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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will host the opening of Springfield’s first Thrive Financial Success Center on Thursday, Dec. 3, with a ceremony in the President’s Conference Room in Garvey Hall (Building 16) at 11 a.m.

Thrive is a collaborative effort between United Way of Pioneer Valley and STCC to provide financial education and support services to students and community residents. It is supported by PeoplesBank, MassMutual, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, the United Way of Pioneer Valley, and the STCC Foundation.

“After the success of the Thrive Financial Success Centers at Holyoke Community College and in downtown Holyoke, we are thrilled to open a third Thrive Center at Springfield Technical Community College,” said United Way of Pioneer Valley President and CEO Dora Robinson. “At the United Way of Pioneer Valley, we believe basic financial literacy should be a key aspect of everyone’s education. No career goal or life’s ambition should be hindered because a person doesn’t know how to balance their checkbook or maintain a good credit rating.”

Thrive @ STCC anticipates it will serve 400 individuals in its first year of operation. Program offerings include confidential benefits screening and enrollment, a money-skills class, individual financial coaching sessions, free income-tax prepatration through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, links to workforce-development and training workshops, and LifeBridge, MassMutual’s free life-insurance program.

Thrive Centers currently operate in partnership with the United Way at Holyoke Community College and at the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center in downtown Holyoke.

“Building financial awareness and planning skills is essential to our students’ and our community’s economic prosperity,” said STCC President Ira Rubenzahl. “Many of our students are overburdened with outside financial struggles. Coupling career guidance with access to financial coaching will assist Thrive participants to make informed decisions that will make their lives easier, allow them to remain focused on their studies, and prepare them for future employment.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Eight lawyers from Bulkley Richardson have been named to the 2015 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list of top lawyers in the state, and two lawyers from the firm have been named to the 2015 Massachusetts Rising Stars list of top up-and-coming lawyers. No more than 5% of lawyers in Massachusetts are selected for the Super Lawyers list, and no more than 2.5% are selected for the Rising Stars list.

The following Bulkley Richardson lawyers were named to the 2014 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list:

• Francis Dibble Jr., whose practice areas include business litigation, health law, and antitrust litigation;

• J. Patrick Kennedy, whose practice areas include business litigation, banking and intellectual property litigation;

• Kevin Maynard, whose practice areas include business litigation, general litigation, and nonprofit;

• David Parke, whose practice areas include business/corporate and mergers and acquisitions;

• John Pucci, whose practice areas include criminal defense (white collar);

• Donn Randall, whose practice areas include banking and business litigation;

• Ellen Randle, whose practice focuses on family law; and

• Ronald Weiss, whose practice areas include mergers and acquisitions, closely held business, and estate planning and probate.

The following Bulkley Richardson lawyers were named to the 2015 Massachusetts Rising Stars list:

• Michael Roundy, whose practice areas include business/commercial litigation, tax appeals, and medical malpractice (defense); and

• Kelly Koch, whose practice areas include family law and estate planning and probate.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented, multi-phase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

For more information about Bulkley Richardson and its practice areas, visit www.bulkley.com.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums’ Culture & Cocktails series continues with a special evening titled “Merry & Bright” on Thursday, Dec. 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Springfield Science Museum. Guests can view the entries in this year’s gingerbread competition, “Seussian Holiday”; enjoy Motown classics; and try their hand at cookie decorating with Mark the Baker of the Log Cabin.

The Museum Store will also be open, with Museum members entitled to take 20% off their entire purchase (10% off for non-members), with free gift wrapping for all shoppers. Catering at all Culture & Cocktails events is by Log Rolling Catering. The December event will feature hors d’ouevres and other treats all included with admission, as well as a cash bar. Admission is $5 for members and $15 for non-members. To reserve tickets, visit springfieldmuseums.org or call (413) 263-6800, ext. 255. All attendees must be age 21 or older.

