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HOLYOKE — Jazz icons have performed at the annual Holyoke Community College (HCC) Jazz Festival for 20 years, but, according to Robert Ferrier, the festival organizer and one of its founders, the two-day event has always been more about education.

Each year, eight to 12 high schools and some area colleges bring their music students to the festival to watch, play, jam, and attend clinics and workshops. It gives students an opportunity to meet other emerging musicians, form friendships, and exchange ideas. It’s also a lot of fun, he said. The only thing students don’t do is compete.

“I love it,” said Ferrier, a jazz guitarist and HCC music professor. “It’s educational. No one leaves thinking they lost.”

The annual festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary March 10-11 with jazz trombonist Steve Davis as guest artist. Davis, a renowned trombonist who has played with some of the greatest performers in jazz. A graduate of the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, he began his career with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, later playing with McLean’s group. He has taught alongside McLean at the Hartt School and Artists Collective.

The concept of a regional jazz festival began in 1998 with Ferrier kicking around ideas with Dan Oberholtzer, the former chairman of HCC’s Music Department, and Oberholtzer’s son Chris, a jazz trombonist who was also teaching at HCC.

At the time, nothing like it existed in the area. The concept of a jazz festival for high-school students was a novel idea. Right away, musicians from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School and high schools in Westfield, Holyoke, Amherst, Easthampton, and Springfield, among others, joined in. Soon, local colleges began participating. This year, for the first time, middle-school students from Westfield will also take part.

“We started this, and a year later UMass started one, too,” Ferrier said of the larger festival that generally comes a month after the HCC event. “We start making plans in September.”

The structure of the festival has not changed significantly in 20 years. For the Friday-night kickoff concert, the guest performer plays with the Amherst Jazz Orchestra under the musical direction of David Sporny, in the Leslie Phillips Theater in the college’s Fine and Performing Arts building, beginning at 8 p.m.

“It’s a special event,” said Sporny, a former trombone professor at UMass who has brought his large jazz orchestra to the festival every year. “The festival is not an arts war. It’s not a competition. It’s all educational. The percentage of kids that go on to play professionally is small, but for the kids involved in music, it helps them learn discipline. And the ones who are really passionate about music find each other there.”

The festival continues on Saturday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with big band and jazz combo performances by high-school and HCC students. Clinics, workshops, and jam sessions will be held throughout the day, with Davis participating in music clinics at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

All Saturday events are free and open to the public, including the closing concert from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Leslie Phillips Theater.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) Oncology Department recently received a donation of more 150 hats from 14-year-old Holyoke resident Cameron Boucher.

Cameron, an eighth-grade student at Granite Valley Middle School in Monson, was assigned to complete a community-service project for school. He wanted to choose a project in memory of Danny Boyle, a Holyoke firefighter who worked with Cameron’s father, Mike Boucher. Boyle, who was often seen sporting a baseball cap, lost his battle to brain cancer in 2008.

With the connection between Boyle and baseball caps, Boucher launched Lids for Love as his community service project. Donation boxes were placed at Holyoke City Hall, Holyoke Fire Department headquarters, and Granite Valley Middle School in Monson.

“Danny was always a great big fan of baseball caps. Everywhere he went, he was usually informal and always had his hat on, especially Patriots and Red Sox,” said his widow, Debbie Boyle. “His affinity to hats was long before he was diagnosed, but it was so very important to him while he was going through treatment and losing his hair.”

The hats will be distributed to cancer patients in need. Helen Arnold, director of Oncology and Community Benefit at HMC, noted that “we have never received this type of donation of baseball caps before, and we have a lot of men and women patients who will benefit from this donation. We really appreciate the contribution.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Elizabeth Daley, a 20-year veteran in the public and private accounting sector and a 10-year employee of Webber and Grinnell Insurance, has been named Finance manager at the agency.

Daley is also concurrently pursuing her SHRM-CP certification in human resources from Westfield State University School of Graduate Studies. She will oversee accounting, finance, and human resources.

