Home Archive by category Daily News

Daily News

Daily News

Ronn Johnson

SPRINGFIELD — Ronn Johnson, who spent the last four decades making a difference for children and families in the Springfield community, died on Saturday at age 63.

The date — Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday — was a significant one for the long-time president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc., who not only led that organization over the past decade but modeled much his of work around King’s example of service.

“I do what I do because I have a passion for making a difference for people. It’s that simple,” Johnson told BusinessWest in 2020, when he was named a Difference Maker by this publication. And I’ve been fortunate enough where I’ve been able to make a career around doing that. So I feel I’m doubly blessed to have made a good life for myself, but in the context of being a professional helper.”

After graduating from WNEC, he was recruited to the W.W. Johnson Life Center, an organization that dealt in mental-health issues, and earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Cambridge College. His next stop was the Dunbar Community Center, where he was involved in grant writing in an effort to meet the needs of an “underfunded community,” as he called it.

After that, he served as vice president of Child and Family Services at the Center for Human Development (CHD), where he worked for 13 years. Gang violence was on the rise during the early part of the 1990s, and it was creeping into local schools, so he created a CHD program called the Citywide Violence Prevention Task Force, among many other initiatives.

Johnson then worked for six years as director of Community Responsibility at MassMutual, until the economic downturn in 2009 forced cutbacks at many companies, and he was laid off, after which he launched a consulting firm, RDJ Associates. One of his clients was MLK Family Services, which approached him, during the summer of 2012, with an offer to take over leadership of the venerable but financially struggling agency.

When he came on board, the first goal was simply to make payroll, but eventually he righted the ship — with the help of a business community that saw the organization’s value and quietly helped raise a half-million dollars.

“It was stressful, but I was committed. And I had a committed board of directors who hung in there and facilitated the change that needed to happen,” he said. “We regained credibility with funders. That was big.”

At MassMutual, he told BusinessWest, he learned the value of measurable results, and he was able to demonstrate that the MLK Family Services programs — from helping people access healthier food to a College Readiness Academy that gives students tutorial help while bringing them to college campuses to raise their educational aspirations — do make a difference.

But no effort has been more personal to Johnson than the Brianna Fund, named for his daughter, who was born into the world with multiple broken bones from the brittle-bone condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta. Over the years, she would fracture dozens more. The family decided they needed an accessible van to keep Brianna in her wheelchair while moving from place to place, so they started a fundraiser.

“The community got behind us so significantly that we over-fundraised by about $30,000,” he recalled last year. “That was a message from God. I said all along that I didn’t want to do this if we’re not in it for the long haul. This needed to be ongoing, in perpetuity, for children in our community.”

Twenty-two years later, the Brianna Fund has raised more than $750,000 and helped the families of more than 50 children purchase a vehicle, renovate a home, widen hallways, install ramps, secure a service dog, and meet many other needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenges to providers of community services, who had to find new ways of delivering them. MLK Family Services restructured itself from being an after-school resource to being a remote-learning center, and also expanded its emergency-food program, serving up to 400 people weekly.

Even so, pantry volunteers weren’t seeing some of the faces they expected to see — mainly older people — and learned these regulars were staying at home because of fears for their health. So Johnson talked to community partners, in particular Baystate Health, which helped procure a cargo van to deliver food to elderly, sick, and shut-in individuals in their homes.

“I do believe that God has a plan for every one of us,” Johnson told BusinessWest. “I’m a very faith-driven person. I’ve been blessed to be in places where people see my interests and read my heart, and where I’m able to make some things happen.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums announced that Emilie Czupryna has joined the staff as director of Development.

Czupryna arrives in her new role ready to build a strong development team as the Museums focus on their new strategic plan, which includes the objective of long-term fiscal sustainability.

“Emilie is poised to help the Museums in so many ways,” said Kay Simpson, president and CEO of the Springfield Museums. “We are constructing a dynamic road map for our future, and institutional advancement is an essential part of our success. We have confidence that Emilie will lead a strong team in our Development Office and build the scaffolding we need to keep our Museums vibrant and ready to meet our community’s needs.”

Czupryna worked her way quickly up the ladder at UMass Amherst. She began her career as assistant director of External Affairs for Communication & Events, and was promoted to associate director of College Events. In 2017, she was selected for the position of assistant director of Development and in 2018 was promoted to associate director of Development.

“I am thrilled to be working with such a wonderful team here at the Springfield Museums,” Czupryna said. “I look forward to enhancing the vision and strategic goals of the Museums through individual philanthropic support and corporate partnerships.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) Professor of Anthropology Vanessa Martínez is the recipient of the 2022 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award from Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education.

The award, presented in partnership with Brown University’s Swearer Center, recognizes senior faculty who practice exemplary, engaged scholarship through teaching and research. Recipients are selected on the basis of their collaboration with communities, institutional impact, and high-quality academic work.

“Holyoke Community College is incredibly fortunate to have Vanessa Martínez among its faculty,” said Lisa Mahon, professor of English and service-learning coordinator at HCC, in a letter nominating Martínez for the award. “Her outstanding commitment to community-based learning, teaching, and advocacy has positively impacted our students, staff, and faculty, as well as the Greater Holyoke community.”

Martínez was recognized for teaching and scholarship that inspires students to take on leadership roles in their communities.

Through academic work that focuses on storytelling, culturally responsive instruction, and cultural humility, Martínez invites diverse groups of students to learn about community-based organizations, advocate and fundraise for community needs based on engaged research, and think critically about the role they play in their communities.

One example is the Women of Color Health Equity Collective, a Springfield-based nonprofit organization she co-founded that seeks to provide communities of color better access to maternal health, therapeutic services, and support. Through the collective, students learn about the social determinants of health and the role social inequality plays in health outcomes while researching community needs and developing advocacy plans to help create change.

“This is a wonderful and distinguished honor, and well-deserved,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “Professor Martínez continues to be actively engaged in our community, and our region is better for it. It benefits our students, who get to witness some exercising civic engagement beyond the classroom.”

Martínez is also coordinator of HCC’s Honors Program and leads a new community leadership certificate program at the college to give students formal training to continue work at community organizations and take on leadership roles.

“Taking action in the world can and should start in your community,” Martínez said in a commencement speech she delivered to graduates in 2021. “The actions can be big or small; they can be self-reflective or engaging of large groups. Remember, there are community agencies to assist, neighborhood mini-libraries to build, book clubs to host, protests to plan, government policies to change, peer-support groups to run, and so much more.”

Born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, Martínez holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbus State University, a master’s degree from Georgia State University, and a PhD from UMass Amherst. In 2011, she received the Latino Teaching Excellence Award from then Gov. Deval Patrick, and in 2015 she was selected as a leadership fellow by the American Anthropological Assoc.

