Jurkowski, Nicole L.M.

60 Pleasant St., Apt. A

Easthampton, MA 01027

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Kabaniec, Cynthia A.

P.O. Box 1008

Ashfield, MA 01330

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/05/11

 

Kirkpatrick, Mark D.

40 Spruce St.

East Longmeadow, MA 01028

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Krause-Cote, Marie

22 Canal St.

South Hadley, MA 01075

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/07/11

 

Laporte, Marta B.

34 Schley St.

Springfield, MA 01109

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Lauziere, Elizabeth E.

767 Beacon Circle

Springfield, MA 01109

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Lefebvre, Brian K.

Lefebvre, Cathleen

a/k/a Normand, Cathleen

a/k/a Rios, Cathleen

90 Riverboat Village Road

South Hadley, MA 01075

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Lichtenberger, Lisa M.

1794 White Pond Road

Athol, MA 01331

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/14/11

 

Lizotte, Scott A.

166 West Main St., Apt. 3

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Lombard, John F.

166 West Main St., Apt. 3

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Lusty, William Joseph

430 Old Warren Road

Palmer, MA 01069

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/01/11

 

Martinez, Ramiro

300 Walnut St.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/07/11

 

Martinson, Todd J.

22A Main St.

Monson, MA 01057

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Matos, Samuel

587 South Bridge St.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/14/11

 

McCutcheon, Eric J.

555 Russell Road, Apt. J61

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

McHugh, Paul E.

519 East River St., Lot 29

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Mejias, Flor M.

Mejias, Rolando

59 David St.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Michaels, Katie F.

a/k/a Colby, Katie F.

113 Brewster St.

Springfield, MA 01119

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/01/11

 

Napravnick, Gina

18 Kent Ave.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Nardin, Rosalie M.

P.O. Box 419

Stockbridge, MA 01262

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Narvaez, Carmen M.

a/k/a Melendez, Carmen

43 Portland St.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Nelson, Dianna L.

109 Marten St.

Chicopee, MA 01020

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Nelson, Michael A.

76 Hazen St.

Springfield, MA 01119

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Noga, Peter E.

Noga, Erica L.

18 Laurel Road

Huntington, MA 01050

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

O’Soro, Michael David

O’Soro, Noreen Bellmore

75 Strong Ave.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/03/11

 

Paro, Tina M.

Brown, Diana L.

103 Doverbrook Road

Chicopee, MA 01022

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/07/11

 

Patenaude, Charles Raymond

Haire, Teresa Catherine

60 Purinton Road

Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Peich, Milan P.

116 North Ridge Road

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Pichierri, Randall Vincent

10 Chamberlain Hill Road

Barre, MA 01005

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/09/11

 

Rivadeneira, Carlos

15 Kelleher Dr.

South Deerfield, MA 01373

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Smith, Craig A.

64 Whitney St.

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Smith, Melissa A.

15 James St.

Greenfield, MA 01301

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Snow, Jonathan K.

25 Norman Circle

Turners Falls, MA 01376

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Spooner, William A.

118 Eagleville Road

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/02/11

 

Stec, Elizabeth M.

52 Casino Ave.

Chicopee, MA 01013

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Surprenant, Louise A.

42 Roberta Circle

Agawam, MA 01001

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/15/11

 

Theodorakis, Nickolas H.

71 Larchley Ave.

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Torres, Magda

66 Pine St.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/08/11

 

Vittorino, Jo Ann

190 Rolling Green Dr.

Amherst, MA 01002

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Wegrzyn, Paul A.

Wegrzyn, Cassandra A.

PO Box 383

Chicopee, MA 01021

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/14/11

 

Widelo, John W.

157 West Main St.

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

 

Williams, Daniel Christopher

21 Riverside Dr.

Florence, MA 01062

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 11/02/11

 

Wilson, James E.

Wilson, Annmarie R.

54 Chester St.

Chicopee, MA 01013

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 11/10/11

 

Yerrick, Kevin M.

49 Velma Ave.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/11

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

 

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Curtis Pecor v. Hart & Cooley Inc., d/b/a Heat-Fab Inc.

Allegation: Negligent training and supervision of employees and failure to adhere to proper safety and energy-control procedures causing loss of plaintiff’s fingers on both hands: $245,714.95

Filed: 9/20/12

 

Joachin Neteler v. Nex Performance Films Inc.

Allegation: Breach of employment contract: $83,333.36

Filed: 10/18/12

 

Kamela Christara v. Amerigas Propane, L.P. and Sirius Inc.

Allegation: Negligence causing acute CO exposure: $102,546.78

9/14/12

 

Kevin C. Dodge v. James M. Douglas, Jocelyn M. Keech,  Jimmy E. Hillock, Hillock’s Logging Co., and Hanover Insurance Co.

Allegation: Wrongful removal of trees: $27,050

Filed: 10/31/12

 

GREENFIELD DISTRICT COURT

American Express Bank, FSB v. Robert S. Reid III a/k/a Robert S. Reidaka and Stewart’s Nursery Inc. a/k/a/ Stewart Nursery

Allegation: Monies due for breach of contract, monies loaned, and services rendered: $21,845.94

Filed: 9/17/12

 

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Akin Odutola v. Northern Educational Services Inc.

Allegation: Breach of purchase-and-sale agreement for property: $52,050

Filed: 10/26/12

 

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Maura Whalen v. Town of Granby Public Schools

Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+

Filed: 10/25/12

 

NORTHAMPTON DISTRICT COURT

Cheryl Maffie v. Northampton Motor Classics, LLC

Allegation: Breach of warranty and misrepresentation regarding sale of a motor vehicle: $14,924.88

Filed: 11/2/12

 

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

American Zurich Insurance Co. v. Carlos Professional Deliveries

Allegation: Monies due for breach of contract: $7,543.00

Filed: 8/29/12

 

The Glidden Co. v. King Brothers Painting and Staining Inc. d/b/a King Brothers Decorating

Allegation: Money due for breach of contract, monies loaned, and services rendered: $8,303.08

Filed: 10/24/12

Opinion
Collaborative Model Spurs Redevelopment



From historic mill buildings stretched along our rivers to vacant properties in our downtown centers, Massachusetts is home to challenging brownfields in need of critical redevelopment. Through our combined experiences working with local officials and promoting economic development, we are committed to revitalizing these contaminated sites to increase housing, business growth, and job creation across the Commonwealth.
Through a collaborative model known as the Brownfields Support Team (BST) Initiative, we are targeting brownfields cleanup and partnering with municipalities to transform once-stalled, blighted parcels into prime development opportunities. We are experiencing tremendous results, including an improved environment and regional economic growth.
First launched in 2008, the BST has coordinated 24 state, local, and federal agencies over the last several years to tackle some of the state’s most complex brownfields. By working closely with key stakeholders, including our partners in the state Legislature, we have delivered more than $18 million in funding to accelerate cleanup, streamline processes to overcome technical roadblocks, and reuse more than 300 acres of valuable property for community and economic development.
We have made great strides in each BST community thanks to the hard work and dedication of municipal leaders, including Mayor Domenic Sarno in Springfield and Mayor Michael Bissonnette in Chicopee. For example, Springfield’s Indian Orchard Park, consisting of 54 acres, was approved by the Springfield Redevelopment Authority to use 12 acres for a 2.2-megawatt solar-power-generating facility. The success of this collaborative approach in redeveloping the site was recognized at the Brownfields 2011 Conference Transaction Forum in Philadelphia.
In neighboring Chicopee, the former Facemate Property was designated in the second round of the BST. Since 2010, we have worked with the city to demolish unused property and help pave the way for mixed-use redevelopment. Construction began on the first phase of the new complex — now known as RiverMills at Chicopee Falls — earlier this year to create a 21,000-square-foot senior center.
Similar success is underway in other BST communities, including Worcester, Grafton, Fall River, and Haverhill, each designated in the first round of the BST initiative, and Gardner, Attleboro, Somerville, and Chelmsford, designated in the second round. We have also collaborated with the city of Brockton to assess a list of sites in need of redevelopment.
In both our leadership roles, we often hear about the need to balance environmental protection with economic development. Fortunately, these are not mutually exclusive goals. By increasing collaboration across state agencies and working with stakeholders, we have made brownfields reclamation a priority for the Patrick-Murray administration and the Commonwealth.
With local, state, and federal government working together, once-blighted and contaminated parcels are becoming launching pads for community renewal and business growth.
Massachusetts has been recognized nationally for the success of the BST model. Most recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noted our strategy in redeveloping complex brownfields sites and awarded $6.75 million to Massachusetts.
This federal funding is a testament to the effective approach we are using in our communities, and we are extending the BST strategy to more cities and towns across Massachusetts. During Brownfields Month in November, sites in Ludlow, Fitchburg, Boston, Amesbury, and New Bedford were designated in the latest round of the BST Initiative.
We look forward to engaging more communities to transform brownfields into development-ready parcels and spur housing and job creation. With this strategy, we will continue to promote this partnership to help deliver long-term economic growth and environmental sustainability in Western Mass. and beyond.

Timothy P. Murray is lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. He launched the Brownfields Support Team Initiative in 2008 with Gov. Deval Patrick. Marty Jones is president and CEO of MassDevelopment, a key member of the Brownfields Support Team and administrator of the Commonwealth’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund.

Chamber Corners Departments

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.amherstarea.com

(413) 253-0700

 

• Dec. 19: After Five/Holiday Party. Hosted by PeoplesBank, 56 Amity St., Amherst. Cost: $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

• Jan. 9: Chamber Annual Meeting Luncheon, noon to 1:30 p.m. Location to be announced. Cost: $25 fior members, $30 for non-members. For more information, visit www.amherstarea.com.

• Jan. 23: Chamber After Five, 5-7 p.m. Location to be announced. Tickets: $5 for members, $10 for non-members. For more information, visit www.amherstarea.com.

 

CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

 

• Dec. 19: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Cost: $20 for members, $26 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org.

 

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.franklincc.org

(413) 773-5463

• Dec. 21: Annual Holiday Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., Deerfield Academy. The Citizen of the Year Award will be presented. Sponsored by the Recorder. Gifts for all, music by Gary Maynard and Friends. Cost: $24 for members, $25 for non-members.

 

 

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

 

• Jan. 24: Chamber Annual Meeting and Annual Awards Dinner to Celebrate Member Milestones, 5 p.m., Southampton Country Club, 329 College Highway, Southampton. Review of a successful 2012, annual awards presentation for business, business person, and community-service members of the year, and to honor members’ business milestones. Event sponsor: Easthampton Savings Bank. Cost: $30 per person, inclusive. For more information, visit [email protected]

 

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.holycham.com

(413) 534-3376

 

• Dec. 19: Holiday Chamber After Hours, sponsored and hosted by the Delaney House.

In addition to door prizes and a 50/50 raffle, the business-networking event will also include a lottery-ticket-tree raffle. Tickets: $10 for members, $15 for non-members.

• Jan. 9: Winners Circle, 5-7 p.m., Yankee Pedlar, 1866 Northampton St., Holyoke. Sponsored by Dowd Insurance Agency, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke Medical Center, PeoplesBank, and Resnic, Beauregard, Waite & Driscoll. Cost: $25. Call the chamber at (413) 534-3376 to register or sign up at holyokechamber.com.

• Jan. 16: Chamber Business Networking, 5-7 p.m., Homewood Suites, 375 Whitney Ave., Holyoke. Sponsored by CareerPoint. Cost: $10 for members, $15 cash for non-members. If you are a member of the hospitality industry or a small retailer, please attend as the chamber’s guest at no charge. Call the chamber at (413) 534-3376 to register or sign up at holyokechamber.com.

• Jan. 17: The Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and the Holyoke Police Department are teaming up to co-host the chamber’s open house and a ribbon cutting at the grand oppening of the HPD’s ‘Hub’ office. The events will take place at 176 and 177 High St., 4-7 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

• Jan. 28: Basics of Marketing Seminar, 8:30-10 a.m. Learn some free and low-cost ideas on marketing your business. Cost: $10 for members, $20 for non-members. A continental breakfast is included in the price. Call the chamber at (413) 534-3376 to register or sign up at holyokechamber.com.

 

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.westfieldbiz.org

(413) 568-1618

 

• Jan. 9: WestNet. 5-7 p.m., at the Westwood Restaurant and Pub, 94 North Elm St., Westfield. Sponsored by For K9s and Felines. Guest speaker: Ray Maagero, Liberty Tax. Tickets: $10 cash for members, $15 cash for non-members. Your first WestNet is always free. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, door prizes, great networking opportunity. Bring your business cards. To register, contact Pam Bussell at the chamber office, (413) 568-1618, or by e-mail at [email protected]

 

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD

www.springfieldyps.com

 

• Dec. 20: Third Thursday, 5-8 p.m., the Barney Estate at Forest Park. The event includes a complimentary drive through Bright Nights. Sponsored by the Spirit of Springfield and Elegant Affairs. For more details, visit www.springfieldyps.com.

Law Sections
Divorce Mediation Growing in Popularity

Bruce Clarkin (seated, with Michael Frazee and Kathleen Townsend)

Bruce Clarkin (seated, with Michael Frazee and Kathleen Townsend) says mediation empowers a divorcing couple in ways litigation cannot.

Michael Frazee has a pithy way of explaining the benefits of divorce mediation.

“When two people divorce, they live in the problem,” he said. “In mediation, they live in the solution.”

If that’s true, then more divorcing couples than ever are living in the solution, turning not to a judge to hammer out their finances and parental rights, but to an impartial, certified mediator, who guides the couple, through face-to-face conversations, to a negotiated settlement of their issues.

“There’s an old saying that one way a judge evaluates the success of a divorce is if both clients are equally unhappy,” said Bruce Clarkin, founder of Divorce Mediation Group in Springfield, where he partners with fellow attorneys Frazee and Kathleen Townsend.

“Our perspective in mediation is just the opposite,” Clarkin told BusinessWest. “We’re not looking for unhappy clients; we’re looking for our clients to put together a functional arrangement that meets their needs and the needs of their kids. It’s a totally different perspective.”

It’s important to remember, he said, that divorce isn’t just the end of something, but a beginning for at least two  — and often more — individuals. “We’re helping people transition to the next phase of their lives in such a way that they’re meeting their goals.”

In 1990, the first year Clarkin began offering this innovative service, he had just two or three cases. “The concept just clanged off people’s consciousness,” he said. “It was such a foreign concept. When the phone rang, it was an act of God.”

It turns out Divorce Mediation Group was ahead of its time; over the past 22 years, awareness of the mediation model has grown, and academic programs in the field have become entrenched at law schools.

“In the beginning lawyers were resistant to the idea; they potentially saw us as competitors for the same consumer expenditure,” he said. “But as the idea became appealing to consumers, they encouraged their lawyers to be open to it as well — and give the bar credit; they’ve become increasingly open to mediation as a way to help people resolve cases.”

Attorney Carla Newton knows that well; divorce mediation — alternative dispute resolution in general, actually — is a significant part of her family-law work at Robinson Donovan in Springfield. She said mediation carries a number of benefits over traditional litigated divorce.

Carla Newton

Carla Newton says the benefits of divorce mediation range from control to privacy to cost.

“The parties have more control over the calendar of the mediation process,” Newton said, “so if they want to try to get things resolved in a way that accommodates their personal, family, or business needs, they can do that much more easily through mediation.

“Second,” she continued, “there’s a substantial issue of privacy, and in many cases you’re dealing with families that have either personal issues surrounding the divorce or personal financial issues, or just a general desire to not have to stand in front of a courtroom of 20 to 30 people and talk about their income or assets or other personal details. In mediation, you can deal with all those issues, but they’re not played out in a public venue.”

Finally, Newton said, mediation almost always costs less than a traditional divorce, again due partly to the fact that the splitting couple can plan it according to their own schedule and not that of the court or the opposing party. “You have much more control over how much time you want to spend in mediation, and that helps people better manage the cost of going through a marriage dissolution — which can be pretty substantial.”

In fact, Clarkin said, the cost is also typically well under half that of a traditional proceeding. “And in terms of timing, you can do a divorce mediation in a couple of months, although sometimes they’ll take longer for various reasons. It’s hard to do a litigated divorce in less than a year.”

For these reasons and others, he said, “you can see why it’s appealing to a lot of people. For the most part, people’s first instinct remains to get a lawyer, but increasingly, we’re seeing their first impulse being to go to a mediator.”

 

Impaired State

One reason mediation is appealing, Clarkin said, is that the anger and alienation common to divorcing couples is often exacerbated by the contentious nature of a court fight.

“When you’re in a divorce, you’re in an impaired state; common emotions are fear, anger, and pain,” he said. “And when they’re in that state of mind, people don’t make the best decisions. Often, they’re emotionally driven, and they’re thinking, ‘I need to protect myself.’

“But what people have learned,” he continued, “is that part of our job as mediators is to create this very safe environment where they can be heard and have their needs recognized, and they can come up with a resolution that makes sense.”

And one of the ways where mediation beats slugging it out before a judge, he added, is that the couple can begin implementing parts of that resolution right away — selling a house, for instance — instead of freezing finances until the end of legal proceedings.

“To a large extent, divorce is a huge planning opportunity,” Clarkin said. “And it’s not unique or terribly complex: where is each parent going to live? Where are the kids going to live? How will the couple support themselves and divide their property? Mediation helps people answer these questions in a common-sense, intelligent way. We’re trying to help people make proper decisions about their lives, decisions that are quality — and enduring.”

Those decisions are often complicated, Frazee said, by the fact that the stagnant economy has increasingly forced couples to live together while going through a divorce, and often their mortgage payments aren’t up to date, or the house is underwater because of depressed market values.

Particularly in painful situations like these, he noted, the speed of mediation helps a divorcing couple move efficiently into their new lives at a time when finances must be dealt with quickly. “It’s very important how a couple transitions from one house to two, and to consider how that affects everyone, especially the children.”

That said, mediation isn’t for everyone, Newton noted. For instance, “generally, you should probably screen out mediation in a case where there had been any kind of abuse issue.”

Even absent such traumas, mediation isn’t always the best path. “When acting as a mediator, you need to evaluate, when the parties first meet with you, whether or not they have the ability to communicate appropriately in mediation,” she said. If not, “it’s not going to accomplish anything, and their objectives aren’t going to be realized.”

Still, Clarkin said, divorcing couples don’t have to come to the table with any particular level of warmth or even civility — as long as they’re serious about working toward an agreement.

“It’s a misconception that the only people who can be successful in mediation are people with a low conflict level,” Clarkin said. “I find that mediation can work for people with a low, moderate, or high conflict level, provided there is a desire to succeed and a willingness to participate in the process. My experience is working with couples who can’t agree. My sense is that my job begins when each person says ‘no.’”

And a couple doesn’t have to show up with a great deal of trust in each other, he added, calling the very concept of trust “overrated” in any divorce proceeding.

“Everyone has a level of mistrust. Everyone’s been hurt, violated, or degraded in some way. Everyone we work with has a reduced trust threshold,” he explained. “At the same time, each of these people has a capacity to agree. They have a history that includes both agreement and disagreement. Our job is to find the ability in them to agree. The trust comes along with that. We’re not asking people to trust each other, but we do ask them to take small steps toward agreement — and then keep their word.”

 

Let’s Talk

By all accounts, attorneys who specialize in mediation are hearing their phones ringing more often these days.

“Certainly, more people are doing mediation than in the past,” Newton said, adding that all divorce attorneys are now instructed to advise their clients about the option of mediation.

“It’s on the mind of every attorney who does domestic work: should this case go to mediation? Is that the best route for this family in terms of finances and other issues involved? Will this be the best opportunity for a prompt resolution? The courts want us to be mindful of utilizing mediation where that’s appropriate.”

Another wrinkle in the mediation trend is what Newton called “attorney-assisted mediation.” Simply put, the divorcing couple attends mediation sessions accompanied by their own attorneys. “Sometimes that’s appropriate when you have a case with complex financial issues, or where one party might not otherwise participate in mediation because they feel they’re not as well-equipped to advocate for themselves as their spouse might be.”

Whatever the case, Frazee said, there’s an element of satisfaction in mediation work that can be tough to come by amid an ugly courtroom divorce.

“It’s extremely gratifying when you know you’ve put people on the path to agreement, while also laying the groundwork for parenting and cooperating with each other,” Frazee said, noting that there’s an element of anxiety in letting a third party make critical decisions about parental rights and finances.

“In litigation, they are giving their authority to their attorney and the court system — authority over their finances, authority over their children. In mediation, they retain that authority.”

Clarkin characterized mediation as empowering, and litigation as disempowering. “After all, who knows your kids any better than you?”

While divorce is usually sad on some level, Frazee said the mediation process itself often brings a little healing, or at least understanding.

“Many times, even if they’ve lived under the same roof with three children, the mom will turn to the dad and say, ‘I never knew you felt that way.’ In the dissolution of their relationship, they hadn’t discussed these issues; they went to their separate rooms and stewed about it.

“Mediation is not therapy, but there are therapeutic aspects to it,” he continued. “They’re finally sitting down in a room together, in a safe environment, and even in the midst of a very difficult time, they’re able to discuss these things with each other.”

It’s gratifying, he told BusinessWest, to get two people started on the road to better communication and better parenting, adding that divorces increasingly involve children under age 10, and both parents typically want to stay involved in their children’s lives and plan for a healthy future.

“They’re laying the groundwork for when they become teenagers — college and the financial planning that has to go on,” Frazee said. “They want these things to remain as intact as possible, so we work with the divorcing couple to make sure that happens.”

To put it another way, Clarkin noted, “sometimes mediation can be so mellow, it can replicate times in their marriage when things were good. That’s amazing to me.”

To an increasing number of soon-to-be-exes, it certainly beats being equally unhappy.

