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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that attorney Kimberly Klimczuk will present a workshop on Massachusetts’ new pay-equity law at the upcoming Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference taking place on April 6-7 at the Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel in Springfield. The event, in its 11th year, is expected to draw more than 600 attendees from the government, nonprofit, civil-rights and legal sectors.

“Laws concerning and protecting employees’ civil rights are constantly evolving, and it is imperative to stay abreast of emerging issues,” said Klimczuk. “The workshop will facilitate a thoughtful exchange on pressing topics of the day as they relate to Massachusetts’ new pay-equity law, which will go into effect next year.”

Klimczuk joined Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. in 2004 and concentrates her practice in labor law and employment litigation. She became a partner with the firm in 2011. Her experience includes negotiating collective-bargaining agreements and advising on contract interpretation and successfully defending clients in state and federal court and before administrative agencies in a variety of areas of employment law, including wage/hour law, discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, and breach of contract. In addition, she has assisted employers in compliance matters involving the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and drafted numerous affirmative-action plans for them.

The Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference is free to attend and open to the public, though registration is required. For more information or to register, visit www.fhcrconference.com.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank has been named a finalist for the prestigious 2017 Halo Award, the winner of which will be announced in Chicago on June 1.

The Halo Awards recognize corporate social-responsibility initiatives and are presented annually at the Engage for Good conference in Chicago. These prestigious awards look at social campaigns that take innovative and impactful approaches to supporting causes, targeting both consumers and employees. Past recipients of the awards include many of the most globally recognized brands.

Berkshire Bank was named a finalist in the Employee Engagement category, which highlights programs focused on meaningfully and measurably engaging a company’s employees in a cause-focused initiative to achieve both a social and a business impact. Berkshire is being recognized for its Xtraordinary Day of Service, which occurred in June 2016, through which it mobilized 95% of the workforce to directly impact more than 100,000 individuals, as well as with its broader XTEAM corporate employee volunteer program. The other finalists for the award include Viacom, Kohl’s, and Xylem Watermark.

The XTEAM program provides every employee with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours at a series of company-supported projects. The company’s entire workforce participated in the program last year, donating more than 40,000 hours of service. The volunteer program complements the company’s commitment to the communities it serves, along with more than $2 million provided annually through grants and sponsorships.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Hundreds of construction workers, city officials, MGM employees, and others gathered at the future site of MGM Springfield Thursday to watch a crane raise the final steel beam into place.

The topping-off ceremony was preceded by short speeches by MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Enrique Zuniga, Tishman Construction Vice President Randy Pitts, and Iron Workers Local 7 Business Manager Fiore Grasetti.

The $950 million casino is scheduled to open in Springfield’s South End in 2018, and Sarno in particular characterized it as the centerpiece of the neighborhood’s recovery from the 2011 tornado.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis speaks at the ceremony alongside Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who characterized MGM as a “phoenix” rising from the wreckage of the 2011 tornado.

Business Manager Fiore Grasetti

Iron Workers Local 7 Business Manager Fiore Grasetti addresses the crowd at the ceremony.

The final circular beam is raised into the sky.

The final circular beam is raised into the sky.

A crane maneuvers the final beam into place atop the future home of HGM Springfield.

A crane maneuvers the final beam into place atop the future home of MGM Springfield.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Beginning Monday, May 1, the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. The course will be completed on June 1. Tuition is $359 and includes the book and materials.

The course curriculum includes property rights, ownership, condos, land use, contracts, deeds, financing, mortgages, real-estate brokerage, appraisal, fair housing, consumer protection, Massachusetts license law, and more.

Classes meet Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at the association office, 221 Industry Ave., Springfield. For an application, contact Joanne Leblond at (413) 785-1328 or [email protected], or visit www.rapv.com.

Daily News

MONSON — For the seventh year in a row, Monson Savings Bank asked the community to help plan the bank’s community-giving activities by inviting people to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during 2017.

