Webber & Grinnell Acquires Ross Insurance
NORTHAMPTON — Ross Insurance agency of Holyoke has been acquired by Webber and Grinnell Insurance Agency of Northampton. Maureen Ross O’Connell will continue to manage the Holyoke operation at 150 Lower Westfield Road in Holyoke under the name of Ross, Webber and Grinnell Insurance. Kevin Ross plans on retiring sometime over the next 18 months. “Ross Insurance is synonymous with community and trust,” said Bill Grinnell, president of Webber and Grinnell. “We are thrilled to have their staff joining our team and enabling us to serve clients across the entire Pioneer Valley. Kevin and Maureen are incredible insurance professionals, and I look forward to Maureen joining our ownership group.” Added Ross O’Connell, “we feel that we found the perfect partner to continue the Ross family legacy. Webber and Grinnell has a long history of generous community support and exceptional customer service.”
Westfield Bank to Open Liberty Street Office
SPRINGFIELD — Westfield Bank announced it will open a full-service branch office at 1342 Liberty St. in Springfield in July. When it opens, the Liberty Street office, which currently has a 24-hour ATM, will be operated as a full-service branch featuring lobby and drive-up banking, a drive-up ATM, and banking specialists trained to assist customers with business banking, residential mortgages, and investment and insurance services (via Westfield Financial Management Services). Construction is already underway, with renovations expected to be completed in late June or early July. Roberta Lussier, who currently oversees the bank’s Tower Square office, will also manage the Liberty Street office. Westfield Bank plans to celebrate the opening of the Liberty Street office with special events and promotions, which will be announced at a later date.
Spacelabs Invests $720,000 in UMass Center Nursing Program
SPRINGFIELD — Spacelabs Healthcare, a Snoqualmie, Wash.-based medical-equipment manufacturer, recently unveiled a $720,000 investment in the UMass Center at Springfield’s nursing laboratory. The state-of-the-art Spacelabs equipment includes two Sonicaid fetal/maternal monitors, ambulatory blood-pressure monitors, multiple nursing monitors, and invasive cardiac outputs that will benefit the UMass Amherst College of Nursing’s accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program, which serves as a pipeline for rained nurses into the region’s healthcare sector. The equipment will be primarily used by UMass Amherst nursing students in the accelerated program, which is based in Springfield.
Tighe & Bond Climbs in National Ranking
WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a full-service engineering and environmental consulting firm, climbed 19 spots this year to No. 241 on Engineering News Record’s “2018 Top 500 Design Firms” ranking. In the past two years, Tighe & Bond climbed 34 spots as the firm continues to grow its regional market. The publication ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year.
Valley Blue Sox Announce New Ownership
SPRINGFIELD — The Valley Blue Sox announced that Hadley native Fred Ciaglo has taken over the reins as team owner and president from the departing Clark Eckhoff. Ciaglo has been a long-time part of the Valley Blue Sox, hosting players for the past seven years and as a bench coach for the last four years. He has been involved with baseball in the Valley since he was able to throw a ball, playing at Hopkins Academy in Hadley and then at Springfield College, helping pitch the Pride to the 1986 Northeast-10 championship when the school competed in Division II athletics. Ciaglo was a staple of the Tri-County Baseball League for more than 20 years, twice winning the league’s Wes Carr Trophy for best pitcher. He has taught and coached at Hopkins Academy since graduating from Springfield, coaching boys and girls basketball as well as baseball over that time; in addition, he spent a decade as Hadley Youth Baseball’s coaching coordinator and on the board of directors for the Cal Ripken level. Vice President and General Manager Hunter Golden will stay on with the team and remain in his role. Also returning this season will be Manager John Raiola, who will return for his fourth season as head coach, as well as pitching coach Jim Woods. Joining the coaching staff, former Blue Sox player Hezekiah Randolph will serve as hitting coach for the team.
Country Bank Donates $15,000 to Domestic Violence Task Force
WARE — Country Bank announced that it recently donated $15,000 to the Ware River Valley Domestic Violence Task Force to support its continued commitment to helping those in need in the Quaboag Hills Region. “Country Bank’s donation has been the foundation of all local domestic-violence services at Valley Human Services of BHN Inc. in the Quaboag Hills,” said Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services. “Their funds have been the seed money and remain the match for programs now supported by municipal, state, and federal dollars. We literally would not have our team preventing and responding to domestic violence in our region without Country Bank.”
