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Company Notebook

Valley Blue Sox Break into Top 10 in Collegiate Baseball Attendance

HOLYOKE — The Valley Blue Sox have officially broken into the top 10 for average attendance among summer collegiate baseball teams nationally, according to In addition, the 2,121 average attendance at 2017 Blue Sox games also placed first in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the second consecutive year. The 10th-place ranking — following an 11th-place ranking in 2016 — comes on the heels of a challenging 2017 season where weather wasn’t kind to the Blue Sox, as they ended up having six games postponed due to rain. “We had some challenges this year with weather, so being able to crack the top 10 in spite of that is quite an accomplishment, but also a pretty good harbinger of things to come,” said Blue Sox President Clark Eckhoff. “Just to be where we were five years ago to now is something else, and it’s been a lot of hard work and heavy lifting from a lot of good people that’s made this all happen.” This past summer saw not only the team’s first championship in franchise history, but also several upgrades to Mackenzie Stadium, including a new playing surface and bullpens. A new concessions and restroom facility is on track for completion by the 2018 season. In addition to its national standing among collegiate-level teams, the Blue Sox also topped several professional, affiliated teams as well, finishing ahead of teams in Staten Island, N.Y., Modesto, Calif., and Daytona Beach, Fla. In addition to the success off the field, the team posted its second-best record in team history and capped it off with a run to the championship in which the Blue Sox swept every team in their path.

Ameriprise Financial Relocates, Changes Name

SOUTH HADLEY — Stephen Duval, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., recently announced he has moved his practice to a new location at 551 Newton St. and changed its name to Summit House Wealth Partners. Duval has also expanded his team of financial advisors by one. A certified financial planner, Duval moved his office in June from 130 College St., and colleague Justin Osowiecki, a financial advisor, made the transition with him. At the same time, Duval partnered with Edward Boscher, who is also now serving clients as a Summit House Wealth Partners financial advisor. The team will hold an open house for the public at the new Newton Street office on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 2 to 7 p.m. Duval holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass in business administration and is a graduate of the College for Financial Planning. He has been with Ameriprise for 25 years. Boscher is also a certified financial planner and a certified investment management analyst. He has spent much of his career working with Voya Investment Management out of its Windsor, Conn. office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University. Boscher made the transition to Summit House Wealth Partners, he said, “to put my 23-plus years of asset-management experience to work for people around here, because I live here.” Duval’s practice is an Ameriprise Financial franchise. Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. offers financial-advisory services, investments, insurance, and annuity products. For more information, or for details on upcoming workshops — on topics ranging from Social Security to identify theft to retirement planning — call (413) 540-0196.

Witalisz & Associates Celebrates Grand Opening

WESTFIELD — Witalisz & Associates Inc., a real-estate company based in Western Mass., recently celebrated its new office space with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening. The firm recently moved to 2 Broad St. in Westfield, situated across the hall from the Tavern Restaurant. “We are incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity to relocate to the best place in Westfield,” said broker/owner Kathy Witalisz. “Working with the leadership team at the Tavern has been remarkable, and we are very much looking forward to a bright future in our new location.” The open space will help accommodate the company’s plans for future growth. Witalisz & Associates has already expanded its educational programs to include a real-estate school, training seminars, career nights, and a number of public events. The grand opening was attended by both local dignitaries and prominent members in the community. State Sen. Donald Humason, state Rep. John Velis, Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan, and Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Phelon all presented citations in recognition of the company’s move.

Berkshire Bank Among Top Charitable Givers

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank was honored by the Boston Business Journal as one the state’s most philanthropic companies during the 12th annual Corporate Citizenship Awards ceremony. The 94 companies that were honored by the publication each met the threshold of at least $100,000 in philanthropic support of Massachusetts nonprofits in 2016. They combined for approximately $273 million in charitable giving last year. The list includes companies that paid out at least $100,000 to Massachusetts-based charitable organizations in fiscal 2016. Berkshire Bank ranked 46th for total financial contributions with more than $1.2 million donated in Massachusetts alone and more than $2 million donated overall. Massachusetts-based bank employees also donated more than 28,000 hours of volunteer service.

Phillips Insurance Agency Honored by Liberty Mutual

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. was one of 13 agents in the Northeast and the only agent in Western Mass. to earn the exclusive Chairman’s Club Award from Liberty Mutual Insurance. The Chairman’s Award is designed to recognize the contributions of the top-performing commercial-lines agencies in the country. Phillips Insurance had earned the Liberty Mutual President’s Club for 10 years in a row prior to achieving this top echelon of Liberty agents. Phillips Insurance President Joe Phillips will accept the award at the Chairman Dinner in Jackson Hole, Wyo. later this month. Phillips Insurance Agency, established in 1953, is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 25 professionals. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses throughout the Northeast.

