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Erin Couture

Erin Couture

Florence Bank named Erin Couture its Community Support Award winner for 2018. The award was established by the bank in 1997 to recognize employees who are active participants in community events and donate their personal and professional time to local not-for-profit organizations. Each year, the award recipient has the opportunity to select a not-for-profit organization of his or her choice, and the bank makes a donation to that organization. At Couture’s recommendation, Florence Bank will make a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, for which Couture serves as president on its advisory board. Couture, vice president of commercial loans and a commercial lender, joined Florence Bank in November 2011. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from UMass Amherst and an MBA from Western New England University. Couture is actively involved with the Northampton Chamber of Commerce as a finance committee member and is also the committee chair at the W.E. Norris School in Southampton. Couture is an award recipient of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty. “Erin is the ideal choice for the Community Support Award,” said John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Her positive energy, commitment to numerous local nonprofit organizations, and dedication to helping those in need within our community is exemplary.”

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Samuel Headley

Samuel Headley

Springfield College has selected Professor Samuel Headley of the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in the department of Exercise Science as its inaugural recipient of the Karpovich Chair for Wellness at Springfield College. This award honors and supports Headley’s record of scholarship and innovation in exercise science. It is a competitive, three-year, honorary appointment that promotes interdisciplinary research across health-science fields through the testing of ideas and the creation of new initiatives and practices that have the potential to be brought to scale and lead to a sustainable avenue of scholarship that would be competitive for future external funding. The new chair will pursue collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarship in the area of wellness. Graduates from the class of 1954 established an endowment in honor of their 50th reunion to recognize Peter Karpovich, a member of the Springfield College faculty from 1927 until 1969. He was a founder the American College of Sports Medicine and is widely considered the father of exercise physiology in the U.S., having published more than 130 journal articles in the field. A professor of exercise physiology, Headley joined Springfield College in 1992 as an assistant professor, receiving promotion to associate professor in 1997 and to professor in 2003. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a registered clinical exercise physiologist. He has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator on numerous grants and contracts, including a major award from the National Institutes of Health and, most recently, a contract with Relypsa Inc. to examine nutritional, behavioral, pharmaceutical, and counseling interventions with patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. As the first Karpovich Chair awardee, Headley will lead a nationwide team of 12 scholars and researchers to delve into the potential interactions of prebiotic supplementation and moderate aerobic exercise training on critical health concerns of chronic kidney-disease patients, ranging from inflammatory responses that predispose kidney patients to premature death due to cardiovascular disease to psychological markers of health and well-being. “Our group is excited for this opportunity to test our hypotheses because we believe our work has the potential to positively impact upon the lives of patients who have chronic kidney disease,” Headley explained. “The study that we have proposed is the result of the collaborative efforts of members of our research team.” The Karpovich chair comes with a commitment of $40,000 annually over three years to support the project.

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Ariel Rothstein Clemmer

Ariel Rothstein Clemmer

The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) announced the hiring of attorney Ariel Rothstein Clemmer as pro bono director. In this newly created role, funded by a grant from MassMutual, Clemmer will help elevate the HCBA Legal Clinic’s operations to better serve the increasing unrepresented population in Hampden County. Clemmer will manage existing pro bono programs, develop new pro bono opportunities, increase volunteer activity, partner with local businesses and organizations on new initiatives, and ensure that pro bono activity under the auspices of the Legal Clinic meets the highest standards of excellence and professionalism. A 2010 graduate of Harvard Law School, Clemmer recently relocated from New York City to the Pioneer Valley. She started her career as a public defender at Bronx Defenders, where she represented indigent clients charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes. She then worked for the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, defending clients against security class actions and other complex financial matters, while continuing to develop her pro bono practice litigating matrimonial, civil, and criminal cases. In 2014, Clemmer was selected by the partners at Weil to participate in a pro bono externship at Legal Services of New York City (LSNYC). She excelled there, which led to her being named one of the “Top 30 Pro Bono Attorneys of 2014” by LSNYC. Immediately prior to accepting her role as pro bono director at HCBA, she worked as a matrimonial and family-law associate with a boutique Manhattan firm, Donohoe Talbert, LLP. She also served as an active member of LSNYC’s Pro Bono Associate Advisory Board. “Ariel had a distinguished career that demonstrates her commitment to public-interest initiatives,” said HCBA President Wm. Travaun Bailey. “In a nutshell, she is just the perfect person for the job, and we are excited to have her.”

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Jessica Wheeler

Jessica Wheeler

Jessica Wheeler recently joined Bulkley Richardson as a litigation associate. Wheeler’s prior experience as a senior associate at a New York firm equipped her with hands-on experience, including assistance with oral arguments, motions to dismiss and for summary judgement, class actions, SEC investigations, testimony preparation, discovery, and trial preparation. She was also part of a team that successfully represented a wrongfully convicted former inmate, leading to a $7.5 million settlement. Wheeler received a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Yale University in 2004 and a juris doctor from New York University School of Law in 2011, where she served as articles editor of the New York University Law Review. She was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow and earned scholarships, including the Dean’s Scholarship, based on academic achievement. While attending law school, Wheeler demonstrated her commitment to the legal community by taking on advocacy roles as an intern at several organizations, including the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech Privacy and Technology Project, and the Urban Justice Center’s Peter Cicchino Youth Project. Prior to law school, she was a paralegal for child-advocacy organization Children’s Rights.

