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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Sue Drumm was installed as the 2020 president of the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley (RAPV), a nonprofit trade association with more than 1,800 members. More than 140 people were in attendance at the 105th annual installation of officers and directors held on Jan. 9 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.

Drumm is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Longmeadow. She has been active in real estate since 2009 and has served on the RAPV board of directors since 2013. She is involved in several committees at the association, including the community service, education fair and expo, finance, government affairs, and member engagement committees.

In addition to the president, the 2020 RAPV officers installed include Elias Acuña as president-elect, Shawn Bowman as treasurer, Cheryl Malandrinos as secretary, and Kelly Page as immediate past president. Directors include Arlene Castellano, Luci Giguere, Lori Grant, Sharyn Jones, Peter Davies, Janise Fitzpatrick, Sara Gasparrini, Cheryl Malandrinos, and Clinton Stone.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Interested in working as a legal interpreter? Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer training beginning Feb. 25.

The course runs through April, with classes meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Offered as a certificate program through the Workforce Development Center at STCC, this class is open to Spanish-, Portuguese-, Arabic-, and Russian-speaking students who would like to expand their interpreting skills in legal settings. Interpreting is a high-demand field, with jobs expected to grow by 19% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Large increases in the number of non-English-speaking people in the U.S. will drive growth, the bureau reports.

The course will cover the most in-demand types of hearings, such as due-process hearings, unemployment hearings, and depositions. Students will learn legal terminology and procedural protocols needed to interpret for these various types of hearings.

In addition, students will have the opportunity for intense practice through mock hearings, which will give them the experience and comfort level needed to apply for work in the field. Trained legal interpreters are in demand throughout Massachusetts and nationwide in law offices, schools, state agencies, and contracting agencies.

For more information and to enroll online, visit stcc.edu/wdc/descriptions/legal-interpreting. To contact the Workforce Development Center office, call (413) 755-4225.

Daily News

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. — The Collins Companies, one of the largest industrial distributors of pipe, valves, fittings, and engineered specialties serving the Northeast, announced a change in executive management roles effective Jan. 1. Brian Tuohey, owner and president of Collins, will be assuming the role of CEO and has promoted Vice President of Sales Paul Andruszkiewicz to president.

“My decision was prompted by how quickly things are changing today, in both our world and our industry. It has become clear to me that we have to be aggressively embracing and pursuing the changes that are occurring every day in our industry while still running a highly successful day-to-day business,” Tuohey said. “Paul has over 30 years of service with Collins and truly understands what it takes to run a successful business day in and day out. This will free me up to be able to think big and pursue larger initiatives that will propel our business into the next decade.”

Added Andruszkiewicz, “I am honored to be trusted with the role as president and look forward to the challenges ahead. We have always been lucky to have high employee retention, which only means that I have an amazingly talented team of professionals to help me.”

In addition to these changes, Dave Shepard, branch manager of the Haverhill sales office, will lead the Collins sales team as director of Sales. He has more than 25 years of experience in the industry, first purchasing for Atwood and Morrill and then in sales for Power House Supply before Collins acquired Power House in 2015.

Headquartered in East Windsor, Conn., the Collins Companies is comprised of Collins Pipe & Supply Co., Collins Controls, Niagara Controls, Collins Niagara, Power House Supply Co., and International Valve and Instrument, with nine locations throughout New England and Upstate New York.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 14.

Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-nomination-form.

Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event’s presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, WWLP-22News is the media sponsor, and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield is a partner. Other sponsorship opportunities are available.

Daily News

Mike Mathis, the individual who guided MGM Springfield through the permitting and construction phases and then the first 17 months of operation, is out at the South End resort casino. MGM has chosen to go in another direction, leadership-wise, and probably also with regard to how the casino operates.

Mathis’s ouster was announced Tuesday, and it was immediately linked to December’s record-low monthly performance for the Springfield casino when it comes to gross gaming revenues — under $19 million. That same month, Encore Boston had its best month since it opened last summer (with $54 million), and the juxtaposition of the numbers is telling.

What they show, at least from a gaming revenues standpoint, is that MGM is not attracting enough gamblers — it’s not bringing enough people to its doors. Chris Kelley, who ran MGM’s operation in Northfield Park in Ohio and took over in Springfield on Tuesday, will be charged with changing that equation. Mathis will assume a new role as senior vice president of Business Development at MGM, working on various company initiatives.

“We are excited to have Chris lead the MGM Springfield team,” said Jorge Perez, regional portfolio president of MGM Resorts International. “Chris’ experience in Ohio, rebranding and integrating a property and introducing MGM to the community, will be an asset for Springfield as we continue to work closely with the community and strive to not only be a world-class entertainment destination but also a good corporate neighbor.”

That won’t be an easy assignment. Indeed, while MGM Springfield has succeeded in bringing jobs, additional vibrancy, and opportunities for a number of small businesses, it hasn’t really succeeded in its primary mission — bringing people to Springfield.

This has been clear since the day it opened in August 2018, when visitation was well below what was expected. For roughly a year, Mathis repeatedly used the phrase ‘ramping up’ to describe what was happening, with the expectation — based on previous experience at other casinos — that the numbers would improve.

There have been some good months since, but the numbers haven’t improved significantly, if at all. And now that Encore Boston seems to be hitting its stride, it will that much more difficult to improve those gaming revenues.

From the start, the question has always been ‘will people come to Springfield?’ But there have been variations on that query, including ‘will people come to Springfield now that Encore Boston is open?’ and ‘will people come to Springfield instead of Boston, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and all the other places where there’s casino gambling?’

Roughly 17 months after the casino opened, the answer to the question is the proverbial ‘yes, but…’ And the ‘but’ is followed by ‘not enough of them.’

