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It seems like a long time ago — and, in most all respects, it really was — when BusinessWest first introduced its Difference Makers for 2020. That was back in February, before the pandemic arrived and changed the landscape in all kinds of ways. This large and distinguished class of honorees was due to be celebrated at a gala on March 19, but … well, you know what happened. This event, like almost everything else at that time, was postponed. For months, we watched and waited for guidance on when and how large-scale events like the Difference Makers gala might be staged again. But the only guidance we’ve received is that it might still be some time before such gatherings can take place. So the class of 2020 will be celebrated at a hybrid event on Sept. 24, with the honorees and sponsors gathered at the Log Cabin in Holyoke — groups cannot exceed 40 under current state regulations — with friends, family, and supporters taking in the proceedings remotely. However this celebration takes place, there is much to celebrate with this class, which features several individuals and one nonprofit that found their own, often unique, ways to make a difference. For this issue, we reintroduce them and update their stories to reflect the times we are now living in.

Difference Makers is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Royal, P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners.

Download the Program Guide HERE

2020 Difference Makers

Christopher ‘Monte’ Belmonte

DJ at WRSI the River Radio

His March is Changing
The Conversation
on Food Insecurity

Ira Bryck

Consultant and Former Executive Director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley

He’s Helped Create
Fun, Imaginative
Learning Experiences

Sandy Cassanelli

CEO of Greeno Supply

She’s Fighting to Find a Cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Dianne
Fuller Doherty

Retired Director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center

She’s Retired … but Not from Her Role as a Difference Maker

Ronn Johnson

President and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc.

This Community Leader
Has Tackled Many Roles
With a Sense of Purpose

Steve Lowell

President and CEO of
Monson Savings Bank

Giving Back Has Always Been a Big Part of His Life — and His Work

Rick’s Place

This Unique Nonprofit Provides Support, Light in the Darkest of Times

2020 Sponsors

Pay it Forward Non-Profit Partners


Photography for this special section by Leah Martin Photography

Wealth Management

Shared Expertise

Empower Retirement and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for Empower to acquire the MassMutual retirement-plan business. The acquisition will capitalize on both firms’ expertise, provide technological excellence and deep product capabilities, and create scale to the benefit of retirement-plan participants and their employers.

Based on the terms of the agreement and subject to regulatory approvals, Empower will acquire the retirement-plan business of MassMutual in a reinsurance transaction for a ceding commission of $2.35 billion. In addition, the balance sheet of the transferred business would be supported by $1 billion of required capital when combined with Empower’s existing U.S. business.

The MassMutual retirement-plan business comprises 26,000 workplace savings plans through which approximately 2.5 million participants have saved $167 billion in assets. It also includes approximately 2,000 employees affiliated with MassMutual’s retirement-plan business who provide a full range of support services for financial professionals, plan sponsors, and participants.

“Empower is taking the next step toward addressing the complex and evolving needs of millions of workers and retirees through the combination of expertise, talent, and business scale being created,” said Edmund Murphy III, president and CEO of Empower Retirement. “Together, Empower and MassMutual connect a broad spectrum of strength and experience with a shared focus on the customer. We are excited about the opportunity to reach new customers and serve even more Americans on their journey toward creating a secure retirement.”

“We believe this transaction will greatly benefit our policy owners and customers as we invest in our future growth and accelerate progress on our strategy.”

The transaction, expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020 pending customary regulatory approvals, will increase Empower’s participant base to more than 12.2 million and retirement-services record-keeping assets to approximately $834 billion administered in approximately 67,000 workplace savings plans.

“In Empower, we are pleased to have found a strong, long-term home for MassMutual’s retirement-plan business, and we believe this transaction will greatly benefit our policy owners and customers as we invest in our future growth and accelerate progress on our strategy,” said Roger Crandall, MassMutual chairman, president, and CEO. “This includes strengthening our leading position in the U.S. protection and accumulation industry by expanding our wealth-management and distribution capabilities; investing in our global asset-management, insurance, and institutional businesses; and delivering a seamless digital experience — all to help millions more secure their future and protect the ones they love.”

The MassMutual retirement-plan business has grown substantially over the past decade, with the number of participants served doubling to more than 2.5 million and assets under management more than quadrupling from $34 billion to more than $160 billion.

The combined firm will serve retirement plans sponsored by a broad spectrum of employers. These include mega, large, mid-size, and small corporate 401(k) plans; government plans ranging in scale from state-level plans to municipal agencies; not-for-profits such as hospital and religious-organization 403(b) plans; and collectively bargained Taft-Hartley plans. The transaction will also bring MassMutual’s defined-benefit business under the umbrella of plans Empower serves.

Empower and MassMutual intend to enter into a strategic partnership through which digital insurance products offered by Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC3, and MassMutual’s voluntary insurance and lifetime income products will be made available to customers of Empower Retirement and Personal Capital.

Empower today administers $667 billion in assets on behalf of 9.7 million American workers and retirees through approximately 41,000 workplace savings plans. Empower provides retirement services, managed accounts, financial wellness, and investment solutions to plans of all types and sizes, including private-label record-keeping clients.

In August, Empower announced it had completed the acquisition of Personal Capital, a registered investment adviser and wealth manager. The Personal Capital platform offers personalized financial advice, financial planning, and goal setting, providing insights and tools for plan participants and individual investors. In addition, Empower’s retail business provides a suite of products and services to individual retirement-account and brokerage customers.

Features

This Nonprofit Is Finding New Ways to Provide a ‘Safe Place’

Kelsey Andrews (third from left, with Therese Ross, program director; Bill Scatolini, board president; and Diane Murray, executive director) calls Rick’s Place “a wonderful support system” — and much more.

Diane Murray says that, like most nonprofits, Rick’s Place is responding to the pandemic in a proactive fashion.

In other words, this agency, founded to provide peer support to grieving families, and especially children, has, out of necessity, changed, pivoted, and in some ways reinvented itself, said Murray, its executive director, noting that much of this involves carrying out its mission in a virtual manner.

“As soon as we became aware that it wasn’t safe to have in-person meetings, we moved to a virtual format for all our peer-support groups,” she told BusinessWest. And that was very successful. We were surprised at how well children made that transition; it’s hard enough to be grieving and talk about it in person with your peers, but looking at a screen can be tricky. But we sent them activities, and they would complete them and bring them to the meeting. It’s worked quite well.”

As she noted, grieving and talking about loss among a group of peers is hard, but it has become a proven method for helping children and families cope with the loss of a loved one. And Rick’s Place has been bringing people together in this way and providing what many call a ‘safe place’ since 2007.

Its mission, and its success in carrying it out — which made the agency the latest of several nonprofits to be named Difference Makers by BusinessWest — was summed up succinctly and effectively by Program Director Therese Ross when we spoke with her back in February.

“It’s a unique grief journey, but it’s also a universal experience,” she noted. “To hear from other people how they manage when their child says this or does that, it’s real boots on the ground, people living it, and it’s really helpful.”

Providing such help was the overarching goal for the many friends of Rick Thorpe, the former football star and 1984 graduate at Minnechaug High School who was among the more than 1,100 people who died in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He left behind his wife, Linda, and newborn daughter, Alexis. Searching for ways to memorialize Rick, friends and family members eventually turned to Alexis for inspiration and created a bereavement center in her honor.

In 2020, the work of this agency goes on, but obviously many things have changed, and in the meantime, new and different needs have emerged, said Murray, noting, as just one example, the restrictions placed on funeral services for the first several months of the pandemic.

“Deaths during the COVID era are so much more complicated for kids,” she explained. “Losing a grandparent or parent — and not being able to have the usual services you would have and seeing a large number of family and friends — has impacted the grief and made it more complicated. Also, in many cases, they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, and that makes the process so much more difficult. We’re focusing on these COVID-era issues with families and giving them information on how to start that grief journey.”

Overall, though, a movement to virtual services has been the biggest change brought about by COVID-19, Murray noted, adding that, in addition to virtual peer sessions, the agency is also conducting virtual training sessions with local school systems on the impact of grief on students. Meanwhile, she and others at the agency are talking with area schools about taking the popular eight-week ‘grief groups’ it had been offering to a virtual format now that school has started up again.

“The schools are where we see our most diverse population and students with the greatest economic need,” she explained. “Finding a way to continue those virtually is very important to us. We’re talking to some school counselors who are very invested in getting our programs into the schools virtually.”

Since 2007, Rick’s Place and its loyal supporters — and there are many of them — have been invested in providing much-needed support to those who are grieving. In the COVID-19 era, the word ‘place’ has taken on new meeting. Now, in many cases, it’s not an actual, physical place, but rather … well, a computer screen where people can still gather. And where they can share, cope, and learn together.

As Murray said, the agency has had to pivot and in some cases reinvent. But its vital mission, one that has made it a Difference Maker, remains unchanged.

—George O’Brien

Features

This Advocate and Cheerleader Remains Active on Many Fronts

Photo by Leah Martin Photography

When we first introduced Dianne Fuller Doherty back in February, we used the term ‘semi-retired’ to describe her status — and it’s the appropriate phrase to use.

Indeed, while she has stepped down from her role as director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network’s Western Mass. office, she remains heavily involved in this region, and on a number of fronts — everything from mentoring young people, especially women, to serving on several boards and being part of a few prominent search committees, such as the one that eventually chose Robert Johnson to be the sixth president of Western New England University (see story, page 29).

And most, if not all, of her work has been in some way impacted by COVID-19, including that search at WNEU, and another at Tech Foundry.

“We never met any of the candidates — only the winner after he had been given the position,” she said of the WNEU search, noting that all interviews were conducted remotely, a process she didn’t think would be very effective, but ultimately proved to be. “When we started both these searches, I said, ‘how can we not meet these people?’ It turned out it was incredibly effective — you really got to know these candidates.”

Fuller Doherty’s commitment to remain involved in this region and be, in some respects, a cheerleader for it comes naturally. She’s been doing this she came to Western Mass. in the early ’70s after marrying attorney Paul Doherty, a community leader himself, who passed away several years ago. And she become involved with everything from the creation of the Women’s Fund — she was one of the original founders — to the growth and maturation and the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Over the course of her lengthy career, she was a business owner — she and partner Marsha Tzoumas started a marketing firm that bore their last names — and, as director of the Small Business Development Center, one who helped countless small businesses get off the ground and to that proverbial next level.

She has a great deal of experience in all matters of launching and operating a business, and she’s never been shy about sharing it with others.

As she told us in February, her MO has always been to provide a kind of tough love to entrepreneurs — in other words, be supportive whenever possible, but also honest and realistic, telling people what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear.

“The best advice I give to people is to ask enough questions so that they can come to the right conclusion on whether this is the right time, or the right place, or the right financial backing to go forward,” she said when we first spoke with her. “You let them come to the decision about whether it’s a ‘no.’ And if it’s a ‘yes,’ then you just try to be as supportive as possible and it them know that there are going to be highs and lows in any business, and the challenges will come. But the rewards will come also.”

For Fuller Doherty, the biggest reward has been to see the region continue to grow, prosper, and meet the enormous potential she has always thought it possessed. Progress has come on a number of fronts, she said, listing everything from the advancement of women, thanks to groups like the Women’s Fund, to that entrepreneurial ecosystem, to the capital of the region, the city of Springfield.

She told BusinessWest she has always been focused on ‘what’s next’ for the region, and especially Springfield, and believes the answer may lie in housing.

“Education requirements dictate housing investment,” she explained. “And I think we can do a lot with housing; Springfield used to be the City of Homes, and I think it can come back to that.”

But there is work still to do on all these fronts, she acknowledged, and she wants to continue playing a meaningful role in all of it.

In other words, she has no intention of slowing down, even in the era of COVID-19, and this attitude, this mindset, certainly explains why she is a member of the Difference Makers class of 2020.

—George O’Brien

Features

COVID Has Brought New Challenges to an Already-intense Cancer Fight

Photo by Leah Martin Photography

Sandy Cassanelli has always been a fighter.

Which is good, because these first nine months of 2020, the year of COVID, have tested her in every way imaginable.

Let’s start with her health. As most know, she was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer four years ago, and has been not only fighting that fight, but helping others fight it as well through the Breast Friends Fund, a charity that raises funds that go directly to metastatic breast-cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Having a terminal illness in the middle of a pandemic, though, brings even more challenges to the fore.

“There was the realization that this virus could kill me,” she said, noting that, for obvious reasons, she began working at home back in March. “And my husband, Craig, had to be careful to make sure he wasn’t bringing anything home to me; he would take off his clothes in the garage and run up to the shower every day. He jokes that I would spray Lysol on him before I would let him in the house.”

Meanwhile, as she started a new treatment regimen and underwent tests and biopsies, the protocols were much different.

“At Dana-Farber, my husband always comes with me — he’s never missed an appointment,” she explained. “But once everyone started locking down, only the patients could go, so I had to go from my first scans to see if my new treatment was working by myself. And since March, I’ve had to go to every appointment by myself. It’s been very challenging not to have the support of my husband.”

Let’s move on to her business that she manages with Craig — Greeno Supply. Near the top of the list of the products it supplies to a wide range of customers are a number of items in high demand but short supply during the pandemic — paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies … all those things. Getting them — and meeting the needs of customers — has been daunting, to say the least.

“It was very challenging — it was hard to get these things from our suppliers,” she said of products that ranged from those paper goods to gloves, masks, and other PPE. “We had to reinvent the wheel and go out to different suppliers just to get these items. And we’re still struggling — we’re still reinventing the wheel.”

And then, there’s family, or life at home, a phrase that has certainly taken on new meaning during this pandemic.

Cassanelli, like many parents, and especially many women, has been working at home and helping her children with school at home. In this case, the children were in eighth and 12th grade, respectively — big years, graduation years. Not a year one would want to spend confined at home.

“I’ve been battling for seven years, so my daughters are used to adversity and things not going the way normal life goes,” she explained. “They’ve been dealing with a lot, and they actually did really well because they know how to deal with adversity. But I’d have to say that when the final announcement came that they wouldn’t be going back to school and there was no graduation — that was probably the only time that tears flowed in my house.

“When I was first diagnosed with stage-4 cancer, the doctor set a goal for me and my older daughter Samantha — that I would get to see her graduate and walk across the stage” she went on. “So it was a double whammy — but we moved on.”

Overall, Cassanelli’s ability to meet all these challenges head on helps explain why she’s a Difference Maker in this memorable year.

It’s a mindset summed up perfectly by something she said to BusinessWest back in February while discussing her diagnosis and her approach to life.

“Does it suck? Yeah, it totally sucks. But me crawling up in a ball and putting the sheets up over my head is not going to fix anything, so I might as well just get up and go,” she said. “I try not to sweat the small stuff. I believe that every day is a gift, and I’m going to make the best of that day, and I’m going to be positive, because if I’m positive, then everyone around me is going to be positive.”

COVID-19 — and all that has thrown at her — isn’t small stuff. But she doesn’t seem to be sweating it, either.

—George O’Brien

Features

Former Family Business Center Leader Is Still Delivering Frank Talk

Ira Bryck spent 25 years as the executive director of the Family Business Center of the Pioneer Valley. And over that quarter-century, he left an indelible mark on those he helped through his rather unique style and ability to create impactful learning experiences.

These included plays he authored, dinner meetings with provocative speakers, and, quite often, frank talks about family businesses and whether people should be part of them or not.

And he continues to make a mark, even though he’s retired from the FBC, as it was called, and the center itself has gone out of business. He does it through a radio show with WHMP called The Western Mass. Business Show a variety of consulting work, and even his work in the COVID-19 era to help keep the residents of Amherst, where he has lived for some time, safe as college students return to campuses.

In all these settings and circumstances, Bryck speaks his mind, creates dialogue, and helps to generate progress in many forms. And that, in a nutshell — and he wrote a play called A Tough Nut to Crack — is why he is a member of the Difference Makers class of 2020.

He has decided not to join his fellow classmates for the ceremony on Sept. 24 due to a strong desire to help keep his family safe during this pandemic — two adult children and their families with New York addresses have moved in with him as they seek what amounts to higher ground during the pandemic — but he has definitely earned his place on the podium, even if he’ll be addressing his audience remotely.

That’s because, since being named director of the fledgling FBC in 1994, he has done things his way — and in an ultimately effective way. And he has helped educate and inspire an important, if often unrecognized, segment of the local economy — its family businesses.

They come in various shapes and sizes and cross a variety of sectors, but they share common issues and challenges. When we talked with Bryck in February, he compared small businesses to snowflakes in that no two are alike, and summoned that famous opening line from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Bryck has addressed these issues and challenges in a manner that had members of the FBC describe him, alternately, as ‘communicator,’ ‘connector,’ ‘facilitator,’ and even ‘entertainer.’

One long-time member described his style and his approach this way: “He can take things that are very theoretical and make them realistic. It’s one thing to read a paper from a professor who deals in theory, but it that reality? Can that be applied to the everyday businessperson? Ira was able to translate those kinds of things.”

And he’s still doing all that, just in different settings and with different audiences. With his radio show, he just passed a milestone — his 300th interview.

“It’s a nice exercise to meet and interview someone every week,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun and a tremendous learning experience.”

Meanwhile, he’s also working with Giombetti Associates as a senior advisor working on personality assessments, coaching, and organizational development. He’s involved in several projects, including one with a private school in Springfield that is undergoing a change in leadership.

“We’re restructuring and creating much more of an idea system within their leadership team,” he explained, adding that he’s working on another project involving a Connecticut grower of plants and trees that is seeking to make structural changes and increase self-awareness and self-management.

He’s also coordinating a roundtable for area business owners. “We meet monthly and just explore people’s challenges and help each other think things through, and that also involves coaching,” he said, adding that he’s also involved with the family business center at Cornell University, participating in what he called a “speed-dating event involving mentors and mentees.”

“All this keeps me busy, but I’m only working about half as much as I used to,” he explained. “Which leaves me plenty of time of walk five to 10 miles a day, so I’ve lost 45 pounds.”

Overall, he’s still finding ways to educate — and also entertain, in some cases — while also making a mark on those he’s working with.

In short, he’s still very much making a difference in this region — and well beyond it.

—George O’Brien

Features

His March Will Go On … but with Fewer Marchers

Monte Belmonte says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some changes in what he does on the radio each day.

Like helping his listeners know what day it is — a simple assignment that has become a good deal more difficult as the days blend together and the things that make them different are increasingly removed from the equation.

“I would come in and do my show the same way I’d been doing it, except I introduced what I call ‘quaran-themes’ — a different musical theme for each day of the week,” explained Belmonte, a DJ with WRSI the River Radio in Northampton. “Wednesday, for example, is wanderlust Wednesday, where I take people musically to places they couldn’t otherwise go — like the ukulele version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to make them feel like they could go on that trip to Hawaii they were supposed to go on but couldn’t.”

Like everyone else, Belmonte is making needed adjustments because of the pandemic — at home, at work, on the air — and especially with the fundraiser to combat food insecurity that now bears his name: Monte’s March.

Indeed, the march, which takes place in November and has grown exponentially — in every way — since he started it back in 2010, has, in recent years, attracted hundreds of marchers who have joined Belmonte on his two-day trek from Springfield to Greenfield. This year, in the name of social distancing, those marchers will be encouraged to stay home and support the effort virtually, something many supporters have already been doing.

“It’s such a long walk that people have participated virtually over the years — where they create a fundraising team and set up a fundraising page — so at least there some institutional knowledge,” he explained, noting that specific details of this year’s march are coming together and will be announced soon. “But now, with everyone doing almost everything virtually, I think people will want to participate.”

And they certainly need to participate, he went on, because need has never been greater. That’s because the pandemic is leaving many in this area unemployed and in need of help — bringing the broad issue of food insecurity to the forefront as perhaps never before.

Nightly newscasts show long lines of cars at designated locations to pick up donations of food. Many of those being interviewed say this is the first time they’ve ever needed such help and that they never imagined they would be in such a situation. It’s a scenario playing itself out in California, Florida, Texas — and the Pioneer Valley.

“Because of the pandemic, hunger has been in the forefront of people’s minds in a different way,” Belmonte told BusinessWest. “I’ve talked with some of the survival centers, and the need has definitely grown.”

Getting back to his day … Belmonte said the pandemic has certainly impacted that as well — in ways beyond his song to signal what day it is.

Indeed, he noted that, in many ways, radio, and his work on the air, have more become more important and more appreciated in the era of COVID-19 as people look for some normalcy and comfort in their lives.

“Especially in the beginning, the pandemic reinforced how important radio is to people at a time like this,” he noted. “It’s a medium that feels more personal and intimate than some others; maybe the commuting times have changed, but people are still going places in their car, so most of the time it’s just you and your radio in your car together. When people needed a listening ear and a voice and some kind of sense of normalcy that might have been lost, they turned to radio in a different way.”

Meanwhile, he has used his show, his platform, to provide needed information and also try to help the businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic, especially restaurants.

“We offered to the restaurant community what amounted to public-service announcements,” he explained. “We said, ‘let us know what you’re doing, whether it’s takeout or whatever,’ and we called it the ‘takeout menu.’ It let people know what different restaurants were doing at different times.”

Overall, Belmonte said some things are starting to feel a least a little more like normal. But the pandemic is still impacting lives in all kinds of ways — which is why he’s still helping people understand what day it is.

And also why he’s hoping his next march will be among his most successful — even if supporters are not actually on the road with him.

—George O’Brien

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Gourmet to Go Inc., 26 Perry Lane, Agawam, MA 01001. Stephen A. Amato, same. On-site catering and food preparation.

ATHOL

King’s Memorials Inc., 1265 South Main St., Athol, MA 01331. Peter D. King, 5 Sanders Street, Apt. B, Athol, MA 01331. Design, carve, and sell public memorials.

CHICOPEE

Hidden Tradition Distilling Company, 185 Frontenac St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Michael Alan Styckiewicz, same. Alcoholic beverages and distilled spirits.

CUMMINGTON

Hilltown Vision Fund Inc., 17 Packard Road, Cummington, MA 01026. Kathryn Regina Eiseman, same. To support activities that further a common vision for an ecologically and financially sustainable rural economy and culture in the Hampshire County.

EAST LONGMEADOW

KM Corporate Services, 82 Birch Ave., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Alfred Adegboyegun, same. Provide physician support services and innovation.

GRANBY

Kingston Estates Inc., 83 Harris St., Granby, MA 01033. Nolan R. Hodgins, same. Purchase, sell, improve, manage, rent real estate.

GREAT BARRINGTON

Jetstream Support Services Inc., 777 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230. Rebecca Shoval, 407 East 12th St., New York, NY 10009. Provision of payroll, benefits and other support.

