Home Departments Archive by category Briefcase

Briefcase

Briefcase

Opioid-related Overdose Deaths Decrease in Massachusetts

BOSTON — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts decreased in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the first nine months of 2017, according to the latest quarterly opioid-related deaths report released recently by the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH). In the first nine months of 2018, there were a total of 1,518 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths, as compared with 1,538 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2017. This estimated decrease follows a 4% decline between 2016 and 2017. “The opioid epidemic, fueled by an all-time high level of fentanyl, remains a tragic public-health crisis responsible for taking too many lives in Massachusetts,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “While there is much work left for all of us to do, we are encouraged that overdose deaths and opioid prescriptions continue to decline as searches on the Commonwealth’s Prescription Monitoring Program increase.” The latest report also indicates that the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl present in the toxicology of opioid-related overdose deaths continues to rise and reached an all-time high at 90% in the second quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, the rate of heroin or likely heroin present in those deaths continued to plummet. In 2014, heroin or likely heroin was present in 71% of opioid-related deaths; by the second quarter of this year, that number had fallen to 37%. Last month, the Baker administration filed legislation seeking $5 million to support a regional, multi-agency approach to fentanyl interdiction and crime displacement by Massachusetts municipal police departments. The funding will supplement surveillance work and overtime costs for units engaged, and officers in the field will also work to get buyers into treatment. In addition, last April, Baker signed legislation that included a long-overdue ‘fentanyl fix’ to allow law enforcement to pursue fentanyl traffickers.

Five Colleges, PVTA, Towns Agree to Increase Bus Payments

SPRINGFIELD — A proposal by the Five College Consortium to increase its annual payment to the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority by a total of $250,000 over the next four years has been accepted by PVTA and area municipalities. PVTA’s costs are covered with a combination of federal and state subsidies, payments from towns and cities, and passenger fares. Since 1979, Five Colleges has agreed to pay PVTA the town portion of the cost of bus routes that include its campuses. This has been with the understanding that, to encourage bus use, Five College students do not have to pay fares. In recent years, however, the cost of operating buses along Five College routes has expanded beyond what PVTA was charging. When the campuses became aware of the gap last year, the consortium developed a schedule for increasing payments that would provide greater support to PVTA without creating an undue burden for its campuses. Building on the most current charge of $500,000, the agreement has the campuses paying an additional $50,000 each year until total annual payments reach $750,000. The first payment was made in the last fiscal year, and additional payments will be made in each of the coming four years.

Travelers Aid Begins Service at Bradley International Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) and Travelers Aid announced that Travelers Aid International has begun serving the passengers of Bradley International Airport as the operator of the guest-service volunteer program at the airport. Travelers Aid now operates the Information Center in Terminal A on the lower level, which is the baggage-claim level. There are currently 45 volunteers, and Travelers Aid will be recruiting additional volunteers in order to better serve the airport’s passengers. The center’s current hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Mary Kate Doherty, an experienced volunteer manager, has been retained by Travelers Aid to manage and expand the program. Bradley International Airport will be the 18th airport in the Travelers Aid Transportation Network, which also includes four North American railroad stations and a cruise terminal. In the coming months, Travelers Aid will be reaching out to the residents of the region seeking additional volunteers. Doherty said Travelers Aid will be seeking anyone, both students and adults, interested in assisting a traveler with their questions. Anyone interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities should contact Doherty at (860) 500-8582 or [email protected].

ValleyBike Share Touts Inaugural Season Success

SPRINGFIELD — ValleyBike Share recently extended thanks to all users, sponsors, and supporters during its inaugural season. While the system experienced some expected (and unexpected) issues during this year’s startup, users successfully traveled over 88,000 miles together and made the bike-share system a success. People have been using the system instead of their cars for commuting to work and school, running errands, and even just for exercise and fresh air. “We are excited by the enthusiastic response in this first season of bike share, which has exceeded our original ridership projections,” said Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz. “We look forward to Easthampton joining the program next spring and also filling in the gaps in the system to continue expanding this important transportation alternative in the region.” Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, noted that, since ValleyBike has been in existence, residents and visitors of the five founding communities and UMass Amherst have traveled the equivalent of three and half times around the Earth — “something truly worth celebrating as its inaugural season comes to a close.” As originally programmed, the system shut down completely on Nov. 30 and will be re-opened on April 1 (weather permitting). During the time ValleyBike Share bikes are over-wintering, ValleyBike will be working to fix the issues noted in the startup season to provide the public with new and improved riding opportunities next season.

Monson Savings Bank Seeks Input on Charitable Giving

MONSON — For the ninth year in a row, Monson Savings Bank is asking the community to help plan the bank’s community giving activities by inviting people to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during 2019. “Every year, we donate over $125,000 to organizations doing important work in the communities we serve,” said Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank. “For several years now, we’ve been asking the community for input on which groups they’d like us to support. We’ve been so pleased by how many people inquire each year as to when the voting will begin again and how many people actually participate.” To cast their vote, people can go to www.monsonsavings.bank/about-us/vote-community-giving. On that page, they can see a list of organizations the bank has already supported in 2018 and provide up to three names of groups they’d like the bank to donate to in 2019. The only requirement is that the organizations be nonprofit and providing services in Hampden, Monson, Wilbraham, or Ware. The voting ends at 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31. The bank pledges to support the top 10 vote getters and will announce who they are by the middle of January.