“We are very pleased that this program continues to be something that people truly appreciate, and really benefits the communities we serve. We actually started to get inquiries of when it was going to kick off back in early fall,” said Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank. “We were thrilled to hear from so many people.”

The top vote getters are Wilbraham United Players, Shriners Hospitals for Children, River East School-to-Career, Rick’s Place, Boy Scouts of Western Mass., Monson Bellmen Inc., Link to Libraries, Nomads of Hope, the Center for Human Development, and Monson Free Library.

“Our communities voted for more than 200 organizations this year,” added Lowell. “I have to say, it feels great to be part of such a wonderful community full of concerned, active, and committed citizens.”

Daily News

LEE — Porchlight VNA/Home Care President and CEO Holly Chaffee will speak at the National Leadership Conference, jointly sponsored by the Visiting Nurse Associations of America and the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation. This premier event for senior and emerging leaders of home-based care providers nationwide will take place in San Diego on April 19-21.

Leading experts, strategic thinkers, and executives in the home-based-care industry will offer presentations and interactive education sessions. There is a pre-conference seminar on Wednesday, April 19, which attendees may add to their conference registration.

Chaffee will be speaking on corporate compliance. She has led Porchlight staff to accomplishing five-star status as well as Home Care elite recognition and deficiency-free surveys.

To register online for the National Leadership Conference, click here. For information on the schedule, click here.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — The Three County Fair’s 2016 radio advertising campaign won two first-place advertising awards. The Massachusetts Broadcasters Assoc. awarded the fair’s radio campaign first place in the annual Sound Bites Awards competition, while the Massachusetts Fairs Assoc. awarded the campaign first place in its annual Media Awards competition.

“Our radio campaign makes the fair come alive with rapid-fire ‘snapshots’ of the huge variety of things going on at the fair day and night,” said Bruce Shallcross, General Manager of the Three County Fair. “The commercials run once per hour throughout the fair weekend on seven radio stations. The effect is that the fair is the place to be — full of excitement with something for everyone, from the oxen pull to the wine tasting.”

The campaign was created by Pat Kelly and Joe O’Rourke of Saga Communications, a broadcast company that owns and operates seven radio stations in Western Mass., including Rock 102, the River 93.9, Lazer 99.3, and Bear Country 95.3.

The Three County Fair is the oldest continuous agricultural fair in the U.S and will celebrate its 200th year Labor Day weekend of 2017.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The ninth annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held tonight, 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.

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.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Jess Miller, a Springfield-based comedian, launched FunnyRaising Comedy Shows in 2014, a company that brings in comedians for a stand-up comedy show fund-raiser. In one year, the new company has helped organizations raise more than $200,000 collectively.

“The first fund-raiser was for Foster Kids,” Miller said. “I then did a second fund-raiser for a friend of who had been diagnosed with stage-3 breast cancer. Organizations started calling me, wanting to set up their own comedy show fund-raisers. I thought it was a great way to give back.”

Organizations like nonprofits, high-school bands, and PTOs have raised between $1,000 and $19,000. Results have varied, but the average show raises about $5,000. “We’re looking to raise more money in 2017 for local organizations,” Miller said.

For each event, Miller provides organizations with three comics, flyers, social-media and e-mail images, tickets to sell, website and social-media postings, and sound and lights (when necessary). The organization is responsible for picking a venue (Miller also has some to choose from), picking the fund-raiser date, and selling tickets to the fund-raiser. The organizations that raise the most have additional options to raise funds, like raffles and 50/50 draws. Based on preferences, the comedy shows are rated anywhere from PG to R.

Miller is the creator and producer of the “OMG! It’s Only Wednesday?” comedy show at Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee. She recently placed in the top three of the Devil Cup Comedy Festival in New York City and has performed stand-up comedy throughout New England and New York City at places such as Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Comedy Connection in Rhode Island, New York Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Comic Strip Live, Broadway Comedy Club, and Caroline’s on Broadway.