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John Glenn

John Glenn

Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that attorney John Glenn, senior counsel, retired on March 1 after a long and industrious legal career. “Over the years, John’s wisdom, dedication, and friendship have made a lasting impact on every one of us here at Skoler Abbott,” said attorney Timothy Murphy, a partner at the firm. “His work has been invaluable in labor relations with his common sense and problem-solving approach. I speak for our clients as well as our team when I say we deeply appreciate and will miss John and his contributions.” Over a career that spanned nearly 40 years, Glenn specialized in representing management in labor-relations matters. His practice focused on assisting clients in developing positive relationships with their workforces to decrease the likelihood of unionization. He has extensive experience working with employers during union campaigns, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, and representing employers at arbitration hearings before the National Labor Relations Board and at state and federal agencies. Prior to joining Skoler, Abbott & Presser, Glenn was employed by the National Labor Relations Board in Cincinnati. He has also served as an adjunct professor of Labor Law at Western New England College School of Law. For many years, he has been included in Best Lawyers in America and has been named a Super Lawyer by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, which recognizes the top 5% of the lawyers in specific practice areas in the Commonwealth. Outside of his legal practice, Glenn often worked with young men recently released from prison to assist them with acquiring life and academic skills to enhance their employment opportunities. He now looks forward to spending more time playing tennis, watching college basketball, and continuing to take challenging biking and hiking trips throughout the country and around the world.

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Nicole Bambury

Nicole Bambury

Tru by Hilton Chicopee Springfield named Nicole Bambury general manager. She will be in charge of directing all aspects of hotel operations, including guest services and satisfaction, hotel administration, and overseeing marketing efforts. Bambury has 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry and was most recently general manager at Days Inn Chicopee, where she oversaw all responsibilities of a 100-room hotel and 30 employees. Her work experience also includes management positions at Hampton Inn by Hilton Chicopee as well as guest service at Hampton Inn by Hilton Bangor in Maine. Tru by Hilton Chicopee Springfield is expected to open this spring. The hotel is owned by Chicopee Hospitality, LLC and managed by BK Investments.

Berkshire Bank announced that Scott Pasquale has returned to Berkshire Bank as first vice president, senior commercial relationship manager. In his new position, Pasquale will be responsible for originating and managing commercial and industrial loans and building client deposit relationships in the Pioneer Valley and Western Mass. region, continuing Berkshire’s momentum. Pasquale brings more than 30 years of experience to his new role, including his previous work with Berkshire in 2013 as part of its commercial-lending team. Most recently, he held the role of first vice president, Commercial Loans at Country Bank, where he held a leadership role managing the Worcester commercial-lending team and portfolio totaling over $250 million, while creating and executing its small-business underwriting policy. “We’re excited to have Scott rejoin the commercial team in the Pioneer Valley. He brings a wealth of lending experience to a very talented group as we continue our momentum and expand our business,” said Jim Hickson, senior vice president, commercial regional president. “Scott will draw upon his industry experience developing and servicing middle-market commercial-lending opportunities and expanding relationships with private banking, wealth management, and insurance products.” Pasquale earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Wooster. Active in the community, he serves as a board member of the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Assoc., a board member of Springfield Technical Community College Foundation, and co-chair of the annual goods-and-services auction for the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

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Maria Teal

Maria Teal

Tony Volpe

Tony Volpe

HUB International New England, LLC, a division of HUB International Limited, recently announced that Maria Teal has joined the agency as an account manager for Personal Lines in the South Hadley office, and Tony Volpe has also come on board as an account executive in the Commercial Lines department. Teal holds her certified insurance service representatives (CISR) and vertified professional in personal lines (CPPL) designations and has been in the insurance industry for 18 years. She will specialize in personal coverages including home, auto, renters, and umbrella insurance. Volpe has more than 17 years of experience and has been recognized as an award-winning account executive. He is an eight-time Presidential Club winner “for distinguished performance in achieving overall production and profitability goals.” He has succeeded in meeting and exceeding company goals and sales profitability, and previously worked at Zurich Insurance, Allstate Insurance, Connecticut Casualty Company, and Insure.net. Volpe holds his property, casualty, life, and accident/health licenses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. At HUB, he will specialize in all types of auto-dealership and garage insurance liability products and more, and will focus in the Connecticut area.