Briefcase

Gaming Commission Releases October Revenue Figures for MGM Springfield, Plainridge

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that the month of October at Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) and MGM Springfield generated approximately $35.8 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). MGM Springfield generated $14.623 million in revenue from slots and $7.6 million from table games. PPC, an all-slots facility, generated $13.5 million in revenue. MGM Springfield paid a total of $5.56 million in taxes on that revenue, while PPC paid $6.6 million, for a total of more than $12.2 million. PPC, a category-2 slots facility, is taxed on 49% of GGR. Of that total taxed amount, 82% is paid to local aid, and 18% is allotted to the Race Horse Development Fund. MGM Springfield, a category-1 resort casino, is taxed on 25% of GGR; those monies are allocated to several specific state funds as determined by the gaming statute. To date, the Commonwealth has collected approximately $285.5 million in total taxes and assessments from PPC and MGM since the respective openings of each gaming facility, the commission said.
 

Employer Confidence Drops During October

BOSTON — Business confidence in Massachusetts declined to its lowest level in 17 months during October as the uncertainties that roiled global financial markets seeped into employer outlooks. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 1.6 points to 61.0 last month, the fourth decline in the last five months. The reading remains well within optimistic territory, but the BCI now sits 1.7 points lower than its level of a year ago and at its lowest point since May 2017. Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design, said the October decline is noteworthy because of large declines in employer confidence in their own operations, and among manufacturers. “Fears about slowing growth, trade wars, and rising interest rates buffeted financial markets this month, and some of those same fears, combined with an increasingly acrimonious midterm election, affected employers as well,” Torto said. “The good news is that the fundamentals of the economy remain strong. MassBenchmarks reports that the Massachusetts economy grew at a 3.3% annual rate during the third quarter, and the national economy added 250,000 jobs last month.” The constituent indicators that make up the overall Business Confidence Index were almost all lower during October. The one exception was the Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth, which rose 0.2 points to 64.7. Confidence in the state economy has declined 0.4 points since October 2017. The U.S. Index lost 2.0 points to 61.6, leaving it 0.9 points lower than a year ago. The Company Index, measuring employer assessments of their own operations, dropped 2.0 points to 59.6, down 2.4 points year-to-year. The Employment Index lost 0.3 points during October, while the Sales Index tumbled 3.1 points to 57.4. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, fell 1.0 point last month to 63.3 and 0.3 points for the year. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, lost 2.1 points for the month and 3.2 points for the year. AIM President and CEO Richard Lord, also a BEA member, agreed that international trade friction and uncertainty about the duration and scope of new tariffs are clouding employer views of an otherwise solid economy. “Concerns about trade and tariffs are likely to influence employer decisions as we move toward the end of 2018 and into the New Year. Hopefully, the results of the midterm elections will shed some light on the direction of trade policy moving forward.”

 

UMass Study: Pedal Desks Could Improve Health of Workplace

AMHERST — A recent pilot study by kinesiologists at UMass Amherst found that pedaling while conducting work tasks improved insulin responses to a test meal. Investigators led by Dr. Stuart Chipkin found that insulin levels following the meal were lower when sedentary workers used a pedal desk compared to a standard desk. In addition, work skills were not decreased in the pedaling condition. Chipkin and colleagues concluded that pedal desks “could have the potential to achieve public and occupational health goals in sedentary work environments.” They pointed out that physical inactivity and sedentary work environments have been linked to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease through insulin resistance and other mechanisms. Results appear in the October issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Chipkin, an endocrinologist who studies the impact of physical activity and medications on insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle metabolism at UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, explained that, instead of approaching the problem by trying to squeeze intermittent activity into a largely sedentary work routine, “we chose to consider integrating physical activity into the workday.” He and colleagues felt that the alternatives now available for office workers — standing desks and treadmill desks — are not feasible to use for whole shifts and may even pose some barriers, such as standing too long. By contrast, a pedal desk can be used in a seated position at the user’s own pace for as little or as much time as the worker chooses. Though there are currently no commercial pedal desks on the market, Chipkin and colleagues were able to use a prototype Pennington Pedal Desk co-invented by UMass Amherst kinesiology researcher Catrine Tudor-Locke, a co-author who did not determine study design or have any contact with participants or study data. For this work, the researchers recruited 12 overweight or obese full-time sedentary office workers — six men and six women — and tested them in two conditions, pedaling at self-selected light-intensity pace for two hours, and working while seated for two hours at a conventional desk. In both conditions, participants performed computer-based tasks and were tested on mouse proficiency, typing speed and accuracy, reading comprehension, and concentration/attention. The participants also provided blood samples after eating a light meal for analysis of metabolic responses of glucose, insulin, and free fatty acids, a link between obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Chipkin and colleagues reported that pedal-desk use required significantly less insulin to maintain glucose concentrations compared with using the standard desk.

 

Travelers Aid Begins Service at Bradley International Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) and Travelers Aid announced that Travelers Aid International has begun serving the passengers of Bradley International Airport as the operator of the guest-service volunteer program at the airport. Travelers Aid now operates the Information Center in Terminal A on the lower level, which is the baggage-claim level. There are currently 45 volunteers, and Travelers Aid will be recruiting additional volunteers in order to better serve the airport’s passengers. The center’s current hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Mary Kate Doherty, an experienced volunteer manager, has been retained by Travelers Aid to manage and expand the program. Bradley International Airport will be the 18th airport in the Travelers Aid Transportation Network, which also includes four North American railroad stations and a cruise terminal. In the coming months, Travelers Aid will be reaching out to the residents of the region seeking additional volunteers. Doherty said Travelers Aid will be seeking anyone, both students and adults, interested in assisting a traveler with their questions. Anyone interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities should contact Doherty at (860) 500-8582 or [email protected].

