Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast announced the appointment of Daniel Bonelli as vice president of Finance for the company’s Western New England Region, which includes more than 300 communities in Connecticut, Western Mass., New York, Vermont, and Western New Hampshire.

In this role, Bonelli will oversee all financial operations, including finance and accounting, warehouse and materials, information technology, facilities, security, fleet management, and environmental health and safety.

Bonelli began his career with Comcast in the Western New England Region in 2007 as a financial analyst. He quickly progressed to manager and then director before being promoted to senior director of Finance in 2014. In 2016, he relocated to the Philadelphia area, where he served as senior director of Finance for one of Comcast’s largest regions, overseeing a team of 60.

“Dan has an outstanding background in finance and operations,” said Michael Parker, senior vice president of Comcast’s Western New England Region. “His expertise in analysis, planning, and execution make him the ideal leader to oversee our financial operations, and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to Connecticut to join our regional leadership team.”

Bonelli graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Central Connecticut State University.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Annie Rosa signed up for the free Line Cook Training program at Holyoke Community College with a clear objective in mind — get a job working in one of the new restaurants opening soon at MGM Springfield.

The 38-year-old Springfield resident had worked in other restaurant kitchens, including Cracker Barrel, Cafe Lebanon, and Subway, but admits that most of her experience came from cooking for her family. She needed a professional boost. 

“I’m an MGM hopeful,” she said earlier this month, not long after starting daily classes at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. Then, before the four-week training program concluded on June 29, Rosa accepted an offer to work as a pantry chef at the Chandler, MGM’s fine-dining steakhouse. She starts July 30.

“I’m no longer a hopeful. I’m part of the show,” she said. “I came here with a plan. I passed my ServSafe training and my TIPS training. I made new friends. I learned new things. And to work for MGM and have the possibility of growing my career with them — that was my ultimate goal. Overall, it was an awesome experience.”

So far, half the students in the program — four of the eight who completed the training — have been offered restaurant jobs with MGM.

Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Line Cook Training, which is free to experienced kitchen workers who want to take their culinary skills to a higher level.

“This is designed for professionals who have been out there for a while,” said HCC Culinary Arts instructor Warren Leigh. “Maybe they’re prep cooks, maybe they’re line cooks and they want to get better. They want to move up. That’s what we’re hoping to get in the next round also. That way we can push them to be better. We can make them better with their knife skills, really master sautéing, really master grilling — as best as we can in four weeks.”

Classes will run Monday through Friday, July 23 through Aug. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute at 164 Race St., Holyoke. Class topics include moist and dry cooking methods, soups, stocks, sauces, knife skills, culinary math, and ServSafe and TIPS certifications. Students will also participate in résumé workshops and mock interviews.

The program is funded partly through a $50,000 grant HCC recently received as winner of the Deval Patrick Prize from the Boston Foundation for expanding its Culinary Arts program to help address workforce needs.

Applicants must have at least two years of experience working in the culinary industry. For more information or to register, call Ann Rocchi, job placement assistant, at (413) 552-2753, or Milissa Daniels, career development counselor, at (413) 552-2042.

Daily News

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that the credit-rating agency S & P Global Ratings has raised Bradley International Airport’s rating on its general airport revenue refunding bonds from ‘A’ to ‘A+’ with a stable outlook.

“S & P Global Ratings is one of the most respected and widely used sources for credit ratings,” said Charles Gray, chairman of the CAA Board of Directors. “We’re pleased that the agency shares our confidence in Bradley International Airport’s fiscally responsible management team and the airport’s continued success.”

S & P Global Ratings assigns a credit rating for Bradley International Airport’s public debt obligations. Some of the factors taken into account during the rating process include the airport’s strong financial and risk-management practices, steadily improving liquidity, low and declining debt burden, strong origin and destination base, diverse service-area economy, airline diversity, and increasing number of enplanements and positive trends. 

“Our business model is to attract new air carriers and to improve facilities while maintaining a competitive cost structure,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “The raised rating demonstrates our continued financial stability and growth. It is an important indicator of Bradley Airport’s strength in the aviation marketplace and its key role as an economic driver in the region.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Every year, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women asks every state legislator to nominate someone from their district as an “Unsung Heroine.” For state Rep. Aaron Vega, this year’s pick was Debbie Flynn-Gonzalez, program director at the Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke peer-recovery support center.

