BETE Fog Nozzle Earns MassHire Workforce Leader Award
GREENFIELD — The MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board awarded BETE Fog Nozzle its 2021 Workforce Leader Award, honoring the company’s contributions to workforce well-being, workplace, and public safety during the pandemic. BETE now employs more than 180 people at its Greenfield facility, designing, casting, and machining spray nozzles. The company garnered headlines earlier in the year for developing an innovative machine for quickly disinfecting school buses after each use with a touchless process employing BETE’s trademark fog nozzles. Working with local bus company F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., BETE engineers designed a button-sized fogger installed in rows along each school-bus ceiling, out of reach of children. The series of spray foggers are linked and connected to a port on the outside of the bus where a mobile compressor machine mixes air and disinfectant that is pumped through a tube to the spray nozzles on the bus interior, sending an aerosol disinfectant mist throughout each bus before rolling to the next one. When the pandemic lockdown shuttered businesses in March 2020, BETE provided paid furloughs to all its employees, and the company offers regular profit-sharing bonuses. BETE is also a founding supporter of the seven-year-old Manufacturing Skills Initiative (MSI) training partnership between Greenfield Community College, the Workforce Board, Career Center, Franklin County Technical School, and area manufacturers. BETE has hired more than a dozen graduates from MSI’s 12-week CNC Operator training program, giving them a solid start toward building a rewarding, high-skill career in precision machining. Company President Tom Fitch is chairman of the GCC Future Work Advisory Council, which brings local chambers, business, employment agencies, and the college together to develop curriculum to provide training that brings additional employment and advancement opportunities to area residents.
Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. Announces Acquisition
SPRINGFIELD — Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. has added the Northampton law firm Etheredge & Steuer to its regional law practice. Attorneys Edward Etheredge and Shelley Steuer bring a wealth of talent, knowledge, and expertise to Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin’s business, real estate, land-use planning, permitting, estate planning, and estate administration practice areas. Both firms have deep roots in Western Mass. and similar approaches to providing service to clients. Etheredge, whose practice is principally in real estate, land use, planning, and development, began practicing law in Northampton in 1976. He is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Steuer, whose practice focuses on estate planning and estate and trust administration, has practiced in Northampton since 1990. She is a member of the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, the Hampshire County Bar Assoc., and the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, New York, and California, as well as the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Steuer and Etheredge will be joined by members of the Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin team at 64 Gothic St., Northampton. The firm will continue to provide services to clients at 1441 Main St., Springfield.
Eversource ConnectedSolutions Earns Program Pacesetter Award
SPRINGFIELD — In recognition of its efforts to help customers reduce energy use and save money through demand response programs, Eversource’s ConnectedSolutions demand-management program received the 2021 Program Pacesetter Award from the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA). The energy company was recognized for surpassing enrollment goals and setting a high bar for energy-demand-management programs. Eversource’s ConnectedSolutions program provides incentives to customers to reduce their energy use at times of peak demand, which helps reduce strain on the electric grid and lowers carbon emissions by avoiding additional power generation of dirtier fossil fuels like coal that still come online in New England when demand is high. Customer enrollment in 2020 across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire surpassed goals by more than 60 MW, reaching a total of 170 MW approved for targeted use during days with the highest energy demand and an additional 6.3 MW of storage capacity approved for daily demand reductions. ConnectedSolutions is significant not only for the large demand reductions that can be achieved, but also for the diversity of customers and devices enrolled, including more than 600 business customers using a range of demand-reduction strategies and more than 33,000 residential devices including Wi-Fi thermostats, electric-vehicle chargers, residential battery storage, and Wi-Fi-connected A/C units.
House Earmarks $50,000 for New Manufacturing Program at HCC
HOLYOKE — State Rep. Patricia Duffy announced that $50,000 has been earmarked in the House fiscal-year 2022 budget to seed the development and implementation of a new Manufacturing Training Program at Holyoke Community College (HCC). According to labor and workforce data, 9.7% of jobs in Holyoke are in manufacturing, compared to 6.7% statewide. Meanwhile, at 9.9%, the unemployment rate in Holyoke is the second-highest in Western Mass. after Springfield’s 11.2%, compared to a statewide rate of 6.6% for March 2021. The Manufacturing Training Program will join a robust stable of workforce-development programs at HCC. The program will serve up to 45 individuals in three cohorts by providing approximately 150 hours of remote and in-person, hands-on training combined with workplace experiential learning, and includes skills assessments and pre-training focused on workplace readiness in English and basic math, followed by core training in entry-level manufacturing. The manufacturing component will include modules in communication, teamwork, customer service, digital literacy, general manufacturing processes and principles, blueprints, dimensions, tolerances, instrumentation and measuring; manufacturing workplace math, lean manufacturing, problem solving, quality control, and workplace safety. Regional employers will be invited to participate in curriculum design and delivery as guest speakers, as well as in hosting tours of their facilities when possible. Participants will be connected to area employers and receive job-placement assistance through HCC and MassHire Holyoke.
Girls Inc. of the Valley Event Raises More Than $67,000
HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley has raised more than $67,000 to date from its Spirit of Girls 2021 event, which will help support ongoing program needs. The virtual event was held on May 6 and was attended by notable women such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Mount Holyoke College leadership fellow and political figure Carmen Yulín Cruz, actress Tequilla Whitfield, WWLP weeknight anchor Ciara Speller, and Girls Inc. President and CEO Stephanie Hull. Girls Inc. of the Valley has had to opt for safer, virtual options, which is why this year’s Spirit of Girls event was held 100% virtually. Attendees heard directly from girls, staff, and notable celebrities regarding the importance of celebrating their place at the table. Girls Inc. of the Valley will be posting a link to a video of the event on its YouTube channel, where it will still accept monetary gifts as well. Girls Inc. of the Valley aims to inspire all girls to see themselves as leaders with the skills and capabilities to improve and influence their local communities.