LENOX

Holborn Foundation Limited, 14 Pine Knoll Road, Lenox, MA 01240. Yuko Torigoe, 27 Langley Road, Newton Center, MA 02459. Promotes experimentation in cultural design, supports discovery, and seeks to support and document important conclusions about the crossroads of technology, philanthropy, and creative culture.

PITTSFIELD

Honey Am Home Corp., 82 Wendell Ave., Ste 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Yeyson Pimentel, same. Sale of honey and organic products.

JI Mei Inc., 26 Dunham Mall, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Kang Chen, same. Limited-service restaurant.

Kessler Alair Insurance Services Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Charles Kessler, same. Insurance sales.

Krupa Realty Inc., 31 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Rakeshkumar Vyas, 12 West Dr., Edison, N.J. 08820. Gas station.

SHELBURNE FALLS

Guaranteed Power International Inc., 398 Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. Calvin M., Clarak, 745 Williamsburg Road, Ashfield, MA 01330. Make, buy, market, and sell automobile and truck component parts.

SPRINGFIELD

GreenGrab Inc., 172 Birchland Ave., Springfield, MA 01119. Odaliz Breton, same. On demand delivery platform.

Hancock Used Tires Inc., 556 St. James Ave., Springfield, MA 01109. Jose Vardes, same. Operating of an auto tire service business.

Hipress Corp., 432 Belmont Ave., Springfield, MA 01108. Ramon E. Espinal, 23 Tulsa St., Springfield, MA 01118. Retail sales.

WESTFIELD

K&K Services Inc., 16 Hunters Slope, Westfield, MA 01085. Kirill Katalnikov, same. Plumbing and HVAC services.

WILLIAMSTOWN

Growth Generation Inc., 228 Main St., Apt. 129, Williamstown, MA 01267. Arthur Aronov, same. Retail sales.

Features

He Has Plans to Retire, but No Plans to Scale Back His Involvement

Photo by Leah Martin Photography

When we talked with Steve Lowell back in January, he related just how familiar he became with the commute from Cape Cod to Upton in the middle of the state, where he lived, earlier in his career.

That’s because, while he was working for a bank on the Cape, he also became heavily involved in the community there — as part of his work, but mostly because giving back is his MO. He recalled that he was on the Cape so much, many people thought he lived there.

When we reconnected several days ago, Lowell was again talking about this commute, but from a different perspective.

Indeed, only days after he was introduced as a member of the Difference Makers class of 2020 in February, Lowell announced he would be retiring as president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank, effective early next year, and stepping into a role new for this institution — chairman of the board. He and his wife, Anne, are in the process of relocating to the Cape, but he now keeps a small apartment in Brookfield and is there three or four nights a week, because he’s not only neck-deep in the transition of leadership at the bank (Dan Moriarty, the long-time CFO at the bank, has been named his successor), he’s still active in this region. Make that very active.

And he intends to remain involved with a number of organizations in this region, which means he’ll doing that commuting thing again.

“I’ll be around,” he said with conviction, he said, noting that’s not certain how long he will continue those living arrangements in Brookfield. “One way or another, I’ll be around.”

And while his work and that of his team at MSB has been somewhat different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as handling PPP loan applications, the basic formula hasn’t changed, he said, meaning Monson continues to fill the many roles of a community bank — and continues to search for new growth opportunities in a heavily banked region.

“In spite of COVID, we’ve moving forward, and we’re looking to the future,” he told BusinessWest, noting that the institution recently opened a new branch in East Longmeadow. “We’re trying to build an organization that is resilient enough to withstand not only this but anything else that might happen.”

While working to build this organization, Lowell is transitioning into his new role as chairman, one that will translate into a good deal of mentoring and also helping to guide the bank through a period that will likely be much more difficult than the one it just went through.

“I think 2021 is going to be an extremely challenging year, so I’m happy to stay involved and lend whatever expertise I can to them to make sure we keep things going in a really positive way,” he said. “I’m excited about that; I’m honored that they thought that this would be helpful, and I’m looking forward to it; I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, as noted earlier, he will continue a career-long pattern of being heavily involved in the community, work that has involved nonprofits and institutions ranging from the United Way of Pioneer Valley to Link to Libraries; Baystate Health’s Eastern Region (Wing Memorial and Mary Lane hospitals) to the Western Mass. Economic Development Council (EDC).

“They’ve asked me to stay on for another year as chairman of the board of the Baystate Health Eastern Region,” he said. “And I just got asked by Rick Sullivan [president and CEO of the EDC] to continue on as treasurer — he said, ‘even though you’re going to be down on the Cape, can you stay on as treasurer?’ And I said, ‘as long as you’ll have me.’”

That request, and his answer in the affirmative, both speak to why Lowell is a member of this Difference Makers class of 2020. He’s almost always said ‘yes’ when asked to serve, and, more importantly, he usually didn’t wait to be asked.

He noted that, as he was arriving in this region in the late spring of 2011, the region — and Main Street in Monson — were hit, and hit hard, by a tornado. And as he’s retiring — at least from his role as president and CEO — the world, and Main Street in Monson, are being hit, and hit hard, by a pandemic.

“People might be happy to see me go,” he joked.

That’s certainly not the case. Even more to the point, he won’t be going anywhere soon, except for that commute he knows all too well.

—George O’Brien

Features

Meeting Community Needs Has Become Even More Critical During a Difficult Year

Ronn Johnson has spent a lifetime improving the neighborhood of his youth — and impacting lives far beyond it.
(Photo by Leah Martin Photography)

When times got tougher for struggling families back in March, they appreciated any resources they could access, from emergency food supplies to educational assistance to … lotion?

“With children being home every day, parents were super stressed, and they needed a way to manage it all,” said Ronn Johnson, president and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc. in Springfield.

“We said, ‘let’s deliver pampering products to these women — lotions, bath oils, shower gels, facial scrubs — things they can use to pamper themselves with on occasion, once the children are down,” he told BusinessWest earlier this month. “With the response we got, it was like we’d given them a pot of gold — they said, ‘these are things I’ve never been able to get for myself.’”

Those items were complemented by deliveries of hard-to-find cleaning supplies and paper products. But they certainly didn’t replace the bread-and-butter services of the organization, from educational resources to healthy-food access.

The pandemic, in fact, only laid bare a growing need for such services — and new ways of delivering them.

“It was a tremendous challenge to pivot on a dime. We’ve had to restructure ourselves from being an after-school resource to being a remote-learning center,” Johnson said, noting that the organization serves many economically disadvantaged families that need extracurricular support and don’t want to have to choose between their kids and making a living. “Work is important to them, but their child’s education is also important. We’re one of the resources in the community trying to be responsive to the needs of children.”

The center has also expanded its emergency-food program, serving up to 400 people weekly. Even so, pantry volunteers weren’t seeing some of the faces they expected to see — mainly older people — and learned these regulars were staying at home because of fears for their health.

So Johnson talked to community partners, in particular Baystate Health, which helped procure a cargo van to deliver food to homes. The volunteer-driven delivery program began with about 10 recipients and now visits some 65 elderly, sick, and shut-in individuals every week.

Johnson’s work with MLK Family Services — the latest stop in a career dedicated to his community — is one reason he was chosen as a Difference Maker, along with his work with the Brianna Fund, named for his daughter, which has raised more than $750,000 over 22 years and helped 50 children with physical limitations access tools to improve their lives.

But he stresses that he can’t do his job alone. To serve 750 different people each week with after-school programs, college courses, family support, public-health outreach, sports programs, cultural activities, and more — with only about $1.6 million in annual funding — he relies not only on his team, but more than 100 volunteers.

They worked together to open summer camp this year, he noted. “That was well-thought-out; we assured we had all the safe distancing and PPE, and we made it work, with no incidents of the virus spreading. It was a real benefit to both children and their parents, to provide meaningful activities for them eight hours a day.”

Community members stepped up this spring and summer in other ways as well. For example, a woman came by in late March to donate a new laptop to the center, along with funds to distribute items like coloring books, flash cards, notebooks, crayons, and markers so kids could occupy themselves when holing up at home became the new normal.

Johnson also credited the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts for its financial support of the center, as well as donations that came in after Common Wealth Murals and Art for the Soul Gallery drew attention to the center in June with a mural, called “Say Their Names,” honoring individuals killed by police violence.

He’s equally gratified that people are talking.

“It’s been heartwarming and affirming that our white neighbors and other community members have extended their support to us, not only financially, but they’re looking to be engaged in conversations,” he said. “So many families from the suburbs and the hilltowns came to Mason Square to show their children this mural.”

It’s a conversation being held back on the national level by leaders who refuse to engage in these issues and create positive momentum, he added. Yet, he’s encouraged by young people of all races who are energized by fighting for social justice.

“That is very encouraging,” he said. “We need to build bridges to understanding and have it happen in a more global way than just these pockets of support.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep building bridges locally, and making a difference for families whose needs go much deeper than lotion.

But a little pampering never hurt.

—Joseph Bednar

Alumni Achievement Award Cover Story

Finalists for Award Are Leaders in Business — and in the Community

Launched in 2015, and known then as the Continued Excellence Award, BusinessWest’s Alumni Achievement Award recognizes a previous 40 Under Forty honoree who has continued to build on his or résumé as a rising star in this region and leader both in business and within the community. The five finalists for 2020 — Carla Cosenzi, Peter DePergola, Mike Fenton, Paul Kozub, and James Leahy — epitomize what this award, sponsored by Health New England, is all about, and why it is among the most coveted of BusinessWest’s many awards.

 

Carla Cosenzi

She’s driven to succeed — in business and in the community

>>Read More


Peter Depergola

This pioneer remains on the leading edge in the field of bioethics

>>Read More


Mike Fenton

He has a passion for the law, and for serving his constituents

>>Read More


Paul Kozub

This entrepreneur — and his label — have come a long way in 15 years

>>Read More


James Leahy

This city leader has always been an ambassador — and a connector

>>Read More

 

 

 

 

Opinion

Editorial

Let’s face it — it’s been a long, hard year. And it’s only September.

Indeed, the pandemic has made this not only one of the most trying times almost anyone can remember, but one of the most tiring, especially when it comes to the seemingly unending barrage of bad news that began back in the dead of winter. Bright spots have been few and far between.

Which brings us to BusinessWest’s Alumni Achievement Award. That’s the new name attached to a program started several years ago called the Continued Excellence Award. By whatever name it goes, this is an important honor, but one that often gets a little lost amid some of our other awards.

This one, sponsored this year and the past few years by Health New England, is presented to a Forty Under 40 winner who has continued to build upon their résumé professionally and perhaps within the community as well.

And this year’s class of five finalists provides a strong ray of light in a year that has been mostly dark. They are:

• Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, is also a winner of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers Award. Over the past several years, she has added dealerships to the company’s portfolio and many new lines to the list of nonprofit groups and causes she and the company support, especially Driving for the Cure, which raises money to battle brain cancer.

• Mike Fenton, an attorney with Springfield-based Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin as well as a Springfield city councilor, has been a finalist for this award many times, and for good reason. He represents Ward 2, but he’s had a strong impact across the city, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Paul Kozub, founder and president of V-One Vodka, is the pure entrepreneur in this group, and a multiple winner of our awards, including Top Entrepreneur in 2016. We’ve followed his story from the very beginning, when his was a struggling brand trying to break out. Now it’s in several states, and is the official vodka of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

• James Leahy, has a day job — with the Massachusetts State Lottery — and a city job, as an at-large city councilor in Holyoke who just celebrated two decades in that role. But his influence extends far beyond City Hall; indeed, he’s become actively involved in a number of Holyoke institutions.

• Peter DePergola is director of Clinical Ethics at Baystate Health. In a very short time, he has become not only a regional and state leader in the emerging field of bioethics, but a national and even international leader as well, particularly as he applies his expertise to the COVID-19 crisis.

The winner of the 2020 Alumni Achievement Award will be announced on October 8 at this year’s drive-in 40 Under Forty event at Mercedes Benz Springfield. But all of these individuals are winners. And, more importantly, the region is the winner for having them working, living, and making contributions inside the 413.

Alumni Achievement Award

President, TommyCar Auto Group

She’s Driven to Succeed — in Business and in the Community

Carla Cosenzi

Carla Cosenzi has become a solid role model for her children, Niko and Talia, when it comes to getting involved in the community.

Carla Cosenzi moved into her new office at Northampton Volkswagen some time ago.

But she’s never quite found the time to fully decorate.

Indeed, there are a number of drawings created by her children that haven’t found their way on to the walls yet, and, likewise, there are several plaques, photos, BusinessWest awards (in the plural), and assorted pieces of memorabilia still waiting to be hung.

Among them is a popular framed poster featuring an image of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi above the words ‘What it takes to be Number One,’ and a quote that has become one of her favorites:

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit.”

The poster once belonged to her father, Tom, and she more or less inherited it from him — along with a number of other things. She said her father lived by the words in that quote — especially the part about doing things right all the time — and, not surprisingly, she does as well.

“I try to instill in my children — and especially my daughter, because she’s older — the importance of community and giving back to the community. And she will often attend events with me; it’s important for her to be there with me to see that it’s not just about giving money — it’s about getting involved.”

She’s inherited his entrepreneurial spirit — she and her brother, Tom Jr., have greatly expanded the business, adding several dealerships in recent years — as well as his commitment to serve the community, especially with the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, staged each year to raise funds to battle brain cancer, which claimed her father when he was just 52 years old. Since it was launched in 2009, the tournament has raised more than $1 million to support brain-tumor research at the Dana Farber Center for Neuro-Oncology.

But also through the Carla Cares Program, which could be called the philanthropic arm of TommyCar Auto Group. The program assists charitable and nonprofit organizations across Western Mass., Southern Vermont, Southern New Hampshire, and Northern Connecticut. Just a partial list of organizations it has supported through donations and other forms of support includes Baystate Children’s Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Unify Against Bullying, NoHo Pride, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and many others.

This desire to serve the community — and to do things right all the time — is an operating mindset, if you will, that has earned Cosenzi not only her 40 Under Forty plaque (class of 2012), but another BusinessWest honor as well — the Difference Makers award in 2019. And it was on display the day BusinessWest visited Cosenzi. The golf tournament was just a few days away, and, as always, she was involved with every detail, right down to the gift baskets for the silent auction and raffle.

“I like to get involved in every aspect of this — it’s who I am,” she said. “It’s been that way from the beginning.”

But the fact there was a tournament at all is testimony to Cosenzi’s competitive spirit and desire to continue the fight against brain cancer.

Indeed, in the year of COVID-19, a number of fundraising events such as this one have been canceled or gone virtual — not that you can play a virtual golf tournament. But Cosenzi, after a number of discussions with tournament committee members — and talks with Twin Hills Country Club, where it took place — decided to press ahead and make something happen.

And they did. It wasn’t as large as in recent years — one course instead of two and, therefore, perhaps half the number of golfers — but it was a memorable start to the drive to get to the second million dollars in donations.

And while Cosenzi was busy helping with last-minute details of the tournament, so too were her children, especially her daughter, Talia, who has become a fixture at the event in recent years. Indeed, she has her own tent, Talia’s Tent, from which she sells lemonade for the cause. Because of the pandemic, she won’t be able to do that this year, so she’s making bracelets and sugar scrubs to sell online the day of the tournament.

“I’m proud to say that they know what they’re raising money for, and they’re very excited to help,” she said. “They feel like they’re part of making the difference, which is really exciting for me to see in my children.

“I try to instill in my children — and especially my daughter, because she’s older — the importance of community and giving back to the community,” she went on. “And she will often attend events with me; it’s important for her to be there with me to see that it’s not just about giving money — it’s about getting involved.”

Thus, the words on that Vince Lombardi poster have been passed down to a third generation of the Cosenzi family. They all live by the notion that you don’t do things right only once in a while.

—George O’Brien

Alumni Achievement Award

Director of Clinical Ethics, Baystate Health

This Pioneer Remains on the Leading Edge in the Field of Bioethics

Peter DePergola

Peter DePergola, wearing his mask outside Baystate Medical Center, a new requirement, has become a national leader in the emerging field of bioethics.

Peter DePergola described it as a “haunting experience.”

He then amended that statement slightly — but poignantly.

“It was incredibly haunting,” he told BusinessWest while retelling his experiences writing a white paper eventually to be titled “Ethical Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19),” published in the Online Journal of Health Ethics.

As that title suggests, this is a guide to help medical professionals and healthcare facilities decide who would be treated for the virus and how; specifically, it addresses how limited resources are to be expended and in what circumstances. It was a guide that kept him up nights while he was writing it, and one he truly hoped no one would ever have to use.

But when he wrote it — at the height of the surge that hit the eastern part of the state in April — it seemed likely, if not almost certain, that his own employer, Baystate Health, would be putting it to use.

“I really thought — I truly believed — that we would be using this policy within weeks,” he said, adding that he was working with administrators at Baystate who were preparing to become overwhelmed and would need guidance on, among other things, how to proceed when the number of patients who needed a ventilator exceeded the number of machines available.

It never came to that, and DePergola hopes it never does, but his white paper is there for use if the circumstances arise.

As for why it was so haunting, he said he was writing guidelines, or thresholds, for receiving care that he knew his own loved ones would not meet.

“As I wrote it, I realized that people that I cared about, even my own mother, may not qualify, or meet the criteria, that I have developed in collaboration with my colleagues, to receive a life-sustaining resource,” he said. “It was incredibly difficult to separate my own personal feelings and moral responsibilities to my family from the greater good of the public.”

DePergola’s white paper goes a long way toward explaining why he has become a leading voice in the emerging field of bioethics, not only in this region, but across the state and the nation. And also why he has, for the first time, become a finalist for the Alumni Achievement Award, five years after receiving his 40 Under Forty plaque, and two years after receiving another of BusinessWest’s honors — its coveted Healthcare Heroes award in the category of Emerging Leader.

But there are many other examples, including his steady, if not meteoric, rise within the ranks of experts in the bioethics field.

When he joined the other members of the 40 Under Forty class of 2015 at the Log Cabin, he was a staff ethicist at Baystate and the only person to hold that title in Western Mass. Now a professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Elms College, he’s still the only ethicist in the 413, but his influence now extends well beyond this region.

This was evidenced by his appointment to the Commonwealth’s Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) Advisory Committee in the spring.

The 17-member panel, which in April produced a document titled “Crisis Standards of Care Planning for the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was comprised mostly of noted experts from institutions in the eastern part of the state, including Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston’s Children’s Hospital. And DePergola was, by his estimate, 20 years younger than any other member.

He remembers a number of heated discussions among the members of the panel, including one that involved whether healthcare providers should receive primary access to scarce resources.

“For a while, I was the minority on that subject, saying that I did think that healthcare providers should get priority because they are the means by which we can care for many more people,” he told BusinessWest. “So even on just utilitarian grounds, which is not the best way to make moral decisions, it just made sense that, if we didn’t take care of the individuals who are, in essence, the tools by which we could heal the general public, then there would be no one else. If we didn’t prioritize them, what incentive would they have to come to work?”

A revised version of the committee’s “Crisis Standards of Care Planning” eventually did stipulate that healthcare workers would get priority, and it included a number of other measures contained in DePergola’s white paper.

The fact that the two documents are now very similar speaks to just how quickly and profoundly DePergola his risen to the status of national, and even global, leader in the field of bioethics.

And also why he is one of the five finalists for the Alumni Achievement Award.

—George O’Brien

Alumni Achievement Award

Attorney, Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin; Springfield City Councilor

He Has a Passion for the Law, and for Serving His Constituents

Mike Fenton

Mike Fenton has now spent more than a decade representing Springfield’s Ward 2.

When he was running for the Ward 2 Springfield City Council seat in 2009 while attending law school at Western New England University, Mike Fenton, who was competing in a deep, well-credentialed field, didn’t think he’d win.

“And when I did win … I didn’t think I’d stay,” he told BusinessWest, figuring that, in time, maybe a few years, he would be immersed in his law career and essentially done with his service to the city.

Suffice it to say Fenton was wrong with both of his projections. Indeed, 11 years later, he is still representing Ward 2 while still building that law practice — he’s a partner with the Springfield-based law firm Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, specializing in commercial real estate, business planning, commercial finance, and estate planning.

“A few years into it, I just fell in love with it,” he said of his multi-faceted work with the City Council. “I fell in love with all of it — with helping constituents, the city budget, and some of the more complicated aspects of city government; it’s very rewarding work.”

These sentiments explain why Fenton is now a multiple-year finalist for the Alumni Achievement Award, previously known as the Continued Excellence Award. He hopes that 2020 will be the year he’ll break through, but he admits to having other things on his mind right now.

“I fell in love with all of it — with helping constituents, the city budget, and some of the more complicated aspects of city government; it’s very rewarding work.”

That list includes the now nationwide focus on police-community relations — “we’re taking steps to increase accountability and transparency within the department” — and especially COVID-19. The pandemic is impacting both his law practice — there’s been a general slowing of the commercial real-estate market, but an understandable surge in estate-planning work — and the city of Springfield, which is impacted in many ways, especially within its business community.

As Fenton talked about the changing landscape, one can hear the concern in his voice and the passion he has for serving the city he grew up in.

“The biggest casualty to this pandemic, after you take in the public-health and human cost, which is obviously first and foremost, is commercial real estate and the economy,” he noted. “The commercial real-estate market was doing much better than it had in the decades leading up to 2020, and then the pandemic hit, and like every other place, not only this country but around the globe, it’s a completely different environment now.

“There’s no doubting that Springfield was hitting its stride, and the pandemic has thrown us a curveball,” he went on. “Everything from stalled progress at MGM to questions now about development in the area around the casino, to Worthington Street and what’s going to happen there, to losing Big Mamou’s … there’s a lot of losses that will have to be made up when we get to the other end of this pandemic.”

Fenton said he’s looking forward to serving the city as it works to recover from those losses. To explain this passion, he flashed back to 2009 and his decision to seek public office. Actually, he started the discussion with a different decision — the one to attend law school at Western New England, which offered him a full scholarship, instead of Boston College, where he thought he was headed.

That decision, which he now counts among the most important (and best) of his life, brought him back home. And as he was making that decision, his cousin sent him a news article detailing how Springfield was going through a change in its charter, moving from nine at-large city councilors to a 13-member board, with eight of them representing wards. And this started talk of a possible run for one of those seats.

“I was a political science major, but I never thought about a career in politics — I didn’t want a career in politics,” he explained, adding that a City Council seat wasn’t a career, but it was “a great opportunity to meet people and serve the city I love.”

So he ran, launching his career just a few weeks after graduating from Providence College. And again, to his surprise, he prevailed against a number of opponents with better name recognition and better credentials.