Culture & Cocktails are after-five events held at one of the four museums on the Quadrangle campus. Each event’s theme is inspired by the Springfield Museums’ extensive collections, special exhibits, and holiday celebrations. The series continues with “Indulgence: An Evening of Wine and Chocolate at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum” on Thursday, Feb. 4. More event information is available at springfieldmuseums.org and facebook.com/culturecocktails.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Leadership Training Conference and Rachel’s Challenge student organizations are leading a community outreach program that will collect food, clothing, and school supplies for local nonprofit organizations and schools to support the global initiative #GivingTuesday on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Individuals can participate in #GivingTuesday by donating canned food that will be distributed to the Open Pantry in Springfield, donating socks that will be distributed to the Friends of the Homeless emergency shelter in Springfield, donating school supplies that will be given to White Street Elementary School in Springfield, writing on the pledge banner, donating a monetary gift that will support alternative spring-break trips for Springfield College students, or writing thank-you notes to students and Springfield College employees.

Drop-off locations for the canned food, socks, and school supplies are set up throughout the campus in the Wellness Center, Office of Admissions, Marsh Memorial, Alumni Hall basement (in the Office of Marketing and Communications), and Administration Building.

In addition, Rachel’s Challenge will be collecting items including blankets, coats, gloves, hats, scarves, sweatshirts, mittens, socks, and earmuffs in designated ‘Warm a Heart’ containers, located in residence halls, from Nov. 23 through Dec. 3. These items can be new or gently used.

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that encourages individuals to give back to the local community and celebrate generosity. For more information, visit givingtuesday.org, follow the Springfield College efforts on Twitter at @SCGivingTue, or utilize the social-media hashtag #givingtuesday.

Daily News

AGAWAM — Insurance Center of New England (ICNE) partnered with Arbella Insurance Foundation, to support Arbella’s “Let’s Drive Out Hunger” campaign with a donation of $1,500 to Friends of the Homeless Inc.

Located on 755 Worthington St. in Springfield, Friends of the Homeless operates 110 low-income housing units and provides services aimed at ending homelessness and hunger.

“In this season of gratitude, we are certainly thankful for Friends of the Homeless and the work they do for those who don’t have some of the basics in life, like a hot meal or a warm bed,” said William Trudeau, president and CEO of Insurance Center of New England.

Added Sarah Tanner, director of Development at Friends of the Homeless Inc., “we are incredibly grateful for the support from Insurance Center of New England. Beyond their own generosity, they are leaders in advocating for the needs of those in our community that are more vulnerable, and they have leveraged additional resources to help secure critical services available through our shelter. We all need a friend, and ICNE is one of our best.”

Insurance Center of New England is an independent agent offering an array of insurance products from reputable insurers. The agency is headquartered in Agawam and has additional locations in Gardner, Fitchburg, and Lowell.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Holiday Business Breakfast of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by Holyoke Gas & Electric, Health New England, United Bank, and the Republican/El Pueblo Latino will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 a.m. at the Delaney House.

Salutes will be given to Marcotte Ford for its new commercial truck repair facility; Vin’s Cloth Car Wash on its renovations; Holyoke Works for its new training facility at Mont Marie Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center; Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start on its 50th anniversary; Joseph Peters, recipient of the SPE Thermoforming Division 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award; and Associated Industries of Massachusetts on its 100th anniversary. Salutes will also go out to the chamber’s new members, Paychex, Zerorez, Champ Law, Axxion Co., Towing Plus, and Revitalize CDC.

The Chamber’s ornament promotion will be in full swing and will feature Mountain Park, Kenilworth Castle, and the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race ornaments at $20 each. Solders’ Home of Holyoke ornaments will be offered at $25, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the residents’ recreation fund.

Reservations may be made in advance by contacting the chamber office at (413) 534-3376 or registering online at holyokechamber.com. Tickets are $22 for members if purchased in advance and $27 for all other tickets. Chamber members and the public are welcome to attend and encouraged to bring men’s, women’s, and children’s warm socks to be distributed to those in need by Providence Ministries.

Daily News

BOSTON — Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates are down in all labor markets in the state, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics compared to October 2014, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported.

During the month of October, seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates went down in eight labor market areas, increased in six areas, and remained the same in 10 other areas of the state.

Twelve areas added jobs over the month, with the largest gains in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Springfield, Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, and Worcester areas. The Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford area had no change in its jobs level over the month, while seasonal losses occurred in the Barnstable and Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead areas.

In order to compare the statewide rate to local unemployment rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the statewide unadjusted unemployment rate for October remained at 4.5%.