“Elizabeth has been a great asset to our organization for many years, and it’s nice to fill this position from within the agency,” said company President Bill Grinnell. “The fact that Elizabeth has chosen to earn her Society for Human Resource Management certification is a professional distinction that sets her apart and further elevates both her own and the agency’s credentials.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University College of Pharmacy will hold its seventh annual Continuing Pharmacy Education and Preceptor Development Conference on Thursday, March 16 from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Rivers Memorial Hall. The conference is one way the College of Pharmacy supports the educational needs of pharmacists in the region.

Hundreds of regional pharmacists from New England participate each year in the full-day training program, which will provide insight into legal issues impacting the pharmacy profession, preceptor development, and updates on clinical therapeutics.

The workshops this year include “Naloxone: How It Will Impact the Community,” with Victoria Celetti, PharmD; “Drug Therapy in the Elderly,” with Corey Laskey, PharmD, BCPP; “Annual Pharmacy Law Review,” with David Baker, BS Pharm, MBA, JD; “Patient-centered Care,” with Katelyn Parsons, PharmD, RPh; and “The Focus of Pharmacy Education,” with Kim Tanzer, PharmD.

Upon completion of the program, attendees will earn up to six contact hours of ACPE-accredited continuing pharmacy education. There is no charge to attend the conference, but advanced registration is required. To register, visit wnerxce.org. For more information, contact Joanne Moore at [email protected] or (413) 796-2046.

For more information about the other training opportunities at the Western New England University College of Pharmacy, e-mail Kim Tanzer, assistant dean, Experiential Affairs, and Continuing Education administrator, at [email protected].

Daily News

WILBRAHAM — Rick’s Place recently received a $10,000 Grief Reach grant from the New York Life Foundation, which will enable the organization to make significant improvements to its technological capacities, including major website enhancements.

The New York Life Foundation created the Grief Reach program to help providers overcome barriers to bringing grief-support services to youth not served by existing bereavement programs. One hundred and ninety-five Grief Reach grants totaling nearly $6 million have been awarded since the program’s inception in 2011. The New York Life Foundation has been one of the leading funders in the childhood-bereavement field, investing more than $30 million to date in support of grieving children and their families.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The general membership meeting of the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) to induct new members and present the 2016 President’s Awards took place on Feb. 16 at the Login Cabin in Holyoke.

The 190 attendees enjoyed statements from President Richard Sawicki, immediate Past President Lou Mayo, CEO Ben Scranton, and guest speaker Jamie Moore, National Assoc. of Realtors Region I vice president. Six new Realtors were induced into membership by RAPV Secretary Susan Drumm.

The President’s Award is presented to those Realtors who have shown exemplary involvement in the association and outstanding sales activity throughout the year. A combination of participation in membership meetings, networking events, and service to various committees, along with overall sales criteria, contribute to qualification for the award. A total of 64 Realtors were recognized with a President’s Award.

Daily News

LONGMEADOWNew York Times featured chef Franny Krushinsky will visit Bay Path University on Thursday, March 2, to present on the topic, “Is Sustainable Food Sustainable?” The lecture will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Breck Suite located in Wright Hall on the university’s Longmeadow campus.

Krushinsky is a certified holistic nutrition counselor at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City and will showcase how to make sustainable food approachable, comprehensible, and easily adaptable to people’s daily lives. Krushinsky has worked with celebrity chefs and catered for famous companies such as Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Fursteberg.

This event is part of Bay Path’s Kaleidoscope series, which fosters openness, curiosity, and dialogue concerning issues and topics in local and global communities, and is free and open to the public. Registration is strongly encouraged and available at www.baypath.edu/events-calendar.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced the promotion of Kara Graves, CPA from audit and accounting senior associate to manager, and the promotion of Joe Vreedenburgh from audit and accounting associate to senior associate. Additionally, MBK welcomed Nathan Nicholson to the firm as a Tax senior associate.