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The Insurance Center of New England (ICNE) announced the continued expansion of its Group Benefits team with the addition of Valerie Francis, a 15-year insurance-industry veteran and group-benefits specialist. As account executive at ICNE, Francis will have multiple responsibilities, including helping business clients strategize employee-benefits programs at annual renewal time and throughout the year. “One of my most important roles will be supporting business owners and human-resource managers as they try to manage the costs of their benefits solutions, whether it be for their health, vision, dental, voluntary benefits, group life, or any other benefits solutions,” she said. Additionally, she will be responsible for helping ICNE bring in new business clients, particularly those who are looking for an insurance partner that takes a customized and strategic team approach to benefits planning and renewal negotiations with carriers. In 2003, Francis began her career in insurance at Aetna in Springfield, where she served as a customer-service representative (CSR) trainer in the benefits group and focused on educating her CSRs on how to explain benefits to employees. After seven years as a trainer, she transitioned to the group benefits team at Health New England in Springfield, where she was promoted to a supervisory role and eventually moved into the sales department. By the time she left Health New England to start her career at ICNE, she was supporting more than 600 accounts and employers of all sizes and from a wide variety of industries. “Through my other insurance jobs, I had had the pleasure of working with members of ICNE’s group benefits team, and I was always highly impressed with how they responded to requests and how they demonstrated true care and concern for every single person they came in contact with. I could not be more thrilled about having the opportunity to now work with these talented professionals to help our clients with all of their group-benefits needs.”

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Christine Roukey joined the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley as Marketing and Communications director. She is responsible for member and public communications, including the digital and print brand. Roukey joins the association from the Massachusetts Mutual Financial Group, where she was a sales support consultant for nine years, working closely with the assistant vice president of Recognition & Conferences. She was responsible for the communication and promotion of company annual sales campaigns, including creative, communications, electronic, and printed materials, and distribution of awards and rewards. Previously, she served as director of Communications and Marketing for the Satellite Agency Network Group. Roukey holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and business administration from Granite State College and an associate degree in mass communications from the University of Hartford. She earned the professional certified marketer (PCM) digital marketing designation from the American Marketing Assoc.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced that Scott Pasquale has returned to Berkshire Bank as first vice president, senior commercial relationship manager. In his new position, Pasquale will be responsible for originating and managing commercial and industrial loans and building client deposit relationships in the Pioneer Valley and Western Mass. region, continuing Berkshire’s momentum.

Pasquale brings more than 30 years of experience to his new role, including his previous work with Berkshire in 2013 as part of its commercial-lending team. Most recently, he held the role of first vice president, Commercial Loans at Country Bank, where he held a leadership role managing the Worcester commercial-lending team and portfolio totaling over $250 million, while creating and executing its small-business underwriting policy.

“We’re excited to have Scott rejoin the commercial team in the Pioneer Valley. He brings a wealth of lending experience to a very talented group as we continue our momentum and expand our business,” said Jim Hickson, senior vice president, commercial regional president. “Scott will draw upon his industry experience developing and servicing middle-market commercial-lending opportunities and expanding relationships with private banking, wealth management, and insurance products.”

Pasquale earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Wooster. Active in the community, he serves as a board member of the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Assoc., a board member of Springfield Technical Community College Foundation, and co-chair of the annual goods-and-services auction for the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International New England, LLC, a division of HUB International Limited, recently announced that Maria Teal has joined the agency as an account manager for Personal Lines in the South Hadley office, and Tony Volpe has also come on board as an account executive in the Commercial Lines department.

Teal holds her certified insurance service representatives (CISR) and vertified professional in personal lines (CPPL) designations and has been in the insurance industry for 18 years. She will specialize in personal coverages including home, auto, renters, and umbrella insurance.

Volpe has more than 17 years of experience and has been recognized as an award-winning account executive. He is an eight-time Presidential Club winner “for distinguished performance in achieving overall production and profitability goals.” He has succeeded in meeting and exceeding company goals and sales profitability, and previously worked at Zurich Insurance, Allstate Insurance, Connecticut Casualty Company, and Insure.net. Volpe holds his property, casualty, life, and accident/health licenses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island.

At HUB, he will specialize in all types of auto-dealership and garage insurance liability products and more, and will focus in the Connecticut area.

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the months of February and March 2018.

AGAWAM

Bragara US, LLC
60 North Westfield St.
$51,096 — Install sprinkler system in restaurant and banquet hall

McLean Realty Co.
197 Main St.
$48,000 — Demolition of showroom and offices

Trata Inc.
396 Main St.
$1,200 — Ground sign

Trata Inc.
396 Main St.
$10,000 — Tenant fit-out for Agawam Axe House

AMHERST

Granodonico Properties, LLC
23 North Pleasant St.
$10,000 — Kitchen exhaust hood

Jones Properties, LP
25B Pray St.
$101,841 — Interior renovation of office space, millwork, drywall, flooring, paint, plumbing, HVAC, and electric

Stavros Center for Independent Living
210 Old Farm Road
$2,500 — Replace two doors and two windows

CHICOPEE

Brixmore GA Chicopee Marketplace, LLC
591 Memorial Dr.
$150,000 — Electric car-charging station

