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Country Bank Donates $75,000 as Part of ‘Neighbors in Need’ Program

WARE — As the pandemic continues to disrupt business activities both nationally and in Massachusetts, Country Bank announced a $75,000 series of donations designed to assist organizations on the front lines. As the latest installment in a string of recent financial support, the bank will be facilitating donations to select organizations throughout its market from Springfield to Worcester. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will each receive $25,000 to provide additional grant funding for critical-needs programs. These programs offer support for vulnerable seniors, those without stable housing, with limited English proficiency, and with compromised health conditions, including mental health and drug addiction. Other programs receiving a contribution include: Springfield Rescue Mission and Friends of the Homeless in Springfield; and Abby’s House, Saint John’s Food Pantry, and the Boys and Girls Club in Worcester. These donations will assist in continuing to meet the ever-changing needs in their communities. Many nonprofit organizations are not only combating reduced financial support as many businesses are closed, but also face a lack of volunteers, and have to continually evolve how they support their clients while keeping everyone safe on a limited budget and with limited resources. “This is an uncharted time for our bank, our customers, and our local business community. As part of our effort to assist those most affected by COVID-19, Country Bank has already donated $400,000 to help local hospitals, first-responder recovery centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans, children, and community foundations,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We continually look for opportunities where we can help make a difference in the health and well-being of the people in our communities.”

Westfield Bank Future Fund Announces 2019 Giving Totals

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank announced that the Future Fund, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to supporting local 501(c)(3) organizations that have a positive impact on the region’s educational, recreational, cultural, and social well-being, awarded more than $300,000 to more than 40 organizations in Western Mass. and Northern Conn. in 2019. Grant recipients included the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Domus Inc., Farmington Valley YMCA, Friends of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Girls Inc. of the Valley, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Spirit of Springfield, and the YMCA of Greater Westfield. According to James Hagan, and CEO of Westfield Bank, the Future Fund awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants each year to qualifying organizations whose applications are accepted. “There are so many people and groups in our communities that have devoted themselves to making life better for all of us, and especially the young people who represent our future, and we know that supplying needed services presents financial and logistical challenges that grow with each passing year,” he said. “The Future Fund, and Westfield Bank, are dedicated to providing needed support to worthy organizations that enrich and define life in the towns and cities we serve.” In addition to the Future Fund grants, Westfield Bank contributed more than $400,000 to help sponsor community and performing-arts events, youth sports teams, fundraisers, and more. The bank also donated more than $500,000 to local organizations via the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, an affiliate of Westfield Bank. In total, Westfield Bank provided more than $1.2 million in local and regional philanthropic support in 2019.

Springfield College AmeriCorps, Parent Villages Begin Mask Project

SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Springfield College AmeriCorps program are partnering with Parent Villages Inc. and other local nonprofits to lead the Village Engagement Matters initiative, a program committed to providing community members with face masks at no cost to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The initial distribution of protective facemasks took place on May 12 at three meal-distribution sites located at Springfield elementary schools. Springfield College AmeriCorps members have been assisting with the production of the masks, and also helping with the planning of the distribution efforts. “Giving back to our community is always something we have done in our family, and we are committed to helping with this project,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps member and social-work student Molly Glynn. “My mom and I started making masks for our family members, but that quickly has turned into helping our community as well. What I like about the Olson mask pattern we are using is, it provides a pattern to make masks for both adults and kids, and the pattern also allows for a pocket on the inside for a micron filter to help those individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.” Added Parent Villages Inc. CEO Lakisha Coppedge, “the Parent Villages organization always tries to stay in touch and learn about items that community members really need, and obviously right now the masks are at a high demand. Springfield College stepped up to the plate to help, and we can’t thank the college enough to make this project a reality, and always being there to help our community members.” During these challenging times of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield College AmeriCorps members continue to seek opportunities to serve the Greater Springfield area, including volunteering their time making sure the Village Engagement Matters initiative is a success. “It really means a lot to have AmeriCorps members finding ways to support others,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps Director LaTonia Naylor. “We continue to live our Humanics mission at Springfield College of educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership and service to others. It brings me so much joy to watch people step up and show love and support for our community members.”

United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces EFSP Grant Funding

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has been appointed administrator for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) grant funding from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, which appropriated supplemental funding in the amount of $194,555 for Phase 37 and $277,380 for CARES grants. With a board comprised of local community leaders, UWPV will determine funding allocation through a competitive application process. These funds will be used to supplement existing food and shelter services, and cannot be given to start new programs. Funding for Phase 37 and CARES-funded grants is now available. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve Hampden County, South Hadley, or Granby may apply. Allocations are to be applied toward supplementing existing food and shelter services. Applications are due by Friday, May 22 at noon. For information or to apply, contact Nicole Young, manager of Community Investments, at [email protected]

Vann Group Becomes Licensed Practioner of Predictable Success

SPRINGFIELD — The Vann Group, LLC announced that Michael Vann has recently become a licensed practioner of the Predictable Success, a business-growth methodology that over the last 30 years has been used to scale hundreds of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Widely recognized as one of the most powerful organizational growth models available, Predictable Success was developed by Les McKeown, a successful entrepreneur and business-growth advisor. McKeown is the author of the bestselling book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There, as well as the companion book, The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success. Until recently, access to the full model was available only through McKeown. Michael Vann is part of the first cohort of licensed practioners. “I’ve been working with growth models for the past 20 years but have never come across one as powerful as Predictable Success. It isn’t an academic model or a hypothetical theory; it’s a proven, real-world process that enables any organization to scale successfully,” Vann said. “What I find really valuable about Predictable Success is its ability to get to the root cause of an organization’s issues rather than trying to solve symptoms. It integrates very well with our core methodology and tool set. It has been a great addition for our clients that are looking to grow and build value.” Les McKeown, the founder and CEO of Predictable Success, noted that “I’m absolutely delighted to have Michael join our growing group of licensed practitioners. Michael’s background as a trusted advisor and consultant makes him a stellar addition to our group, and I know his existing client base will benefit enormously from his access to the Predictable Success growth model, especially in these precarious times.” The Predictable Success model is intuitive and non-complex and can easily be implemented with the completion of a workshop. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, the Vann Group has several Predictable Success workshops approved under the Express Grant Program. The program will reimburse eligible businesses for up to 50% of the actual cost of training. Contact the Vann Group for additional information.