Briefcase

Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Holds Steady in September

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate remained at 3.6% in September, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 6,200 jobs in September. Over the month, the private sector lost 6,000 jobs, although gains occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; and financial activities. The jobs level for other services remained unchanged over the month. From September 2017 to September 2018, BLS estimates Massachusetts has added 63,400 jobs. The September unemployment rate was one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Last month, preliminary data indicates that there were 17,500 more employed residents and 1,500 fewer unemployed in the Commonwealth. The continued labor-force gains and an estimated addition of 48,800 jobs year-to-date are signs that our economy is attracting more residents to enter and gain employment in Massachusetts,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. The labor force increased by 16,100 from 3,806,000 in August, as 17,500 more residents were employed and 1,500 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6%. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — is up two-tenths of a percentage point over the month at 67.8%. Compared to September 2017, the labor-force participation rate is up 2.4%. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in construction; professional, scientific, and business services; other services; and manufacturing.

Baystate Reports That Highly Contagious RSV Has Arrived in Area

SPRINGFIELD — It’s not just the cold and flu that parents need to worry about this fall and winter season. Pediatricians at Baystate Children’s Hospital are already seeing cases of the highly contagious respiratory syncytial virus, better known as simply RSV, which is most prevalent during the months of December, January, and February. “Over the past four years, nationwide data has shown that the RSV season has been arriving a couple of weeks earlier and lasting a few weeks later than in past years,” said Dr. Michael Klatte of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division at Baystate Children’s Hospital. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of these differences could be due to increased use of newer tests used to diagnose RSV; however, seasonality of viruses like RSV can also be influenced by many different factors, such as changes in population, climate, and pollution.” While RSV results in mild, cold-like symptoms for most — a runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, and fever — it’s nothing to sneeze at for some and can lead to serious illness, especially for infants and older adults. “Parents, however, should not be overly alarmed,” said Klatte, who noted that only a small percentage of youngsters develop severe disease and require hospitalization. “Those hospitalized often have severe breathing problems or are seriously dehydrated and need IV fluids. In most cases, hospitalization only lasts a few days, and complete recovery usually occurs in about one to two weeks.” RSV is also the most common cause of bronchiolitis and viral pneumonia in children under one year of age. RSV can also affect older children, teenagers, and adults. Those who have a higher risk for severe illness caused by RSV include premature babies, adults 65 years and older, people with chronic lung disease or certain heart problems, and people with weakened immune systems. While several companies are now conducting vaccine trials, there is currently no vaccine to prevent the illness, and there is no antibiotic to help cure it. Low-grade fevers are common with RSV infections, and may come and go for a few days. If a child is having high fevers without relief for multiple days, or increased difficulty with breathing (such as wheezing, grunting, or ongoing flaring of the nostrils) is observed along with a child’s runny nose and cough, then a visit to the doctor is warranted.

Briefcase

Invesco, MassMutual Announce Strategic Partnership of Invesco, OppenheimerFunds

SPRINGFIELD — Invesco Ltd. and MassMutual announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement, whereby Invesco will acquire MassMutual asset-management affiliate OppenheimerFunds Inc. In turn, MassMutual and OppenheimerFunds employee shareholders will receive a combination of common and preferred equity consideration, and MassMutual will become a significant shareholder in Invesco, with an approximate 15.5% stake. This strategic transaction will bring Invesco’s total assets under management to more than $1.2 trillion, making it the 13th-largest global investment manager and sixth- largest U.S. retail investment manager, further enhancing the company’s ability to meet client needs through its comprehensive range of high-conviction active, passive, and alternative capabilities. “The combination with OppenheimerFunds and the strategic partnership with MassMutual will meaningfully enhance our ability to meet client needs, accelerate growth, and strengthen our business over the long term,” said Martin Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco. “This is a compelling, highly strategic and accretive transaction for Invesco that will help us achieve a number of objectives: enhance our leadership in the U.S. and global markets, deliver the outcomes clients seek, broaden our relevance among top clients, deliver strong financial results, and continue attracting the best talent in the industry.” “We have long held OppenheimerFunds’ people and strong investment performance track record in high regard,” Flanagan continued. “OppenheimerFunds’ culture and commitment to high-conviction investing complement our own, and the combination will create significant opportunities for the talented professionals of both companies.” MassMutual Chairman, President, and CEO Roger Crandall added that “MassMutual is excited for the next chapter in our successful asset-management strategy. Invesco is a highly regarded asset manager, and OppenheimerFunds has been an incredibly successful affiliate of MassMutual for the past 28 years. We look forward to participating in the future growth of the combined entity as a long-term partner and shareholder. This strategic combination positions us well to continue to benefit from a strong, diversified, global asset-management business, which will further strengthen our financial position and support our ability to invest in the long term, provide increased value to our policy owners and customers, and help us deliver on our purpose to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love.”

Report Evaluates Potential of New Water Technologies to Boost Jobs, Environment

AMHERST — The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has released a comprehensive study that evaluates the potential of developing a network of water-testing demonstration centers in the Commonwealth, including one at UMass Amherst. The centers would pilot new water technologies to position Massachusetts as a global leader in the water-innovation and energy-efficiency sector, providing significant business and employment opportunities. The report was released at the Innovations and Opportunities in Water Technologies Conference held at the Life Sciences Laboratories at UMass Amherst. The conference was sponsored by MassCEC and the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Western Massachusetts. Speakers included Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection; Stephen Pike, CEO of MassCEC; Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Mass. EDC; and Kumble Subbaswamy, chancellor of UMass Amherst. The report calls for creating a network of three demonstration centers around the state. They would be located at the Wastewater Pilot Plant at UMass Amherst, the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center in Barnstable, and a pilot plant located at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Deer Island Treatment Plant in Boston Harbor. Establishing this network of water-technology demonstration centers could create jobs, lower energy costs, and optimize municipal operations in addition to supporting water-technology research, the study says. A successfully established test-bed network could serve existing Massachusetts-based water-technology companies, help attract new companies to the Commonwealth, advance new solutions to both local and global water challenges, and provide a strong foundation for innovation. The Amherst site is ideal for this work, Sullivan said. “UMass Amherst is already a leader in this sector. The campus is positioned to undertake further research and development that will support industry growth and help grow a talented workforce for related industries.” Authorization for an investment in water technologies was approved as part of the state’s 2014 environmental bond bill. Release of state capital funds for such an investment must be evaluated and approved by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker.

