Amherst Couple Gives $1 Million to Cooley Dickinson Hospital ED
NORTHAMPTON — Dr. Lynnette Watkins, the new president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, announced the receipt of a $1 million gift from John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst to support the hospital’s Emergency Department. The Armstrong’s gift will support Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, a $15.5 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation which will allow the hospital to meet the ever-evolving emergency medical needs of community members, from infants to older adults. Cooley Dickinson’s Emergency Department is 40% undersized to meet the community’s needs and cares for many patients who require critical medical attention. The number of patients visiting the department has grown from 17,000 annually in the 1970s to nearly 34,000 in recent years. For those patients, Emergency Department teams treat approximately 300 traumatic injuries per year; last year alone, over 6,000 patients needed to be admitted for further care. Gifts to the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department will support more and better designed spaces and increased privacy for patient care, faster access to computerized tomography (CT) scans, improved coordination of care to allow face-to-face communication between providers and nurses, and more patient rooms. Other planned improvements include enhanced geriatric care, a larger behavioral-health pod, a pediatric observation unit, and a streamlined admission process. The groundbreaking for these renovations is expected to occur at the end of 2022.
Balagan Cannabis Opens Doors in Downtown Northampton
NORTHAMPTON — Balagan Cannabis, a boutique, adult-use cannabis dispensary located at 235 Main St. in downtown Northampton, officially opened on Oct. 16. The enterprise is owned by a team of four partners, including native Northamptonite Rachael Workman, daughter of Danny Workman, the former long-time owner of Jake’s. Her partners are veteran cannabis retailer Adi Nagli, New York-based financier Itamar Alpert, and Gil Sasson, who has been running operations next door at Cafe Balagan, the dispensary’s sister outfit, which opened six months ago. The name Balagan (pronounced bah-lah-gone) is a Hebrew slang term translating loosely to ‘a beautiful chaos’ and pays tribute to the partnership’s strong Israeli roots. In the three years since Mayor David Narkewicz signed Balagan’s host agreement, the team took on a hefty gut renovation of the former Sam’s Pizza space and relocated two of the partners’ families to the area (one from as far away as Israel). The last year has been dedicated to designing a signature retail space with the help of interiors expert Sarah Zashin-Jacobson. Sweitzer Construction provided design-build general contracting services.
Belt Technologies Recognized at Manufacturing Awards Ceremony
AGAWAM — Belt Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of custom metal belt conveyor solutions for more than 50 years, was honored at the sixth annual Manufacturing Awards Ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Mash-Up event. More than 600 people attended the event, which was organized by Mass Tech Collaborative and held at Polar Park in Worcester on Sept. 28. “We were honored to be recognized as a leading manufacturer in Massachusetts,” said Denis Gagnon, CEO of Belt Technologies. “We have been innovating for more than five decades and fortunate to have grown, adding several jobs here in Massachusetts over the past year. Thank you to Senator John Velis for seeing the great work we do and nominating us for this award.”
State-of-the-art LEAP@WNE Training Center Established
SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). LEAP@WNE is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium. With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics. The LEAP@WNE facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques. The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation.
Legislators Announce Funding Secured for Zoo in Forest Park
SPRINGFIELD — On Oct. 1, state Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Carlos González were joined by members of the Springfield legislative delegation, and Sarah Tsitso, executive director of the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center, to announce $50,000 in funding secured for annual operations. Lesser acted as lead budget sponsor in the Senate in securing this earmark in the FY22 budget along with House sponsor González. The FY22 budget was passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in July. These funds will help sustain the annual operations of the Zoo in Forest Park, which includes daily care of more than 240 animals 365 days per year, including several endangered species; educational opportunities for youth and adults across Western Mass.; camps during summer and school vacation weeks; collaborations with other local nonprofits, including Square One in Springfield and Girls Inc. of the Valley in Holyoke; job training and internships in the fields of biology, veterinary medicine, and animal care; tourism and marketing initiatives that encourage visitors to spend time and money in the city and our region; and opportunities for individuals and local businesses to get involved in their community through volunteer projects.
Jewish Family Service Receives Multi-year Grant to Promote Refugee Economic Independence
SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS), in partnership with HIAS, has been awarded a four-year, $250,000-per-year Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The IDA program is a matched-savings program that assists individuals and families to save toward an asset that will increase financial independence. Refugees can save for one of four assets — to start or support a business, to purchase a vehicle to obtain and maintain employment and education, to increase capital to purchase a home, or to invest in post-secondary education or training. Individuals can save up to $2,000, and households can save up to $4,000, and have their savings matched dollar for dollar. The IDA program provides asset-specific training, financial-literacy classes, and technical assistance to increase participants’ capacity to increase self-sufficiency, become financially stable, and achieve their savings goals. By enrolling participants in IDA, HIAS and JFS will help refugees establish savings accounts; create regular saving habits; promote participation in the financial banking system; increase knowledge of financial topics, including developing a household budget, building and maintaining credit, and saving; acquire assets to build individual, family, and community resources; advance education opportunities; purchase homes; gain access to capital for microenterprise development; and foster community economic development by which the historically marginalized are now accessing resources and opportunities.
YMCA Golf Classic Raises More Than $70,000 for Programs
SPRINGFIELD — The YMCA of Greater Springfield held its 2021 Golf Classic on Sept. 20 at the Longmeadow Country Club, with local businesses coming together in a round of golf to support the mission of the YMCA. Dexter Johnson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, said the event raised more than $70,000, which will support before- and after-school programs, child care, early-learning opportunities, summer camp, swim lessons, and health and wellness programs. Wellfleet Insurance sponsored this year’s Golf Classic.
KC Law Celebrates Five-year Anniversary
WESTFIELD — Attorney Kevin Chrisanthopoulos is celebrating the five-year anniversary of KC Law, which specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice. Since leaving a large Springfield firm in 2016 to start out on his own, Attorney Chrisanthopoulos has been named to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list and included in America’s Top 100 Medical Malpractice Litigators. He has guided numerous families through the loss of a loved one and advocated for those dealing with significant injuries. He is a graduate of Western New England University and Roger Williams School of Law. His bar admissions include Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit. In addition, he is a member of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., Massachusetts Bar Assoc., and Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. Over the past five years, he has litigated numerous complex medical-malpractice and wrongful-death cases while providing countless hours of pro bono services to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Chrisanthopoulos’ community involvement includes assisting in the creation a foundation to raise money for the Clarke School, which specializes in educating children who are deaf or hard of hearing. He also serves as president of the board of trustees for Amelia Park Arena & Memorial Garden and has spent significant time coaching hockey.