Pioneer Valley College Students Recognized for Entrepreneurship

AGAWAM — Eighty-six students from 14 local colleges and universities recently received awards for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, with 55 unique businesses and business concepts represented. News of the 2020 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards came at about the same time as participating students’ semesters were disrupted by COVID-19. Soon thereafter, the annual entrepreneurship banquet, where more than 450 people were scheduled to attend to celebrate these students, was canceled. The Grinspoon EI class of 2020 received their award checks of up to $1,000 by mail, and they and continue to be mentored by their Grinspoon EI faculty advisors. This year’s entrepreneurial class represents many diverse concepts and businesses. Some examples include:

• Bac-Be-Gone, bacteriocin-based cleaning products (Hadley Beauregard, Hailey Charest, and Bryanna Lexus Freitas, UMass Amherst);

• Keifer Games, a clever tabletop game for creative thinkers (Matthew Kiefer, UMass Amherst);

• Nashion, a new material for salon gel nails (Sona Kim, Amherst College);

• PAL, a prosthetic airliner medical device (Courtney Carlson, Kelsey Hastings, and Olivia Truenow, Western New England University); and

• Slacktyde, eco-art and eco-friendly clothing (Camila Mirow, Mount Holyoke College).

Mary Schoonmaker, Grinspoon EI faculty advisor and assistant professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, noted that “the Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards are foundational to building entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Past and present recipients have appreciated the confidence building and encouragement to advance their innovations.” This year’s Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Award went to Justin Park, founder and CEO of QL Gaming Group, a direct-to-consumer sports-betting data and iGaming affiliate platform. This annual award is given to a former Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner who has advanced their entrepreneurial endeavors. It is named after Grinspoon’s original business partners, Tom Garvey and Bill Young. “The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation has provided me with encouragement since 2012 to pursue my passion in entrepreneurship,” Park said.

Company Notebook

Bacon Wilson to Donate $25,000 for Firm’s 125th Anniversary

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that, in honor of its 125th anniversary year, the firm will donate $25,000 to various community organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley. Bacon Wilson will make five contributions of $1,250 for each quarter of 2020. After gathering suggestions from members of the firm, first-quarter contributions of $1,250 were awarded to:

• Michael J. Dias Foundation, which provides aid and education for individuals and families on substance abuse, and help for those battling the disease of addiction;

• All Out Adventures, which promotes health, community, and independence for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and their families and friends through outdoor recreation;

• Amherst Survival Center, which connects people to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts;

• Our Community Table: Westfield Soup Kitchen, a 100% volunteer organization dependent upon donations to provide a clean and safe environment to serve those in need; and

• Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community neighborhood where adoptive families and their children, older youth, and elders invest in one another’s health, dreams, and futures.

Bacon Wilson will announce recipients for the firm’s remaining quarterly giving in June, September, and December.

Eversource Energy to Purchase Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

BOSTON — Eversource Energy announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the Massachusetts natural-gas assets of Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource. The acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England. Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 natural-gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural-gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers in 51 communities across the Commonwealth. Many communities that Columbia Gas serves with natural gas already receive electric service from Eversource. Under the asset-purchase agreement, liabilities related to the September 2018 gas distribution incidents in the Merrimack Valley will remain the responsibility of Columbia Gas’s current parent company, NiSource. Eversource plans to finance the transaction with a balance of new equity and debt that maintains its credit profile. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter 2020.

Isenberg Again Ranks First for MBA Online Education

AMHERST — For the fourth year in a row, the online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst topped the rankings of U.S. programs — and came out number three in the world — in the Financial Times survey. Isenberg has offered an AACSB-accredited MBA degree program entirely online since 2001, making it one of the most well-established and robust online degrees in the country. Currently, more than 1,100 students are enrolled in the program. In addition to its overall position in the 2020 Financial Times ranking, the Isenberg online MBA also stood out in a number of data areas, based on information collected by the publication from members of the 2016 graduating class. It ranked first in the world for salary increase, with alumni reporting that they earn 46% more now than they did when they graduated from the Isenberg MBA program; second in the U.S. for average current salary ($168,046); and first in the U.S. for value.

American International College Named To Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has again been named a Military Friendly School. VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment and educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, has released the 2020-21 Military Friendly​​ Schools list, providing a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly​ School designation are evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. This year, fewer than 800 schools nationwide earned this prestigious designation. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the individual institution’s survey scores with the assessment of its ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $500,000 Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced plans for major expansion and the launch of its new campaign. The organization is in the early stages of an ambitious, comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future,” with three primary goals: to develop a permanent Girls Inc. home in downtown Holyoke; to expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and to extend the Eureka! STEM education program. To that end, it has received $500,000 in support from the Kendeda Fund, a private grantmaker based in Atlanta. This transformative gift will support the expansion of Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve. Girls Inc. of the Valley is launching this campaign to offer more girls fundamental support and research-based programming. These programs are designed to empower girls and present them with opportunities to navigate barriers they face in school and beyond.

Women’s Fund to Award $45,000 to Groups Addressing Sexual Violence

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced a spring grant cycle to fund organizations that are working to fight sexual violence in the Western Mass. region. Funding for this grant cycle is made possible by a grant the WFWM received from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (the Me Too Fund), housed at the New York Women’s Foundation. Joining the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in this work, WFWM will carry out the Me Too Fund’s goal of ensuring ongoing philanthropic investments toward transforming the oppressive systems that produce structural inequalities of power that result in harassment and violence by making grants from this fund in and for the local community. Applications will be accepted from women- and girl-serving organizations in all four counties of Western Mass. through March 31. Projects funded by this grant from WFWM must focus on prevention and/or intervention of sexual violence and harassment. Visit mywomensfund.org for additional information or to apply.

GCAi Launches Videos for Peter Pan’s App Marketing and Perks Rewards Program

SPRINGFIELD — Riders on any Peter Pan bus right now will not only view a new app-marketing video but also a new Perks Rewards program video. In between the two marketing videos is a brief welcome message by company Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly. Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) produced the three videos, which are already being shown on all routes in the Northeast Corridor. Each of them was produced by award-winning video producer Darcy Young, one of the only female video producers in the market. The concepts and scripts were developed by GCAi founder John Garvey. The app and rewards videos will be disseminated through digital marketing campaigns in specific markets on the East Coast in the near future. These videos are the third in a series of passenger videos produced by GCAi that began when Peter Pan Bus Lines separated from Greyhound Bus Lines in 2017. The videos can be viewed at gcaionline.com/video.

Webber & Grinnell Acquires Roger Menard Insurance Agency

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced the acquisition of Roger Menard Insurance Agency at 241 King St., Northampton. “Roger and I have been talking about this for a long time, and we are fortunate to be able to continue his legacy of great customer service to his clients,” said Webber and Grinnell President Bill Grinnell. “Our office is only a quarter-mile down the street, so it will be an easy adjustment for his clients. We also represent the same insurance carriers as Roger Menard Insurance, which will make the transition go very smoothly. Menard added that “Webber and Grinnell is the premier insurance agency in Northampton, and I know my clients will be treated very well. I’ve truly enjoyed this business and the relationships I have developed along the way. But after 36 years, it’s time to do something different. I will still be available to answer any questions during the transition.”