Briefcase

Big E Breaks All-time Attendance Record

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A record number of visitors attended the 2018 Big E, with the final tally of 1,543,470 surpassing the previous record of 1,525,553, set in 2017. During the fair’s run, the all-time highest single-day attendance record was also broken when 172,659 visitors attended on Saturday, Sept. 22. Five additional daily attendance records were set: Sept. 14, 87,092; Sept. 15, 118,627; Sept. 23, 134,986; Sept. 27, 105,084; and Sept. 29, 171,965. “The Eastern States Exposition closed its doors on the 102nd edition with an another record year,” said Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO. “The outpouring of support for this organization from our region is humbling, as that support provides a mechanism for our mission to continue.”

Employer Confidence Slips Slightly During September

BOSTON — Business confidence in Massachusetts declined slightly during September as employers balanced optimism about economic fundamentals with concerns about tariffs and new state regulations. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 0.6 points to 62.6 last month, leaving it almost even with its level of a year ago. The Index has been moving for most of 2018 within a narrow range that is well within optimistic territory. Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design, said the steady business-confidence readings may reflect the lack of any significant economic or political changes that threaten the nine-year-old recovery. “The underlying direction of the state and national economies remains positive. The Massachusetts economy grew at a staggering 7.3% annual rate during the second quarter, and unemployment remains near historic lows at 3.6%,” Torto said. “At the same time, employers remain wary of raw-material price increases brought about by new tariffs. The September survey was taken prior to the announcement Sunday of a new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, so it will be interesting to learn whether that deal affects employer attitudes moving forward.” The constituent indicators that make up the overall Business Confidence Index were mostly lower during September. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth ended the month at 64.5, falling 0.2 points for the month and 0.9 points for the year. The U.S. Index lost 1.1 points to 63.6, leaving it 3.8 points higher than in September 2017. The Company Index measuring employer assessments of their own operations declined a half-point to 61.6, down 0.7 points from September 2017. The Employment Index gained 0.3 points during September, while the Sales Index lost 0.5 points to 60.5. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, fell 1.8 points last month to 64.3. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, gained 0.6 points. The Current Index rose 1.4 points during the year, while the Future Index lost 1.1 points.

Girl Scouts Announce Recipients of ToGetHerThere Awards

HOLYOKE — Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) announced the recipients of the second annual ToGetHerThere Awards. According to the organization, the five recipients have a shared vision of creating a culture of creativity and caring, where young women feel confident in their ability to work hard, dream big, and face with courage any obstacle that stands in the way of making their dreams come true. The awardees were selected in five categories by a panel of business, community and civic leaders. They are:

• Entrepreneur: Laurie Flynn, president and CEO, Link to Libraries;

• Financial Literacy: Kate Kane, managing director, Northwestern Mutual;

• Health & Wellnes: Dr. Sarah Perez McAdoo, co-leader, Capstone Project, UMass Medical Center at Baystate Health;

• Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout: Edward Zemba, president, Robert Charles Photography; and

• STEM: Thomas Gralinski, STEM outreach coordinator, Clark Science Center and the Jandon Center for Community Engagement, Smith College.

Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts will honor the winners at the ToGetHerThere Awards Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 2, at MGM Springfield. Tickets are $55 each or $500 for a table of 10. To order tickets and for more info on each awardee, visit the Girl Scout website, www.gscwm.org/en/events/special-events/TGHTA.html, or contact Melanie Bonsu at (413) 584-2602, ext. 3623, or [email protected] The event is sponsored by BusinessWest and HCN, Chicopee Savings Bank, Balise Auto Group, Gaudreau Group, Monson Savings Bank, and People’s United Bank.

Unemployment Falls Across Massachusetts in August

BOSTON — Local unemployment rates decreased in 24 labor-market areas in Massachusetts during the month of August, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported. Compared to August 2017, the rates dropped in 19 labor market areas, remained the same in four areas, and increased in one labor-market area. Three of the 15 areas for which job estimates are published recorded a seasonal job gain in August. The gains occurred in the Springfield, Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, and Taunton-Middleborough-Norton areas. The Leominster-Gardner area had no change in its job level over the month. From August 2017 to August 2018, 13 of the 15 areas added jobs, with the largest percentage gains in the Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, Worcester, Haverhill-Newburyport-Amesbury, and Taunton-Middleborough-Norton areas. The Peabody-Salem-Beverly and Framingham areas lost jobs. In order to compare the statewide rate to local unemployment rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the statewide unadjusted unemployment rate for August was 3.5%. Last week, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported that the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the month of August remained at 3.6%. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 6,100-job gain in August, and an over-the-year gain of 68,100 jobs. The unadjusted unemployment rates and job estimates for the labor-market areas reflect seasonal fluctuations and therefore may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.