In 2020, Martínez received the Elaine Marieb Award for Teaching Excellence, HCC’s highest faculty honor. She has been teaching at HCC since 2006.

Daily News

MONSON — The people have voted, and the results are in for the Monson Savings Bank (MSB) 2022 Community Giving Initiative. After MSB asked its community members to cast their vote for their favorite nonprofit, they did just that with great enthusiasm, submitting over 3,500 votes.

In total, 373 organizations were nominated. Now that the votes have been tallied, Monson Savings Bank is donating a total of $15,000 to the top 10 vote recipients to stay true to their longstanding mission of supporting of local communities.

“Each and every origination is a well-deserving nonprofit, and it is clear why they were chosen by our community members,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “Each nonprofit provides tremendously valuable resources to our communities and their residents.”

The 2022 Monson Savings Bank Community Giving Initiative recipients include Academy Hill School Scholarship, Behavioral Health Network, I Found Light Against All Odds, Miracle League of Western Massachusetts, Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, and Women’s Empowerment Scholarship, all based in Springfield; Rick’s Place and Wilbraham United Players, both based in Wilbraham; Link to Libraries Inc. of Hampden; and Monson Free Library in Monson.

This was the 12th year of the Monson Savings Bank Community Giving Initiative, and public participation has grown throughout the years.

“All of us at Monson Savings Bank are so happy to have such a passionate involvement from the public year after year through our Community Giving Initiative. We love working directly with the community and giving members a voice to ensure that the nonprofits that make a positive impact in our communities are recognized and supported,” said Michael Rouette, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “As a local, community bank, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to support our customers, businesses, and communities. We understand that these charitable organizations have the power to truly make a difference for our neighbors. Thank you for casting your votes.”

Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, but allowed a more limited mandate requiring healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated.

The vote in the employer mandate case was 6 to 3, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor in dissent. The vote in the healthcare case was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor in the majority.

According to the New York Times, the president welcomed the ruling in his favor, saying it would save the lives of healthcare workers and patients. But he said he was disappointed that the court had overturned the employer mandate, which he said was “grounded squarely in both science and the law.”

The majority opinion in the employer case said a statute on workplace hazards did not justify a mandate that would have required more than 80 million workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to wear masks and be tested weekly, the Times added. It also stressed the novelty and sweep of the mandate issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, saying Congress had not authorized the agency to act and describing its response as “a blunt instrument.”

The mandate “draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID-19,” the majority opinion said, adding that it was “a significant encroachment into the lives — and health — of a vast number of employees.”

The Times noted that the dissenting justices blasted the court’s willingness to frustrate “the federal government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that COVID-19 poses to our nation’s workers.” They argued that regulating safety in the workplace is exactly what OSHA is commanded to do.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Diocese of Springfield hired Jonathan Van Beaver as the new director of Development. Van Beaver will be responsible for all diocesan fundraising efforts, including overseeing the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA), which funds ministries that help the elderly; mothers and families in crisis; the homeless; and youth. He will also oversee the Foundation Grants, which support Catholic schools, the Newman Catholic Center at UMass Amherst, and lay and social ministries.

A graduate of Providence College and convert to Catholicism, Van Beaver most recently worked for Guidance in Giving, which provides fundraising services to Catholic dioceses and schools nationwide.

He has worked with the Diocese of Providence, helping to raise more than $2 million. He also helped the Diocese of Worcester, raising $6 million during the pandemic.

“I think when we realize everything that Jesus has done for us and how important it is to be in a community of believers, and everything our faith does for us, that makes us want to give back our time, talents, and treasure,” said Van Beaver, who also worked as a campus minister after college in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. “So in terms of helping people see why it’s important to give, I think we want to focus on evangelization and helping parishioners really focus on discipleship.”

In addition to working with the diocese, Van Beaver will assist parishes.

“My goal is to aid the parishes. I’d like to meet with all the parishes in the first six months, and I’d really like to learn what the parishes need in terms of development and in terms of raising funds,” he said. “I’d like to do everything I can to help strengthen these parishes and to help strengthen the diocese as a whole as well.”

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Tony Worden, CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, announced three promotions within the bank.

Chelsea Depault is being promoted to AVP, Commercial Operations officer. She originally started with the bank back in 2007 as a float teller and also worked in the Accounting department before moving on to Commercial Lending, where she has been for the past several years as a credit analyst and then as an AVP, Commercial Lending. In her new role, she will oversee the operations of commercial loan servicing and administration. She holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass.

Marjorie Smith is being promoted to senior commercial credit analyst. She has been with the bank since 2010, when she started as a teller. In the years since, she worked for the Residential Lending department in various roles before joining the Commercial Lending side as a credit analyst. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Houghton College.

Erica Josephson is being promoted to senior commercial credit analyst. She has been with the bank since 2019, when she joined as a credit analyst with several years of experience in credit underwriting at two other local institutions. Since coming on board, she has played a critical role in shepherding customers’ PPP loans through to forgiveness. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Vermont.

Daily News

AMHERST — Jianhan Chen, a UMass Amherst chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology professor, has received a five-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to support research in his computational biophysics lab aimed at better understanding the role of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) in biology and human disease.

The grant falls under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences MIRA program, which stands for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award. It’s designed to give highly talented researchers more flexibility and stability to achieve important scientific advances in their labs.

“The MIRA award enables us to continue working on several central problems regarding the study of disordered proteins and dynamic interactions. The flexibility of this funding mechanism also allows us to follow new research directions as they emerge,” Chen said.

Until relatively recently, it was thought that proteins needed to adopt a well-defined structure to perform their biological function. But about two decades ago, he explained, IDPs were recognized as a new class of proteins that rely on a lack of stable structures to function. They make up about one-third of proteins that human bodies make, and two-thirds of cancer-associated proteins contain large, disordered segments or domains.

“This disorder seems to provide some unique functional advantage, and that’s why we have so much disorder in certain kinds of proteins,” Chen said. “These IDPs play really important roles in biology, and when something breaks down, they lead to very serious diseases, like cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.”

In his lab, Chen and colleagues focus on using computer simulations to model the molecular structure and dynamics of proteins. “IDPs are a mess; it’s difficult to determine the details of their properties because they are not amenable to traditional techniques that are designed to resolve stable protein structures,” he noted.

Because of their chaotic state, IDPs must be described using ensembles of structures, and computer simulations play a crucial role in the quantitative description of these disordered ensembles. “Our goal is really trying to combine simulation and experiments in collaboration with other labs to tease out what are the hidden features of these disordered proteins that are crucial to their function,” Chen said. “Then we can look at how these specific features might be perturbed by disease-related mutations or conditions.”

The next step would be to develop effective strategies for targeting disordered protein states. Toward that end, Chen’s lab will study the molecular basis of how the anti-cancer drug EGCG, an antioxidant found in green-tea extract, and its derivatives interact with the p53 gene, a tumor suppressor and the most important protein involved in cancer.