Church of God
193 St. James Ave.
$10,000 — Build handicap-accessible bathroom, build platform for altar, build wall partition

E and R Realty, LLC
705 Meadow St.
$8,000 — Remove wall, install drywall over existing walls, install drop ceiling

Jacob Hannoush
32 Pearl St.
$10,000 — Roofing

DEERFIELD

Eaglebrook
271 Pine Nook Road
$325,000 — Replace water storage tank

Laura Newton
470 Greenfield Road
$61,000 — Renovation to Savages’ Market

EASTHAMPTON

7-Eleven Inc.
97 Union St.
Reface existing sign faces

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$37,376 — Add demizing wall

Tubed Products
44 O’Neill St.
Install wall sign

GREENFIELD

Clayton Herbert, Katherine Herbert
22 Mohawk Trail
$3,280 — Replace four windows, new trim, patch drywall

FBBT/US Properties, LLC
137 Federal St.
Change out five signs

Greenfield Corporate Center, LLC
101 Munson St.
$125,000 — Remodel existing office space for new tenant, Allergy and Immunology Associates

Greenfield Corporate Center, LLC
101 Munson St.
$8,600 — Rework existing sprinklers to new tenant space

R + D Vic Corp. Inc.
204 Main St.
$2,120 — Cut down half wall for a countertop

SMR Greenfield Trust
324 Main St.
$30,000 — Repair drywall, flooring, and ceiling tiles

Edward Snow Jr., Kerrilynn Snow
223-225 Leyden Road
$6,000 — Install spiral staircase

LONGMEADOW

GPT Longmeadow, LLC
666 Bliss Road
$350,000 — Alteration to existing space for Baystate Urgent Care Clinic

LUDLOW

Dowd Insurance Agency
563 Center St.
$15,000 — Commercial alterations

NORTHAMPTON

The College Church Inc.
58 Pomerpy Terrace
$66,394 — Install solar panels on roof

Smith College
28 Lyman Road
$21,000 — Roofing

Split Excavating
228 King St.
$3,971 — Replace broken glass front and new brick facia

Thornes Marketplace, LLC
150 Main St.
$110,000 — Renovate main entry vestibule, including new doors, new flooring, and new ceiling assembly

Wayfinders
155 Pleasant St.
$5,000 — Illuminated wall sign

Wayfinders
155 Pleasant St.
$1,725 — Illuminated wall sign

Wayfinders
155 Pleasant St.
$5,520 — Illuminated wall sign

PALMER

Camp Ramah in New England
39 Bennett St.
$3,500 — Repairs to summer-camp staff bunkhouse

SOUTHWICK

Southwick Package
466 College Highway
Replace rooftop unit

SPRINGFIELD

Aziz Ahmed
345 Main St.
$11,000 — Minor work to open convenience store, including platform at checkout counter, new sink and toilet, exhaust fan, and three doors

CMC Development
222 Carew St.
$2,300 — Install fire and burglar alarm in first-floor office space

Diocese of Springfield
99 Wendover Road
$250,000 — Construct roof-mounted solar system on Pope Francis High School

Five Town Station, LLC
296 Cooley St.
$8,000 — Add door and window to existing wall

Helen Dorian Trust
266 Bridge St.
$1,600 — Repair glass pane and reglaze eight window frames at Mansfield Beauty School

Brian Henry
1464 State St.
$5,000 — Interior demolition to repair water damage in office space

Liberty Medical Building Associates
125 Liberty St.
$14,820 — Construct wall to enclose future break room, remove sink, and add door in Suite 408; construct closet and add door in Suite 402

Meg Realty, LLC
24 Mattoon St.
$12,500 — Reframe burnt lumber rafters and make weathertight work area

Hung Nguyen
461 Belmont Ave.
$24,000 — Alter first floor for take-out restaurant, including handicap ramp and new kitchen

WARE

Baystate Mary Lane Hospital
85 South St.
$169,048 — Renovate existing space to make exam rooms

Baystate Mary Lane Hospital
85 South St.
$303,729 — Renovate vacant patient for new outpatient wound-care program

Cold Spring Medical, LLC
182 West St.
$249,000 — Gut and renovate old Cumberland Farms to create medical office

Norcor Auto Wash Inc.
134 West St.
Install roof-mounted solar panels

Town of Ware
22 North St.
$4,000 — Construct interior separation wall, shelving at Police Department

WESTFIELD

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
137 Franklin St.
Install grid-tied solar photovoltaic system

Gregg’s Mobile Auto Repair, LLC
16 George St.
$90,000 — Interior space fit-out

L & R Market Inc.
35 North Elm St.
Interior renovations and repairs

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Leonard Bruso
20-26 Roanoke Ave.
$78,732.86 — Install rooftop solar array

DDR Realty
935 Riverdale St.
$242,000 — Interior alteration of existing space

Brendan Greely
85 Elm St.
Roofing

Departments People on the Move
John Dowd Jr.