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

American International College announced the following:

Mark Mastroianni

Mark Mastroianni

• Mark Mastroianni, Hampden County District Attorney, has been named to the Board of Trustees. Mastroianni received his bachelor’s degree from AIC and his juris doctorate from Western New England University. He was admitted to the Massachusetts State Bar in 1990 and the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts in 1991, and served as an assistant district attorney from 1990 to 1995, where he prosecuted cases and supervised District Court staff attorneys on matters of law, trial technique, and sentencing, authorized increases and reductions in charges, and implemented and maintained office policies and procedures; and
Daniel Warwick

Daniel Warwick

• Daniel Warwick, Springfield Superintendent of Schools, has been named to the Board of Trustees. A lifelong Springfield resident, he holds a certificate of advanced graduate studies and a master’s degree in Education, both from AIC, a bachelor’s degree in Education from Westfield State University, and fellowships for advanced educational learning from Harvard University, the University of Pittsburgh, and American International College. Appointed superintendent in 2012, Warwick began his career with Springfield Public Schools nearly 40 years ago and has a wealth of experience as a teacher, principal, and administrator.
•••••
The Springfield-based law firm Bulkley Richardson announced that nine of the firm’s lawyers have been named to the 2012 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list. They are:
• Mark Cress, whose practice areas include bonds/government finance, banking, and bankruptcy, and creditor/debtor rights;
• Francis Dibble Jr., business litigation, health law, and antitrust litigation;
• Patrick Kennedy, business litigation, banking, and intellectual-property litigation;
• Mary Kennedy, employment and labor, and schools and education;
• Kelly McCarthy, health law;
• David Parke, business/corporate and mergers and acquisitions;
• John Pucci, also included in the Top 100 list of Massachusetts Super Lawyers, whose practice areas include business litigation and criminal defense (white collar);
• Donn Randall, banking and business litigation; and
• Ellen Randle, family law.
Also, two lawyers were named to the 2012 Massachusetts Rising Stars list:
• Matthew Kane, whose practice areas include banking, business litigation, and general litigation; and
• Kelly Koch, family law and estate planning and probate.
•••••
Jules Gaudreau, President of The Gaudreau Group Inc. Insurance and Financial Services Agency, was voted Best Insurance Agent, and Werner Maiwald was voted Best Financial Advisor, in the Best of Boston Road ceremony at Ludlow Country Club. The Wilbraham-based agency also won Best Overall Professional Services and Most Philanthropic. More than 1,600 votes were submitted to the Boston Road Business Assoc. during this year’s competition.
•••••
Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession, has named Jay Presser as the 2013 Springfield Labor Law – Management Lawyer of the Year. Presser has been a member of the firm since 1977 and is head of the firm’s litigation practice. He has more than 35 years of experience litigating employment cases before administrative agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board, the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, and the State Labor Relations Commission. Only a single lawyer in each practice area in each community is being honored as the Lawyer of the Year for 2013. Presser has been selected in the 10th anniversary edition of The Best Lawyers in America because he has been included in that esteemed list for the past 10 years. In addition, Presser has been chosen by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of its Lawyers of the Year, and was recently selected as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer.
•••••
Donald Frydryk

Donald Frydryk

Monson Savings Bank has announced the appointment of Donald Frydryk to the bank’s Board of Trustees. He is also a Corporator and a customer of the bank. Frydryk, Managing Partner of Sherman & Frydryk, a land-surveying and engineering firm based in Palmer, is a professional engineer and a pofessional land surveyor.
•••••
Michael Fenton recently joined the Springfield-based law firm Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. Fenton is admitted to practice law in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and his practice will focus on business law, commercial real estate, and estate planning. At 25, Fenton is the youngest city councilor in the Springfield’s history, having been elected twice since his first term at 22. A graduate of Cathedral High School and a cum-laude honors graduate of Providence College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Fenton received his MBA and JD from Western New England University, where he served as publishing editor of the Law Review and was an Oliver Wendell Holmes Scholar. Fenton clerked at Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., and Bacon Wilson, P.C., and is a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree in the class of 2012.
•••••
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced recently that James Leydon, formerly Director of Constituent Services, has replaced Attorney Thomas Walsh, former Director of Communications. In addition, William Baker joined the Mayor’s staff as the new Director of Constituent Services.
•••••
STCU Credit Union recently hired Maria Lopez as Assistant Vice President, Westfield branch. Lopez, who speaks Spanish and English, brings over 23 years experience, including 13 years in mortgage lending.

•••••

Michael Jonnes

Michael Jonnes

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) announced the departure of Executive Director Michael Jonnes, effective Dec. 31. Jonnes, whose career with SSO began in 1998, was instrumental in helping to acquire a distinguished roster of soloists and developing a wide range of collaborative efforts with community groups and nonprofits throughout the region. He also led the search that brought Kevin Rhodes on as music director. Jonnes has more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit management in the orchestral realm. Prior to the SSO, he was the executive director of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Jackson, Tenn. Jonnes and his wife will relocate to be closer to family. A national search is currently underway to find his successor, and Peter Salerno will serve as Interim Executive Director during the search. The SSO will honor Jonnes with an audience reception following the Jan. 12, 2013 concert, “Scheherazade.”
•••••
Jeffrey Pierce

Jeffrey Pierce

TD Bank recently named Jeffrey Pierce as Vice President, Business Development Officer in Small Business Administration (SBA) Lending in Hartford, Conn. With 27 years of experience in banking, finance, and lending, Pierce will be responsible for providing SBA financing to qualified small businesses throughout a two-state region that includes Hartford as well as the Springfield and Worcester areas in Massachusetts.
•••••
Shirley Stephens recently joined the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) as Housing Coordinator, where she will work in the Community Development section of the agency and will be involved in the application intake and outreach process for various PVPC-administered housing-rehabilitation programs throughout Western and Central Massachusetts. Stephens is a licensed realtor with RR & Co. Realty Inc., helping distressed homeowners in Springfield.
•••••
Members of the WGBY Board of Tribunes have voted to accept three new members to join the 2013 roster. Merricka Breuer, Patricia Crutchfield, and Norma Friedman were named as the newest members of WGBY’s board at the station’s recent annual meeting. Breuer is director of Marketing and Business Development at Ink & Toner Solutions in Northampton, Friedman is an adjunct professor at UMass Amherst’s University Without Walls, and Crutchfield is director of Human Resources at the Gandara Mental Health Center in Springfield.

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of December 2012.

 

AGAWAM

 

Dan Swiecanski

662 Silver St.

$20,000 — New HVAC exterior pad

 

L&T Spry, LLC

665-667 Springfield St.

$10,000 — Interior renovations

 

Marcell Sanders

79 Springfield St.

$15,000 — Interior renovations

 

N.C. Industries

30 General Abrams Dr.

$12,000 — Renovations in men’s and women’s rooms

 

AMHERST

 

Amherst College

79 S. Pleasant St.

$5,493,000 — Renovations and addition to structure to accommodate staff

 

Hampshire College

Farm Center

$17,200 — Re-roof

 

Messer Investments Inc.

90 Gatehouse Road

$17,500 — Ramp for handicap access and laundry addition

 

CHICOPEE

 

Bernashe Realty

1783 Memorial Dr.

$8,000 — Strip and re-roof

 

Roman Catholic Bishop

110 Cyman Dr.

$5,200 — Above ground pool

 

Twin Oaks

104 Johnson Road

$19,000 — Strip and re-roof

 

GREENFIELD

 

David Manning

38 Butternut St.

$111,000 — Pre-engineered cold storage accessory structure

 

Greenfield Corporate Center

101 Munson St.

$44,000 — Renovate Suite 104 for Vertus Investment Partners

 

James Renaud

239 Main St.

$2,500 — Frame walk-in cooler

 

Mark Sirum

10 Park St.

$30,000 — Renovations

 

Mary E. Calagione

285 High St.

$6,200 — Change existing bay window to new

 

Simon Cohen

48 Federal St.

$8,000 — Construct reception area

 

Summit Distributing, LLC

109 Mohawk TL

$7,500 — Install counter and soda coolers

 

Welden Associates

54 High St.

$26,000 — Repair fire damage

 

SOUTH HADLEY

 

South Hadley Senior Center

45 Dayton St.

$138,000 — Sheet metal work

 

SPRINGFIELD

 

Chapin Corner, LLC

401 Dickinson St.

$2,000 — Renovation for bathroom

 

Marriot

1414 Main St.

$331,000 — New roof

 

Orchard Covenant Church

95 Berkshire St.

$15,000 — Installation of two exterior doors

 

WESTFIELD

 

Walter Drenan

89 South Maple St.

$84,000 — Handicap ramp

 

WEST SPRINGFIELD

 

110 Elm Street, LLC

110 Elm St.

$170,000 — Interior renovation of first floor

 

Century Investments

235A Memorial Ave.

$11,500 — Dividing wall creating two retail spaces

 

NGL Wholesale Supply

1275 Union St.

$30,000 — Exterior renovations

 

Features
A Resilient Square One Goes Back to the Drawing Board

Joan Kagan

Joan Kagan says the gas blast that heavily damaged another Square One facility will further complicate efforts to rebuild following last year’s tornado.

If adversity really does build character, as many would suggest that it does, then Joan Kagan believes that she and the rest of the staff at Square One have all the character they will ever want or need.

“We’d been tried, and we really didn’t need to be tried again,” she said while talking with BusinessWest, for the second time in 18 months, in a setting that looked straight out of Beirut in the mid-’80s, standing in front of what used to be a Square One facility.

This time, it was at the agency’s damaged and now-condemned Chestnut Street Center, located next door to the gentlemen’s club that was erased by the Nov. 23 natural-gas explosion. A year and a half ago, it was beside a pile of rubble that was the company’s headquarters on Main Street, one of many buildings razed after a tornado tore a path through Springfield’s South End.

Now, as then, the talk centers on moving forward, not looking back, and about finding opportunity amid calamity — although there first had to be some reflection (although not much) on the winning-Powerball-like odds of disaster striking the same enterprise twice in such a short time.

“When they told me what happened, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said Kagan, the agency’s long-time director, who said she was getting ready to board a plane for home after visiting family in St. Louis for Thanksgiving when she received word of the blast. “I was thinking, ‘it’s November, so this is not an April Fool’s joke,’ but it was almost unbelievable that it could happen twice to Square One.”

This latest calamity, which, like the tornado, resulted in no injuries to students or staff, took out seven classrooms, the reading room, the kitchen, and play areas at the Chestnut Street Center, essentially displacing 98 children and several educators. They have since been relocated to other facilities, including some within the Square One portfolio, said Kagan, adding that, from a bigger-picture perspective, the damage from the blast sends the company back to the drawing board as it tries to blueprint a rebuilding plan for the future.

Indeed, the explosion came exactly one week (almost to the minute) after the agency reached a final settlement with its insurance carrier on the various kinds of damage done by the June 2011 tornado. The numbers in that settlement don’t come close to covering all the losses, Kagan told BusinessWest, estimating that they represent maybe 60% to 70% of the actual total. But simply knowing the number was necessary for Square One to perhaps move ahead with plans to rebuild somewhere in Springfield’s South End and once again be an anchor in that neighborhood.

Now, the agency has to recalibrate, she went on, and decide not only what to build — perhaps one facility to replace both that were leveled — but also where; the Chestnut Street facility served many families living and/or working within a few blocks of that building.

To adequately serve that clientele, the company may have to explore creation of another facility in that area, perhaps in Union Station, which is currently being renovated into an intermodal transportation center, Kagan noted, adding that Square One may not have the resources for such an undertaking.

“We had made some preliminary plans about rebuilding in the South End, but needed to know what our number was going to be,” she explained. “We had planned to reconvene after Thanksgiving, start to look at options, focus in, and drill down on a plan involving what we were going to build, where we going to build, and when. Now, we have more on our plate and many things to think about.

“We’re marching onward and upward, and this is just another challenge — that’s how we’re looking at it,” she continued, adding that there hasn’t been time or an inclination to say ‘why us again?’ “And we’re asking ourselves, ‘does this once more provide us with opportunity?’ It gives us some other things to look at and some other scenarios that could play out.”

For this issue, BusinessWest talks with Kagan — again — about staring down adversity and moving on with the agency’s 130-year-old mission.

 

Time and Space

Kagan’s temporary office in the Scibelli Enterprise Center, which she moved into more than a year ago, remains quite sparse; her printer still sits on a cardboard box, for example.

There are a few pieces of art on the walls — including a print involving some landmarks at her alma mater, Columbia University — but mostly large expanses of barren square footage. Time and energy have much to do with this, she said, adding that both have been devoted to matters far more important than decorating. Meanwhile, many of her personal and professional belongings, such as her diplomas, were lost in the tornado’s fury.

But there is also some psychology at play, she told BusinessWest. Indeed, by not covering the walls and filling the shelves, Kagan believes that somehow she might be shortening her stay in this building, which houses mostly startup ventures and was once part of the Springfield Armory complex, and accelerate a move into a new Square One facility.

The natural-gas blast has thrown some cold water on that thinking, she said, noting that it adds new layers to the already-complicated process of rebuilding for the future. And for the short term, it gives the company something it certainly didn’t need — more practice in the art and science of bouncing back from disaster.

This time it has been considerably easier than it was in the summer of 2011, she told BusinessWest, adding that the tornado took out the company’s headquarters and everything in it, leaving staff members without the barest essentials as they went about crafting a recovery plan.

After the gas blast, the scrambled staff members had offices, desks, computers, and files, she went on, and communication was much easier. Also, many staff members saw their homes damaged by the tornado, adding more and different layers of anguish that didn’t exist with this latest disaster.

The basic strategy moving forward after the gas blast was to keep students together as much as possible, said Kagan, noting that continuity is important to both children and staff. And for some in both constituencies, this was the second time they had been uprooted by calamity.

She said 60 of the uprooted children have been placed in other Square One facilities, in slots that had been taken offline, while another 40 have were moved to two borrowed classrooms in the New Beginnings Childcare Center on State Street. In general, there has been minimal disruption — students were in their new settings within days of the blast — and impacted families are pleased that new accommodations were made so quickly, Kagan noted.

But while some measure of continuity has been achieved, Square One has essentially lost 60 revenue-producing slots for students, said Kagan, adding that this lost business is one of many things she will have to hash out with insurance carriers and Columbia Gas, which accepted responsibility for the blast and is in the process of handling claims from impacted parties.

Another is replacement of the estimated $500,000 worth of equipment, learning materials, and supplies — from computers used by the children to toys and games — lost to the gas blast.

Overall, this latest disaster has left the agency with seriously depleted resources and reserves, said Kagan, adding that replacing everything lost to the tornado was an expensive proposition.

“In order to replace all that — our computers, servers, printers, and furniture — we had to invest a lot of money to get ourselves back in operation,” she explained. “And we didn’t get totally reimbursed for that from our insurance, depleting our resources and reserves.”

Elaborating, she said that, after the tornado, the company had equipment in storage to outfit two donated preschool classrooms. This year, it didn’t have such inventory available.

While exploring options for replacing supplies and negotiating with the insurance company and Columbia Gas, Square One is also looking at many possible scenarios for the long term, said Kagan, who told BusinessWest last June, at the one-year anniversary of the tornado, that Square One is essentially committed to being an anchor in Springfield’s South End — even as the prospects for a casino in that neighborhood add more question marks to the prospect of rebuilding there.

But with the loss of the Chestnut Street Center, there are now more questions about what to build and where to best serve clients across the city.

“The Chestnut Street facility has always been very popular, and it was always full,” Kagan explained, adding that there was a waiting list for slots.

“We’re going to reassess and talk to the families,” she said. “What we want to find out is whether, if we doubled our capacity in the South End, families would be able to use that facility. Some might say they work at [nearby] Baystate Health or Mercy Medical Center, or downtown, and that a South End center would take them out of their way.

“If we were going to build a facility for 100 children, do we now have to build one for 200 children?” she continued, adding that there are sites to be considered downtown and in the North End, including Union Station, although talks with city officials have not taken place on that location yet. And the reality, she said, is that the company doesn’t have the resources to rebuild in the North End at this time.

 

Not at a Loss

Looking around her office, Kagan noted some recent additions to the landscape, specifically several gift baskets from companies and individuals wishing to lift the spirits of those at the company, especially its director.

There have been many other expressions of support, she went on, citing monetary donations of many sizes, including a $25,000 contribution from the Penn National Gaming Foundation and the Peter and Melissa Picknelly Charitable Fund.

Such help from the community will be needed, she said, because the task of rebuilding from twin disasters and replenishing resources and reserves will be difficult and expensive. “We need all the help we can get.”

One thing she and the rest of the staff don’t need any more of is character spawned by adversity. They have plenty of that already.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Departments Picture This

Send photos with a caption and contact information to:  ‘Picture This’ c/o BusinessWest Magazine, 1441 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103 or to [email protected]

 

Night at the Museum

Partygoers recently donned their most elegant outfits for an annual fund-raising event, the Springfield Museums Holiday Gala. Guests gathered in the Science Museum for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, where they toured the Gingerbread Fairy Tales exhibit, then enjoyed dinner in the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts and the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. The event helps underwrite the many educational programs at the Springfield Museums. Top: from left, Carol Moore Cutting, owner, WEIB; Beverly Hill; and Willie Hill, director, UMass Fine Arts Center. Middle: from left, artist Doug Brega; Carol Leary, president, Bay Path College; and Richard Flynn, president, Springfield College. Bottom: from left, Debbie DeBonis, payroll manager, Mass. Career Development Institute; Rick DeBonis, senior vice president, Hampden Bank; Mark Bartos, account executive, abc40/FOX6; Mary Ellen Scott; and Roy Scott.

(Photos by Ed Cohen)





























Ringing the Opening Bell

To celebrate the bank’s transfer from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange, Michael Daly, CEO of Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., the parent company of Berkshire Bank, rang the NYSE opening bell on Nov. 29 at 9:30 am. Transfer to NYSE is a significant step in the growth and success of the company. Before the transfer, the company’s stock was listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. The company began NYSE trading on November 19 and retains the ticker symbol BHLB. Seen here, from left, are Pat Sullivan, executive vice president, Commercial Banking and Wealth Management; Richard Marotta, executive vice president, Risk Management; Sean Gray, executive vice president, Retail Banking; Daly; Larry Bossidy, board chair; Linda Johnston, executive vice president, Human Resources; and Kevin Riley, CFO.





Bacon and Basketball

UMass Minutemen basketball coach Derek Kellogg, pictured at top before a filled Center Court, was the keynote speaker for December’s Affiliated Chambers of Commerce Breakfast Club at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Middle: emcee Scott Coen of the River 93.9 and WHMP congratulates Claudine Gaj, owner and chef of the Magic Spoon catering company, who was one of the companies saluted during the morning event. Bottom: Steve Hayes of the Drama Studio introduces a young actress to perform a scene from The Little Princess.

Sections Women in Businesss
Unity First’s Janine Fondon Mixes Diversity and High-tech Savvy

Janine Fondon

Janine Fondon says she’s always managed to stay atop trends in communications.

In the spring of 1946, Irene Morgan, a black woman, boarded a bus in Virginia headed to Baltimore. She was ordered to sit at the back of the bus, as Virginia state law required, but she objected, saying that, since it was an interstate bus, the law did not apply. Morgan was arrested and fined $10.

Attorney Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP took on the case … and won, thus striking down Jim Crow laws in interstate travel. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused a bus driver’s order to move for white riders on a city bus, which initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott and eventually a precedent-setting win in the Supreme Court.

Irene Morgan — whose bravery and tenacity paved the way for Rosa Parks to become an icon of the Civil Rights movement — was Janine Fondon’s aunt.

Fondon is now the successful president and CEO of Unity First Direct Inc., a marketing and public-relations consultancy business, which she founded with her husband, Tom Fondon, in 1996. That business was soon followed by its website counterpart, UnityFirst.com — a national distributor of diversity-related e-news — that grew, as the world grew, with the explosion of workplace computer technology and the burgeoning Internet.

Her ability as a young African-American woman to forge a career in what are mostly male-dominated industries stems from that same bravery and tenacity that her Aunt Irene demonstrated more than 65 years ago. With each new position, all involving communications of some form, Fondon has deepened her public-relations and communications abilities, while picking up emerging technology skills.

Looking back at her family history and career, she noted that, somewhere along the road, she realized she’d been ahead of the curve at almost every point. A persistent focus on the future and an ever-growing skill set that she acquired in various positions — and a particular interest in computers, which she repeatedly referred to as ‘fun’ — ensured that she showed up at the doorstep of each new opportunity with confidence.

For this issue’s focus on women in business, BusinessWest spoke at length with Fondon about her intriguing background. Her keen eye for concrete workplace skills, mixed with an awareness of different cultures and human behavior, has enabled her to launch a small consultancy group that has evolved into a growing, diversity-focused web destination targeting African-Americans and others seeking information of interest to multicultural communities.

 

Right Time, Right Place

Straight out of Colgate University, young New York native Janine Fondon landed her first job with ABC-TV New York in the public relations department as a broadcast analyst. In that position, she would hear viewer responses about programming content, news personalities, and sports analysts, and report back to the network.

“Working for ABC Sports … every time they mentioned things like ‘Hail Mary’ passes, the Catholic Church would not be too happy,” Fondon laughed. But strong miniseries like ‘The Winds of War’ and docudramas with controversial topics were great introductions to a broad variety of perspectives — and watchdog groups that were concerned about how the network was representing women, culture, or some specific issue, Fondon said. WJLA in Washington, D.C. helped expand her work in large metropolitan areas, especially the promo coverage she did in January 1987 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded after takeoff, just one of the milestones that helped her hone her writing skills.

“Those days of writing good stories, getting to the heart of the message … it was really exciting figuring out what the real story was,” she explained. “Those positions made me think how I might pursue something else in the communications field, and honestly, that field has changed every two years since I’ve been involved in it.”

A move to Boston for a PR job with the Unitarian Universalist Assoc. wasn’t a great fit, but with the New England area going though high-tech growth, she was thinking, as always, of the future. She targeted Digital Equipment Corp. and landed in its Corporate Communications department as the associate editor of Digital’s worldwide internal publication, Decworld.

“At Digital, we were communicating internally and with the world, much like we do with Facebook and other forms of communication today, but we were doing it before the mainstream,” Fondon told BusinessWest.

The jump from religion to technology wasn’t an issue. “This was a global company, and I would be able to see what it was like to build this global effort,” she said. Later, with the eventual demise of Digital, her communications and technology skills made her a solid fit in the financial industry which was entering a new age of online sharing of highly confidential financial information.

Working for BankBoston, she was writing not only for the internal print magazine but online vehicles as well — the early development of online communications for the masses. People were using WordPerfect, and everyone still wanted hard copies, and her co-workers were resistant to online bulletin boards and new computer programs. Fondon thought they were great. “I don’t know about you, but IBM Selectric was not my idea of fun, so anything that made it easier, I was all for it,” she laughed.

“Everybody was asking, how are we going to deal with all this change — change in management, change in technology, and the efforts to bring more women into the workplace?” she continued. Meanwhile, she was experiencing major changes in her own life — a husband who came from the world of IBM, and a baby daughter, had her reevaluating her path.

 

Worldwide Change

Fondon can remember people saying that newsrooms weren’t diverse. “I said, ‘if you think newsrooms aren’t diverse, you should enter into corporate communications!’”

Merging her past positions, her skills, and what she saw as a need in all workplaces, Fondon created a small consulting company that she named Unity First Direct. Her husband, Tom, with his IT skills, joined her soon after. She kept busy with magazine writing, brochures, reports, and the like, and within that same year, she and her husband noticed that diversity really was becoming a buzzword, and more venues for community outreach were needed.

So she launched the Unity First newspaper and built a small following, but discovered a growing need for different avenues of diversity awareness. Through e-marketing, outreach, and public relations, Fondon could help clients engage new audiences and build their brands with diverse, emerging markets, including people of all backgrounds, experiences, and geographic locations.

“As we moved from being a print publication to online, and more diversity consulting,” she said, “we saw companies had all the pieces, so we would work to help them connect the dots.”

Eric Gouvin, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, has worked with Fondon on many occasions, having used her as an expert panelist and through co-sponsored events. “We’ve had diversity events that focus on inclusive management,” he said. “Your workforce has its own sets of traits and properties: the way you manage young folks versus old folks, women versus men, people of color versus other races … there are ways of handling all that, not heavy-handed, but sensitively.”