The key, he explained, is knowing how to design drug molecules to bind well enough to IDPs to achieve a therapeutic effect. Traditional, structure-based drug design strategies are faced with significant challenges, he noted, because IDPs do not contain stable, “druggable” pockets.

“We believe that targeting IDPs requires new strategies that explore the dynamic nature of IDP interactions,” he said. “If we can do this, it could really open up a whole class of drugs that were previously thought impossible.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced that it has joined a national network of insurance agencies called the Alera Group.

The Alera Group was formed by 24 agencies similar to Webber & Grinnell in 2017. Since then, it has added many others across the country and is now one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the U.S.

Joining Alera allows Webber & Grinnell to tap into a wealth of best practices and insurance resources, enabling the company to better serve its diverse clientele. Examples include more insurance-carrier choices, the ability to converse with subject-matter experts, and having more resources to help hire and train employees. Joining Alera also provides a perpetuation plan for the agency.

Webber & Grinnell President Bill Grinnell wanted to partner with a firm that believes in keeping services local. “The Alera Group checked all the important boxes for the type of firm we wanted to partner with into the future,” he said, adding that its culture and customer-service model is a mirror of what Webber & Grinnell has been building for many years.

The agency’s staff and their roles are staying exactly the same, so clients will continue being serviced the same way they have been all along. Grinnell will also continue to lead the agency at the local level.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley will offer programming starting in January focused on leadership and board development for regional nonprofits through its Leaders OnBoard program.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, Leaders OnBoard will kick off its year of board-development events with “Board Basics,” a free, two-hour training led by Eric Phelps from Rainmaker Consulting that covers topics like what it means to sit on a board, roles and responsibilities, and how to be effective as a board member. To register, e-mail Samantha Rudd at [email protected]. The next “Board Basics” will be offered in March.

Leaders OnBoard will provide several training sessions and events focused on nonprofit board leadership and development throughout the Pioneer Valley this year, including workshops focused on fundraising, diversity, strategic planning, and board matching.

Leaders OnBoard is an ideal way for nonprofits to enhance the knowledge base and skills of their board members, while also offering people who are looking for a way to get involved in their community some training and personal support so they feel confident serving a nonprofit they feel passionate about.

A12-month membership is available for Leaders OnBoard, with a sliding fee scale based on the organization’s budget. Membership includes free tickets and unlimited participation in all program workshops and training sessions, including Peer2Peer Conversations and board-matching opportunities. For full benefits and fees, visit leadershippv.org.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — To continue to provide a full on-campus living and learning experience for the spring 2022 semester, Elms College announced it will start the spring 2022 semester on Wednesday, Jan. 19 as originally intended, with in-person learning.

“After much deliberation and closely following the guidelines from federal, state, and local health officials, we have decided to start the spring semester on campus with in-person instruction,” Elms College President Harry Dumay said.

In addition, the college will require students, faculty, and staff to have a COVID-19 booster shot by March 1.

“Prior to the start of the fall 2021 semester, we required all students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated, and that decision proved to keep our COVID-19 rates down and help everyone remain safe,” Dumay said. “With the onset of the Omicron variant, we are now requiring everyone to receive a COVID-19 booster shot when they are eligible.”

According to Dumay, many individuals in the Elms campus community have already received their booster shot in an effort to stay healthy and stem the progression of the virus.

For the start of the spring 2022 semester, Elms will continue adherence to the ElmsSafe safety plan, which includes social distancing whenever possible and wearing masks indoors.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Human Service Forum (HSF), a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Massachusetts public-service leaders, announced two upcoming events to support local nonprofit professionals in building skills and relationships.

On Friday, Jan. 28 from 8 to 10:30 a.m., HSF will host its annual Legislative Reception. With more than 20 local lawmakers confirmed to attend, this event is a chance for public-service leaders to connect and build awareness for the key issues and priorities in the community. The event will be held via Zoom. Click here to register.

Beginning Thursday, Feb. 3, HSF will offer “Supervisory Skills Certificate Series,” an eight-week online training program for public-service professionals who are new to supervising staff. The series, which will be offered virtually, will cover a wide range of supervisory competencies, from multicultural sensitivity to legal issues, cybersecurity, and more. The training is open to all HSF members as well as the general public. Click here to register or learn more.

“Our mission is to support public service and nonprofit leaders, so they have the tools, connections, and resources to excel in their roles, in service to their communities,” said Becca Coolong, executive director of HSF. “When we come together as professionals to learn and grow, we are better equipped to make an impact.”

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Tom Bernard, who just wrapped up his last term as mayor of North Adams, has been selected to lead Berkshire United Way (BUW) as the new president and CEO starting Jan. 24.

“I’m thrilled to begin the next chapter of my career as part of the Berkshire United Way team,” Bernard said. “The organization’s mission is clear and critical, and the board, staff, partner agencies, and individuals we serve are laser-focused on building a stronger and more resilient community throughout the Berkshires. Our work has been a cornerstone of supporting individuals and strengthening families for nearly a century, and our role will continue to evolve and our impact magnify as we work together to address the challenges and opportunities ahead of us.”

Bernard earned his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and later his master of public administration degree from Westfield State University. After a decade working in Boston and then as a freelance writer, he began a long career in the nonprofit sector. Bernard first served as development officer at Mass MoCA, followed by nearly 10 years at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts as director of Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations, then executive assistant to the president, and eventually director of Business Affairs. He was the director of Special Projects at Smith College before becoming mayor in 2018.

“Tom’s proven leadership experience and dedication to the community will serve him well as head of Berkshire United Way,” said Michael Stoddard, chairman of the BUW board. “He has worked with multiple stakeholders, is familiar with federal and state granting agencies and processes, and has experience in community and economic development and strategic planning. His leadership and response to the needs of his constituents during COVID-19 also shows his ability to quickly adapt and address emerging and critical needs. His passion for public service, commitment to being an advocate and voice for change, and willingness to collaborate with others to build a stronger community align with Berkshire United Way’s mission and vision. The staff and board look forward to having him join the team.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. announced Attorney Mark Esposito as a new shareholder in the firm.

“Attorney Esposito has been an incredible asset to our team for the past four years,” founding Partner Steven Schwartz said. “He is knowledgeable, ethical, and very community-focused. Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin continues to develop and grow, and we look forward to seeing how Mark can assist in that future success.”

Esposito joined the firm in 2017 and has a wide-ranging, litigation-focused practice. He represents clients in general, commercial and probate litigation, labor and employment matters, administrative law, and criminal cases. He has counseled various public-sector labor unions and employees in collective bargaining, arbitration, and litigation, and represents clients in state and federal courts as well as before administrative agencies.