John Dowd Jr.

Dennis Fitzpatrick

Dennis Fitzpatrick

Diane LaCosse

Diane LaCosse

James Wall

James Wall

John Dowd Jr., Dennis Fitzpatrick, Diane LaCosse, and James Wall were recently named to the board of the Sisters of Providence Ministry Corp. (SPMC). SPMC functions as the holding company for Providence Place Inc., Mary’s Meadow at Providence Place Inc., and Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc., all in Holyoke; and Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center in Westfield. The Sisters of Providence executive council serves as the corporation’s members on the SPMC board and as corporation officers; they include Sr. Kathleen Popko, president; Sr. Mary Caritas Geary, vice president; and Sr. Senga Fulton, secretary/treasurer. Dowd is president and CEO of the Dowd Insurance Agencies, and has served on numerous boards, including the Sisters of Providence Health System (SPHS) and foundation board, NUVO Bank & Trust, and CityStage and Symphony Hall. Fitzpatrick is president of the O’Connell Companies and former board chair of Brightside for Families and Children, SPHS, and Catholic Health East, of which SPHS was a founding member. LaCosse is senior vice president of United Bank’s commercial banking division in West Springfield and a member of the Providence Place/Mary’s Meadow board and finance committee. She is a volunteer for the WestMass Eldercare Money Manager Program, an associate of the Sisters of Providence, and formerly served on the Brightside for Families and Children Board. Wall retired in 2012 as global managing director of talent and chief diversity officer for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., U.S. He currently serves on two boards of trustees: as vice chair of American Management Assoc. International, NYC, and chair-elect of Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc. in Holyoke.

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Mark Wysk

Mark Wysk

Guardair Corp., the largest U.S. manufacturer of OSHA-compliant safety air guns and pneumatic vacuums, announced the hiring of Mark Wysk as the new director of Global Supply Chain. Wysk brings 30 years of industrial purchasing management experience, including international sourcing, tool-industry knowledge, and materials expertise. In his new role at Guardair, he will support manufacturing through innovative sourcing strategies and optimizing cost-saving opportunities in conjunction with annual operating plans. His focus will be on building and strengthening partnerships, providing true strategic relationships. “Mark’s expertise in improving productivity, quality, and efficiency of supply-chain operations is a tremendous asset as we continue to grow,” said Tom Tremblay, president of Guardair Corp. “We are thrilled to have him join our team.” Wysk was most recently the corporate director of Procurement at Simonds International. Prior to that, he held the position of senior manager of Global Sourcing for Lenox. He holds a master’s degree in engineering management and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, both from Western New England College. He currently serves as president of the Institute for Supply Management of Western New England and has published articles in Supply Chain World and Cutting Tool Engineering.

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Tom Schiff

Tom Schiff

Tom Schiff, the founder and executive director of Phallacies Inc., will receive an Innovative Initiative Award in March for his work with the nonprofit, which helps men create healthy masculinities through dialogue and theatrical performance. Schiff will receive the honor in person from the Men and Masculinities Knowledge Community of the National Assoc. of Student Personnel Administrators at the organization’s 100th annual conference in Philadelphia on March 3-7. The honor comes as Schiff is poised to begin to expand the organization in the region to reach and impact a broader audience of men of all ages. Phallacies Inc. provides leadership development, health education, and violence prevention for men via dialogue and innovative educational theater. It was born four years ago through Schiff’s work as a health educator at UMass, where he also founded the Men and Masculinities Center. Through Phallacies, people who identify as male between the ages of roughly 19 and 35 engage in a dialogue about masculinity and the intersections with other identities, health, violence, and relationships, and then create performance pieces as educational and thought catalysts to encourage changing the cultural scripts about masculinities. Performances take place at colleges, human-service organizations and forums, conferences, and local high schools and middle schools. Men who are involved include teachers, staff from youth and human-service agencies, and medical students. “They’re interested in getting support for themselves about how to be healthier as a man — physically, emotionally, and psychologically — and to find support for that. They are trying to rethink what it means to be a man in the world,” Schiff said. “People also get involved because they’re interested in violence prevention. Men need to speak up and speak out about these issues to help support more men and boys in creating healthy masculinities.” Schiff holds a doctoral degree in organization development from UMass, a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, and a bachelor’s degree in history with certification in secondary social studies from the State University of New York at Cortland.