DAISA Enterprises to Facilitate Healthy Children and Families Event

SOUTH HADLEY — DAISA Enterprises, a food-systems and community health strategy firm based in South Hadley, was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and facilitate a convening of Healthy Children and Families grantees for 2020. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. focused solely on health, striving to advance policy, system, and environmental changes that create the conditions to foster families’ opportunities to promote healthy child development. The Healthy Children and Families convening will be a forum for sharing lessons and leveraging insights among grantees, partners, stakeholders, and RWJF staff around strategies to achieve this goal and prioritize health equity. More than 100 health leaders are expected to attend this event this spring or summer.

Health New England a Finalist in Healthiest Employers Program

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has been recognized as one of the 2019 finalists of the Healthiest Employers of Massachusetts, a nationally recognized awards program powered by the Springbuk Health Intelligence Platform. Applicants to the Healthiest Employers awards program were evaluated across six key categories, representing a holistic view of employee well-being: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analytics. All companies that applied to the awards program were ranked according to the proprietary Healthiest Employers Index, a 1-100 rubric for employee well-being programming. Ranked second in the 100- to 499-employee size category in Massachusetts, Health New England was honored for its commitment to employee health and corporate health programming. As an award finalist, Health New England has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health and well-being of its team members.

Bay Path Earns ‘A’ Grade for Early Reading Courses

LONGMEADOW — The National Council on Teacher Quality released its scores for the 2020 Teacher Prep Review, ranking Bay Path University’s Early Reading course content in undergraduate, traditional, elementary-education programs with an ‘A’ designation. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, and more than one-third of American children are not able to read by the fourth grade, with black and Hispanic children being disproportionately affected. Successful reading instruction is essential to achieving educational equity, yet only seven programs in Massachusetts received an ‘A’ ranking. After reviewing course syllabi and required textbooks, programs were ranked based on the following criteria: the availability of explicit instruction on each of the five components of reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies; support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices; and evidence that teacher candidates must demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests, and field work.

Scout Curated Wears Supports Dress for Success

SPRINGFIELD — Scout Curated Wears started out as a local business and quickly turned into a nationwide sensation with its signature item, which converts from a wrap bracelet to a necklace. But the company is equally proud of its commitment to give back 10% of its net proceeds to support women’s organizations. Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is one of the nonprofits that benefits from the generosity of Scout Curated Wears and owner Lora Fischer-DeWitt. Women in the Greater Springfield community benefit from both a network of support and programs developed by Dress for Success. These programs, which are designed to be responsive to both women and employers, include the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness program; the Boutique, which provides women with professional attire for interviews and employment; the Margaret Fitzgerald One-on-One mentor program; and the Professional Women’s Group, designed to promote employment retention and career advancement. Fischer-DeWitt changes the lives of women who come through these programs by providing an annual contribution and by sponsoring Common Threads, an annual event celebrating of the accomplishments of women who have come through Dress for Success Western Massachusetts programs. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Springfield Sheraton.

Elms School of Nursing Ranks in Top 10 in State

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at Elms College ranks in the top 10 of “Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts,” according to a recent ranking by registerednursing.org. To determine this year’s rankings, registerednursing.org researched the 40 nursing programs across the state and analyzed their students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past five years. In 2019, Elms College nurses achieved a 97% pass rate on the exam, while the national pass rate was 91%. This is the third top-10 ranking for Elms College’s School of Nursing over the past year. It has been ranked in the top 10 of nursing schools in Massachusetts according to both nurse.org and niche.com.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 14: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 14. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online  HERE. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event’s presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, and other sponsorship opportunities are available.

Micro-emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program

Jan. 13 to May 5: American International College (AIC) is announcing a new undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences titled Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program. Three business courses are offered in rotation beginning with the spring 2020 semester. The first course of the series will run on Wednesdays, 3:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., starting Jan. 13, 2020 and continuing through May 5, 2020. There are no prerequisites to enroll other than a high-school diploma or GED equivalency. Non-matriculated students can enter the program at any time in the sequence. The first course, “Cannabis Entrepreneurship,” will examine customer groups, products, and services in the recreational market. The effect of price, quality, and competitors will be explored relative to competing effectively. This will involve key components of the industry, including legal aspects, business models, financing, and marketing. In “Cannabis Business Operations,” students will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges of this sector. This course will conduct an in-depth look at the key components of different business types, how the sector is evolving, starting and operating a cannabis business, in addition to financial constraints, investments, and strategic marketing in the industry. The final course, “The Law and Ethics of Cannabis,” will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity, and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners, and recreational uses. For more information about the Micro-Emerging Market: Cannabis Certificate Program, visit aic.edu/mem.

Cannabis Education Center

Jan. 16, 23; Feb. 6: The Cannabis Education Center, a joint venture between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and C3RN – the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network – has scheduled three standalone courses for people working in the cannabis industry or those who want to get started. The first, “Professional Cannabis Business Plan Development,” will run on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. This $199 course is for experienced cannabis entrepreneurs who need assistance developing a business plan. The second, “Medical Cannabis 101,” is geared toward dispensary agents and healthcare providers. That will run on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. The third, “How to Start a Cannabis Business,” — a comprehensive, introductory session about starting a cannabis business — is slated for Thursday, Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. Space is limited, so advance registration and pre-payment are required for all courses. No walk-ins will be allowed. To register, visit hcc.edu/bcs and click on ‘Cannabis Education.’

‘Stress Less in 2020’

Jan. 17: The free monthly Lunch and Learn program at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence at JGS Lifecare has announced its next topic. Dr. Bill Bazin, a chiropractor for more than 30 years, will present “Stress Less in 2020 with Time and Energy Efficiency,” offering strategies to better manage stress and increase quality of life. Almost 60% of Americans consider themselves stressed and depressed, and stress can play a major factor in heart attacks. Bazin will talk about stress and offer strategies on what to do to deal with it. Topics will include why we have stress; different types of stress; signs and symptoms of an overstressed life; how to get exponential growth from one’s time and energy; strategic planning for one’s life and family; eliminating fear, panic, and anxiety; the five factors of health; solutions for stress that can be done at home, and when to take the next step to deal with stress. The lunch at noon will be followed by the presentation from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Ruth’s House Lunch and Learn program is free and open to the public. Tours of independent and memory-care neighborhoods will be available. RSVP to Lori Payson at (413) 567-3949, ext. 3105, or [email protected] For more information, visit jgslifecare.org/events.

Free Workshop on Wage and Hour Laws

Jan. 28: MassHire Holyoke Career Center will present a free workshop on the laws enforced by the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, including the payment of wages, minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time. At the event — slated for 8 to 10 a.m. at 850 High St., Holyoke — guest speaker Barbara Dillon DeSouza will also discuss the broad powers of the Fair Labor Division to investigate and enforce violations of these laws and explain the various ways a company can become the subject of an investigation. Finally, she will note some resources available to companies to keep informed of the laws. DeSouza is an assistant attorney general in the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. She focuses on enforcing Massachusetts wage and hour laws, including prevailing-wage laws. She has been with the office since March 2010. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to reserve a seat early. Register by contacting Yolanda Rodriguez at (413) 322-7186 or [email protected].