A summa cum laude graduate of Boston University School of Law, Esposito was a member and note editor of the Boston University Law Review. Prior to law school, he graduated magna cum laude from Williams College, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — UMass and NBA star Marcus Camby has joined White Lion Brewing Co. in a strategic partnership. White Lion currently distributes a small independent portfolio of artisan brands in Massachusetts, primarily in the western part of the state. Camby’s goal is to help open new markets throughout New England and beyond, as well as release his own portfolio of beer brewed by White Lion.

“White Lion continues to expand its community reach,” White Lion Brewing Co. President Ray Berry said. “We have a proven track record and incredible community partners like the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds, and MGM Springfield, to name a few. I remember when Marcus electrified the region — just thinking about it brings back so many great memories. He loves our brand and what it represents. We are very excited and think we have a game winner.”

Added Camby, “I am extremely impressed by the brewery’s commitment to the community and its approach to diversifying the craft-beer trade. I look forward to being a part of expanding the brand throughout the New England and Tri-State region. This is my home, and to be able to have a quality beer named after me, and be able to tell its story, is something I’m truly excited about.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Community Bank recently donated $6,500 to support Open Pantry Community Services.

Open Pantry aims to increase food security for families in the surrounding community through its Emergency Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen, and holiday meal programs. It further supports those in need by providing Teen Parent and Open Door Social Services programs, as well as permanent housing for homeless single women recovering from substance abuse.

“We’re honored to donate to Open Pantry Community Services,” Community Bank Branch Manager Gilbert Nieves said. “The programs and services they provide have a tremendous impact on our community, and we’re happy to support them in any way we can.”

Open Pantry welcomes individuals and groups willing to help the community through volunteering at the Emergency Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen, the People’s Center, Open Door Social Services, and the holiday meal program.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Pathlight’s executive director, Ruth Banta, announced her retirement after almost 20 years with the organization. Pathlight, established in 1952 and headquartered in Springfield, is a pioneer in services for children, teens, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the four counties of Western Mass.

Banta came to Pathlight in 2003 and served 14 years as its chief financial officer and vice president of Administration. She was named executive director in 2016. In her tenure as executive director, she has led Pathlight through a period of growth, as well as steering it through the rocky waters of a global pandemic.

“I have been proud to be able to continue the growth and innovation that has been the hallmark of Pathlight since its founding in 1952,” said Banta, who first encountered Pathlight as a parent when the organization supported her son with autism.

Some of the highlights of her tenure as director include revenue growth of 14% and 22% growth in net assets, leaving Pathlight in a strong financial position.

Under her leadership, Pathlight created the first program in this part of the state to serve an individual in a community residence who needed full-time ventilator support. Pathlight also acquired 13.5 acres of previously state-owned land to replace two antiquated community homes with three modern, five-bedroom homes for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Milestones day program, located in Hadley, grew by 55%, while there was a 100% increase in adult services through Family Support and Autism Connections. Banta also supported the development of an innovative sexuality and relationship curriculum through Whole Selves.

Most recently, she oversaw the purchase of a new building in Northampton to house programs in Hampshire County, including Whole Children, Milestones, and Family Empowerment. She also supported infrastructure developments for remote services and work, electronic health records, and online training.

“My career and life have been so enriched by all the members of the Pathlight community over the past two decades,” Banta said. “I look forward to the next phase of my life and continuing to see the growth and innovation at Pathlight.”

Hank Drapalski, president of the Pathlight board of directors, has worked with Banta since her early days at Pathlight and said that she has a well-deserved reputation for her depth of knowledge and level of skill.

“Ruth has committed herself wholeheartedly to our organization and has accomplished many great things during her career with Pathlight,” he said. “The entire board will miss her — Ruth has been wonderful to work with — and we all hope she will have many years of enjoyment ahead of her in retirement.”

Daily News

BOSTON — State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, chair of the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, announced that more than $23.9 million in grants were awarded for 33 projects in 26 communities across the Commonwealth. The grant funds are awarded to cities, towns, counties, and water utilities most in need of financial assistance to help pay for improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

The $23.9 million in grants is associated with 33 projects being funded by $229 million in low-interest loans by the trust. These funds reduce the total loan amount and are meant for communities that may not be able to complete this necessary work without additional financial assistance.

“Providing these funds saves significant dollars for our local communities while protecting the environment and the health of our citizens,” Goldberg said. “This $23.9 million investment is another wonderful example of the trust’s work helping our cities and towns, and most importantly the people who live here.”

The communities or water utilities receiving grants include Ayer, Barnstable, Barnstable County, Barnstable Fire District, Blackstone, Brockton, Chicopee, Deerfield Fire District, Dracut Water Supply District, Dudley, East Brookfield, Eastham, Fall River, Fitchburg, Gloucester, Holyoke, Leominster, Lynn Water and Sewer Commission, New Bedford, Revere, South Essex Sewerage District, Springfield Water & Sewer Commission, Taunton, Tyngsborough, Wareham, and West Boylston Water District of West Boylston.

“The Baker-Polito administration is proud to continue supporting Commonwealth communities working to strengthen local drinking water and wastewater management systems,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan, who is also a member of the Clean Water Trust’s board of trustees. “Infrastructure investments like these are critical to maintaining the health and well-being of Massachusetts residents.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will hold a Legal Help Hotline on Thursday, Jan. 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. Local, experienced attorneys will be available to provide legal advice on various topics, including divorce and family, bankruptcy, business, employment, landlord/tenant, and real estate.

Individuals needing advice should call (413) 732-4648 to speak to a volunteer.

Daily News

WARE — Country Bank announced that Jessica McGarry has been promoted to first vice president, team lead for its Commercial Lending division in the East.

McGarry, who joined Country Bank in 2017, has more than 20 years of experience in financial services focused on commercial lending. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Nichols College, was a recipient of the Forty Under 40 designation in 2014 from Worcester Business Journal, and was a member of the Leadership Worcester class of 2015-16.

“I look forward to leading the Commercial Lending division in Worcester as Country Bank continues to provide high-quality business financing in Central Mass.,” McGarry said. Our team is knowledgeable and dedicated, with deep connections that will continue to drive growth in the region. Strategic and hardworking individuals, coupled with dynamic lending solutions and a responsive approval process, will position our team to capitalize on large and small opportunities as we move into 2022 and beyond.”

Tom Wolcott, first senior vice president for Commercial Lending, added that “Jessica’s extensive background working with commercial customers, financing strategies, and, in the process, building long-term partnerships in the East has been a part of Country’s success in the Worcester market.”

Daily News

AMHERST — Hampshire College announced a new $5 million investment in its Change in the Making campaign. This second $5 million gift to the campaign, given by an anonymous benefactor, will fund the Ken Burns Initiative to Transform Higher Education, propelling implementation of Hampshire’s innovative approach to undergraduate liberal-arts education.