Single-Family Home Sales Decline in August

SPRINGFIELD — Single-family home sales declined by 5.7% in the Pioneer Valley in August compared to the same time last year, while the median price rose 5.9% to $225,000, according to the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley. In Franklin County, sales were down 17.8%, while the median price rose 5.2% from a year earlier. In Hampden County, sales were down 9.1%, while the median price was up 2.6%. In Hampshire County, however, sales rose 11.0% from August 2017, while the median price shot up 16.7%.

Briefcase

SPADC to End Management of Symphony Hall, CityStage

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Performing Arts Development Corp. (SPADC) said Monday it will no longer manage CityStage and Symphony Hall after its contracts expire at the end of 2018. “It is with great sadness, but also with a sense of accomplishment, we share the news that Springfield Performing Arts Development Corp. will cease operations at CityStage and Symphony Hall at the end of 2018 after a successful run in bringing entertainment to downtown Springfield for the past 20 years,” the organization posted on its website. “We are gratified to have played a role in bringing thousands of people to enjoy a diverse offering of high-quality entertainment at CityStage and Symphony Hall. Downtown entertainment is evolving, and we are proud of the contributions we have made in making the city an entertainment destination again.” The city of Springfield contracts for management of Symphony Hall, and the Springfield Parking Authority contracts for management of CityStage. Both entities are expected to discuss new requests for proposals for the two venues. MGM Springfield, which currently manages the MassMutual Center, could be an option to manage Symphony Hall and CityStage. MGM is currently obligated by its host-community agreement with the city of Springfield to book and underwrite at least three shows a year at the two venues. “Entertainment is a key component of the revitalization of downtown Springfield and the continued attraction of new visitors,” Talia Spera, executive director of entertainment at MGM Springfield, said in a news release Monday. “MGM Springfield will continue our conversations with the city leaders regarding the future of CityStage and Symphony Hall with the intent of supporting future dynamic performances in those venues.”

Cushman & Wakefield to Market Eastfield Mall Joint-venture Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — The ownership of Eastfield Mall in Springfield has appointed commercial real-estate-services firm Cushman & Wakefield to market a joint-venture partnership opportunity for the property’s mixed-use redevelopment. The 776,977-square-foot, enclosed regional shopping center sits on nearly 87 acres, providing scope and flexible zoning for a range of next-generation options. Eastfield Mall is currently 74% leased, with in-place net operating income offering interim cash flow while a redevelopment plan is put in place. Major tenants include Cinemark, Old Navy, Hannoush Jewelers, Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub, and Donovan’s Irish Pub, along with a non-owned Sears box that accounts for 254,446 square feet. The mall benefits from strong real-estate fundamentals, boasting a location along heavily trafficked Route 20 and access to downtown Springfield, the Massachusetts Turnpike, and interstates 291 and 91. Brian Whitmer, a member of the Cushman & Wakefield team serving as exclusive agent for the mall’s owner, Mountain Development Corp., noted that Eastfield Mall is well suited to become a mixed-use complex featuring a live-work-play atmosphere. “We expect this offering will attract an impressive level of interest from a diverse group of investors,” he said. “This is truly a distinctive opportunity given the many factors that support a successful repurposing.” That sentiment was echoed by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “Malls all throughout our country are reinventing and redefining themselves to be more multifaceted,” he said. “My chief Development officer, Kevin Kennedy, and I will continue to assist our Eastfield Mall to restore the glory of the past toward a successful and diverse future.” The Cushman & Wakefield investment sales and retail specialists heading the Eastfield Mall assignment span two Cushman & Wakefield offices. They include Whitmer, Andrew Merin, David Bernhaut, Seth Pollack, and Kubby Tischler in East Rutherford, N.J.; and Peter Joseph, Brian Barnett, Steffen Panzone, Pete Rogers, and Ross Fishman in Boston.

Employer Confidence Strengthens During August

BOSTON — Massachusetts employers were equally confident about the national and state economies during August, breaking an eight-and-a-half-year run in which they were more bullish about the Commonwealth than the nation as a whole. The brightening view of the U.S. economy boosted overall business confidence as employers headed for the end of the third quarter. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index gained two points to 63.2 last month after tumbling more than five points during June and July. The gain left the Index two points higher than a year ago, comfortably within optimistic territory. Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design, said the last time employers were more optimistic about the national economy than the state was during the nadir of the Great Recession in May 2009, when the AIM Massachusetts Index was 33.1 and the U.S. Index was 34.4. “The confluence of opinion reflects gathering optimism about the U.S. economy rather than any weakness in the Massachusetts business climate,” Torto said. “The Massachusetts Index rose 1.5 points during the year, but the U.S. Index soared 4.5 points during that same period.” Meanwhile, the Company Index measuring employer assessments of their own operations rose 2.4 points to 62.1, up 1.2 points from August 2017. The Employment Index gained 2.4 points to end the month at 57.0, while the Sales Index lost 0.8 points to 61.0. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, rose 2.5 points to 66.1, leaving it 4.8 points higher than the year earlier. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, rose 1.5 points during August, but remained down 1.0 point for the year.

Briefcase

Unify Against Bullying Accepting Grant Applications

SPRINGFIELD — Unify Against Bullying Executive Director Christine Maiwald announced that the organization is accepting grant applications online. The organization will be awarding $15,000 in microgrants, which can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Paul Mitchell and its Neon product line will award an additional $1,000 grant. “Our number-one goal is to inspire youth of all ages and to ignite their ideas as to how to prevent bullying,” Maiwald said. “We encourage parents, guidance personnel, teachers, administrators, and charity partners to also apply. Their programs must be dedicated to anti-bullying education and furthering the Unify mission: to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity.” In addition to providing the seeds for children to come up with ideas on how to prevent bullying, Unify’s high-school students attend events and are given the opportunity to speak with younger students on the value of celebrating differences. The students are also bringing education to their younger peers in school to explain what bullying is and the effects it has on an individual. The organization has a committee of volunteers who will select the applicant initiatives that best reflect and advance the organization’s mission.