All Ideas Pitch Contest

Feb. 5: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County is holding an All Ideas Pitch Contest from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green at 85 Main St., Suite 105, North Adams. EforAll’s first Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum in October created a lot of community buzz, with more than 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The big winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear. Described as “Shark Tank without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase and then pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more that are added the night of the event. Each participant is given two and a half minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. At the end of it, EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first-place finisher wins $1,000, second place gets $750, third place wins $500, and the audience favorite also wins $500. Applications and audience registration information are both available online at www.eforall.org/berkshire-county.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Banks is the creator of America’s Next Top Model, the reality show and modeling competition that has been replicated in 47 international markets and viewed in 150 countries. This year’s conference also will feature breakout sessions focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities. Sessions will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

Company Notebook

Wellfleet Acquires National Guardian’s Student and Special Risk Business

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, an insurance provider and a Berkshire Hathaway company, has agreed to terms with National Guardian Life Insurance Co. (NGL) to acquire through renewals its Student and Special Risk business. Much of that business is processed through Commercial Travelers Life Insurance Co. in Utica, N.Y., a wholly owned NGL subsidiary. Wellfleet will immediately assume responsibility for administrating NGL’s special-risk policies and collegiate accident and health insurance, which insures more than 26,000 students on approximately 100 campuses across the U.S. Wellfleet will maintain NGL’s Utica office, employing more than 30 insurance professionals. Completion of the transaction is subject to various conditions, including the receipt of required regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Elms College Announces 100% Hire Rate for Education Graduates

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that all of its class of 2019 education licensure graduates — both undergraduate and graduate — have successfully landed jobs as teachers in their licensure fields or are pursuing advanced degrees. This is the sixth year in a row that the Elms College Education Division has reported a 100% hire rate for its graduates. Elms College allows education majors to specialize in elementary, early childhood, English as a second language, moderate special needs, or secondary education. Graduate students can work toward a master of arts in teaching degree in a variety of fields, including reading specialist, a master of education degree, or a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS). The college’s programs offer real-world, student-centric, pedagogical training that prepares teachers to serve as leaders in the changing field of education.

UMass Amherst Welcomes Largest-ever Entering Class

AMHERST — UMass Amherst will welcome the largest entering class in university history when students return to the Commonwealth’s flagship campus over Labor Day weekend. The size of the entering class, approximately 5,800 students, represents an increase of 790 compared to last year. This includes 4,300 in-state students, an increase of 800 over last fall. Massachusetts students represent 74% of the first-year class. Out-of-state enrollment remained strong at 1,500, including 470 international students. The university received a record 42,110 applications. Overall undergraduate enrollment this fall is projected to be 22,700. The academic profile of the class of 2023 is impressive. The average SAT score is 1292, and the average GPA is 3.90. The class also represents an increase in the number of ALANA (African, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Native American) students at 33%. The percentage of underrepresented minority students is 17%, matching last year’s number. Half of the incoming class is female. Commonwealth Honors College will welcome 660 students, up 35 students over last year. Their average SAT score is 1400. Along with the first-year class, nearly 1,050 transfer students will be arriving on campus this fall. The transfers include 380 community-college students enrolling through the MassTransfer program. MassTransfer guarantees admission to Massachusetts community-college students who complete a designated program with a GPA of 2.5 or above. The overall GPA for entering transfer students is 3.40.

Eversource Honored for Encouraging, Empowering Employees in the Military

BOSTON — Eversource Energy has been recognized with the nation’s highest honor recognizing support of employees in the military. Eversource was one of 15 companies selected from 2,500 nominations to receive the 2019 Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Eversource Chairman, President, and CEO Jim Judge and control-room supervisor Bill Gelinas accepted the Freedom Award at a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Eversource’s recruitment and military reserve policies make it one of the nation’s leading companies for veterans and other service members. Of Eversource’s 8,000 employees, more than 600 have served in the military. The energy company offers advancement programs that provide opportunities to apply military training in a supervisory level position. In addition, the Eversource Veterans Assoc., made up of employees who served their country, provides support and recognition to current veteran employees and raises funds to support military veterans throughout New England.

STCC, Bay Path University Announce Psychology Transfer Agreements

SPRINGFIELD — Officials from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Bay Path University will sign two agreements today at 1 p.m. creating an affordable pathway for female students with an associate degree from STCC to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bay Path. Under one articulation agreement, students who receive an associate degree in liberal arts/general studies (applied psychology option) can pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology from Bay Path. Under the second agreement, students who receive an associate degree in liberal arts transfer (human services/social work option) can pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology. Bay Path and STCC recognize that, for many students, the path to a bachelor’s degree may begin at a community college. Moreover, for STCC’s female students, diverse educational opportunities, including the advantages of enrolling in a women’s university to earn a bachelor’s degree, adds value to educational experiences. These agreements acknowledge that significance and are formed to enable the smooth transfer of STCC graduates to either the traditional undergraduate program or the American Women’s College of Bay Path University.

STCC Gateway to College Program Earns Recognition

SPRINGFIELD — The Gateway to College program at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received a Program Excellence Award in recognition of exceeding all four benchmarks used to assess the performance of Gateway to College programs nationwide. Through Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school or who are significantly off track complete their high-school diplomas in college-based programs while simultaneously earning credits toward a post-secondary credential. STCC has hosted a Gateway to College program since 2013, and the program enrolled 67 students during the academic year when it received the award. In 2017 and 2018, the STCC Gateway to College program was recognized with a Graduation Achievement Award. This marks its first Program Excellence Award and represents one of only 11 such awards given to Gateway to College programs nationally. At the Gateway to College Directors Convening in New Haven, Conn. at the end of July, Achieving the Dream President Karen Stout and Executive Vice President Emily Froimson presented the award to STCC Gateway Program Director Katara Robinson.

Kresge Foundation Awards $100,000 to Public Health Institute of Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — The Kresge Foundation awarded the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts a $100,000 grant to advance policy solutions aimed at improving climate resilience and equitably reducing health risks in low-income communities. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative, a new project of the Live Well Springfield coalition convened by the Public Health Institute, is one of 15 community-based collaborations nationwide receiving grant funding as part of the planning phase of Kresge’s Climate Change, Health and Equity initiative. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative will focus on planning and implementing strategies identified in the 2017 “Strong, Healthy, & Just: Springfield Climate Action & Resilience Plan” for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and improving climate resilience in Springfield. The planning will focus on developing front-line residents’ capacity to accelerate municipal action on the top greenhouse-gas emissions reduction strategies included in the Climate Action Plan. With this funding, the collaborators who worked together to develop the city’s “Strong, Healthy & Just” plan — the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Arise for Social Justice, and the city of Springfield — will work with partners from other sectors to develop multi-year work plans to address community-defined health and climate priorities.