As Fondon described this aspect of her work, “if a company has a project and they want to develop it to meet this 21st-century approach through demographics, content, and tone, then we can help them shape that project.

She explained what she means by ‘tone.’ “Companies that are trying to position themselves in today’s workplace need to reflect diversity inclusion in their internal communications, external communications, community relations, and media approach, and they need people like us to help them sharpen those skills.”

She prefers to not spend energy on the negative, which includes all the things that can happen when a proper approach to tone is ignored — everything from diminishing one’s culture to lawsuits — but to focus on positive outcomes, the companies that make a respectful and educated difference and, thus, enhance their own success.

Today, UnityFirst.com is a growing voice on the Internet and one of the most in-depth resources for connecting with diverse communities and press across the U.S. and beyond. Engaging more than 2 million readers from corporations and boards to cross-cultural business leaders striving for new bottom-line success, the site is a content driver of news, with more than 4,000 national press members, including top mainstream business publications; television, Internet, and radio sources; and press from the African, African-American, Caribbean, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American communities.

In addition, UnityFirst.com delivers content to ForbesDiversity.com, an outgrowth of Forbes.com that offers special sections with comprehensive subject matter from different perspectives.

 

Driven to Success

In addition to a multitude of speaking engagements, Fondon is an adjunct professor at Baypath College and Westfield State University. She and Tom are also targeting young local middle- and high-school students through two projects, the Digital Ambassadors Program and the Common Ground Leadership Forum and Awards.

“It’s our initiative to work with young people around the technology and diversity topics,” said Fondon. “Both programs emphasize the importance of digital learning, inclusion, and leadership.”

Part of her work with students is to keep the dialogue applicable to young people’s interests. Considering the speed at which technology and young people’s interests evolve, Fondon said, “as a teacher, when you think you’re making it relevant and interesting, revisit what that means, because either you got it right, or you didn’t.”

Gouvin agrees, and praises Fondon’s ability to consult with employers. “If you want to be effective, you’ve got to find a way to connect with the people who are working for you,” he said. “It’s not a matter of being PC [politically correct], or doing it because that’s what everyone’s doing; there is sense to it. Janine has always made a case for diversity that is compelling.”

Along with her tenacious and pioneering qualities — like those that spurred her Aunt Irene to such groundbreaking action — Fondon will continue to assist clients with marketing, educate communities about diversity awareness through digital, print, and verbal communication, and help individuals and corporations realize their full potential.

In short, she’s keeping them ahead of the curve.

 

Elizabeth Taras can be reached at [email protected]

City2City Sections
City2City

the historic center of the city.

By most accounts, the Sands casino has neither helped nor hurt businesses in the historic center of the city.

Matt Assad was covering a variety of matters at Bethlehem City Hall for the Morning Call newspaper, as well as some general assignment work, when he was handed what essentially became the casino beat in 2005.

He told BusinessWest that he probably filed more than 100 stories on the broad topic over the next several years, including a few involving a community roughly 1,500 miles to the west.

That would be Council Bluffs, Iowa, where three casinos had opened over the previous few years.

Assad visited that community of 63,000 people to gain some perspective on what happens when a casino opens its doors, with regard to everything from business to crime to the character of the city in question. Summing up what he learned rather quickly, and in no particular order, he said there was no prostitution (at least that anyone knew of), no mob figures patrolling the casino floors, no huge impact (good or bad) on existing business, some problems with gambling addiction, and, overall, few people with many bad things to say about the arrival of organized gaming.

And seven years later, he says that essentially the same things have happened, or not happened, as the case may be, in Bethlehem and surrounding communities.

That was the gist of the message he left with the City2City delegation from Greater Springfield that visited the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem late last month. In fact, as he addressed that group, he apologized (sort of) to the man sitting two seats down from him at the head table, Robert DeSalvio, president of the casino, before noting, “if you didn’t come to Bethlehem to visit the casino, you probably wouldn’t even know it’s here. And I guess that’s a good thing.”

In a later interview with BusinessWest, Assad said there has been an increase in crime, but about what would be expected from any enterprise that brings 20,000 people into a community each day, be it a casino or a shopping mall or an amusement park. And there have been some unexpected problems, such as the need for the county’s court system to hire employees who can speak Mandarin and Cantonese — spending necessitated by mostly minor crimes committed by the thousands of Asians who come to the casino from the New York metropolitan area, only 85 miles to the northeast, every day.

But overall, Assad wore out the phrase ‘neutral’ to describe the overall affect of the complex at 77 Sands Blvd.

“It hasn’t been as beneficial as the advocates said it would be,” he said. “And it hasn’t been as bad as the naysayers predicted.”

Assad told BusinessWest that, while there were never any guarantees that a casino license would be awarded to Lehigh County, it was generally believed that the region’s close proximity to New York and New Jersey and what he would call in one of his stories the “Asian invasion” — it is a shorter ride from those areas to Bethlehem than it is to either Atlantic City or Central Connecticut (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun) — would make it an attractive option for casino operators.

And eventually there were several proposals for that area, including one in Allentown and two in Bethlehem, he said, adding that one of the plans for the latter, a greenfield proposal, never gained a strong measure of support from city officials.

This then left Allentown pitted against Bethlehem and a proposal for the old steel mill there, in what he described as a fairly bitter contest.

“Allentown and Bethlehem … there’s quite a bit of tension between them because the mayors don’t like each other at all,” said Assad. “And the mayor of Allentown’s contention all along was that Allentown needs this more than Bethlehem.”

That argument didn’t prevail at the state level, he went on, adding that, perhaps in an effort to ease all that tension, a revenue-sharing agreement between those communities and a few others was worked out. It’s a strategy he believes Western Mass. leaders should attempt to replicate.

Looking back, Assad said there was both support for a casino in Bethlehem and opposition, primarily from the large and vocal Moravian community. And while there were fears about crime, prostitution, and problem gambling, perhaps the biggest concern was that the city would lose its character, he noted.

“People thought that Bethlehem had found its niche in historic preservation, tourism — it was the Christmas City,” he said. “The city had kept to its roots of sort of being that quaint, historic town, and many felt it didn’t have to do anything as unseemly as a casino.”

As things have worked out, that reputation has not been compromised, he went on, adding that, in his opinion, Bethlehem hasn’t become a casino town — it’s simply a community with a quaint downtown and a huge piece of American industrial history just a few blocks away, that also has a casino.

Meanwhile, that casino’s operators have collaborated with the city and several nonprofit agencies to bring additional development of the massive former Bethlehem Steel plant, which had lay mostly dormant for many years after it ceased all operations in 1995, said Assad, noting that the casino has, in some ways, been a force in economic development.

It has not, however, been any real help to existing businesses, especially in the area around it, what’s known as South Bethlehem.

Indeed, while those who don’t come to Bethlehem for the casino might not know it’s there, the great majority of those who do come for it don’t see anything else, said Assad, adding that revamped traffic patterns make it all too easy to get into the casino and then back on the highway and home.

“Most people who go to the casino never see Bethlehem in daylight,” he explained. “They come in their car, they get out of the car in the parking garage, they do their thing, and then they leave again. They never really see any of Bethlehem.”

Still, the casino has a huge overall economic impact, he told BusinessWest, noting the $9 million in real-estate taxes and that $19 million host fee paid annually.

These numbers, along with the related developments at the steel site, the revenue-sharing agreement, and the few negative effects on surrounding communities, lead Assad to conclude that the Sands is probably the most successful casino operation in Pennsylvania, for all parties involved

He advises Western Mass. leaders to take what they can from that experience, but above all, to understand the huge stakes involved, short and long term, and “get it right.”

 

— George O’Brien

Law Sections
Reduce Your Income Taxes Without the Help of Congress

Ann I. Weber, Esq.

Ann I. Weber, Esq.

Everybody knows what income is, right? It’s what you get in your paycheck, and it’s what you don’t get from your CDs, and you pay tax on it like everyone else. But sometimes income (and the tax you have to pay on it) can sneak up on you when you least expect it, like when you sell something that wasn’t worth as much when you bought it.

When that happens, it can be expensive because you have to pay all of the tax on the gain from the sale in the year of sale.

Even though you will pay at capital-gain rates which are relatively low (maximum 15% under current law and a fiscal-cliff rate of 23.8% in 2013) compared to the rates for ordinary income (maximum 36% this year and maybe 39.6% next), the capital-gains tax must be paid in one lump sum. To add insult to injury, if you are receiving Medicare, the taxable gain can also increase your Part B premium.

However, if you have charitable inclinations, you may be able to structure your gifts through a charitable trust or annuity and reduce your taxes significantly. Following are some examples.

 

Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT)

Mrs. Gotrocks owns the stock her great-aunt Eunice gave her in 1990 when Auntie’s company was just starting out. Now it’s worth $100,000, but it was valued at zero at the time of the gift. If Mrs. G sells it this year, she will pay capital-gains tax of $15,000 this year and maybe $23,800 in 2013.

Instead, if she gives it to a 5% CRUT, the trust can sell the stock and pay no capital gain because the trust is a charitable entity. Mrs. G will receive 5% of the value of the trust each year for the rest of her life, and she will also receive a charitable deduction of $55,250 this year, which translates to a cash value of $19,388 in her pocket as a result of the deduction against her ordinary income.

Thus, in year one, she will receive $5,000 plus the $19,388 reduction in taxes. The next year, if the trust is worth more, her payment will be 5% of the increased value or, if less, 5% of the reduced value. But if the trust principal goes down significantly, so does her payment.

She will pay tax on what she receives each year over the lifetime of the trust at the rate based on the type of income generated. Because most of her annual payment will be from capital gain, she will pay at that rate on the bulk of each payment. At her death, the charity gets the remainder, and any accumulated capital gain remaining in the trust is never taxed.

As a result, Mrs. G will have (a) deferred capital-gains tax on the sale of her stock over her lifetime, (b) eliminated income tax on the remainder, (c) acquired a substantial deduction against her current income, (d) created a nice income stream for herself for her lifetime, (e) provided for an estate-tax deduction at her death of the amount remaining in the trust, and (f) created an eventual gift to the charity of her choice. That’s a nice deal all around.

 

Net Income Make-up Charitable Remainder Trust (NIMCRUT)

Suppose Mrs. G wants to be sure the trust principal is preserved and her payment stays relatively level. In a higher-interest-rate environment, she could have created a charitable annuity trust, but, because the current income rate assumed by the government is 1.2% and the minimum payout is 5% of the original gift to the trust, this type of trust is not economically viable and is prohibited by the IRS.

However, a NIMCRUT would provide Mrs. G with the greater of trust income (which can include certain realized capital gain) or 5% of the trust principal. If income is low one year and higher in a later year, the deficit can be ‘made up’ in the higher-income year. This can result in a relatively stable income stream for the rest of her life. In addition, she receives the same income-tax deduction and cash value as with a CRUT.

 

Charitable-gift Annuity

These annuities are offered by many charities and can be a cost-effective way of making a charitable gift and retaining an income stream for life. Mrs. G could donate her stock to a charity, which sells it and pays her a 5.4% annuity of $4,383 annually for her lifetime. This payment will be taxed primarily at capital-gain rates, and Mrs. G will get a $36,697 income-tax deduction with a tax benefit of $12,844. At her death, the charity gets whatever is left.

So, consider a charitable trust or annuity, and do well by doing good.

 

Ann I. Weber is a partner with the Springfield-based law firm Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., and concentrates her practice in the areas of estate-tax planning, estate administration, probate, and elder law, and has a particular interest in creative estate planning for authors, artists, farmers, and landowners. She is a board member and past president of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County Inc., and is a former (and founding) board member and current member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She has recently been named one of the Top Fifty Women Lawyers in New England by Super Lawyer magazine. She is a frequent author and speaker on issues regarding estate planning.

Law Sections
A New Entity Has Been Created for Socially Responsible Businesses

Jeffrey Fialky

Jeffrey Fialky

While businesses continue to move forward through difficult and uncertain fiscal times, some companies have chosen to ensure that their growth and prosperity is directed not only toward the benefit of their stockholders and owners, but also toward the general public good.

For those companies, a new Massachusetts law that became effective earlier this month provides a new form of legal entity that permits companies to form as, or convert to, a ‘benefit corporation.’ This means that it has the purpose, in addition to pursuing the company’s underlying business, of creating a ‘general public benefit.’

The way a benefit corporation is formed, operated, and managed is similar to that of traditional for-profit corporations. In fact, the true distinction between the two is the concept of the benefit corporation focusing on the general public benefit, which the statute defines as “a material, positive impact on society and the environment, taken as a whole, as measured by a third-party standard, from the business and operations of a benefit corporation.”

The enabling legislation creating the new benefit-corporation entity was due in part to the work of B Lab, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit whose mission is to “solve social and environmental problems.” Massachusetts was the 11th state to enact legislation permitting benefit corporations, and Pennsylvania has subsequently become the 12th.

A benefit corporation should not be confused with, and must be distinguished from, a nonprofit corporation. Nonprofit corporations are formed pursuant to a different section of Massachusetts law and permit the further application to the Internal Revenue Service for tax exemption. While there are many types and forms of nonprofit and charitable corporations, such entities generally exist either for the greater good of the general public or, in the case of membership-driven nonprofit organizations, such as trade organizations, chambers of commerce, and religious institutions, for the benefit of congregational and other members.

The primary distinction between nonprofit companies and benefit corporations is that, unlike benefit corporations, whose stockholders would still be entitled to pecuniary benefit from the success of the business, participants in nonprofit entities are prohibited by law from the ability to receive distributions of business profits. In addition, a benefit corporation would not be permitted to tax exemption at the state or federal level.

One of the most significant elements of the new business-corporation law pertains to the duty and standard of care to which corporate officers and directors are held. In a traditional corporation, officers and directors are held to the so-called ‘business-judgment rule,’ which holds such individuals liable for unfavorable business outcomes to the extent that such individuals did not act in good faith and as a reasonable person would have acted under those circumstances.

Through the new legislation, however, the scope of what can be considered by officers and directors in discharging their duties has been greatly expanded to include the public-benefit concept. In discharging their respective duties with respect to the benefit corporation, both officers and directors of the company would be obligated to consider not only the effects of their decisions upon shareholders of the corporation, but also:

• Employees and suppliers;

• Customers and clients as beneficiaries of the general public benefit of the corporation;

• Community and societal factors, including those of each community in which the business operates;

• The local, regional, and global environment, and

• The ability of the benefit corporation to accomplish its general public-benefit purpose.

Importantly, and unlike similar legislation in other jurisdictions, the statute specifically protects officers and directors from personal liability for monetary damages arising out of claims for the failure of the benefit corporation to pursue or create a general public benefit.

The practical effect of the expanding consideration of officers and directors is that they may not be subject to a stockholder derivative action as a result of taking actions that, while more costly to the business, would benefit the greater public.

For instance, a board of directors may elect to lease or purchase a more expensive facility in which to house the business, with such a decision having been based upon environmentally friendly and renewable-energy determinable factors, as opposed to pure utility and cost. Under such circumstances, stockholders would likely not prevail in a derivative action against the board.

However, while officers and directors have relief from liability for pursuing these general public benefits, the legislation nonetheless includes mechanisms to ensure that the corporation fulfills its obligations as a benefit corporation.

Specifically, benefit corporations may appoint an officer as a designated ‘benefit officer,’ and charge him or her with the duty to oversee the public benefits provided by the corporation, as well as to prepare an annual benefit report setting forth the company’s successes or challenges in pursuing its specific or general public benefits goals. Much like the annual report of a traditional corporation, the annual benefit report will be filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, in addition to being sent to stockholders and posted on the company’s website.

Parties, including shareholders, directors, and beneficial-interest owners who believe the company is not fulfilling its obligations in this regard, may initiate a benefit-enforcement proceeding as their sole remedy, but may neither bring an action against officers and directors nor claim damages for failure of the benefit corporation to pursue or create a general or specific public benefit.

Not only can new companies form as benefit corporations, but existing companies may also convert from their existing status to take advantage of the benefit-corporation status. Likewise, companies formed and operating as benefit corporations would nonetheless have the subsequent ability to terminate this status via an amendment to their bylaws.

If you think that a benefits corporation may suit your business, or if you have questions in this regard, it would be wise to consult your corporate attorney.

 

Jeffrey Fialky is a shareholder with the regional law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C, specializing in business, corporate, municipal, and real-estate law. A former assistant district attorney in Hampden County, Fialky joined the firm after a decade of holding senior attorney positions within some of the country’s most prominent telecommunications and cable-television companies, where he negotiated large-scale licensing, acquisition, and distribution agreements; (413) 781-0560; baconwilson.com/attorneys/fialky

DBA Certificates Departments

The following Business Certificates and Trade Names were issued or renewed during the month of December 2012.

 

AGAWAM

 

Heating & Cooling

60 River Road

Thomas Petrowicz

 

JR Restoration & Wood Refinish

28 Moore St.

James Retzler

 

Longo East Carpet Cleaning

80 Ramah Circle

Karen Placzek

 

Nanny’s Home Day Care

67 Monroe St.

Choan Hermans

 

AMHERST

 

Acceleration Promotion

640 Main St.

Michael Rodriguez

 

College Pizza

150 Fearing St.

Hasan Carmak

 

CHICOPEE

 

American Home Energy Rates

165 Front St.

John J. Kosak

 

Fiona’s Spa

1888 Memorial Dr.

Jin F. Deng

 

Giovanni’s Pizza

1085 Memorial Dr.

Turgit Aydin

 

H20 Air Solutions

63 ½ Main St.

Roberta Morreale

 

Pinho Enterprises, LLC

60 Dwight St.

Delaney Fernandez

 

Vapors Prophecy

83 Edgewood Ave.

Natasha Gauthier

 

EAST LONGMEADOW

 

Acres Coin-Op

84 Colony Dr.

Michael A. Jarry

 

Horizon Investment Management Group

10 Crane Ave.

Ronald J. Briggs

 

Peter Gray

6 Redin Lane

Peter A. Gray

 

Tom Kopyto Music

80 Denslow Road

Tom Kopyto

 

GREENFIELD

 

Alternative Merchant Solutions

13 Cedar St.

John Michelson

 

Better Home & Gardens Real Estate

525 Bernardston Road

James J. Fleming

 

Hair It Is

258 Main St.

Wendi Rose

 

Optimize Construction

22 King Road

Kim Stone

 

Valley Mart

4 Mill St.

Muhammad Yasin

 

HOLYOKE

 

Highland Antiques

7 Cray Ave.

Larry Fishbein

 

Incredible Toys

50 Holyoke St.

Mahmut Alkan

 

Rohan’s News

646 High St.

Rajendra Pandit

 

Tony’s Grocery Store

801 High St.

Felix Almonte

 

Tropical Smoothie

50 Holyoke St.

Dave Jalbert

 

LUDLOW

 

T & J Construction

87 Kirkland Ave.

Thomas M. Marshall Jr.

 

Turkish Saucer Club

305 East St.

Ahmet Gtlak

 

PALMER

 

Morrison Construction

65 Springfield St.

John Morrison

 

Palmer Auto Mall

1219 Thorndike St.

George Menard

 

Swift River Sudz

3026 Main St.

Patti D. Fischer

 

SPRINGFIELD

 

7 Eleven

425 Springfield St.

Scott Sphon

 

Better Aire

121 Glenmore St.

Reagan Ali

 

Capital Income Tax

135 Oakland St.

Nathilda Ramirez

 

Catalyst Stage

35 Ardmore St.

Chris Gollnick

 

Certified Auto Glass

1142 State St.

Miguel A. Perez

 

Clean 2 the Max Cleaning

14 Berbay Circle

Juliet M. Maxwell

 

CMJ, LLC

281 State St.

Clinton Mitchell Jr.

 

Cordero Enterprise

546 Worthington St.

Angel Cordero

 

Cruz American Warrior

906 Carew St.

Pedro Cruz

 

Cut Rite Flooring

739 Liberty St.

Jeffrey Joseph

 

D & A Constable Service

1396 Parker St.

Kelly A. Doyle

 

D’Vine Designs

196 Hampshire St.

Jessica Ware

 

Daniele Overhead Doors

4 Ivan St.

John T. Nadeau

 

Economy Landscaping

88 Better Way

Frank J. Silva

 

El Morro Bakery & Restaurant

599 Page Blvd.

Neidy Cruz

 

Fighting Arts Academy

190 Verge St.

Jeremy Libiszewski

 

Gould’s Building & Remodeling

235 Birchland Ave.

Mark S. Gould

 

K & L Exchange

1192 Parker St.

Lien A. Chen

 

WESTFIELD

 

Gregg Konieczny

304 Buck Pond Road

Gregg Konieczny

 

Lisa Wilson Consulting

12 Blueberry Ridge

Lisa Wilson

 

Napa Auto Parts

46 Springfield Road

Michael Wheeler

 

WEST SPRINGFIELD

 

Friendly Fuel

75 Union St.

David J. Vickers Jr.

 

Gold’s Gym

1452 Memorial Ave.

Camel Fitness Inc.

 

Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems

19 Norman St.

Justin Carven

 

Potterville Pottery

1702 Riverdale St.

Laura J. Frasco

Company Notebook Departments

Bulkley Richardson Recognized for Professional Excellence

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson was recently named a 2013 Top Ranked Law Firm by Lexis-Nexis Martindale-Hubbell for having more than one-third, or a total of 15, of its attorneys identified by their peers as AV Preeminent, the highest ranking for professional excellence in the peer-review rating system. The firm was also included in the 2013 edition of Best Law Firms published by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. It was ranked in the top tier in eight practice areas, the most of any Springfield law firm.

 

Freedom Credit Union Reaches Out to Latinos

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union, a full-service financial cooperative with online banking and nine branches throughout the four counties of Western Mass., announced it has launched its first marketing campaign to extend brand awareness and loyalty to the Latino community throughout in the region. The new campaign is called “Juntos Por Tu Libertad Financiera” (Together for Your Financial Freedom), and reflects the value Freedom Credit Union brings through its many products and services that help people realize their dreams through financial freedom. The Latino community now comprises almost 39% of Springfield’s population, up from 27.2% in 2000, according to the U.S. Census. The census also reported that the region’s Latino population grew 40% from 2000 to 2010. “The Latino community has always been a very important part of our membership base, and the recent and rapid growth of the Latino population in the region provides Freedom Credit Union a unique opportunity to demonstrate that we value the diverse community in which we live,” said President Barry Crosby. “The theme ‘Juntos Por Tu Libertad Financiera’ echoes this sentiment and reinforces that we are a collaborative partner in helping the Latino community realize their dreams through financial freedom.” The campaign, created by Bauzá & Associates, consists of a TV, radio, and print advertising campaign as well as financial literacy and public relations. “Freedom Credit Union is very proud of the relationship we have established with our Latino members. We are now looking to expand our efforts by enhancing our communication and servicing our membership in a more culturally relevant manner,” Crosby added. “As a local and cooperative institution that believes in elevating the community, we are focused on consistently delivering the highest-quality value to all of our members.”