It’s clear that MGM will have to create more draws — like the highly successful Red Sox weekend that brought an estimated 10,000 people to Main Street — to bring individuals and groups to the City of Homes.

In short, people need more reasons to come to the Springfield casino, and it will be Chris Kelley’s assignment to create them.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Whittlesey announced the promotions of Tom Dowling and Chris Nadeau to director.

Dowling joined the firm in 2017 and has more than 10 years of experience in assurance, tax, and advisory services. His primary focus is on assurance and advisory services for closely held businesses and nonprofit organizations. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and a master’s degree in taxation from Bentley University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA), as well as the Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Chris Nadeau joined the firm in 2015 and has more than 13 years of experience in public and private industry accounting. His primary focus is on business valuations for closely held businesses and professional service and medical practices. He is a member of the firm’s strategic leadership group. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in accounting, from Westfield State University and is a member of AICPA, MSCPA, and the Institute of Management Accountants. He is a certified valuation analyst, a credential issued by the National Assoc. for Certified Valuators and Analysts, as well as a certified management accountant and a certified information technology professional.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance recently welcomed Pamela Ortiz as a business development specialist working in its Holyoke branch, Ross, Webber & Grinnell. She will be responsible for business development of home and auto business in Hampden County.

Most recently, Ortiz was a licensed sales producer at Allstate and a customer-service representative at Farm Family Insurance. She is licensed in property and casualty, life, and medical in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Daily News

AGAWAM — The deadline to apply for a 2020 Local Farmer Award is fast-approaching, with a deadline of Friday, Jan. 31.

“We are excited to be offering these awards for the sixth year and look forward to helping more farms with projects that help them gain efficiencies and expand their businesses,” said program Director Cari Carpenter.

To date, the Local Farmer Awards have funded 250 infrastructure-improvement awards of up to $2,500 for projects like automating pruning equipment on a fruit farm, helping to upgrade a greens-sanitizing system, and netting to protect blueberries from birds. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and with the support of other funders, plans to support more than 50 projects this year.

To be eligible, farms must have gross sales of $10,000 or above and be a member of either Berkshire Grown or Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), or reside in one the four counties of Western Mass. Berkshire Grown and CISA share their passion for local farms by providing ongoing guidance and helping to promote the Local Farmer Awards. 

“One of the most helpful sources of funding for both beginning farms and multi-generational farms is the Local Farmer Awards from the Grinspoon Foundation,” said Phil Korman, executive director of CISA. “We have seen literally almost 200 Local Hero farms get helpful funds for infrastructure-improvement projects in the last five years. And it is easy to apply.”

Interested applicants should visit www.farmerawards.org for more information.

Daily News

AMHERST — Five Colleges Inc. has been awarded a $2.5 million, four-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help its member campuses transform how they approach Native American and indigenous studies (NAIS), with the goal of enhancing teaching, learning, and scholarship in the field. The grant is one of the largest made by foundation to the consortium to date, and is also one of the consortium’s largest grant awards from any funder in its 50-year history.

“We are honored to receive this funding from the Mellon Foundation,” said Sarah Pfatteicher, executive director of Five Colleges. “This award represents the Mellon Foundation’s continued support for the consortium and the significant work our member campuses are doing to advance the humanities in service of society. Importantly, it also recognizes our efforts to build sustained, reciprocal relationships with Native American scholars and communities, and will support further efforts in this area.”

The Five College campuses — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and UMass Amherst — are located in the Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley, which has historically been a crossroads of indigenous nations. Today it remains a central gathering place for NAIS scholars as well as for Native American and indigenous leaders, artists, writers, and activists.

“With this remarkable grant, we want to honor, humbly and respectfully, this history of being a space where people’s pathways converge,” Pfatteicher said.

Called “Gathering at the Crossroads: Building Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Five College Consortium,” the effort will allow the campuses to develop and establish a set of new academic pathways for students interested in Native American and indigenous Studies — supported by new faculty, new courses, and new course modules — as well as create new advising structures to guide students through these academic options. The grant includes funding to bring a variety of scholars and indigenous experts to the campuses to collaborate in this work.

“We are thankful to Mellon and thrilled to expand NAIS’ reach and programming,” said Professor Laura Furlan, faculty member at UMass Amherst and chair of the long-standing Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Committee. “This truly is an exciting time to be a part of NAIS in the Valley.”

Amherst College Professors Lisa Brooks and Kiara Vigil, both longtime members of Five College NAIS, noted in a joint statement that, “for many years, a hallmark of the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies program has been an abiding commitment to collaboration and community building. We are excited about the opportunity this Mellon Grant offers us to further build and extend that collaboration and community, providing additional, needed support to nurture these ongoing efforts, which will enable future intellectual and cultural work within the Five Colleges, throughout the Kwinitekw Valley, and across a wider Native network.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts is seeking nominations for its Pioneer Valley Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy. The foundation, in partnership with the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, annually celebrates a professional advisor who makes philanthropic planning with their clients an important part of their practice, helping to grow and transform the region by encouraging generosity.

A Pioneer Valley Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy nominee must be a professional advisor (i.e. attorneys, accountants, investment managers, financial planners, trust officers, and not someone who is employed by a nonprofit directly), and actively promote charitable giving to clients through estate, tax, financial and/or gift planning and encourage clients to give through specific channels, including gifts to organizations in the Pioneer Valley. Current volunteers and trustees at the Community Foundation are not eligible for the award.

To nominate an individual for this honor, click here. Nominations are due by Friday, Jan. 31, and the award will be presented at the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County’s meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, beginning at 11:45 a.m. at Max’s Tavern at the Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield.