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Daily News

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University (WSU) appointed Kate Burke associate director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. In her role, she will be responsible for the development, management, and oversight of alumni outreach and engagement initiatives as well as providing leadership to the Alumni Relations team for the management of the Alumni Association and the Lifetime Owls program. In addition, she will provide oversight of the annual-fund communications, campaigns, and giving programs.

“I’m excited to join Westfield State University and the Institutional Advancement team,” Burke said. “I am honored to have this opportunity to work with such great and passionate alumni, students, staff, and volunteers. I’m eager to collaborate and engage with our alumni, donors, staff, and campus and community partners. I look forward to enhancing the student, alumni, and donor experience through creating and building upon alumni engagement and involvement programs and events, campus and community outreach, and fundraising initiatives.”

Burke reports to Erica Broman, vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the Westfield State Foundation.

According to Broman, Burke comes to WSU with a wealth of external, alumni-relations, and development experience in both higher education and intercollegiate athletics. She has previously made an impact at Colorado School of Mines, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Oakland University, University of Virginia, and Xavier University. Burke earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Indiana State University.

“We are pleased to welcome Kate and look forward to the level of sophistication that she brings to Institutional Advancement and the university,” Broman said. “We will rely on her leadership to work with the Alumni Association to advance the critical role our graduates fill in the success of our students.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Assistant Professor of Religion Katherine Dugan has accepted the position of director of core curriculum at the college. Dugan will oversee the implementation of the new core curriculum at Springfield College starting during the 2020 fall semester.

As part of Dugan’s responsibilities, she will be responsible for providing clear communication methods with faculty, administrators, and students about the what and why of the Springfield College core curriculum.

“One of the strengths of this core is that, with strong implementation, nearly all faculty have to be involved with it, in some capacity,” Dugan said. “In order to facilitate that, I would provide wide-ranging communication that is thoughtful and consistent.”

She added, “I am confident that this curriculum can be a strong, well-respected part of what it means to graduate from our institution. The new core curriculum challenges students to think about perspectives they had not previously engaged and to step outside their major program. It is an opportunity for students to be creative and also self-directive in their college education. I am prepared and eager to participate in making that happen on campus.”

Dugan joined the Springfield College humanities faculty in 2016 with a focus on American religions with a specialization in contemporary Catholicism in the U.S. She teaches courses on world religions, religion in the U.S., Catholicism, women and religion, and introduction to Christianity. Her research interests are in religious experience, women in religion, and the intersection of religious practice and American culture.

Her first monograph, “Millennial Missionaries: How a Group of Young Catholics Is Trying to Make Catholicism Cool,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. Her current research is on Catholics who practice natural family planning in the U.S.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — ValleyBike Share, the Pioneer Valley’s three-year-old electric bike-sharing system with stations across six cities and towns (Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton, South Hadley, Holyoke, and Springfield), including stations on the UMass Amherst campus, will not be operating this year in the city of Springfield.

Upon the recommendation of Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris to Mayor Domenic Sarno, the decision was made out of an abundance of caution to help mitigate the potential community spread of the novel coronavirus.

Concerns about possible spread of coronavirus are the reason behind this decision. Hampden County (6,883 cases per 100,000 residents) has seen much higher rates of COVID-19 infections than Hampshire County (985 cases per 100,000), with the numbers of infections still rising in the last two weeks. Hamden County is experiencing the Commonwealth’s highest death rate, with 141 out of 100,000 people dying from the disease.

As of July 1, the city of Springfield had reported 2,833 infections, for a rate of 1,789 per 100,000. In Springfield, 16.4% of people tested are testing positive for COVID-19, compared to a rate of 12.2% for the Commonwealth as a whole.

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW, WEST SPRINGFIELD — Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness Center is welcoming its Western Mass. members and staff back to 45 Crane Ave., East Longmeadow, and 155 Ashley Ave., West Springfield. Center hours of operation during the reopening period will be Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and temporarily closed Sunday.

Amenities, schedules, and programming will vary by center and will follow governmental orders and public-health guidelines. Members will be required to wear masks and use the touchless ID key-tag swipe in and out for contact tracing, maintain physical distancing, and wipe equipment after each use. Staff will have temperatures taken upon arrival and wear masks, and everyone is asked to adhere to the new code of conduct. There are new cleaning protocols in place, including EPA-sanctioned products for spraying exercise equipment for sanitization.

Members have been enjoying virtual on-demand workouts hosted by Healthtrax certified personal trainers and group fitness instructors over the past few months, and these will be continued due to popularity. Online reservations have been instituted to secure a place in classes at the center.

“We look forward to welcoming our community back to the centers to make improvements in strength, flexibility, and health gains, building an even stronger immune system and positive mindset during uncertain times,” said Steve Capezzone, CEO of Healthtrax. “Our leadership team has been working tirelessly to research, invest in, and deploy the most effective safety, cleanliness, and physical-distancing best practices as we enthusiastically welcome back our members and staff. I want to thank all for being adaptable and patient as we navigate many important changes in the operations of our business.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Wesley Church II has been named dean of the Springfield College School of Social Work and Behavioral Sciences. His professional background includes more than 20 years of experience in the field of social work, primarily in criminal-justice settings.

“Springfield College will benefit from the broad experiences and accomplishments that Dr. Church brings to the dean’s role,” said Martha Potvin, Springfield College’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “His spirit of innovation and collaboration, as well as successes in growing enrollments in online and continuing-education programs in social work and in child and family studies, bode well for successful leadership across all departments in the year-old School of Social and Behavioral Studies.”

Church has been the J. Franklin Bayhi endowed professor, the special assistant for assessment, and formerly director of the Louisiana State University School of Social Work.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Springfield family — my career in higher education has always had a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration to improve the quality of life for our community,” Church said. “The Springfield College School of Social Work and Behavioral Sciences faculty are incredibly talented and committed, and I look forward to working alongside them. There is tremendous potential for innovations to heighten student experiences and success, and I look forward to collaborating with the entire Springfield College community in growing the School of Social Work and Behavioral Sciences.”

Church succeeds Francine Vecchiolla, who is retiring after 30 years of service at Springfield College.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y has extended its price freeze to Sept. 2, and the list has been expanded from 10,000 to 15,000 everyday grocery items. Big Y operates 71 supermarket locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“When we announced our first price freeze, we heard from over 5,000 customers who indicated how important this action is to them,” said Michael D’Amour, chief operating officer for Big Y. “These remain uncharted times, so we feel this is another way we can help our customers and the community.”

Additionally, with regional food banks experiencing unprecedented demand, Big Y has provided $250,000 in support to address the rise in food insecurity since March. Using the estimate that every dollar donated provides four meals, the Big Y financial assistance amounts to 1 million meals. The donation was split equally by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Worcester County Food Bank, and the Greater Boston Food Bank in Massachusetts, as well as Foodshare and the Connecticut Food Bank in Connecticut. Big Y also supplies surplus food to local food banks on a weekly basis. On an annual basis, the company’s Sack Hunger program donates more than $11.5 million in food, or a total of 5.7 million meals, to help those in need throughout the region.

“As a family business, we recognize our responsibility to be exceptional in our service to our customers, especially right now,” D’Amour said. “Our customers are like family to us, and that’s why the friendly service in our stores, as well as commitment to the community, remains exceptional as well.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Toastmasters International announced that Steve Lanning was selected as Toastmaster of the Year by district leadership during its annual officer meeting. Lanning is the current president of Toastmasters of Downtown Springfield, and the outgoing Division F director for District 53 of Toastmasters International.