Company Notebook

Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim Announce Plan to Merge

MASSACHUSETTS — Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan recently inked an agreement to merge, a marriage that would bring together the Commonwealth’s second- and third-largest insurers, creating a powerhouse to rival Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, will serve as CEO of the new organization. Michael Carson, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, will serve as president, overseeing the organization’s diverse business lines and subsidiaries, according to a release. “Our communities and consumers today face four major hurdles in health care: affordability, access, quality of health, and a fragmented healthcare experience across various stakeholders and health systems. Through our shared vision, we believe we can tackle these issues and bring more value to the communities we serve,” said Croswell in a statement. The plan was unanimously voted on by the boards of both organizations. The new combined entity does not yet have a name. The deal would bring together Tufts Health Plan’s 2,841 employees and approximately 1.16 million members with Harvard Pilgrim’s 1,182 employees and approximately 1.16 million members. Together, the insurers will have members in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Elms College Will No Longer Require SAT, ACT Scores for Most Admissions

CHICOPEE — Starting with the class entering in the fall of 2020, Elms College will no longer require scores from standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT for admission to most majors. The move to a test-optional policy is intended to make higher education accessible to students from all backgrounds, including from underrepresented populations. Elms admission counselors will review applicants’ essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. They also will talk with prospective students to get to know them as full people. The test-optional policy will give all students, including those from underrepresented populations such as racial and ethnic minorities or those with economic disadvantages — groups who traditionally earn lower scores on standardized tests because of systemic social inequities — a greater chance to access the educational and experiential opportunities Elms offers. The School of Nursing at Elms will still require test scores, however, because nursing majors are required, upon graduation, to take the NCLEX exam to become licensed as nurses, and the college needs to know that its nursing students can succeed on such exams. Students or families with questions about test-optional admission, academics at Elms, or the application process are encouraged to contact the Office of Admission at (413) 592-3189 or [email protected] More information is also available online at elms.edu/testoptional.

UMassFive to Bring Employees Student-loan Repayment Benefits

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it is bringing student-loan repayment benefits to its employees via a new partnership between Student Choice and FutureFuel.io. Student Choice teamed up with FutureFuel.io earlier this year to better help credit unions address the growing challenge of student-loan debt faced by the emerging workforce. Participating in this new perk allows credit unions to offer their employees and employees of select employee groups access to FutureFuel’s online portal of automated tools that can help reduce the impact of student debt.

Monson High School Golfers, Monson Savings Bank Support Shriners

MONSON — Monson High School graduate Cam Kratovil, sophomore Mason Dumas, and varsity golf coach Paul Nothe, in cooperation with Monson Savings Bank, teamed up to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. Kratovil and Dumas collected pledges for a marathon golf round they recently played at Quaboag Country Club. They were escorted in golf carts around the course by Nothe and his wife, Nicole, as they completed their goal of playing 100 holes between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon. All the money pledged to them will be given to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. In addition, Monson Savings Bank sponsored the 2019 Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Quaboag Country Club on Aug. 17 and 18 to benefit the hospital.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in ENR’s Ranking of Environmental Firms

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a Northeast leader in engineering and environmental consulting, climbed six spots this year to number 142 on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) “2019 Top 200 Environmental Firms” ranking. ENR ranks its list of top 200 envi environmental firms nationally based on the percentage of their 2018 gross revenue from environmental services. Earlier this year, Tighe & Bond also climbed 19 spots to number on ENR’s “2019 Top 500 Design Firms” ranking, moving up a total of 38 spots in the past two years. ENR ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year. Tighe & Bond provides comprehensive engineering and environmental services to hundreds of public and private clients across the Northeast, with emphasis on the education, energy, government, healthcare, industrial, real-estate, and water/wastewater markets. A staff of 385 work from nine offices in five states.

People’s United Community Foundation Grant Boosts JA Summer Program

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, which provides workforce-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs to K-12 youth, recently received a $5,000 grant from the People’s United Community Foundation to support its Summer BEE (Business and Entrepreneurial Exploration) program for middle- and high-school students. The funds will be used to provide out-of-school educational experiences for youth from grades 6 to 12, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, career exploration/work readiness, and STEM education. The program includes in-class learning, hands-on learning, and experiential out-of-school learning experiences, such as lessons about the water ecosystem with presentations, videos, and techniques to test the water in the nearby Connecticut River. To learn problem solving, decision making and teamwork, students form companies, create a product, and market and sell the product, with the goal of earning a profit. Students have several opportunities to sell their products and pitch the companies to business people, family, and friends.

ESB Foundation Donates $5,000 to Hilltown Community Health Center

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the Easthampton Savings Bank Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to the capital campaign for the John P. Musante Health Center of Hilltown Community Health Center. Located at 70 Boltwood Walk in Amherst, the John P. Musante Health Center provides accessible and affordable healthcare for primary and preventive medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare services. The center’s service area includes Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Hatfield, Belchertown, Ware, South Hadley, Sunderland, South Deerfield, and Leverett.

WNEU Teams Up with Comcast to Offer Xfinity on Campus Service

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast announced it will bring its Xfinity on Campus service to Western New England University, allowing students to watch live TV and on-demand and recorded content on their IP-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The service is included with room and board for students living in on-campus housing. Xfinity on Campus offers more than 100 live channels and access to thousands of current TV shows and hit movies via Xfinity on Demand. While off campus, students can use the Xfinity Stream app to log in and access TV Everywhere programming that’s part of their subscription.

Eversource Upgrading Electric System in Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — Eversource is investing $4 million in upgrades to electric-distribution systems in the towns of Plainfield, Cummington, Chesterfield, Worthington, Windsor, Savoy, and Dalton. These enhancement projects include replacing more than 130 utility poles with stronger, thicker ones and installing more than 21,000 feet of more resilient power lines. ‘Smart switches’ are also being added to the system to help restore power outages more quickly in the event they happen. These devices can limit the number of customers affected by an outage and restore power with computer-assisted technology from the energy company’s operations center even before sending a crew to inspect the line and make repairs. A major component of this upgrade project is connecting two electrical circuits, creating a loop. Once the two electrical systems are tied together, it will make substations on either end accessible when needed, boosting the company’s ability to deliver reliable power. Customers may experience short power interruptions during the project, so crews can safely perform the work. Any customers affected will be notified by the company in advance. The project is expected to be complete by this fall.

Holyoke Medical Center Expands Services in Westfield

WESTFIELD — Holyoke Medical Center announced expanded healthcare services in Westfield, including family medicine, women’s services, gastroenterology, walk-in care, and more. Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, has relocated to 140 Southampton Road in Westfield. The office offers care for the entire family, including pediatrics, adult primary care, women’s health, and geriatric care. Dr. Thomas Graziano and Deborah Pisciotta, MS, PA-C, are accepting new patients. The office is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call (413) 535-4800. In addition to Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, Holyoke Medical Center plans to offer walk-in care, lab draw, imaging services, and physical therapy at the 140 Southampton Road facility starting this fall. Holyoke Medical Group Women’s Services also has an office in Westfield, located at 94 North Elm St., Suite 102, in Westfield. Holyoke Medical Center Gastroenterology will also open a new office at 94 North Elm St., Suite 206, in Westfield on Oct. 21.