Flynn-Gonzalez was honored with more than 100 other women on June 20 at the Massachusetts State House’s Great Hall. Each Unsung Heroine received a citation signed by Gov. Charlie Baker and had her bio read aloud at the event.

“I am so impressed with Deb’s leadership among our most vulnerable and the supportive community she’s created,” Vega said. “I’m proud that she has been able to do this work in my hometown, and we’re all the richer for it.”

Flynn-Gonzalez began her career in social work as a mental-health clinician performing outreach work in Holyoke 24 years ago before her personal background in recovery led her to work with the recovery community. She launched the first peer-recovery program for pregnant and parenting women in Holyoke and led that program for eight years. She has been program director at Hope for Holyoke for three years.

“Recovery is different for women,” she says. “For a mother in recovery, your children are your greatest source of motivation. I always understood that as someone who has walked in their shoes.” 

Hope for Holyoke has 300 active members, with an average of 50 people accessing the center daily. One of the members, Kaitlyn, who leads a spiritual journey group there, has high praise for Flynn-Gonzalez. “People walk through these doors broken,” she said. “Starting our day feeling loved is difficult. Deb always makes me feel cared for. She brings out the best in me.”

At the event, Flynn-Gonzalez noted that she couldn’t help but think of the many people in recovery she had meet throughout the years. “For me, it is just such an honor to be part of their journeys. For some of them it is very brief, and they move on. But for others, they remain a part of my life as they continue to grow. Some of them even work in the field now, and they are the new generation of women who will be carrying on this all-so-important peer-recovery work.”

Flynn-Gonzalez earned her bachelor’s degree in social work at UMass Amherst and her master’s degree in counseling and psychology from Cambridge College. She is fluent in Spanish and said she learned the language on the streets of Holyoke and from the mothers she worked with early in her career.

Daily News

BOSTON — A new, statewide study of marijuana use among Massachusetts residents found that about 21% of adults had used marijuana in the past 30 days, and the proportion of marijuana use was highest among 18- to 25-year-olds.

The study, conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), was mandated by the Legislature as part of its revisions to the 2016 adult-use marijuana law. The purpose of the study was to investigate the patterns of use, methods of consumption, and general perceptions of marijuana; incidents of impaired driving and hospitalization related to marijuana use; and the economic and fiscal impacts for state and local governments.

“The study establishes a baseline measurement of how marijuana is used and how that affects public health, public safety, and potential revenue in the state before adult-use marijuana becomes widely available,’’ said Marc Nascarella, the study’s principal investigator.

Among the study’s other highlights, smoking is the most common method of marijuana consumption, although more than 40% of marijuana users report using multiple methods of use. More than half of adults perceive marijuana to have slight or no risks and use marijuana for non-medical purposes.

A survey of patients who use marijuana products for medical use suggests that the average person uses marijuana 24 days a month, with the majority using marijuana products for at least 21 out of the past 30 days.

Among respondents that use marijuana, 34.3% reported driving under the influence. Overall, 7.2% of the adult population drove under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days, and 11.3% of adults rode with a marijuana-using driver in the past 30 days. This is similar to estimates from a survey of medical marijuana patients that found approximately 10% of respondents drove under the influence in the past 30 days.

The number of marijuana-related calls to the Regional Poison Control Center in Massachusetts has been increasing over time. The calls include incidents of unintentional exposures among children, with the majority of calls related to 10- to 19-year-old individuals, and/or exposure to dried marijuana flower. The proportion of calls increased after medical marijuana was available in the Commonwealth. 

Economic projections suggest that marijuana will increase Massachusetts state revenue by about $215.8 million in the first two years of retail sales. The increase will largely come from sales and excise taxes collected on retail purchases. Based on experiences from states with existing legalized adult use, sales-tax revenue is expected to be higher in the second year ($154.2 million), as compared to the first year ($61.6 million). 

The study began in early 2017 and was conducted by DPH, in consultation with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. In addition to state-agency expertise, DPH partnered with the UMass Donahue Institute/UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Mathematica Policy Research Inc., and JSI Research and Training Inc. to assist with the execution of the study.