Opioid Overdose Deaths Decline in Massachusetts

BOSTON — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts have fallen steadily over the past three quarters even as the presence of fentanyl in overdose deaths reached an all-time high. The presence of fentanyl in the toxicology of those who died from opioid-related overdose deaths rose to nearly 90% in 2018, underscoring its impact as the driving force behind the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, according to the latest quarterly opioid-related deaths report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The report illustrates the changing nature of the epidemic, with cocaine now surpassing heroin in the toxicology for opioid-related deaths, beginning with the fourth quarter of 2017 (October through December). DPH officials reissued a June clinical advisory to all medical providers to warn them about the increase of fentanyl in cocaine. Overall, 2017 saw a 4% decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths from 2016. The data also shows that the Commonwealth has experienced a 30% decline in opioid prescriptions since the launch of the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program (MassPAT) in August 2016. Between April and June 2018, searches by registered prescribers to MassPAT increased by 100,000 searches over the previous quarter, making it the largest increase in searches conducted in a single quarter.

Teach Western Mass Awarded License to Certify New Teachers

SPRINGFIELD — Teach Western Mass (TWM) was recently ​approved as a sponsoring organization for teacher licensure ​by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to train and certify new teachers in the region through the Teach Western Mass Residency. ​TWM completed a rigorous program-approval application process that demonstrated it is able to meet all the requirements for teacher-preparation programs, ​and expects to certify 20-50 aspiring special-education and ESL teachers annually to serve in partner schools in Holyoke and Springfield. Launched in 2015, TWM represents a network of 29 schools serving more than 11,000 students in Western Mass. Collectively, TWM and partner schools work to recruit, prepare, and support effective teachers in the region. The TWM Residency was established in 2018 in partnership with the nonprofit education organization TNTP and funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help build high-quality, diverse teacher pipelines for hard-to-fill teaching positions. An accelerated, affordable alternative to traditional certification programs, the program targets recent graduates, career changers, and professionals already in the education sector, including paraprofessionals and substitutes, seeking to earn their initial teacher certification. Once accepted into the program, participants will complete an intensive summer training and teach in classrooms under the guidance of an experienced coach. Their training is focused on the most important skills they’ll need to be successful in their first year of teaching and beyond. Only those who show that they’re on the way to mastering those core instructional skills at the end of training will be recommended for certification. The application for the 2019 cohort launches on Nov. 1​. Aspiring teachers can apply for the program by visiting ​www.teachwesternmass.com​.

Institute for Applied Life Sciences Boosts Industry Relationships

AMHERST — In addition to directing the Human Testing Center at UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), Michael Busa is managing the new class of research relationships emerging for the state’s largest public university campus, with corporate partners in biotech and healthcare. “It’s a new world for research academics,” said Busa, “because, even though we are a public university, when companies come to us looking for research support, they want to retain their intellectual property. There are new rules, and we now have an example of successfully navigating those new rules and relationships.” He is referring to a recent collaboration with Novartis that will see IALS researchers use the Human Testing Center’s living-science, sleep-monitoring, human-motion, and other facilities to evaluate behavior- and movement-monitoring technologies now in development. He says it is the first of what he expects to be many “big collaborations” between IALS and biotech and healthcare firms. Specifically for the Novartis collaboration, IALS researchers will assess the validity of a Novartis device in capturing detailed aspects of human motion and behavior such as walking, balance, and sleep. Busa, who has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and training in mechanical engineering, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and physical activity, will work with kinesiologists Katherine Boyer, John Sirard, and Stuart Chipkin; neuroscientist and sleep expert Rebecca Spencer; and 10 supporting students and staff.

Briefcase

Gov. Baker Signs Groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Legislation

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s and Dementia Act, a first-of-its-kind bill that unanimously passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. More than 130,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease in Massachusetts, and those individuals are being cared for by more than 337,000 family and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Massachusetts will spend more than $1.6 billion in 2018 in Medicaid costs caring for people with Alzheimer’s. The governor signed the legislation shortly after approving $100,000 for public awareness about the disease in the most recent FY19 budget. There are five major areas of focus within the bill: establishing a comprehensive state plan to address Alzheimer’s disease within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, while also establishing a permanent advisory council to help coordinate government efforts and ensure that public and private resources are maximized and leveraged; requiring curriculum content about Alzheimer’s and other dementias be incorporated into continuing-medical-education programs required for granting the renewal of licensure for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, and licensed nurse practitioners; ensuring proper notification of an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis to the family or legal guardian and providing information on available resources to both the patient and family; improving cost-effectiveness and patient and caregiver experience in acute-care settings by requiring all state hospitals to implement an operational plan for the recognition and management of patients with dementia or delirium accountable to the Department of Public Health; and establishing minimum training standards for elder protective services social workers, to ensure protection from abuse and exploitation for elders with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Big Y Combats Opioid Crisis with Deterra System

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Pharmacy and Wellness Centers, along with all Big Y supermarkets, are now carrying the Deterra Drug Deactivation System at all stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut. This is a drug-disposal pouch which allows people to easily and effectively dispose of unused or expired medications, even opioid painkillers, at home. Anyone can use a Deterra pouch to deactivate drugs, including pills, liquids, and patches. Each Deterra pouch contains activated carbon, which firmly bonds to pharmaceuticals, rendering them inert and unavailable for abuse. The Deterra pouch is the only environmentally sound, in-home drug-disposal system that permanently deactivates drugs. Big Y hopes to help combat the opioid crisis by stocking these deactivation kits in all its stores to provide customers with a safe and reliable way to keep unused medications from being diverted to abuse. Currently, the pouches are on sale for the introductory price of $3.99 for each pouch, which has the capacity to deactivate up to 45 pills, six ounces of liquid, or six patches.