“This is yet another historic moment for Hampshire College,” President Ed Wingenbach said. “We’re reinventing the liberal arts by placing globally relevant questions at the center of our curriculum and challenging students to become agents of momentous change. This donor — who has no previous affiliation with the college — recognizes that higher education requires radical change and that Hampshire is best suited to lead that disruption. We are enormously grateful.”

The unrestricted operating gift supports the ongoing implementation of a new curricular model that organizes undergraduate education around the most urgent challenges of our time, instead of the traditional structures of majors and disciplines. This revolutionary way of teaching and learning is intended to prepare students for meaningful work that can change the world.

The initiative will accelerate development of innovative approaches to inquiry-driven, project-based education that enables students to master the entrepreneurial skills needed for today and for tomorrow. Key components of Hampshire’s curriculum — building courses around urgent challenges, the unique Semester Unbound program, learning collaboratives, and project teams — will all be supported by these funds.

“I’m humbled that such a generous philanthropist chose to make this extraordinary gift to my alma mater in my honor,” said campaign co-chair Ken Burns. “I know Hampshire is transformative because I experienced it firsthand. I saw how the originality of practices implemented at the college reverberated through higher education. Fifty years later, our nation needs fresh thinking in higher education, and Hampshire is poised to deliver on that opportunity.”

Since its launch in January 2020, Change in the Making: A Campaign for Hampshire has raised more than $33 million toward its $60 million goal and is on track for a successful completion in June 2024.

Daily News

BOSTON — Resurgent COVID-19 disruptions, persistent supply-chain issues, and a slowing state economy pushed confidence among Massachusetts employers to a 10-month low at the end of 2021.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index declined 1.2 points to 56.7 in December. The Index remains within optimistic territory, 7.4 points better than a year ago, but has now declined for five consecutive months.

Employers remain upbeat about the fundamental strength of the economy, but their confidence is muted by the evolving public-health crisis, rising prices, and a structural labor shortage.

“The December Business Confidence Index reflects companies attempting to maintain operations and grow business amid the sudden spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Travel, healthcare, hospitality, and other service industries began to experience increased employee absences in an already-tight labor market,” said Sara Johnson, chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and executive director of Global Economics at IHS Markit.

Inflation remains a major concern for Massachusetts companies. “Our inability to predict where material costs will be three to six months from now is a terrible burden on our business and our bottom line,” wrote one survey participant.

The Massachusetts economy, which grew at a 6.1% annual clip during the first quarter of 2021 and 8% during the second quarter, slowed to a 2% annual growth rate during the July-September period, according to MassBenchmarks.

The AIM Index, based on a survey of more than 140 Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative.

The constituent indicators that make up the Index were mostly lower during December. The confidence employers have in their own companies slid 1.2 points to 59.9, leaving it 6.8 points better than it was a year ago. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth declined 1.7 points to 55.6, up 7.2 points since December 2020. The U.S. Index measuring conditions nationally shed 0.9 points in December to remain in pessimistic territory at 47.9.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, lost 1.6 points to 56.1. The Future Index, measuring projections for the economy six months from now, declined 0.8 points to 57.3

The Manufacturing Index was the only indicator to rise during the month, gaining 2.1 points to 55.3. The Employment Index lost 0.6 points to 55.6.

Medium-sized companies (58.9) were more bullish than large companies (57.5) or small companies (53.5).

Katherine Kiel, professor of Economics at the College of the Holy Cross and a BEA member, said companies are struggling to budget for 2022 because inflation has reached a 30-year high of 6.8% nationally.

“Commodity prices remain volatile, and companies report that supply-chain delays on key components continue to slow project schedules,” she noted. “Wage inflation is also playing a role as employers work hard to hire and retain qualified workers across a range of industries.”

AIM President and CEO John Regan, also a BEA member, said employers remain fundamentally optimistic about the economy at a time of both extraordinary hope and unprecedented uncertainty.

“We face an ever-mutating public-health crisis, a generational shortage of qualified workers, supply-chain disruptions, the highest inflation since the early 1990s, and shifting expectations about the nature of work itself,” Regan said. “Despite these challenges, however, many Massachusetts companies and their employees are finding ways to thrive. Many members of the AIM board of directors tell me their companies posted record results in both 2020 and 2021. And Massachusetts employers have created 519,500 jobs since the employment trough in April 2020, boosting the labor-force participation rate from 60.4% to 66.3%.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) board announced the hiring of Paul Lambert, former vice president of Enshrinement Services & Community Engagement at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as interim executive director of the SSO.

Lambert succeeds interim Executive Director John Anz, who left the SSO to take a position at another organization. Lambert will start in the position immediately.

Lambert’s professional experience includes nearly 20 years with the Basketball Hall of Fame, initially as vice president of Guest Experience and Programming, and more recently as vice president of Enshrinement Services & Community Engagement. His work transformed the Hall of Fame enshrinement into a nationally recognized celebration and media event which has served as the bedrock of the Hall’s development and outreach efforts.

Prior to the Hall of Fame, Lambert served as director of Event Production for the National Basketball Assoc. (NBA), working on the development and execution of live programming, grass-roots initiatives, and international events, including the NBA Jam Session program, numerous All-Star Games, successfully staged events in Canada and Mexico, and numerous initiatives and events throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Before working in the basketball industry, Lambert enjoyed a career in professional theater, including his roles as general manager of the Cape Playhouse in Dennis for seven years and as executive director of the Westport (Conn.) Country Playhouse. He also served as a production stage manager for many years.

According to Paul Friedmann, vice chair of SSO’s management committee, “the Springfield Symphony Orchestra board is very pleased to announce the hiring of Paul Lambert to the position of interim director of the SSO. Paul is a seasoned and respected leader in the region and played a key leadership role at the Basketball Hall of Fame. In his senior position with the Hall of Fame, he was involved in signature live events such as enshrinement and the Spalding Hoop Hall Classic national high-school tournament. Paul also was tasked with engaging local, regional, and national stakeholders on behalf of the Hall of Fame. He has prior experience with the Hall in holding live performance events.

“In his position with the Hall of Fame, Paul was tasked with connecting and engaging with the community and is held in high regard within the region,” Friedmann added. “Paul is acutely aware of how important local entertainment and arts institutions like the Hall of Fame and the symphony contribute to the quality of our lives in Western Massachusetts.”

Added Lambert, “as a longtime subscriber, I am aware of the significant challenges facing the SSO today. When the board approached me with this opportunity, my first thought was, ‘how can I help?’ Through good faith and creative problem solving, I look forward to the return of wonderful, live symphonic music to the stage at Symphony Hall.”

