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Daily News

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. recently welcomed Emily Klassanos and Brian Benson to the firm as part of its next generation of talent.

Klassanos comes to the firm from Elms College, with previous experience as an accounting intern with a local public accounting firm. She earned a dual bachelor’s degree in accounting and marketing from Elms, where she graduated magna cum laude, with a foundation in both technical work and the creative and strategic applications of marketing and market development. Additionally, she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in accounting and financial planning, also at Elms. She is a member of Mass. Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In May 2015, she was the recipient of the William Donovan Award in Accounting Excellence at Elms College.

Benson began his career at MBK as an audit and accounting intern and has also earned a position as an audit and accounting associate. He also graduated from Elms College, with degrees in accounting and business management. He will begin his journey to an MBA at Elms this fall with a concentration in financial planning, followed by a graduate certificate in public accounting. His goal in pursuing a diversified graduate education is to position himself to offer a broad range of expertise to his clients as he progresses through his career. He is a member of the AICPA and MSCPA.

“The culture of the firm grows and evolves with each new addition of talented young people such as Emily and Brian,” said MBK Partner Howard Cheney. “They bring vital energy to a staff that is on the precipice of evolution. As a partner, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing our next generation come into their own.”

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce announced its Annual Food Fest West to be held Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Crestview Country Club in Agawam.

The event will feature the foods of area restaurants including Chez Josef, Crestview Country Club, Hofbrauhaus, LPVEC, Main Street Deli, Partner’s Restaurant, Pintu’s, Storrowton Tavern, Tekoa Country Club, and more. Proceeds raised by Food Fest West will go toward the Partnership for Education and the WRC Educational Fund, which provides grants to businesses for on-the-job training and continuing-education needs.

Tickets are on sale now and are $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online by visiting WRC’s website at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

Sponsors for the event include bronze sponsor OMG Inc. and media sponsor BusinessWest. Sponsorship opportunities are still available for Food Fest West. Call the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 for more information.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — DiGrigoli Salon announced that Tara Cruz has been promoted from a junior stylist to a senior stylist. She graduated from DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology in October 2014 and joined the DiGrigoli Salon Artistic Team as a junior stylist immediately after obtaining her cosmetology license.

DiGrigoli Salon, located at 1578 Riverdale St. in West Springfield, has been offering professional beauty services to the public since 1987, is the official styling team for on-air personalities at WWLP-22News and 94.7 WMAS, and is a sponsor of Link to Libraries.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will present its third annual 5K Run/Walk, “Race Judicata: a Run for the Bar,” on Sunday, Oct. 16 at Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke, rain or shine. Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Law Project.

Registration runs from 9 to 10:45 a.m., with the race start at 1 a.m. The cost is $30 in advance and $40 on race day. Register online by clicking here.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee, Greater Holyoke, Greater Westfield, and Springfield Regional Chambers of Commerce will hold the 19th annual Table Top Expo & Business Networking Event on Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee.

This event is an opportunity to learn more about the businesses in this area and to meet the people who represent them. For the businesses that participate, it is an opportunity to market their business in a forum that will bring potential customers to them. The business community and the general public are invited to attend. Admission is $5 for anyone pre-registered and $10 at the door.

Platinum sponsors for the event are Holyoke Medical Center and Integrated IT Solutions. Gold sponsors include BusinessWest, People’s United Bank, Westfield Gardens/Birch Gardens, and the Westfield News Group. Silver sponsors include Chicopee Savings Bank, Elms College, First American Insurance Agency Inc., Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Westfield, and the Republican.

Call the chamber at (413) 594-2101 to purchase tickets in advance, or register online at www.chicopeechamber.org.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — The gavel was passed to a new president at the annual meeting of the Berkshire Museum’s board of trustees. Elizabeth Hayes McGraw is taking the reins as president; she has been a trustee since 2008 and has served as vice-president since 2013. William Hines Jr. will resume his role as a trustee after serving as president for 5 years; he joined the board in 2007.

“There are great things happening at the Berkshire Museum, and I am honored to step up and lead the board as we continue with our strategic master-planning process,” said McGraw. “The master plan is an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the way the museum fulfills its mission and serves the wider Berkshire Community, and it is a privilege to participate in this very important transformation. Bill Hines has done a magnificent job initiating the planning process. Those of us on the board are so grateful for all he has done for the museum.”

During his tenure as president of the board, in addition to overseeing the launch of the master planning process, Hines was instrumental in working with the board and staff to achieve significant improvements to the museum, including new architectural access for museum visitors made possible by the installation of a passenger-operated elevator, and upgrades to its energy and fire safety systems. During the same time period, the Museum was named a Smithsonian Affiliate and was able to widely expand its educational programs, serving record numbers of students each successive year.

McGraw has more than 20 years of experience as a science educator. She taught biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physical science at Berkshire School, headed the high school’s science department at Berkshire Country Day School, and taught biology at Miss Hall’s School. She is currently working with students at Indian Mountain School and Salisbury School. She also held education positions with the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

With a shared commitment to serving the community, McGraw and her husband, Robin, administer the Black Rock Foundation, which supports education and healthcare programs in the Berkshires. She holds a master’s degree in forest science from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in studio art from Hamilton College.

Daily News

AMHERST — Continuing a decade-long surge, enrollment at the University of Massachusetts is projected to surpass 74,000 students for the first time, rising to 74,678 students enrolled across the five campuses, President Marty Meehan announced.

“When it comes to the quality and excellence of a UMass education, what you see now is a consistency of acclaim that we can only regard as heartening — and well-earned,” Meehan said at a board of trustees meeting held at UMass Lowell. “UMass continues to grow as more and more students and their families recognize the value that our university provides.”

Over the past decade, student enrollment at UMass has risen almost 27%, from 58,939 in the fall of 2006 to the current 74,678, making UMass one of the fastest-growing universities, public or private, in the nation.

In the recently released U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, the four UMass undergraduate campuses for the first time are all represented in the magazine’s top category, making UMass one of the few systems in the nation to have each campus so recognized.

The flagship campus in Amherst rose two spots to be named the 27th best public university in the nation, and UMass Lowell continued its rapid rise, jumping to 78th among public universities. The UMass Boston and UMass Dartmouth campuses tied at 220th among all national universities. Roughly one in 10 degree-granting four-year colleges and universities in the country made the national universities listing this year.

“Rising enrollment reflects what we constantly hear from students and their parents across the Commonwealth — that UMass was the best decision they ever made,” Meehan said.

Projections show a 1.3% increase to 74,678 undergraduate and graduate students in the system this year.

Victor Woolridge, chairman of the board of trustees, noted that enrollment gains in the UMass system were especially impressive considering the continued decline in the number of high-school students graduating from the Commonwealth’s high schools. “At UMass, every campus strives for and achieves excellence. Word is out about the excellent value a UMass education provides.”

The total number of undergraduate students in the UMass system rose 1.2% to a projected 56,927 students, up from 56,258 in the fall of 2015. The number of graduate students in the system rose 1.5% to a projected 17,751 students from 17,486 students last year.

Enrollment at UMass Medical School, which is strictly at the graduate level, increased 2.3% to a projected 1,104 students, compared to 1,079 students last year. Applications rose 119.2% to a projected 4,126 this year, which is the first year the medical school opened a limited number of seats to out-of-state students. Last year, UMass Medical School received 1,882 applications.

Daily News

WILBRAHAM — The Gaudreau Group Insurance and Financial Services Agency of Wilbraham welcomes Tracy Goodman, personal risk specialist, to its personal insurance team. Using the agency’s access to dozens of carriers to ensure a customized experience for each client, Goodman designs personal risk-management plans for individuals and employer groups, helping protect what’s important to them. She specializes in coverages including life, home, auto, renters, and umbrella.

“Tracy takes pride in completing a thorough coverage analysis with each client, helping them to understand their coverage, feel financially comfortable, and know what to expect if they ever have a loss. She’s a valuable addition to our remarkable personal insurance team, and our clients will benefit from her unique skillset and perspective,” said Jules Gaudreau, president of the Gaudreau Group.

Goodman has been in the insurance industry since 2008, with prior experience in human resources and recruiting. She is co-chair of programs for the Women Business Owners Alliance, is a volunteer and mentor with Girls Inc., conducts community outreach for the Springfield JCC’s J-Art program, and is a member of the Professional Women’s Chamber. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and completed a semester abroad at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel. She is continuing her insurance education in the prestigious Certified Insurance Counselor program.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Bill Grinnell, president of Webber & Grinnell Insurance, announced that Webber & Grinnell has purchased the group benefits department of Ernst Financial Group of East Longmeadow and has formed a new company called Webber & Grinnell Employee Benefits LLC. Mike Welnicki of Ernst Financial and Mat Geffin of Webber & Grinnell will join Grinnell as co-owners of the new corporation.

Grinnell said the entity will serve as a new employee benefits division of Webber & Grinnell and will be led by Welnicki. The move allows Webber & Grinnell to add group medical, dental, life, and disability insurance to its business insurance offerings.

“Webber & Grinnell has worked hand in hand with Ernst Financial for many years, and Mike has been a key collaborator with us on group benefits business,” Grinnell said. “This is a great opportunity to take this segment of the business to a new level. The combined services will provide clients with a really nice complement of business-insurance products.”

John Ernst founded Ernst Financial in 1990 and will continue to operate his financial-services practice. Welnicki, who has served for nine years as a partner at Ernst Financial, will join the Webber & Grinnell team, along with Gretchen Collins, an Ernst account executive for more than 15 years.

Welnicki has been working in the insurance industry, with a focus on employee-benefits practice, since graduating from Springfield College in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management. His key focus areas have been on business development as well as client relationship management.

“I have insight into the benefits, insurance, and financial challenges of businesses, ranging from manufacturers to large medical practices to nonprofit organizations and the local retailer,” Welnicki said. “In an ever-changing employee benefits environment, we will help our clients evaluate all the options for their unique business needs.”

More than 100 corporate clients of Ernst Financial, ranging in size from 10 employees to 300, will follow Welnicki and form the client base for Webber & Grinnell Employee Benefits.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — CARF International announced that West Central Family and Counseling has been accredited for a period of three years for its Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Adults) and Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Children and Adolescents) programs. This is the first accreditation CARF has awarded to West Central Family and Counseling.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a three-year accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer-review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality.

West Central Family and Counseling has been providing outpatient mental-health programs in the Greater Springfield area since 2008. CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served.