Massachusetts Unemployment Drops Slightly in July

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.9% in July, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 3,500 jobs in July. Over the month, the private sector lost 4,100 jobs as losses occurred in leisure and hospitality; education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; and financial activities. Manufacturing jobs remained unchanged over the month, while trade, transportation, and utilities; other services; and information added jobs. Government added jobs over the month. From July 2018 to July 2019, BLS estimates Massachusetts added 37,300 jobs. The July unemployment rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point. The labor force decreased by 4,400 from 3,838,800 in June, as 2,100 fewer residents were employed and 2,400 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. 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 — dropped one-tenth of a percentage point over the month to 67.6%. Compared to July 2018, the labor-force participation rate is up one-tenth of a percentage point. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in other services; education and health services; information; and leisure and hospitality.

SPARK EforAll Holyoke Seeks Volunteer Mentors

HOLYOKE — SPARK EforAll Holyoke is actively seeking volunteers to participate as mentors in this winter’s business-accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have 90-minute in-person meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected]

Court Upholds Dismissal of Class-action Special-ed Suit

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced that the Federal Appeals Court upheld the dismissal of a class-action suit that had been brought by special-education advocates against the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Court entered judgment on Aug. 8 affirming the decision of Judge Mark Mastroianni to dismiss the class action. The underlying suit alleged that the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools (SPS) violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily segregating students with mental-health disabilities in a separate and inferior school, the Springfield Public Day School (SPDS). A student brought the suit on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of all students with a mental-health disability who are or have been enrolled at SPDS. Two associations, the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Disability Law Center (DLC), joined as plaintiffs seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, including an order that defendants provide the class plaintiffs with “school-based behavior services in neighborhood schools to afford them an equal educational opportunity and enable them to be educated in neighborhood schools.” The U.S. District Court, in an opinion by Mastroianni, denied class certification. The court later ruled that the associations had standing but granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the associations. The plaintiffs’ appeal challenges the district court’s denial of class certification. The city appeal argued that the district court erred in concluding that PPAL and DLC had standing. The Court of Appeals agreed that these organizations lack standing to pursue the claims in the complaint, and affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings as to PPAL and DLC on that ground. The case was argued by Deputy City Solicitor Lisa deSousa and attorney Stephen Holstrom, with whom City Solicitor Edward Pikula and attorney Melinda Phelps of Bulkley Richardson were on the brief.

Agenda

Blue Sox Youth Baseball Clinics

July 8-11, 15-18: The Valley Blue Sox announced that Shriners Hospitals for Children will serve as the presenting sponsor of the 2019 Blue Sox Youth Baseball Clinics. This year marks Shriners’ second season partnering with the Blue Sox to present the team’s youth clinics. Blue Sox coaches and players will provide hitting, pitching, and fielding instruction to participants ages 6-13 from 9 a.m. to noon daily. The registration fee for each four-day session is $100. Athletic trainers will be on hand, provided by Shriners. All children participating in the clinics will receive a pair of free tickets to Blue Sox Clinic Night on Saturday, July 20 courtesy of Shriners Hospitals for Children, where they will have the opportunity to take the field with the Valley Blue Sox during pregame ceremonies. The first session will be held July 8-11 at Mackenzie Stadium, 500 Beech St., Holyoke. Interested participants can visit www.valleybluesox.com for information on how to register. The second session will be held July 15-18 at Burnham Field in the Spec Pond Recreation Area, 2540 Boston Post Road, Wilbraham. Interested participants can register by visiting www.wilbrahamrec.com. Participating children should bring their glove, a water bottle, and bat and helmet (if able). Ideal attire includes a cap, baseball pants, and cleats or athletic sneakers. Questions about this year’s clinics can be directed to the Valley Blue Sox by e-mail at [email protected]

‘Roots & Boots ’90s Electric Throwdown Tour’

Sept. 7: The Melha Shriners, in conjunction with the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton, will present a day-long country music festival at the fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The “Roots & Boots ’90s Electric Throwdown Tour” will bring a full day of music with six country acts, featuring nationally renowned artists Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, and Aaron Tippin. Popular local bands King Kountry, Southern Rain, and Cottonwood will also perform. Ticket prices are $30 (general admission, advance sale), $35 (general admission, day of the show) and $40 (reserved seating). General admission is free for children under 5. Tickets are available online at 3countyfair.com/events. The gates will open at 10 a.m., with on-site parking available for $5 per vehicle. Food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase. No outside food or beverages will be permitted. General admission patrons are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets; however, beach umbrellas and pop-up tents are not allowed. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact event chair Shonn Monday at (413) 800-2312.

Golf Tournament to Fight Childhood Hunger

Sept. 30: It’s a sad reality that one in six children in the U.S. goes hungry every day, but it’s a reality Feed the Kids is trying to change. The group will hold its second annual charity golf tournament to benefit No Kid Hungry and the HPS Weekend Backpack Program at Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. No Kid Hungry is a national organization that raises funds to support school breakfast programs, summer meals, afterschool meals, and more for children throughout the country. The HPS Weekend Backpack Program distributes bags of nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals to children at the end of each week that they can enjoy over the weekend. Feed the Kids is currently seeking donations for the tournament’s silent auction, individual and corporate sponsors, and, of course, golfers. Check-in for the scramble-format tournament will begin at 10 a.m., with a shotgun start at noon. The fee is $160 per golfer, which includes greens fees, driving range, cart use, lunch, cocktail hour, dinner, and a gift bag. There will also be prizes, a raffle, and an auction. To make a cash donation, donate an item for the raffle or auction, learn more about sponsorship opportunities, or register to golf or for the dinner, visit feedthekidsgolf.com.

‘One Ocean, One People’

Oct. 24: Springfield College will host deep ocean explorer and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau and explorer and filmmaker Céline Cousteau for an evening titled “One Ocean, One People: The Cousteau Legacy and a Call for Environmental Action,” starting at 7:30 p.m. Fabien and Céline are the grandchildren of legendary explorer Jacque-Yves Cousteau. This event is free and open to the public. Both Fabien and Céline will highlight their commitment to fulfilling their family’s legacy of protecting and preserving the planet’s extensive and endangered marine inhabitants and habitats. Fabien stresses the need for bold and innovative thinking to progress conservation efforts worldwide. He encourages individuals to follow their own curiosity in developing cutting-edge solutions that can address regional and global environmental challenges. Through powerful storytelling, Céline uses her voyages around the world to offer a thoughtful perspective on the connection of the environment to populations around the world and how this knowledge is vital to the future of each person on the planet.

People on the Move

The board of directors of Big Y Foods Inc. announced the following changes to its senior leadership team, effective Jan. 1. These changes align with the enterprise’s expanding business activities and the dynamic shifts that are occurring within the supermarket, convenience, and retail liquor industries.