Bay Path Ranked Among Fastest-growing Colleges

LONGMEADOW — The Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized Bay Path University in its Almanac of Higher Education 2017 as one of the fastest-growing colleges in the U.S., currently ranked 17th in the category of “private nonprofit master’s institutions” with a 113.4% growth rate over a 10-year period. Bay Path was the only institution of higher education from Massachusetts on the list. “This national recognition represents the commitment of talented faculty and staff who truly understand workforce needs and student interests,” university President Carol Leary said. “Our growth is based on three key factors: the different levels of education we provide; the variety of modalities we use in our learning environments, which include on-campus, online, and hybrid; and the continual diversification of our program offerings for both undergraduate and graduate students.” With the opening of the Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center, Bay Path has seen significant growth in its applied health science degrees, including the master of occupational therapy, master of science in physician assistant studies, and master of science in genetic counseling, among others. In 2017, Bay Path opened a satellite campus in Concord, offering master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling, developmental psychology, special education administration, occupational therapy, and healthcare administration. Data contained in the Almanac of Higher Education 2017 are based on fall enrollment of full- and part-time graduate and undergraduate students during the span of 2005-15, including students that are online-only. The report included all U.S. degree-granting institutions with at least 500 students in 2005. Published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the annual Almanac of Higher Education is a comprehensive assessment of the higher-education industry.

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — Country Bank was recognized by the Boston Business Journal as one of the state’s top charitable contributors. The bank received a Corporate Citizenship Award at the 12th annual event, held at Fenway Park on Sept. 7. Each year, the publication celebrates Massachusetts corporations and nonprofits for their contributions in giving back to the communities in the Commonwealth. A total of 94 companies were recognized during the evening, and Country Bank ranked 64th with total donations of $615,000 and more than 1,000 hours of community service hours from their staff.

Hampden County Bar Assoc. Awards Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) announced the recipients of two scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year. Patrick Greenhalgh, a student at the University of Connecticut School of Law, was awarded the first-ever Colonel Archer B. Battista Veterans Scholarship. The scholarship was established in memory of the late HCBA past president who dedicated his career to helping veterans. The scholarship was available to any veteran pursuing a legal degree. Brianna Burns, a student at Suffolk Law School, was awarded the John F. Moriarty Scholarship, which was established in 1985 in memory of the late judge. The scholarship was created to further extend the standards of professional and personal excellence in the practice of law.

WNEU Welcomes Record Number of New Students

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) announced a second consecutive year of enrollment growth in its recruitment efforts. WNEU reported a total of 899 new students enrolled in classes for the 2017 fall semester, bringing the total opening full-time undergraduate enrollment up to 2,656, the largest in university history. The university also saw a record number of admissions applications in 2017, totaling 7,037, along with an increase in the diversity of the incoming student population, with minorities representing 26% of the cohort in 2017, up from 21% in 2016. “We are at a very important time in the history of higher education with respect to how families are assessing the rising cost to attend college. Students are asking the important questions during their college search process; they need and deserve hard data on internships and job-placement rates, the availability of merit- and need-based scholarships, and the support networks that will be in place to enhance their academic and social development. We welcome this,” said Bryan Gross, WNEU’s vice president for enrollment management and marketing. “The fact that Western New England University has been so successful in attracting diverse and highly qualified students while many other universities are experiencing enrollment declines demonstrates that people are taking notice and realizing the true value we offer.” The university’s College of Arts and Sciences enrolled 403 new students, a 10.1% increase over 2016, while the College of Business enrolled 203 new students, a 3% increase over last year. In the first year of a new Business Impact Scholarship initiative, the College of Business enrolled 67 new students from Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester counties compared to 44 new students from those counties last year. The renewable, $2,000-per-student scholarship was offered to support the recent surge of economic development in the Greater Springfield area, and to encourage business students to remain in Western Mass. Many students are attracted to the university’s Merit Scholarship program, which rewards previous academic performance. Merit Scholarships will again increase for the fall 2018 academic year to a range from $8,000 to $21,000 annually (each year students maintain good grades), as well as need-based grants. WNEU students will also soon enjoy a new, four-story, 70,000-square-foot Dining Commons building, scheduled to open in January 2018, as the university continues to expand the campus facilities.

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