Lambert serves on a number of local boards and community organizations, including the National Conference for Community and Justice; former board chair of New England Public Media; the Loomis Communities; and the boards of the Cape Cod Center for the Arts, the South Hadley Cultural Council, Longmeadow UNICO, and the Springfield Rotary. He is a graduate of Boston College, cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in English and theater.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Whittlesey announced the promotion of Greg LaCasse, CPA to director, effective immediately. LaCasse joined the firm in 2017 and has more than 25 years of experience in public and private accounting, including Big 4 experience and four years in the private sector, serving as the chief financial officer for an international retail and consumer goods IT consulting firm.

LaCasse is an active member of Whittlesey’s real-estate, construction, and manufacturing niche and specializes in providing tax and advisory services to both businesses and individuals with a focus working with clients in the professional-service, real-estate, retail, wholesale, construction, and manufacturing and distribution industries.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s degree in taxation from the University of Hartford. He also pursues continuing professional education in taxation and business-advisory services. He is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the Springfield Regional Chamber has decided, out of an abundance of caution, to postpone its Government Reception that was slated for Jan. 13.

“Given the rise in cases and our hospital systems constrained, as well as our risk assessment which estimates this event will cause a greater than 99% risk of spread (despite vaccinations and boosters), we believe postponing is the most prudent and right thing to do for our community,” chamber President Nancy Creed said. “Thank you for your understanding as we work to keep our community members healthy and safe during this time. We look forward to gathering together in person soon.”

The chamber will provide more details soon, but in the interim, members can reach out and submit any questions and/or concerns at springfieldregionalchamber.com/contact-us.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Cannabis Education Center (CEC) at Holyoke Community College announced its schedule of industry training programs for the spring 2022 semester.

The CEC will offer four 12-hour, introductory Cannabis Core educational training courses, with the first set to run Saturday, Jan. 22, and Sunday, Jan. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. each day over Zoom.

The Cannabis Core program provides an overview of the cannabis industry in Massachusetts and is geared for people looking for general knowledge as they consider a cannabis career. During four three-hour sessions, students will interact with cannabis experts and guest speakers in reviews of the plant, various cannabis products, the endocannabinoid system, laws and prohibition, growing and plant care, labeling, packaging, testing, employment considerations, and more.

The Cannabis Core program is a foundational course and a prerequisite for the following career track courses: patient services associate (classes start Feb. 5), cultivation assistant (Feb. 26), extraction technician (April 2), and culinary assistant (April 19). Additional Cannabis Core programs will run Feb. 19-20, March 19-20, and April 5-6.

The cost of the Cannabis Core training is $599, but scholarships are available to those who qualify. To register, visit hcc.edu/cannabis-core.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Bousquet Mountain is opening the first floor of its new base lodge today, Jan. 7, for ski operations. Tickets, rentals, bootup and warmup areas, and restrooms will be available in the lodge from noon to 9 p.m. today. Food trucks will be available at the mountain until food and beverage service in the building launches.

The 17,500-square-foot building features a multi-purpose area for comfortable breaks from the slopes, a quick-service dining option in addition to the full-service restaurant, a rental shop with full-service ski-tuning operation, and retail space. Multiple high-definition screens are featured throughout the lodge, enabling live streaming of on-mountain races along with viewing of high-profile sporting events. Heated walkways, firepits, and a large patio area provide numerous options for outdoor enjoyment of the base area in addition to the second-floor outdoor deck.

Bousquet will launch Lift Bistropub, a full-service bar and restaurant, on the second floor of the lodge in early February. Open year-round, Lift Bistropub expects to provide service to both indoor and outdoor seating, with the second-floor deck providing panoramic views of the mountain.

The lodge is part of a substantial investment in the nearly 100-year-old ski area by Mill Town, the owner of the mountain. Other new features this year include new terrain, added tubing lanes, upgraded lighting, and a full overhaul to the mountain’s snow-making system.

Lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and tubing tickets are available to purchase on site and at bousquetmountain.com.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, have carried on their mission of being pillars of the Springfield community, with continued support from People’s United Bank. Since the start of the 2021-22 regular season, the Thunderbirds have made more than 60 appearances in the community, in addition to charitable initiatives such as Hockey Fights Cancer, Toys for Tots toy drives, and Teddy Bear Toss donations. Many of these events have featured interaction in the community from the team mascot, Boomer.

“We at the Thunderbirds pride ourselves on being champions in the community,” team President Nathan Costa said. “As much as we love putting on a first-class operation at each of our games, we put equal importance on making a positive impact in our community, whether that is engaging with young people in schools, working in tandem with nonprofit charities, or performing random acts of kindness. We thank our longtime partners at People’s United Bank for their continued support and shared philanthropic values.”

Jaimye Kelley, senior vice president, Commercial Banking at People’s United Bank, added that “we’re proud to support and partner with the Thunderbirds in their many community initiatives and to have the opportunity to be a part of the life-changing impact their efforts are having on local families. Community giving and volunteerism is central to People’s United’s mission, and we look forward to continuing our support of the Thunderbirds in 2022 and bringing our shared philanthropic values to communities across Western Massachusetts.”

In the month of November, the Thunderbirds went lavender across their platforms to spotlight the NHL and AHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Proceeds raised throughout the month went on to benefit a wide array of local cancer-based charities, including the Sister Caritas Cancer Center, CHD’s Cancer House of Hope, Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Hockey Fights Cancer charity itself.

Highlighting a busy month of December, the Thunderbirds collected more than 5,000 stuffed animals in the club’s annual Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 11. In a showing of holiday spirit, Thunderbirds staff and Boomer delivered donations of those bears to a wide range of area charities, including the Springfield Boys & Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, YMCA of Greater Springfield, CHD, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center.

Furthering the team’s heartfelt gestures, Thunderbirds captain Tommy Cross, together with teammates Michael Kim and Drew Callin, also provided a meaningful gesture at holiday time when the trio purchased a plethora of presents for three local families who were recently displaced from their homes. This marked the second time in his two Thunderbirds seasons that Cross has led such a mission.

Boomer and the team were active in numerous other charitable affairs throughout the fall and early winter. The T-Birds partnered with local elementary schools for yet another successful kickoff to the team’s Stick to Reading program, with support from MassMutual. The initiative promotes literacy among elementary-school students in the Western Mass. community. Schools participate in a six-week reading program during the Thunderbirds’ regular season, with a reward of tickets to a game for students who complete their reading goals.

For more information on the Springfield Thunderbirds and their charitable contributions, please visit www.springfieldthunderbirds.com. To donate to the T-Birds Foundation, click here.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a monetary settlement to resolve a complaint against the Springfield Symphony Orchestra Inc. (SSO), which was accused of violating federal labor law.

The NLRB ordered the SSO board of directors to pay its unionized musicians the $276,406 they would have earned for playing 10 concerts, but with the requirement of hosting two concerts.

The orchestra musicians’ committee offered to drop all charges against the SSO in exchange for the resignations of all six members of the SSO board’s management committee (BMC) and a plan to put the money toward a full 2022 concert season. The 71 musicians had previously voted unanimously that they have no confidence in the BMC. The musicians have resolved to put the NLRB settlement money toward producing their own concerts for the Springfield community in 2022.