 

Innovative Business Systems Wins Accolades

EASTHAMPTON — Innovative Business Systems, a technology-solutions company, was recently chosen as one of the top three technology companies in the state in the banking industry in the Warren Group’s annual readers poll for Banker & Tradesman’s Best of 2012. In the survey, readers are asked to vote on their favorite companies in several categories. The Warren Group publishes Banker & Tradesman and the Commercial Record.

 

Baystate Earns Distinction as Leapfrog Top Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center has, for the fourth consecutive year, joined an elite group of 60 urban hospitals in the U.S. named Top Hospitals in the Leapfrog Group’s 2012 survey of more than 1,200 hospitals. Leapfrog’s Top Hospital designation is the most competitive national hospital quality award in the country and recognizes hospitals that deliver the highest-quality care by preventing medical errors, reducing mortality for high-risk procedures such as heart bypass surgery, and reducing hospital readmissions for patients being treated for conditions like pneumonia and heart attacks. University and other teaching hospitals like Baystate, children’s hospitals, and community hospitals in rural, suburban, and urban settings were all represented in the 2012 rankings. Leapfrog also identified Baystate Medical Center in the top 5% of hospitals that completed the survey in 2012. “Patients deserve to be in the safest hospital possible. Our superior performance, recognized in this prestigious survey for the fourth consecutive year alongside our many other awards and accreditations, confirms for our patients that we meet the highest quality and safety standards among an elite group of top-ranked hospitals in the United States,” said Dr. Evan Benjamin, senior vice president of Healthcare Quality at Baystate Health. The Leapfrog Survey provides a broad look at a hospital’s quality, safety, and efficiency, and uses some of the most widely accepted and nationally validated measures of hospital performance. Leapfrog also offers healthcare consumers and purchasers unique information not available anywhere else. For example, Leapfrog is the only national source of information on a hospital’s rate of early elective newborn deliveries (Baystate Medical Center has taken a leadership role in working with all Massachusetts birthing hospitals to stop all elective preterm births), adoption of computerized physician order entry to prevent medical errors (Baystate began CPOE back in 1991 and has long been a national leader in that area, with virtually 100% compliance), and several other important measures of inpatient care. In addition to making the Top Hospitals list, Baystate Medical Center, as well as its sister hospital, Baystate Franklin Medical Center (BFMC) in Greenfield, received ‘A’ grades from Leapfrog on its latest Hospital Safety Score released on Nov. 28. Dr. Gerda Maissel, BFMC’s chief medical officer, noted that “the Leapfrog Group is an important and objective national organization that has done great work to ensure that the public is informed about hospital quality and safety. Quality is a top priority at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, and I am proud of everyone involved in this achievement, including those who provide direct care to our patients and those who work behind the scenes to keep us on track and moving forward.”

 

O’Connell Care at Home and Healthcare Staffing Marks 25th Anniversary

HOLYOKE — O’Connell Care at Home and Health Care Staffing,

a regional provider of personal aid and nursing services, recently marked its 25th year in business. O’Connell has been providing Western Mass. and Northern Conn. individuals and families with a holistic approach to care since its founding in 1987. O’Connell’s holistic approach factors an individual’s social wants and needs into his or her personalized care plan. The company states that, by doing so, its staff is able to provide more emotionally supportive experience for the individual, as well as address his or her physical limitations and medical conditions. According to President Fran O’Connell, this approach grew out of his personal experiences and became the founding principal of the company. “In my youth, I saw firsthand what a difference it made when things that are important to people are still part of their lives,” he said. “Little things, like lunch with friends or talking baseball with someone, helps individuals feel whole — like they are still loved and respected. It’s something all of us deserve.” The company’s services range from transportation and home-companion services to geriatric-care management and hospice care. The company also provides staffing solutions for some of the region’s assisted-living facilities, rehabilitation centers, and visiting-nurse associations.

Law Sections
National Labor Relations Board Takes Aim at Employer Policies

John S. Gannon

John S. Gannon

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been attacking workplace policies that are common in both union and non-union workplace settings.

Previous BusinessWest articles have discussed the NLRB’s intrusion into social-media polices and at-will disclaimers. Unfortunately, more common employer practices are under siege, including internal workplace investigations and policies and rules that limit off-duty employee access to the workplace.

 

Non-union Employers Are Fair Game

Employers are often surprised to learn that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies in a non-union environment. The NLRA is considered by many to be a federal law that regulates only employer-union relations. However, you may be surprised to learn that the law covers a wide range of employer activities, both in companies that are unionized and in companies where there are no unions at all.

In particular, Section 7 of the NLRA protects the right of all non-supervisory employees to engage in “concerted activities” for the purpose of collective bargaining or other “mutual aid or protection.” This gives employees the right to come together to discuss any terms and condition of employment, including wages, benefits, or working conditions. Employer actions that impede or “chill” an employee’s exercise of these rights violate Section 7.

 

 

Discussion of Internal Investigations

Employers often initiate a workplace investigation when an employee brings a report or complaint of misconduct to management. The first step is to interview the complainant and employees who may have witnessed the allegedly inappropriate or unlawful conduct. Employers often discourage employees from discussing the substance of these interviews with others, particularly to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Employers that routinely require employees to keep investigative discussions confidential might need to alter their practices. The NLRB recently concluded that a blanket rule requiring employee confidentially during internal investigations violates Section 7. According to the board, requiring employees to keep quiet during investigations conflicts with their right to openly discuss their working conditions with co-workers. Although the board recognized that employers may have a legitimate interest in keeping investigative discussions under wraps, this does not outweigh their employees’ Section 7 rights to engage in concerted activities.

The NLRB did, however, outline circumstances that could justify a request for confidentiality by an employer. To lawfully implement — and justify — a confidentiality request, employers should determine at the outset of an investigation whether confidentiality is truly needed. To make this determination, employers must examine whether: (a) witnesses are in need of protection; (b) evidence is in danger of being destroyed; (c) testimony is in danger of being fabricated; or (d) there is a need to prevent a coverup. Satisfying this standard is no small task, and failure to properly consider these or other factors could result in an unfair-labor-practice charge.

Employers should consult with labor and employment counsel before asking employees to keep the substance of internal workplace investigations confidential.

 

Employee Off-duty Access

Employers frequently institute policies prohibiting off-duty employees from entering the workplace. These rules help ensure employee or customer safety and ease administrative burdens on supervisors. They also have particular importance during union-organizing drives. Off-duty rules help to keep off-duty employees who might support a union from disrupting the workplace during non-working hours.

For more than 35 years, the NLRB has considered off-duty employee access rules to be permissible, as long as the restriction (a) limits access solely to the interior of the facility; (b) is clearly disseminated to all employees; and (c) applies to off-duty access for all purposes, not just union activity. However, in another controversial decision from the NLRB, the board determined that an employer policy prohibiting off-duty employee access to the workplace was unlawful.

In that case, a hospital restricted hospital employees from entering the interior of the hospital except to visit a patient, receive medical care, or conduct “hospital-related business.” Employees were occasionally permitted to return to work to pick up a paycheck under the hospital-related-business exception, but other than that, they were typically disciplined for entering the facility for non-work purposes.

The board took issue with the hospital-related-business exception to the hospital’s off-duty rule. It ruled that this exception gave management too much discretion to permit or deny off-duty employees to enter the facility. Conceivably, it could be used to limit union-organizing activities, but permit other activity at the employer’s discretion. This violated the NLRA’s stance on off-duty access.

Notably, this ruling was consistent with a recent decision where the board concluded that a rule permitting off-duty access to attend employer-sponsored events, such as retirement parties and baby showers, but barring other access, violated the NLRA because it was an impermissible chilling of the employees’ Section 7 rights.

 

Bottom Line

By taking aim at workplace investigations, off-duty access rules, at-will statements, and social-media polices, the board is clearly seeking to regulate employer practices that go beyond the traditional unionized environment. Employers need to carefully evaluate existing practices to ensure compliance with NLRA.

If you have concerns about how these decisions could impact your workplace, you should contact experienced labor and employment counsel for assistance.

 

John Gannon is an associate at the management-side labor and employment firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C.; (413) 737-4753; [email protected]

Briefcase Departments

Ameristar Withdraws from Casino Competition

SPRINGFIELD — The competition for a winning casino bid in Springfield narrowed to two late last month when Ameristar Casinos dropped plans for a $910 million resort casino on property it owns on Page Boulevard. Although Las Vegas-based Ameristar believed it had the superior proposal for a casino in Western Mass., the company concluded there is not sufficient likelihood that the basis upon which it could be awarded the license to develop and operate a casino in Springfield is favorable enough to warrant its further pursuit. Specifically, the local selection process, various project requirements, and associated costs led to the decision to reserve Ameristar’s resources for other opportunities. Ameristar has not yet made a determination concerning plans for marketing the 40-acre Page Boulevard site, which it says is the largest commercially developable site in Springfield. The site’s size, location, and ease of access to major highways make it attractive for a variety of large-scale developments in addition to a casino. “This was a difficult decision that will unfortunately result in us not being able to bring a world-class casino entertainment facility to Western Mass.” Ameristar CEO Gordon Kanofsky said. “However, I am extremely proud of the efforts of our team members who aggressively pursued this project. We are grateful for the hundreds of meaningful relationships we have built in the Pioneer Valley and the Commonwealth and for the widespread community support we received over the last year while introducing New Englanders to our company.” Mayor Domenic Sarno responded by saying, “obviously the city is very disappointed in Ameristar’s decision to withdraw from the competition to locate a world-class resort casino in Springfield. Ameristar made a strong proposal for an exciting project that would have given our voters a clear choice as to the type of location that would best serve the city. Nonetheless, I am confident that the proposals of MGM and Penn Gaming will create a robust competition resulting in a project that will … revitalize Springfield [and] create thousands of good-paying jobs for our residents and significant opportunities for our business community, with sustainable economic benefits for our great city, but also for Western Mass. and the state. We wish Ameristar the best as they continue their business and pursue other opportunities.”

 

Ludlow Mills Named Priority Project

BOSTON — Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray recently announced that Ludlow Mills, the 170-acre site planned for redevelopment by Westmass Area Development Corp., is among five new projects designated for cleanup assistance through the Patrick-Murray administration’s Brownfields Support Team (BST) Initiative. Ludlow Mills is the only project located in Western Mass. that is involved in the third round of the BST. Ludlow Mills is a mixed-use project with primary focus on commercial and industrial development. The site has environmental-cleanup needs that require further assessment and has received both state and federal grants that have provided site and environmental remediation. In responding to the announcement of the site as a brownfield support priority, Kenn Delude, Westmass president and CEO, said, “Westmass, the town of Ludlow, and our region are pleased by the lieutenant governor’s announcement to include the Ludlow Mills Preservation and Redevelopment project in the BST, and we thank Gov. Patrick and the administration and our legislative delegation for their continued support and assistance. As the largest brownfield mill-redevelopment project in New England, the Ludlow Mills project will significantly benefit from the interdisciplinary work of the BST to address complex and complicated environmental aspects of this project as we work to revitalize the site, retain and grow jobs, and improve the regional economy.” Westmass and HealthSouth recently jointly broke ground on a 74,500-square-foot, 53-bed, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver-certified rehabilitation hospital that will offer all private rooms for patients needing rehabilitative care. The hospital is slated for completion in November 2013. Planning is also underway to develop a $20 million, 83-unit senior-housing complex on the site. Both projects will result in hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs once completed. Redevelopment of the Ludlow Mills complex over the next two decades will create and retain more than 2,000 jobs and stimulate up to $300 million in private investment. The 170-acre site includes 66 buildings, offers approximately 1,450,000 square feet of space, and is bordered by 1.5 miles of riverfront. Buildout of the project will occur over 15 or more years, and the project will embrace sustainable-development principles and will seek to encourage LEED-quality new construction at the site. Launched in 2008, the BST has coordinated 24 state, local, and federal agencies over the last several years to tackle some of the state’s most complex brownfields and has helped deliver more than $18 million in funding to accelerate cleanup and streamline progress to overcome technical roadblocks.

 

Business Confidence Index Drops on Fiscal-cliff Fears

BOSTON — The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 4.3 points in November to 46.8 as Massachusetts employers found themselves swept toward the ‘fiscal cliff” of drastic federal budget reductions and tax increases. “The tax increases set to take effect unless Congress acts will affect virtually every business, and the automatic spending cuts will hit hard at both defense and non-defense sectors in Massachusetts — and serious macroeconomic effects are also projected,” said Raymond Torto, global chief economist at CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. and chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA). “After an election that did little to break the deadlock in Washington, we are very close to the edge. Whereas October’s results merely pointed to this concern, November’s treat an adverse outcome as a probability. In October we noted a weak reading for national conditions, while other index components held up well. The November readings are off almost across the board. The main Index dropped well below 50, into negative territory on our scale. Respondents expect conditions to deteriorate over the coming six months. And employers are losing confidence in the situations of their own companies, which we generally interpret as a reaction to rising uncertainty.” Because most survey responses were submitted shortly after the election, Torto added, they do not reflect more recent developments that may signal movement toward compromise in Washington. AIM’s Business Confidence Index has been issued monthly since July 1991 under the oversight of the Board of Economic Advisors.

 

Nation’s Non-residential Construction Spending Rises Slightly in November

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s non-residential construction industry experienced a modest gain in October as spending increased 0.5% to $571.3 billion, according to the Dec. 3 report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Total non-residential construction spending — which includes both private and public projects — is up 5.1% compared to one year ago. Private, non-residential construction spending increased 0.3% for the month and is up 10.7% year over year. Public, non-residential construction spending increased 0.8% for the month, but is 0.4% lower than the same time last year. Eleven of 16 non-residential construction subsectors posted increases in October, including transportation, up 5.3%; water supply, up 4.3; and lodging, up 3.9%. Ten construction subsectors experienced increases in spending year over year, including lodging, up 29.3%; transportation, up 21.2%; and power, up 19.2%. In contrast, five construction subsectors posted decreases in spending for the month, including communication, down 6.9%; manufacturing, down 2.7%; highway and street, down 2.3%; sewage and waste disposal, down 1.7%; and conservation and development, down 1.5%. Construction subsectors registering decreases in year-over-year spending include conservation and development, down 13.6%; water supply, down 7.2%; highway and street, down 4.8%; communication, down 3.8%; sewage and waste disposal, down 3.8%; and religious, down 3.7%. Residential construction spending jumped 3% for the month and is up 19.4% from the same time last year. Total construction spending — which encompasses both non-residential and residential spending — was up 1.4% for the month and is up 9.6% compared to October 2011. “As the nation approaches its fiscal cliff — a collection of tax increases and spending cuts that kick in at the end of the year — the pattern of recovery in non-residential construction spending has shifted,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Earlier this year, private-sector, non-residential construction spending growth was more robust, but has since declined. This comes as little surprise, as more projects are being put on hold.” He added, “there are two likely scenarios for non-residential construction spending in the U.S. Both scenarios hinge upon the outcome of the fiscal-cliff debate. Under one scenario, the nation falls back into recession, resulting in diminished public and private non-residential construction spending. Under the other scenario, a productive outcome on the fiscal cliff is achieved, and non-residential construction spending accelerates at some point in 2013 and into 2014.”

City2City Sections
City2City

Allentown’s new, $230 hockey-arena development

Allentown’s new, $230 hockey-arena development also includes a 220-room hotel, office space, restaurants, and other retail uses.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski lost the battle to host the Lehigh Valley area casino, but he believes he may have won an even bigger prize for Allentown in something called a neighborhood improvement zone, or NIZ.

The concept, which became reality only after a prolonged battle in the state Legislature and then several court fights, stipulates that all state and city tax revenue, except real-estate taxes, collected by businesses within the NIZ will be used to repay 30-year bonds issued by the Allentown Economic Development Corp. to fund various development projects in the zone.

That list is topped by a new, $230 million arena that will host the Lehigh County Phantoms (the displaced affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers), but also includes a new 220-room hotel, perhaps 2 million square feet of new office space spanning two initiatives, new restaurants, and other forms of retail development.

The NIZ has spawned considerable debate about what the lost tax revenue — perhaps $15 million annually, by some estimates — will mean for the Commonwealth of Pennyslvania, and also whether the NIZ activity represents new development or simply moving business from one side of Allentown to the other.

But what can’t be debated is how the zone has changed the landscape in this city in Eastern Pennsylvania, visited by the City2City Springfield delegation late last month.

Indeed, there is now a 30-foot-deep hole at Seventh and Hamilton streets, covering roughly three city blocks of what had been vacant or underutilized properties taken by eminent domain for the creation of what will be known as City Center.

This was the site of an elaborate groundbreaking ceremony for the arena project on Nov. 29, at which city officials and Phantom executives used special hockey-stick-handled shovels to move some dirt around.

“We are breaking ground on the future of Allentown,” said Pawlowski at the event, using that phrase to describe both the ceremony and the NIZ itself, which is a novel concept and unique to Allentown.

In a later interview with BusinessWest, he said the zone, and the broad City Center project, came about as Allentown was searching for ways to spark new development in a community struggling to recover from both the recession and a region-wide loss of manufacturing jobs to other parts of this country and other nations.

Allentown was one of a handful of communities in Lehigh County that were targeted by casino operators after enabling legislation was passed roughly a decade ago, and eventually became a finalist in the contest won by neighboring Bethlehem.

The 130-acre NIZ and what is taking shape within its boundaries is not officially described as ‘plan B,’ said the mayor, but that’s what it amounts to, and he believes it has the potential to be as much of a game changer as a gaming facility would be.

“It’s a huge economic-development tool,” he told BusinessWest, suggesting that officials in Springfield look closely at trying to do something similar. “It’s something that would be incredibly viable and help attract business from other states if it’s done right.”

Pawlowski said city officials looking for alternative financing models needed to build an arena and bring the Phantoms to Allentown, researched tactics used in other cities, and eventually focused on a strategy used in Arizona involving state-tax revenues — in ways similar to how tax-increment-financing, or TIF, packages involving local property taxes are utilized — to finance public and private initiatives.

The NIZ is in many ways better than a TIF project or zone, said the mayor, because local property taxes are not lost to the community or its school department. “It’s a cost-neutral proposal for the state, but a net-plus for the municipality and for economic development.”

And in the case of the Allentown’s NIZ, it encouraged development across many sectors, expanding the project well beyond the arena.

“We realized that just putting in an arena wasn’t going to be the end-all answer for development,” he explained. “It could be a key anchor to bring people and resources back into the urban core, but we needed other elements to also occur around it.”

The eventual legislation passed in Pennsylvania works on a simple theory — that state and local taxes essentially deferred to cover bonds floated for redevelopment projects will be recovered, and perhaps far surpassed, by taxes generated by new development taking place within the neighborhood-improvement district.

It’s a noble experiment that was met with some initial skepticism and opposition, said Pawlowski, as well as some concerns from institutional investors involved in the project about whether the Legislature could someday repeal the measure.

That led to follow-up legislation with a clause stipulating that the law couldn’t be repealed, and then eventually another modification involving earned income tax, an issue that spawned several lawsuits that delayed work within the zone.

“It actually passed the Legislature three times and was signed by two governors,” said Pawlowski. “It was no easy task — it was a monumental task — but we were able to pull it off, and it’s generated lots of revenue: all state taxes, all incremental taxes, for the next 30 years, for both public and private development.”

The arena, first office complex, and hotel are slated to be completed by 2014, said the mayor, adding that other components will be in place within a few years after that. And much of it represents what he considers new development.

That includes a new division, involving sports medicine and orthopedics, for Lehigh Valley Hospital; a consolidation initiative involving Penn National Bank; a new headquarters facility for Lehigh Fuels; and new office facilities expected to bring many law firms and accounting firms.

Adding all this up, Pawlowski believes the NIZ will likely have more long-term benefits for Allentown than a casino.

“I think it’s better than plan A,” he said. “They can have the casino; the casino has helped, but it is not a catalyst for other economic development.”

 

— George O’Brien

Opinion
Some Things We’d Like to See in 2013

As we prepare to put an intriguing, if unremarkable, business year behind us, it’s time to look ahead to 2013, with some hopes, expectations, and concerns.

Here’s a quick list of some of the things we’d like to see, or not see, in the year ahead.

• First, we only want to see Square One director Joan Kagan’s picture in the newspaper, or this magazine, if she’s at the annual tea wearing one of those big hats or, even better, wielding a ceremonial shovel at a groundbreaking for a new facility in Springfield’s South End. After the tornado in 2011 and the gas explosion in 2012 erased two facilities with Square One signs on the front, it’s time for this nonprofit agency and its leader to get a break and eventually turn these twin calamities into opportunities.

• And now, we return to the issue that dominated 2012 in every way — casinos. It is our hope that the process to determine the winner of the Western Mass. casino moves more quickly, and more civilly, than it did over the past several months. As we said back in the summer, it’s unlikely that anything else is going to get done around here, and especially in downtown Springfield, until we determine where the casino is going to go. So this needs to get settled. And while we understand that this is a competition with very high stakes, we’d like to see more energy put into making these projects work for the region and less energy spent criticizing rival plans.

• Meanwhile, we’d like the players in this market to take a page from the script written in Northeastern Pennsylvania (see story, page 6), where a revenue-sharing agreement was worked out among the communities around Bethlehem, where the casino was eventually built. This casino fight shouldn’t be a winner-take-all proposition. Many area communities will share in the headaches that come with a casino, and they should also share the wealth.

• And while the casino battle plays out, area economic-development leaders have to push ahead with other initiatives because the phrase ‘a casino is not a cure-all’ is not rhetoric — it’s a fact. This region will need other sources of new jobs and other efforts to spark revitalization efforts in area downtowns. We’re encouraged by the work both Springfield and Holyoke are doing to build opportunities with and around the creative economy, and these must continue and expand. At the same time, the region needs to continue to explore new job-creating opportunities in green energy, the life sciences, and other fields.

• UMass will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013. It should be a big, year-long party. We’d like to see it capped off with strong movement toward creating a satellite campus in downtown Springfield. Such a facility, perhaps undertaken in conjunction with a casino development, would bring young people and a huge amount of energy to Springfield’s central business district. The timing isn’t good — the state budget situation is getting worse, not better — and there are many other priorities for the state university. But an expanded presence in Springfield would serve both the city and the school, and now might be the time to strike.

• Lastly, we’d like to see more area employers gain the confidence to start hiring again. There are many reasons why most people in business believe we’re still in a recession (even though technically we are not), but the jobless nature of whatever recovery we’re seen is the primary culprit. With more people working, spending should increase, and businesses across every sector would benefit. It’s all a matter of confidence, and we hope that, in the year ahead, this region can find some.

Opinion
A Powerful Show of Unity on Literacy

 

“Reading is the cornerstone of academic success. In fact, educators attest that, until third grade, a child learns to read. After third grade, a child reads to learn. Further, a child who enters fourth grade unable to read proficiently is far less likely to graduate from high school, become an effective citizen, and develop the skills essential for contributing to the 21st-century economy.”