Unemployment Holds Steady in July

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate increased to 3.6% in July from the June rate of 3.5%, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts added 4,800 jobs in July. Over the month, the private sector added 5,900 jobs as gains occurred in education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; manufacturing; and trade, transportation, and utilities. From July 2017 to July 2018, BLS estimates Massachusetts has added 66,800 jobs. The July unemployment rate was three-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.9% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job estimates show the Commonwealth has gained over 51,000 jobs since December and 213,600 jobs since January 2015. These job gains, alongside low unemployment rates and labor-force growth, are signs of the continued health of the Massachusetts labor market,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said. The labor force increased by 27,100 from 3,758,900 in June, as 24,700 more residents were employed and 2,400 more residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point from 3.7% in July 2017. The state’s labor force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — is up four-tenths of a percentage point over the month at 67.3%. Compared to July 2017, the labor force participation rate is up 1.8%. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in construction; professional, scientific, and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services.

Briefcase

Employer Confidence Flat During July

BOSTON — Confidence levels among Massachusetts employers were virtually unchanged during July as strong economic growth balanced persistent concerns about tariffs and escalating international trade tensions. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index dropped 0.1 point to 61.2 last month after tumbling more than five points in June. The drop left the BCI three-tenths of a point lower than a year ago, though still comfortably within optimistic territory. The constituent indicators that make up the overall Business Confidence Index were mixed during July. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth gained 2.3 points to 65.1, leaving it 1.9 points ahead of July 2017. The U.S. Index ended the month at 61.9, rising 1.9 points after sliding 9.3 points the previous month. The US Index was 4 points better than a year ago. July marked the 101st consecutive month in which employers have been more optimistic about the Massachusetts economy than the national economy. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, rose 0.1 point to 63.6. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, fell 0.4 point. The Current Index gained 2.4 points during the year, while the Future Index lost 3.1 points. Employer views of their own companies weakened. The Company Index declined 1.5 points to 59.7, down 2.5 points for 12 months. The Employment Index ended the month at 54.5, a 0.5-point decrease for the month and 1.2 points lower than a year ago. The Sales Index lost 0.6 point for the month and 2.3 points for the year.

Bradley Launches Daily, Non-stop Service to St. Louis

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — This week, the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) launched its inaugural Southwest Airlines flight from Bradley International Airport to St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The new daily, non-stop service departs from Bradley at 11:10 a.m. (EST) and arrives at St. Louis Lambert International Airport at 12:45 p.m. (CST). The inbound flight leaves St. Louis at 4:25 p.m. (CST) and arrives at Bradley at 7:50 p.m. (EST). The service utilizes a Boeing 737. Southwest Airlines currently offers non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa, St. Louis, and West Palm Beach. The airline first started flying out of Bradley in 1999.

Greater Holyoke Chamber, HCC Announce Leadership Holyoke 2018-19

HOLYOKE — Leadership Holyoke — a comprehensive community leadership and board-development program of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce — is back again. Leadership Holyoke utilizes a combination of classes and practical experiences to help local business people develop their leadership skills, increase their knowledge of the community, and acquire the skills needed to serve as board members and community leaders. The series is made possible by PeoplesBank and the Republican. The 2018-19 leadership series begins on Sept. 21, consists of eight seven-hour sessions, and concludes on May 8 with a graduation ceremony at Holyoke Community College with a specialty luncheon prepared by the college’s culinary program students. All sessions will be held on Fridays (except for the Boston State House trip) and take place at Holyoke Community College and other locations throughout the city. Each session will include a segment on organization and leadership skills and a segment on community needs and resources. Faculty members from Holyoke Community College will participate as instructors and facilitators, and community leaders will participate as speakers and discussion leaders in their areas of their expertise. Tuition of $600 per participant is due at the start of the course and includes the fee for a continental breakfast each week, a bus trip to Boston, and the graduation luncheon. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com or call the chamber with any questions at (413) 534-3376.

DPH: Job-related Injuries Often Lead to Opioid Misuse

BOSTON — The rate of fatal opioid overdoses varied significantly by industry and occupation from 2011 to 2015, with construction workers dying from opioid overdoses at six times the average rate for all Massachusetts workers, according to a report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Using available death-certificate data, DPH analyzed 4,302 opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts from 2011 to 2015 by industry and occupation to understand whether work, and specifically work-related injuries, might have contributed to opioid-use disorders. Overall, workers employed in occupations known to have high rates of work-related injuries had higher rates of fatal opioid overdoses. In addition, workers in occupations with lower rates of paid sick leave and higher job insecurity had higher rates of opioid overdoses. Construction and extraction workers (quarrying and mining) accounted for more than 24% of all opioid-related deaths among the working population. This occupation group had a high death rate — 150.6 deaths per 100,000 workers — and a high number of opioid-related deaths — 1,096 — during this time period. Despite the small number of workers employed in the farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, these jobs also had a high opioid death rate. While there were fewer deaths among this group (61) than in the construction occupations, the rate of opioid-related deaths — 143.9 per 100,000 workers — was more than five times the average rate of 25.1 per 100,000 for Massachusetts workers. Several other occupations also had rates of opioid-related overdose deaths that were significantly higher than the average rate for all Massachusetts workers. These included jobs in material moving; installation, maintenance, and repair; transportation; production; food preparation and serving; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; and healthcare support. Similar to findings for all opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts, the majority — 77.3% — of deaths in this study were among males. However, there were several occupation groups where females had significantly elevated rates of opioid-related overdose deaths, particularly healthcare support and food preparation and serving.