“During the pandemic, the BMC fired the orchestra’s beloved music director, looked on as almost the entire SSO organizational staff disappeared, and recently stood by as the fifth SSO executive director since the end of 2012 departed the organization,” the musicians said in a statement. “This sorry state of affairs makes plain what has been evident for years: BMC members have a stranglehold on the operation of the SSO, despite lacking any experience in running a performing-arts organization.”

Beth Welty, chair of the musicians’ committee, added that “our beloved Springfield Symphony Orchestra has been reduced to a hollow shell by the very people entrusted with its well-being. The musicians of the SSO believe the BMC’s destructive actions demonstrate that the time has come for its members to depart the organization. Our musicians have given voice to this opinion in their unanimous vote of no confidence in the BMC. We, the musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, for the sake of the SSO’s future, demand the resignations of the members of this committee.”

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Kevin O’Neil, chairman of the board of directors of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, announced the promotion of Anthony Worden to chief executive officer.

Last year, Worden took over as president of GCB, following the planned retirement announcement of former President and CEO Michael Tucker. Worden’s promotion to CEO culminates a transitionary year and overall succession plan put in place by the board of the bank.

“This past transition year of Tony becoming president and CEO has been very smooth,” O’Neil said. “He has demonstrated his knowledge of banking and leadership skills to the board, the employees, and the community. We are very excited and confident to have Tony as the new CEO of the bank.”

Worden said he is looking forward to continuing the tradition of supporting customers and small businesses in Franklin, Hampshire, and, most recently, Hampden counties, adding that “it is my intention to uphold GCB’s reputation of being there for our local communities through our support of homebuyers and small business.”

Worden is a director, executive committee member, and former chair of the governance committee for the United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region; a former director of the Franklin County Community Development Corp.; and a former director of Berkshire Brewing Co. of South Deerfield. He received his bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and his MBA is from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, and he is a graduate of the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Local Cultural Council announced the recipients of its 2022 grants. Thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s funding of more than $17,000, 36 programs benefiting the citizens of Greenfield and beyond will receive support.

The recipients include the 2022 Theater Thursday Play Reading Series, A Voice Towards Loving, The Shoestring Magazine, Jazz Spectrum Under 40, Solidarity Festival, In This Together, Antenna Cloud Farm 2022 Season, “Wild Symphony” 2022 PVS Education Concert, Fifth Annual Great Greenfield DinoFest, Fairgrounds Welcome Art, Hilltown Families Suggests, Authors & Artists Festival: Writing the Land, The Bridge of Her Nose, Franklin County Pride 2022, Hip Hop Dance Chair Exercise for Seniors!, Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the Greenfield Players, Greenfield Winter Carnival Ice Sculptures, Greenfield Bee Fest, Last Request, Introduction to Metal Casting from 3D Prints, Stolen Moments, New England Sax/Wind Quartet, Children’s Songs and Singing Games Family Concert, Intro to Pique Assiette Mosaics, Pamela Means Presents The Power of the Protest Song: Our Shared History & Present Day Struggles, Did Grandma Have a Filling Station: Greenfield’s Women in Business, PaxSax Quartet Concert, Ninth Annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, Greenfield Military Band Summer Concert Series 2022, Community Concert Series, Peaks and Valleys Music and Arts Festival, Social Justice in the Arts and Media: Theory and Practice, Youth Creative Writing Workshops, and Community Outreach for Racial Justice: Year 2.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) is partnering with Yad Chessed to expand its offerings to Jewish individuals and families in Western Mass. struggling with financial insecurity.

As a social-services agency rooted in the Jewish values of kindness (chessed) and charity (tzedakah), Yad Chessed is committed to helping those in need navigate a path toward financial stability while preserving their privacy and dignity. This partnership will bring new resources to the Western Mass. community, including emergency financial aid, monthly food cards, and ongoing support.

In 2020, JFS was the recipient of a Jewish Poverty Challenge grant from the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, and has been working to build a sustainable response to Jewish poverty in Western Mass., including food insecurity, unemployment, childcare and health crises. With the goal of raising awareness and building partnerships, JFS is excited to be partnering with Yad Chessed.

Individuals or families in need of assistance should contact Rosalind Torrey at [email protected] or (413) 737-2601.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Following a rigorous national search, the New England Public Media (NEPM) board of directors selected Matt Abramovitz as the new president of NEPM, starting Feb. 1.

Abramovitz joins NEPM from New York Public Radio, where he is currently serving as vice president of Programming for WQXR, one of the nation’s leading classical-music stations. During his tenure, he developed new digital content, diversified programming, and established innovative partnerships, including a collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera that produced the critically acclaimed podcast “Aria Code.”

“Matt impressed us with his outstanding leadership qualities and his passion for public-service media,” said Bob Feldman, chair of the search committee, and Susan Fentin, chair of the NEPM board of directors, in a statement. “He is committed to the mission and goals of public media and the role that it plays in creating and supporting a strong, vibrant local community. We could not be more excited to have him lead our next chapter as a vital public-media organization.”

Abramovitz is a graduate of Wesleyan University and received his master’s degree from Cornell University.

Daily News

ST. LOUIS — Due to St. Louis Blues Assistant Coach Mike Van Ryn being in COVID-19 protocols and Assistant Coach Steve Ott dealing with a back issue, Springfield Thunderbirds Head Coach Drew Bannister will join the NHL team to assist the coaching staff for Wednesday’s game in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

Bannister is in his fourth season as head coach with the Thunderbirds, the Blues’ AHL affiliate. Over his AHL head-coaching career, with the San Antonio Rampage and Thunderbirds, he has posted a record of 72-71-22. He has led the Thunderbirds to a 17-8-2-1 record thus far in 2021-22, and his team currently sits atop the AHL’s Atlantic Division standings with 37 points.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Kelsey McDonald, director of Life Enrichment, and Joy Peterson, director of Sales, recently began careers at the Glenmeadow life-plan community in Longmeadow.

McDonald previously worked as an occupational therapist, rehab technician, and certified nursing assistant with several area rehabilitation providers and hospitals. She will oversee Glenmeadow’s life-enrichment programming, which is designed to nurture the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — using the six dimensions of wellness, which include physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and social.

“Kelsey has a vast depth of experience working with older adults and has continued to educate herself in geriatric health,” Glenmeadow President and CEO Anne Thomas said. “Her focus on overall wellness is in line with Glenmeadow’s mission, and I am excited to have her part of the team.”

McDonald graduated with honors from Springfield Technical Community College and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts. She is currently enrolled in an online doctoral program in gerontology at UMass.

Peterson has more than 20 years of marketing and sales experience working for organizations providing senior-living and at home services in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. She believes in a consultative approach to support families in identifying needs and helping educate everyone about the benefits of community living to prevent isolation.

