Thornes Shops Cedar Chest, Stay Golden Change Hands
NORTHAMPTON — Two longtime downtown businesspeople, Lauren Gunther and Alex Feinstein, have together purchased two stores in Thornes Marketplace: Cedar Chest, which is in its 75th year, and Stay Golden, a new business on the first floor. Gunther, previously the merchandise manager for both businesses, and Feinstein, the former owner of GoBerry in Northampton and Amherst, purchased the stores in mid-April from Rich Madowitz, who is also a co-owner of Thornes. Gunther and Feinstein are both natives of Hampshire County. Feinstein closed his Amherst shop early in the pandemic, and the GoBerry in Northampton closed in January 2022. He has been doing pandemic-related financial consulting in the region and had been actively looking for his next challenge when Madowitz connected the two new co-owners late last year because he thought their skillsets were a great fit for joint ownership. Gunther has been with Cedar Chest for 13 years. Feinstein came into the mix in early December 2022 in a consultant role. Cedar Chest, an eclectic gift store, carries everything from home décor to stationery, loungewear, bath and body products, and holiday items. Its new sister store, Stay Golden, which opened in October 2022, offers primarily casual and business clothing for women along with jewelry and other accessories. About 30 associates work at the shops, with a half-dozen dedicated to Stay Golden. Gunther and Feinstein said they do not have plans to make changes to merchandise in the stores, but they will be looking at creating efficiencies that will allow them to make their staff team stronger.
Florence Bank Awards $150,000 in Customers’ Choice Grants
FLORENCE — In its 21st year, Florence Bank’s Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program awarded $150,000 to 46 area nonprofits in honor of the bank’s 150th anniversary. Thirteen organizations received $5,000 grants: Dakin Humane Society, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Amherst Survival Center, Friends of the Williamsburg Library, Northampton Survival Center, Goshen Firefighter’s Assoc. Inc., Cancer Connection, Manna Soup Kitchen, It Takes a Village, Friends of Forbes Library, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Our Lady of the Hills Parish, and Friends of Lilly Library. These 23 organizations also received an award: Williamsburg Firefighter Assoc., $4,701; Bernese Auction Rescue Coalition Inc., $4,652; Easthampton Community Center, $4,309; Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, $4,064; Northampton Neighbors, $4,064; Springfield Shriners Hospitals for Children, $3,917; Grow Food Northampton Inc., $3,819; Amherst Neighbors, $3,721; Smith Vocational High School PTO, $3,721; Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, $3,624; Performing Arts Charter School, $3,575; Therapeutic Equestrian Center, $3,575; Kestrel Land Trust, $3,427; Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, $3,330; Northampton Community Music Center, $3,232; Safe Passage, $3,134; Empty Arms Bereavement Support, $2,987; New Hingham Elementary School PTO, $2,987; R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, $2,889; Whole Children, $2,693; Belchertown K-9, $2,595; Northampton Football League, $2,545; and Tapestry, $2,448.
Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2022, roughly 7,000 votes were cast, making 36 nonprofits eligible for a grant; the other 10 funded organizations were invited to attend the event and were surprised with their $500 award. They are: the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, Gray House, Holyoke Community College Foundation, Mental Health Assoc. Inc., Springfield Rescue Mission, the Parish Cupboard, and Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center. Over the past 21 years, Florence Bank has donated a total of $1.5 million to 165 organizations.
Delaney’s Market Store Opens in South Hadley
SOUTH HADLEY — The fourth Delaney’s Market store, located at 459 Granby Road, South Hadley, opened with a ribbon-cutting celebration on May 25. Delaney’s Market is a retail store that features chef-inspired, ready-made meals that are fresh and ready to serve with no real effort. Delaney’s Market strives to assist the busy individual or family that wants to eat a quality lunch or dinner at their home or office without the hassle of long prep times or high costs. The South Hadley location is unique because it is the new home of Delaney Market’s production kitchen. The first Delaney’s Market store, located at the Longmeadow Shops in Longmeadow, has been open since 2016. The Wilbraham and Westfield locations have been open since 2019.
Keiter Corp. Spins Off Site-work Division into Wholly Owned Subsidiary
FLORENCE — Keiter Corp. has formally spun off its excavation and site-work division, Hatfield Construction Inc., into a wholly owned subsidiary in a move that President Scott Keiter said poises the new organization for growth. Historically, the division served only Keiter clients, but it will now scale up to serve many other clients in the industry. Key leaders in the firm will be Bill Moynihan, director of Operations, in charge of project management and field operations; and Dylan Courtney, director of Pre-construction, who will oversee project development, estimating, and sales. Hatfield Construction offers services including trucking and hauling, excavation, demolition, sewer and water, septic systems, land clearing, stormwater systems and trenching for underground utilities. Keiter said the business also works closely with solar companies, assisting them with trenching and ground-mount systems. Hatfield Construction has approximately 20 employees in roles ranging from equipment operator and laborer to site foreman and management.