This annual award goes to the District 53 Toastmaster who has demonstrated year-long dedication to, and leadership within, District 53; committed to assisting other members in making their own progress; and upheld the core values of Toastmasters International: integrity, respect, service, and excellence.

Lanning is a six-year Toastmasters member who earned the Distinguished Toastmaster Award, the organization’s highest award, in 2019. He also earned seven educational awards in the just-ended club year. Lanning stepped down as Division F director on July 1 to assume the role of Area F63 director for the next club year.

“I love what I do, and my efforts are appreciated by both the members and the leadership,” Lanning said when asked why he volunteers so much. “My true calling would have been as a teacher, but I wasn’t ready for that until I joined Toastmasters.”

Toastmasters is a program designed to help members throughout the world develop communication and leadership skills in any setting with any group. Toastmasters of Downtown Springfield currently meets online through Zoom, and welcomes guests to check out a meeting. Visit 6081.toastmastersclubs.org for the Zoom link and more information. When on-site meetings are ultimately held, the location is Cambridge College at Tower Square in downtown Springfield.

Daily News

BOSTON — Criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier commercial data breaches have been attempting to file large amounts of illegitimate unemployment claims through the Massachusetts unemployment system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme.

In order to ensure the integrity of the unemployment system, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) continues to implement additional identity verification measures that may temporarily delay the payment timeframe for some unemployment claims in Massachusetts. The DUA has partnered with the Massachusetts State Police, the Department of Corrections, and the National Guard on this identity-verification effort

“Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are only going to valid claimants is the top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “It is unfortunate that, because of this criminal activity, people who really need our support may face delays in receiving the benefits they need. We will continue to work with our state and federal law-enforcement agencies, as well as our dedicated constituent service personnel, to ensure that those with valid unemployment claims receive financial assistance during these difficult times.”

Individuals who believe a false unemployment claim has been filed in their name are urged to utilize the Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form at mass.gov/unemployment-fraud or call DUA customer service at (877) 626-6800.

Daily News

NASHUA, N.H. — Melanson Heath, one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the U.S., announced that the company will begin operating under a new name and will be known as Melanson, effective immediately.

This rebranding strategy reflects both the evolution of the company and its vision for the future. Along with this change, a newly redesigned company logo has been revealed, and a new website, melansoncpas.com, has been launched.

“As part of our focus on expansion and business development, our leadership team and I believe it was appropriate to rebrand our firm to more specifically reflect who we are,” said Managing Partner Scott Toothaker, CPA. “We are very excited about the introduction of our new company name, Melanson, because it allows us to better represent our business to our clients and community. We are also very happy about the launch of our new website, which features our own employees and better reflects the personality found at Melanson. We are not just an accounting firm; we are a partner for our clients.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Due to the current regulations regarding community health and limitations on public gatherings brought on by COVID-19, the Northampton Jazz Festival has made the decision to postpone its 2020 festival scheduled for the first weekend in October.

The Northampton Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz music held yearly in downtown Northampton, collaborating with local businesses and performers to provide the community with musical performances. From jazz strolls to intimate venues with Grammy Award-winning performers, this weekend has become a staple of the community. Next year’s event will be held on Oct. 1-2, 2021.

The organization plans to maintain a strong social-media presence to connect jazz lovers with live concerts they can safely watch from home. Furthermore, the board of directors is working under the guidance of both city and state public-health officials to collaborate with local musicians, city partners, and downtown businesses.

Through these means, festival leaders are working on a plan to provide downtown Northampton with quality jazz performances in a safe way. As Massachusetts transitions through its four-phase reopening, more details will be confirmed. While the festival cannot continue as intended this year, organizers hope to bring a celebration of jazz music to the community in a different and safe form.

President Ruth Griggs, who has been leading the festival for three years, noted that “we are truly saddened by the reality that this coronavirus has forced on us, but our most important goal is to provide a pleasurable, meaningful, and safe experience for our jazz fans, jazz musicians, and to our community partners. Unfortunately, we recognize that we just won’t be able to achieve that in this pandemic environment.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Westmass Area Development Corp. board of directors has elected Antonio Dos Santos its new chairman, replacing Carol Campbell as her term expires.

Dos Santos joined the board in 2011 and has served in numerous roles, most recently as vice chair. He is a partner at the Springfield-based law firm Crear, Chadwell, Dos Santos & Devlin, P.C., specializing in business, commercial real estate, and commercial lending.

Dos Santos brings years of leadership and commitment to the Westmass board as Campbell’s term concludes after three challenging years. Amid the unexpected passing of former President and CEO Eric Nelson in 2019 and hiring new President and CEO Jeff Daley in October 2019, Campbell’s management and commitment to Westmass has ushered in a strong financial and operational base for success in the years to come. She will assume the role of immediate past chair and continue to serve on the executive committee.

“Westmass has been developing projects in Western Mass. for over 60 years. I am honored to take on the role of chairman of the board for such a distinguished and recognized entity,” Dos Santos said. “Westmass continues to grow its portfolio of development opportunities, in particular the Ludlow Mills preservation and redevelopment, an exciting project which is quickly approaching $100 million in investment and represents significant economic development for the region. We are poised for growth in the years ahead, and I am excited to do whatever I can and whatever our board can to ensure Westmass is still doing business in the next 60 years.”

Daley added that “the team at Westmass is grateful for Carol’s stewardship over her three-year term as chair, and we look forward to working with Tony and the entire board as Westmass continues its long tradition of delivering quality real-estate development projects in Western Mass.”

COVID-19 Daily News

BOSTON — State Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Jon Santiago have filed “An Act Establishing the Commission of Inquiry on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Response to and Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis.” The legislation would task a commission with reviewing the Commonwealth’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and make recommendations on how Massachusetts can better prepare in the future.

Lesser is Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies as well as a member of the Senate’s COVID-19 task force. Santiago is a member of the Joint Committee on Public Health as well as an emergency-room physician at Boston Medical Center.

“As we gain more insight into the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and its impacts on Massachusetts, it is vital that we establish a dedicated, non-partisan commission to evaluate the response to the crisis and ensure future preparedness,” Lesser said. “The unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has upended our way of life and has revealed pre-existing inequities in our system that needs to be evaluated and improved upon, especially as the threat of resurgence lingers.”

Added Santiago, “ensuring that we fully understand our response to COVID-19 is critical, particularly as we prepare for a potential second surge. The Commonwealth deserves a thorough, deliberate, and reflective inquiry of the actions taken to date. We owe it to the countless number of families who lost loved ones and to the many healthcare and essential workers who continue to risk their lives.”

Members of the commission must have expertise in professions such as economics; labor and workforce development; business and finance; public health; medicine, including epidemiology; healthcare; civil rights; law and governmental service; and emergency preparedness. The commission must be non-partisan and cannot include a current elected official, an employee of state or local government, a registered lobbyist, or an employee of a trade association or special-interest group. The chair of the commission will be appointed by a majority vote of the members. The commission will be required to hold public hearings and be given subpoena power to compel witnesses and produce documents during its investigation.

Daily News

BOSTON — Business confidence continued to rebound during June as Massachusetts methodically reopened its economy and COVID-19 cases surged elsewhere in the country.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index rose 6.9 points to 49.0, just a point shy of the level that denotes an optimistic outlook among employers.

The increase, which came three months after the index suffered the largest one-time decline in its history, reflected the relatively smooth rollout of the state’s four-step reopening plan and progress in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Confidence was closely linked to where a company was on the reopening schedule. Manufacturing companies, many of which have operated throughout the pandemic as essential businesses or were among the first companies to reopen, were more confident than retail companies and restaurants that had to wait until late June to welcome back customers.

“Companies certainly want to reopen as soon as possible and hire back some of the 1 million Massachusetts residents who lost their jobs during the pandemic. At the same time, the flareup of COVID-19 cases in states that opened aggressively seems to underscore the value of moderation,” said Raymond Torto, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA).

The constituent indicators that make up the Business Confidence Index were uniformly higher during June. Employers’ confidence in their own companies rose 5.9 points to 51.6, moving into optimistic territory for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth increased 9.4 points to 46.8, leaving it 14.4 points lower than in June 2019. The U.S. Index measuring conditions nationally gained 7.7 points to 43.7, a drop of 14.3 points during the year.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, surged 10.2 points to 46.3. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, rose 3.6 points to 51.8. The Employment Index increased 1.8 points in May, while the Sales Index, a leading indicator, gained 11.4 points to 51.7.

Manufacturing companies (49.4) were slightly more confident than non-manufacturers (47.8). Small companies (50.1) were more optimistic than medium-sized companies (49.2) or large companies (46.3). Companies in Eastern Mass. (49.4) were more optimistic than those in Western Mass. (48.5).

Michael Goodman, professor of Public Policy at UMass Dartmouth and a BEA member, said the Massachusetts job picture brightened slightly during the past month as employers began to resume business operations, but that the state economy continues to face significant challenges and uncertainty.

“In addition to its massive disruption to our daily social and economic life, the pandemic presents a significant threat to what are typically two of the Commonwealth’s most stable counter-cyclical employers — healthcare and higher education,” Goodman said. “This will make it more difficult to recover quickly this time, even if we manage to avoid a projected second wave of the COVID-19 virus later this year.”

AIM President and CEO John Regan, also a BEA member, said employers hope Massachusetts can continue to reopen its economy without the surge in COVID-19 cases being seen in states like Texas and Florida.

“Essential companies and early-stage reopening companies continue to operate in a safe and efficient manner,” he noted. “The manufacturing sector in particular has adapted to new safety regulations in a way that should allow business to remain open and put people back to work.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Levi Smith, owner of Captain Candy in the lower level of Thornes Marketplace, announced he is opening a second store in the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside.

“I’ve survived the COVID-19 shutdown, and I’m excited to be opening a second store in Holyoke,” Smith said.

Captain Candy offers eclectic candies that are not the norm in grocery and convenience stores — everything from gumballs to candy cigarettes, wax bottles full of juice, Turkish taffy, Pop Rocks, and Zotz.

Smith was contacted in January by the owners of Pyramid Management Group, which owns more than a dozen malls in the Northeast, including the Holyoke Mall. “They thought Captain Candy would be a good concept to expand into the mall,” he said, noting that his shop will be located next to the Apple store on the mall’s top floor.

Smith’s Holyoke store opening comes a little over a year after he purchased the Northampton shop from former owner Nolan Anaya. Smith was 18 at the time. Currently, he is a business student at Holyoke Community College.

In the early months, Smith will operate the new store to ensure a smooth start, and then he will hire as needed. Currently, he and six part-time employees operate the Thornes location, which opened in 2013.

After he purchased the Thornes location for an undisclosed amount, Anaya served as a mentor to Smith. “He’s still a resource to me,” Smith said. “He’s been very helpful, but he doesn’t have an active role anymore.”

Smith’s grandfather, Roger Fuller, owns R&R Window Contractors Inc. in Easthampton, and his family has long been involved in the business.

Daily News

WATERBURY, Conn. — Webster Bank became one of the first financial-services companies nationwide to introduce Frontline Heroes, a program for essential healthcare workers and first responders that enhances the financial well-being of those who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In gratitude for their selfless service, Webster’s new Frontline Heroes program offers a range of financial benefits, including checking accounts free of a monthly maintenance fee and free checking withdrawals at any ATM through December 2021. The program provides new customers with the ability to earn a cash incentive, as well as additional discounts and benefits.

“Our Frontline Heroes deserve to receive financial benefits for all of the sacrifices they have made during this extraordinary time of need,” said Nitin Mhatre, executive vice president and head of Community Banking. “This program is just one small way Webster is saying ‘thank you.’ Our communities are forever indebted to these heroes and their families.”

Frontline Heroes includes any full-time or part-time employee currently in essential healthcare, including hospitals, nursing homes, medical and dental practices, and home healthcare. The program is also available to first responders.

For every new Frontline Heroes customer, Webster will also donate $250 to United Way COVID-19 Response Funds, making a minimum donation of $100,000.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Michael Paysnick, CEO of Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC), has announced his retirement. Initially intending to retire in September, Paysnick has agreed, in light of COVID-19, to remain until a replacement is hired or until the end of the year.

“We are confident that we will situate an effective CEO to lead us in the years to come,” said Jonathan Goldsmith, president of the Springfield JCC board of directors. “We are fiscally solid; known for our amazing programs, services, and staff; as well as situated in a wonderful geographic location. As such, we are confident we will be hearing from many qualified applicants.”

Paysnick began his career at the JCC as assistant executive director in 1988. In 2008, he succeeded Mark Dindas, now executive director emeritus.

During his tenure, Paysnick helped establish the JCC as the central meeting place of the Jewish and general community. He set the organization on a path to financial sustainability, a goal achieved by working closely with the board of directors. “My work with the board has always been a partnership in which our vision and goals have been developed together and shared,” he said. “Their passion, support, and commitment to the J have inspired my work.”

Paysnick’s formula for accomplishing his leadership goals included a solid support staff. “I believe in hiring the best people, giving them space to create, challenging their ideas, and then providing the support they need,” he said. “Involving stakeholders in the decision-making process is critical to success.”

Goldsmith noted that “Michael was instrumental in expanding existing programs, as well as overseeing the initiation of new and creative programs and services, in a fiscally responsible manner. He successfully achieved the creation of the special-needs program Kehillah. He oversaw the expansion of the after-school program and infant program in the Early Learning Center. In 2011, he achieved the successful hosting of the 2011 JCC Maccabi Games held at the Springfield JCC. During his time at the helm, Michael presided over numerous renovations and infrastructure improvements to the center’s facility.”

The Springfield JCC received several recognition awards under Paysnick’s leadership, including one from Human Resources Unlimited (now Viability), which recognized the JCC for its employment practices of hiring individuals with special needs. The JCC also received the Brianna Award for its commitment to providing quality programs and services for individuals with special needs and their families.

Goldsmith announced that a committee has been formed to assist in the search for a CEO. Chaired by Richard Goldstein and vice-chaired by Sally Schneider, the committee also includes Goldsmith, Sue Kline, Betsy Bertuzzi, Harvey Schrage, Amy Anderlonis, Liz Cohen Rappaport, Lindsey Pratola, and Adam Deutsch.

Daily News

PIONEER VALLEY — The DiStefano Group and Seven Roads Media announced the Phoenix Project, a movement to collaborate and create opportunities within the Pioneer Valley business community based on the principles of kindness and understanding.

The goal is to provide a broad range of assistance to businesses that are struggling as a result of the unprecedented happenings of 2020. The two companies, in direct response to the inequities and hardships that so many in the community are facing, will seek to gain a genuine understanding of what local business owners need and address those needs immediately and for free.

The process will begin with a video interview to gather raw, first-hand knowledge. “We are looking to capture authenticity and vulnerability as only video can,” said Don Cavanaugh, co-founder and lead creative of Seven Roads Media and Phoenix Project co-founder. “That way, we can meet business owners where they are and truly help.” 

Seven Roads Media and the DiStefano Group will provide business and media coaching on the spot, but support for the business won’t end there. The Phoenix Project also includes the expertise of an established group of ‘masterminds’ — local professionals at the top of their fields — to provide coaching in banking, marketing, financial management, real estate, photography, hospitality, events, human resources, psychology, IT, and more.

Gina DiStefano, president and CEO of the DiStefano Group and Phoenix Project co-founder, explained that “the video is just the beginning. From there, we will connect the business with our group of masterminds, who will continue to provide pro bono advice. We intend to have a real impact on businesses that have been hit hard. We are willing and able to help.” 

The project’s model will build supportive relationships not just for the chosen business, but among all of the those represented by the masterminds, said the third co-founder, Jess Roncarati-Howe, a nonprofit consultant and coach with the DiStefano Group who formerly served as president of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

“An entrepreneurial spirit who truly cares about what’s going on around them can foster tremendous impact,” she added. “It is the driving force behind the Phoenix Project. We will help our community to heal — one interaction, one relationship at a time.”

Daily News

BOSTON — From June 21 to June 27, Massachusetts had 29,072 individuals file an initial claim for regular unemployment insurance (UI), a small decrease of 469 over the previous week, the third consecutive week of decline.

However, as the school systems officially closed for the summer, over-the-week increases in filings were seen in public administration and education. Manufacturing also posted an increase in initial claims filed. From March 15 to June 27, a total of 1,057,496 individuals have filed for regular UI. For the week, continued UI claims were down 9,828, or 1.8% over the previous week.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims filed for the week ending June 27, at 14,154, were slightly more than the previous week. Since April 20, 638,245 claimants have filed an initial claim for PUA.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provided up to 13 weeks of extended benefits, was implemented on May 21. For the week ending June 20, 4,503 PEUC initial claims were filed, bringing the total of PEUC filings to 59,144 since implementation.

Daily News

NORTH ADAMS —The Division of Graduate and Continuing Education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will hold a webinar offering information about the college’s certificate programs on Wednesday, July 8 at 11 a.m. This webinar is free and open to the public. To register, click here.

MCLA offers three certificate programs with classes at the college’s Pittsfield location: network security, principles of accounting, and the graduate certificate in business administration.

For both network security and principles of accounting, applicants need only a high-school diploma or the HiSET credential. Both programs may be completed in just over one year for students attending part-time. All courses in the certificate programs are eligible for transfer to continued study in MCLA’s undergraduate programs. The five-course graduate certificate in business administration provides either standalone advanced certification in business administration or fulfills the first 15 credits toward an MBA at MCLA.

“This certificate is appropriate for working professionals who may or may not be interested in pursuing the MBA, but for whom graduate certification in business would enhance their career potential,” said Nancy Ovitsky, director of MCLA’s MBA program.

Funding for MCLA’s certificate programs may be available for those who qualify through the MassHire Career Center. Federal financial aid is available for the two undergraduate certificates for those who qualify.

For more information, e-mail [email protected], call (413) 662-5575, or visit mcla.edu/certificates or mcla.edu/mba.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — The SmithVent team of engineering alumni, staff, and faculty are the winners of the CoVent-19 challenge to design an easily manufacturable ventilator for use during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Grécourt Gate, Smith College’s online news portal. The team’s breathing device was chosen from more than 200 submissions to the competition launched on April 1.

“In two months, we went from knowing nothing to having a functional prototype,” said team co-leader Susannah Howe, director of Smith’s Engineering Design Clinic. “To see that trajectory in such a short period of time, with people who are volunteering their time on top of their other jobs, is amazing and heartwarming and so rewarding.”

Smith College President Kathleen McCartney added that “I could not be more proud of the SmithVent team for winning the CoVent-19 Challenge. This win speaks volumes about the power of a liberal-arts education, grounded in experiential learning, to find innovative, collaborative solutions to complex, urgent problems. SmithVent is Smith at its best: a lasting example of our community coming together for the betterment of the world.”

COVID-19 Daily News

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced that phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin on Monday, July 6, and updates on gatherings will be in effect. For the city of Boston, phase 3 and the gatherings order will take effect on Monday, July 13.

The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in the first stage of phase 3, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations: movie theaters and outdoor performance venues; museums and cultural and historical sites; fitness centers and health clubs; certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact; and professional sports teams, which, under the authority of league-wide rules, may hold games without spectators.

The full guidance and list of businesses eligible to reopen can be found at www.mass.gov/reopening. Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in phase 3 are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.

Under the updated gatherings order, indoor gatherings are limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space.

Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25% of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community events, civic events, sporting events, concerts, conventions, and more. This order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social-distancing measures are possible.

In phase 3, healthcare providers may continue to provide in-person procedures and services as allowed in phase 2, with the addition of certain group treatment programs and day programs. These programs include adult day health, day habilitation programs, and substance-abuse services, including day treatment and outpatient services. Certain human-services programs can reopen, including community-based day services for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and psychosocial rehabilitation clubhouses.

Healthcare providers are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards, and must continue to utilize prioritization policies established in phase 2 for care delivery and scheduling, as well as monitor patient volume for non-essential, elective procedures and services.

In phase 3, visitation guidelines have been updated for 24/7 congregate care facilities and programs overseen by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, including the departments of Developmental Services, Youth Services, Children and Families, Public Health, Mental Health, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Offsite visits, including overnight visits, will be allowed under specific guidelines. Other updated guidelines, including visitation for long-term-care facilities, will be released shortly. Complete visitation guidance is available at www.mass.gov/hhs/reopening

MassHealth will also extend its current telehealth flexibility through at least the end of the year to ensure member access to critical healthcare services and encourage continued adherence to preventive public-health precautions.

On May 18, the Baker-Polito administration released a four-phase plan to reopen the economy based on public-health data, spending at least three weeks in each phase. Key public-health data, such as new cases and hospitalizations, have been closely monitored and shown a decline, allowing for phase 3 to begin.

Since mid-April, the seven-day average for the positive COVID-19 test rate is down 94%, the three-day average of hospitalized patients is down 79%, and the number of hospitals in surge is down 86%. More than 1,000,000 total COVID-19 tests have been administered, and testing continues throughout the state.

Daily News

SOUTHWICK — John Whalley, CEO of Whalley Computer Associates (WCA), announced the appointment of Michael Sheil as the company’s new president. Whalley has led the company as president and CEO for the past 41 years and will remain in his role as CEO moving forward, working closely with Sheil and the senior leadership team.

“This is an exciting time for Whalley Computer Associates as we continue to pursue opportunities for future expansion and continued success,” Whalley said. “I am confident in Michael’s ability to lead Whalley Computer Associates throughout the next phase of growth. His sales proficiency across our major verticals, combined with his leadership skills and strong relationships with our employees, partners, and customers, makes him ideally suited to fortify WCA’s continued growth and sales presence.”

Sheil brings to the position a wealth of knowledge and a wide range of experience in the information-technology industry, with expertise in sales for higher education, healthcare, finance, enterprise, and state and local governments. He has more than 32 years of experience in sales and 27 years of IT sales with WCA, most recently as a senior account manager, where he was an integral part of WCA’s success. In his new role, he will be responsible for presiding over the entire workforce, managing budgets and making sure resources are allocated properly to meet the overall goals and initiatives of the company.

“It is an honor to serve as president of Whalley Computer Associates as we continue to flourish in all markets of IT, with specific emphasis on our engineering, managed services, and cloud offerings,” Sheil said. “I’m also committed to growing our market share throughout North America, with an acute focus on New England and Upstate New York, to establish WCA as a major IT contender. I am excited to continue working in conjunction with our 140 employees and customers to propel WCA to the next level of growth and innovation.”

Tom Hanson, vice president of Operations; Doug Moglin, vice president of the OEM Division; and Paul Whalley, vice president, will remain in their current roles.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD ​— National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Our Town award of $100,000 to​ the Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. in partnership with the Springfield Cultural Partnership for Spark!: Igniting Our Community, a project in the newly renovated Pynchon Park to envision and create public art that serves to connect the city, residents, and visitors. This is one of 51 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.

“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” Carter said. “We celebrate organizations like the Springfield Museums and the Springfield Cultural Partnership for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”

Spark: Igniting Our Community is a two-year public art project that will transform recently reopened Pynchon Park into a vibrant public space through innovative multi-media art installations created by local and national artists. City residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions will be involved in a collective process to imagine, select, and commission public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and heritage.

The park, closed for 40 years, will use the arts to connect neighborhoods and people, creating equitable partnerships that demonstrate the power of civic engagement for more vibrant and livable communities. The park’s reopening offers an opportunity to continue momentum by celebrating public art in this passageway and creating a programming and civic-engagement space. This project will create a walkable pathway between the museum district and the commercial downtown, spurring retail and public-space projects along these avenues and encouraging greater tourism throughout the city.

​“The Spark! art project is a remarkable opportunity to create a museum without walls informed by the hopes and vision of community members in the heart of downtown Springfield,” said Kay Simpson, president and CEO of Springfield Museums. “Pynchon Park will become more than just an easy way to walk from downtown to the Springfield Museums, the Central Library, and the Armory. It will become a community space for solace and conversation surrounded by intriguing art. We feel privileged to play a role in creating an art park that showcases the talents of artists from Springfield and beyond.”

Karen Finn, executive director for the Springfield Cultural Partnership (SPC), added that “empowering the arts and cultural community is paramount to the strength and resilience of our community. In addition to the wide range of public art installations, Pynchon Park will be a new venue for Springfield artists and organizations to utilize for programming and other activations. Receiving the NEA Our Town grant amplifies the SCP’s goal of connecting artists, institutions, and audiences to celebrate Springfield’s creativity.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Since the phrase COVID-19 came into our lexicon, those working in the broad healthcare field have emerged as the true heroes during a pandemic that has changed every facet of life as we know it.

And over the past several months, the world has paid tribute to these heroes, and in all kinds of ways — from applauding in unison from apartment-complex windows to bringing hot meals to hospital and nursing-home workers; from donating much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to people putting hearts on their front lawns and mailboxes to thank first responders, healthcare workers, postal workers, and others.

BusinessWest and its sister publication, the Healthcare News, will pay tribute in their own way, by dedicating their annual Healthcare Heroes program in 2020 to those who are have emerged as true heroes during this crisis. The deadline for nominations is July 17.

Healthcare Heroes was launched by the two publications in 2017 to recognize those working in this all-important sector of the region’s economy, many of whom are overlooked when it comes to traditional recognition programs. Over the years, the program has recognized providers, administrators, emerging leaders, innovators, and collaborators.

For 2020, the program will shift its focus somewhat to the COVID-19 pandemic and all those who are working in the healthcare field or helping to assist it at this trying time. All manner of heroes have emerged this year, and we invite you to nominate one — or several — for what has become a very prestigious honor in Western Mass.: the Healthcare Heroes award.

Here are some examples of those who have become real heroes:

• Doctors and nurses;

• Emergency-room personnel, including doctors, nurses, orderlies, techs, triage, receptionists, and others;

• EMTs;

• Police and firefighters;

• Nursing-home personnel, everyone from frontline providers to administrators;

• End-of-life care providers;

• Administrators leading the efforts to battle the pandemic;

• Behavioral-health practitioners helping people and families navigate this crisis;

• Individuals and groups from our community who have stepped up to help healthcare workers with everything from hot meals to PPE;

• Companies that have pivoted and commenced production of materials such as PPE to help those in healthcare confront the pandemic;

• Scientists working behind the scenes to develop a vaccine or new types of PPE; and

• Truck drivers delivering supplies to hospitals and other providers.

These are just a few examples, and there are myriad others. In truth, everyone who goes to work in a hospital, nursing home, assisted-living facility, or other healthcare facility, thereby risking their own health, and perhaps their life, is a hero.

In many respects, all these heroes will be honored at the Healthcare Heroes event, now scheduled for this fall at the Springfield Sheraton. And to honor all of them, we want to bring to the podium a number of individuals and groups that represent everyone who has become a hero in these trying times.

To assist those thinking of nominating someone for this honor, we are simplifying the process. All we desire is a 400- to 500-word essay and/or two-minute video entry explaining why the group or individual stands out as an inspiration, and a truly bright star in a galaxy of healthcare heroes. These nominations will be carefully considered by a panel of independent judges, who will select the class of 2020.

For more information on how to nominate someone for the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020, click here. Videos can be sent via dropbox to [email protected].

Healthcare Heroes is sponsored by Comcast Business and Elms College.

Daily News

Wendy Fitzgerald

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International New England, LLC announced that Wendy Fitzgerald, strategic account executive, received the Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA) certificate, completing an intensive, 18-month program designed to enhance the knowledge of professionals who serve high-net-worth clients.

Nearly 600 professionals from leading insurance organizations in the U.S. have graduated from the program since its inception in 2015. The CPRIA program is offered by the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA) and is endorsed by the Tobin Center for Executive Education of St. John’s University in conjunction with St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

“Earning a CPRIA certificate is a great accomplishment, and we’re thrilled that Wendy is dedicated to continuously learning about this evolving industry in order to provide the best possible advice and customer service to our clients,” said Timm Marini, president of Western New England, HUB International New England.

The CPRIA program is unique in that it provides real-world scenarios, addresses current and complex industry trends, and predicts needs of the future.

“This year’s graduates have been wonderful collaborators who have studied with their peers and competitors and have worked to perfect the advice and solutions they provide their clients,” said Lisa Lindsay, executive director of PRMA. “We’re honored that they chose to continue their professional development through PRMA.”

The program also aims to further the knowledge of participants by providing them with access to high-net-worth industry veterans and leading insurance executives.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — As women continue to experience the devastating impact of unemployment due to COVID-19, representing close to 60% of all lost jobs this spring, the food-service, hospitality, retail, and travel industries have been some of the hardest hit.

Further delivering on its mission of empowering women, at a time when many are forced to reimagine their lives, Bay Path University is offering a free three-credit online undergraduate college course in August. The course, “Fundamentals of Digital Literacy,” will help women expand their digital technology skill set and be better prepared for the workforce of the future. The course is offered through The American Women’s College, Bay Path University’s fully online division designed to fit busy women’s lives.

“We hope this free course inspires women to look to a better future through education at a time when they are experiencing such uncertainty,” said Carol Leary before her recent retirement as Bay Path president. “This is our way to offer women an opportunity to discover the benefits of online learning. We have deep experience serving women in a proven college format resulting in a graduation rate that is 20% higher than other adult-serving online programs.”

“Fundamentals of Digital Literacy” is a six-week, three-credit course in which students will examine best practices for utilizing social-media and digital-communication tools in the workplace. In addition, they will learn practical skills for a digital world and gain an increasing awareness of the risks of digital communication essential in all fields. By mastering the fundamentals of computing technology and demonstrating digital literacy, women who complete the course will have developed the computer skills needed to thrive in a 21st-century workforce that is continually changing.