Berkshire Hills Bancorp Reports 63% Increase in Q1 Earnings
BOSTON — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. reported first-quarter 2018 net income of $25 million, a 63% increase over the 2017 first-quarter results of $15 million. This reflected the ongoing benefit of the company’s growth and expansion, together with the benefit of a lower federal tax rate resulting from federal tax reform. “We had a solid start to the year, delivering ongoing growth while integrating our new commerce operations,” CEO Michael Daly said. “With the benefit of greater efficiency, GAAP return on assets improved to 0.88%, and core return on assets improved to 1.04%. We expect continued momentum in the second quarter, where GAAP return on assets will improve to over 1.00% and core return on assets will improve to over 1.10%.” The board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.22 per common share to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 10, payable on May 24. The dividend equates to a 2.3% annualized yield based on the $37.88 average closing price of Berkshire Hills Bancorp common stock during the first quarter. The board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.44 per share for the preferred stock issued in conjunction with the Commerce acquisition, with the same record and payment dates as above. The quarterly common and preferred dividends were increased in the prior quarter by 5%.
Girls on the Run Nominated for Award
NORTHAMPTON — The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) announced that Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts has been selected a finalist for the 2018 Nonprofit Excellence Award in the Small Nonprofit category. The Excellence Awards will be presented at the Massachusetts State House on Monday, June 4. The Small Nonprofit Excellence Award recognizes an organization making an outsized impact in its community despite limited resources. Girls on the Run inspires girls to be healthy, joyful, and confident, using an experiential, social-emotional curriculum that integrates running. In its third year of operation, Girls on the Run has 180 volunteer coaches, including teachers, parents, and community members operating at 54 school sites serving over 740 girls. To date, Girls on the Run has served more than 1,200 girls around Western Mass.
Chili Chocolate Chip Wins UMass Ice Cream Competition
AMHERST — The winning flavor in this year’s UMass Amherst student ice-cream competition is chili chocolate chip, as selected by judges in the fourth annual food-science event held on campus April 30. It will become the latest UMass student-created ice cream produced by Maple Valley Creamery of Hadley over the coming weeks, said owner Bruce Jenks. For the event, creamery staff, local chefs, and guest judges sampled original ice creams created by four teams of senior food-science majors vying for the honor of developing a new flavor for the UMass label. The three other entries in this spring’s competition were a butternut squash flavor with lemon zest, ginger, turmeric, and semi-sweet chocolate bits; a chocolate banana graham-cracker flavor; and a strawberry-basil flavor with dark chocolate pieces. The strawberry-basil, dubbed ‘summer blush’ by its creators, won the audience’s vote for best flavor, and Jenks said he may make a seasonal batch of it in the summer. Members of the winning chili chocolate chip team are Marina Gela, Gina Grimaldi, Rachael Montigny, Joshua Liao, Erica Snyder, and Jozxelle Tongson.
ESE Donates $240,000 to Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition President and CEO Eugene Cassidy presented a donation of $240,198 to the Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund in a ceremony held at Town Hall on April 18. The amount, the largest to date since the fund’s inception in 1994, represents 1% of the Exposition’s gross revenues for 2017. Including this year’s gift, exposition contributions now total $3,999,669. During the presentation of this year’s check, Cassidy pledged a personal donation of $331 to bring the total to an even $4 million. Trustees of the fund are West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt, Cassidy, and Attorney Mary Paier Powers. Grants in 2017 totaled more than $63,209 for 15 town organizations, schools, sports teams, and more.
Arrha Credit Union Awards Five Scholarships
SPRINGFIELD — Arrha Credit Union recently awarded five $1,000 scholarships to area students based on scholastic merit and civic achievement. To be eligible for the Anthony J. Serafino Scholarship, recipients must demonstrate scholastic achievement, be a high-school senior, be a member of Arrha or a student whose parent is a member, be active in extracurricular activities and community endeavors, and intend to attend a two-year or four-year degree-granting college or university. The 2018 recipients are A’Shaela Chaires from Williston Northampton School, Kimberly McLeod from Longmeadow High School, Patricia Moriarty from Phillips Exeter Academy, Owen Serafino from West Springfield High School, and Tamra Zippin from Minnechaug Regional High School. In addition to the scholarships, each student was given $100 to open an account with a debit card to jump-start their financial future on a positive note. “We wish each of our recipients the best of luck with their educational endeavors,” said Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union.