He now represents Ward 2, which includes Hungry Hill, East Springfield, and Atwater Park, balancing a long list of city responsibilities with an equally hectic schedule within his law practice. “I’ve been successful at balancing the two because I’m extremely passionate about both of them,” he told BusinessWest. “Politics, and elected office, is not my career, and it will never be my career — but I really enjoy serving my city in this capacity.”

With that, he explained not just why he’s a finalist for the Alumni Achievement Award, but why he’s now been a finalist several times.

—George O’Brien

Alumni Achievement Award

Founder, V-One Vodka

This Entrepreneur — and His Label — Have Come a Long Way in 15 Years

Paul Kozub, left

Paul Kozub, left, seen here with business partner and former Patriots star Ty Law, is growing V-One into a national brand.

When BusinessWest caught up with Paul Kozub recently, he had just wrapped up some promotional video work with Ty Law, former New England Patriots standout cornerback and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2019.

Law is now a partner with Kozub in his venture, V-One Vodka, and the videos being shot were at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. That’s because V-One has been named the official vodka of the Hall for this year — when most all activities, including the induction ceremony, have been postponed because of the pandemic — and next.

The juxtaposition of all this — official vodka of the Hall of Fame, Ty Law as spokesperson — help show just how far Kozub and his label have come since he became part of the very first 40 Under Forty class in 2007. Back then, he was struggling to get his brand off the ground and into bars, restaurants, and package stores in the 413. It wasn’t exactly a one-man show, but it was very close, with Kozub making most of the deliveries himself.

Today, he’s in four states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire — and he’s poised to enter four more, including Ohio. He had plans to be in roughly 30 by this fall, and signed on with a distributor to make that happen, but COVID-19 has put many of the plans … well, on ice.

“In Florida, Texas, and some of these other states, there are so many problems that it’s not a good time to launch a new brand,” he noted. “Are the bars and restaurants open? Are the bars closed? That’s typically half our business.”

But Kozub, who was named BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur in 2016 and thus has a few pieces of hardware from the magazine on display somewhere, has certainly come a long way in the 15 years since he started this journey in his basement, using a few thousand dollars left to him by his uncle to create his own vodka.

“You have to have that perseverance; there are so many hurdles when you’re running a business — and in today’s present moment, there are even more. You have to love what you do and have the passion for it. If there’s a roadblock or wall, you have to figure out a way around it or through it.”

Indeed, he now has his own distillery in Poland; work continues to expand his footprint geographically; he’s spent $500,000 to create a new bottle — an important part of the puzzle in this industry; and he continues to defy the odds when it comes to making a vodka label stand out and be successful in an immensely crowded field.

“About 97% of new vodkas fail within the first three years,” said Kozub, who used that statistic to segue his way back to the pro football Hall of Fame and a discussion he had recently with its president, Dave Baker.

“We talked about the 33 million people who have played football, the 27,000 who have played in the NFL, and the 300 who are in the Hall of Fame. What did it take for those people? What qualities did they have to have to be one of those 300?” he asked rhetorically, drawing a parallel to those who get to the top of their field in any business, and especially his.

“You have to have that perseverance; there are so many hurdles when you’re running a business — and in today’s present moment, there are even more,” he said while answering his own question. “You have to love what you do and have the passion for it. If there’s a roadblock or wall, you have to figure out a way around it or through it. When it comes to vodka … yes, you have to have a great product, but you have to be willing to work very hard.”

Kozub’s been doing that since he first launched V-One in 2006, trading in life as a loan officer at a local bank for the life he’s always dreamed of — one as an entrepreneur.

It’s not an easy life, certainly, but it’s the one he certainly prefers.

“When you run a small business, it has to be your life,” he said in conclusion. “I don’t know many small-business owners who are playing a lot of golf or have a lot of time on their hands. For me, it’s all about my family and about my business.

“To be successful, you have to love it,” he went on. “Like I told Dave Baker … my worst day at V-One was better than my best day of being a banker. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The challenges that come up — the financial challenges, the HR challenges, the legal challenges … all those things don’t end. And we’re still a very small brand; if we do get bigger and become a national brand, the challenge then becomes how do you stay successful — how do you stay on top?”

As Kozub said, the challenges — the roadblocks and the walls — keep coming. And he rather enjoys finding ways to get through them or around them.

—George O’Brien

Alumni Achievement Award

Assistant Director of Business Development and Promotion Sales, Massachusetts State Lottery; Holyoke City Councilor

This City Leader Has Always Been an Ambassador — and a Connector

James Leahy

James Leahy, seen outside City Hall, has become involved a wide array of Holyoke institutions.

James Leahy joked that being an at-large city councilor is not a reference to his size.

The six-foot, four-inch Leahy has had a lot of experience retelling that one-liner — more than 20 years worth, actually. Indeed, he was first elected to that body in 1999, when he was only 26, after a run very much inspired by his father (more on that later).

He admits to not expecting to spend two decades in that post, but he has, and in the meantime, he has become involved in, well … all things Holyoke, or almost all things. Indeed, he has devoted considerable time, energy, and expertise to the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and also been involved with everything from the Holyoke YMCA to the Volleyball Hall of Fame; from the Holyoke Children’s Museum to the Westfield State University board of trustees (he’s an alum), as well as Holyoke’s famous merry-go-round.

And recently, he started and still maintains the Hello Holyoke Community Forum.

He does all this while keeping a day job as assistant director of Business Development and Promotion Sales for the Massachusetts State Lottery, a position that requires him to rotate between offices in Springfield and Worcester.

When asked how he finds time for all this, Leahy, who is often described as an ambassador for the city and a ‘connector’ for people looking for help with a problem or issue, gave an answer that speaks volumes about why, a decade after earning his 40 Under Forty plaque, he is a finalist for the coveted Alumni Achievement Award.

“I find the time,” he said. “But more importantly, I find the right amount of time. One of my strong suits is organizational skills, and I try to teach my children that. I think some of them have it, and some of them don’t. I tell them that they have to put the right amount of quality time into whatever they’re doing. If I can’t give 100%, then I’m not doing it.”

Suffice it to say he’s given 100% to Holyoke, and to ascertain how and why that is, we return the subject of Leahy’s father, Thomas, who emigrated to this country from Ireland, arrived with a strong work ethic, and passed on to his children some strong advice about service to the community.

“When my father arrived here, he worked in Boston, and he heard stories about [former Mayor] James Michael Curley and other politicians,” Leahy explained. “He was always talking about politics, and he loved politics. I was named James Michael Leahy, and I’m pretty sure that has something to do with James Michael Curley.

“My dad always talked about giving back and how America gave him what he has,” Leahy went on. “He was always stressing two things — one, that you had to give back, and two, if you’re going to live somewhere and raise your family there, you should be a cog in the wheel; you should be part of the community.”

That mindset was reinforced by his mother, Mary Ellen, a prolific volunteer, he continued, adding that it was only a few years after graduating from Westfield State that he first decided to seek one of Holyoke’s at-large council seats. He remembers the time well; he was not only running for office that November, but getting married that same month. And his birthday and his his fiancée’s birthday were the same day, Nov. 19.

“I was thinking, ‘this could be the best month of my life,’” he recalled. “And then I thought, ‘if I lose the election, that will put a damper on things.’”

But he didn’t lose, and he’s gone on to win every two years since. But, as noted, his work within the city goes far beyond City Council chambers and City Hall — and to institutions like the merry-go-round, the children’s museum, the YMCA, and especially the parade, which he became involved at the behest, if one can call it that, of his father-in-law, attorney Peter Brady.

“He was very active on the parade committee,” Leahy recalled. “I was still in college when I started dating his daughter; I can remember him handing me an application and saying, ‘fill this out — if you’re going to be part of this family, you’re going to be part of the parade committee.’”

And he has been, serving in a number of capacities, from board president to his current assignment, co-marketing director. He is one of many working hard to help the parade bounce back from a year when it had to be canceled — for the first time anyone can remember — because of the pandemic.

No, ‘at-large’ has nothing to do with Leahy’s size. But you could say it has everything to do with his involvement in — and impact on — this historic city, which continues to be very large indeed.

—George O’Brien

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Springfield Armory National Historic Site is increasing recreational access and services. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning August 28, Springfield Armory National Historic Site, in coordination with Springfield Technical Community College, will begin offering ranger-guided tours of the historic grounds on Fridays at 11 a.m., weather permitting. Tours will be limited to 10 and pre-registration is required via the park website calendar of events www.nps.gov/spar  or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sparnhs. As tours take place on state and federal property, Springfield Technical Community College requires attendees to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed to the public at this time:

  • Springfield Armory museum and visitor center;
  • All public restrooms;
  • Park grounds; and
  • All Springfield Technical Community College buildings

“We are working in close coordination with Springfield Technical Community College administrators to offer access for our visitors while ensuring the health and wellness of all,” said Superintendent Kelly Fellner. During this closure the park is continuing the critical systems upgrades work through the NPS contracted services of Gardner Construction & Industrial Services Inc. In addition, the park is addressing critical maintenance needs in order to provide new safety and cleaning measures.

Real Estate

The following real estate transactions (latest available) were compiled by Banker & Tradesman and are published as they were received. Only transactions exceeding $115,000 are listed. Buyer and seller fields contain only the first name listed on the deed.

 

FRANKLIN COUNTY

ASHFIELD

1237 Baptist Corner Road
Ashfield, MA 01330
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Abigail L. Ferla
Seller: Krasnoselsky RET
Date: 07/20/20

BERNARDSTON

105 Bald Mountain Road
Bernardston, MA 01337
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Kenney Deome
Seller: F. R. Foster Indenture Of Trust
Date: 07/22/20

BUCKLAND

37 Bray Road
Buckland, MA 01338
Amount: $440,000
Buyer: Colleen M. Bachman
Seller: Lynn Anderson
Date: 07/13/20

39 Franklin St.
Buckland, MA 01338
Amount: $219,000
Buyer: Riely Hogan
Seller: Donald P. Kahn
Date: 07/13/20

34 Sears St.
Buckland, MA 01338
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Carly S. Vernon
Seller: Jonathan E. Kendrick
Date: 07/24/20

COLRAIN

7 New County Road
Colrain, MA 01340
Amount: $198,900
Buyer: Robin M. Greenough
Seller: Claire T. Denison
Date: 07/15/20

DEERFIELD

15 Beaver Dr.
Deerfield, MA 01373
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Maureen A. Warner
Seller: FNMA
Date: 07/17/20

82 Stillwater Road
Deerfield, MA 01373
Amount: $385,000
Buyer: Jinbyoung Nam
Seller: Jae W. Yun
Date: 07/24/20

80 Sugarloaf St.
Deerfield, MA 01373
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Rylan Baronas
Seller: Christine R. Baronas
Date: 07/22/20

82 Sugarloaf St.
Deerfield, MA 01373
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Edward L. Baronas
Seller: Christine R. Baronas
Date: 07/22/20

GILL

446 Main Road
Gill, MA 01354
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Paul Zilinski
Seller: Cathleen A. Benben
Date: 07/17/20

GREENFIELD

175 Barton Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $198,000
Buyer: Catherine W. Connolly
Seller: Beaudoin, Damase L. Jr., (Estate)
Date: 07/16/20

232 Conway St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $180,000
Buyer: Hannah M. Cardin
Seller: K&C Real LLC
Date: 07/17/20

101 Cottage St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $230,250
Buyer: Jason Rotkiewicz
Seller: Fusa Iwamoto
Date: 07/13/20

109 Green River Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $307,500
Buyer: Jesse M. Merriett
Seller: Brosky IRT
Date: 07/14/20

29 High St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $180,000
Buyer: Corey N. Kline
Seller: Vladimir Agapov
Date: 07/15/20

316 Log Plain Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $349,000
Buyer: Eugene A. Rice
Seller: Thomas W. Wyman
Date: 07/20/20

46 Summer St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $244,000
Buyer: Joseph Shaida
Seller: Kathleen MacMunn
Date: 07/17/20

16 Woodbine St.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $231,000
Buyer: Seth R. Ainsworth
Seller: Vickowski, Mark A., (Estate)
Date: 07/15/20

MONTAGUE

139 4th St.
Montague, MA 01376
Amount: $163,000
Buyer: Sean Duram
Seller: Richard G. Becker Jr. LT
Date: 07/14/20

12 Coolidge Ave.
Montague, MA 01376
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Christopher A. Hall
Seller: Paul C. Zilinski
Date: 07/15/20

282 Greenfield Road
Montague, MA 01351
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Christian D. Rountree
Seller: Thomas N. Tompkins
Date: 07/23/20

58-62 L St.
Montague, MA 01376
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Yuerong Chen
Seller: Qiu E. Liu
Date: 07/23/20

NORTHFIELD

80 Highland Ave.
Northfield, MA 01360
Amount: $360,000
Buyer: Patrick Ford
Seller: Douglas E. Farrick
Date: 07/20/20

1046 Millers Falls Road
Northfield, MA 01360
Amount: $267,500
Buyer: Paul Cameron
Seller: Nelson F. Lebo
Date: 07/17/20

40 North Lane
Northfield, MA 01360
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Christopher A. Scott
Seller: MTGLQ Investors LP
Date: 07/24/20

852 Old Wendell Road
Northfield, MA 01360
Amount: $280,000
Buyer: Carol A. Shapiro
Seller: James M. Ladzinski
Date: 07/17/20

ORANGE

262 Oxbow Road
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $258,000
Buyer: Samuel P. Mercier
Seller: Michael W. Hamlett
Date: 07/21/20

25 School St.
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $185,000
Buyer: Aaron J. Sousa
Seller: John J. Cody
Date: 07/16/20

Tully Road
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Channel Z. Seismometry Inc.
Seller: Louise C. Dorian
Date: 07/15/20

SHELBURNE

80 Bardwells Ferry Road
Shelburne, MA 01370
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Margaret G. Payne
Seller: Kayel G. Deangelis
Date: 07/15/20

41 Mechanic St.
Shelburne, MA 01370
Amount: $311,000
Buyer: Mary A. Dalton
Seller: Davenport, Sylvia W., (Estate)
Date: 07/17/20

397 Montague Road
Shutesbury, MA 01072
Amount: $315,000
Buyer: Alison M. McIntire
Seller: Andrea Fitzpatrick
Date: 07/22/20

711 Wendell Road
Shutesbury, MA 01072
Amount: $540,000
Buyer: Robert S. Clay
Seller: Julian F. Janowitz RET
Date: 07/23/20

SUNDERLAND

10 Bureks Cross Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $419,900
Buyer: Scott W. Foster
Seller: Linda B. Caron
Date: 07/17/20

123 North Plain Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $435,000
Buyer: Joseph W. Elias
Seller: Monika M. VanDalsen RET
Date: 07/24/20

190 North Silver Lane
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $129,500
Buyer: J2K Realty LLC
Seller: Joan M. Delano
Date: 07/17/20

152 Plumtree Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $410,000
Buyer: Raman Gudimella
Seller: Mike Chalam
Date: 07/21/20

WARWICK

63 Chestnut Hill Road
Warwick, MA 01378
Amount: $365,000
Buyer: Nathan D. Blehar
Seller: James M. West
Date: 07/22/20

WENDELL

61 Bullard Pasture Road
Wendell, MA 01379
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: Christopher G. Rice
Seller: Georgina A. Kish
Date: 07/20/20

WHATELY

129 Conway Road
Whately, MA 01093
Amount: $310,000
Buyer: Jaclyn J. Jones
Seller: David M. Dove
Date: 07/24/20

305 Haydenville Road
Whately, MA 01093
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Joel S. Monahan
Seller: Kyle J. Monahan
Date: 07/24/20

HAMPDEN COUNTY

AGAWAM

90 Bridge St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Anna Borisova
Seller: Scott Settembro
Date: 07/24/20

85 Broz Ter.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Dominik A. Dasilva
Seller: Albert B. Cawley
Date: 07/20/20

328 Cooper St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $369,900
Buyer: Richard G. Davenport
Seller: Brandon J. Donovan
Date: 07/15/20

24 Frances St.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $197,000
Buyer: Laurie A. McCaslin
Seller: Helen Pariza
Date: 07/13/20

57 Hendom Dr.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Andrii Zhyhaniuk
Seller: Barna, David A., (Estate)
Date: 07/14/20

75 Highland St.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $245,000
Buyer: Katarzyna A. Swistak
Seller: Roy E. Tatro
Date: 07/14/20

48 Merrill Dr.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Andrey Sholopa
Seller: Thomas J. Stanton
Date: 07/24/20

35 Mountainview St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $181,000
Buyer: Andrew J. Guiel
Seller: William C. Barker
Date: 07/22/20

75 Pheasant Run Circle
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $285,000
Buyer: Joanne M. Brochetti
Seller: Richard G. Davenport
Date: 07/15/20

118 School St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $280,000
Buyer: William J. Murray
Seller: Gilroy Prop Renewal Inc.
Date: 07/14/20

240 Valley Brook Road
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Daniel A. Kennedy
Seller: Francis X. Kennedy
Date: 07/17/20

BRIMFIELD

89 Cubles Dr.
Brimfield, MA 01010
Amount: $262,500
Buyer: Lisa Wong
Seller: Sean Keogh
Date: 07/17/20

28 Marsh Hill Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
Amount: $585,000
Buyer: Thomas W. Kane
Seller: Craig M. Healy
Date: 07/13/20

30 Sturbridge Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
Amount: $510,000
Buyer: 49 Realty LLC
Seller: JMS Realty Corp.
Date: 07/13/20

138 Warren Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
Amount: $317,000
Buyer: Marilyn M. Diorio
Seller: Kristen M. Tirado
Date: 07/13/20

CHESTER

16 Campbell Road
Chester, MA 01011
Amount: $154,500
Buyer: Sarah E. Eddy
Seller: Mary Lafortune-Chase
Date: 07/14/20

CHICOPEE

143 Carriage Road
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: Sang K. Choe
Seller: Darrell E. Jesberger
Date: 07/24/20

70 Chateaugay St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $188,000
Buyer: Edwin W. Juma
Seller: Emily C. Lobdell
Date: 07/17/20

14 Cobb Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $226,000
Buyer: Donna H. Goss
Seller: Ronald F. Roy
Date: 07/20/20

39 Dewey St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $194,000
Buyer: Loridan A. Mardukhayeva
Seller: Christopher Braese
Date: 07/17/20

76 Falmouth Road
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Christopher L. Reyes
Seller: Thomas J. Pappas
Date: 07/24/20

30 Henry Harris St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $220,500
Buyer: Shayla Perez
Seller: Jennifer L. Robb
Date: 07/14/20

33 Leclair Ter.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $169,950
Buyer: Abigail K. Tait
Seller: Pensco TR Co.
Date: 07/23/20

126 Leo Dr.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Patrick J. McAnulty
Seller: Germaine Lamothe
Date: 07/17/20

37 Moreau Dr.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $270,000
Buyer: Chad Beaudette
Seller: Vicki Garrity
Date: 07/13/20

49 Murphy Lane
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $279,250
Buyer: Anna L. Cody
Seller: Theodore Saletnik
Date: 07/13/20

68 Oakwood St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Mabell B. Teixeira
Seller: Protz, Gladys M., (Estate)
Date: 07/24/20

11 Ogden St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $212,000
Buyer: Delmarina Lopez
Seller: Frieda K. Kaloroumakis
Date: 07/24/20

49 Pennsylvania Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $207,000
Buyer: Glenn E. Loiselle
Seller: John T. McGrath
Date: 07/22/20

117 Providence St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $248,000
Buyer: Sulaika Febles
Seller: Dorothy J. Bennis
Date: 07/22/20

50 Robbins Road
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $349,000
Buyer: Edward O’Connor
Seller: N. Riley Realty LLC
Date: 07/16/20

103 Saratoga Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Tania Davenport
Seller: Andrew Kochanek
Date: 07/17/20

67 Sunnyside St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Derek J. Langevin
Seller: Brals LLC
Date: 07/17/20

40 Taft Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $179,900
Buyer: Terrance J. Beusee
Seller: William E. Reid
Date: 07/24/20

8 Trafton St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: Amber D. Zych
Seller: Amani Group LLC
Date: 07/24/20

23 Trafton St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $128,800
Buyer: Elizabeth Garcia
Seller: USA HUD
Date: 07/16/20

179 Waite Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $248,000
Buyer: Christie A. Scott
Seller: Brenden A. Boucher
Date: 07/23/20

EAST LONGMEADOW

119 Allen St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Charles D. Kuszinna
Seller: Joseph T. Ristau
Date: 07/13/20

62 Baymor Dr.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $165,000
Buyer: Jonathan A. Miorandi
Seller: Joan Storey
Date: 07/24/20

22 Bettswood Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $285,000
Buyer: Christopher R. Monette
Seller: Joshua J. Eldridge
Date: 07/17/20

169 Brookhaven Dr.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Joseph T. Ristau
Seller: Brendan Kavanagh
Date: 07/13/20

104 Franconia Circle
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $302,000
Buyer: Kevin J. Connor
Seller: William E. Grohe
Date: 07/17/20

8 Kenneth Lunden Dr.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Liza M. Nascembeni
Seller: Sandra A. Hubbard
Date: 07/15/20

210 Prospect St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $517,500
Buyer: Jeffrey N. Carabetta
Seller: Danielle E. Damour
Date: 07/17/20

321 Prospect St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $298,000
Buyer: Bridget Foy
Seller: Thomas E. Wolslegel
Date: 07/24/20

47 Senecal Place
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $459,000
Buyer: Joshua J. Wingler
Seller: Stephen K. Atwater
Date: 07/17/20

31 Shawmut St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $168,150
Buyer: William J. Ward
Seller: Marino, Marilyn L., (Estate)
Date: 07/24/20

347 Somers Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Mayada H. Alhendawi
Seller: Brandy A. Hartz
Date: 07/22/20

16 Stonehill Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $515,000
Buyer: Ryan M. Barton
Seller: Ming Zhao
Date: 07/21/20

77 Wood Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $245,000
Buyer: Kendra L. Phillips
Seller: BGRS LLC
Date: 07/24/20

26 Woodlawn St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $340,000
Buyer: Rachel Gibson
Seller: Patrick A. Gorham
Date: 07/16/20

HAMPDEN

32 Baldwin Dr.
Hampden, MA 01036
Amount: $270,000
Buyer: Gregory Dagostino
Seller: Choma, George W., (Estate)
Date: 07/24/20

HOLLAND

4 Big Tree Lane
Holland, MA 01521
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Jay Demartino
Seller: Ronald A. Walker
Date: 07/13/20

29 Kimball Hill Road
Holland, MA 01521
Amount: $204,900
Buyer: Positive Spin Real Estate
Seller: CNC Note Holdings LLC
Date: 07/24/20

5 Long Hill Road
Holland, MA 01521
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Ronald M. Joseph
Seller: Andrew Shaw
Date: 07/23/20

8 Old Stafford Road
Holland, MA 01521
Amount: $455,000
Buyer: Calabrian Properties LLC
Seller: Roche, Marlene J., (Estate)
Date: 07/23/20

96 Sturbridge Road
Holland, MA 01521
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Ronald L. Zigler
Seller: Steven Kasper
Date: 07/17/20

HOLYOKE

126-128 Beech St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Albert E. Paone
Seller: Spear Sr., Maurice V., (Estate)
Date: 07/24/20

6 Cherry Hill
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: US Bank
Seller: Shaena A. Gubala
Date: 07/23/20

207 Elm St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $162,000
Buyer: LC 2 Holyoke LLC
Seller: OneHolyoke Community Development Corp.
Date: 07/24/20

62 Francis Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $215,000
Buyer: Rachael Saunders
Seller: Alexis Brook-Fairlie
Date: 07/24/20

205 Hillside Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $267,400
Buyer: James Mihalak
Seller: Nadia Muusse
Date: 07/24/20

64 Hillview Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $234,900
Buyer: Manasvini Singh
Seller: G. S. Tubbs LT
Date: 07/22/20

357 Jarvis Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $237,000
Buyer: Nolan L. Fonda
Seller: James D. Fay
Date: 07/22/20

22 Moss Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $185,000
Buyer: Colleen M. Walsh-Barnes
Seller: David J. Fuette
Date: 07/17/20

270 Mountain Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Matthew J. Sattler
Seller: Ann P. Body
Date: 07/17/20

98 Pinehurst Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $276,400
Buyer: Ryan Copeland
Seller: Peter A. Magri
Date: 07/24/20

16-18 Ridgewood Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: Elizabeth P. Martins
Seller: Peccioli, Josephine, (Estate)
Date: 07/14/20

225 Sargeant St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $133,500
Buyer: Catherine L. Gobron
Seller: USA HUD
Date: 07/24/20

687 West Cherry St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $375,000
Buyer: Jennifer A. Fairlie
Seller: Mark M. Simonich
Date: 07/24/20

LONGMEADOW

62 Birch Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Janell Sargent
Seller: Steven P. Marczak
Date: 07/13/20

132 Brookwood Dr.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: Yizheng Wei
Seller: Jean M. Achatz
Date: 07/15/20

Captain Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $370,000
Buyer: Masha M. Sorkin
Seller: Matthew Katz
Date: 07/17/20

108 Colony Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $425,000
Buyer: Andrew Pieterse
Seller: Charles A. Zaremba
Date: 07/14/20

120 Crestview Circle
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $550,000
Buyer: Daniel R. Schwarting
Seller: John Kole
Date: 07/21/20

104 Fenwood Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $290,000
Buyer: Mark C. Henshaw
Seller: Michele Johnson
Date: 07/22/20

69 Longfellow Dr.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $335,000
Buyer: Kyle M. Pierce
Seller: Michael N. Sitaras
Date: 07/22/20

117 Longmeadow St.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $418,000
Buyer: Patrick Palafox
Seller: Mark C. Henshaw
Date: 07/22/20

40 Lynnwood Dr.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $390,000
Buyer: Cameron M. Green
Seller: Ferrero, John J., (Estate)
Date: 07/16/20

501 Maple Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $277,500
Buyer: Jeffrey W. Trace
Seller: Paul Gitsas
Date: 07/24/20

21 Memery Lane
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $1,206,250
Buyer: Drew P. Sadowsky
Seller: Jodie B. Foster
Date: 07/15/20

55 Mill Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $348,500
Buyer: Hillary T. Dumond
Seller: Robert J. Kapner
Date: 07/17/20

59 Sunset Lane
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Ryan C. McCarthy
Seller: John D. Warwick
Date: 07/22/20

79 Wenonah Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $410,000
Buyer: Glenn T. Shapiro
Seller: Patrick J. Sheehy
Date: 07/17/20

LUDLOW

764 Center St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $318,000
Buyer: Fengming Li
Seller: Eric R. Otto
Date: 07/20/20

Cislak Dr.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Michael Morais
Seller: Gois RT LLC
Date: 07/17/20

30 Clark St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: Andrew N. Smith
Seller: Dominik A. Dasilva
Date: 07/20/20

56 Fuller St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $218,000
Buyer: Joshua T. Docherty
Seller: Jacqueline A. Martin
Date: 07/14/20

657 Fuller St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $279,900
Buyer: Michael H. Spera
Seller: Alexandre F. Mendes
Date: 07/24/20

55 Jerad Dr.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Brenden A. Boucher
Seller: Janelle R. Zick
Date: 07/20/20

208 Munsing St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $202,000
Buyer: Louis P. Langlois
Seller: Larry D. Shimmell
Date: 07/21/20

266 Pine Cone Lane
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $643,000
Buyer: Ann Hammon
Seller: Richard A. Henry
Date: 07/24/20

47 Pondview Dr.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $162,359
Buyer: Samuel Shaw
Seller: Carrington Mortgage Services LLC
Date: 07/17/20

142 Pondview Dr.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Sarah Byrnes
Seller: Borek, Edward T., (Estate)
Date: 07/24/20

Sunset Ridge #14
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $125,000
Buyer: David M. Pise
Seller: Baystate Developers Inc.
Date: 07/22/20

110 Tower Road
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Kerry M. Cesan
Seller: Benjamin D. Davis
Date: 07/20/20

60 Vienna Ave.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $215,500
Buyer: Adam J. Dube
Seller: Karen E. Closser
Date: 07/24/20

MONSON

10 Bethany Road
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $342,500
Buyer: Stephen J. Bashaw
Seller: William Lamb
Date: 07/15/20

17 Cote Road
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $375,000
Buyer: Darnell Cortes
Seller: Cliste RT
Date: 07/22/20

197 Main St.
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $125,000
Buyer: Jkel LLC
Seller: Monson Savings Bank
Date: 07/13/20

42 Thayer Road
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $370,000
Buyer: Alexander Sao
Seller: Robert J. Maggi
Date: 07/15/20

PALMER

80 Beech St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Bruce E. Allen
Seller: Andrea Caporiccio
Date: 07/15/20

41 Forest St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $280,000
Buyer: Frederick J. Kotowski
Seller: Kari A. Gracie
Date: 07/13/20

24 Oakland St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $239,000
Buyer: Nikolas Diaz
Seller: Edward A. Schlesinger
Date: 07/15/20

4030-4032 Pine St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Amanda Schiltz
Seller: Alan M. Veale
Date: 07/17/20

41-43 Randall St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $290,000
Buyer: Fazal Badshah
Seller: Syed Hashmi
Date: 07/13/20

58 Randall St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $115,605
Buyer: Brad M. Dimiero
Seller: US Bank
Date: 07/16/20

9 Ridge Road
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $345,501
Buyer: Reynaldo Pedraza
Seller: James M. Hurley
Date: 07/14/20

80 Water St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $179,900
Buyer: Dawn Robare
Seller: Sarah J. Kazan
Date: 07/14/20

RUSSELL

75 Highland Ave.
Russell, MA 01071
Amount: $278,000
Buyer: Timothy P. Lafreniere
Seller: Leo S. Hicks
Date: 07/15/20

SPRINGFIELD

174 Abbott St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $283,500
Buyer: Hien Q. Nguyen
Seller: Gentile Real Estate LLC
Date: 07/13/20

1146 Allen St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $181,711
Buyer: Connor Curtis
Seller: Michelle E. Hayes
Date: 07/13/20

390-392 Allen St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $187,500
Buyer: Amark 2 RT
Seller: Rosemary Moriarty
Date: 07/16/20

106 Ambrose St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Samantha Otero
Seller: Zakhariy Tsikhotskiy
Date: 07/16/20

128 Barrington Dr.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $427,000
Buyer: Kimberly McCarthy
Seller: Bretta Construction LLC
Date: 07/21/20

195 Birchland Ave.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Sabiha B. Ansari
Seller: Dennis C. Anghilante
Date: 07/24/20

25 Bruce St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $226,000
Buyer: Lakisha K. Cruz
Seller: Daniel Morais
Date: 07/24/20

78 California Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Timothy Noonan
Seller: Jennifer L. McCarthy
Date: 07/17/20

1006 Carew St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $149,000
Buyer: Deshaunna Henderson
Seller: Sallyanne Heneghan
Date: 07/23/20

66 Chauncey Dr.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $191,000
Buyer: Carl E. Allen
Seller: Steven M. Kobierski
Date: 07/24/20

89 Cliftwood St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $384,000
Buyer: Cliftwood Realty LLC
Seller: Underpass Holdings LLC
Date: 07/14/20

Covel St.
Springfield, MA 01101
Amount: $222,500
Buyer: John E. Petrone RET
Seller: John R. Lapierre
Date: 07/13/20

139 Darling St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Hector Arzuaga-Santiago
Seller: James W. Fiore
Date: 07/24/20

20 Dutton St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $199,000
Buyer: Walberto Rios
Seller: Samuel Trahan
Date: 07/17/20

1107-1111 East Columbus Ave.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: Patriot Living Properties LLC
Seller: Peter Buoniconti
Date: 07/15/20

29 Eddy St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $185,500
Buyer: Mary Williams
Seller: Gelson D. Laguerre
Date: 07/22/20

51 Eleanor Road
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Hector I. Miranda
Seller: Brital1987 LLC
Date: 07/23/20

30 Farnsworth St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: Emily M. Cruz-Dejesus
Seller: Raymond Ricardi
Date: 07/17/20

34 Front St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $4,000,000
Buyer: Honore LLC
Seller: C. B. Property Management Inc.
Date: 07/13/20

253 Gillette Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $245,000
Buyer: Melanie S. Avdoulos
Seller: CIG 4 LLC
Date: 07/20/20

121 Harrow Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $243,000
Buyer: Marybeth V. Tabb
Seller: John R. O’Donnell
Date: 07/17/20

Hastings St.
Springfield, MA 01101
Amount: $168,000
Buyer: Edwin M. Sanchez
Seller: Bernice Foster
Date: 07/22/20

70 Kerry Dr.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Alexandria N. Armstrong
Seller: Kevin J. Connor
Date: 07/17/20

35 Mayfield St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $148,000
Buyer: CIG 4 LLC
Seller: Ismael C. Torres
Date: 07/15/20

116 Lang St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $162,000
Buyer: Alyxa M. Leon
Seller: Jane Milanczuk
Date: 07/22/20

175 Maple St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $675,000
Buyer: Lachenauer LLC
Seller: Marcin Wodecki
Date: 07/22/20

65 Mapledell St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $487,500
Buyer: Round 2 LLC
Seller: Hedge Hog Industries Corp.
Date: 07/21/20

66 Mapledell St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $487,500
Buyer: Round 2 LLC
Seller: Hedge Hog Industries Corp.
Date: 07/21/20

75 Mapledell St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $487,500
Buyer: Round 2 LLC
Seller: Hedge Hog Industries Corp.
Date: 07/21/20

76 Mapledell St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $487,500
Buyer: Round 2 LLC
Seller: Hedge Hog Industries Corp.
Date: 07/21/20

79 Mapledell St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $487,500
Buyer: Round 2 LLC
Seller: Hedge Hog Industries Corp.
Date: 07/21/20

34 Merrimac Ave.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Elba I. Ramos-Arce
Seller: Shu Cheng
Date: 07/24/20

68 Merrimac Ave.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Juan C. Suarez-Colon
Seller: Luz M. Gonzalez
Date: 07/15/20

155 Middle St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $167,000
Buyer: Russell T. Paulding
Seller: June Associates LLC
Date: 07/23/20

56-58 Miller St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Chaz A. Nieves
Seller: TL Bretta Realty LLC
Date: 07/21/20

57 Miller St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Victor Encarnacion
Seller: Sonia Cotto
Date: 07/22/20

30 Nagle St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Mary J. Soto
Seller: Nu-Way Homes Inc.
Date: 07/20/20

134 Newhouse St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Samantha J. Dion
Seller: Bridget A. Foy
Date: 07/24/20

103 North Branch Pkwy.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: John Stevenson
Seller: Bruce L. Tetrault
Date: 07/13/20

172 Newhouse St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $198,000
Buyer: Peter Lemelin
Seller: Joshua C. Lachapelle
Date: 07/13/20

221 Norfolk St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Lisa M. Merriweather
Seller: Evelyn Machuca
Date: 07/14/20

251 Oakland St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: Igael Rodriguez
Seller: Quazi R. Islam
Date: 07/23/20

21-23 Oakwood Ter.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $208,000
Buyer: Nexius LLC
Seller: Veronica Addison
Date: 07/17/20

127 Old Brook Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $120,000
Buyer: Ruby Realty LLC
Seller: John T. Olszewski
Date: 07/24/20

101 Orchard St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Marielis Robledo-Torres
Seller: Greater Sprfield Habitat
Date: 07/17/20

32-34 Parallel St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $173,000
Buyer: Brital 1987 LLC
Seller: Wells Fargo Bank
Date: 07/13/20

34 Parkwood St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Shakira Howard-Ferguson
Seller: Karyn L. Bienia
Date: 07/17/20

70-72 Pinevale St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Raymond R. Descoteaux
Seller: Enio Kasmi
Date: 07/15/20

1321 Plumtree Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $270,000
Buyer: Asia M. Stewart
Seller: Timothy J. Mickiewicz
Date: 07/24/20

112-114 Price St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $783,000
Buyer: Henry Komosa
Seller: Thomas K. Reen
Date: 07/22/20

118-120 Price St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $783,000
Buyer: Henry Komosa
Seller: Thomas K. Reen
Date: 07/22/20

122-124 Price St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $783,000
Buyer: Henry Komosa
Seller: Thomas K. Reen
Date: 07/22/20

128-130 Price St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $783,000
Buyer: Henry Komosa
Seller: Thomas K. Reen
Date: 07/22/20

14 Rencelau St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Edwin L. Tarraza
Seller: Scott Demoe
Date: 07/13/20

68 San Miguel St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $219,900
Buyer: Anamarie Marrero
Seller: Anthony Bourget
Date: 07/22/20

78 Shady Brook Lane
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $180,000
Buyer: Jessenia Velez
Seller: Andrew Smith
Date: 07/20/20

127 Shady Brook Lane
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $195,000
Buyer: Raymond K. Seaver
Seller: Douglas A. Mackie
Date: 07/17/20

64 Shady Brook Lane
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $189,000
Buyer: Audrey St.John
Seller: William T. Raleigh
Date: 07/15/20

30 Skyridge Dr.
Springfield, MA 01128
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Charles J. Saufler
Seller: Brian Webber
Date: 07/21/20

22 Stephanie Circle
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Angela Harris
Seller: Chrissy Metras
Date: 07/24/20

29 Stephanie Circle
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $224,000
Buyer: Jordan W. Paull
Seller: Laurie A. Trasatti
Date: 07/24/20

Surrey Road (SS)
Springfield, MA 01101
Amount: $120,000
Buyer: Ruby Realty LLC
Seller: John T. Olszewski
Date: 07/24/20

42-44 Sycamore St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $216,000
Buyer: Emilio Rivera
Seller: Eda Ema LLC
Date: 07/23/20

125 Tiffany St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $188,505
Buyer: Heather P. Burakiewicz
Seller: Jeffrey A. Shaw
Date: 07/13/20

31 Tumbleweed Road
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $197,000
Buyer: Kendrick Santos
Seller: Mary J. Soto
Date: 07/17/20

93 Villa Pkwy.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Maurice J. Brown
Seller: A&D Property Group LLC
Date: 07/23/20

83-85 Wait St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $239,000
Buyer: Miguel Zapata
Seller: Robert Sullivan
Date: 07/23/20

250 West Allen Ridge Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Cathlene P. Sares
Seller: Joel M. Marrero
Date: 07/15/20

188 Wachusett St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $193,000
Buyer: Z. I. Sanabria-Rodriguez
Seller: Bento Fernandes
Date: 07/17/20

64 White Oak Road
Springfield, MA 01128
Amount: $201,500
Buyer: Sara P. Beach
Seller: Kathleen E. Powers
Date: 07/17/20

194 Wildwood Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $228,000
Buyer: Samantha Panniello
Seller: Kenyon, Mark A., (Estate)
Date: 07/17/20

8-10 Woodmont St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Jesus M. Franco
Seller: Abdul-Ghani Mourad
Date: 07/15/20

122-124 Woodmont St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Diana Gonzalez
Seller: Sharlene J. Howard
Date: 07/17/20

SOUTHWICK

52 Berkshire Ave.
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Patrick L. Hope
Seller: Catherine Vadnais
Date: 07/24/20

119 Granville Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Jordan T. Dewey
Seller: Michael Massai
Date: 07/21/20

45 Granville Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: Adam Seaman
Seller: Richard F. Amellin
Date: 07/21/20

1 Mockingbird Lane
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $360,000
Buyer: Byron Wendling
Seller: Robert S. Sullivan
Date: 07/24/20

7 Mockingbird Lane
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $408,000
Buyer: Brian R. Webber
Seller: Kurt G. Langheld
Date: 07/21/20

38 Mort Vining Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $126,750
Buyer: RM Blerman LLC
Seller: Janet L. Mashia
Date: 07/17/20

18 Patriots Way
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $459,000
Buyer: Kristina M. Fraser
Seller: Lawrence A. Nowak
Date: 07/15/20

76 South Longyard Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $555,000
Buyer: Brandon J. Donovan
Seller: Kristina M. Fraser
Date: 07/15/20

WALES

5 Heck Road
Wales, MA 01081
Amount: $125,500
Buyer: Sean M. Greene
Seller: Lianne M. Foster
Date: 07/23/20

105 Stafford Road
Wales, MA 01081
Amount: $219,000
Buyer: Shalom Villanueva
Seller: Ryan K. Kress
Date: 07/22/20

161 Union Road
Wales, MA 01081
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Ryan Kress
Seller: Andre R. Gingras
Date: 07/22/20

WEST SPRINGFIELD

111 Beacon Hill Road
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $278,500
Buyer: Merita Ademi
Seller: Genevieve M. Broderick
Date: 07/23/20

21 Boulevard Place
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Nathaniel Flint
Seller: Sherry A. Girard
Date: 07/14/20

355 Circle Dr.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Lucindy A. Amell
Seller: Eric R. Fenton
Date: 07/17/20

175 East Gooseberry Road
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $375,500
Buyer: Patrick Felton
Seller: Nicholas L. Marsh
Date: 07/20/20

79 Ely Ave.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $217,700
Buyer: Emma L. Harness
Seller: Kristopher M. Forrette
Date: 07/24/20

60 Forest Glenn
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Sankung Sanyang
Seller: Gregg M. Kaye
Date: 07/17/20

109 Green Meadow Lane
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Eric S. Pouliot
Seller: Sharon S. Pouliot
Date: 07/17/20

70 Grove St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $261,000
Buyer: Dwight Northrup
Seller: Sharon I. Driscoll
Date: 07/24/20

738 Main St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $309,200
Buyer: Parish Cupboard Inc.
Seller: 738 Main Street LLC
Date: 07/13/20

146 Robinson Road
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Christine M. Caney
Seller: Christine M. Caney
Date: 07/22/20

47 Spring St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Erik Tancrati
Seller: Lake Rentals LLC
Date: 07/24/20

77 Tatham Hill Road
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Michael J. Keesee
Seller: David J. Akey
Date: 07/20/20

148 Van Horn St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $264,000
Buyer: Kelly J. Fay
Seller: CIG 4 LLC
Date: 07/13/20

70 Verdugo St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $244,000
Buyer: Miriam Rubio
Seller: Mary L. Cross
Date: 07/23/20

WESTFIELD

10 Belmont St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $228,000
Buyer: Chap & Lane LLC
Seller: Lake Rentals LLC
Date: 07/22/20

79 Cardinal Lane
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $385,000
Buyer: Thomas Scott-Smith
Seller: Gary S. Manley
Date: 07/17/20

20 Deborah Lane
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Nataliya Bateyko
Seller: Burnickas, Thomas F., (Estate)
Date: 07/13/20

59 East Silver St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $265,000
Buyer: Bujar Mallopolci
Seller: Gregory P. Strattner
Date: 07/17/20

45 Furrowtown Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: Melissa E. Bodanza
Seller: G&F Custom Built Home Inc.
Date: 07/15/20

701 Holyoke Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Cynthia Wenzel
Seller: Carl R. Bean
Date: 07/24/20

46 Kittredge Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $291,000
Buyer: Geoffrey Parenteau
Seller: Eric S. Pouliot
Date: 07/17/20

105 Long Pond Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $344,000
Buyer: Krzysztof D. Jandzis
Seller: David Garstka Builders LLC
Date: 07/17/20

152 Montgomery St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $211,000
Buyer: Heniek Wykowski
Seller: Joseph E. Cabana
Date: 07/23/20

3 Morgan Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: JS Sampson Development
Seller: Northwest Realty LLC
Date: 07/23/20

87 Pequot Point Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Lisa A. Dube
Seller: Ernesto Nolasco
Date: 07/16/20

71 Putnam Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Eric S. Kusnick
Seller: Melissa A. Ancelli
Date: 07/24/20

144 Susan Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $360,000
Buyer: Nicole K. Puza
Seller: Seth R. Brosnan
Date: 07/17/20

113 Tannery Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $360,000
Buyer: Emily C. Pierce
Seller: Michael E. Fregeau
Date: 07/17/20

944 Western Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $233,000
Buyer: Timothy J. Kent
Seller: Kyle M. Pierce
Date: 07/22/20

60 White St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $185,000
Buyer: David J. Hearn
Seller: Michael J. Hearn
Date: 07/24/20

WILBRAHAM

2 Apple Hill Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $370,000
Buyer: Christopher McCarthy
Seller: Patricia A. Vigneault
Date: 07/17/20

8 Decorie Dr.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Matt Schafer
Seller: Joseph P. Saimeri
Date: 07/21/20

13 Joan St.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $350,000
Buyer: Zach V. Limoges
Seller: Sean E. Casella
Date: 07/13/20

233 Main St.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Custom Homes Development Group LLC
Seller: Hayden B. Tibbetts
Date: 07/17/20

579 Main St.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: Michael J. Barcome
Seller: Geoffrey F. Steil
Date: 07/13/20

4 Mark Twain Dr.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $407,000
Buyer: Nicholas S. Munn
Seller: Lauren J. Czaplicki
Date: 07/16/20

20 Pearl Lane
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $322,500
Buyer: Jason R. Jennings
Seller: William C. Lynch
Date: 07/24/20

4 Sunnyside Ter.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $218,000
Buyer: Duc H. Huynh
Seller: Derek P. Dalessio
Date: 07/24/20

8 Woodsley Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $446,830
Buyer: Joseph Ciejek
Seller: Alfred C. Piel
Date: 07/16/20

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY

AMHERST

75 Aubinwood Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $538,000
Buyer: Nathan B. Green
Seller: Chocorua Realty Investment LLC
Date: 07/13/20

8 Canterbury Lane
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $685,000
Buyer: Jennifer S. Pinkus
Seller: W. Bruce Croft
Date: 07/23/20

902 East Pleasant St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $245,000
Buyer: Kilerine Properties LLC
Seller: Lynne K. Edwards
Date: 07/15/20

137 Farview Way
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $390,000
Buyer: Kelsey Whipple
Seller: Mary E. Hocken RET
Date: 07/15/20

87 Morgan Circle
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $431,299
Buyer: Laura Pfeffer
Seller: Bryn I. Geffert
Date: 07/13/20

36 Mount Holyoke Dr.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $410,000
Buyer: Thomas J. Haley
Seller: Deborah J. Gilmore
Date: 07/24/20

45 Overlook Dr.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: Matthew M. Andrews
Seller: Village Of Light Inc.
Date: 07/20/20

37 Pomeroy Lane
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $430,000
Buyer: Shiting Lan
Seller: Jeremy D. Ober
Date: 07/21/20

34 Potwine Lane
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $379,500
Buyer: Felicia Sullivan-Bakaj
Seller: Benjamin M. Rau
Date: 07/13/20

1055 South East St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Vanessa DeHarven
Seller: Sharon S. Carty
Date: 07/22/20

106 Shutesbury Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $696,000
Buyer: Alys Malcolm
Seller: Christine M. Warren
Date: 07/22/20

12 Tanglewood Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $569,000
Buyer: Sarah Nahm
Seller: Ramakrishna Janaswamy RET
Date: 07/20/20

BELCHERTOWN

374 Bay Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $319,900
Buyer: William E. Lancto
Seller: Theodore M. South
Date: 07/16/20

301 Boardman St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $385,000
Buyer: Geremias P. Encarnacion
Seller: MS Homes LLC
Date: 07/17/20

40 Boardman St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $242,000
Buyer: Creaig Dunton
Seller: Daniel R. Hodgen
Date: 07/17/20

76 Dana Hill
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Bikram Bhandari
Seller: Matthew J. Tudryn
Date: 07/13/20

22 Dogwood Dr.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $415,000
Buyer: Deborah J. Gilmore
Seller: Donald R. Besancon INT
Date: 07/24/20

21 East Walnut St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: 5 Shamrocks LLC
Seller: Precise Properties LLC
Date: 07/22/20

258 Gulf Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: E. Garmon Residence TR
Seller: Debora Greenberg-Brink
Date: 07/21/20

59 Oakridge Dr.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $316,000
Buyer: Amanda Vigue
Seller: Michael A. Demento
Date: 07/14/20

10 Old Sawmill Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $520,000
Buyer: Mingxu You
Seller: Gail A. Oberg
Date: 07/24/20

77 Pondview Circle
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $425,000
Buyer: Brandon G. Floyd
Seller: Mark Iwanicki
Date: 07/21/20

401 Rockrimmon St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Carl R. Merrick
Seller: Erik Miller
Date: 07/21/20

41 Shea Ave.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $420,000
Buyer: William Lamb
Seller: Gail A. Collins
Date: 07/15/20

175 West St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $264,000
Buyer: Erica Letson
Seller: Susan M. Cox
Date: 07/20/20

238 West St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $370,000
Buyer: Sandra A. Wilk
Seller: Joseph N. Accardi
Date: 07/17/20

243 West St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $269,900
Buyer: Jonathan Cassella
Seller: Norman E. Olmstead
Date: 07/23/20

CUMMINGTON

133 Porter Hill Road
Cummington, MA 01026
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: David M. Clark
Seller: Charles R. Marinus
Date: 07/24/20

EASTHAMPTON

59 Parsons St.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $249,000
Buyer: Sasha D. Starr
Seller: Aaron D. Martin
Date: 07/20/20

1 Ranch Lane
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $238,000
Buyer: Autumn L. Porubsky
Seller: Christian G. Labonte
Date: 07/17/20

17 Spring St.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: Anna C. Clarke
Seller: Christopher Lee
Date: 07/15/20

74 Williston Ave.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $184,500
Buyer: Corbin H. Chicoine
Seller: HSBC Bank USA
Date: 07/21/20

GOSHEN

34 Main St.
Goshen, MA 01032
Amount: $208,000
Buyer: Timothy Hutt
Seller: Leigh-Ellen Figueroa
Date: 07/17/20

GRANBY

132 Aldrich St.
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $360,000
Buyer: Ingrid L. Nelson
Seller: Wendy A. Connally
Date: 07/24/20

138 Amherst St.
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $241,000
Buyer: Matthew Daives
Seller: Matthew Gross
Date: 07/21/20

317 Batchelor St.
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $181,000
Buyer: Brian W. Jerome
Seller: David R. Wald FT
Date: 07/21/20

18 Greenmeadow Lane
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $315,000
Buyer: Johnny Rivera
Seller: Home Rehabit LLC
Date: 07/22/20

8 Trout Lily Lane
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $599,000
Buyer: Liam Ross
Seller: R. Ira Hare
Date: 07/17/20

60 West State St.
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $450,000
Buyer: Ayan Realty LLC
Seller: Jill A. Johnson
Date: 07/21/20

HADLEY

10 Arrowhead Dr.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $379,000
Buyer: W. G. Graham TR
Seller: David O. Patriquin
Date: 07/17/20

7 Cemetery Road
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $333,000
Buyer: Genevieve E. Higgins
Seller: Molly Smith
Date: 07/24/20

13 Frost Lane
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $420,000
Buyer: Timothy E. Johnson
Seller: Ashwin Ramasubramaniam
Date: 07/13/20

139 Hockanum Road
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $580,000
Buyer: Hilary B. Price
Seller: Real A. Rouillard
Date: 07/23/20

48 Huntington Road
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $358,000
Buyer: Iain Kelly
Seller: Ervin K. Laclair
Date: 07/23/20

211 Middle St.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $465,000
Buyer: Richard M. Fill
Seller: Joyce C. Fill
Date: 07/15/20

111 Stockbridge St.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $180,000
Buyer: William E. Kelley
Seller: Catherine A. Kelley
Date: 07/15/20

3 Sunrise Dr.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $390,000
Buyer: Matthew J. Tudryn
Seller: Richard M. Fill
Date: 07/15/20

HATFIELD

66 Chestnut St.
Hatfield, MA 01038
Amount: $391,000
Buyer: Jamison A. Bradshaw
Seller: Thomas J. Wickles
Date: 07/16/20

30 North Hatfield Road
Hatfield, MA 01038
Amount: $228,000
Buyer: Andrew Marciano
Seller: Richard Giedel
Date: 07/24/20

HUNTINGTON

49 County Road
Huntington, MA 01050
Amount: $413,000
Buyer: Christian G. Labonte
Seller: Denise C. Harning
Date: 07/17/20

46 Littleville Road
Huntington, MA 01050
Amount: $197,000
Buyer: Andrew Reynolds
Seller: Renee N. Boylan
Date: 07/14/20

79 Searle Road
Huntington, MA 01050
Amount: $140,000
Buyer: Matthew A. Still
Seller: Wanat, Ann E., (Estate)
Date: 07/20/20

NORTHAMPTON

44 Berkshire Ter.
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $395,000
Buyer: Nolava LLC
Seller: Betty J. Longtin
Date: 07/22/20

191 Brookside Circle
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Kristolynne Crawley
Seller: Dale M. Jones
Date: 07/17/20

43 Center St. #G
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Bambi M. Rattner
Seller: Safe Passage Inc.
Date: 07/20/20

40 Elizabeth St.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $430,000
Buyer: Richard P. Marsh
Seller: Charles R. Robertson
Date: 07/16/20

60 Emerson Way
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $665,000
Buyer: Scott M. Haselkorn
Seller: S. L. Haselkorn TR 2019
Date: 07/14/20

17 Glendale Road
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $249,225
Buyer: Peter J. Ludwig
Seller: John W. Cotton
Date: 07/13/20

46 Harrison Ave.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $750,000
Buyer: Sara Farber
Seller: Karen Axelrod
Date: 07/24/20

18 Hayes Ave.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: Heather B. Breismeister
Seller: Thelma Hamilton
Date: 07/20/20

7 High Meadow Road
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $639,000
Buyer: Wendy W. Woodson
Seller: Peter C. Kenny
Date: 07/14/20

43 Ice Pond Dr.
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $599,000
Buyer: Samantha A. McVay
Seller: John D. Rogers
Date: 07/13/20

671 Kennedy Road
Northampton, MA 01053
Amount: $530,000
Buyer: Seth Brosnan
Seller: Kathryn D. Girardin
Date: 07/17/20

261 King St.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $1,250,000
Buyer: Sajid Kahn
Seller: Y&B Realty Inc.
Date: 07/14/20

128 North St.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $375,000
Buyer: Hamp 2020 LLC
Seller: McClellan, Elaine, (Estate)
Date: 07/22/20

78 Ridgewood Ter.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $440,000
Buyer: Ruth Bauman
Seller: Jerelyn Parker-Peregrine
Date: 07/15/20

66 Woodland Dr.
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $475,000
Buyer: Nicholas D. Duprey
Seller: William R. Dupre
Date: 07/15/20

PLAINFIELD

24 South Union St.
Plainfield, MA 01070
Amount: $319,000
Buyer: Sydney Jones
Seller: Michal C. Lumsden
Date: 07/20/20

678 West Main St.
Plainfield, MA 01070
Amount: $340,000
Buyer: Brett Leav
Seller: Lawrence C. Jowett
Date: 07/17/20

SOUTH HADLEY

66 Amherst Road
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $383,000
Buyer: Jenyou Hwang
Seller: Michael P. Mazur
Date: 07/17/20

652 Amherst Road
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Conor D. Hennessey
Seller: Kimberly S. Robinette
Date: 07/21/20

11 Blueberry Bend
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $460,000
Buyer: Kyle T. Krow
Seller: Ronald A. Michalski RET
Date: 07/23/20

51 College View Hts.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Matthew C. Watson
Seller: Manuel, Richard D. Jr, (Estate)
Date: 07/17/20

369 Granby Road
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: John J. Hay
Seller: Lawrence D. Tower RET
Date: 07/15/20

274 North Main St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Arielle Faye-Foulds
Seller: Joanne Hay
Date: 07/15/20

192 Pearl St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $155,000
Buyer: Benjamin K. Godek
Seller: Richard T. Stebbins
Date: 07/24/20

17 Upper River Road
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $455,000
Buyer: Rory M. Pommerening
Seller: Gregory A. Schmidt
Date: 07/17/20

8 Upper River Road
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $391,000
Buyer: Melissa Calhoun
Seller: Kristen J. Steele
Date: 07/17/20

SOUTHAMPTON

9 Birchwood Dr.
Southampton, MA 01073
Amount: $640,000
Buyer: Joe E. Skinner
Seller: Richard L. Truehart Jr. LT
Date: 07/24/20

34 High St.
Southampton, MA 01073
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Jeremy L. Harman
Seller: Pamela A. Dods
Date: 07/24/20

8 Kevin Dr.
Southampton, MA 01073
Amount: $499,900
Buyer: Gregory A. Schmidt
Seller: Jared A. Conaboy
Date: 07/17/20

WARE

74 Beaver Lake Road
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Alicia J. Alvaro
Seller: Guimond, Eleanor M., (Estate)
Date: 07/24/20

87 Church St.
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $170,400
Buyer: Freedom Mortgage Corp.
Seller: Nicole Sicard
Date: 07/14/20

75 Cummings Road
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $450,000
Buyer: David Sajdera
Seller: Roger C. Bouchard
Date: 07/17/20

93 Old Poor Farm Road
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $175,852
Buyer: Jeffrey W. Provost
Seller: USA HUD
Date: 07/16/20

11 Warebrook Village
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $132,000
Buyer: Rebecca L. Chaffee
Seller: Derek E. Shumate
Date: 07/15/20

WILLIAMSBURG

57-R Adams Road
Williamsburg, MA 01039
Amount: $530,000
Buyer: Heather R. Love
Seller: Richard P. Marsh
Date: 07/16/20

16 Fairfield Ave.
Williamsburg, MA 01039
Amount: $297,500
Buyer: Joanna S. Moran
Seller: Heather G. Richard
Date: 07/24/20

111 Old Goshen Road
Williamsburg, MA 01096
Amount: $750,000
Buyer: Debra G. Pinucci
Seller: J. Keenan Burns
Date: 07/17/20

18 North Farms Road
Williamsburg, MA 01062
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Jason T. Novak
Seller: Michael R. Labbe
Date: 07/24/20

WESTHAMPTON

32 Northwest Road
Westhampton, MA 01027
Amount: $420,000
Buyer: Aaron Martin
Seller: Yuriy Gavrilov
Date: 07/21/20

310 Northwest Road
Westhampton, MA 01027
Amount: $355,000
Buyer: Gregory C. Clausen
Seller: William F. Seney
Date: 07/15/20

WORTHINGTON

85 Cold St.
Worthington, MA 01098
Amount: $228,500
Buyer: Daniel Matica
Seller: Gary A. Munn
Date: 07/24/20

Opinion

Editorial

Nearly five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest issues — and questions — to emerge involves remote work and its future.

Indeed, while many people have returned to the office over the past several weeks, large numbers of employees continue to work from home. And the longer they do that — with generally positive results when it comes to productivity and overall satisfaction among managers and workers alike — the more people ask the $64,000 question: is this the future of work?

The answer right now is, by and large, ‘we don’t know — but we’re certainly looking at it.’ And the reasons for this are obvious. Having large numbers of people working at home could save companies considerable amounts of money on real estate, office design and accommodations, and other expenses. And from some of the early reports, they can do this while making employees happier — most of them enjoy working from home and not commuting — and perhaps more productive, partly because, again, they’re happier and they’re not commuting.

But this goes well beyond real estate, and that’s why this issue deserves the attention it is now getting. Remote work has the potential — the potential, mind you — to perhaps level the playing field when it comes to urban and rural areas, and also perhaps change the landscape when it comes to downtowns dominated by office buildings — and the businesses that serve the workers in those buildings.

That’s perhaps. We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but not really. These are the kinds of questions — and scenarios — that are already being talked about.

As that talk goes on, so does the discussion about remote work itself. As noted earlier, most of the early returns are positive. Companies do talk about how they miss the in-person interactions and a loss of the some of the collaborative spirit that comes with having everyone working in the same space.

But generally, they also talk about how productivity has not been impacted by people working at home, and how much employees appreciate these new arrangements. Some companies, like Google, have already told employees (most of them, anyway) they can and will work at home until roughly this time next year.

Whether these arrangements are being made, tolerated, and even applauded purely because of the pandemic remains to be seen. Maybe, when there’s a vaccine, everyone will return to the office and things will be as they were in February 2020.

But that now seems unlikely. COVID has, in many ways, shown the world that working from home is a viable option, one that could bring benefits for employers and employees alike. And this opens up a number of possibilities.

Indeed, individuals now living in Boston won’t have to live in that area to work for companies located there. They can live in Western Mass., where the living is cheaper, the air is cleaner, and the roads are less clogged (for now). Speaking of roads, do we have to worry about them being clogged again?

Meanwhile, people living in Western Mass. won’t have to work for companies located in Western Mass. Some of them don’t anyway, but now more can enjoy that option.

And what about high-speed rail? Will we still need it if far fewer people will need to travel across the state to work? Seems like the playing field may be leveled without it.

While in some respects these seem like questions for another day, they are appropriate to ask right now. And if the pandemic lingers and people continue to work from home successfully and productively into next year, these questions will be asked more and more — and the answer might well become obvious, if it isn’t already.

There have been many stories to emerge from this pandemic, but remote working may be the biggest of them all. There are many questions still to be answered and research to be done, but this may just be the future of work — or a very big part of it. And the impact could be enormous.

Opinion

Opinion

The recent news that two small businesses located in the Shops at Marketplace in downtown Springfield — Serendipity and Alchemy Nail Bar — will be closing permanently due to a sharp decline in business from the pandemic provides more direct evidence of the damage being done to the business community from this crisis.

A number of small businesses have already closed over the past four and a half months, and those numbers will surely rise as the pandemic continues to keep people in their homes. Many of these closings are seemingly unavoidable — they involve businesses, such as event venues, bars, and restaurants, where people gather in large numbers indoors, something the pandemic has made all but impossible if people want to stay safe.

But some could be avoided if the residents of this area find ways to provide needed support. Many are already doing that, but these numbers need to grow if the Western Mass. business community is to avoid losing more of its valued members.

And we say valued, because that’s exactly what they are. Businesses are not simply establishments that occupy space in buildings and provide goods and services. They are part of the community, and often a big part.

They employ people. They pay taxes. They support organizations like the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce. Their employees often serve on boards and commissions and lend their support to local causes.

When a business closes, we lose a lot more than a place to buy shoes. When a restaurant closes, we lose more than our favorite pizza joint. When a tourist attraction shuts its doors, we lose more than a place to take the kids on a Saturday.

Supporting local businesses has always been important, but it is even more so during this crisis because so many of them are imperiled. As we have chronicled over the past several months, ventures in every sector of the economy have been rocked by this pandemic.

Indeed, companies recording sales of 60% or 70% of last year’s totals are having a good year. And most are not in that category, with declines of 70%, 80%, or even 90% over last year. Many of these businesses have been helped by assistance from the federal government in the form of PPP loans, SBA loans, and small grants from individual cities and towns. But many have exhausted those funds, and the pandemic shows no signs of letting up.

It doesn’t take someone with a degree in accounting to understand that most businesses simply cannot sustain losses like this for much longer. And some have already concluded that they can’t sustain them any longer.

With each headline like the one about Serendipity and Alchemy closing, there is regret about what we’ve lost. And as mentioned earlier, we lose more than a shop that sells an item or makes good Italian food. We lose tax dollars, and we lose a piece of our community.

There are many ways to support a business even if you can’t visit it in person — from buying a gift certificate to getting takeout to buying online. And by exercising these options, we can perhaps avoid losing some of the businesses that still call Western Mass. home.

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]


Brewing Up Some News

Joined by state Rep. Tom Petrolati and leadership from Westmass Area Development Corp., Loophole Brewing Services announced plans for its new location at 90 First Ave. in Ludlow. The planned 21,000-square-foot brewery, taproom, and beer garden will occupy the former jute-processing building on a 2.5-acre parcel at the eastern end of the Ludlow Mills complex. Loophole co-founders Jeff Goulet, Aaron Saunders, and Todd Snopkowski plan to acquire the space from Westmass. In addition to the brewing operations, Loophole plans to have food offerings and more for taproom and beer-garden guests.

 


Meeting a Surging Need

Easthampton Community Center

Easthampton Community Center Executive Director Robin Bialecki and Thomas Conner, Florence Bank branch manager and vice president

Florence Bank donated $7,500 to the Easthampton Community Center to support its Food Pantry Program that serves 22 towns throughout the Pioneer Valley and provides food each month to 6,000 food-insecure individuals in need, including more than 600 children in the greater Easthampton area through the Kid’s Summer Pantry Program.

 

 


Drive-by Party

On July 15, Fleming Cocchi, a longtime resident of Wilbraham, turned 100 years old, and Visiting Angels of West Springfield, the home-care service that has taken care of Cocchi and his wife since 2014, organized a drive-by celebration. A parade of friends, family, and community members — including fire trucks and police cars — gathered to drive by Cocchi’s house with signs, balloons, bows, and birthday wishes. Cocchi waved from his porch with a big smile on his face as the cars and trucks passed by.

 


 

 

People on the Move
Prudence Blond

Prudence Blond

Prudence Blond has been promoted to vice president and trust officer at Greenfield Savings Bank. In her new position, Blond, as a client service officer, oversees the administration and tax departments and also works with the Bank’s internal and external auditors. Blond joined the bank after graduating from Greenfield Community College in 1997 as a teller. In 1999, she was promoted to trust operations associate with responsibility for processing operational work along with administrative assistant tasks of the GSB Trust Department. Over the next 10 years, she began to work directly clients and was promoted to assistant trust officer, then trust officer, then to assistant vice president and trust officer before her new promotion to vice president and trust officer. After graduating from GCC, she earned a personal trust diploma through the American Bankers Assoc. in 2011 and a general financial services diploma through the Centre for Financial Training. She has continued to take educational classes in administration, personal tax preparation, trust and estate-tax preparation, financial planning, and IRAs. She earned her certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) designation in 2012 through the Institute of Certified Banks. Blond is currently serving on the board of directors, personnel committee, and nominating committee at LifePath Inc. (formerly known as Franklin County Home Care Corp.). She is a member of the annual campaign team at Greenfield Community College. She has previously served on the board of trustees, as treasurer, and as Sunday school superintendent at Robbins Memorial Church.

•••••

Kevin Bowler

Kevin Bowler

Michael Tucker, president and CEO, announced that Kevin Bowler has joined Greenfield Cooperative Bank as the new senior vice president of Loan Resolution. He began working in the Northampton office on July 1. “Kevin brings to us over 30 years of lending experience,” Tucker said. “We are lucky to have someone with his level of experience in handling and working with commercial and residential credits to help them through these times.” Bowler, who will report directly to Tony Worden, executive vice president and chief operating officer, previously worked for Peoples United Bank (the Bank of Western Massachusetts). He has a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University.

•••••

Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) recently welcomed Lidya Rivera-Early of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to its board of directors. Rivera-Early has a demonstrated history of serving on various boards and committees within the community. As an LPV LEAP alumna, she also brings a passion for both the mission of the organization and the continued success of the Pioneer Valley. “We are delighted to have Lidya join us,” said Lora Wondolowski, Leadership Pioneer Valley executive director. “Lidya understands firsthand the value of LPV. She will bring her voice, skills, and experiences to the board and will help LPV to fulfill its mission of building and connecting more diverse, committed, and effective leadership for the Pioneer Valley.” The Board also announced that Russell Peotter and Annamarie Golden will continue for an additional year in their current roles as chair and vice chair, respectively. Francia Wisnewski will continue as clerk, and Callie Niezgoda as treasurer.