This was the first paragraph of a case statement, or proposal, for the establishment of something called the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, a document, inked more than a year ago, that apparently got its points across in a meaningful way.

That’s because more than a dozen organizations are now standing together in this ambitious endeavor, having donated close to $1.5 million between them in the all-important fight to make young people in this region more proficient at reading by the time they reach the fourth grade.

And a few months ago, some of this money was put to work, with three grants, totaling nearly $325,000, awarded to five early-literacy and learning programs. These include the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and its Links to Literacy and Learning program; the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative through the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County; the Springfield Collaboration for Change and its Home-School Family Literacy Project; Square One and its summer and after-school enrichment programs; and the Springfield College AmeriCorps Student Success Corps program.

It’s far too early to attempt to quantify and qualify the payback from these grants, but it’s certainly not too early to say that this is money extremely well-spent, because, as we’ve said many times, perhaps the biggest issue involved with mitigating the cripplingly high levels of poverty in this region is education, and, more specifically, childhood literacy.

Meanwhile, the Funder Collaborative has, by all indications, become an innovative and highly inspirational method to address some of the larger societal issues facing this region, one that can and should be borrowed for matters ranging from workforce development to combating racism.

But let’s back up a minute.

The Funder Collaborative was launched in early 2011 when the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, which has long been a strong advocate for early-childhood education and a driving force behind the Read! Reading Success by the Fourth Grade initiative, decided that this fight was too big for it to tackle alone.

So it asked a number of area foundations and major employers to join the fight. One of the first to join was the SIS Fund, a charitable foundation left over from the bank formerly known as Springfield Institution for Savings. The list of funders now also includes the Berkshire Bank Foundation, Babson Capital Management LLC, Baystate Health, the Beveridge Family Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western Mass., Hampden Bank, MassMutual, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Peoples United Bank Foundation, the TD Charitable Foundation, and the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

The prevailing theory behind creation of the collaborative is that, by working together on this one issue, these groups could accomplish much more than a single entity or a few organizations moving in different directions — and we believe that thinking is sound.

And there is no more important issue facing this region at this time than reading proficiency among young people. Currently, fewer than 40% of Springfield’s children read at grade level by the end of the third grade. Unless those numbers improve substantially in the years to come, the cycle of poverty that has strangled the city will continue, and the strong workforce needed to take on the jobs in today’s knowledge-based economy will fail to materialize.

The programs funded with the first round of grants are designed to introduce children to books, continue the learning process throughout the year, and, in essence, make students fully able to read to learn.

The Funders Collaborative is really just getting started, but it’s certainly not too early to call this an unqualified success story — on many levels.

Employment Sections
Labor-market Report Highlights the Region’s Skills Gap

Bill Ward calls it a “mismatch.”
There are other words being used to describe the region’s job market, none of them particularly enthusiastic. But to Ward, president and CEO of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (REB), it boils down to an ever-present skills gap.
“It all comes back to this huge, complex issue we have: there are skills shortages, and there are people who are looking for jobs and can’t find them,” he said. “There’s a mismatch out there. There always has been, but now it’s more pronounced because today’s jobs require a higher skill set.”
Ward was responding to a report — “Labor Market Trends in the Pioneer Valley Region” — recently issued by the Commonwealth Corp. and the New England Public Policy Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. That report paints a picture of a naggingly high — albeit slowly falling — unemployment rate in the region, but also a labor pool that’s not adequately equipped to fill the job openings that do exist, which creates a problem for companies looking to grow or locate here.
This trend is exacerbated, the report notes, by an aging population and, in some fields, potential future shortfalls of workers with the skills and education required by employers. In 2008-10, the period the report focuses on, 47.1% of the labor force was age 45 or older, while only 31.6% was 34 or younger.
And while the region’s residents have, on average, increased their level of education over the past decade, progress in that area has been slower than in other regions, leading some economic-development leaders to wonder whether the younger generation will be adequately equipped to replace the masses of retiring Baby Boomers over the next decade.
All this isn’t news to Ward, who deals every day with the challenges of the Pioneer Valley economy and strategies to boost it.
“It updates the reality and confirms it,” he said, noting that the report offers plenty of data but few solutions. “These are complex issues; you can’t just flip a switch. What keeps me up at night is the quality of this workforce and what it needs to do to be competitive. If anything, this report emphasizes that.”

Youth Is Not Served
Robert Clifford, an economist and public policy analyst for the New England Public Policy Center, took part in a roundtable recently at Holyoke Community College to discuss ther report’s findings. He noted that the region’s working population between ages 16 and 24 actually fell from 51,988 in 2000 to 49,788 in 2010 — the only region in the state where that occurred.
Clifford broke down the report’s findings into four main points:
• After nearly a decade of declining employment, the Pioneer Valley is recovering at a modest pace, but continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates statewide;
• An aging workforce, declines in younger workers, and a stagnant population will force the region to confront demographic challenges sooner than other regions;
• Despite gains in the educational attainment of its labor force in the past decade, the Pioneer Valley still has the highest share of individuals with only a high-school degree or less; and
• Addressing the barriers to employment facing the region’s
jobless population, particularly among the young and less educated, is key to the Pioneer Valley’s economic vitality moving forward.

Bill Ward

Bill Ward says businesses shouldn’t wait for the perfect candidate for a job, but be willing to train a talented learner.

“It’s very clear,” Ward told BusinessWest, “with the dynamics of our region, with an older population and a shortage of younger people coming into the workforce, it leaves us in a situation where education and training are even more critically important to our region than to most other regions in the Commonwealth — whether it’s the K-12 system, the community-college system, or investments in training by employers themselves. That’s the big message.”
It’s a message framed by an air of overall sluggishness on the job front locally.
“While the employment rate in the region was nearly the same as the rate statewide through the first half of the past decade, the impact of the Great Recession was particularly severe in the Pioneer Valley,” the report states, noting that the region’s unemployment rate reached 9.2% in 2010, slightly below the national rate of 9.6%, but far exceeding the statewide rate of 8.5%, making it the third-highest jobless rate among all regional labor markets. It also represents a much higher rate than the 3.0% recorded in 2000 and the 5.8% posted in 2003, following the 2001-02 recession.
Perhaps more troubling, however, is the report’s repeated emphasis on how young workers are being impacted. In 2008-10, more than 50% of the region’s unemployed were 34 years old or younger, though such individuals accounted for just 32% of the region’s workforce. Meanwhile, 60% of those unemployed in the Pioneer Valley had a high-school degree or less, while only 38% of the region’s workforce had such an education.
That points to multiple demographic trends that intersect in a troubling way. While the Pioneer Valley’s workforce skews higher in age than other regions, the younger generation isn’t always ready to compete for the jobs that do, and will, arise — the very definition of a skills gap.
“Massachusetts is one of the most highly educated states in the nation, but the Pioneer Valley’s residents and workforce … have education levels similar to their counterparts in the United States,” the report asserts. “Over the past decade, the region has seen progressively higher levels of educational attainment among its residents and workforce, but a high-school degree continues to be the most common level of educational attainment in the region.”
Specifically, in 2008-10, the share of the region’s labor force with a bachelor’s degree or higher (30.5%) trailed that of Massachusetts as a whole (41.2%). However, when the figures are calculated to include all workers with some kind of post-secondary education, the Pioneer Valley (67.8%) closes the gap somewhat on the state (67.8%), due to a larger concentration of individuals with certificates or associate’s degrees, perhaps reflecting the strong presence of the region’s community colleges.

Training from Within
The persistent skills gap, the report notes, “may be particularly troublesome given that 91.5% of the region’s employees are also residents. The Pioneer Valley may not be able to attract workers from other regions to work in jobs with relatively low education requirements and pay, given that those populations are typically filled by less mobile populations.
“However,” it continues, “younger workers and those with lower levels of education, who are disproportionately unemployed, may provide a future supply of labor that can be educated and trained to address labor shortages.”
To foster economic growth in the future, the report argues, the Pioneer Valley should “strive to align the education of its labor force to meet the demands of the region’s employers” — a call to colleges to step up efforts to draw students into degree programs for in-demand careers, like those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
Although Ward has been involved in many such initiatives to boost worker training in the region, he notes that colleges, career centers, and other economic-development entities can’t do it themselves.
“There’s an insidious dynamic in the job market where employers say, ‘I have jobs, but I can’t fill them; I can’t find skilled workers,’” he noted. “But these employers need to do some rethinking about training. They need to do it on their own. This idea of looking for a perfect candidate … the workplace is changing, and there’s no such thing as an off-the-shelf worker. You can’t expect that.
“Because of the complexity of the marketplace today, employers need to be more engaged in preparing their future workforce,” Ward continued. “They need to do more on-the-job training and engage with educators to create career pathways for young people, so when they’re in school and see the applications of math, science, and technology in the workplace, there will be less dropping out, and more kids turned on by seeing the connections between school and work. It’s a complex issue, and there is no single solution.”
Despite the presence of a “feeder system” in the form of multiple well-regarded colleges, plus the state’s flagship university campus, Western Mass. has long had difficulty holding on to graduates, he noted. “We’re seeing large numbers of young people not being retained in this region, and the reason for their outmigration is that we have not been able to generate employment opportunities for these young people.”
Part of that, he said, is due to generally lackluster job creation over the past three years, which has hit young people hardest, particularly in the realm of summer jobs, which provide much-needed experience and develop workplace skills. “Young people, up to age 25 or so, have been bearing the brunt of the recession, so to speak, and to get that first job, they’re tending to be more mobile and look elsewhere; we see them crossing into the Boston area and other markets.”
Meanwhile, older workers are holding on to their jobs longer, in many cases due to the financial meltdown of 2008 and the downturn that followed, which exacerbates the problem young people have finding work.
But the aging of Massachusetts will eventually provide opportunities for the young, Ward said, and it’s incumbent upon the region’s employers, educators, and economic-development leaders to turn those opportunities into a more vibrant hiring culture.
“We’re going to need to fill these positions of the job leavers who are maturing, and the people who fill them are going to need the right skills.”
Ward noted that fewer than half of all recent college graduates in the region are currently working in their degree fields. While troubling in some ways, that statistic also means there are plenty of smart, talented young people who have the aptitude to change careers if given the opportunity by proactive employers. But instead of cultivating their own pipeline of talent, “many employers say, ‘let someone else do it,’ and they wait at the end of the pipeline for someone with their specs.”
The question, he said, is “do you keep turning away from your door the person who could potentially do the job, but doesn’t have all the skills yet? We need some rethinking by employers.”

Opportunity Knocks
There’s a tidbit buried in the labor-market report that offers a bit of optimism. “After two recessions and a decade of declining employment, the region is now gaining jobs and recovering at a modest pace. Moreover, the recent recovery from the Great Recession has been somewhat stronger in the region than in the state as a whole. The Pioneer Valley has experienced relatively broad-based improvement, with stronger growth than the state in a majority of industries.”
Combined with that outlook, the region’s demographic trends — notably, the massive Baby Boom generation approaching retirement — may seem to bode well for younger workers, Ward said, but the skills gap remains, and it threatens the growth of current businesses and hinders others from moving to Western Mass.
“Companies looking to relocate look at the labor supply,” he told BusinessWest. “We need to be willing to say, ‘we can’t afford to waste a single young person.’ We have to get as many people as possible to their full potential.” n

Joseph Bednar may be reached at [email protected]

Education Sections
$2.38 Million Award to AIC Nursing Program Helps Disadvantaged Students

Dr. Cesarina Thompson

Dr. Cesarina Thompson said the ‘meaningful’ addition to the award means more money per student — in the case of AIC, 50% of tuition.

Dr. Cesarina Thompson called it a “no-brainer.”

But recognizing the need for a $2.38 million grant — which will benefit disadvantaged students at American International College — was the easy part. Landing it was more challenging, and gratifying.

Having just completed her first six months as the new dean of AIC’s School of Health Sciences, Thompson is thrilled to see the school on the receiving end of the largest federal grant ever awarded to the institution. In fact, the grant, spread over four years, is the largest awarded to a Massachusetts college under the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program. AIC is in a select group, as only 99 grants were awarded nationally.

“The minute I saw the grant application before submission, I knew this was a no-brainer for us,” said Thompson, who helped to write and edit part of the grant proposal and offered suggestions before she came on board in July 2012.  “But these grants are very competitive, and the percentage that are funded are very few, so we are fortunate.”

The SDS program was redesigned to ensure larger, more meaningful awards to schools and therefore enable institutions to tackle the major barrier to a disadvantaged student’s access to a health-profession education, which is high tuition costs.

Thompson explained to BusinessWest that the ‘meaningful’ addition to the award means more money per student — in the case of AIC, 50% of tuition.

She added that, since AIC is a Title III Institution, it has a high percentage of first-generation and low-income students for whom the cost of attending the program poses a severe financial hardship. Thompson said the Title III program helps eligible institutions of higher education become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. Because of this mission, AIC is already successfully developing and implementing programming to recruit and retain disadvantaged students, and the SDS grant is just one more plus for AIC students who need some extra help.

The SDS program promotes diversity among health-profession students and practitioners by providing scholarships to full-time students with financial need from disadvantaged backgrounds who are enrolled in health-profession and nursing programs. AIC will be responsible for selecting scholarship recipients, making reasonable determinations of need, and providing scholarships that do not exceed the allowable costs — which include tuition, reasonable educational expenses and reasonable living expenses — with a cap of $15,000 for the total scholarship award.

AIC currently has the largest BSN program in the area, and also offers a master of science in Nursing program. AIC President Vince Maniaci said the goal is to award the meaningful scholarships to at least 40 disadvantaged nursing students annually, which will enable more disadvantaged and minority students to obtain a baccalaureate degree in nursing.

“This money will help high-achieving, financially needy students to seamlessly progress in their nurse education without interruption. It should also increase the number of diverse nurses able to serve their communities,” Maniaci said.

The award, which comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is a small part of the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in March 2010. The law aims to improve the nation’s current healthcare system by increasing access to health coverage for Americans and introducing new protections for people who have health insurance; it also provides new ways to hold insurance companies accountable.

In the case of those students less fortunate who want to pursue a career in healthcare, the law also supports programs that will help increase the number of primary-care physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, a graduate of AIC who helped to secure the federal grant, was on hand recently to announce the award. “I know firsthand how important financial assistance can be during the college years. That’s why I am so confident this program will help more local students earn their nursing degrees,” he said.

Added Thompson, “it came to light recently that one student who was recently awarded would probably not have been able to compete the program because both her parents were out of work. And many of our students with the economic downturn are working 20- and 30-hour work weeks and trying to go to school full-time … that’s just near to impossible, especially when they are in a nursing program.”

Looking at the larger healthcare picture, Neal told BusinessWest that, as a result of this grant, future AIC nursing graduates will not only be on track to succeed in their career goals, but will share part of the responsibility of caring for millions of wounded veterans who will need some type of medical attention.

“The Affordable Care Act will create 32 million new healthcare customers,” he said. “And with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq coming to an end, caring for all of our returning wounded is going to be a great honor and a great commitment.”

 

— Elizabeth Taras

Bankruptcies Departments

The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

 

Achatz, Marc D.

Achatz, Kim C.

944 Maple Road

Longmeadow, MA 01106

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/17/12

 

Andrew, Douglas Edward

Andrew, Amy E.

40 Spring St.

Florence, MA 01062

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Arroyo, Elizabeth

176 Eddy St.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/12

 

Authier, Richard

Authier, Karen

88 Grandview St.

Springfield, MA 01118

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Bard, Michele M.

a/k/a LaBrie, Michele

45 Enterprise St.

Adams, MA 01220

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Berte, Mark A.

33 Rosedale Ave.

Springfield, MA 01128

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Birchall, Richard G.

174 Union St.

North Adams, MA 01247

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Bosworth, Robert E.

151 Lamplighter Lane

Springfield, MA 01119

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Brodeur, Glenn Allen

42 Circle Dr.

Chicopee, MA 01020

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Bydlak, Mark

68 Plantation Circle

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Charron, Francis M.

Charron, Cristi A.

16 Walker St.

North Adams, MA 01247

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Chevalier, Jason P.

Chevalier, Andrea L.

50 Walker Road

Ware, MA 01082

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/30/12

 

Cibelli, Michael J.

585 Chapel St., Apt #4

Lee, MA 01238

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Coache, Mary Lou

146 Washington Road

Brimfield, MA 01010

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Coughlin, Thomas J.

P.O. Box 1761

Pittsfield, MA 01202

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/24/12

 

Cunningham, Janet L.

5 George St.

Auburn, MA 01501

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Deonarain, David

Deonarain, Chandra

20 Dexter St.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Diaz Rodriguez, Maria C.

293 Dwight St.

Springfield, MA 01105

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

DiGrigoli, Seth

DiGrigoli, Heather

16 Brown St.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Dix, Gail M.

25 Fuller St.

North Adams, MA 01247

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Donovan, Erica M.

a/k/a Cruz, Erica M.

20 Elm St.

Adams, MA 01220

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Eastman, Dave C.

24 Loudville Road

Westhampton, MA 01027

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Eldridge, Randall A.

916 Wauwinet Road

Barre, MA 01005

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/23/12

 

Feliciano, Luis

116-118 Hampden St.

Indian Orchard, MA 01151

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/17/12

 

Fisher, Alexandra C.

21 Meadow St.

Hadley, MA 01035

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Fitzpatrick, Randy

20 McKinley Ter.

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Fontaine, John A.

15 Maplecrest Circle

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/17/12

 

Forsell, Justin E.

Forsell, Brenda T.

a/k/a Morrissey, Brenda

104 Franklin St.

Feeding Hills, MA 01030

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Franzoni, Ronald J.

Franzoni, Barbara D.

154 East Ave.

North Adams, MA 01247

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/30/12

 

Gillett, Christy-Jo

a/k/a Haywood, Christy-Jo

16 Dutchess Ave.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/12

 

Gilliam, James M.

47 Davis St.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Giuffre, Steven T.

Giuffre, Robin L.

262 Green Ave.

Belchertown, MA 01007

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Glace, Andrew J.

97 Van Meter Dr.

Amherst, MA 01002

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/23/12

 

Gonzalez, Margarita

310 Hillside Ave.

Holyoke, MA 01040

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Gurland, Jerome S.

235 State St., Apt. 10

Springfield, MA 01103

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/24/12

 

Hardy, Curtis S.

257 Alley Road

Rochester, MA 02770

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Healey, Jonathan D.

Healey, Laura Jean

a/k/a Weeks, Laura J.

9 Birchwood Road

Southwick, MA 01077

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Hickey, Francis H.

28 Daniel Shays Highway

Orange, MA 01364

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/24/12

 

Higgins, Christine J.

9 Highview Dr.

Plainville, MA 02762

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/30/12

 

Hunter, Charles B.

PO Box 1203

Warren, MA 01083

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Hunter, Melissa Rae

35 Wilson St.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Jutras, Florence E.

Jutras, John E.

P.O. Box 93

Turners Falls, MA 01376

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/30/12

 

Kellogg, John J.

Kellogg, Mechelle

50 South St.

Cheshire, MA 01225

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/30/12

 

Kolis, Sandra J.

9 Daniels Court

Adams, MA 01220

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Lafogg, Lisa

90 Royal St.

Agawam, MA 01001

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/24/12

 

Lariviere, Derek D.

12 Ashley St.

Chicope, MA 01020

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

LeBoeuf, Patricia Ann

34 Yankee Drummer Dr.

P.O. Box 903

Warren, MA 01083

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/17/12

 

LeTendre, Normand E.

88 Trafton Road

Springfield, MA 01108

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Lewis-Schurter, Michael A.

Lewis-Schurter, Megan

182 Pondview Dr.

Amherst, MA 01002

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Long, Karen D.

Hebron St. 2nd Fl.

Springfield, MA 01107

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

MacDonald, Donna M.

P.O. Box 444

North Adams, MA 01247

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/23/12

 

Mansfield, Cheryl D.

a/k/a Defoyd, Cheryl R.

a/k/a Davis, Cheryl R.

41 Lewis St.

Athol, MA 01331

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Marowski, James J.

Marowski, Elaine M.

23 Oakland St.

Palmer, MA 01069

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/23/12

 

Martin, Jesse P.

95 Stafford Road

Wales, MA 01081

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Medina, Sonia A.

a/k/a Forni, Sonia Angela

19A Piedmont St.

Springfield, MA 01104

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Mercer, Erica R.

43 Bridge St.

South Hadley, MA 01075

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Moody, Jacqueline C.

59 Druids Lane

West Springfield, MA 01089

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Morgan, Ronald L.

Greene-Morgan, Pattiann

88 Ely St.

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

O’Brien, Kelly L.

2205 Boston Road, D32

Wilbraham, MA 01095

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Orlandi, Gina M.

82 Bow St.

Plainfield, MA 01070

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/30/12

 

Pacheco, Miguel A.

4 Sunset Ave.

South Hadley, MA 01075

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Parziale, Liza Jenny

290 Regency Park Dr.

Agawam, MA 01001

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Pasini, Amy Kathleen

104 Belvidere St.

Springfield, MA 01108

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/23/12

 

Patton, Randall J.

Patton, Barbara M.

a/k/a Shannon-Patton, Barbara

45 Dobek Ave.

Chicopee, MA 01020

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Prentice, Gary A.

Prentice, Nancy A.

148 Hillside Road

Southwick, MA 01077

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Provost, Beverly A.

Danaher Circle

Springfield, MA 01118

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/31/12

 

Ramos, Antonio P.

369 Shoemaker Lane

Feeding Hills, MA 01030

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Saben, William J.

Saben, Jeannette M.

70 Mount Pleasant St.

Athol, MA 01331

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Sanders, Dreana Chevon

17 Brunswick St.

Springfield, MA 01108

Chapter: 13

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Sepanek, David

26 Meadow St., Apt. 4

Ludlow, MA 01056

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Sheridan, Kathleen M.

128 Hillcrest Ave.

WestSpringfield, MA 01089

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

Smith, Wendy Lee

a/k/a Gagnon, Wendy L.

121 North Main St.

Belchertown, MA 01007

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Sonsini, Jason A.

675 Cape St.

Lee, MA 01238

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/24/12

 

St. Martin, Chaya

39 Newell St.

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/24/12

 

Strattner, Gregory P.

Strattner, Diane L.

48 Marla Circle

Westfield, MA 01085

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Stuart, John W.

Stuart, Maxine E.

2 Alcove Road

Southwick, MA 01077

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/17/12

 

Taylor, Shannon P.

13 Mountainview Circle

Southampton, MA 01073

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Therrien, Matthew

440 Union St.

North Adams, MA 01247

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/22/12

 

Thompson, Leo D.

79 Eagle St.

Ware, MA 01082

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/18/12

 

Vasilchenko, Michael

6 Sibley Ave.

West Springfield, MA 01089

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

 

Vega-Mata, Yoana

52 Breckwood Blvd.

Springfield, MA 01109

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/26/12

 

Vincelette, Eric J.

Vincelette, Keri A

a/k/a Nelson, Keri A.

98 Plunkett St.

Lenox, MA 01240

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/19/12

 

Washington, Vickie D.

P.O. Box 335

Feeding Hills, MA 01030

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/25/12

 

West, George E.

4109 South Athol Road

Athol, MA 01331

Chapter: 7

Filing Date: 10/29/12

Features
An Already Intense Casino Battle Is Getting Even Hotter

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says he hasn’t changed his mind on casinos, but wants to protect Holyoke’s interests.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse spoke at the podium placed at the back of his office at City Hall for perhaps 15 minutes. But very few people heard anything that he had to say.

Whatever microphones there were at the podium for a raucous press conference on Nov. 26 did not carry his voice past the first few rows of people — most of them press representatives — gathered in front of him. And even those people couldn’t hear much due to the loud and incessant catcalls coming from the more than 100 city residents who couldn’t squeeze in to Morse’s office, but made sure the 24-year-old, first-term mayor knew they were there — and not happy with him.

Among the comments heard: “No casino” (that was a constant, heard throughout); “Morse lied to Holyoke”; “shame on you”; “this is wrong”; “sellout”; and even “get a real job.” There were also plenty of signs, including one that read, “Don’t Bet on Another Term.”

What Morse was attempting to explain — and there were plenty of copies of his remarks made available so people would know, even if they couldn’t hear — is that, at this moment, he is only considering a proposal forwarded by Holyoke resident and business owner Eric Suher to place a resort casino on land he now owns on Mount Tom and from which he operates a concert venue.

But even the fact that he is considering such a proposal sent shock waves through the region and took the hotly contested casino fight in this region to another dimension.

“Let me be absolutely clear,” said the mayor. “There is no agreement in place between a casino-development group and me. There have been no back-room deals. My intent today is to inform the people of Holyoke of my shift in strategy before any advanced discussions or negotiations take place, so that everyone in the city may voice their ideas, concerns, and suggestions.”

The press conference had long been scheduled for that date, the mayor told the press after his remarks, but it was made more necessary — and far more hostile — by the fact that information about Morse’s consideration of a Mount Tom casino were leaked to the Boston Globe days before. In fact, the newspaper already had a copy of Morse’s remarks long before anyone else.

The intriguing turn of events has sent Ward 7 residents of Holyoke scrambling for a new candidate to support, and added even more layers of speculation and intrigue to what was already an intense fight for the license to be granted for a Western Mass. casino, one that has become all-consuming and even entertaining.

Indeed, several days before Morse’s stunning “shift in strategy,” as he called it, representatives of the three companies trying to place a casino in Springfield — MGM, Ameristar, and Penn National — essentially took turns calling each other names in a rambling, gloves-are-off story in the Republican.

The casino officials basically tried to shoot holes in their opponents’ plans before the court of public opinion, casting aspersions on everything from traffic plans to the size of planned hotels. And this is months before anything is remotely close to being put on an election ballot.

But back to Holyoke. It’s certainly not unusual for a city official to say that he’s looking hard at a plan to bring a casino to his community. What is quite unusual is for such a pronouncement to come from someone so passionate in opposition to gaming that he wrote the following in a recent issue of Commonwealth magazine (in a point-counterpoint segment with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno):

“A casino does not create wealth; it transfers it. Regions benefit from casino gambling when people from outside the region come to spend money there. But there is no evidence that this would be the case at a Holyoke site. A casino in Holyoke would not be a destination gambling site, but a convenience gambling site. It would thus serve primarily to remove money from the local economy and put it in the hands of casino owners who do not live here. This is how casinos work — by design. Because of this, I do not believe a casino would be useful even as part of a holistic approach. We have the resources and the drive to create an economy that will benefit all, and for generations to come.”

On Nov. 26, and the day before in the Globe, Morse, who studied urban planning at Brown, essentially said he hasn’t exactly changed his mind on casinos, only his perception of the situation now facing not only his community, but the region as a whole.

“For me, in an ideal world, we would not have a casino in our boundaries. My views on casinos haven’t changed, and neither has my belief that a casino is unequivocally not  our saving grace,” he said in his prepared remarks. “The only thing that has changed is my weighing of that option with the alternative, which would be locating a box-style casino right at our doorstep. Map out driving directions on your favorite GPS: Springfield’s would be 15 minutes from [Holyoke] City Hall; one at Mountain Park would be 12. We share one metropolitan area, and I cannot assume that our city boundaries will provide us any protection from a casino down the road.

“I have thus come to the conclusion that in order to mitigate the effects of having a casino in Western Mass., it is not enough to oppose one in our boundaries. … The best way to control the outcome of this process, such that we reap the benefits and mitigate the downsides, is to ensure that we negotiate a host agreement that best addresses our concerns and our values, and then, once such an agreement is reached, put it before the voters. My overarching goals for Holyoke’s economic future remain the same; today’s announcement marks the deployment of a new strategy, given current realities, for achieving them.”

Read between the lines (or just the lines, really), and Morse seems to be saying that, if you can’t control what goes on with a Springfield or Palmer casino, you’d be better off having one built in your city, where you can exercise some control.

And with that, Morse possibly added not one, but two more casino proposals to the already-crowded mix in Western Mass. — the one he’s discussing with Suher, and another plan to place a facility at nearby Wyckoff Country Club, an initiative that was practically abandoned on Election Day 2011, when Morse triumphed over incumbent, and casino supporter, Elaine Pluta.

When pressed repeatedly by members of the media to explain to be what appears to be a huge flip-flop on the issue that most decided that mayoral race, Morse said, in essence, that it is anything but.

“I wasn’t elected to keep a casino out of the city of Holyoke,” he said. “I was elected to represent everyone in the city of Holyoke.”

Whether the voters ultimately agree with that sentiment remains to be seen, and what happens in Holyoke politically is only a part of the story.

The bigger picture is that the casino fight in this region may soon include three communities and six proposals — an intense competition that exists nowhere else in the state — and is certain to get even more intense in the weeks and months to come.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Education Sections
Kittredge Center Course Teaches Soft Skills That MBAs Overlook

Richard Steiner, CEO of MD Enterprises

Richard Steiner, CEO of MD Enterprises

It’s a familiar scenario in the workplace.

The venerated top sales professional gets his big break and lands the coveted manager position. But soon, something is wrong. The top seller has no idea how to manage people, and it’s affecting the entire office. He’s been doing his own thing for years, and it’s always worked, but now he’s got to deal with everyone else’s personalities and problems.

Meanwhile, the expectations from upper management are not only higher than in his previous position, but completely different. In some cases, add to that the jealousy factor in the office because someone feels they were overlooked for the job.

“This new situation has to be based on facts, not opinions, and in the workplace, emotions — like guns and knives — need to be left at the door,” said Richard Steiner, CEO of MD Enterprises and a freelance business trainer at Holyoke Community College (HCC). “It’s critical that you recalibrate the relationship to recognize that this is a ‘professional’ relationship.”

But knowing how to ‘recalibrate’ that professional relationship, from peer to manager, requires behavioral skills that may seem obvious, yet unfortunately don’t come naturally to some, and are completely foreign to others.

That’s where the American Management Assoc. comes in.

The AMA offers a certificate in Management program through the Kittredge Center at HCC. Steiner explained that the cost-effective courses are held either one day a week for two weeks, or one evening a week for five weeks.

Instead of the analytical and technical hard skills that MBAs focus on, this series of courses is all about dealing with people, time, and how both affect company profits.

“It’s a program of study that focuses on a practical way to learn the soft skills of management,” said Steiner, “the sorts of things you don’t pick up at an MBA course.”

Of the 14 courses, each of which costs $325, the subject matter covers “The ABCs of Management,” “Effective Team Building,” “Essentials of Supervision,” “Conducting Productive Performance Appraisals,” and “Effective Communication Skills,” to name a few. If an individual completes five of the 14 courses successfully, Steiner said, the AMA issues an internationally recognized management certificate through HCC.

Jim Phaneuf sees the value in such a program.

While nothing was broken from within, Phaneuf, president of Bell & Hudson Insurance Agency in Belchertown, knew that he could use some help in the area of time management. But not all company executives, or those on the fast track to the C-suite, think they need help.

“A lot of business people think they have things right where they want them to be,” said Phaneuf. “I’ve always had the feeling that, if we’re not improving all the time, someone else is.”

For several professional levels of management and front-line supervisors at Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG&E), the courses on communications, supervision, and management ‘ABCs’ were eye-openers, said Comptroller Brian Richards. He called the courses a ‘framework’ in which a mix of those with MBAs and those lacking any management training could put what they learn to real use.

“There are ideas that are not inherent, but once you are exposed to them, you may use them,” he explained. “But unless you have the framework to actually put those ideas to use, the actions are not always effective. These courses give you that type of framework to put ideas into action and practice.”

Brian Richards

Brian Richards says the courses are useful to both those with MBAs and those lacking any management training.

The beauty of the program, both Phaneuf and Steiner said, is that, no matter who takes one of the 14 courses — a professional on the management fast track or a business student — the vital soft skills can be used immediately as soon as they walk out the door.

Steiner’s said too few companies pay attention to the importance of people skills, “and they wind up losing a valuable employee and gaining an ineffective or even destructive manager.”

For this issue’s focus on education, BusinessWest sat down with Steiner and some of his former students, all professionals in the region, to learn about the unique AMA courses, and how their focus on soft skills often overlooked in MBA college programs can help not only office morale, but productivity ― and, ultimately, the bottom line.

 

Talk Is Cheap

While it’s hard for Steiner to pick which course is the most important overall, communication training is high on his list because it’s often overlooked in the workplace, or at least not identified as a major problem for companies.

Steiner said the course, “Effective Communication Skills,” is as important, and as basic, as it gets.

“If a manager is complaining about communication, he or she should look in the mirror,” he said. “Communications is a loop: message transmitted, received, and the receiver gives feedback. They either do what the instruction was, answer what the question was, or agree or disagree with a proposition and close that loop.

“As a transmitter,” he continued, “if you don’t get that feedback, ask for it.” But closing the loop all the way doesn’t happen often enough, and when communication is hampered, time is wasted and productivity goes down.

One of Steiner’s classic examples is what he calls the “stone story.” A manager asks an employee to go get him a stone. The employer goes out and brings back a stone, but the manager says, “I wanted a rounder stone.” The employee returns several times with more stones, none of which are the right kind because little to no direction or description was given. But, Steiner added, “the employee is also wasting time by not asking.”

While humorous, Steiner said everyone can identify with a similar situation in the past where they were the one searching fruitlessly for something — or the one, sadly, who was giving the weak instructions for what kind of ‘stone’ they wanted.

For Richards and the professionals from HG&E, the communication classes were well-received, due partly to what Richards calls Steiner’s ability to speak to everyone’s discipline. “He did a good job of a balancing act by not making it too boring for some and not too much for others,” he said. “For many, this was their first time being exposed to these types of ideas, and it was conducive for people who are in different jobs — engineering, accounting, etc. — working together, and those younger and older were able to share their experiences about how situations come up and how people handle them.”

While communication is high on Steiner’s list, he said “Essentials of Supervision” is another key course for someone on the management fast track, who learns what to expect in the transition and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Steiner teaches why first-line supervisors are important and the issues they have to deal with, like the balance between needing time to learn management skills and understanding what management is expecting of the group. Add to that the new, required workload that can’t be delegated to others, as well as the challenge of managing a group of different personalities.

One pitfall to avoid: reverse delegation. This is a scenario, Steiner said, in which an employee is given a task, then comes back and says he or she doesn’t know how to do it, so the new supervisor says, “OK, I’ll do it; let me find something else for you to do.”

The consistent act of reverse delegation trains the employee to know the manager will always finish the job, similar to a child learning that when a parent says ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean that at all.

With almost a wink, Steiner added, “in essence, management is very much like bringing up children.”

He also teaches the balance between being a micromanager and letting the staff freewheel through their day with no oversight whatsoever. In the “Managing and Resolving Conflict” course, students learn that those in charge who don’t want to deal with conflict professionally are going to see problems grow and fester beyond the area of the manager’s responsibility and up to the next level, which reflects badly on the manager and his or her obvious lack of skills.

At this point, one starts to see how the specifics of each session melts into other topics. A manager’s consistent avoidance can lead to employees who lose motivation or escalate to major conflicts that never get resolved — and that can affect every area of company business.

 

Planning Makes Perfect

Of all the AMA courses, Steiner said the one he really enjoys teaching is “Conducting Productive Performance Appraisals” because it is absolutely the most misunderstood area of management.

“Feedback should be a continuous process, both positive and negative,” he told BusinessWest. “The idea of performance appraisal is to improve performance and productivity all year long; it should not be a point where the boss unloads on the employee … it should be a summary.”

Steiner said the contents of an annual performance review should not be a surprise to anyone, and bad reviews are a classic sign of manager avoidance.

During the weekly meetings leading up to the review, one of Steiner’s rules is to never play the blame game. Start with determining how the process broke down, and use ‘I,’ not ‘you.’ His example of what not to say: “you’re always late; you never meet your deadlines.” Instead: “on this day, I observed that you were late,” or “I saw that you missed your deadline by a few days.”

Steiner said this makes the feedback more easily accepted because the situation, similar to the jealousy problem, should be unemotional and based on facts, not opinions.

Meanwhile, the “Managing Multiple Priorities” course discusses a trap that many new managers fall into: automatically putting a new job at the top of the priority list, which endangers the deadlines of everything else. It’s all about planning, said Steiner.

“We do a lot of meetings in our office,” Phaneuf noted, “and one of the courses helped us learn about planning agendas and making sure only the most important items are covered in meetings. And we now have a great understanding the cost of meetings … and the importance of not ‘meeting people to death,’ because when you add up what people are making per hour, meetings are expensive when nothing is accomplished.”

To sum up the program, Steiner argues that a good management foundation is necessary to have the most profitable bottom line. “Then success brings visibility and approval from peers outside the team, resulting in pride in a job well done and the motivation to do even more.”

From years of being a consultant and working in management-level positions, he also weaves into his teaching an affirmation he calls “Plan. Do. Learn.”

“Plan what you want to do. Do it. Analyze the lessons learned after to find if it worked or not and what you would do differently in the future,” he explained. “That way, you don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Richards said the courses provide a framework so that participants can look back later to see which ideas are most successful and determine how to do a better job moving forward.

Phaneuf added that the courses were helpful to him and his staff, not only for the basic, yet vital concepts, but because of the ability to literally go back to school.

“Sometimes it’s good to have an outside person give a second opinion,” he said, “because you’re just too close to it.”

He and Richards are among a growing group of managers who understand that going back to school at any age or level of professional management can only help the company as a whole, by getting the most out of its greatest asset — its employees.

 

Elizabeth Taras may be reached at [email protected]

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

 

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT

Ann Facchini v. Michael Smith Auto Repair a/k/a Autosmith

Allegation: Defendant breached a contract by installing a defective engine in the plaintiff’s vehicle: $3,000+

Filed: 10/31/12

 

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT

Catherine Kilgallen v. PNC Bank, N.A.

Allegation: Negligent maintenance of property causing slip and fall: $237,700.65

Filed: 11/7/12

 

John Aucoin v. First Light Power Resources Inc.

Allegation: Negligent operation and maintenance of facility to ensure safety of workers: $102,546.78

Filed: 9/14/12

 

GREENFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Commerce and Industry Insurance Co. v. Pioneer Supply Corp.

Allegation: Non-payment of services rendered: $11,521

Filed: 10/23/12

 

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Gladys Hatidani v. Amy N. Azza, 4U Direct Inc., d/b/a National Home Lending Center, Fieldstone Mortgage Co., and Paul Hatidani

Allegation: Plaintiff states that signature was forged on mortgage documents: $300,000

Filed: 10/23/12

 

Nery A. Bernal, d/b/a Bartlett Street Associates v. Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, by and through New England Excess Exchange, LTD and FSC Insurance Agency, Inc.

Allegation:  Breach of insurance contract: $237,055.85

Filed: 10/22/12

 

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT

Caryn Markson v. Northampton Cornucopia d/b/a Cornucopia Foods

Allegation: Negligent maintenance of property causing slip and fall: $35,063

Filed: 10/30/12

 

NORTHAMPTON DISTRICT COURT

City Tire Co. Inc. v. Brandon Kelley Trucking, LLC

Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $9,198.72

Filed: 10/19/12

 

PALMER DISTRICT COURT

Brent F. Massey and Kathryn E. Massey v. David Beach d/b/a D & D Remodeling

Allegation: Breach of home-remodeling contract: $35,000

Filed: 10/19/12

 

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT

Marion’s Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, & Heating Inc. v. Maurice Casey Inc.

Allegation: Balance owed for parts and services rendered: $17,186.51

Filed: 10/19/12

Opinion
Electronic Health Records Bring Change

Implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) is bringing a cultural change to daily medical practice operations in the Bay State. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 71.2% of Massachusetts office-based physician practices used some kind of EHR in 2011.

For practices that haven’t adopted EHR technology yet, the time is now. EHRs are important for enhancing patient care delivery and collaborating in accountable-care organizations (ACOs) or integrated care networks. In order to adopt EHRs effectively, practices should be aware of several points essential for success.

Evaluate Information Use and Flow: EHR implementation can disrupt a well-functioning system. Before adopting a new system, a practice should evaluate its own existing care system and consider the following questions: What systems are already in place? How is information recorded and exchanged? Who needs what kinds of information? Where do they use it? Once equipped with those answers, practices should be prepared to take the next step.

Find a Compatible EHR: Several key considerations must be made when choosing an EHR, including flexibility, user-friendliness, mobility, and transition support. Flexibility must account for customization of the system, mobility is necessary for sharing patient information throughout the care setting, and transition support ensures a smooth integration of the EHR into the practice’s workflow.

Institute Team-wide Acceptance: Most importantly, groups should ensure that the workplace dynamic is maintained throughout EHR implementation. Teamwork should not suffer at the hands of technological innovation. Therefore, it is paramount that the system sustains the work environment.

EHR use will benefit patients and practices alike. Streamlined data will allow for streamlined care. Not only can patient care be enhanced through EHRs, but practice-wide improvements in communication, productivity, and data utilization can occur as well.

For assistance with EHR implementation or general practice issues, contact the Mass. Medical Society’s Physician Practice Resource Center at (781) 434-7702 or [email protected] v

 

Leif Brierley writes about medical-practice issues for Vital Signs, a publication of the Mass. Medical Society. The MMS is the statewide professional association for physicians and medical students, representing more than 24,000 members statewide. The MMS is also a leader in continuing medical education for healthcare professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical-education programs for physicians and healthcare professionals.

Employment Sections
PeoplesBank Earns Accolades for Its Employee Culture

Janice Mazzallo

Janice Mazzallo says the internal culture change at PeoplesBank reaps benefits for both employees and customers.

When PeoplesBank was recently named an Employer of Choice by the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, Doug Bowen was pleased, but he’s quick to note that the honor was based on testimony from the bank’s leaders.

However, when the Boston Globe named the bank a Top Employer last month, that may have been even more gratifying, said Bowen, the institution’s president and CEO — because the honor was based solely on employee input.

According to Janice Mazzallo, senior vice president of Human Resources, “we did an employee engagement survey, a series of questions about the bank’s leadership, communication, benefits, and work-life balance. That feedback qualified us to get that award. That was a powerful and proud moment. This culture shift has taken a long time and a lot of energy, and this was another recognition that our people really do appreciate the environment here.”

The ‘culture shift’ she cited wasn’t accidental, she noted, but the end result of a plan set in motion almost a decade ago to improve the bank from the inside out.

“Our senior team got together for a strategic planning session,” Bowen recalled. “PeoplesBank was a good bank with a wonderful historical legacy, but we wanted to make it a great bank. And to be this great bank we aspired to be, we wanted to have a great culture.”

Much of the responsibility for crafting specific elements of that culture change, he noted, fell to Mazzallo after she joined the institution eight years ago. “She was the architect of our cultural activities and moves made here at the bank that have really blossomed into this wonderful environment we all get to enjoy every day.”

As Mazzallo explained to BusinessWest, “we began by communicating to employees what the strategic plan was and their role in support of that” — an effort that included the development of a training and leadership program to aid employees in implementing each piece.

That multi-faceted endeavor has helped bring about improvements in communication, expanded benefits, training and career-development programs empowering bank staffers to make more decisions on their own, and events like a weeklong festival honoring employees each year.

“The overarching goal was to attract and retain high-quality employees,” she said. “We felt that meant a couple of things. We wanted to bring in the best and brightest from outside into this organization, and we have, in fact, been able to do that — I think, in part, because the culture attracts people from other banks, and larger banks. As for the second piece, we knew we had very good employees, and we wanted to develop them internally so they could be promoted, so we wouldn’t have to go outside the bank.”

The third leg of that strategy has to do with benefits, Mazzallo explained, and a diverse package of voluntary benefits and perks ranging from an adoption benefit to a wellness group to chair massages. “These aren’t things you have to put in, but they’re additional pieces that make it much nicer to come to work.

“I’ve worked in places where, on Sunday night, I dreaded going in. Many of us have,” she added. “I don’t want to feel like that, and as the head of Human Resources, I don’t want anyone on my team feeling like that. Most people have to work to make a living. If you have to work, why not make it a great environment for everybody?”

 

High Performance

And satisfied employees have resulted in better bank performance, Bowen said.

“When you go into any store or anyplace else where the people are engaged and happy to be there, you get better service. That’s what we’re aiming for, and that’s what we’ve achieved at the bank.

“We have a high-performance culture, and part of that, certainly, is that we’re a high-performance bank financially,” he added. “We’ve been able to maintain this high-performance culture, and at the same time we’re a top-quartile bank in terms of financial measurements.

“All of that is wrapped together,” he continued. “If you have a great culture, you get great employee engagement. That’s reflected in our community service, too; our employees serve on the boards of 115 nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley.” PeoplesBank has also been honored by the Boston Business Journal for the amount of volunteer time and money its employees donate to charity.

As part of its renewed emphasis on culture, the bank has taken on a cause of its own, so to speak, in environmental sustainability. That’s manifested in two branches recently certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for their ‘green’ construction elements; a third LEED branch is currently being built in Northampton.

It’s also reflected in touches like electric car charging stations at the bank’s Holyoke headquarters; $60 million in investments in wind, solar, and hydroelectric projects; and an annual environmental fair where bank workers can learn about what they can do to support sustainability — efforts that, as a whole, contribute to the feeling that employees are part of something important, and bigger than themselves.

“One of our values is environmental sustainability, and that’s shared by employees; it’s part of the whole culture here,” Bowen said.

Added Mazzallo, “we feel it’s the right thing to do. We live in a really beautiful area, with some unbelievable natural resources; we’re very fortunate. And when we bring new people into the bank, there’s a level of expectation, a commitment to the environment and to the community; those things are important. So it’s no longer just about coming into work. Our people really want to make those connections.”

As for what lies ahead, Mazzallo said PeoplesBank does not intend to rest on its laurels, instituting the noted Ritz-Carlton training program next year to ensure that employees offer “legendary service, that goes above and beyond the norm. That involves empowering employees to make decisions to benefit the customer. It might be as simple as giving flowers to a customer that just welcomed a grandchild. It’s the small things that often make the difference.”

Bowen said the bank’s status as a mutual organization allows it to make employee-and community-centered decisions without worrying about reporting to shareholders. But he also believes the bank’s financial performance justifies a belief that happy employees lead to satisfied customers.

“When employers put employees first,” Mazzallo said, “when they treat their people well, and when employees feel respected, that is going to show in the kind of service they provide to the outside world.”

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook Departments

Square One Impacted by Gas Explosion

SPRINGFIELD — After the June 1, 2011 tornado wiped out their childcare and administrative offices in the south end of Springfield, Square One, a nonprofit childcare organization with facilities in Springfield and Holyoke, is now starting from square one again since the Nov. 23 late-afternoon gas explosion on Worthington Street severely affected the childcare space that the organization leased. Luckily, no one was in the space due to the holiday, but if it had been a typical Friday, about 100 children and 30 staff members would have been at risk. The site at 155 Chestnut St. is now condemned, forcing Square One officials to quickly find alternate childcare locations for 55 of the 100 children that were enrolled at that location and cannot be placed in Square One programs due to space. Since the explosion, Square One officials have been reaching out to all other providers in the community to identify what programming spaces for various age groups are available, and to walk parents through the relocation process. “We have people coming in every morning saying, ‘I have to go to work,’ ‘I have to go to school,’ ‘I need childcare now,’ and they do,” said Kim Lee, vice president of advancement. Other area nonprofits, including the YMCA on Chestnut Street, have offered some temporary space to Square One. “Our mission right now is to serve the children and their parents,” Lee said, “and if it means helping those families to find quality programming in another provider’s program, then that’s what we have to do.” The company still owns 947 Main Street, which was hit by the tornado, but it will have to be demolished and rebuilt. Lee said Square One is looking for temporary space near that original South End location, but nobody wants to sell or rent to them because everybody is holding out for the possibility of an MGM casino. “But if we do finally relocate there and the casino comes, we’ll be right I the middle of it all.” Childcare officials will continue to discuss short-term options and long-term opportunities.

 

Greenfield Big Y Completes Upgrades

SPRINGFIELD — As the last of many major remodeling efforts this past year, Big Y Foods Inc. announced the completion of the renovation of its Greenfield Big Y World Class Market at 237 Mohawk Trail, Route 2. Big Y has been a part of the Greenfield community since it opened its first store in 1987. In 2002, the company moved across the street to its current location. This past effort began in March and includes upgrades in every department, including new equipment and fixtures, new paint inside and out, as well as a new floor. All of the store’s fresh-foods departments had the most significant changes, including meals to go, delicatessen, seafood, bakery, produce, floral, and meat. There are also new gluten-free products as well as many more Latino offerings and additional locally produced wine and beers within the market. Lastly, the store has added some new, smaller-sized grocery carts for quick shopping trips. Ed Williams, store director in Greenfield, has 32 years of supermarket experience with Big Y. During his early years in the supermarket business, he worked in various department positions throughout the store. In 1989, Williams became a store director, managing stores in Northampton, Palmer, Greenfield, Chicopee, Southwick, Southampton, Springfield, and South Hadley. He moved back to this location last January. As part of the grand reopening celebration, Newton School, Math & Science Academy, Poet Seat Therapeutic Day Program, Greenfield Middle School, Greenfield High School, Discovery School at Four Corners, Academy of Early Learning, Federal Street School, 8th Grade Academy, Greenfield Center School, Eagle Mountain School, Cornerstone Christian School, and Stoneleigh Burnham School will each receive a donation of 500,000 Education Express Points toward free equipment and supplies for their schools. Big Y’s Education Express program has helped more than 2,000 local schools earn more than $13 million in free educational, sports, and electronic equipment since its inception.

 

Insurance Center Partners with Link to Libraries

AGAWAM — The Insurance Center of New England has become the latest area company to partner with the nonprofit group Link to Libraries in its Business Book Link Project. ICNE is sponsoring the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School. Link to Libraries, in collaboration with the Insurance Center, will donate 200 new books each year for a three-year period as part of the Business Book Link Project, which has the twin goals of stocking school library shelves and getting students excited about reading. For more information on Link to Libraries, call (413) 224 1031 or visit www.linktolibraries.org.

Chamber Corners Departments

ACCGS

www.myonlinechamber.com

(413) 787-1555

• Dec. 5: December [email protected], 7:30-9 a.m., at the Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield. The monthly [email protected] series pays tribute to individuals, businesses, and organizations for major contributions to civic and economic growth and for actions that reflect honor on the region. To make reservations, visit www.myonlinechamber.com, e-mail Cecile Larose at [email protected], or fax a reservation to 755-1322.

 

Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce

www.amherstarea.com

413-253-0700

• Dec. 19: After Five/Holiday Party, hosted by PeoplesBank, 56 Amity St., Amherst. Cost: $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

 

Chicopee Chamber of Commerce

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

• Dec. 6: Holiday Open House, 4:30-6:30 p.m., at the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, 264 Exchange St., Chicopee. Free admission for all chamber members. RSVP to [email protected]

• Dec. 19: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Cost: $20 for members, $26 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org.

 

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce

www.franklincc.org

(413) 773-5463

• Dec. 21: Annual Holiday Breakfast,  7:30-9 a.m., Deerfield Academy. The Citizen of the Year Award will be presented. Sponsored by the Recorder. Gifts for all, music by Gary Maynard and Friends. Cost: $24 for members, $25 for non-members.

 

Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

• Dec. 13: Holiday Dinner Dance, 6-11 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, Holyoke. An evening of friends and holiday spirit including the big raffle with a $5,000 drawing, butler-style hors d’ouevres, multi-station entrees, Viennese dessert table, cash martini and full-service bar. Music provided by Michael J. Productions. Cost: $50 per person inclusive; group reservations available.

 

Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce

www.holycham.com

(413) 534-3376

• Dec. 12: Holiday Business Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by the Delaney House, Holyoke. Sponsored by Holyoke Gas & Electric and Health New England. Enjoy a hearty breakfast buffet while listening to the Holyoke High School Madrigal Choir fill the air with holiday spirit. Door prizes. Hat and glove drive; bring warm hats and gloves for homeless and needy men, women, and children. Tables reserved for groups of eight people. Call the Chamber at (413) 534-3376 to register or sign up online at holyokechamber.com.

• Dec. 19: Holiday Chamber After Hours, sponsored and hosted by the Delaney House. In addition to door prizes and a 50/50 raffle, the business networking event will also include a lottery ticket tree raffle. Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for non-members.

 

Northampton Area Young Professional Society

www.thenayp.com

(413) 584-1900

• Dec. 13: December Social, 5 p.m., hosted by Thornes Marketplace, 2nd Floor, 150 Main St., Northampton. Featured nonprofit: Highland Valley Elder Services Inc.

 

Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce

www.explorenorthampton.com

(413) 584-1900

• Dec. 5: Northampton Chamber Monthly [email protected], 5-7 p.m., hosted by Don Muller Gallery, 40 Main St., Northampton. Sponsored by Florence Savings Bank. Arrive when you can, stay as long as you can. A casual mix and mingle with colleagues and friends.

• Dec. 18: December Meet & Eat, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by the Delaney House, Holyoke. Sponsored by Easthampton Savings Bank. Learn from your colleagues at breakfast with the chamber. Cost: $15 for members. For more information, contact Jenna at the Chamber, (413) 584-1900, or e-mail [email protected]

 

West of the River Chamber of Commerce

www.ourwrc.com

(413) 426-3880

• Dec. 5: Wicked Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Squires Bistro at Coopers Commons, 159 Main St., Agawam. Cost: free for members, $10 for non-members. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events, hosted by various businesses and restaurants, which bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

 

Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

www.westfieldbiz.org

(413) 568-1618

• Dec. 14: Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce Holiday Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Tuckers Restaurant, 625 College Highway, Southwick. Sponsors: Westfield Bank, Gold Sponsor; First Niagara Bank, Silver Sponsor; Met Life, Bronze Sponsor. Guest speaker: Alan Popp, CEO of Colony Care. Performance by Westfield High School Show Choir. Cost: $25 for members, $30 cash for non-members. Donations of non-perishable food items or money are being accepted for the Westfield Food Pantry. For more information, call Pam at the chamber office at (413) 568-1618, or e-mail [email protected]

 

Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield

www.springfieldyps.com

• Dec. 20: Third Thursday, 5-8 p.m., at the Barney Estate at Forest Park. Event includes a complementary drive through Bright Nights, and is sponsored by the spirit of Springfield and Elegant Affairs. For more details, visit www.springfieldyps.com.

Health Care Sections
Baystate’s New ED Is Focused on the Patient Experience

Ann Maynard

Ann Maynard says the new emergency department at Baystate Medical Center was designed with the patient experience in mind.

Ann Maynard acknowledged that visitors to Baystate Medical Center’s new, 73,000-square-foot emergency department will likely spend less time there, on average, than they would in the 17,000-square-foot facility it is replacing.

But getting patients seen, treated, and back out the door in good order is not the overriding mission of the new ED — although that’s certainly a big part of it, said Maynard, a registered nurse and director of Emergency Services for Baystate.

Instead, overall patient satisfaction is the guiding principal behind every facet of the new facility — from the colors on the walls to the sheltered ambulance bays; from the private rooms (each with their own sink and supplies) that replace bays with sliding curtains in the old ED, to a more comprehensive triage system.

“We’ve focused on comfort and privacy as much as expediency,” said Maynard, stressing repeatedly that so-called wait times will be improved. “This is not about time, but what’s happening while you’re waiting. Now, you’ll be in a private room with your family, and not in a hallway where people have to move your stretcher to get to a sink.”

Maynard made these observations and many others as she gave BusinessWest a tour of the expansive, $45 million ED, which officially opened its doors on Dec. 3.

Part of what was known before it was built as the Hospital of the Future, the ED was christened at an elaborate grand opening on Nov. 30 that was attended by more than 200 people and featured comments from Maynard; Baystate President and CEO Mark Tolosky; Richard Steele, chairman of the Baystate board of directors; and Niels Rathlev, chairman of Emergency Medicine for the system.

Among the many common threads among those speeches were the phrase ‘state of the art,’ the clear need for such a facility within the community, and the fact that the new ED came about through exhaustive research and the feedback of not only who will work in this unit, but those who will be treated there.

This point was stressed repeatedly by Maynard as she took BusinessWest through the new ED’s six ‘pods,’ waiting rooms, and other facilities a few days before the unit opened its doors.

“When we started this project, there were some guiding principles,” she said. “When we made decisions, we made them looking through the patient’s eyes and the staff’s eyes. And we always went back to patient safety — with each decision we made, we started with, ‘how will this affect our patients?’”

And this philosophy helps explain everything from the tiny, low-to-the-ground toilets that sit beside standard units in the pediatric pod, to the laptops in the children’s waiting room, to an expedited registration process.

For this issue and its focus on healthcare, BusinessWest takes readers on their own tour of the facility, in a figurative sense, and explains the many thought processes behind its design and operating model.

Space Exploration

The pediatric pod at the new ED

The pediatric pod at the new ED has its own entrance, triage area, look, and feel.

Maynard said the new ED was originally scheduled to be a big part of phase 2 of the Hospital of the Future, but was eventually moved into what she called the “fast lane” because of the basic inadequacy of the facility it has replaced.

The now-former ER, last updated in 1985, was originally designed to treat roughly 60,000 patients a year. In recent years, however, it was administering services to roughly twice that volume, and with obvious negative impact on overall patient experience.

“Just that constraint alone needed to be fixed,” she said, referring to the ED’s footprint. “We were really limited by the space we were in.”

The new ED is not merely almost four times larger than the old one in terms of square footage, said Maynard, noting that, in addition to more room — 94 private rooms compared to 48 bays — it has a design and individual components chosen to both create efficiencies and improve the overall experience for patients and family members.

And as she talked about how it all came together, Maynard said those designing and building the new ER took the simple yet effective approach of putting themselves in the shoes of both the ED staff member and the patient, whether that individual was 4 or 94.

“We’ve had family-advisory groups that we’ve met with and had discussions with about their visit with us and their perception of the experience,” said Maynard, adding that those perceptions, perhaps as much or even more than the actual care administered, played into how the new facility was designed. “People think things like, ‘does anyone know I’m here?’ and ‘does anyone care that I’m here?’

“We save lives every day in this emergency department,” she continued. “And those people send us thank-you notes. It’s the patients who wait for five or six hours that became frustrated because of the  process that we had in place.”

The new ED was designed, in essence, to make such questions, and such frustrations, relics of the past, she said, adding that she was part of a large team that visited other emergency departments, conducted extensive research, and asked myriad questions of patients and staff to design a facility that will serve the system and the region for decades to come.

That team included ED staff and leadership, the architect firm hired to design the facility (Boston-based Steffian Bradley, which also designed the MassMutual Wing, another part of phase 1), and others within the system. This group visited other ERs of comparative size to Baystate, which is the second-largest facility in the state.

Those visits, and the answers to the questions put to staff, patients, and family, helped inspire a design and operating system that Maynard believes will address those issues of comfort, privacy, and expediency.

 

The Lights Fantastic

The feedback Maynard described has led to what she considers some vast improvements over the old emergency facilities.

And perhaps the most visible example is the pediatric pod, with its Disney-inspired characters on the walls in the waiting area, bright colors, counters shaped like lilypads, and even a strobe-light effect in the imaging room, designed to take the patient’s mind off what they’re going through.

Such features, in addition to the dedicated entrance, waiting room, and triage area, make sense on a number of levels, said Maynard, adding quickly that young children are not adults, nor should be treated like them — or near them — in the emergency department.

“Children should not have to compete for the adult resources or with the adult resources,” she explained. “Meanwhile, parents don’t want want to have their children exposed to what we see in the adult pods.”

The children’s waiting area has a reading area and computers, and each private room in that pod has a television set, she continued, adding that all of these features are designed to help make what is usually a traumatic experience for young people less so.

In their own way, each of the other pods — designated by letters and designed for various levels of emergencies — embodies that basic philosophy of the children’s unit, meaning a patient-focused approach.

The private rooms are good examples, she said, adding that, in addition to a sink — there were only 14 sinks total in the old ER — each one has its own supplies, chairs for family members, and adequate privacy. What’s more, staff members in each pod face these private rooms, where in the old ED, they had their backs essentially turned to patients.

“If you’re a patient and you’re on one of these stretchers, I [the attending nurse] have a computer I can do my documentation with, a monitor … all the supplies and equipment I need to take care of the patient are right here in this room,” she said while taking BusinessWest into one of the units in Pod B. “This makes things much more efficient when it comes to time — I no longer have to leave the room to get anything; it’s already here.”

The supply carts in each room, she went on, are stocked to handle the needs of four or five patients, which is about how many times a room will be turned over each day, saving more time for those attending to patients.

And these are just some of the elements that should enable the new ER to create quicker, as well as better, stays for the patients, said Maynard, adding that several measures and design features will likely improve wait times.

“From the minute the patient walks in the door, the focus is on how we get the patient to the doctor to start the treatment as quickly and safely as possible,” she said, adding that this process starts with triage, or, to be more specific, streamlining that process.

At Baystate’s new ED, triage and registration (known as ‘quick reg’) are essentially combined, with a nurse handling both duties, said Maynard, adding that treatment essentially begins at the point of triage.

Meanwhile, nurses can also handle protocol orders — blood draws, urine samples, and other matters — so that, by the time a patient sees a doctor, results from those tests are back.

As she talked about the improved triage system, she referenced something known as the emergency services index (ESI), which rates patients’ situations on a scale of 1 to 5.

That highest number might be assigned to someone with a minor rash, she explained, while a 1 would be an individual “with the potential of dying,” a patient with severe trauma, for example, or one going into cardiac arrest.

The pods in the adult portion of the new ED are arranged to treat people at various spots on the ESI spectrum, she explained, adding that, in the old ER, there was far less segregation, and therefore less efficiency.

 

To the Future

Maynard told BusinessWest that the new ED will not magically reduce the waits in the ER from four or five hours down to one or two.

It will still take time to properly and safely administer care, she stressed repeatedly, and the new facilities were designed to create a better, more efficient, more patient-friendly environment in which that can happen.

All this is certainly worth celebrating, and that’s exactly what the Baystate community did on Nov. 30.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

DBA Certificates Departments

The following Business Certificates and Trade Names were issued or renewed during the month of December 2012.

 

AGAWAM

 

ATD Precision

261 Garden St.

Edward Dean

 

Partners in Prosperity

7 Forest Hill Dr.

Michael Margiotta

 

Professional Search

156 Suffield St.

Michael L. Gates

 

Ravishing Photography

168 Elm St.

Kimberly Deprey

 

AMHERST

 

Etinde Painting

730 West St.

Dieudonne Etinde

 

Equinox Video

893 West St.

Leslie Mason

 

CHICOPEE

 

Ashley’s Fashions

203 Exchange St.

Victor Davila

 

Herbarium

264 Exchange St.

Kathleen Duffy

 

I-Reversible Fashion Collection

35 North Chicopee St.

Jaswinder S. Khurana

 

Interstate Towing Inc.

1660 Westover Road

Jeremy J. Procon

 

Jewelry by Kat

75 Sheridan St.

Karen Tillman

 

Reinke Enterprises

21 Reed Ave.

Scott A. Rooney

 

EAST LONGMEADOW

 

Black Hat Home Services

29 Pleasant St.

Brian W. Ford II

 

C Mart

668 North Main St.

Abid Akhtar

 

David J. Lieber

112 Hampden Road

David J. Lieber

 

Powder Clean Fitness Inc.

167 Shaker Road

Michael Zolkiewicz

 

GREENFIELD

 

Consumer Auto Parts

63 French King Hwy.

Uni-Select USA Inc.

 

Mohawk Commercial Cleaning

75 Wells St.

Judith A. Weller

 

Nura Mart

142 Mohawk Trail

Masood Ghani

 

SPD Tool, LLC

88 Lovers Lane

Scott F. Conti

 

Val Messer Photography

757 Bernardston Road

Valdirene Messer

 

HOLYOKE

 

Hickory Farms

50 Holyoke St.

James V. O’Neill

 

Paper City Fitness

4 Open Square Way

Katherine O’Donnell

 

Pearl of Light Wellness Center

49 Cherry St.

Rita Fishburn-Gibbs

 

Route 5 Motors

280 Ingleside St.

Steven Vlohiotis

 

Sweet Boutiques & Candy Shop

254 Maple St.

Jennifer Rodriguez

 

LUDLOW

 

The Gomes Agency

364 East St.

Miguel Gomes

 

The Shop Unique Techniques

409 East West St.

Geoffrey Jerome

 

PALMER

 

Belmont Driving School

1409 Main St.

Michael O’Rourke

 

J. E.M. Services

58 Quaboag Valley Co-Op St.

Jerry E. Mange Jr.

 

Ken’s Auto Repair

1316 South Main St.

Kenneth P. Dubord

 

SPRINGFIELD

 

La Dolche Candy Station

89 Randolph St.

Tracey D. Gary

 

Longonot Transportation

49 Bissell Ave.

Isaac Teresia

 

Margie’s Wedding Shop

659 South Branch Pkwy.

Margaree C. Robinson

 

Nguyen Roofing

88 Commonwealth Ave.

Darren V. Nguyen

 

O’Brien Construction

354 White St.

Kevin O’Brien

 

People Resources

36 Sylvan St.

Bryant Irby

 

Project Legacy USA, LLC

686 Plumtree Road

Christopher Michael

 

Punta Cana Restaurant

137 Chestnut St.

Maria Portorreal

 

Rafa Transportation, LLC

118 Gilbert Ave.

Rafael B. Mkanga

 

Rijo Enterprises

1072 State St.

Jose M. Rijo

 

Sandy’s

176 Main St.

Sandra Callirgos

 

Sensational Solutions

45 Bacon Road

Margo Jergensen

 

Slaughter Estates

45 Bloomfield St.

Seneca Slaughter

 

Sowers of Truthful Inspiration

38 Freeman Ter.

Kevin A. Green

 

T-Mobile Northeast, LLC

615 Belmont Ave.

Harvey Woodford

 

Team Northeast

93 Duryea St.

Wicked Cool

 

Tidy Up Cleaning Services

178 Main St.

Sarah P. Levesque

 

V Nails & Spa, LLC

368 Cooley St.

Vy Lefebvre

 

Wraps-N-Wings

1365 Main St.

Garfield S. Weston

 

Zas Enterprise Inc.

910 State St.

Mohammed Z. Islam

 

Saisha Inc.

649 Main St.

Shahid R. Ghuman

 

WESTFIELD

 

Extreme Consulting Inc.

9 Colony Crest

Paul P. Tobias

 

North American Restoration

40 Franklin St.

Harland C. Avezzie

 

U30 Cat & Small Dog Wellness Center

69 Southwick Road

William J. Faircloth

 

WEST SPRINGFIELD

 

Dustworthy Cleaning Service

869 Dewey St.

Kyle A. Pratson

 

Fastsigns, Inc.

777 Riverdale St.

Multi Signs Inc.

 

Hathorn Associates

42 Old Barn Road

Joyce A. Bannick

Education Sections
WNEU’s Mini Law School Program Helps Small Businesses Avoid Pitfalls

Eric Gouvin

Eric Gouvin said the Mini Law School program is meant to provide area business owners with a working understanding of many aspects of the law.

It’s called ‘Mini Law School.’

And while that name doesn’t exactly say it all, it says more than enough.

It aptly describes a program created by Western New England University Law School to provide area business owners with a working understanding of many aspects of the law.

And by ‘working,’ Eric Gouvin, professor of Law and director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at WNEU, meant basic knowledge of the legal system and many aspects of the law — enough to help business owners hopefully stay out of trouble, especially with the many complex aspects of employment law, and also to help them decide when it is appropriate to invest in legal assistance.

“Sometimes, people in business are very cost-conscious; they’re a little reluctant to call an attorney,” said Gouvin. “So one of the things we hope this series does is give people a sense of when making that call is probably money well-spent, because it can add up.”

Patterned after a decade-old initiative created by Baystate Health called Mini Medical School, which provides the general public with a very basic understanding of the human body, the WNEU program consists of seven two-hour sessions (presented free of charge) spread over two semesters. Those sessions feature panels of area legal experts who not only present information, but also engage participants in discussion on the points addressed.

Gouvin told BusinessWest that the program brings a legal focus to a series of informational sessions being offered by the school called “The 1, 2, 3s of Financial Literacy,” with classes focused on subjects ranging from accounting to marketing to banking relationships.

Trinda Nehmer, a freelance designer of children’s apparel, textiles, and fabric designs for more than 30 years, was one of the recent attendees of Mini Law School. She took in the October session, primarily because of its title — “Current Tax Issues Facing Small Businesses and How to Handle an Audit” — and some issues she was facing.

She’d heard about the series from a friend, and having received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service a few years ago that had her questioning her next moves tax-wise, she knew she needed to be more “up” on areas that could become problems for her business.

“It turned out not to be an issue, but at the time I wasn’t sure if I should get legal advice or at least listen to how other small businesses would handle such a matter,” said Nehmer of her motivation for attending the session.  “Because I get a 1099 at the end of the year, not a W-2, I feel I have to keep myself educated in all areas.

“I really enjoyed listening to Paul Mancinone [of Paul L. Mancinone Co., P.C.] because he was to the point and extremely helpful,” she continued. “He explained very simply all the new tax laws, and he was very thorough. Over the years, I found I had to go back and get up to speed on some of these tax issues because I’d been getting a little lax in the tax area; this was a great way to educate myself.”

From hiring to firing and everything in between, there’s an important legal dimension to all aspects of running any size business. For this issue’s focus on education, BusinessWest takes a closer look at WNEU’s free Mini Law School program and how it can make a vast difference in the busy day-to-day life of a small business owner.

 

Cutting Through the Clutter

The stated mission of Mini Law School is to give small-business participants enough understanding of the law that they don’t make some common mistakes that can land business owners in court and cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.

Having offered the ‘small-business clinic,’ as it’s known in-house, for 10 years, and serving more than 250 business owners, Gouvin and his team understood the needs and concerns of the business community, and clearly saw both a need for a program specifically focused on legal issues and an opportunity to meet it.

The next matter at hand was determining a curriculum, he continued, adding that current events and prevailing issues within the broad spectrum of business law would essentially set the tone.

“There are a million things that we could be talking about in law,” said Gouvin. “But we’ve been working with small businesses long enough to see recurring patterns and things that crop up over and over again, and we identified our focus areas for these sessions based on that need.

“They almost always have problems with choices of entity, intellectual property, problems with employees,” he continued, “and the sad fact of life is that some of these businesses will fail.”

Thus, the April session of Mini Law School was devoted to bankruptcy issues, a depressing but necessary topic for discussion.

“Good planning would require that you at least think about it,” Gouvin said of bankruptcy relief, “because things that you do early on might affect how painful the process is or how productive it is.”

He added that, while he and his team know what areas are most relevant to small businesses, matters such as securities law, anti-trust law, mergers and acquisitions, and issues that pertain more to much larger companies might be touched upon during some of the sessions, but will not be a hard focus of the Mini Law School.

One thing that all businesses must be concerned with, regardless of size, is employment law, and as a result, the November session was devoted to many aspects of that broad speciality, and was, as expected, very well-attended.

The program focused on many timely issues, especially the often-complicated matter of classifying workers as employees or independent contractors, a question that has caused headaches for many employers.

“A lot of people think they know, but in Massachusetts it’s very hard to be an independent contractor,” said Gouvin. “That’s a sad fact, or an awakening moment for many owners when they think they can just give someone a 1099 and hope that nobody challenges them, because if they are challenged, under Massachusetts state law, they’ll owe back all that withholding they haven’t done, and all the interest and penalties — and it typically unfolds in a very unpleasant scenario.”

Gouvin added another, intriguing layer to the discussion by offering the example of a perceived independent contractor being in an accident and seriously injuring another person. That injured party will probably find out the connection to the business owner and then seek damages from the employer, he explained, adding that, at that point, it doesn’t matter what the business owner wants to call the worker; in the eyes of the law, if the worker really is an employee, not an independent contractor, serious problems will ensue.

 

Not Lost in Translation

Gouvin said the overriding goal of the program is not to throw information at participants, but to have them understand it and use to run their businesses more efficiently and in a manner that will keep them out of the courts.

“To go it alone, without having someone looking over a business owner’s shoulder, can be a very scary situation,” he said, adding that legal matters are often complex. And Mini Law School Law school was created to give business owners power through knowledge.

And that’s why the experts providing information and initiating discussions are instructed to do so using simple, straightforward language that participants can comprehend, which is one of the keys to avoiding legal problems.

Gouvin added that some of the participants are law-school students, who can benefit from hearing experienced legal professionals giving this type of talk.

“It’s different from the way they are used to hearing a law professor talk,” he noted. “But it’s a skill that any good lawyer should develop: the ability to translate legalese into English in a way that they can really communicate and connect with their future clients.”

Response to the simplicity and direct nature of the Mini Law School has been one of gratitude and a literal wipe across the forehead for some.

“People are always expressing thanks that they got so much information delivered in a way that is no fooling around,” said Gouvin. “The information is not legalese, but in a list form — ‘you need to know this, this, and this’ — and if you’re someone just trying to focus on running a business, the legal things are just a pain in the neck.”

With 32 participants for the November session on employment law, up from the 20 attendees at the October tax-issues session and the handful in attendance for the September class on risk management and legal entities, Gouvin told BusinessWest that the series does appear to be growing.

“The trend is that we are building an audience, and while we’d be very happy with 25 to 30, we can handle up to 60.”

Organizers also found that the timing in the spring, on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m., was not conducive to busy business owners, so the time has been adjusted this year to the same day but later by an hour, from 5 to 7 p.m.

 

Justice Served

Gouvin said the plan moving forward is likely to involve rotating Mini Law School with the financial-literacy program on an annual basis. Such a schedule would give participants needed updates on legal matters, which they could then follow-up with a curriculum he described as “self-education.”

But he’s already seen enough to convince him that this program is needed, worthwhile, and certainly capable of meeting its primary mission — to help business owners avoid trouble, rather than rely on legal help after they get into trouble.

 

Elizabeth Taras may be reached at [email protected]

Features Getting Down to Business
An Energized State Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Focuses on the Big Picture

Debra Boronski (center) with two Massachusetts Chamber employees, Heidi Brodeur (left), director of membership services, and Noelle Myers, events and communications manager.

Debra Boronski (center) with two Massachusetts Chamber employees, Heidi Brodeur (left), director of membership services, and Noelle Myers, events and communications manager.

Debra Boronski has achieved a number of goals since establishing the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce five years ago. Starting with the right to call it that.

“We started as the Massachusetts Chamber of Business and Industry because the name ‘Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce’ was taken,” Boronski said, explaining that an individual registered the moniker in 1989 but never did anything with it. “It took me three years to find him, and once I did, I had to get a letter of consent, and we worked it out.”

Even under its original name, however, Boronski felt her nascent organization filled a badly needed niche in the Bay State.

“There are 43 state chambers in the United States; I founded the 43rd,” she told BusinessWest, explaining how she broke away in 2007 from two decades of work with the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (ACCGS) and, before that, the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, to lead this new endeavor.

“After having spent 20-something years in local and regional chambers, I really felt that what I could do as a business professional in these arenas was done. I was strongly encouraged by many associates, and I got a great deal of support from other professionals in the chambers and other organizations, to start a Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.”

Five years later — the organization celebrated that anniversary on Oct. 9 — the Massachusetts Chamber counts about 700 members in its ranks, and Boronsky has a much different job than she used to.

“A state chamber of commerce really focuses its primary efforts on advocacy,” she said. “We aren’t like your local or regional chamber; we don’t do networking events or after-5s, and we don’t get involved in local government and local ordinances. We believe a local chamber is meant to do that, and they do it well.

“But local chambers,” she continued, “have a hard time paying attention to all the laws and regulations being discussed in Boston, and I can say that from experience running the Chicopee Chamber for 10 years and doing work for the Affiliated Chambers for 11 years. They have their hands full with their day-to-day business.”

The role of a state chamber, she explained, is threefold: information, education, and advocacy. “I am a registered lobbyist, and we also employ a lobbying firm in Boston. We are always in the know and informed as to what’s going on today and what’s being planned for tomorrow.”

For this installment of Getting Down to Business, Boronski talks about some of those issues, and the way her organization has expanded, not just in membership, but in scope.

 

Taking a Stand

Her role begins, however, with advocacy in Boston — a task she believes is critical for member businesses to succeed.

For example, in March, the state Division of Insurance staged a hearing to discuss increasing workers’ compensation rates by almost 20%. “We were the only chamber of commerce there; I was the only CEO at that hearing, testifying against that increase and providing testimony to Division of Insurance representatives about what harm it would do to businesses, small businesses in particular,” Boronski said. “And they did not raise it. I think we made a difference.”

She also pointed to an economic-development bill signed into law in August 2010 that includes two provisions for which the Massachusetts Chamber pushed hard. One raises the cap on small-claims court actions from $2,000 to $7,000, allowing businesses to pursue collection of bigger debts without incurring huge legal expenses, while the other changes the language in procurement rules to ensure that Massachusetts companies are given preference on state contracts. “That’s another great example of the value of a state chamber.”

In addition, Boronski noted, “two and a half years ago, when gaming was being discussed initially, we were the first business organization to submit testimony in support of gaming in Massachusetts. I think that speaks volumes about the value of a state organization being able to look at the big picture and take a broader view of the potential impact — both beneficial and negative — of various initiatives.”

With national and state elections in the rear-view mirror, she said, businesses have a handful of issues they’re particularly concerned with, including healthcare costs and the recently passed law aimed at containing them.

“That’s something we’re keeping a close eye on. That’s where the ‘information’ part of what we do comes in. We can translate what’s happening in Boston and communicate that in such a way that business owners don’t have to pore through pages and pages of publications. We can share with them, ‘this is what’s going on, and this is what you need to be aware of.’”

Another area of focus is proposed tax increases, she noted. “We need to make sure our members know what’s proposed and why we promote or oppose various initiatives. Our ears are always to the ground, making sure that we don’t miss anything.”

Local initiatives involving infrastructure, transportation, and water are also closely tracked. “All these things cost money, so how do we pay for it?” Boronski said. “We want to make sure that we inform those who are making these decisions what the ramifications of their decisions are.

“It’s important that we keep a two-way line of communication open,” she continued. “A lot of times, things simply present themselves — regulations don’t always go before legislative bodies, and those things can happen very quickly. That’s where having our lobbying firm really adds value for businesses that belong to the Massachusetts Chamber; we can provide them with information within hours of learning something.”

 

Branching Out

The chamber has expanded its role beyond its original mission, however. About two years ago, the West of River Chamber of Commerce, which was looking to break away from the ACCGS, approached the Massachusetts Chamber for management services.

“We became their management company,” Boronski explained, noting that this involves everything from billing and invoicing services to generating marketing materials and running events. And she was grateful for this new opportunity, even as she embraced her organization’s statewide role. “I had missed some of that, working with the local business community, and this allowed me to dip my toe back into the community. And the West of the River Chamber has grown and added programs since then.”

The effort didn’t go unnoticed by the nearby North Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, covering the Enfield-Suffield area, which contacted Boronski about taking on a similar management role there. So, sensing a growing opportunity, she launched a subsidiary company, called Chamber Management Services, with an eye on bringing in more clients down the road.

“We see this as a model for the future,” she explained. “There are many chambers of commerce that may not have the financial resources to employ a high-level CEO and Main Street office space, but they still want to provide important networking and advocacy on the local level, and this model allows them to do that.

“It’s extremely important for these chambers to maintain their independence and their individuality; they don’t want to be lumped together,” she added. “And we make sure they have their own phone numbers, their own business cards and marketing programs; they just happen to be managed by the same company.”

Boronski said the arrangement allows the local chambers to share best practices. “What one chamber is doing well can be shared with the other chamber, and vice versa, so they can maintain their independence, but have the ability through management to find out what’s happening elsewhere. And both are interested in doing some cross-border initiatives.”

 

State of Mind

Having been involved in chamber activity on both a micro and macro scale, Boronski said she’s convinced she made the right call five years ago.

“In 20-something years in local and regional chambers, putting on trade shows, breakfasts, and after-5s, being able to expand my career into this arena, representing businesses, has been a wonderful professional experience,” she said. “I truly enjoy the advocacy portion of my job. You get to have an impact on a much larger level.”

Boronski has also kept busy running for a seat on the East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen, with an election looming this month. “For 25 years, I’ve been working on one side of the table, talking to lawmakers and decision makers about the impact of their decisions. Now I’m looking to fill a seat on the other side of the table so I can help make good decisions. For me, it’s a way to give back. I feel like I can take my skill sets and put them to good use.”

In the meantime, she’s not letting up on efforts to expand the organization she has led for the past five years. About a year ago, she launched the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce Foundation — “because I didn’t have enough to do,” she said with a laugh. More seriously, though, she explained that this arm was created to raise money for workforce-development efforts through business grants to members. And she’s also taking steps to create a political action committee. “We are constantly evolving and growing.”

The Massachusetts Chamber is also building on its member-benefit center, which businesses can access for things like home- and auto-insurance discounts, training resources, website and merchant card services, and UPS shipping discounts, among others.

“As a large state organization, we’re in a position to negotiate benefit programs with large providers, and we can offer our members significant savings,” Boronski said. “These companies know we have a far reach, and in return our members receive value they wouldn’t otherwise receive.

“It’s the icing on the cake,” she added. “Lobbying and advocacy may be our cake, but we have some good icing, too.”

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Briefcase Departments

Union Station Work Officially Underway

SPRINGFIELD — The long-awaited transformation of Springfield’s historic Union Station into the region’s main transportation hub officially got underway Nov. 20 at a ceremonial demolition held at the Frank B. Murray Street site. Mayor Domenic Sarno, along with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Gov. Deval Patrick, and other officials wielding sledgehammers, participated in the event. It signaled the start of demolition of the former baggage-handling building and will pave the way for construction of a 24-bay bus terminal with structured parking above it — the first steps toward reactivating the long-vacant downtown station. “Today represents the start of an important project that will benefit virtually everyone in Western Mass. It’s an exciting day for the Pioneer Valley,” said Sarno. Added Neal, “the successful renovation of Union Station has been a priority of mine for more than 30 years. I have always believed the restoration of this iconic Springfield landmark had the ability to transform the north blocks of downtown. And it will bring a world-class transportation center to the region in the process.” Other specific work to be completed as part of a $48.7 million Phase 1 project, designed by HDR Architecture Inc., includes the restoration of the main terminal building as a passenger center. The first floor will include operations, ticketing, and waiting space for the transit-service providers, as well as transit-related retail. Also, the passenger tunnel will be reopened and restored, linking the terminal building to rail-boarding platforms and pedestrian access to the downtown. When completed, this initial phase will provide connections for the continuation and expansion of services, including local, regional, and intercity buses; Amtrak, commuter, and high-speed passenger rail; and other ground-transportation services. The second phase of the project will emphasize the remaining development of additional transit-related restaurant and retail uses on the first floor and transit-related commercial space primarily on the terminal building’s upper floors, and will expand the new transit center’s parking capabilities. Sarno thanked Neal for his steadfast support of this regionally significant transportation project and for helping the city bring it to this point. “Recognizing that the station’s redevelopment is crucial to the continued revitalization of the city of Springfield, our goal is to transform this property into a sustainable transportation facility, positioning us to better meet the travel needs of the Pioneer Valley in the short and long term,” added Sarno. He also thanked Patrick “for making Union Station a top priority of his administration,” and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for working in partnership with the city. “Through this cooperation and with funding support from the state, we have achieved tremendous progress as we’ve worked with the Federal Transit Administration to advance this vital project,” Sarno said. Funding for the Union Station project has been assembled from a number of federal, state, and local sources. In July, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Springfield to announce the award of a $17.6 million federal Bus Livability grant for the project. The project is scheduled to be completed and operational by 2015.

 

Officials Laud Completion of High Performance Computing Center

HOLYOKE — Gov. Deval Patrick headed a list of academic, political, and business leaders who gathered in Holyoke on Nov. 16 to officially mark the completion of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center built in the center of this historic industrial city. More than 200 people gathered for the event, which capped more than three years of planning and construction of the facility, which was hailed by several of the day’s speakers as a unique and highly effective collaboration involving higher education, private business, and government. The facility, which carried a price tag approaching $90 million, is a data center dedicated to supporting the growing research computing needs of five of the most research-intensive universities in Massachusetts: Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and UMass. The project was funded by those five schools, as well as additional partners Cisco and EMC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the federal New Markets Tax Credit program. In addition to Patrick, other officials to speak at the program and ribbon-cutting included Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse; Susan Hockfield, president emerita at MIT; Jeff Nick, senior vice president and chief technology officer at EMC Corp.; Larry Payne, vice president, Public Sector, Cisco Systems; Lt. Gov. Tim Murray; and Robert Caret, president of UMass.

 

Nominations Sought for Difference Makers

SPRINGFIELD — BusinessWest magazine will accept nominations for its Difference Makers Class of 2013 until Dec. 30. Difference Makers is a recognition program, started in 2008, that honors individuals and groups that are making an impact in the community and improving overall quality of life in the region. The Difference Makers Class of 2012 consisted of: Charlie and Donald D’Amour, president/COO and chairman/CEO, respectively, of Big Y Foods; William Messner, president of Holyoke Community College; Majors Tom and Linda Jo Perks, officers with the Springfield Corps of the Salvation Army; Bob Schwarz, executive vice president of Peter Pan Bus Lines; and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. A nomination form is available online at www.businesswest.com/difference-makers-nomination-form.

 

Baystate Working to Reduce Pre-term Births

SPRINGFIELD — The report card is in on premature births, and the grades are far from glowing. The March of Dimes released its 2012 Premature Birth Report Card in November, and while the U.S. pre-term birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2011 to 11.7% — the lowest in a decade — the country still earned a disappointing ‘C’ grade. The March of Dimes grades states by comparing their rate of premature births to their 2020 goal of 9.6%. Three states and Puerto Rico earned an ‘F,’ and only four states — Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont — were graded an ‘A.’ Twenty-two states, including Massachusetts, received a ‘B’ grade and are one step away from achieving the goal. Still, “we still have a long way to go,” said Dr. Glenn Markenson, chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Baystate Medical Center. More than 500,000 infants are born prematurely in the U.S. each year, and about 10% of all deliveries are scheduled before 39 weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, a recent study by the Leapfrog Group, a hospital-quality watchdog, shows that U.S. hospitals vary widely in their rates of elective pre-term deliveries, ranging from less than 5% to more than 40%. “Early deliveries should only be an option for medical reasons, when the life or health of mother or baby is in jeopardy,” said Markenson. Under his leadership, Baystate Medical Center has been working to establish strong guidelines to prevent unnecessary pre-term deliveries by induction or cesarean section, and last year the hospital instituted a ‘hard stop’ for any non-medically required elective delivery prior to 39 weeks, and all elective inductions in first-time mothers. Markenson said the practice of elective pre-term birth finally caught many healthcare-quality officials’ attention when more and more studies began to be published showing its potential harm, including a recent March of Dimes report showing that babies born in the 37th or 38th week have a higher risk of dying in their first year than a baby born after 39 weeks. In addition to working with other Massachusetts hospitals to help the state achieve an ‘A’ grade in the March of Dimes rankings, Baystate is helping lead a statewide initiative called the Massachusetts Perinatal Quality Collaborative.

Departments Picture This

Send photos with a caption and contact information to:  ‘Picture This’ c/o BusinessWest Magazine, 1441 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103 or to [email protected]

 

 

Open for Business

Ahost of government, education, and business leaders gathered in Holyoke last month for ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, a project that involves the state, several research institutions (including UMass), and private corporations. Right, Gov. Deval Patrick addresses the more than 200 people in attendance. At left, before the formal ribbon cutting, city high-school students bury a time capsule near the center’s entrance.

 

 

 

Professional Cut

A ceremonial ribbon cutting recently commemorated the opening of the Northampton/I-91 Professional Center in Northampton. The multi-building office park now offers two fully permitted, three-story office buildings adjacent to the existing Clarion Hotel and Conference Center at Exit 18 off Interstate 91. Each building offers approximately 40,000 square feet of tenant space in modern, energy-efficient brick and glass structures. Owned by an experienced group of local investors, the center offers first-class medical and professional office space with first- and second-floor main tenants Clinical and Support Options Inc. (a regional provider of behavioral-health services) and Cooley Dickinson Health Care Group, leaving only 2,500 square feet available on the third floor. Pictured cutting the long ribbon are Lynn Travers, owner and developer; Stephen Murphy, program director of Cooley Dickinson’s Center for Human Motion and the director of Rehab Services; Ken Vincunas (front), general manager; John Lombardi (back), administrative director of facilities at Cooley Dickinson Hospital; Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz; Curt Shumway, development owner; Craig Melin, CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital; Susan O’Leary Mulhern and Eileen O’Leary Sullivan, owners; Karin Jeffers, president of Clinical and Support Options; Laurie Lamoureux, controller at Cooley Dickinson; and Kathi Donahue, William Wagner, and Russ Omer of Chicopee Savings Bank.

 

 

Pynchon Winners

The Advertising Club of Western Mass. honored the 2012 recipients of the William Pynchon Award at ceremonies on Nov. 15 at Chez Josef in Agawam. Pictured, from left, are Jillian Gould, president of the Ad Club; 2012 winners Robert Perry, Ellen Freyman, and Stephen Hayes; and Alta Stark, immediate past president of the Ad Club, Pynchon trustee, and governor, AAF District 1.

 


Ready to Read

READ! Reading Success by 4th Grade, an initiative of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, recently welcomed Robert Dugger, managing partner of Hanover Investment Group and an advisory-board co-chair for ReadyNation, a business partnership promoting investments in early education as a foundation for the nation’s economic success, to present a national overview on the importance of investments in young children and their impact on building a sustainable national economy. Also presenting was J.D. Chesloff, deputy director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and board chair of the state’s first-in-the-nation Department of Early Education and Care. The Economic Development Council of Western Mass. (EDC); local chambers of commerce, including Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield; and the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County presented the event at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Pictured at above are Chesloff (left) and Dugger. Bottom, from left, are Peter Straley, president and CEO of Health New England; Sally Fuller, Reading Success by 4th Grade program coordinator; and Allan Blair, president and CEO of the EDC.

 







Further with Ford

Marcotte Ford of Holyoke recently hosted hundreds at a large event to showcase its showroom and the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion. The event, which was part of a national ‘Go Further with Ford’ night, offered chances for friends and clients to win a new 2013 Fusion, two different trips to American Idol Hollywood, and other prizes. Marcotte Ford donated $10 per person to Kate’s Kitchen for the first 200 registered guests. Standing over the celebratory autographed 2013 Ford Fusion hood, which will be displayed in the showroom are, left to right, Michael Filomeno, general manager; Mike Marcotte, sales manager; Lou Beauregard, parts and service director; and Bryan Marcotte, owner.

 


Trees, Trees, Trees

The 12th annual Festival of Trees launched the day after Thanksgiving and is proving to be a popular family tradition in downtown Springfield. The event, located on the second floor of Tower Square, offers a twinkling roomful of uniquely decorated artificial Christmas trees, adorned with gift cards and other valuable items donated by area businesses and Springfield Boys and Girls Club supporters. The proceeds, through sponsorships, sales of entrance tickets, and raffle tickets to win trees and all their unique décor, will benefit the 119-year old charitable organization that has been providing more than 1,500 children in the community with afterschool, Saturday, and summer youth-development programs. Above, Barbara Kolosowski, director of development, stands next to more than 100 glittering trees. The festival will run until December 9. More information can be found at www.visittreefest.com.