“Joy is personable and professional and has already been helpful in assisting many families in navigating the available options,” Thomas said. “She quickly establishes rapport and puts everyone at ease.”

Peterson graduated from Westfield State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and holds a master’s degree from Lasell College with a concentration in elder-care marketing.

Daily News

WESTERN MASS. — The ArtsHub Virtual Summit: “How to Recover and Thrive” welcomes emerging and established artists, performers, arts managers, and those in creative fields to join in a week-long series of virtual interactive workshops, training, and networking sessions on Jan. 10-14.

The ArtsHub Virtual Summit, designed to provide tools to help those working in creative fields recover from the disruption created by the pandemic and learn how to position their business to thrive as the economy recovers, will present daily sessions with guest speakers at 10 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m.

“You can’t succeed if you can’t be found,” said Lisa Davol, marketing manager for the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and ArtsHub project co-coordinator. “One of the goals of the new ArtsHub website is to provide a comprehensive list of creatives in the region to promote and connect them with each other and with those looking to purchase or hire.”

This is being done through a partnership with New England Foundation for the Arts’ (NEFA) CreativeGround database, and Dee Schneidmann of NEFA will lead one of the ArtsHub Virtual Summit sessions with a focus on how to get listed in the new ArtsHub online directory and how the listing will increase visibility for artists and their work. The summit sessions were created in response to surveys, focus groups, and conversations with artists and arts leaders. Experts in the field were invited to focus on the concept of ‘how-to’ in their disciplines. A full schedule of events, session descriptions, presenter bios, and links to register can be found at www.umass.edu/aes/artshub.

“The ArtsHub will be officially launched at the ArtsHub Virtual Summit and includes feature articles on the region’s artists and organizations, resources such as grants and calls for public art, places to post opportunities such as rehearsal space for rent or studio space wanted, arts calendar, and much more,” said Dee Boyle-Clapp, director of the Arts Extension Service at UMass Amherst and ArtsHub co-coordinator.

The fee for the ArtsHub Virtual Summit is $55 and provides access to all sessions and online access through January.

The ArtsHub was made possible by an initial grant from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and additional support from the Community Foundation of Western Mass.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Tuesday morning, state Sen. Eric Lesser declared his candidacy for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Lesser joins the race with a focus on offering partnership to the next governor, improving quality of life for families, and standing up for forgotten communities.

“Massachusetts has so much going for it, but it’s harder and harder to live here,” Lesser said in an e-mail to supporters. “It’s just too expensive — good housing is becoming out of reach, public transportation is outdated or non-existent, and the cost of childcare is crushing families. The status quo doesn’t work for anybody. It creates skyrocketing prices and gridlock in some places, and vacuums jobs and opportunity from others. It means that Massachusetts, despite its progressive history and incredible assets, is one of the most unequal places in the country.”

Lesser also emphasized his understanding of the lieutenant governor’s office. “I know the job,” he wrote. “It’s to partner with our next governor to make sure she is the most successful governor in the country. What I bring is the perspective of a parent of three young children, the experience of living far from Beacon Hill, and a proven record of standing up for the forgotten corners of Massachusetts.”

In eight years of advocacy, the four-term state senator brought high-speed rail between Pittsfield, Springfield, and Boston from an abstract fantasy to a solid possibility. When COVID-19 hit, he led passage of rescue legislation to help thousands of small, often minority-owned businesses survive the pandemic. At the height of the opioid crisis, his legislation closed the pharmacy-shopping loophole for highly addictive narcotics and reduced the price of Narcan, a life-saving drug that reverses overdoses.

Last year, Lesser authored and helped pass the Student Loan Bill of Rights, which created new protections for nearly 1 million student borrowers. In the most recent state budget, he helped secure funding to help thousands of social workers and mental-health providers pay down their student loans.

“We succeeded by giving a voice to communities that are often invisible on Beacon Hill,” Lesser wrote. “In partnership with our next governor, that is what I will continue to do.”

Lesser has a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Harvard, and has taught courses at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and UMass Amherst. He also worked as a script consultant for HBO’s hit comedy Veep. Before serving in the state Senate, he was one of the first staffers on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He then served in the Obama White House, working as the special assistant to Senior Adviser David Axelrod and helping to shape the nation’s recovery from the Great Recession with the White House Council of Economic Advisors. He lives with his wife and three children in his hometown of Longmeadow.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Students enrolled full-time in chemistry, biology, engineering, mathematics, physics, or other STEM fields at Holyoke Community College (HCC) have until Friday, Jan. 7 to apply for a National Science Foundation scholarship of up to $10,000 per year.

Through HCC, the National Science Foundation Scholarship offers, on average, $6,500 per year to qualified full-time students and prorated amounts for part-time students.

New and current HCC students are encouraged to apply. The application deadline for the spring 2022 semester is the end of the day on Jan. 7.

Students chosen for the NSF scholarship become members of HCC’s STEM Scholars 2.0 Program, also known as SCoRE (STEM Cohorts for Research & Engagement).

STEM Scholars are expected to maintain enrollment in a STEM program, be in good academic standing, complete an associate degree at HCC, and/or transfer to an accredited STEM degree program at a four-year institution. The scholarships are renewable every year students continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

Beside the financial awards, STEM Scholars become part of a learning community that fosters a sense of belonging and academic success and includes mentoring, research, and honors experiences; community service; and internships.

Eligibility guidelines for the National Science Foundation Scholarship in STEM can be viewed at hcc.edu/stem-scholarship.

STEM disciplines include biological sciences, physical sciences, math, computer and information services, geosciences, and engineering. HCC Math Professor Ileana Vasu is the coordinator of the STEM Scholars program.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — In response to the rising rates of COVID-19 in the community, Cooley Dickinson Hospital has updated its visitor policy.

Effective today, Jan. 4, visitors to inpatients — with the exception of support persons — must visit one at a time; inpatients can have up to two visitors per day. To align with the Mass General Brigham system-wide visitor-hour policy, visiting hours at Cooley Dickinson Hospital will be daily from 2 to 8 pm.

There are no changes to the visitor policy related to the Emergency Department, Childbirth Center, Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit, Surgical Day Care, Endoscopy, or Cardiovascular Interventional Radiology suite.

Click here to read the full policy.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, in conjunction with Behavioral Health Network and Gándara Center, is putting together a COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic for individuals age 5 and older on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID vaccines, plus flu vaccines, will be available. A 15-minute observation is required. Call Mary-Anne Schelb at (413) 310-4693 with any questions.

The clinic will be located in the Genesis Independent Living Community Room (pull into 780 Converse St. and follow the signs). Registration at bit.ly/jgsvax is recommended but not required.

buy ivermectin for humans buy ivermectin online buy generic cialis buy cialis