•••••

Daisy Pereira-Tosado joins

Daisy Pereira-Tosado joins

Didi de Almeida

Didi de Almeida

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced two new staff members, filling key development and finance roles at the organization. Daisy Pereira-Tosado joins CFWM as director of Philanthropy, and Didi de Almeida has been hired as account manager. Pereira-Tosado is responsible for bolstering and diversifying the foundation’s development strategy. She brings 25 years of experience in the nonprofit arena and has led and served in leadership roles for community-based organizations, most recently as senior director of Philanthropy at New England Public Media. Pereira-Tosado has developed many valuable resources for the local community as an active volunteer for local organizations such as Girls Inc. of Holyoke, Link to Libraries, and the Springfield Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee. She is a graduate of Boston University. Meanwhile, de Almeida brings seven years of experience in nonprofit accounting management for local nonprofit organizations, and recently earned her MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Prior to her graduate studies, de Almeida was fiscal manager for the Center for New Americans, business manager for the Brick House Community Resource Center, and staff accountant for the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center. Her experience includes budgeting, compliance, financial reporting, expense tracking, tax filing, and audit preparation.

•••••

Bulkley Richardson announced that Christopher Gelino will be spending the next several weeks at the firm as a summer associate. During this assignment, he will have the opportunity to assist with legal work from all practice areas within the firm. Gelino is currently attending the University of Connecticut School of Law with an expected graduation date of May 2021. He is a 2014 graduate of the University of Connecticut, where he received degrees in both political science and human rights, and was recognized as a university honors scholar. He also earned a master’s degree in international politics in 2017 from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

•••••

E. Thomas Foster

E. Thomas Foster

Denise Jordan

Denise Jordan

American International College (AIC) recently welcomed two members to its board of trustees: E. Thomas Foster and Denise Jordan. Foster is managing director of the Retirement Advisor University Speakers Bureau. A 1970 graduate of American International College, he also attended Suffolk University Law School. In a career spanning more than 30 years, he is well-regarded as an industry expert, educating and advising individuals and businesses on the retirement marketplace, including products, legislation, regulation, and compliance. Most recently, Foster served as the spokesperson for MassMutual Retirement Services, working directly with financial advisors and employers to educate about 401(k) and other qualified retirement-savings plans. In 2007, he co-authored a book on practice management for advisors titled To Sell or Not to Sell … Employer Retirement Plans. He has been featured in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Kiplinger, Financial Planning, Investment News, and the London Stock Exchange. Jordan was born and raised in the city of Springfield. She attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where she received a bachelor’s degree in political science, and in 2000, she earned a master’s degree in human resource development from American International College. AIC presented Jordan with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2019, awarded for outstanding achievement in the social sciences and for significant community contributions at the local and national levels. Jordan worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a variety of roles for more than 20 years. In 2008, she became the city of Springfield’s first African-American chief of staff, a position she held for more than a decade in the office of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. She currently serves as executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, the third-largest public housing authority in the state. She has held seats on many boards and has won several awards for her volunteer work.

•••••

Crystal Cote-Stosz

Crystal Cote-Stosz

Christopher Heights of Northampton announced that Crystal Cote-Stosz has joined its team as executive director, effective immediately. Cote-Stosz brings a long history of elder-care experience. She began her career in elder care in 2007 as an information and referral specialist and later moved up to a geriatric resource advisor with Greater Springfield Senior Services. In 2009, she and her family relocated to Easthampton, and in 2010, she accepted a position in social work at the Northampton Senior Center. Within a year at the senior center, she was promoted to assistant director. Her responsibilities included volunteer recruitment, scheduling, training, and supervising the social worker, activities director, and fitness center, ensuring the needs of elders in the Northampton community were met with dignity, respect, and enthusiasm. Cote-Stosz’s commitment to serving elders presented a new opportunity in 2016 at the Lathrop Home in Northampton, where she accepted the position of executive director in 2016 and focused her talents on expanding relationships with community partners, developing effective teams within the Lathrop community, and increasing resident census to stabilize the operations of the home. She said she enjoyed the growth opportunity and experiences she had at the Lathrop Home and is now accepting this new opportunity to expand to a larger community.

•••••

Country Bank announced several grant recipients associated with its Community Heroes campaign, an effort to recognize exceptional acts of service by local individuals in the region and the continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the campaign, more than 200 heroes were nominated through an online submission process explaining why they should be chosen. A new hero was selected each week and awarded a $250 gift card to the local business of their choice. In addition, a donation to a COVID-19 relief organizations was made in their name. The chosen Community Heroes include Noelle Grace Efantis, registered nurse at Baystate Wing Hospital; Michelle and Jay Demore of Demore’s Automotive Center; Paula Perrier, director of Child Development Services at the YMCA Tri-Community Child Development Center; Benjamin Mead, operations manager of Environmental Services at St. Francis Hospital; Alan Tracy, Pioneer Valley USO director at Westover Air Reserve Base; and the directors and transit care specialist at Beers & Story Funeral Home of Palmer. Country Bank continues to be one of the many businesses supporting its communities throughout the pandemic. The bank has made $450,000 in donations to local COVID-19 relief efforts and continues to look for ways to give back in a meaningful way during these challenging times.

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Mary-Anne Schelb

Adam Berman, president of JGS Lifecare, announced that Mary-Anne Schelb has rejoined the JGS Lifecare team as director of Business Development for the Western Mass. market. Prior to returning to JGS Lifecare, Schelb led marketing operations at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Ludlow. In her prior role at JGS Lifecare as director of Sales and Community Relations, she developed strategic partnerships and spearheaded the efforts that succeeded in making Longmeadow a dementia-friendly community. Prior to that, she headed up sales, marketing, and community relations at Monastery Heights Assisted Living in West Springfield. Schelb is very active in numerous community organizations. She is a Rotarian, a board member of the East of the River Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the West of the River Chamber of Commerce, the Retirement Marketing Directors Assoc., the Western Massachusetts Eldercare Professionals Assoc., the Women Business Owners Alliance, the Western Mass. Elder Care Conference steering committee, and the Tri-County Partnership, just to name a few. She began her career with an accounting certification from St. John’s School of Business and worked in the mainstream until continuing onto a more wellness-based path as a Holistic Health Practitioner, holding master/teacher certifications from the International Center for Reiki Training. She is also a certified cranial sacral therapist in Profound Neutral from the Neurovascular Institute.

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of July 2020. (Filings are limited due to closures or reduced staffing hours at municipal offices due to COVID-19 restrictions).

CHICOPEE

American Towers, LLC
645 Shawinigan Dr.
$25,000 — Modify existing cellular monopole equipment, swap three antennas and three remote radio units, add one cable fiber

Janet Hughes
358 Britton St.
$2,500 — Replace seven windows

Bob Ladas
725 Memorial Dr.
$648,772 — New vehicle service station building

Shawn Peabody
18 Victoria Park
$2,300 — Replace six windows

Valley Opportunity Council
35 Mount Carmel Ave.
$28,950 — Repair parapet masonry

GREENFIELD

278-302 Main Street, LLC
278 Main St., #307A
$25,000 — Divide existing room for storage area, new door and frame, new sink location, upgrade ductwork, minor electrical work, hot-water tank, plumbing

Green Fields Market
144 Main St.
$12,043 — Reconfigure deli area, move serving line, remove half wall

Greenfield Community College
270 Main St.
$28,451 — Accessibility upgrades on first-floor bathrooms

LEE

Eric Montgomery
815 Pleasant St.
$23,000 — Interior demolition

Montra II Inc.
51 Park St.
$10,000 — New exterior door with landing and window

NORTHAMPTON

Cousins Investments, LLC
48 Damon Road
$80,050.19 — Demo flood cuts in offices due to water mitigation

Fernway, LLC
178 Industrial Dr.
$235,532 — Interior demolition, build out partition walls and ceilings

Hampshire Franklin & Hampden Agricultural Society
54 Bridge St.
$129,000 — Proposed radio-frequency equipment on new wooden utility pole, replacing existing wooden utility pole

Hill Institute
83 Pine St.
$37,500 — Add attached shed to existing storage barn

India Palace Restaurant
26-28 Main St.
$414,650 — Renovation and addition of single residential unit

Jo Landers
6 Service Center Road
$68,000 — Divide one tenant space into two, add bathroom and meeting room

PITTSFIELD

Bank Row Realty Trust
8 Bank Row
$72,849 — Roofing

First United Methodist Church
55 Fenn St.
$30,400 — Roofing

Gathering of Israel
16 Colt Road
$11,000 — Roofing

Three Ninety Five North, LLC
391 North St.
$10,000 — Alter new bathroom on first floor of barbershop; install new access door, flooring, and tile

SPRINGFIELD

City of Springfield
962 Carew St.
$8,000 — Repair existing accessible entry ramp at Liberty School

City of Springfield
1170 Carew St.
$57,000 — Alter existing library area for use as four classroom spaces in Van Sickle School

Joseph Frigo, Lisa Frigo
90 William St.
$18,900 — Roofing at Frigo’s Foods

Hamden Home Buyers
557 Worthington St.
$15,000 — Roofing at vacant Lido’s restaurant

Springfield Investment Group, LLC
795 Worcester St.
$91,981 — Alter medical tenant office space for Select Physical Therapy

Springfield Investment Group, LLC
835 Worcester St.
$91,981 — Alter commercial tenant space for medical office use for Select Physical Therapy

Springfield Redevelopment Authority
31 Elm St.
$2,360,920 — Selective interior demolition on seven interior floors, structural repairs and bracing, install new concrete retaining wall, install temporary lighting for proposed mixed-use building

Coronavirus Special Coverage

For every business in Western Mass., there is a story about coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Each one, as we’ve noted before, is different. But there are many common themes, especially the need to deal effectively — somehow — with those things that one can control, and cope — again, somehow — with the things one can’t control. And that latter list is, unfortunately, long and complicated. It includes everything from navigating the state’s rules (and short timelines) for reopening to losing large and important clients, like MGM Springfield, to not knowing what the future holds. Here are six more COVID stories.

 

Judy Puffer

Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa

Responding to COVID-19 has been hair-raising to say the least   Read More >>

 


 

White Lion Brewery

For this Springfield business, better times are on tap   Read More >>

 


 

Wilbraham Monson Academy

At this school, pandemic has been a real learning experience    Read More >>

 


 

Jerome’s Party Plus

Growing need for tents is helping company through a trying year   Read More >>

 


 

King Ward Bus Lines

Chicopee-based company is still trying to get out
of first gear   Read More >>

 


 

Park Cleaners

‘The place where COVID goes to die’ is still in recovery mode   Read More >>

 


 

Back on the Clock

COVID-19 era presents unique challenge for older workers   Read More >>

Events Features

Meet the Judges

With nominations now closed for BusinessWest’s Alumni Achievement Award, it now falls to three judges — Vince Jackson, Keith Ledoux, and Cheri Mills — to study the entries and determine the sixth annual winner.

The award, sponsored by Health New England, was launched in 2015 as the Continued Excellence Award, an offshoot of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty program, which recognizes young professionals for their career accomplishments and civic involvement. Rebranded this year as the Alumni Achievement Award, it is presented annually to one former 40 Under Forty honoree who, in the eyes of the judges, has most impressively continued and built upon the track record of accomplishment that earned them 40 Under Forty status. The award will be presented at this year’s 40 Under Forty Gala. The date and location of the event are still to be determined due to reopening guidelines.

For each application, the judges have been asked to consider how the candidate has built upon his or her success in business or service to a nonprofit; built upon his or her record of service within the community; become even more of a leader in Western Mass.; contributed to efforts to make this region an attractive place to live, work, and do business; and inspired others through his or her work.

The judges will first narrow a broad field of nominees to five candidates, who will be informed that they are finalists for the coveted honor — an accomplishment in itself. They will then choose a winner, the identity of whom will not be known to anyone but the judges until the night of the event.

Past winners include: 2019: Cinda Jones, president, W.D. Cowls Inc. (40 Under Forty class of 2007); 2018: Samalid Hogan, regional director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (class of 2013); 2017: Scott Foster, attorney, Bulkley Richardson (class of 2011), and Nicole Griffin, owner, ManeHire (class of 2014); 2016: Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president, Allergy & Immunology Associates of New England (class of 2008); 2015: Delcie Bean, president, Paragus Strategic IT (class of 2008).

The judges are:

Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson is executive director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, a role he took on last year. He is also the founder and CEO of the consulting company Marketing Moves, which provides companies — from Fortune 500 corporations to small businesses — with strategic and innovative marketing support. Before founding the company in 2000, Jackson worked for a decade as a senior product manager at PepsiCo, two years as an assistant product manager at Kraft Foods, and three years as a senior systems analyst at Procter & Gamble Company.

Keith Ledoux

Keith Ledoux

Keith Ledoux is vice president of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at Health New England. He has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and has a background in sales, healthcare information technology, and strategy development. Prior to joining HNE in 2019, he served as senior advisor and board member for MiHealth in Medway. He began his career at Tufts Health Plan in Waltham, where he rose to become regional sales manager, and also held senior leadership positions at Fallon Health in Worcester and Minuteman Health and Constitution Health, both in Boston.

Cheri Mills

Cheri Mills

Cheri Mills is a business banking officer with PeoplesBank, and has worked in banking for 32 years. She began her career in 1988 as a mail runner, working up to banking center manager in 1997, and eventually discovered a love of business banking. She takes pride in assisting business owners with achieving financials goals. She is currently the president of the Rotary Club of Chicopee, treasurer of Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, and a board member with the Minority Business Council in Springfield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Law

A Landmark Ruling

By Amelia J. Holstrom, Esq. and Erica E. Flores, Esq.

Amelia J. Holstrom, Esq.

Amelia J. Holstrom, Esq.

Erica E. Flores

Erica E. Flores

Businesses in Massachusetts have to comply with both state and federal anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination in employment based on what are referred to as protected characteristics. Some examples that people commonly think of are sex, age, and religion, but there are many more.

Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws have prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1990 and gender identity and expression since 2012. However, many other states either don’t have employment-discrimination laws at all or don’t include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected characteristics under the laws they do have. So what about the federal law?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on specified protected classes. That statute, however, does not list sexual orientation or gender identity in its list of protected characteristics. Although Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of ‘sex,’ because it did not expressly list sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, federal courts had been left to grapple with whether discrimination on the basis of either of those characteristics is prohibited as a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. That is, until the Supreme Court of the U.S. issued its ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia on June 15, 2020.

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The court’s decision resolved three separate but similar cases pending before the Supreme Court: Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. EEOC.

Each of the three cases began the same way: Gerald Bostock worked for Clayton County, Ga. and was terminated for conduct “unbecoming” of a county employee when he began to participate in a gay softball league. Donald Zarda worked as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express in New York. After mentioning that he was gay, he was terminated just days later after several years of successful employment. Aimee Stephens worked at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Garden City, Mich. When hired, Stephens presented as a male. After five years of employment, she informed her employer that, after she returned from an upcoming vacation, she planned to “live and work full-time as a woman.” She was fired before she even left.

Bostock, Zarda, and Stephens each filed a lawsuit against their employer alleging that they were discriminated against on the basis of their sex in violation of Title VII. Bostock’s case was dismissed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that sexual-orientation discrimination is not a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. Zarda and Stephens’ cases had a different outcome. The Second and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals found that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, respectively, are prohibited under Title VII as forms of discrimination based on sex.

“An employer has two employees — one female and one male — both of whom are attracted to men. If the employer fires the male employee because he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague.”

The Supreme Court of the U.S. agreed to review all three decisions to resolve the issue that had divided the lower courts: whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity is prohibited under Title VII as a form of discrimination based on sex. The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative.

In the 6-3 majority opinion, which was authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court focused on the ordinary meaning of the language used by Congress in Title VII at the time the law was passed back in 1964. Specifically, Title VII states that it is “unlawful … for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s … sex.” The court noted that, in 1964, ‘sex’ was defined as one’s “status as either male or female [as] determined by reproductive biology; that the statute uses the term ‘because of’ that status to define when an action is discriminatory; and that it focuses on discrimination against an individual, not a group.

Based on this language, the court found that, under the plain meaning of Title VII, “an individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions … because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” The court went on to explain its reasoning using two examples:

• An employer has two employees — one female and one male — both of whom are attracted to men. If the employer fires the male employee because he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague. Accordingly, he was singled out based on his sex, and his sex is the reason for the discharge.

• An employer employs a transgender employee who was identified as a male at birth but who now identifies as a female. If the employer continued to employ someone who identified as female at birth but terminated the individual who identified as male at birth, the employer intentionally penalizes a person identified as male at birth for traits or actions that it tolerates in an employee identified as female at birth.

The court agreed that sexual orientation and gender identity are, in fact, distinct concepts from sex. However, the court determined that “discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.”

With this landmark decision, every employer that is covered by Title VII anywhere in the country will now be subject to the same prohibitions that have protected LGBTQ+ employees in Massachusetts for the last eight years, and will be subject to civil penalties and civil liability under Title VII for discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes every private employer and every state or local government agency that has 15 or more employees.

Amelia J. Holstrom and Erica E. Flores are attorneys at the firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., in Springfield; (413) 737-4753; [email protected]; [email protected]

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 


Breaking Ground

 

Florence Bank broke ground earlier this month on its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee, the former Hu Ke Lau site. The full-service location will open later this year. The bank has been working with Marois Construction of South Hadley, HAI Architecture of Northampton, and R. Levesque Associates, an engineering firm in Westfield, on the project. Pictured: Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day (left) poses with Chicopee Mayor John Vieau at the groundbreaking.


Feeding the Front Lines

 

Ludlow-based Pioneer Valley Financial Group and Mill’s Tavern & Grille recently partnered to cook and deliver food to front-line workers during the pandemic. Starting on April 10, PV Financial donated $350 to Mill’s Tavern each week to help pay for the cost of food and delivery, while a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $2,280 from the community. The donations have allowed Mill’s Tavern and PV Financial to deliver more than 400 meals to hospitals, police and fire departments, and pharmacies across Western Mass., including the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke (pictured), Baystate Mary Lane in Ware, and CVS Pharmacy in Ludlow.

 


Deserving Scholars

This spring, the Holyoke Community College Foundation awarded nearly $210,000 in scholarships to 200 incoming, current, and transferring HCC students and will set a record for the number of scholarships it distributes for the 2020-21 academic year, with 233. The number of applications for scholarships this year increased by 22%, from 391 to 479. Pictured: HCC business major Alexandra Clark is the recipient of this year’s Marguerite I. Lazarz Memorial Scholarship from the HCC Foundation.

 

Coronavirus Cover Story

Baby Steps

After more than two months of a widespread economic shutdown, Massachusetts is opening its economy again — sort of. The plan, announced by Gov. Charlie Baker on May 18, allows some businesses to open their doors under tight health restrictions, while others — including restaurants, spas, and most retail — have to wait longer to invite the public inside. What’s got businesses frustrated is not knowing exactly when their turn will come — and the financial impact they continue to endure every week they have to wait.

Massachusetts is the 15th-most populous state in the U.S., yet, the day Gov. Charlie Baker released his economic reopening report, it had reported the fourth-most total COVID-19 cases in the country.

So, the reopening was never going to be a free-for-all.

“We were all very aware that, no matter what we went forward with, there will be more infection and more deaths,” said Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, one of 17 members of the governor’s Reopening Advisory Board. “While the public-health metrics are numbers, statistics, they’re also people — they’re your neighbors, maybe your mother or father.

“People want to open,” she told BusinessWest, “but they don’t want to put people at risk — themselves, their customers, their parents. The compassion is remarkable.”

That’s why it was no surprise that Massachusetts is reopening slowly and cautiously. Last week, manufacturing facilities, construction sites, and places of worship were allowed to return under strict guidelines (more on those later), and on May 25, the list will expand to offices (except in Boston) and labs; hair salons, pet grooming, and car washes; retail, with remote fulfillment and curbside pickup only; beaches, parks, drive-in movies, and some athletic fields and courts; fishing, hunting, and boating; and outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations.

That covers what Baker is calling phase 1, with three more reopening phases to follow. Conspicuously not on the phase-1 list? Restaurants, spas, daycare centers, in-store retail … it’s a long list. And, for many business leaders, a frustrating one.

Nancy Creed

Nancy Creed says businesses in phase 1 got the clarity they were seeking, but those in phase 2 are still waiting.

“There’s certainly an appreciation for public health, but there also needs to be some common sense, and I think it’s very hard to explain why it’s OK for 200 people to be in line at Home Depot, but a small, downtown store can’t have two or three people in it,” Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, told BusinessWest.

“Certainly everyone has to be smart,” he added, “but I think there needs to be more common sense brought into the reopening. I appreciate where the governor is — the balancing act — and I think the reopening committee did a great job with outreach, but there needs to be clear guidance and some common sense.”

Others were less diplomatic.

“While protecting public health is important and something we all support, it defies logic to declare that the opening of barbershops and hair salons is safe, while claiming opening small retail businesses is not,” Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Assoc. of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

“The same is true for the opening of churches and large office buildings,” he went on. “Having two or three people in a retail shop is every bit as safe, if not safer, than the allowable businesses in phase 1. The Baker administration has consistently picked winners and losers during this crisis, and it is disappointing to see that trend continue in the reopening plan.”

As president of the Springfield Regional Chamber, Nancy Creed has been in touch with her members for almost three months now on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. She, like Sullivan, understands the delicate balance the state is walking.

“When we were part of the presentation to the advisory board, the last thing I said to them was, ‘our businesses are struggling, but they are surviving this. What they can’t survive is for it to happen again.”

“Certain sectors thought they’d be in phase 1, so there’s always that frustration,” she told BusinessWest. “When we were part of the presentation to the advisory board, the last thing I said to them was, ‘our businesses are struggling, but they are surviving this. What they can’t survive is for it to happen again. So we need to be smart about it and make sure we’re doing everything we can so the reopening is successful, and this doesn’t happen again.’”

She knows that’s not easy for many small businesses to hear, particularly ones with no revenue stream at all during this time.

“This is different for everyone, but businesses are muddling through it, pivoting, doing the things they need to do for basic economic survival,” she added. “But if it happens again, I don’t think we’ll survive the second round.”

Hence, baby steps, and a multi-phase reopening that offers real hope for many sectors, but continues to draw no small amount of criticism as well.

Guidance — and Lack Thereof

According to Baker’s plan, each phase of the reopening will be guided by public-health data that will be continually monitored and used to determine advancement to future phases. The goal of a phased plan is to methodically allow businesses, services, and activities to resume, while avoiding a resurgence of COVID-19 that could overwhelm the state’s healthcare system and erase the progress made so far.

Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer before moving to the next phase. If public-health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions, or even the entire Commonwealth may need to return to an earlier phase.

Nicole LaChapelle

Nicole LaChapelle

“When talking to businesses and different groups and unions, the question was always, ‘what are the barriers right now, what are your biggest challenges, but more importantly, what do you need to see happen in order for your industry to open, and what is the timeline for that to happen for you?’”