Leaders in the Women in Travel and Hospitality and Women in Retail Leadership Circle organizations are sharing this free course opportunity with impacted employees impacted. The course offering is not exclusive to these groups, however, and any woman in sectors affected by COVID-19 are welcome to enroll.

“At a time when the retail industry has been dramatically impacted, it is refreshing to see Bay Path University, an institution dedicated to advancing the lives of women, provide an opportunity for women in our industry to gain a valuable skillset and college credits,” said Melissa Campanelli and Jen DiPasquale, co-founders of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

Unlike other online degree programs, students enrolled in classes through the American Women’s College at Bay Path University are able to get immediate feedback on individual academic performance. They also get the support they need to excel in the program, such as coaching, counseling, virtual learning communities, and social networking. The courses are designed to help provide the flexibility women need to engage in their studies, while still balancing their daily lives, jobs, and families.

As a result of the innovative approach to learning offered through the American Women’s College, women successfully earn degrees at higher rates than national averages, the institution notes. The model has been widely recognized by industry experts, the federal government, and granting agencies since its inception in 2013. Most recently, the American Women’s College was awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Strada Education Network to use its unique model to close the digital-literacy gap for women.

Enrollment in this six-week, three-credit course is subject to availability. This offer is intended for women who are first-time attendees of Bay Path University. Active Bay Path University students and those enrolled within the past year are not eligible for this offer.

Any student enrolled in this course who wishes to officially enroll into a certificate or degree program at the American Women’s College or Bay Path University must submit the appropriate application for admission and be accepted according to standard admissions guidelines.

To register for the course, visit bpu.tfaforms.net/41. The registration deadline is July 20, and enrollees will have course access on July 27. For more information, visit www.baypath.edu/baypathworks.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) received a $195,000 grant from Tufts Health Plan Foundation to convene a Pioneer Valley Age Friendly Collaborative that will engage member communities in planning for an aging population. This is one of 13 new community investments totaling $1.7 million that reflect the foundation’s support of collaborative community efforts and systems change to advance healthy aging.

“We have an opportunity to think differently about how our systems are addressing community needs,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president for corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan. “We are living in unprecedented times. We need to learn from this experience and think about how we can change the conditions that hold problems in place.”

This project, led by PVPC, formalizes an existing effort around age-friendly planning in the region. PVPC will partner with municipal planning departments, councils on aging, healthcare and service providers, community organizations, universities, and residents to create municipal age-friendly action plans that reflect the priorities of the region’s current and future older adults.

“We are excited to expand planning for healthy aging to municipalities throughout the PVPC region,” said Becky Basch, senior planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. “And by bringing together all of the cities and towns that are planning for an aging population, we will create a valuable space for sharing ideas and best practices at the local and regional levels.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Amid COVID-19, the need for organizations such as Open Pantry Community Services has grown. Matt Ogrodowicz of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. led a charge to collect food and donations at MBK over a two-week period. He shared Open Pantry’s mission as well as its high-demand items, including cereal, pasta, canned goods, peanut butter, and spaghetti sauce.

Staff at MBK donated food and/or money, which Ogrodowicz used to shop for additional items on the high-demand list. With the combined efforts, MBK was able to donate 279 pounds of food to Open Pantry.

 

 

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) announced it has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to support its Resilience Fund for Farmers.

This new fund was established in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting impact on local farmers, who are hurting right now as stores, restaurants, and other income-generating avenues like farmers’ markets and CSA are closed or operating in different, logistically challenging ways due to the virus. Despite these challenges, many farmers are reaching out to contribute healthy food to the neediest among us and sell as much as they can directly to consumers.

The goal of the BAV Resilience Fund for Farmers is to support those who are experiencing business challenges as a result of COVID-19. Zero-interest, forgivable loans and grants will be provided to help farmers adapt to new realities, overcome significant income challenges, and ensure that farms remain viable and sustainable so they continue to meet demand for healthy, local foods.

In addition to working with individual farmers, BAV also hopes to support strategies that avoid costly duplication of effort among farmers, such as developing coordinated delivery services. The first grant from the fund helped Roots Rising to pivot and establish the Berkshire County-wide Virtual Farmers Market, which in its first eight weeks served 1,400 households, gave $18,000 to neighbors in need, and generated $50,000 in sales to support the local food system.

The grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank represents the first corporate support to the fund, which was established with a grant from a local family foundation.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to our Resilience Fund for Farmers. The grant will allow us to provide deeper support to our key constituents, the farmers who are providing our neighbors with fresh, healthy, and local food,” said Cynthia Pansing, BAV executive director.

J. Jay Anderson, president and CEO of Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, added that the bank “is proud to support the work of the Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and the Resilience Fund for Farmers during this extraordinary time. At a time when local food systems and healthy food is important to our communities more than ever before, we thank them for their work.”

COVID-19 Daily News

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced new COVID-19 public health guidelines on travel and transportation.

Effective today, July 1, all travelers arriving to Massachusetts, including residents returning home, are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. This guidance does not apply to travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, or New Jersey. Additionally, workers designated by the federal government as essential critical infrastructure workers are also exempt from this directive.

Travelers who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are instructed to not travel to Massachusetts.

All visitors and residents of Massachusetts are also reminded that the use of masks or face coverings in public places where individuals cannot socially distance from others remains required.

These new guidelines replace previously announced Massachusetts travel guidance. For national travel information, visit www.travel.state.gov.

Daily News

AMHERST — The Downtown Amherst Foundation announced that the second round of grants from the Relief and Resiliency grant program have been made available to 28 Amherst businesses from the retail, restaurant, and service sectors. The funding arrives as more businesses open up and prepare for in-store services, shopping, and dining.

Restaurants and eateries to receive awards are Arigato, Kaiju, Momo Tibetan, Oriental Flavor, Osteria Vespa, Sunset Grill & Pizza, Wheelhouse (a catering company located in the former Lumberyard restaurant space), and the Subways on Main Street and College Street (owned and operated by locals).

Retailers awarded are Dion Tack, J. Austin Antiques, Knowles Flower Shop, and Mystery Train Records. Salons, spas, and health clubs awarded are Global Cuts, Absolutely Hair, Amherst Extensions & Beauty Supply, Artressa Salon, Casimir Kocot Salon, Eliana’s Barbershop, Electrolysis by Athena & Lorraine, Elements Hot Tub & Spa, Hair by Harlow, Hair East, and Sandy’s Barber Shop. Service-sector awards go to Amherst Copy & DesignWorks, Hampshire Athletic Club, Fitness Together, and Paul’s Shoe Repair.

The funds help business owners and staff struggling with lower customer volume while navigating staffing, services, and fiscal obligations like paying suppliers, while staying healthy and safe. Kevin Grimard at Paul’s Shoe Repair, who has been in business for 32 years, taking over from his father, who opened in 1960, said, “I’ve done really well all these years in Amherst and never thought in my life something like this would happen.”

The fundraising effort has garnered more than $300,000, with generous recent donations from Applied Mortgage and the Amherst Rotary Club, along with numerous donations from residents.

The Downtown Amherst Foundation has secured personal protective equipment (PPE), and will distribute gallons of hand sanitizer, face masks, and gloves to Amherst businesses. Jay Paulo, owner of the Subway on Main Street, as well as a part-time EMT in Springfield, said the PPE is most welcome as supplies remain very limited.