Springfield Museums Offer Sensory Friendly Saturdays
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Museums will present Sensory Friendly Saturdays on the second Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m., starting May 8. Sensory Friendly Saturdays provide less noise, dimmer light, and cool-down spaces for those who have sensory sensitivity. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Springfield Science Museum will open early, with some exhibits modified to provide an opportunity for people with a range of differing abilities to experience what the museums have to offer. Trained staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and, if necessary, direct visitors to a quiet space that provides a chance to cool down and take a break. Sensory-friendly crafts for all ages will be available in the Cat’s Corner. Parents and caregivers must stay with their children at all times. The modifications are enabled until 11 a.m. Preview guides are available for those who would like to explore what to expect before arriving at the museums. If visitors find the Museums too overwhelming and need to leave before 10 a.m., the Welcome Center staff will give the family a voucher to try again on another Sensory Friendly Saturday. The Springfield Museums became universal-participation-designated two years ago as part of a Massachusetts Cultural Council program to help museums, theaters, and other cultural organizations pay particular attention to ensuring their programming is accessible to all people. The staff created preview guides for families to read together before visiting the museums and made decisions about which exhibits they could modify to be more friendly to visitors with sensitivity to noise, lights, and movement.
WNEU School of Law Adds Race-related Coursework Requirement for Graduation
SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to incorporate antiracism education and training into the student experience, Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law has added a new Antiracism and Cultural Competency (ARCC) graduation requirement beginning with incoming students in the fall of 2022. This requirement offers students more than a dozen options from substantive courses relating to legal history, structural inequality, intersectionality, discrimination, civil rights, and theories of subordination, focusing on cultural context and cultural competency. The list of eligible courses includes “Race, Racism, & the Law,” “Business Law from an Antiracist Perspective,” “Gender & the Law,” “Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession,” and many others. “Western New England University School of Law has a long and proud history of incorporating social justice and antiracism into the education we offer,” said School of Law Dean Sudha Setty. “A cornerstone of our mission is the belief that the study of law must embrace the notion that different beliefs, backgrounds, and opinions are critical components of a well-rounded learning environment.” WNEU School of Law currently offers a wide range of elective courses, experiential learning opportunities, engagement opportunities through its Center for Social Justice, pro bono opportunities, student organizations, and vibrant speaker series that serve to broaden students’ knowledge on legal issues related to racial justice, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Springfield Thunderbirds, Mass Lottery Wrap ‘Feed the Frontline’ Campaign
SPRINGFIELD — Each week during the month of April, the Springfield Thunderbirds and the Massachusetts State Lottery teamed up for the “Feed the Frontline” campaign, to thank individuals in the healthcare and service industries. The Thunderbirds worked with several of their food partners to provide lunch to some deserving individuals throughout the Pioneer Valley. Members of the Thunderbirds front office and mascot Boomer visited staff at Mercy Medical Center, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, USA Hauling, the Springfield Police Department, and the Springfield Fire Department. The Thunderbirds and the Mass Lottery will be collaborating on several initiatives throughout the spring and summer to recognize several individuals within the Western Mass. community. Meals were provided by a number of local food partners, including Nadim’s Mediterranean Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, 99 Restaurant, Uno Chicago Grill, and Theodores’. The Mass Lottery and the Thunderbirds will continue to promote the outstanding work of those in the community throughout the summer when the Hometown Salute campaign launches in May. Individuals who are currently or have served in the military, or those working in the healthcare or public-service industries, may be nominated to be recognized by the Thunderbirds each week.
Visiting Angels West Springfield Receives Home-care Accreditation
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Visiting Angels, a private-pay home-care agency based in West Springfield, is among a select group of agencies to earn accreditation from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts. The alliance, which represents 180 home-health and eldercare agencies across Massachusetts, has created an accreditation protocol to promote quality services, ethical business standards, and superior employment practices in an industry that lacks meaningful licensure in Massachusetts even as it grows in popularity. The Home Care Alliance launched this accreditation program for private-pay agencies (agencies that are not paid by Medicare or Medicaid) in 2010. Agencies seeking accreditation are required to submit documentation to show that they meet standards established by the organization. The standards were developed over several months in consultation with an advisory task force representing agencies throughout the Commonwealth. Training requirements, administrative protocols, and business practices are among the categories the Home Care Alliance reviews for accreditation.
Riley Home Realty Launches Full-service Agency
CHICOPEE — Riley Home Realty announced the launch of its Chicopee-based, full-service real-estate agency. This family-owned and -operated agency will offer residents in the surrounding Western Mass. communities a comprehensive suite of services delivered with expert guidance from a team of dedicated agents. Riley Home Realty services include listing homes for sale, working with home buyers, managing rental properties and listing rental properties, and property management. It was a dream of members of the Riley family to work together to help others realize home and real-estate ownership, the company noted. “Our family-owned and -operated agency is built on the values we as a family embody. We are with each other every step of the way. Our clients get that same dedication and commitment when they work with us. When you work with Riley Home Realty, you’re family.”