HCC Lands $1.28M Grant to Create Free Program
HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has landed a $1.28 million grant to launch a new, free certificate and internship program intended to help address a shortage of workers in the human-services industry. The grant, from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health & Human Services, will cover the full cost of tuition, fees, books, and supplies for students who want to earn a certificate in human services coupled with a paid internship at one of four local social-service agencies. Partnering with HCC on the grant are Gándara Center, ServiceNet, Mental Health Assoc., and Jewish Family Services. The two-semester Social Service Internship Program will begin in the 2023-24 academic year, with up to 30 students starting this fall and another 30 next spring. Recruiting for those two classes is now underway. The human-services industry presents a wide variety of career options for people who are interested in providing care to children, seniors, adolescents, the homeless, or individuals dealing with substance abuse or mental-health issues. The total savings on attendance is estimated to be $5,384 per semester for full-time students. During their second-semester internship, students will receive a stipend of $2,500, which equates to roughly $20 per hour for 10 hours per week. Additionally, the grant provides for the creation of two new full-time positions: a human-services certificate coordinator to focus on recruiting, planning, and academic support; and a social-services coordinator to coordinate the internships and help students with any non-academic issues that might interfere with their education. The 24-credit human-services certificate students earn can also be ‘stacked’ or applied toward an associate degree in human services, which could then lead to a bachelor’s degree in social work. For more information or to complete a general-interest form, visit hcc.edu/hsv-grant.
Yiddish Book Center Receives $100,000 Capital Grant
AMHERST — The Yiddish Book Center announced it has been awarded a capital grant in the amount of $100,000 from MassDevelopment and Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund. This grant will support the center’s crucial infrastructure project to replace its aging boilers and heating system. Founded in 1980, the Yiddish Book Center has been preserving and promoting Yiddish language and culture for more than four decades. Located on a picturesque, 10-acre apple orchard adjacent to the Hampshire College campus in Amherst, the center opened its current facility in 1997. The replacement of the original boilers, which have been in service since 1996, is essential to ensure the ongoing safety and functioning of the facility. The project will involve installing high-condensing, low-fire, energy-efficient boilers; updating piping, valves, and controls; and integrating the system with the existing geothermal HVAC controls. Additionally, the project will include the replacement of circulating pumps and pneumatic control systems with more efficient Ecocirc pumps, as well as the elimination of the compressor, reducing the need for regular service and inspections. The replacement of the boilers will significantly enhance energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and support the center’s ongoing efforts to maintain an environmentally responsible facility. Funded annually through the governor’s capital spending plan, this round of cultural facilities grants is supported by a $10 million capital bond appropriation approved in 2022. The Healey-Driscoll administration has also proposed a $10 million appropriation in its second supplemental budget to support an additional round of the program.
Greenfield Cooperative Bank Supports RiverCulture Events
GREENFIELD — Greenfield Cooperative Bank announced its sponsorship of the 2023 Summer Event Series organized by RiverCulture, the creative-economy program of the town of Montague. The series features a variety of cultural events happening in the five villages of Montague and the Turners Falls Cultural District, including live music, outdoor movies, theater, family activities, and festivals. The series aims to showcase the rich and diverse cultural offerings of the region and to foster community engagement and enjoyment. As a community bank, Greenfield Cooperative Bank is committed to supporting local arts and culture and to enhancing quality of life for its customers and neighbors. Paper copies of the calendar of events are available at local retail stores and restaurants, or can be downloaded at www.riverculture.org.
LightHouse Signs Agreement for Possible New Home
HOLYOKE — LightHouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke announced it has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the historic Congregation of the Sons of Zion building at 378 Maple St. in downtown Holyoke. The agreement establishes a 120-day inspection and planning period to determine the viability of the move. LightHouse is a personalized, competency-based middle and high school now in its eighth year in its current location in the STEAM Building at 208 Race Street in Holyoke. LightHouse’s tagline is “changing what school can be.” Current renovation estimates are being drawn up and are expected to run well into the millions of dollars, so LightHouse is in the beginning stages of applying for grants and preparing for a capital campaign to fund all the work that needs to be done. LightHouse has grown strategically during its eight years, from a program serving 36 students in its first year, 2015, to its current enrollment of 75 students. Students come from towns and cities across the Pioneer Valley, including Holyoke, and as far away as New Haven, Conn. Almost half of the student body are Holyoke public-school students who attend LightHouse full-time through a public-private partnership, a model for innovation for school districts everywhere.
Food Bank Honored with Lauren Arms Ledwith Award
BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration announced that the Lauren Arms Ledwith Award for 2023 has been awarded to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and its outstanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach team. The Food Bank was awarded this honor at the Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) annual meeting with more than 100 local SNAP community-outreach partners. The award was presented to Christina Maxwell, Beth Ziemba, Megan Schuck, Stephanie Gibbs, and Luis Perez Jr. for continuously demonstrating a commitment to creating a better tomorrow for their communities by helping to eliminate hunger. At the meeting, acting DTA Commissioner Mary Sheehan recognized the outstanding work done during the past year to connect residents with SNAP. Currently, almost 656,000 households receive SNAP benefits, a 45% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the community by providing food to individuals and families located in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. It has addressed food insecurity by meeting people where they are, conducting outreach at food pantries, meal sites, shelters, colleges, senior centers, correctional facilities, libraries, and veteran-serving agencies.