The town of Amherst was also able to secure a $10,000 grant from the Solomon Foundation, which it has awarded to the Downtown Amherst Foundation. The DAF will match this grant and will use it to purchase umbrellas and large planters for shade trees to enhance the outdoor dining experience. The Amherst Downtown Business Improvement District will be working with the Department of Public Works to string café lighting along the streetscapes to create a welcoming and vibrant nighttime setting.

To donate to the Downtown Amherst Foundation, visit downtownamherstfoundation.org or send a check to 35 South Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Associate Professor of English Justine Dymond has been selected by the Mass Cultural Council (MCC) Artist Fellowships Program as a finalist in the category of fiction/creative nonfiction on the strength of her lyrical essay titled “Brave of Worms.”

“I am so very excited with the news and the peer recognition that comes with the selection as a finalist for the MCC artist fellowship,” said Dymond, who joined the Springfield College humanities faculty in the fall of 2008. “I am thrilled to be in the company of the other finalists and fellows. Since it’s a statewide honor, you can imagine how competitive it is in Massachusetts, where so many amazing writers live and work. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve applied, and I’m still pinching myself I received this honor.”

Dymond teaches courses in writing and multi-cultural literature at Springfield College. Her short prose and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Briar Cliff Review, and Cimarron Review. Her short story “Cherubs” was selected in 2007 for an O. Henry Award, a highly prestigious recognition in the art of the short story.

In 2018, she received the the Eludia Award presented by Hidden River Arts, an inter-disciplinary, independent arts organization located in Philadelphia, for her collection of stories titled The Emigrant and Other Stories. Forthcoming from Sowilo Press, the collection ranges widely in setting and era, including France during World War II, Maine in the early 18th century, and Tennessee in the 21st century.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — For the safety of fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, suppliers, and the broader community, the leadership of the Eastern States Exposition have canceled the 2020 Big E.

“Please know that this decision was not made lightly,” a statement noted. “The Big E fair is so much more than just a fair; it is tradition, it is celebration, it is the showcase of everything we are so proud of in New England. This is why our hearts are heavy as we bring you this news.”

The fair has been put on hold before, during both World War I and World War II.

“We know our faithful fairgoers will be disappointed,” the statement noted. “This decision was difficult and complex, but we all know in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do for the health and safety of the 1.6 million people who support us each year.

“Our staff has spent the last few months working tirelessly to figure a way to bring our annual New England tradition to everyone this fall. Despite exploring all our options and planning extensively, we realized that the Big E experience that everyone has come to know and love would not be the same.

“We care for each and every one of our fairgoers, and our job is to help you make the best memories possible. Because of that, we must now switch our focus to the future. Please join us in doing that.”

Next year’s edition of the Big E is scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3, 2021.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — At its recent annual meeting, held virtually, the board of trustees of Bay Path University, on behalf of the entire Bay Path community, surprised retiring President Carol Leary with a celebration in her honor.

“Carol Leary led a remarkable transformation of Bay Path during her 25-year tenure. The board was honored to pay tribute to her and express gratitude for the countless ways she and her husband Noel have impacted Bay Path and the Western Massachusetts community,” said Jonathan Besse, board chair.

The longest-serving president in Bay Path’s history, the board granted Leary the title of president emerita, which will begin July 1, her first day of retirement. Emeritus status is a special honor given to an individual who has provided distinguished service to an institution or organization. During her tenure, Leary guided the university through a remarkable transformation, resulting in an unprecedented number of institutional improvements and initiatives such as strengthening academic offerings, enhancing the student experience, investing in capital projects, and establishing ties with the greater community and cultivating new partnerships.

In addition to electing Leary president emerita, the trustees voted to rename the main administration building, Deepwood Hall, to Leary Hall.

Carol and Noel Leary were also acknowledged for their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the tremendous impact they have had on all students. As first-generation college students themselves, they have inspired hundreds of women to attain a degree.

Also, in recognition of Noel Leary’s deep commitment to students, as well as his civic activism and volunteerism, the board awarded him an honorary degree. As Besse noted, “for this selfless community servant who, without fanfare, has dedicated his life to the betterment of others, we are proud to bestow Bay Path’s highest honor, the doctor of humane letters, honoris causa, upon Noel Leary.”

Sandra Doran, the sixth president of Bay Path, will assume office on July 1.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — The Greater Easthampton Sustaining Small Business Grant (SSBG) program is part of a larger collaboration between the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce and the city of Easthampton, within the Blueprint Easthampton initiative. The initial intent of the SSBG is to provide local small and micro businesses, as well as the nonprofit community, with short-term, immediate financial aid to those who have sustained economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so that businesses may continue their operations.

“We are especially thankful to our partners and are just thrilled to be a part of this important collaboration during this urgent time of need,” said Moe Belliveau, the chamber’s executive director.

A $30,000 grant has been awarded to the city of Easthampton by the office of Attorney General Maura Healy toward this effort. As program administrator, the chamber will create and run the SSBG program, while the city acts as the financial coordinator, collecting donations and writing checks once the grants are awarded by the chamber to businesses located in Easthampton.

The grant has also been seeded in conjunction with a $7,500 gift from Todd Barron and Lindsay Barron LaBonte, co-managers of Applied Mortgage, a d/b/a of HarborOne Mortgage. The Vitality Grant sponsored by Applied Mortgage Giving is based on its desire to invest in its communities by supporting Greater Easthampton small businesses and nonprofits. The Greater Easthampton area includes Easthampton, Southampton, and Westhampton.

The application process will open on July 1 at 9 a.m. and end on July 14 at 5 p.m. Applicants are encouraged to read the program requirements on the chamber’s website prior to July 1.

Daily News

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced its fall 2020 reopening plan, noting that, while almost all courses will be taught remotely this fall, students will be given the option to live on campus under exacting public-health restrictions. No students will be required to return to campus, and students will determine which option, taking courses while living at home or in campus residence halls, is best according to their personal health, educational path, and home environment.

“Students who choose to attend UMass Amherst do so not only for the quality of the faculty and the academic programs, but also for the immersive experience, which offers opportunities for enrichment that can be undertaken with a diverse group of peers,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said. “As best we can — and there are severe limitations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — we will strive to sustain the community connections that represent UMass at its best.”

The plan makes clear there are inherent risks to joining a residential campus environment this fall, and it provides students the opportunity to consult with their families and decide what is best for them. Subbaswamy emphasized that “it is important to understand that life on campus will not be anything resembling normal college life.”

In announcing the plan, UMass Amherst joins a small number of schools giving students the option to determine whether to spend the semester on campus or at home. The decision to invite first-year, transfer, and returning undergraduate students to live on campus was informed in part by the overwhelming feedback from students that they want to pursue their studies on campus — and, indeed, intended to seek out rental units in the area even if residence halls were not reopened.

For students who choose to reside in on-campus housing or expect to spend any time on campus, standards will be exacting. Students must agree not only to the standard Code of Student Conduct, but also to a set of protocols outlined in the UMass Agreement, a commitment they will be required to sign.

Protocols for students include strict physical distancing, wearing face coverings outside personal living spaces, limiting social contacts to a minimal number of people per day, the prohibition of guests in residence halls, subjecting themselves to virus testing on demand, daily self-monitoring and reporting, assisting with contact tracing, and limiting travel away from the immediate campus area for work and/or emergencies only.

Health and Safety

The university will establish a Public Health Promotion Center to be the central coordinating and operational center for COVID-19 on campus. It will focus on the following: asymptomatic testing (symptomatic testing will be conducted at University Health Services), contact tracing, coordinating isolation and quarantine, flu vaccinations, and communication outreach focused on health promotion with public-health ambassadors.