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The board of directors at Pioneer Cold announced that Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bryan Hedge has been elected president. He joined Pioneer in 2007 as vice president of Operations, and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2012. Hedge will be responsible for all areas of Pioneer, including customer and employee satisfaction. A major part of his job will be to set priorities in strategy, asset utilization, and revenue growth, and to ensure operational excellence across the company. As COO, Hedge was the operations leader and delivered consistent improvement in all areas, including safety, capacity planning and utilization, customer satisfaction, and productivity. As a result, Pioneer achieved industry-best operational metrics as benchmarked against industry standards. Hedge came to Pioneer from Sleepy’s, where he was vice president, Logistics. Prior to that, he was vice president, Business Operations at CIS in Lenox. He also held executive-level supply-chain-management roles at Save-A-Lot Foods, Performance Food Group, and Springfield Foodservice. He spent 20 years with TruServ Corp., where he was consistently promoted to roles with increasing responsibility. Hedge is an active member of the International Assoc. of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW) and serves as a member of that organization’s supply chain operations committee. He also currently serves as treasurer of the North Atlantic Chapter of the IARW. He is also a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. Pioneer Cold also announced two more promotions, with Susanne Gagnon becoming director of Operations and Michael Carr becoming Customer Service manager. Gagnon served most recently as Customer Service and Transportation manager. She came to Pioneer in 2004 as a Warehouse manager and was promoted to Customer Service manager in 2006. Prior to joining Pioneer, she was with C&S for 10 years and was promoted to roles with increasing levels of responsibility, working on the ‘SWAT Team’ setting up and opening new distribution centers for three years, and was promoted to Warehouse supervisor, where she spent her last two years. Carr joined Pioneer in 2003 as a Customer Service representative. In 2007, he was promoted to senior Customer Service representative and has spent the last 11 years in that role. Prior to joining Pioneer, he was a route sales/DSD delivery driver for a magazine and book distributor.

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Dr. Angela Belmont

Dr. Angela Belmont

Cooley Dickinson Health Care President and CEO Joanne Marqusee announced the appointment of Dr. Angela Belmont as vice president, Patient Care Services and chief Nursing officer (CNO). “In her new role, Angela provides leadership, oversight, and support of our leaders in the Patient Care Services division at Cooley Dickinson Health Care,” Marqusee said. “Angela is responsible for advancing our dyad program of nursing and physician collaboration, and partners with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Estevan Garcia to focus on quality and patient safety. In this regard, Angela will help us to drive improvements in patient satisfaction and nursing practice at Cooley Dickinson.” A successful nurse administrator with more than 30 years of experience, Belmont has held progressively responsible leadership positions in acute-care hospitals throughout her career, including more than 20 years with Faxton-St. Luke’s Hospital, a 370-bed acute-care hospital in Utica, N.Y. Prior to joining Cooley Dickinson, Belmont was assistant vice president of Nursing for Mohawk Valley Health System, a community healthcare system with more than 4,000 employees that serves patients throughout three counties in upstate New York. In this role, she led efforts to significantly improve patient-care services and outcomes across the two hospital campuses. Belmont earned both her bachelor’s degree in Nursing and master’s degree in nursing administration at the State University of New York, and her doctorate in nursing practice in system leadership from Rush University in Chicago.

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Brittany Weiss, associate director of International Admissions at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield, has joined the all-volunteer board of directors for the International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI). “We are very pleased to have Brittany as part of the ILI family,” said Eric Wirth, ILI board president. “Her extensive academic and professional background around the world and here at home will go far in supporting our work, including high-quality language instruction and teacher training, free English classes for immigrants and refugees, and volunteer opportunities throughout the Pioneer Valley.” Weiss has considerable experience abroad in Asia, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Prior to joining Stoneleigh-Burnham, she was Admissions associate at the American International School of Budapest in Hungary, where she worked with students and families from more than 60 nationalities. Earlier, she served as assistant director of Alumni Engagement at her alma mater, Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, and as a resident faculty member at Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Siena College and a master’s degree in educational administration and policy studies from the University at Albany.

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The Melha Shriners, a philanthropic organization based on fun, fellowship, and Masonic principles, announced the official election and installation of their potentate (president) and his Divan (executive board). At its annual meeting, the Melha Shriners presented the potentate’s fez to Glenn Surprenant, the 108th top-ranking Shriner in Western Mass. as the organization enters its 120th year. A lifelong resident of Western Mass., Surprenant graduated from Classical High School and later pursued his passion for laboratory sciences. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from American International College in 1976, he became a registered medical technologist in Laboratory Sciences and is currently the director of Radiology at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. In 1976, Surprenant married Diane Ruggeri, an assistant nurse manager, Labor & Delivery for Baystate Medical Center. After many years of observing other members of his family join the Masonic fraternity and then the Shrine, Surprenant was raised a Master Mason in the Indian Orchard Lodge in February 2006 and joined the Melha Shriners in March 2006. He has been an active member and past president of the Hadji Unit in 2014. During parades, he can be seen driving one of the brightly colored Jeepsters. Surprenant’s journey toward becoming the head Shriner in Western Mass. began in 2014 when he was appointed to the Divan line. The fellowship he espouses is seen throughout the Shrine and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield, as his cousin, Al “Poppy” Surprenant, is a member of the clown unit; his brothers, Joseph and Gary Surprenant, are both board of governors members at the hospital; and his son, Andrew, is president of the Melha Oriental Band Unit. The First Lady’s project, titled “Nursing Education: Making a Difference for the Kids,” will raise funds to provide items not normally allocated in a hospital budget; these educational items will assist the nurses in the transition to acute pediatric rehabilitation care. Said First Lady Diane, “I’d like to add more educational items that will help the staff to do even greater things than they are doing now. My hope is that my project will provide additional tools and the necessary training to expand the high-quality care the children receive here in Springfield.”

•••••

Kayla Drinkwine

Kayla Drinkwine

Kayla Drinkwine joined Webber & Grinnell Insurance as commercial lines marketing manager. She will be responsible for quoting, negotiating, and placing the agency’s larger commercial accounts with the various insurance carriers represented by the agency. Drinkwine started her career at Phillips Insurance Agency in Chicopee. Starting as the office receptionist, she moved quickly to personal lines customer service representative and then to commercial account manager. She maintains her construction risk and insurance specialist (CRIS) and certified insurance service representative (CISR) designations from the Massachusetts Assoc. of Insurance Agents.

Departments Picture This

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

Outlook 2018

The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce staged its annual Outlook luncheon on March 9 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. More than 650 attendees heard a host of speakers updating the regional, state, and national economic pictures. Keynote speakers were Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and Congressman Richard Neal.
Photos by Ed Cohen Photography

Neal gives his annual federal outlook

Neal gives his annual federal outlook


State Rep. Carlos Gonzales, right, talks with Michael Knapik

State Rep. Carlos Gonzales, right, talks with Michael Knapik, who recently left his position as head of Baker’s Western Mass. office to become Baystate Health’s lobbyist


From left, Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition; Penni McLean-Conner, chief customer officer and senior vice president of Customer Group at Eversource; and Mike Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield

By the Book

 Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. is sponsoring the Anna E. Barry Elementary School in Chicopee

Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. is sponsoring the Anna E. Barry Elementary School in Chicopee through the Link to Libraries Business Book Link sponsorship program. The three-year, $1,500 annual contribution will provide 300 new books to the Barry School library each year. Five volunteer readers from Phillips Insurance will also visit school classrooms once a month, read to students, and give each child a new book to take home and keep. At the end of each school year, students will have a home library of seven books. Pictured, from left: Sarah Whiteley, employee benefits account executive, Phillips Insurance Agency; Christopher McMaster, account executive, Phillips Insurance Agency; Laurie Flynn, president and CEO, Link to Libraries; Abbie Meulemans, grade 4 teacher, Chicopee; Krystal DeJesus, grade 4 teacher, Chicopee; and Maria Cafaro, grade 4 teacher, Agawam.

Beaming with Pride

On Feb. 28, Holyoke Community College celebrated a topping-off ceremony in front of the HCC Campus Center, now in the middle of a two-year, $43.5 million, top-to-bottom renovation. The building is expected to reopen for the fall 2019 semester. Topping-off ceremonies are held before the last and highest beam is fixed to the frame of new buildings. Traditionally, the beam is painted white and signed by work crews and others involved in the project and adorned with a small evergreen tree and an American flag. By the time it was lifted, the 10-foot beam was covered with signatures from the HCC community, including current student Erin Burns (below), who signed the beam for herself and her sister, father, and mother, all of whom attended HCC. The renovation will add about 9,000 square feet to the 57,727-square-foot building.

 

Daily News

HAMPDEN — Monson Savings Bank is conducting a free workshop on Saturday, March 24 to help first-time homebuyers learn about purchasing a home. A first-time homebuyer is anyone who has never owned a home or who has not had ownership in any real estate for at least three years.

This workshop is designed to help first-time homebuyers learn how to get pre-qualified for a mortgage, as well as the facts about special loan programs with low down payments. Speakers include originators Charlene Kareta and Terry Poloski, a closing attorney, an appraiser, a home inspector, and homeowner’s insurance representatives.

This workshop is open to the public and will take place from noon to 2 p.m. at the bank’s Hampden branch, 15 Somers Road. There will be special offers and a chance to win door prizes, and a light lunch will be served.

“There are a lot of people who have good credit and enough income to afford reasonable mortgage payments but who are still challenged to purchase a home due to the difficulty of raising the money for a down payment, not knowing who to talk to, or what the process is,” said Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank. “That’s exactly who this program is designed to help.”

Attendees are asked to RSVP to reserve a seat, by contacting Olivia Larose at (413) 267-4513 or [email protected].

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. is sponsoring the Anna E. Barry Elementary School in Chicopee through the Link to Libraries Business Book Link sponsorship program. The three-year, $1,500 annual contribution will provide 300 new books to the Barry School library each year. Five volunteer readers from Phillips Insurance will also visit school classrooms once a month, read to students, and give each child a new book to take home and keep. At the end of each school year, students will have a home library of seven books.

“We are thrilled to have Phillips Insurance sponsor a school though Link to Libraries,” said Laurie Flynn, president and CEO of Link to Libraries. “Their generosity will not only provide much-needed books for the school library, but their presence in the classroom and their involvement with students will mean the world to these kids. We can’t thank them enough for their generous donation.”