Donald D’Amour

Donald D’Amour

Donald D’Amour, current chairman and CEO, will transition out of his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO and will continue to serve as an advisor to the board in his new role as chairman emeritus. He was appointed to CEO in 1980 and in 1997 succeeded his father and co-founder, Paul D’Amour, as chairman of the board.

• Charles D’Amour

Charles D’Amour

Charles D’Amour, son of co-founder Gerald D’Amour, will continue as president, a position he has held since 2006. In order to allow for a smooth transition, he has been appointed CEO and will be responsible for helping to drive the overall strategic direction of Big Y along with the company’s vision and mission. In addition to providing overall leadership and oversight, key departments of Finance, Legal, Real Estate and Development, Employee Services, and Information Resources Technology will report directly to him.

• Michael D’Amour

Michael D’Amour

Michael D’Amour, grandson of Paul D’Amour and son of Donald D’Amour, was appointed to the position of executive vice president in 2014 and has added the role of COO, a position formerly held by Charles, to his roster of responsibilities. As COO, Michael will be responsible for all operating aspects of the company, including Sales, Operations, Distribution, and Supply Chain. He began his full-time career at Big Y in 1996.

Guy McFarlane

Guy McFarlane

Guy McFarlane, Big Y’s vice president of Fresh Foods since 2011, has been promoted to senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, where he will oversee sales and procurement, pricing, marketing, and data analytics. He will report to Michael D’Amour. McFarlane began his career at Big Y more than 23 years ago and has been in the supermarket industry for 41 years.

Richard Bossie

Richard Bossie

Richard Bossie, Big Y’s vice president of Operations since 2016, has been promoted to the new position of senior vice president of Operations and Customer Experience. Within this expanded role, Bossie will oversee all operational aspects of the company that impact the customer experience, including labor planning, inventory control and ordering, checkout and customer service, and retail asset protection, along with all operational aspects of Big Y Express Gas and Convenience Division and Table and Vine, Big Y’s flagship beer, spirits, and fine-wine store. He also will report to Michael D’Amour. Bossie began his career at Big Y more than 30 years ago and has more than 38 years of retail experience.

Nicole D’Amour

Nicole D’Amour

Nicole D’Amour Schneider, Big Y’s senior director of Store Operations (and granddaughter of Paul D’Amour and daughter of Donald D’Amour), has been appointed to the new position of vice president of Supermarket Operations, with specific focus on the daily operations of the supermarket division. Along with the five district directors reporting to her, she will continue to drive operational excellence throughout the chain. She reports to Bossie. She began her full-time Big Y career in 1999.

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Amelia Holstrom

Amelia Holstrom

Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that attorney Amelia Holstrom was named a partner in the firm on Jan. 1. Holstrom, who has been with the firm since 2012, focuses her practice on labor law and employment litigation, including personnel policies and practices review, wage-and-hour compliance, and separation and severance agreements. Holstrom frequently speaks about employment-related legal topics for a wide variety of associations and organizations. She was selected by BusinessWest as a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2015 and received the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. Community Service Award in 2016. She is a member of the Massachusetts, Hampden County, and Connecticut bar associations; sits on the board of directors for Clinical & Support Options in Northampton and Girls Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts; and is an ad hoc member of the personnel committee for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

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Esther Rich

Esther Rich

Andrew Anderlonis, president of Rediker Software, recently announced that Esther Rich has been hired as the company’s new director of Support. Rich brings more than 30 years of experience in customer support, with more than 10 of those years spent in a management position. Before joining Rediker Software, Rich was the Customer Support manager for Farm Credit Financial Partners in Agawam. In her new role, Rich will lead and motivate her team to ensure they have the tools and skills required to provide the best customer service possible. She holds a business management degree from St. John’s School of Business.

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Laura Lefebvre

Holyoke Community College (HCC) hired Laura Lefebvre as its new director of Public Safety. Lefebvre, a seasoned investigator, has more than 30 years of law-enforcement experience, most recently as senior sergeant in the campus police department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams. She is the first woman to serve as chief of police at HCC. Lefebvre, 56, got her start with the Hialeah Police Department in Dade County, Fla. She began as a patrol officer in 1986, then one of only four women in the 450-person department. She worked in the juvenile sexual battery unit investigating child-abuse cases before becoming the first woman assigned to the robbery division. She later moved into homicide as a detective. Lefebvre retired from the Hialeah Police Department in 1999 and then moved to Western Mass. with her husband, Gary, also a retired police officer, and two small children, Spencer and Emily, now adults. She then spent a few years as an officer with the Hadley Police Department and a police lieutenant at Westfield State University. Before going to MCLA, where she was the first woman sergeant, she worked for 11 years as a fraud investigator for the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the insurance giant Unum. Throughout her career, Lefebvre has been a field-training officer, teaching at police academies in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. She holds a bachelor’s degree from MCLA in interdisciplinary studies in business and sociology and will complete her master’s degree in education at MCLA this May.

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Wendy Fitzgerald

Wendy Fitzgerald

HUB International New England, LLC, a division of HUB International Limited, a leading global insurance brokerage, recently announced that Wendy Fitzgerald has re-joined HUB New England as a strategic account executive, responsible for all things personal (personal insurance/auto, home, condo, renters, and more). Her role will include handling new business and outreach, renewals, quoting, special projects, and providing support when needed to the Personal Lines team of experts. She will be based out of HUB New England’s East Longmeadow office. Previously, Fitzgerald had been with the HUB/FieldEddy Personal Lines team from 2008 to 2016.

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Mary Shea

Mary Shea

James Garvey

James Garvey

Garvey Communication Associates Inc., the most experienced independent Google Partner in the Springfield area, announced the 2019 certifications for its Google Ads strategists. Mary Shea, vice president of Digital Strategy, and James Garvey, digital marketing analyst, collectively have passed the Search, Display, Mobile, and Video exams certifying their advanced expertise in creating, managing, measuring, and optimizing these specific Google Ads products. The two GCAi marketing technologists also meet with a dedicated Google Ads representative every month to review and further increase the performance of client campaigns. GCAi earned its Google Partner Agency designation more than five years ago. Partner status requires that GCAi associates pass Google Ads certifications, that the agency meets the spend requirements across its managed accounts, and that it demonstrate performance by delivering strong client and company growth. Shea works out of GCAi’s downtown Springfield headquarters at Tower Square. Garvey works out of GCAi’s newest office at WeWork’s Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif.

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Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) announced that Rosemary Manu has joined the LPV team as the LEAP program coordinator. She will hold various responsibilities in this position, including assisting in the planning, coordination, and execution of Leadership Pioneer Valley’s nine-month leadership-development program, in addition to helping recruit future LEAP program participants. Manu returned to Springfield last spring after obtaining a master’s degree from George Washington University in international development studies with a concentration in energy. Prior to this, she earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Connecticut. Most recently, she worked as a consultant for USAID Food for Peace, which provided her with monitoring and evaluation skills. She was responsible for evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of combining emergency assistance and resilience building. Manu also comes to Leadership Pioneer Valley with an extensive background in the UN Women in Bangkok, Thailand, in the Disaster Risk Reduction Department. This experience expanded her research and writing skills and led her to become passionate about helping to develop communities and individuals.