The university is developing a comprehensive surveillance, testing, isolation, and contact-tracing program that students must comply with both on- and off-campus. All students, faculty, and staff will be asked to self-monitor on a daily basis for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus. All students returning to campus will be tested prior to arrival. During the fall semester, any student experiencing even the slightest symptoms will be tested by University Health Services.

Students living on campus who test positive for COVID-19 will have the option to return to their home to isolate for the appropriate amount of time, or they will be placed in isolation housing on campus and be provided with support services and a daily wellness call. Off-campus students are also encouraged to develop an isolation and quarantine plan with their family and roommates. The university will provide support services in a student’s off-campus location or home, but it will not provide on-campus isolation or quarantine space.

Teaching and Learning

The university previously announced an altered academic calendar for fall 2020, with a start date of Aug. 24 for classes. Classes will end Nov. 20, at Thanksgiving break, when students will move out of residence halls. Final exams will be conducted remotely after Thanksgiving break. Classes also will be held on Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day.

A majority of the fall 2020 curriculum will be fully remote, with only essential labs, studios, performances, and hands-on courses offered in-person and focused on the upper-level curriculum to provide seniors with timely progress toward degree completion. Some students who live on campus may have a fully remote curriculum, a factor they should consider in their decision whether to come to campus.

Classroom capacities will be limited to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. Additional sections of courses may be added to reduce class sizes. Course schedules will be adjusted to increase time between classes to reduce interactive foot traffic on campus and provide time for increased cleaning of lab and classroom spaces when needed. Students will be encouraged to be patient and flexible regarding classroom assignments and course schedules.

Libraries are currently working on a phased reopening plan for restoration of in-person services and on-site access to their collections. Until then, the libraries will continue to provide access to materials through the Library Express service.

Residential Life

While all courses that do not require physical presence on campus will be offered remotely this fall, all undergraduate students who have reserved on-campus housing for the upcoming semester, and for whom there is space available, are invited to live on campus under strict public-health behavioral restrictions.

After July 1, Residential Life will communicate with students who have a current housing assignment about their eligibility to live on campus. Students who plan on canceling their housing assignment should contact Residential Life immediately to inform them of their change of plans.

Life in the residence halls will be altered to include pedestrian-flow restrictions, restrictions on group gatherings, and limited face-to-face contact. No guests will be allowed in residence halls until further notice.

Move-in for fall semester will take place over multiple days to reduce the amount of people on campus at any time, and students may bring only two family members or helpers to assist them. Students are advised to bring fewer items to campus this fall and plan for 12 weeks of residential time as opposed to an entire school year due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Also, if COVID-19 cases spike in Massachusetts, the university may close down residence halls and send students home.

Students who either do not have access to the main campus or who are seeking a residential option beyond the main campus may apply for housing on the Mount Ida campus in Newton. All health and safety protocols on the main campus will be in effect in Newton, but the total residential population at the Newton campus will be limited by available housing to fewer than 500 students. All courses taught in Newton beyond essential face-to-face courses for on-site programs (such as veterinary technology) will be offered remotely.

Campus Life

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is offering its immersive residential experience, which is conducive to students’ learning and academic progress, in a manner that is intended to provide safeguards for the health and well-being of the entire campus community. Given this situation, campus life will be a different experience in the fall, with all members of the campus community playing an important role in mitigating the infection and spread of the virus.

Most student services will be offered remotely, including the services of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health. The Recreation Center will be open, but there will be limits and restrictions on activities. The center will also livestream fitness classes through the intramural leagues.

UMass Dining will adapt its services to current federal and state guidelines for food service. It will offer new grab-and-go stations, online ordering for many of its retail locations, and tents for outdoor dining on campus.

Student activities will center on small-group, in-person events, and larger virtual events.

The complete reopening plan, including a detailed set of frequently asked questions, can be found at www.umass.edu/reopening.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that attorney Erin Chrzanowski has joined the firm as an associate and a member of the firm’s business and corporate practice group, where she works on matters related to commercial real estate and financing.

In addition, she was recently elected to serve on the board of Revitalize Community Development Corp. in Springfield.

Prior to joining Bacon Wilson, Chrzanowski attended Syracuse University College of Law, earning her JD in 2019, and UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, earning her BBA cum laude in 2017. She is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and New York.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Starting on Tuesday, June 30, United Way of Pioneer Valley will start distributing hundreds of boxes of shelf-stable food items to community partner agencies for distribution to potentially thousands of needy clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The boxes of shelf-stable food have been secured through United Way’s relationship with MEMA as they distribute food throughout the Commonwealth in response to the ongoing pandemic. The first truckload will arrive at United Way headquarters in Springfield on June 30 at 10 a.m.

“We are honored to play a part in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response efforts,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley. “We have worked with MEMA closely in their relief efforts for Hampden County and are happy to continue to help.”

Daily News

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announced it has received two awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement. The college received an Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Performance in the category of Public Liberal Arts Institutions and a Circle of Excellence Award for its 2018-19 President’s Report. This is the first year MCLA has been recognized by this program.

The annual Educational Fundraising Awards recognize exemplary development programs based on a blind review of data submitted to the CASE Voluntary Support of Education survey. Winners are selected based on factors and variables that include, but are not limited to, patterns of growth, overall breadth of fundraising, amount raised per student, and alumni participation.

The Circle of Excellence Awards recognize institutions whose staff members advanced their institutions through innovative, inspiring, and creative ideas. The awards acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, and deliver exceptional results.

CASE judges commended the 2018-19 President’s Report, which was developed by MCLA’s Department of Marketing and Communications staff, on its theme and narrative flow, effective use of vintage and modern photographs and design elements, concise but not spare use of color, and the overall feeling of community it expressed, among other praise.

Daily News

AMHERST — The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) selected six new healthcare research and development (R&D) hubs to join the Digital Health Sandbox Network, including UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS).

The Sandbox Network program connects digital-health startups to cutting-edge R&D facilities in the Commonwealth and allows Massachusetts startups to apply for funding to test their innovations at one of the networks’ labs, now including IALS. Sandbox R&D facilities provide a range of services supporting validation and testing for digital health companies throughout their life cycles.

“Establishing a translational institute at UMass that provides startup lab space; more than 30 industry-friendly, staffed core equipment facilities; and individualized venture-mentoring services creates an exciting environment for digital-health companies in Western Massachusetts,” IALS Director Peter Reinhart said.

Andrew Vinard, IALS director of Core Facilities, added that “our core facilities will now have access to a wider network of potential users who may not have found us but for the Sandbox program and MeHI’s engagement. This will be a catalyst to bring digital health-focused companies to our doors to access the broad array of resources and expertise we can devote to their projects. Being in the Sandbox Network also broadens our core facilities access to expertise, which we hope will translate to inter-institutional projects to take advantage of the wealth of resources Massachusetts has to offer to our digital-health industry.”

IALS helps to shepherd and translate fundamental research into new product candidates, technologies, and services that benefit human health and well-being. IALS also helps users address both basic and translational questions, deliver technologies and product candidates more rapidly, and become more competitive in obtaining funding. Facilities include a state-of-the-art test bed for mobile health experiments at scale, the Center for Human Health and Performance, a roll-to-roll fabrication and processing facility, and research laboratory space for lease.

In 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker announced $500,000 in funding for the Sandbox program as part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to boost the digital-health ecosystem under the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative.