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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Coming to Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — A deserving family in Springfield will have their dreams come true in just a few weeks thanks to ABC’s Emmy-winning reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. That family will learn of their good fortune with a knock on the door on Sept. 11, when the show’s team of designers will surprise them with the news that their home will be completely renovated. The build is a race against time involving a team of designers, contractors, and several hundred workers who have just seven days (one week for the actual construction) to rebuild an entire house — every room, the exterior, and landscaping. Normally, a project of this scope would take months, not days. Chicopee-based N. Riley Construction was selected by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s producers to be the lead builder on the project. The Home Builders Assoc. of Western Mass. has also signed on to collect donations and help coordinate volunteer contractors. “We look for builders with big hearts, great skills, and a strong connection within their own community,” explained Milan Vasic, the show’s senior producer. “Nick and his crew at N. Riley Construction were the perfect fit.” The build officially kicked off with an announcement by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Aug. 19. A kickoff pep rally is scheduled for Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. (location TBA) with work beginning on Sept. 11, and continuing around the clock until Sept. 18. “We are thrilled to be part of this project and already have tons of support from the community,” noted Riley. “But we need your help and donations. So please go online and sign up to volunteer and donate.” Organizations and companies that have already signed on include: the city of Springfield, Abide, Ingram and Associates, Southampton Environmental, Durkee, White, Towne, and Chapdelaine, Ondrick, Kohler, Kitchen Encounters, Kraftmaid Cabinets, Silestone, Emtek, Dki, John Pelland Electric, Fontaine Bros., Galen and Sons, Superior Walls, Mvg Home Improvement, Crystal Brook Decorative Concrete, Sherwin Williams, Masterpiece Finishes, Shubee, Contemporary Structures, USG, ABC Supply, Daltile, Baystate Rug and Flooring, Bouchard, Pro-Tech, Select Blinds, Lumber Liquidators, Garvey Communication Associates Inc., James Langone Photography, and Viz-Bang. To donate, volunteer, or for more information, visit www.joinextreme.com/mass. Several families are being considered, and the recipients will be announced on the door-knock date. Local information, including the most up-to-date sponsors’ lists, behind-the-scenes photos, and news flashes, will be posted at facebook.com/emheSpringfield.

State’s Jobless Rate Holds Steady
BOSTON — Massachusetts continues to outperform the nation in job growth, according to the latest statistics from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Employers in the state added nearly 13,000 jobs in July, building on strong gains in the first half of the year, the agency reported. The state’s unemployment rate held steady in July at 7.6%, well below the national rate of 9.1% in July, the office reported. Massachusetts has added more than 50,000 jobs since the beginning of the year.

HCC Plans ‘Working Green’ Training, Certification Programs
HOLYOKE — This fall, the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College will introduce new training courses that provide technical skills and a framework for developing sustainable facilities. “Green Facilities Training for Managers” is an introductory course that focuses on practical ideas and a plan of action for businesses to immediately save money. In addition, HCC will offer “Introduction to Cleaning Green,” “Getting to Sustainability Through Changes in Waste Contracting,” and “Introduction to Green Purchasing.” Also, a “Facility Team Green” program is designed for restaurant and lodging establishments. For more information on programming, visit www.hcc.edu/bcs or contact Rachel Bishop-Cook at (413) 552-2730 or [email protected]

Kindergartners to Receive Literacy Packets
SPRINGFIELD — Children entering the Springfield Public School kindergarten programs this fall will receive a special gift thanks to Link to Libraries Inc. Welcome to Kindergarten, the newest initiative by Link to Libraries, will include a bookbag, new book, bookmark, and educational materials that are bilingual. It is hoped that the selected youths participating in the test pilot program will have the opportunity to read their book with their parents or guardians at home. Classroom teachers will be asked to generate discussion among their pupils to gauge if the sharing of the book occurred at home between the parents or guardians and the youths. It will be requested of each teacher to return a brief survey to Link to Libraries to help determine the success and effectiveness of the program. Link to Libraries has donated more than 26,000 books to schools and nonprofit organizations throughout Western Mass. and Northern and Central Conn., and more than 10,000 books to Springfield public elementary schools since its inception in 2008. For more information, visit www.linktolibraries.org.

NH, Maine Join FastLane/E-ZPass Pacts
BOSTON — The Mass. Department of Transportation recently announced agreements with New Hampshire and Maine enabling all three states to impose sanctions on FastLane/E-ZPass toll violators across each other’s state lines. Enforceable penalties now include registration suspension (Maine) and denial of vehicle registration renewal (New Hampshire and Massachusetts). The tri-state reciprocity agreements are the first such agreements in the nation and mark an important step in ensuring toll equity by addressing revenue losses caused by motorists without FastLane or E-ZPass transponders or whose electronic accounts perennially have insufficient funds. “Electronic tolling accounts accounts for about 70% of our toll revenue,” said Jeffrey Mullan, MassDOT secretary and CEO. “These first-in-the-nation agreements allow us to continue to collect tolls more efficiently, to address toll equity issues, and to collect tolls from out-of-state violators.” The agreements will be in force for one year. After that, the agencies have the option to extend the term of the pilot program for up to two additional one-year periods or create permanent agreements. For more details, visit www.mass.gov/massdot.

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