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John McAndrew, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Holyoke, has accepted an invitation to become a limited partner in the Jones Financial Cos., the holding company for the St. Louis-based financial-services firm. Edward Jones currently employs 45,000 associates in all 50 states and through its affiliate in Canada. This is the firm’s 17th limited-partnership offering in its 97-year history. The Jones Financial Cos. was created in 1987 to enable the firm to expand into new business areas while allowing it to remain a partnership. The Jones Financial Cos. owns Edward D. Jones & Co., LP, which operates under the trade names Edward Jones, EDJ Leasing Co., the Edward Jones Trust Co., and its international financial-services subsidiary, Edward Jones Canada.

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Marilyn Lopez-Haddad

Marilyn Lopez-Haddad

Pattie Hallberg

Pattie Hallberg

Meredith Wise, president of the Employers Assoc. of the Northeast (EANE), announced the addition of two new members, Marilyn Lopez-Haddad and Pattie Hallberg, to the EANE board of directors, effective Jan. 1, for three-year terms. Lopez-Haddad, vice president of Human Resources for the Seven Hills Foundation, joined that organization’s senior leadership team in 2008.  She oversees the HR office and Seven Hills Corporate College, and provides leadership in the areas of employee relations, recruitment and retention compensation and benefits, and learning and development. Seven Hills is an integrated health and human services network based in Worcester. Before joining Seven Hills, Lopez-Haddad worked for various municipalities in Connecticut as the head of HR, personnel, and labor relations. She also worked as a Social Security disability associate in Florida. Most recently, she worked as an adjunct professor at Clark University in Worcester, where she taught global talent development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University and a juris doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She was admitted to practice law in Connecticut and Massachusetts, is a certified executive and career coach, and has acquired the SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications. Hallberg is CEO of Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM), headquartered in Worcester and Holyoke. She joined GSCWM as CEO in 2008 to lead the merger of the three Girl Scout councils into one organization with a commitment to developing girls’ leadership potential. Under her direction, GSCWM has emerged as a leader in Central and Western Mass. in advocacy for girls. She is a commissioner on the Hampden County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. She serves as a co-chair for the Investing in Girls Alliance in Worcester, and is a founding member of the advisory committee for the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact and an advisory board member of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute with the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She serves as a board member and member of the finance committee for New England Public Radio. She is a member of the Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts and a member of the Western Mass Women Presidents’ Organization. She is on the advisory board of the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Nichols College and a volunteer for the Springfield Schools Read-Aloud Program. In 2013, she received the Outstanding Women in Business Award from the Worcester Business Journal.

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Executives and entrepreneurs who participate in business peer groups report it is their most valuable activity for exploring solutions and shifting paradigms, says Ira Bryck, director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. A group that has been meeting for years, formerly as part of a global roundtable organization, is accepting new members and hiring Bryck as their facilitator and coach. The Impact Executive Peer Group meets monthly for much of a day, and each member gets monthly, personalized coaching from the facilitator. The group will grow to include a dozen leaders from medium and larger companies roughly between Worcester and the Berkshires, and Hartford and Brattleboro. The format will include members discussing their challenges with questions and suggestions, as well as a speaker series, with topics and presenters relevant to the needs of the group. Bryck has moderated roundtable groups for 25 years, and is taking on this project as part of the leadership succession the Family Business Center is undergoing.

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Dena Hall

Dena Hall

Dena Hall, who has served as Baystate Health Foundation’s vice chair for the past two years, has succeeded Jean Deliso as the foundation’s chair. Hall — a graduate of UMass Amherst, the Massachusetts School for Financial Studies, and the National School of Banking and Finance at Fairfield University — is executive vice president, chief Marketing officer for Hometown Financial Group and its banks, bankESB, based in Easthampton, and bankHometown, based in Central Mass. She is also the president of the bankESB Charitable Foundation and a member of the board of trustees for the Springfield Museums and the Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation. A longstanding volunteer for Baystate Noble Hospital, Hall and her husband, Eric, chaired the 2009 Baystate Noble Ball, helping to generate vitally important funds in support of the hospital in Westfield. In her previous role as Western Massachusetts regional president of United Bank and president of the United Bank Foundation, she launched support for the innovative Acute Care for Elders Unit at Baystate Medical Center with a $50,000 grant from the bank. She continues to invite new funders to the hospital to consider supporting this program.

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Ryan Nauman

Ryan Nauman

Country Bank announced that Ryan Nauman joined its Commercial Banking division as vice president of Commercial Lending. Nauman brings 20 years of experience in the industry. His knowledge of business banking comes from his prior commercial-service roles and his passion for partnering with business owners to make their dreams reality. Nauman has held various positions over the years as a credit analyst, portfolio manager, and, most recently, vice president, loan officer with Farmington Bank in the Commercial Real Estate department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Bryant College. He is a member of the Real Estate Finance Assoc. and the Hartford Community Loan Fund. Nauman is located at the bank’s corporate office in Ware and will assist customers in the Western Mass. and Connecticut areas.

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The Vann Group announced that Patty Stefanelli has joined the organization and will lead its newly launched Performance Improvement Division. This division was created to help organizations in any industry work toward more sustained levels of operational excellence by embracing Lean thinking and continuous improvement. In her role, Stefanelli will be focusing on creating awareness of the benefits of these concepts throughout the Pioneer Valley. Before joining the Vann Group, Stefanelli worked for the city of Springfield in its Information Technology department, and as an independent consultant helping organizations with their operations and IT. She has extensive technical and business knowledge, as well as project-management experience. She has led large, organization-wide initiatives from ERP and time and attendance system implementations to Lean process improvement initiatives, such as streamlining hiring processes or the order fulfillment processes in shipping departments. She has an MBA, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification, and TWI Knowledge certification.

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Paragus IT CEO Delcie Bean announced the addition of three new board members. On Jan. 1, Nicole Nakashian, Michelle Abdow, and Scott Webster joined Randy Krotowski, Scott Foster, and John Drake on the board of the fast-growing IT firm. Nakashian currently serves as executive vice president at InvestCloud Inc. She helped launch Agio, an IT managed-service provider, and was responsible for building a client-centric progressive culture in addition to growing and managing the operations. Abdow is founder and president of Market Mentors, LLC, a full-service marketing agency located in Western Mass. that provides a variety of services, including advertising, branding, media buying, graphic design, public relations, broadcast production, and event planning. Webster is currently head of WW Operations for Amazon Experts. He brings a versatile mix of financial, technical, and business expertise. He is passionate about driving innovation, strategic change, and operational efficiency across dynamic, internet-based businesses.