Last week, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.6% for the month of October. The unemployment rate is down 0.9% over the year. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed an 11,000-job gain in October and an over-the-year gain of 80,600 jobs.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — The nominations committee of the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of its 2015 Business Awards.

The Outstanding Business of the Year is Duseau Trucking LLC. Also on the ballot: Manchester Co. – Just Ask Rental and Riff’s Joint.

The Outstanding Business Person of the Year is Janel Jorda of Web-tactics Inc. Also on the ballot: Fran Fahey of Fran’s Fine Editing and Keith Woodruff of KW Home.

The Outstanding Community Service Person of the Year is Greg Malynoski of Look Memorial Park & Garden House. Also on the ballot: Bob Canon of Canon Real Estate Inc. and Stan Paulauskas of FPS Inc. d/b/a Burger King.

Awards will be presented at the Jan. 21 annual meeting and awards dinner.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — First Niagara Financial Group announced it has financed a $4.2 million permanent mortgage and a $625,000 revolving line of credit to Blue House Property Management, a local real estate investment company which purchases and refurbishes multi-family housing in Holyoke and Springfield.

This financing package will be used to refinance existing debt, acquire new multi-family properties and for capital improvements and updates of existing buildings in the Brightwood, Forest Park, and Old Hill neighborhoods of Springfield as well as the Elmwoods and Flats neighborhoods of Holyoke. Improvements will include upgrading certain properties with super high efficiency gas heating and hot water systems, installing new rear porches and updating units and common areas. It will also be used to completely rehabilitate a 48-unit apartment complex at the intersection of Dwight St. and Elm St. in Holyoke that sustained major fire damage last year.

“First Niagara’s local presence is what initially attracted us to the bank,” said Ilya Shnayder President & CEO of Blue House Property Management. “We appreciate the fact that the communities they serve are the same ones where we are working to make a difference in the lives of the people who live here.”

Many of the properties owned by Blue House Property Management and its affiliated real estate holding companies are leased to not-for-profit organizations that provide housing to underprivileged families in the community. Additionally, some of the locations provide residents with classroom space and computer labs where residents can learn ESL, computer literacy skills and how to cook healthy, nutritious and affordable meals.

“Blue House Property Management has an established reputation when it comes to providing safe, quality housing for people in Greater Springfield,” said Allison Standish-Plimpton, Senior Relationship Manager and Vice President of Business Banking at First Niagara. “Their dedication to improving the community is something that aligns with our mission at First Niagara, and we are proud to provide them with the financing to continue their good work.”

Daily News

BOSTON — In a communication to the Commonwealth, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services today shared that it has affirmed Massachusetts’ AA+ credit rating on its general obligation bonds, while also providing notice that it is changing the Commonwealth’s outlook to ‘negative’ due to concerns about a multi-year trend on spending and the use of reserve funds.

“While we have retained our current AA+ rating, we recognize and acknowledge the areas of concern raised today by Standard and Poor’s revised outlook,” Treasurer Deb Goldberg said. “I will continue to emphasize the importance of building our reserves, and I look forward to working with the Administration and Legislature to establish the path to a healthier, stronger reserve balance for Massachusetts.”

Said Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore, “since day one of this administration, we have stressed the importance of bringing spending in line with revenue, achieving structural balance, and building our Stabilization Fund, especially in good times. We have made significant progress in each area, but we have always acknowledged that this requires a multi-year fix to overcome issues, which we inherited. We take this guidance seriously and will review specific comments with the Treasurer and Legislature to develop a joint strategy and take necessary actions to ensure we remain on strong fiscal footing.”

S&P’s affirmation of the AA+ rating for the Commonwealth cited a number of positive factors, including:

• Strong historical budget performance, with timely monitoring of revenues and expenditures and swift action when needed to make adjustments, with a focus on structural solutions to budget balance;

• Strong financial, debt, and budget management policies, including annualized formal debt affordability statements, and multiyear capital investment and financial planning;

• An adequate Budget Stabilization Fund balance;

• High wealth and income levels; and

• Deep and diverse economy, which continues its steady recovery.

State general obligation ratings are largely based on four main factors: the state’s economy, financial position, debt and financial management, and long-term liabilities.

The Commonwealth has maintained its current ratings since September 2011 when it was upgraded by Standard and Poor’s.