Graves, who has been with MBK since 2011, has spent the last six years developing a diversified technical skill set with a focus in the company’s commercial audit niche. She has also had the opportunity to develop a leadership skill set, serving as the in-charge accountant on a variety of large-scale projects. During that time, she has demonstrated her ability to lead teams through challenging projects, all while delivering a quality client service experience. Before coming to MBK, Graves worked as an associate at a regional public accounting firm in Westwood. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree from Western New England University.

Vreedenburgh, who was promoted to senior associate in the audit and accounting niche, has been with MBK since 2014. His promotion is the result of his continued commitment to technical development, excellent client service, and team-oriented approach. As a senior associate, he will be leveraging his 10 years of accounting experience to help lead teams in conducting the audit process. He specializes in commercial audits and accounting, employee-benefit plans, not-for-profit entities, and individual and business taxation. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington and holds an master’s degree from UMass Amherst. He is a member of the AICPA and MSCPA and treasurer of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

Nicholson comes to MBK from the Ayco Company, L.P., a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs in Latham, N.Y., where he worked as a tax associate, handling individual, trust, and gift-tax returns for high-net-worth individuals. He has a range of experience working with governmental, nonprofit, and for-profit entities, including banking, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, and small family-owned businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College. He has mentored high-school business classes on the basics of tax preparation and financial planning.

“Kara and Joe have worked hard to develop themselves technically and as leaders within our organization,” said partner Howard Cheney, CPA. “Our succession plan demands that our next generation be not only technically competent, but ready to deliver premier service and value our clients have come to expect. We are confident in Kara and Joe’s ability to provide that exceptional experience, and Nathan’s addition to our team only serves to strengthen our next generation.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced that David Griffin Jr. has been promoted to vice president. Griffin is based out of the Holyoke office and works with the other branches based in Hadley, Southampton, Ludlow, and Indian Orchard.

“The Dowd Insurance Agencies is the oldest family-owned agency in Massachusetts,” said David Griffin Sr., “and I am very proud that my son has chosen to continue that legacy of family leadership. We look forward to the future with a strong management team in place. Now a part of that team, Dave earned his place by honing in on his sales and customer-service skills and adding responsibilities that benefit our internal team and our customers.”

Griffin began his role as vice president this past December and looks forward to continuing to grow the organization through new-business development, strategic initiatives, operational efficiency, and managing the firm’s use of technology.

“Dave has grown considerably in his evolving role here at Dowd,” said John Dowd Jr., president and CEO of the Dowd Insurance Agencies. “While sales is his primary function, his aptitude and enthusiasm for technology has been a welcome skill set for our agency, and he is now in charge of IT here at Dowd. Dave has demonstrated a command of these responsibilities in a relatively short period of time. We decided it was time to make him an officer of the corporation where he can interact regularly with senior management and help manage the overall direction of the agency going forward.”

David Griffin Jr. has been a member of the Dowd team since June 2009. He began his career in the insurance industry as a property and casualty underwriter for Liberty Mutual with stops in Schaumburg, Ill. and Charlotte, N.C., before coming back to Western Mass. He is a 2007 graduate of Bentley University in Waltham, where he earned his degree in finance, and he received his designation as a certified insurance counselor in 2014. Currently, Griffin is an active member of the community, serving on the boards of directors for the Holyoke Rotary Club, the Sisters of Providence Health System (foundation board), and Wistariahurst. Additionally, he also supports the United Way of Pioneer Valley as a member of the resource development committee.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Seats are still available for the ninth annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, to be held on Thursday, March 30 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

The winners, profiled in the Jan. 23 issue and at businesswest.com, are the Community Colleges of Western Mass. (Berkshire Community College, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, and
Springfield Technical Community College); Friends of the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round; Denis Gagnon Sr., president and CEO of Excel Dryer Inc.; Junior Achievement of Western Mass.; and Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One.

Tickets to the event cost $65 per person, with tables of 10 available. To order, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

Difference Makers is a program, launched in 2009, that recognizes groups and individuals that are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. Event sponsors include First American Insurance; Health New England; JGS Lifecare; Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Northwestern Mutual; O’Connell Care at Home; Royal, P.C.; and Sunshine Village.