In addition, success in earlier phases will refine criteria for future phases, including travel, gathering sizes, as well as additional openings in retail, restaurants, lodging, arts, entertainment, fitness centers, museums, youth sports, and other activities.

“Going in, the goals were, how do we safely and slowly open the Massachusetts economy?” LaChapelle said. “And that is directly tied to public-health metrics. When talking to businesses and different groups and unions, the question was always, ‘what are the barriers right now, what are your biggest challenges, but more importantly, what do you need to see happen in order for your industry to open, and what is the timeline for that to happen for you?’”

It was helpful, she explained, to seek input from myriad sectors and businesses — those deemed essential and never forced to shutter; those that had to pivot, such as retailers boosting their online presence and manufacturers shifting to making masks and face shields; and businesses that have been effectively sidelined.

“The board, at no point, even at the beginning, was like, ‘let’s get this thing going and roll it out immediately,’” she added, noting that she understands the need for companies to start ramping back up. “They may be a little disappointed, but they’ve been very understanding. There’s some education we have to do, but nobody is really upside-down about it.”

In order to reopen, businesses must develop a written COVID-19 control plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of the virus. They must also create and display posters and signs describing rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, as well as cleaning and disinfecting.

“I think there needs to be an appreciation for restaurants and small Main Street businesses that are not going to be able to just comply with the state’s protocols immediately.”

Sullivan appreciates the attention to public-health concerns, but said it offers little comfort for businesses stuck in an as-yet-undefined phase 2 — or beyond. While the reopening plan gives clear guidance for businesses in phase 1, those in phase 2 don’t even get a target date they can work toward or a set of protocols they can begin to develop. And that lack of clarity has led to frustration.

“I do think many businesses, especially smaller businesses, were kind of expecting more things to open up,” he said. “I think there needs to be an appreciation for restaurants and small Main Street businesses that are not going to be able to just comply with the state’s protocols immediately. They’ll need to plan, order some equipment, and spend some time reorganizing their business, because it’s going to be different than it was pre-COVID. And it’s not something they can do overnight. Many businesses are just looking at lead time — they want to open sooner than later, but they want lead time so they can be ready to go.”

Creed agreed.

“I think what businesses wanted, at least in the beginning, was some clarity about the guidelines, about the timelines, about the standards, about the checklists, all those things, so they can create their own plan — and that was achieved, at least for phase 1,” she explained. “But I am hearing the phase-2 people saying, ‘well, I wanted to be able to plan, but I don’t have enough guidance right now,’ so there’s some frustration.”

The Massachusetts Restaurant Assoc. said as much in a statement following the plan’s release.

“Obviously, every restaurateur is disappointed with the lack of a defined reopening date in today’s announcement,” it noted. “Massachusetts restaurants need their suppliers to have time to restock perishable inventory before it can be delivered to them. They need to notify employees about returning to work and conduct other due diligence to ensure restaurants can open effectively.”

Safety and Numbers

Across Massachusetts, the reopening plan sparked a spectrum of reactions, all acknowledging the competing health and economic interests in play, but expressing different levels of understanding and frustration — and often both.

“We realize that every employer in Massachusetts would love to hear that they can reopen immediately. But we also acknowledge that a phased reopening balances the need to restart the economy with the need to manage a public-health crisis that continues to claim 100 lives a day in Massachusetts,” John Regan, president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, noted in a statement.

Even as some businesses start to reopen and others plan to do so, the state Department of Public Health updated its stay-at-home advisory, replacing it with a new “Safer at Home” advisory, which instructs everyone to stay home unless they are headed to a newly opened facility or activity. It also advises those over age 65 and those with underlying health conditions to stay home, with the exception of trips required for healthcare, groceries, or that are otherwise absolutely necessary. All residents must continue to wear a face covering in public when social distancing is not possible, and individuals are advised to wash their hands frequently and be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms. Restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people remain in effect.

The state also encourages working from home when possible, and Baker’s office released a list of 54 large companies — employing about 150,000 workers among them — that have issued statements extending work-from-home policies for the remainder of the spring, with numerous reporting intentions to extend into the summer and, in some cases, for the remainder of 2020.

“As MassMutual develops our plan to gradually return to the office, the health and safety of our employees is our top priority,” said Roger Crandall, chairman, president, and CEO of MassMutual, noting that his employees will return to the office no sooner than the beginning of September.

“We expect to come back in a slow, phased manner,” he added. “We will continue to monitor and reassess and will be factoring in a number of considerations — from federal, state, and local government and health officials’ guidance to a sustained reduction in cases in our operating locations, to broader available testing and our employees’ personal circumstances and comfort.”

Patrick Sullivan, Massachusetts President of People’s United Bank, is also promoting continued work from home where possible.

“People’s United Bank is assessing re-entry conditions and protocols to ensure the safety of our team members and our customers,” he said. “Our approach will balance the needs of employees with the needs of the business. As we have been successful in pivoting and adjusting to working from home, we will continue to encourage this behavior.”

Still, those are businesses that can at least operate in most aspects. Retail stores can’t so easily adjust — and have been devastated by the inability to invite shoppers into their stores.

“We are incredibly disappointed with how Governor Baker has treated retail businesses throughout the health and economic crisis. Massachusetts has been one of the most hostile states in the nation toward small retailers.”

“We are incredibly disappointed with how Governor Baker has treated retail businesses throughout the health and economic crisis. Massachusetts has been one of the most hostile states in the nation toward small retailers,” said Hurst, noting that Massachusetts stores are losing Memorial Day weekend at a time when other states have let them open up shop by now. “Retail businesses are ready and able to open safely now with a limited number of people in stores and for appointment shopping. By not allowing that until late June, many small, Main Street businesses will close forever.”

That’s not hyperbole for small businesses of many kinds. Matt Haskins, who operates the popular Matt’s Barber Shop in Amherst, said a recent grant from the Downtown Amherst Foundation has helped him stay afloat at a time when he doesn’t know when college business will return.

“Just five minutes before [receiving word of the grant], I was on a phone call discussing if Matt’s Barber Shop was going to make it or break it,” he told foundation officials. “The grant helps me think we’re going to make it.”

So will being able to open his doors again on May 25. And that’s all most business owners want right now — a target. Creed hears that, but at the same time, she’s encouraged by recent chamber polling suggesting the percentage of business owners who feel they’ll survive this crisis is rising.

“What that says to me is people are finding a way to make sure it doesn’t put them out of business,” she said, “which shows the resilience of the businesses we have here.”

Yes, they have resilience, in spades. Now, they want clarity — and some hard dates.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Coronavirus Special Coverage

Q & A for the Reopening

By Ellen McKitterick and Mark Emrick

Employers are beginning to look at bringing employees back into the workplace and/or opening up their offices after being closed for six to eight weeks. Here is a sampling of the key questions that the HR Hotline staff at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) is responding to.

Ellen McKitterick

Ellen McKitterick

Mark Emrick

Mark Emrick

How do I respond to an employee who says they are afraid to return to work? Each instance needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If the employee has a valid reason that fits within an FMLA, ADA, or other reasonable accommodation, then be sure to start the interactive process and see if the request is reasonable. Otherwise, general fear is not a valid reason, and the employee would be voluntarily resigning.

How do I respond to an employee who says they don’t feel safe returning to the workplace? Assuming you have taken all required cleaning and disinfecting steps, you can respond: “we are operating a safe workplace. We are operating in accordance with state and local safety and health guidelines. There currently is no recognized health or safety hazard in our workplace.” Otherwise, general fear is not a valid reason, and the employee would be voluntarily resigning.

As we ramp up our operations, we need our workforce to return to the physical workplace. How do I respond to an employee’s request to continue working from home? Employers do not have to permit work from home if it does not fit their business needs; it is not up to the employee. That being said, in our current crisis, it is wise to allow working from home until the COVID-19 situation is under better control.

What if I can only bring my employees back part-time? They have been on unemployment during their furlough. How will this affect their ability to collect benefits? Employees who are collecting any benefit from unemployment insurance (UI) will continue to receive the additional $600 from the federal government at least through July 31. Partial unemployment may still qualify them for some UI; there is a partial-payment calculator at mass.gov to determine the possible benefit.

Can my employees continue to collect unemployment after I have asked them to come back, but they refuse? They can try, but they are not eligible if you have offered work. Employers should notify the Department of Unemployment Assistance of any employee refusing to return.

What do I do if my employee says they are making more money on unemployment than working for me and do not want to return right away? The employee needs to make a decision. Either they take the short-term gain of extra unemployment or the long-term gain of their job. This would be considered, in most cases, voluntary resignation. Their position may not be available when they decide to return to work.

What effects does our recent furlough have on my employees’ flexible spending account and dependent care accounts, the loss of contributions, and amount of time remaining for contributions in 2020? Employees may be allowed to make changes to some accounts, but it would require an amendment to your plan. IRS Notice 2020-29 may answer more questions.

Can I screen or test employees for symptoms of COVID-19 before they return to work? What screening methods should I use? Yes, during a pandemic you can take employees’ temperatures or ask business-related health questions such as “have you had symptoms, a fever over 100.4, or been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?: Remember that HIPAA and privacy laws apply.

Can I require older workers who are at high risk to continue to stay at home? No, you cannot exclude anyone in a protected class. If they voice a concern, then you should enter into the interactive process and see if a reasonable accommodation may apply.

Do I have to provide face masks for my employees? In Masachusetts, employees will be required to wear them at work, but it is to be determined who has to provide them. Neighboring states are all requiring the employer to provide needed personal protective equipment.

How do I respond to any employee who refuses to adhere to our social-distancing guidelines or wear a face covering in the office? Upon return to work, employers should put employees on notice of any new policy, any special protocols that may apply, and the personal protective equipment that is required. Engage in an interactive process to ascertain any concerns and determine if special conditions may apply before moving to discipline.

What should I do if my employees are complaining about coming back to work and the extra requirements? Employees are entitled to complain about working conditions to fellow employees. They should remain professional and follow all company policies, but they have the right to voice their opinion as long as they are not defamatory or causing disruptions.

Ellen McKitterick is EANE’s newest HR business partner. She advises member organizations on all aspects of employment law, including wage and hour issues, employment discrimination, employee benefits, leaves of absence, and unemployment, and trains EANE members and non-members on harassment prevention, basic employment concepts, employee medical and leave issues, and key management skills. Mark Emrick is a senior HR business partner at EANE with consulting responsibilities for all aspects of the HR function — recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, benefits administration, compliance, performance management, coaching, development, corrective action, and terminations. He is also an experienced investigator for employee complaints and issues.

Opinion

Opinion

By Mary Flahive-Dickson

Seemingly, there is very little time for reflection these days. As we move from one news report, one Zoom meeting, one emergency to another, it is not lost on us that this is now our norm; life has changed. Restlessness is nationwide. Our communities are apprehensive at best, and our seniors are even more isolated now than any other historical time.

Social isolation, while defined as a lack of relationships and meaningful contact with society, needs to be further contemplated and gauged in our elder population as COVID-19 continues to force us to shelter in place, while begging for social and physical distance.

Caregivers, as catechized members of the front line, are being asked to rise to the challenge of defense against physical and social isolation of seniors.

Our elders are seemingly the target of so many evil pathogens and infections as their immunologic response has slowed and their physicality is compromised. Add life-changing risk factors such as retirement, death of loved ones, and the global nature of our society to the geriatric mix, and oftentimes the result assumes the form of social and physical isolation and loneliness.

Isolated and lonely seniors are at an increased risk for additional physical and emotional health conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and cognitive decline. With the loss of a sense of connectivity to the outside world and specifically their community, our elders run the risk of a decrease in wellness and a general decline in health.

Additionally, and especially in the current COVID-19 theatre, physical and emotional needs such as activities of daily living (ADL), companionship, and personal care may not be satisfied or executed. This situation is yet another nail in the proverbial coffin of enabling an immunologic response to infections, therefore rendering individuals less able to fight off disease, while increasing their risk of mortality.

Conversely, elders who engage with society, continue to be active and cognitively stimulated, have conversations, and have their ADLs satiated oftentimes experience increased positive influential health opportunities and many times are able to maintain the state of wellness longer.

Our role as caregivers is to facilitate an improvement or at least a maintenance of independence, health, and well-being of our elders. By providing for and assisting them with activities of daily living, promoting self-care, and reinforcing social support and a sense of community, caregivers continue to promote and disseminate multiple dimensions of physical and emotional health and wellness among this population.

As society continues to seesaw under the cloud of COVID-19, the senior population is not exempt from partaking in groups, programs, and activities which can help in thwarting physical and social isolation and loneliness. In fact, for the seniors, it is just the opposite. No populace has seen a furthering of isolation more than the seniors.

And, with home care widely accepted as a significant player in promotion of health and wellness, staving off mortality and reduction of admissions to institutional care such as hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities, caregivers’ roles should be touted as the front-line essential necessity they have always been, albeit unpronounced.

Mary Flahive-Dickson is chief operating officer for Golden Years Home Care Services.

Class of 2020 Cover Story

40 Under Forty Class of 2020

‘The class of 2020.’

That phrase will forever have special meaning at colleges, high schools, and even grammar schools across this country. Indeed, 2020 has been a different year in every way imaginable.

And the same is true of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty class of rising stars. When the JUDGES received their six-inch-thick packets of nominations — which detailed the credentials of more than 200 candidates — in February, COVID-19 hadn’t yet arrived in Western Mass. By the time the scores were tabulated and the winners were sent their letters of congratulations, the world had changed in a profound way.

These changes are reflected in this special edition of BusinessWest, and also in the scheduling of the gala to celebrate this year’s class. Traditionally slated for late June, it is now scheduled to be held Oct. 8 with location TBD.

As for this section, the biggest difference is the photographs. In past years, they were taken in the studio of photographer Leah Martin. With social-distancing guidelines in place and non-essential businesses (like photo studios) closed, that wasn’t possible.

So we improvised. Many members of the class of 2020 took their own photos, while Martin took to the road and photographed several honorees on their front porches and in their backyards — from a safe distance. Collectively, these photos speak not only to how different these times are, but to how people have used their imaginations and creativity to cope.

Overall, while the class of 2020 has had, and will continue to have, a different experience than those who preceded it, it is like those other classes in how it reflects the high levels of young talent now emerging in this region. And it paints an impressive picture of leadership for decades to come.

Let’s salute the class of 2020!

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Coronavirus Special Coverage

Climbing Out

It’s not easy for a business to be shut down — seriously curtailing or even eliminating all revenue — for any period of time. But it’s much more frustrating not to know how long that period of time will actually be. That’s where Massachusetts businesses deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic stand right now — in a limbo of treading water and being as flexible, creative, and patient as they can while they await word on when the state will reopen its economy, and what form that re-emergence will take.

At some point in early March, Ashley Batlle knew what was coming. And she knew what it meant for her health and wellness spa, Beauty Batlles Lounge, that she opened in Chicopee about a year ago.

“This is a personal, physical-contact business. You’re definitely in close proximity with the client, giving them a service that everyone looks forward to — something they’re accustomed to making part of their schedule,” Batlle said. Yet, the rumblings were that, at some point, the rising threat of COVID-19 was going to force businesses to shut their doors. “So we tried to get as many clients in as we could.”

And then, suddenly, those appointments that clients look forward to were cancelled, postponed until — well, nobody knows yet. And that’s the problem for businesses the state deemed non-essential: the unknown.

Toward the end of April, the Baker-Polito administration extended the statewide essential-services emergency order by two weeks, from May 4 to May 18. Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services can only continue operations through remote means — if at all possible.

For Batlle, well … she can’t offer facials, waxing, microblading, and other treatments remotely. And she was unable to access benefits through the CARES Act and other government relief measures.

“My anxiety level has been very, very high. It hasn’t been fun, not knowing when we’ll begin to open and what kind of measures will be asked of us by the state and city to be able to reopen,” she said, noting that, as a one-woman operation, it will be easy to comply with social-distancing regulations sure to accompany any sort of reopening.

What’s less certain is how customers will respond — to all types of interactions, not just her services.

“I’m going to be able to open up my doors and get everyone in as quick as possible — that’s what I would love to do, but I think it’s going to be a soft situation, where, little by little, we’re getting back to business,” she explained, noting that some people will be leery of close contact at first, especially since the virus doesn’t tend to show symptoms for a while.

Still, most business owners shuttered by the pandemic would love an opportunity to at least try to get back to normal, even if they understand why the governor put the stay-at-home mandate in place.

Rick Sullivan

Rick Sullivan

“We may be seeing the number of cases plateauing, but [development of] a vaccine, or treatment medication, is still in its infancy, so the data still says go slow. I do think some businesses previously deemed non-essential could have protocols put in place to allow partial reopening. However, nobody wants to reopen prematurely and see worse spikes later in the year.”

“While we expected and understand Governor Baker’s decision to extend the stay-at-home advisory, that tough decision underscores the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in as a business community,” said Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber. “We’re doing a balancing act between wanting to get back to work and getting back to work in a safe manner.”

Many of her members supported the two-week extension; a late-April chamber poll, right before the non-essential closures were extended by two weeks, asked what worried them more: the spread of the virus if restrictions were loosened too soon, or the negative economic impact of not reopening quickly enough. It also asked if Massachusetts was ready for a May 4 reopening.

“Seventy-seven percent responded that the spread of the virus was more worrisome, and an overwhelming number — 91% — responded that Massachusetts was not ready for a May 4 reopening,” Creed said, “clearly revealing that much of the business community is concerned about protecting those most vulnerable and stopping the spread of the disease, and demonstrating the commitment our business community has to the community as a whole.”

Rick Sullivan, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, took a similar outlook.

“I do not think that anyone is surprised that the shutdown has been extended, as the governor has been clear he will follow the data as to when to begin reopening the economy,” Sullivan said. “We may be seeing the number of cases plateauing, but [development of] a vaccine, or treatment medication, is still in its infancy, so the data still says go slow. I do think some businesses previously deemed non-essential could have protocols put in place to allow partial reopening. However, nobody wants to reopen prematurely and see worse spikes later in the year.”

All that may be true, but it’s still difficult — and, for many businesses, exceptionally concerning — to stay closed this long, and possibly longer. Businesses are doing what they can to be creative, in many cases opening doors of commerce they will continue to pursue after the COVID-19 threat passes, or even using the time to support other community members in need (more on that later).

But no one likes the uncertainty of not knowing whether May 18 is the real target for reopening, or just another can to be kicked down the road.

Waiting Game

Paul DiGrigoli would like to reopen, too.

“This has impacted us tremendously,” said the owner of DiGrigoli Salon and DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology in West Springfield. “We haven’t had a chance to reach out to all our clients; some we have. But we just have to wait until Charlie Baker gives us the green light, which hopefully will be May 18.”

He was able to secure a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, succeeding in the second round of that program’s disbursements after missing on the first round. That will help cover costs like utilities and mortgage interest while keeping his employees paid for eight weeks as well. “We went through Community Bank, and they were phenomenal,” he said.

And he’s getting ready for some anticipated changes when the salon does reopen.

“We bought a lot of hand sanitizer to put at the front desk in the school and the salon, we’ve gotten gloves and masks, and what we’re going to do initially is get the clients’ cell phone numbers and call them from the reception desk to let them know when their appointment is available. And we’ll stick with staying six feet apart, spreading out the stations. Both the stylist and the client will have to wear a mask until further notice. It’s going to be uncomfortable at first.”

As for the school, online training has been effective for theory, but students haven’t been able to practice what they learn.

In general, he told BusinessWest, “we’re really trying our hardest to get back to normal, but we’ve really been handcuffed. There has been frustration and anxiety because we don’t know what to expect.”

Or when to expect it, he added. “We don’t know when it will happen. They’re saying May 18, but who the heck knows? We’re hoping it doesn’t go beyond that, but thank God for the relief funds — that really saved us.”

Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, polled her members at the end of April and put some of that anxiety into raw numbers. For example, responding businesses are losing an average of $55,837 per month in revenue during the shutdown, and 61% have had to lay off or furlough employees. More than 20% have serious concerns about being able to reopen if the state of emergency extends beyond June 1.

“They’re worried,” she said. “Rent, utilities, and payroll are three areas that continue to be a struggle.”

Amherst is also in an unusual situation, as it’s a small town that loses more than half its population when UMass Amherst and Amherst College aren’t in session. The downtown businesses in particular rely heavily on students — and now there’s talk across the region that colleges might start the fall with distance learning only.

Claudia Pazmany

Claudia Pazmany

“On the flip side, this has stirred a lot of innovation from businesses who have been deemed non-essential or limited; they’ve pivoted or gone online. The creativity and innovation we’ve seen have been really exciting.”

“Initially, there hasn’t been a lot of grumbling, but they’re generally frustrated and just sad. Everything is unknown,” Pazmany told BusinessWest. “They’re fearful — so much is unknown, and delays keep coming. We don’t have a deadline or guidelines; they just keep pushing back the date, and that causes more fear and anxiety.”

Driving Innovation

And also a good deal of invention, driven by necessity.

“On the flip side, this has stirred a lot of innovation from businesses who have been deemed non-essential or limited; they’ve pivoted or gone online,” Pazmany said. “The creativity and innovation we’ve seen have been really exciting.”

Take Zanna, a clothing shop that has been a staple of Amherst’s downtown for decades, but has never had an online store. Until now.

“You have to look at the good in this crisis,” owner Amy Benson said. “In my case, it moved me — encouraged me — to get an online store open. I’ve only owned the store a year, so I didn’t have time to even think about an online store before. Now I did, so I took the time to get it up and going.

“Do I think it’s the wave of Zanna’s future? No, but I think it’s an extension. We’ll probably keep it going once we’re open,” she added, noting that it opens more opportunities. “We’re in a transient community. We see people from all over the country, between the university and Amherst College. We all want things to be the way they were, but we know we’ll have to adapt. Some of these new trends, like my online store, I’m not going to shut that off.”

Benson has been creative in other ways as well, from curbside pickup — with everyone wearing masks — to ‘virtual shopping,’ where she walks a customer around the store using an iPad and FaceTime, showing them tops and bottoms and coordinating outfits.

“We want customers to be engaged, and they want to hear from us because we form those kinds of relationships,” she said. “When we’re FaceTiming, we’re FaceTiming with a friend and shopping with a friend. It’s a really important way to stay connected.

“You have to do something,” she went on. “You can’t just close your doors and do nothing. Our customers are women who have supported us for over 40 years; we’re not going to just shut our doors and not communicate. I do whatever I can to stay engaged with our customers, they’re the lifeline of our business.”

In other words, Zanna has come a long way since last month, when Benson was in “full panic mode” and offering nothing but a gift-certificate promotion. “We’re not bringing in nearly the revenue we would normally, but we’re supporting what we’re able to do right now.”

She’s not alone, Pazmany noted, citing examples like restaurants revamping their online presence with expanded takeout menus to Amherst Books shipping and delivering items to customers, to the Amherst Area Chamber itself, which has been connecting with the business community through marketing seminars.

Doing Some Good

Or taking advantage of an unusual time to do some good in the community.

Dean’s Beans, based in Orange, has seen a surge in web sales as coffee drinkers are brewing more at home due to social distancing and telecommuting. With COVID-19 causing great economic hardship, the company has chosen to share the money from these web sales with the community by helping to fund school food programs — a total of $26,000, in fact, divided among seven Western Mass. school districts.

“Making sure children have access to food throughout this pandemic is crucial, and we are proud to support these essential programs in Springfield, Amherst, and Orange,” said Dean Cycon, founder and CEO of Dean’s Beans. “Part of a company’s profitability is the positivity it generates for others, and we are committed to helping our communities ease the pain of this crisis.”

Amy Benson

Amy Benson

“You have to look at the good in this crisis. In my case, it moved me — encouraged me — to get an online store open. I’ve only owned the store a year, so I didn’t have time to even think about an online store before. Now I did, so I took the time to get it up and going.”

Meanwhile, Batlle has launched the Hero Project, a virtual fundraiser designed to give back to those on the front lines fighting the pandemic. Funds raised will be set aside to provide complimentary self-care services at Beauty Batlles Lounge for healthcare professionals, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and employees of sheriffs’ departments, once she can open her doors again. Visit beautybatlles.com to donate.

Considering the masks they’re wearing all day long, “they’re going to need facials when this is done,” Batlle joked, before getting serious.

“I reached out to my nurse friends and heard their stories, about the trauma they’re going through. One friend works in the ICU at a COVID unit — she goes into work one day and has four patients, and when it’s time to leave, she only has one. That has to do something to you. How can I give back to them? That’s where the idea for the Hero Project came in.”

It’s a way to pay it forward while anticipating the light at the end of the tunnel, she told BusinessWest. “This isn’t easy on anybody.”

It would be easier with some clarity from Beacon Hill, but that’s not coming right now. Instead, Baker convened a Reopening Advisory Board of public-health officials, representatives from the business community, and municipal leaders from across the Commonwealth. They are charged with advising the administration on strategies to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics, and are expected to develop a report by May 18.

That’s just the report date. So it’s easy to see why businesses might not suddenly be reopening on that date.

“Personally, every time Governor Baker gives us a date when we’re going to open, I think, ‘hmm, I don’t know if that’s going to happen,’” Benson said. “I’m always thinking, ‘what’s the worst-case scenario? June 1? They keep pushing it back.”

That’s why it bothers Batlle that some proprietors of businesses like hers continue to offer services from their home.

“We should all just be staying stationary; we’re all in the same boat,” she said. “That just puts more stress on business owners who are actually following the rules, and it’s could extend the time we’re going to be out of work.”

Which, for too many business owners and employees across Western Mass., already feels like too long.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Coronavirus Special Coverage

For Many Impacted by the Pandemic, It Might Be a Viable Option

By Michael B. Katz, Esq.

One thing I’ve learned in my 45 years practicing bankruptcy law is that most individuals who wind up taking this course of action are good people who have found themselves in bad and unexpected circumstances, most often caused by things that were beyond their control.

People get sick, get divorced, lose employment, and have accidents. Likewise, businesses can be adversely affected by events over which they have no meaningful control. Outbreaks of disease, oil shortages, breaks in the supply chain, changing technology, interruption of their workforce, and many other factors can all cause a business or individual to be unable to stay financially afloat.

Which brings us the COVID-19 pandemic. It represents the epitome of unexpected circumstances and matters beyond our control. Indeed, in an effort to slow the spread the spread of the virus, the state has shuttered all non-essential businesses, leading to unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression.

In these precarious times, individuals and businesses are finding themselves in dire financial circumstances they could not have foreseen, nor done anything to prevent. Given their predicament, some might be looking at bankruptcy as a possible recourse.

In order to help honest but financially burdened individuals make a fresh financial start, Congress has passed a number of bankruptcy laws. Here are the key types:

 

Chapter 7

This is the type of bankruptcy proceeding that allows certain qualifying individuals to eliminate most of their unsecured debts (those without mortgages) and to make a fresh financial start.

In order to qualify for Chapter 7, a person cannot have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the prior eight years. The person filing, known as a debtor, must also pass a test which limits how much earned income the debtor had earned in the prior year. This is called the means test, and it varies based on the state in which the debtor resides, the number of dependents in the family, and whether there is any earned income generated by the debtor’s spouse.

For example, for a Massachusetts resident, the limitation is $67,119 for a single person, $84,125 for a couple (combined gross income), and then increases in different amounts for additional dependents. These limitations became effective as of April 1, 2020 and are subject to periodic adjustment. Similarly, in Connecticut, the individual cutoff is $66,689, and $88,594 for a couple.

Michael B. Katz

Michael B. Katz

In these precarious times, individuals and businesses are finding themselves in dire financial circumstances they could not have foreseen, nor done anything to prevent. Given their predicament, some might be looking at bankruptcy as a possible recourse.

While most unsecured debts can be eliminated in Chapter 7, there are some types of debts that cannot, including income taxes owed from the past three years, alimony and child support, student loans, and debts incurred due to an accident while driving under the influence. 

One of the major benefits of Chapter 7 for an individual obtaining a discharge is that not only are the debts — such as most credit cards, personal loans, foreclosure and repossession deficiency balances, and medical bills — totally wiped out, they are eliminated without incurring any phantom income, on which both federal and state income taxes would be owed.

Compare this to either making a direct settlement with a lender or credit-card company, or going through a non-judicial, multi-year debt-settlement plan, where anything that is settled with the creditors results in the person receiving a 1099 from the creditor and having to pay taxes on the forgiven portion of the debts. In Chapter 7, Congress has decreed that all discharged debts are tax-free, and therefore no hidden taxes are incurred.

The key aspect of Chapter 7 is that the Bankruptcy Court is trying to help an honest debtor make a fresh financial start. In regard to secured debts — for example, those debts that are secured by a lien or mortgage, most often vehicle loans or a home mortgage — in Chapter 7, the debtor gets to select whether they wish to keep the item and continue making the payments, or to surrender the item and wipe out any shortfall amount that might exist after the secured party sells the item after repossession or foreclosure sale.

While a corporate entity can also elect to file Chapter 7 and have the Bankruptcy Court liquidate its assets and distribute the proceeds to its creditors, it does not get to carry on its business affairs after filing. Only an individual qualifies for a discharge, so a corporate entity must cease all business after it files Chapter 7.

 

Chapter 13

In this type of proceeding, an individual is given an option to repay all or a portion of the debt, if approved by the Bankruptcy Court and Chapter 13 trustee, through a plan of reorganization that generally lasts for a period of three to no more than five years. There is no need to pass the means test to qualify for Chapter 13, and, unlike the restrictions in Chapter 7 that allow it to include only unsecured debts, Chapter 13 can also affect secured debts.

The most common application in Chapter 13 is to use it to stop a foreclosure sale of a debtor’s home or automobile, and it allows the debtor to pay the outstanding past-due amounts over the life of the plan, in addition to requiring the debtor to make the full current payment each month. 

For example, if a lender is owed $60,000 in back mortgage payments, requiring the borrower to pay it in full in order to prevent a foreclosure sale, in a Chapter 13, the debtor could propose to pay $1,000 per month for the 60 months of its Chapter 13 plan, plus pay the current mortgage amount each month so that debtor does not fall further behind. 

These are simplified examples, and the details of a Chapter 13 plan are more complex and would require you to consult with a qualified attorney for more specific advice.

 

Chapter 11

A Chapter 11 reorganization can be filed by an individual who owns a business and operates as a ‘DBA,’ but due to its complexity and expense, it is most often filed by a corporate entity.

The idea of a Chapter 11 is to grant the business a ‘time out’ and give it some element of time to figure out a plan of reorganization to allow it to continue in business. Under 11 USC 362(d), all lawsuits and claims against the debtor’s business are enjoined from proceeding, and the debtor gets time to meet with its creditors and to seek to formulate a formal plan of reorganization.

That plan may propose to pay unsecured creditors a percentage on the dollar, which must be found to be a greater percentage than the creditors would receive in an immediate liquidation of the business and its assets. In some cases, mortgage debts can be reduced to the actual value of the assets that secure the mortgage, so that if the debtor owes a lender $750,000 on a building that can be proven to be worth only $500,000, the debtor can seek to ‘cram down’ the mortgage to a reduced amount of $500,000, and the additional $250,000 gets treated as an unsecured debt, and paid at the same percentage on the dollar as the other unsecured debts.

This is a very simplified version of a Chapter 11, as there are many other requirements that must be fulfilled by a Chapter 11 debtor, and the cases are necessarily complex and sometimes expensive. However, the overall savings to the debtor can be substantial, and they are often the key to a business’ survival.

The court in a Chapter 11 is seeking to be fair to both the debtor and its creditors, as well as preserving the jobs of the employees of a business.

 

Non-bankruptcy Alternatives

There are sometimes options for a business to consider without the need to file a formal insolvency proceeding. They require a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to know how to handle these matters, and they include utilization under Massachusetts state law of an assignment for the benefit of creditors, trust mortgage, or sometimes just using a skilled negotiator to try to convince creditors to accept an informal settlement of their debt, rather than forcing the debtor to use funds to pay for a formal bankruptcy proceeding, when those same funds could be paid toward a voluntary settlement with the creditors. 

In reality, these voluntary settlements are often difficult to finalize because you need to negotiate with multiple parties, who sometimes will not agree to the same terms. In a Chapter 11, the creditors are legally required to accept whatever settlement is approved by the bankruptcy judge, after a plan is voted on and approved by the Bankruptcy Court.

It is important that you not let your pride prevent you from finding the best and most effective solution for your personal or business cash-flow problems. You cannot make an informed decision until you know and understand all of your options, as well as the positives and negatives of each option.

During this pandemic, many fraudulent parties are preying on people, so make sure to do your homework to get the name of a qualified person to advise you or your business. Contact the Hampden County Bar Assoc. Lawyer Referral Service, call your accountant, or do a Google search to find an experienced person to help you or your business. 

Working together, we can all find ways get through these uncharted waters.

 

Michael Katz is the chairperson of the Bankruptcy & Creditors Rights department of the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C., with offices in Springfield, Northampton, Amherst, Hadley, and Westfield; (413) 781-0560.

Business of Aging

Team Approach

By Mark Morris

the Bioness L200

This device, the Bioness L200, helps patients recovering from a brain injury to re-establish the use of their arms and hands.

In the U.S., 2.5 million adults and children sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year.

The Brain Injury Assoc. of America (BIAA) reports that more than 2 million of those injuries are treated in emergency departments, while approximately 50,000 result in death. Nearly 280,000 are admitted to hospitals, after which patients transition to inpatient rehabilitation, where the goal is to get back to their maximum level of function and independence.

But what’s involved in that rehabilitation process for brain injuries? It depends on the patient.

“Many people associate traumatic brain injuries with a younger population because they tend to engage in riskier behaviors. Older people who hit their heads from slips, trips, and falls are also susceptible to TBIs,” said Jennifer Blake, an occupational therapist with the inpatient program at Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital, adding, however, that anyone at any age can sustain a brain injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines TBI as a “disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.“

Traumatic brain injuries are evaluated on a spectrum, said Blake, noting that someone who experiences a concussion, also known as ‘mild traumatic brain injury,’ can usually return to normal with just limited therapy. On the other hand, people with moderate to severe brain injuries require medical care and more comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation. Often these patients need some level of supervision after discharge.

On occasion, someone may have a head injury and not immediately recognize it. For example, if a person is in a car accident and has a broken leg, that might get the primary treatment focus, Blake explained. Even after a CT scan, the brain injury may not initially show up. “It’s only after further investigation, when the person is having trouble concentrating or paying attention, that they discover the brain injury.”

“When they see their arm move and their hand open and close, it boosts their confidence and makes them feel more hopeful; you can see it in their faces.”

Because our brains are essential to all our physical and mental functions, therapists have found that taking a multi-disciplinary approach yields the best results in helping people recover from a brain injury. A team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists, supported by 24/7 care by medical staff such as nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, make sure all the patient’s needs are addressed.

“We meet once a week to make sure we are all on the same page,” said Julie Bugeau, an occupational therapist for Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts. “We have an open discussion to determine where the patient is in terms of therapy and function. We also ask questions outside of the therapy, such as, ‘how are they medically?’ ‘Are they eating well?’ We try to look at all the factors that can affect their rehab.”

What’s the Plan?

Blake said most admissions in the inpatient setting last only two weeks, so working as a team helps them determine the patient’s eventual discharge plan.

“By working together in an interdisciplinary team, we can figure out what’s working, what’s not, and make changes along the way.”

Blake said an individualized plan for rehabilitation is developed by therapists who work with patients in three key areas:

• The physical therapist studies a patient’s mobility: for example, how well they can get from one place to another, their balance, and how well their motor skills can function;

• The occupational therapist helps patients with self-care skills, such as eating, getting dressed, bathing, as well as tasks like cooking, cleaning, and managing medications; and

• The speech and language pathologist addresses higher levels of cognition, such as memory, attention, concentration, problem solving, and decision making. Sometimes the pathologist works with patients whose brain injury causes dysfunction in producing or understanding language.

Advancing technology offers therapists tools to aid in rehabilitation that were not available years ago. Bugeau discussed how devices such as the Bioness L300 and H200 help brain-injury patients regain the use of their legs and arms. The L300 attaches to the leg and, through electrical stimulation, can aid a person’s ability to walk.

“The idea is that, with repetition, those leg muscles will be able to move properly without the external stimulus,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the H200 helps re-establish the movement of arms and the grasping action of hands. Bugeau said using these devices results in positive responses from her patients.

help brain-injury patients

The Bioness L300 is used to help brain-injury patients regain their ability to walk through electrical stimulation.

“We’ll have patients who say, ‘my arm doesn’t work — I have a dead arm,’” she noted. “Then, when they see their arm move and their hand open and close, it boosts their confidence and makes them feel more hopeful; you can see it in their faces.”

By employing the different therapies, Bugeau went on, the hope is to maximize the patient’s abilities. But, she added, “while the therapy is important, rest is also an important part of the recovery.”

While many patients transition directly from inpatient to outpatient care, Bugeau said Encompass also offers a home-care component for those who are not yet ready to make the move.

“We will help patients settle into their home and continue training with them and their families to make sure they are safe and getting stronger,” she said. “It’s an option we recommend until the patient is ready to move into outpatient treatment.”

Blake added that the outpatient phase of care at Weldon involves working closely with families during outpatient therapy to help them manage that part of the process.

“Let’s say a patient is receiving all three therapies in an outpatient setting,” she explained. “We will try to schedule all of them on the same day to make it a little less overwhelming for the caretaker.”

Blake said it’s important for the injured person and their support group to understand that, when a person suffers a brain injury, it can be a difficult adjustment for everyone involved.

“You can’t see the residual impairments from a brain injury,” she said. “The person might experience a personality change, or a once-independent person may now need lots of assistance with daily life.”

That’s why Bugeau’s staff involves the patient’s family in training and education early in the process. She said the classes help the family understand how their loved one’s brain injury is progressing and how to properly handle behaviors that are out of the norm.

“We make sure to screen every patient with a brain injury for depression because it is a such a common symptom associated with brain injuries.”

Steady Improvement

While plenty of information and support are available for families, Bugeau said the trick is not to overdo it.

“We create a folder with specific, individualized information that is appropriate to the patient’s injury. We don’t want to overwhelm the family, but we want to make sure they have the information they need.”

Blake and Bugeau encourage families dealing with a brain-injured loved one to take advantage of the support groups available at their respective organizations. Weldon offers a faith-based group as well. Both therapists also cited the Brain Injury Assoc. of Massachusetts as a solid resource for families.

In all cases, the goal is helping patients with a brain injury get back to a maximum level of function and independence.

“It’s hard to say how much time each person needs,” Blake said. “And while things can change quickly or gradually, people do improve and get better.”

40 Under 40 Class of 2020

Director of Corporate Communications, Treasurer, and Owner, Rediker Software; Age 36; Education: George Washington University (BA)

A vital force in the success of Rediker Software, Anderlonis has helped increase international sales, increased brand awareness, developed the company’s social-media presence, and founded Rediker Cares, organizing and serving as the liaison for many volunteer events to benefit local nonprofits.

Amy Rediker Anderlonis

Amy Rediker Anderlonis    Photo by Leah Martin Photography

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was younger, my dream job was to work for the United Nations. I used to think that, in order to make a difference in this world, I had to work for a large, international organization. However, I now know you can also make a big difference by simply being a leader in your own community, whether through work, volunteering, or both.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Balance. I wear many hats, not just at work, but also in my personal life. In addition to Rediker Software, I am a mom of two young children and a puppy, as well as a wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend, and community volunteer. Through time management and prioritization, I try to fulfill all of my roles the best I can while still finding time for my own health and wellness. There are only so many hours in the day, and it’s impossible to get everything done. Often tasks aren’t completed, e-mails aren’t answered right away, and laundry goes unfolded — and that’s OK.

What do you do for fun? I love to find cool events in the area. There is so much to do in Western Massachusetts; you just have to look. My friends and I recently went to a fun wine-and-chocolate pairing at Black Birch Winery in Hatfield, and we are planning to attend a concert this summer at Tanglewood. My husband and I are big foodies, so we like to visit highly rated restaurants and attend specialty dinners. I also love to travel with my family and explore other parts of New England and the world.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I hope I am remembered for my work in our community — that I worked hard to improve it and make it a better place, and that I gave colleagues the opportunity to do so as well. I also hope to be remembered as a good friend and mentor who saw the best in people and helped them reach their own goals.

40 Under 40 Class of 2020

Director of Finance & Operations, Palmer Public Schools; Age 37; Education: Elmira College (BS)

After losing her husband to cancer three years ago, this mother of two earned her business administrator’s license in 18 months and landed the open position overseeing finance and operations for Palmer’s school system. There, she has created a new budget process, helped balance a fiscally conservative budget to meet the needs of students, simplified benefits, and helped transform the central office into a 21st-century work environment, as well as creating a before- and after-school program for students in pre-K through grade 5. In addition, she coaches multiple youth sports, supports Rick’s Place, and teaches CCD at her church.

Amanda Babinski

Amanda Babinski

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? At the start of each day, I set out to be the best I can be in each role I play. I want my kids to get the best of me and my job to get the best of me. I always want to have my best foot forward. I am really proud of the fact that I was able to successfully enter into the business manager licensure program, complete the course, and obtain my license through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. My kids have been incredibly supportive of how busy mom has been, and always ‘help’ me with my homework. I have a strong work family as well and feel lucky to be a part of the Palmer schools family.

What are you passionate about? Public service. In every job I have held, I have served others, and I am always proud to do good work for other people. I am inspired by the underdog and always want to do my part to help everyone to be successful. For fun, I love spending time with my children. We like to be outside, playground hopping, shopping, or spending time with our extended family. Time spent with my family is the best stress reliever I can think of.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? If I could have lunch with anyone, it would be my husband. He was an amazing man, who passed away in 2017 after a courageous battle with cancer. My children and I miss him every day, and I would love to have lunch with him to check in and see how he feels about all we have accomplished since he passed.

40 Under 40 Class of 2020

Partner, Bulkley Richardson; Age 37; Education: Colorado College (BA), Northeastern University School of Law (JD)

Barry’s law practice focuses on advising businesses, charitable organizations, healthcare organizations, and educational institutions on the legal issues that affect them.

Ryan Barry

Ryan Barry    Photo by Leah Martin Photography

What did you want to be when you grew up? A ski bum. I accomplished that goal in my 20s, living in Crested Butte, Colorado, skiing every day and working as a chef at night.

What do you do for fun? I love backcountry skiing, fly fishing and fly tying, cooking, reading, watching British mystery shows, and being outside with my family.

How do you relieve stress? My 3-year-old running full-speed into my arms for a hug is the best stress reliever I know. A long walk or ski in the woods does the trick, too.

What’s your favorite hangout or activity in Western Mass., and why? Some of my favorite spots include Mt. Greylock, Mt. Tom, the Deerfield and Westfield rivers, and the bike paths, playgrounds, breweries, and restaurants in my hometown of Easthampton. I love the mix of nature and community here in Western Mass.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? I at least aspire to be like Gus McCrae from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but is also the kind of person you can rely on when you’re in a tight spot. I also admire characters who react to hardship with good humor, like Sully in Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? John Adams. I recently finished David McCullough’s great biography of him. He lived an extraordinary and adventurous life and was a fearless and principled attorney. I’d love to hear his thoughts on modern-day America over lunch and a hard cider (which Adams apparently drank every day, including at breakfast).

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Even though he often plays bad guys, the late, great Alan Rickman.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? As John Cleese said at the funeral of one of his fellow Monty Python members, “Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries.” Hopefully, my colleagues will also be saying it just for shock value, but only time will tell.

40 Under 40 Class of 2020

CEO, Dreamscape Designs Landscaping/Rent A Tent; Age 27

At age 13, Basile started his first company, Rent A Tent, which is a party-equipment rental company he still owns and operate today. At 17, he started a second company, Dreamscape Designs Landscaping, and continues to grow that enterprise today as well.

Marco Basile

Marco Basile  Photo by Leah Martin Photography

What three words best describe you? Passionate, driven, dependable.

What’s been your biggest professional accomplishment so far in your career? Over the past 10 years, I have grown Dreamscape Designs Landscaping from a one-man operation to a company that has multiple crews servicing hundreds of commercial and residential clients weekly.

What are you passionate about? Being the best version of myself and helping the people around me succeed. I am also passionate about inspiring youth, and as the head coach of the East Longmeadow High School wrestling team, I am able to change the mindset of so many.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Every night, I create a checklist of things that I need to do the next day. My goal each day is to complete that checklist.

What’s your favorite hangout or activity in Western Mass., and why? As a small-business owner, it is important to support other local businesses. I have a lot of family and friends who own many great local restaurants; it’s hard to list them all. If I had to choose one place I really enjoying spending time at, it would be Nathan Bill’s. I admire how they are always giving back, and I feel good about spending my hard-earned money at places where I know that they will pay it forward.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I’ll admit I had to get a little help on this one, so I asked a friend. He said, “Marco is someone you can truly count on. He is someone who genuinely has your back and would do anything for a friend while expecting nothing in return. Marco is also one of the most hardworking people I have ever met. He is always going above and beyond in everything he does.”

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Elon Musk. I love his optimism — we both see the world as a place where nothing is impossible.