Briefcase

Girl Scouts Seek Nominations for ToGetHerThere Awards

SPRINGFIELD — Do you know a champion for the next generation of female leaders? The Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts announced its new awards program honoring five professionals in Western Mass. The ToGetHerThere Awards gives area businesses and organizations the opportunity to honor a difference maker from within their ranks who has shown exceptional achievement in their profession, is an inspiration to their co-workers and young women, and has made contributions to their community. The nominated person must demonstrate role-model behavior in their professional career and represent the Girl Scouts’ mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The nomination deadline is Friday, Sept. 1. The Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts will honor the winners at the ToGetHerThere Awards Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 2, at MGM Springfield. Nomination forms and requirements can be found at www.gscwm.org/en/events/special-events/TGHTA.html, or by contacting Melanie Bonsu, (413) 584-2602, ext. 3623, or [email protected] Nominations will be reviewed by a panel of business, community, and civic leaders who will then select the honorees. 

Unemployment Picture Mixed in Massachusetts in June

BOSTON — Local unemployment rates decreased in two labor market areas, increased in 21 areas, and remained the same in one labor market area in the state during the month of June, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported. 

Compared to June 2017, the rates dropped in 15 labor-market areas, remained the same in four areas, and increased in five-labor market areas. Twelve of the 15 areas for which job estimates are published recorded a seasonal job gain in June. The largest gains occurred in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Barnstable, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, Pittsfield, and Framingham areas.  The Leominster-Gardner, Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, and Peabody-Salem-Beverly areas lost jobs over the month. From June 2017 to June 2018, 13 of the 15 areas added jobs, with the largest percentage gains in the Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead, Haverhill-Newburyport-Amesbury, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Taunton-Middleborough-Norton, and Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton areas. The Peabody-Salem-Beverly area’s jobs level remained unchanged over the year, while the Framingham area lost jobs.

 

Young Women’s Initiative Awards Four Mini-Grants

SPRINGFIELD — A group of Springfield young women participating in the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) recently awarded four YWI mini-grants to nonprofits that serve the Springfield area. The project was in partnership with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. In the past year, the YWI participants were charged with identifying and researching issues that are barriers to young women and girls in Springfield. They chose four key issues: women in leadership; rape culture; mental health; and economic, community, and workforce development. A partnership with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts that provided grant funds allowed YWI to put out a call to Springfield-area organizations for projects that could address these issues through programming. Four grant applications were developed, and, after review, the YWAC chose to award funds to the Center for Human Development ($2,545), Girls Inc. of Holyoke ($2,515), Cambridge Credit Counseling ($2,515), and Springfield School Volunteers and Human in Common ($2,515). The 10-month YMI program is open to women between the ages of 14 and 24 who reside in Springfield. There is no tuition fee for this program, and accepted members are paid up to $900 in stipends for attending. Applications for the 2018-19 session are due on Sept. 21. More information is available at www.mywomensfund.org/ywi-program-details.

United Way, Peter Pan Launch Annual Stuff the Bus Program

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley and Peter Pan Bus Lines launched the annual Stuff the Bus campaign with a press-conference event on July 27 at the Holyoke Mall. The campaign will collect new school supplies through Aug. 16. The supplies will be distributed in new backpacks to children who are homeless in Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield, Westfield, West Springfield, and South Hadley. Individuals are encouraged to donate the following age-appropriate supplies: pencil boxes, highlighters, binders, No. 2 pencils, erasers, binders, crayons, pens, glue sticks, rulers, two-pocket folders, and one-subject notebooks. Donations may be brought to the United Way of Pioneer Valley, 1441 Main St., Suite 147, Springfield, weekdays through Aug. 16, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Holyoke Mall, upper level, near Target, Aug. 11, noon to 2 p.m.; Western Mass News, 1300 Liberty St., Springfield, weekdays through Aug. 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; or Balise Kia, 603 Riverdale St., West Springfield, through Aug. 16, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Aug. 16 only, those who bring 20 or more items will receive a free ticket at Six Flags New England. This concludes the campaign, where donations can be made in conjunction with National Roller Coaster Day. Financial contributions are also welcome and will be used to purchase additional backpacks and supplies as needed. Contributions may be made online by clicking the ‘donate’ button at www.uwpv.org.

Sale of Chesterfield Scout Reservation Finalized

WESTFIELD — The Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America announced the completed sale of the 186-acre Chesterfield Scout Reservation to a buyer who plans to maintain the property and continue to offer outdoor programs. The council has owned both Chesterfield and the Horace A. Moses Scout Reservation in Russell since the merger of two area councils in 2008. The camps are 25 miles apart, and the Moses Reservation is a nearly 1,300-acre property. The maintenance of both properties — buildings and grounds — was overwhelming, and following an 18-month property study, the decision was made to sell Chesterfield in 2014. David Kruse, CEO and Scout executive for the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said the council will remain focused on dedicating its time and resources to the Moses Reservation. Proceeds from the Chesterfield sale will allow for continual investment in the Moses Reservation, which includes adding to the maintenance endowment and eliminating the council’s debt. Some of the improvements already made to Moses Reservation feature the addition of metal roofs and replacement of windows and rotting wood on several buildings. There has also been a significant investment in activities for campers.