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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Falcons and KIX 100.9 are teaming together to present Toys for Tots night on Dec. 5 when the Falcons host the Norfolk Admirals at the MassMutual Center at 7 p.m. Every fan who brings a toy to the Dec. 5 game will receive a one-ticket voucher for the Jan. 4 matchup against the Manchester Monarchs.

The vouchers are limited to one per person. A table will be stationed on the concourse behind section 2, where fans can drop off their toys and receive their voucher. All toys collected will be donated to the Western Mass. Toys for Tots Foundation.

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is a not-for-profit organization authorized by the U.S. Marine Corps to provide fund-raising and other necessary support for the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Now in its 67th year, Toys for Tots provides joy and a message of hope to less fortunate children through the gift of a new toy or book during the Christmas holiday season. For more information, visit www.toysfortots.org.

To reserve seats, call (413) 739-4625 or visit the team office inside the MassMutual Center Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Daily News

BOSTON — The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) reported that seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for October were down in 20 Massachusetts labor market areas and up in two areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the year, unemployment rates were down in all the labor market areas.

The preliminary statewide unadjusted unemployment rate estimate for October was 5.1%, down 1.1% from September. Over the year, the statewide unadjusted rate was down 1.8% from the October 2013 rate of 6.9%. During October, 10 of the 12 areas for which job estimates are published recorded job gains.

The largest job gain was in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area, followed by the Worcester, Springfield, Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Peabody, New Bedford, Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner, and Framingham areas. The Pittsfield area had no change in its jobs level over the month, while the Barnstable area recorded a seasonal loss. Since October 2013, all 12 areas added jobs, with the largest percentage gains in the Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, Worcester, Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Springfield, and Pittsfield areas.

The seasonally adjusted statewide October unemployment rate, released on Nov. 20, remained unchanged over the month at 6.0% and down 1.2% over the year. The rate was 0.2% above the 5.8% national unemployment rate. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 1,200-job gain in October and an over-the-year gain of 52,600 jobs.

The labor force, unemployment rates, and job estimates for Massachusetts and every other state are based on several different statistical methodologies specified by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unadjusted unemployment rates and job estimates for the labor market areas reflect seasonal fluctuations and therefore may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.

Daily News

WESTBOROUGH — Berkshire Bank has furthered its presence in Eastern Mass. with the opening of a new full-service branch and financial-service center located at 303 Turnpike Road in Westborough.

Bank executives and the community welcomed the new facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 20. Included in the ceremony was a $10,000 donation to four community nonprofit organizations: the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club Metro-West, the Westborough Food Pantry, and Westborough High School Robotics.

Berkshire Bank’s Westborough financial center offers a network of financial services, including personal and business banking, mortgages, insurance, and wealth management. The full-service branch includes Berkshire Bank’s state-of-the-art teller pod design, which provides more personalized service, faster transactions, improved accuracy, and enhanced security. The financial center covers 10,000 square feet, and the floor plans were designed to maximize teamwork and efficiency while enabling staff to easily shift tasks to respond to customer traffic.

“The new Westborough center was designed with our customers in mind — it is a contemporary banking experience and an excellent next step in our growth here in Eastern Massachusetts,” said Tami Gunsch, senior vice president, Retail Banking. “Offering the full gamut of financial services, our new financial headquarters and branch delivers the highest-quality service and responsiveness to customers. The design of the facility is conducive to personal engagement with our customers, even during the busiest moments.”

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Nuclea Biotechnologies Inc. announced that it has secured a new U.S. design patent for the design of its beam-dump assembly, a mechanical component that will be utilized in multiple diagnostic applications.

The beam-dump assembly is used for the detection of low-abundance proteins within microfluidic-based environments. It identifies a change in biological samples by reading laser light. This detection instrument will be used for protein detection in Nuclea’s fatty-acid synthase (FAS), HER-2/neu, and CAIX diagnostic tests, with future potential use in additional diagnostic tests. The design patent is an important step for Nuclea as the company continues to expand its intellectual property surrounding its proprietary tests and methods.

“This is another milestone for Nuclea in developing new diagnostic-based technology as it relates to the analysis of fluids in a variety of diseases,” said Patrick Muraca, the company’s president and CEO.

Based in Pittsfield, Nuclea, with additional operations in Worcester and Cambridge, has developed and is commercializing unique diagnostic tests for colon, breast, leukemia, lung, and prostate cancer, as well as for diabetes and other metabolic syndromes. Nuclea also performs research leading to novel molecular oncology companion diagnostics for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 115 years, announced a merger of the firm’s two Indian Orchard-based offices.

Moskal-Dowd, previously located at 20 Parker St., and Orchard-Dowd, previously located at 144 Main St., have officially merged and will now operate as the Indian Orchard-based location of the Dowd Agencies located at 485 Main St. The new, 2,500-square-foot office is officially open for business. Customers and the general public are invited to visit, and an open house is planned for the spring of 2015.

“One centralized location for our Indian Orchard office will increase accessibility for our customers,” said John Dowd Jr., president and CEO of the Dowd Agencies. “The benefits of the new office include ample parking, a large conference room for meetings, and, most importantly, a larger staff to provide our customers a broader service offering from one location.”

The Dowd Agencies will continue to be headquartered in Holyoke, which houses the firm’s human resources department and administrative staff.

“From a customer-service standpoint, the Indian Orchard location is now a full-service operation,” Dowd said, “and there were no reductions in staff, which means our customers will continue to see the same account managers they have built relationships with at our previous locations.”

Moskal-Dowd was originally acquired by the Dowd Agencies in 2009; Orchard-Dowd was acquired in early 2014.

“Business growth has always been a part of our master plan,” said Dowd. “However our locations and appearance may change, our primary focus and responsibility has always been, and will remain, with our customers. The Dowd Agencies’ leadership agrees that the new centralized Indian Orchard location helps us remain true to providing the best customer experience possible.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield announced that it has finalized a partnership agreement with Berkshire Brewing Co. (BBC). The agreement names BBC the premier regional brewing partner and craft beer provider for MGM Springfield. BBC, a regional brewery located in South Deerfield, was established in 1994 by Christopher Lalli and Gary Bogoff, a pair of home brewers. BBC is now producing eight year-round beers and nine seasonal brews.

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Berkshire Brewing Co.,” said Michael Mathis, MGM Springfield President. “BBC has a history of brewing quality, good-tasting products with Western Massachusetts in mind. Our company has a commitment to sustainability, and BBC’s efforts to use local ingredients made this a natural partnership.”

The agreement was finalized on Oct. 29 at Four Star Farms in Northfield, where BBC sources some of its hops ingredients for its brews. Terms of the agreement include introducing BBC’s product at other MGM properties, as well as a commitment by BBC to strategize on growing its Massachusetts sourcing ingredients based on the volumes MGM Springfield will demand.

Bogoff, CEO of BBC, noted that “BBC is excited about this incredible opportunity to have our products featured in an MGM resort. Together we will look at more ways to source ingredients from our local farms. It is a win-win for Western Massachusetts.”

Added Mathis, “we look forward to our global customer base getting a taste of what BBC has to offer. We are proud to be working with a company as excited about local sourcing as we are.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein recently joined representatives of the Grantham Group, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones, and state and local officials to break ground on the Christopher Heights assisted-living community in Northampton.

“Christopher Heights is an important step toward the goal of expanding our supply of affordable housing for all of our citizens in the Commonwealth,” said Gornstein. “DHCD is pleased to assist with this development that will not only provide new housing opportunities for the elderly, but will stimulate local economic activity. We congratulate Grantham Group and appreciate the leadership of Mayor Narkewicz and other local, state, and federal officials who have helped make this project a reality.”

Christopher Heights will be the newest development in Village Hill, a 126-acre mixed-use community located on the site of the former Northampton State Hospital. Christopher Heights is expected to open in the fall of 2015 and will have 83 assisted-living units, of which 43 are designated for low-income seniors. Seventeen of the 43 affordable units will be reserved for households earning less than 30% of the area median income. Christopher Heights also has locations in Worcester, Webster, Attleboro, and Marlborough.

“We are excited to bring our expertise in assisted-living development and management to the Northampton State Hospital redevelopment known as Village Hill,” said Grantham Group Managing Director Walter Ohanian. “We look forward to serving the senior population who will benefit from the housing and services of an affordable assisted-living community.”

The Grantham Group estimates that the project will create 65 construction jobs for the area. Once built, there will be another 40 permanent jobs at the facility.

“This exciting new addition to the Village Hill community will provide affordable assisted-living housing for our local seniors,” said state Rep. Peter Kocot. “I want to congratulate the Grantham Group, Undersecretary Gornstein, and Gov. Patrick for their leadership and commitment to developing affordable housing for people of all ages.”

Since 2007, the Patrick administration has invested more than $1 billion in state and federal resources to create 24,000 units of housing, of which approximately 22,000 are affordable. In Northampton, DHCD has invested more than $7.6 million to preserve or create 98 units of housing, 95 of which are affordable, for veterans, those who are institutionalized or at-risk of institutionalization, and low-income households.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Play Date Place, a creative and interactive play and party experience for children ages 6 and under, is open for business. The vision of founder Darlene Sattler is to bring a kid-sized, interactive town to Western Mass., promoting imaginative play in a clean, safe, enclosed environment.

Children can interact with parents, grandparents, caregivers, and friends in a climate-controlled, camera-monitored facility, which includes a six-building town — fire station, market, restaurant, theatre, boutique, and gas station. The town also includes a train station, park, and ball-pit ‘lake,’ as well as an infant play area.

Play Date Place, which is located at 470 Newton St., also offers party packages, with the ability to host two parties simultaneously with the use of two party rooms. Party packages can be purchased, as well as private rental of the entire facility. Each weekend, Play Date Place has the capability to book eight parties plus 12 hours of open play. Operating hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The facility features several amenities for parents and caregivers, too. A flat-panel television and free wi-fi are available along with a wall monitor showing camera views of the entire facility so children can be monitored at all times. Play Date Place is a socks-only facility and will have socks available for purchase for those who come without them.

“We aim to be the only facility of its kind promoting old-fashioned imaginative play, and encourage growing a strong family bond and social skills without the use of electronic devices,” said Sattler.

There is reason to support imaginative play. Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist specializing in the development of intelligence, creativity, and imagination in education, business, and society, noted in Psychology Today that “systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games.” More specifically, imaginative play develops social and emotional skills, language skills, and critical-thinking skills.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Joelle Tedeschi, LPN, has been named executive director of Ruth’s House, an assisted-living facility of Jewish Geriatric Services (JGS).

Tedeschi brings more than 25 years of diverse experience in elder care to this position. She will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the assisted-living community located in Longmeadow. She will also continue to oversee business development at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, the position she’s held since coming to JGS in July.

Before joining the nursing home, Tedeschi served as the regional director of sales for Golden Living in Canton, Mass., where she was responsible for the sustainable growth of 18 hospice and direct-living centers. Prior to this, she was the regional director of Sales for Kindred Healthcare in Louisville, Ky. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sales and marketing from Massachusetts Bay College in Wellesley.

“Joelle clearly brings us a wealth of business-development experience in senior living,” said Martin Baicker, president and CEO of JGS. “In addition, she is also a licensed practical nurse, and we feel confident that, under her leadership, Ruth’s House will continue to flourish.”

Daily News

LENOX, PITTSFIELD — Gov. Deval Patrick recently joined state environmental officials and local officials to announce $1.2 million in capital funding to support environmental projects at Baker’s Pond in Lenox and Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, enhancing existing natural habitats and improving recreational opportunities for residents.

“Growth requires investment, and creating and upgrading recreational parks and open spaces while also providing important community resources will help create growth and opportunity across the commonwealth,” Patrick said. “This investment will improve the lives of Massachusetts children and families now and for generations to come.”

The administration’s $125,000 investment in Baker’s Pond will assist in the final phase of restoration of the pond. The removal of invasive species and water-quality improvements will preserve the habitat for wildlife species and make it a more appealing destination for visitors to Kennedy Park. Berkshire Community College’s Life Sciences Department will work with the town to ensure proper removal of any invasive species and the complete restoration of the pond.

“Safe, reliable drinking water has always been a critical need. In the 21st century, we will need to develop new technologies to meet growing demand,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern. “I’m pleased that the federal government is joining with the Commonwealth and UMass Amherst in this promising effort.”

Baker’s Pond has a history of recreational use, but, after a small dam breach, the pond fell into disrepair, resulting in the growth of invasive plant and animal species. With ongoing improvements, the pond is once again becoming an attraction for tourists and hikers, as well as a habitat for endangered amphibian species.

The city of Pittsfield was also awarded $1.1 million to ensure proper drainage and wetland protection as Berkshire Community College works to construct an athletic field on campus, the first of its kind in Berkshire County. The athletic-field location is north of a vernal pool, certified by the Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program, making it important for the project to be environmentally sensitive in order to preserve habitat for plants and animals.

“Gov. Patrick has demonstrated a strong commitment to Pittsfield an Berkshire County,” said Mayor Daniel Bianchi. “The city of Pittsfield is pleased to join the governor in a financial commitment for the environmental restoration and construction of the new Berkshire Community College turf field. The new field will provide an athletic hub from Berkshire County and beyond. I look forward to the new events that the BCC turf field will bring to Pittsfield.”