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Company Notebook

Square One Impacted by Gas Explosion

SPRINGFIELD — After the June 1, 2011 tornado wiped out their childcare and administrative offices in the south end of Springfield, Square One, a nonprofit childcare organization with facilities in Springfield and Holyoke, is now starting from square one again since the Nov. 23 late-afternoon gas explosion on Worthington Street severely affected the childcare space that the organization leased. Luckily, no one was in the space due to the holiday, but if it had been a typical Friday, about 100 children and 30 staff members would have been at risk. The site at 155 Chestnut St. is now condemned, forcing Square One officials to quickly find alternate childcare locations for 55 of the 100 children that were enrolled at that location and cannot be placed in Square One programs due to space. Since the explosion, Square One officials have been reaching out to all other providers in the community to identify what programming spaces for various age groups are available, and to walk parents through the relocation process. “We have people coming in every morning saying, ‘I have to go to work,’ ‘I have to go to school,’ ‘I need childcare now,’ and they do,” said Kim Lee, vice president of advancement. Other area nonprofits, including the YMCA on Chestnut Street, have offered some temporary space to Square One. “Our mission right now is to serve the children and their parents,” Lee said, “and if it means helping those families to find quality programming in another provider’s program, then that’s what we have to do.” The company still owns 947 Main Street, which was hit by the tornado, but it will have to be demolished and rebuilt. Lee said Square One is looking for temporary space near that original South End location, but nobody wants to sell or rent to them because everybody is holding out for the possibility of an MGM casino. “But if we do finally relocate there and the casino comes, we’ll be right I the middle of it all.” Childcare officials will continue to discuss short-term options and long-term opportunities.

 

Greenfield Big Y Completes Upgrades

SPRINGFIELD — As the last of many major remodeling efforts this past year, Big Y Foods Inc. announced the completion of the renovation of its Greenfield Big Y World Class Market at 237 Mohawk Trail, Route 2. Big Y has been a part of the Greenfield community since it opened its first store in 1987. In 2002, the company moved across the street to its current location. This past effort began in March and includes upgrades in every department, including new equipment and fixtures, new paint inside and out, as well as a new floor. All of the store’s fresh-foods departments had the most significant changes, including meals to go, delicatessen, seafood, bakery, produce, floral, and meat. There are also new gluten-free products as well as many more Latino offerings and additional locally produced wine and beers within the market. Lastly, the store has added some new, smaller-sized grocery carts for quick shopping trips. Ed Williams, store director in Greenfield, has 32 years of supermarket experience with Big Y. During his early years in the supermarket business, he worked in various department positions throughout the store. In 1989, Williams became a store director, managing stores in Northampton, Palmer, Greenfield, Chicopee, Southwick, Southampton, Springfield, and South Hadley. He moved back to this location last January. As part of the grand reopening celebration, Newton School, Math & Science Academy, Poet Seat Therapeutic Day Program, Greenfield Middle School, Greenfield High School, Discovery School at Four Corners, Academy of Early Learning, Federal Street School, 8th Grade Academy, Greenfield Center School, Eagle Mountain School, Cornerstone Christian School, and Stoneleigh Burnham School will each receive a donation of 500,000 Education Express Points toward free equipment and supplies for their schools. Big Y’s Education Express program has helped more than 2,000 local schools earn more than $13 million in free educational, sports, and electronic equipment since its inception.

 

Insurance Center Partners with Link to Libraries

AGAWAM — The Insurance Center of New England has become the latest area company to partner with the nonprofit group Link to Libraries in its Business Book Link Project. ICNE is sponsoring the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School. Link to Libraries, in collaboration with the Insurance Center, will donate 200 new books each year for a three-year period as part of the Business Book Link Project, which has the twin goals of stocking school library shelves and getting students excited about reading. For more information on Link to Libraries, call (413) 224 1031 or visit www.linktolibraries.org.

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