Added Joseph Phillips, president of Phillips Insurance, “this is a great opportunity for our staff to see first-hand the impact our charitable contributions have on our community. Everyone here is excited to be involved.”

Daily News

AGAWAM — The Insurance Center of New England (ICNE) announced the continued expansion of its Group Benefits team with the addition of Valerie Francis, a 15-year insurance-industry veteran and group-benefits specialist.

As account executive at ICNE, Francis will have multiple responsibilities, including helping business clients strategize employee-benefits programs at annual renewal time and throughout the year. “One of my most important roles will be supporting business owners and human-resource managers as they try to manage the costs of their benefits solutions, whether it be for their health, vision, dental, voluntary benefits, group life, or any other benefits solutions,” she said.

Additionally, she will be responsible for helping ICNE bring in new business clients, particularly those who are looking for an insurance partner that takes a customized and strategic team approach to benefits planning and renewal negotiations with carriers.

In 2003, Francis began her career in insurance at Aetna in Springfield, where she served as a customer-service representative (CSR) trainer in the benefits group and focused on educating her CSRs on how to explain benefits to employees. After seven years as a trainer, she transitioned to the group benefits team at Health New England in Springfield, where she was promoted to a supervisory role and eventually moved into the sales department. By the time she left Health New England to start her career at ICNE, she was supporting more than 600 accounts and employers of all sizes and from a wide variety of industries.

“Through my other insurance jobs, I had had the pleasure of working with members of ICNE’s group benefits team, and I was always highly impressed with how they responded to requests and how they demonstrated true care and concern for every single person they came in contact with. I could not be more thrilled about having the opportunity to now work with these talented professionals to help our clients with all of their group-benefits needs.”

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International Limited, a leading global insurance brokerage, announced it has acquired the assets of Leitao Insurance Inc. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Located in Ludlow, Leitao is a multi-line insurance brokerage firm providing products in personal and commercial lines.

“The Leitao team will be a welcome addition to HUB New England, and we look forward to having them on board and continuing to serve their valued clients,” said Timm Marini, president of Personal Insurance at HUB New England.

The Leitao agency will join HUB New England with other local HUB offices in Ludlow (formerly Your Choice), South Hadley, Monson, and East Longmeadow.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Kayla Drinkwine joined Webber & Grinnell Insurance as commercial lines marketing manager. She will be responsible for quoting, negotiating, and placing the agency’s larger commercial accounts with the various insurance carriers represented by the agency.

Drinkwine started her career at Phillips Insurance Agency in Chicopee. Starting as the office receptionist, she moved quickly to personal lines customer service representative and then to commercial account manager. She maintains her construction risk and insurance specialist (CRIS) and certified insurance service representative (CISR) designations from the Massachusetts Assoc. of Insurance Agents.

“We are excited to have Kayla join our team of professionals,” President Bill Grinnell said. “Her strong background, friendly demeanor, and work experience will help Webber & Grinnell continue its trajectory of steady growth and customer-service excellence.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Kayla Drinkwine joined Webber & Grinnell Insurance as commercial lines marketing manager. She will be responsible for quoting, negotiating, and placing the agency’s larger commercial accounts with the various insurance carriers represented by the agency.

Drinkwine started her career at Phillips Insurance Agency in Chicopee. Starting as the office receptionist, she moved quickly to personal lines customer service representative and then to commercial account manager. She maintains her construction risk and insurance specialist (CRIS) and certified insurance service representative (CISR) designations from the Massachusetts Assoc. of Insurance Agents.

“We are excited to have Kayla join our team of professionals,” President Bill Grinnell said. “Her strong background, friendly demeanor, and work experience will help Webber & Grinnell continue its trajectory of steady growth and customer-service excellence.”

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of February 2018.

CHICOPEE

Bob Bolduc, Roberta Bolduc
27 Montgomery St.
$17,500 — Remodel inside of Pride store to relocate soda self-service area

Cebula Electronics
637 Front St.
$73,050 — Install new roof, interior and exterior renovations

EASTHAMPTON

Bialy Dom Farm, LLC
42 West St.
$14,500 — Demolish and remove two-story barn

Eastworks, LLP
116 Pleasant St.
$35,000 — Construct interior partitions for indoor mini-golf

Williston Northampton School
37 Park St.
$135,000 — Install fire-suppression system in new dorm facility

EAST LONGMEADOW

East Longmeadow Wellness Center
250 North Main St.
$42,100 — Fire sprinkler system

Irina’s Alterations
100 Shaker Road
$3,300 — Fire-protection system

HADLEY

Gulmohar Realty Corp.
237 Russell St.
$1,800 — Two signs

Pride, LP
25 Russell St.
$27,000 — Install fabricated ductwork, commission rooftops and balance system

Pride, LP
25 Russell St.
$3,100 — Six signs for new Pride store

Young Men’s Club of Hadley Inc.
138 East St.
$49,000 — Expand existing building

NORTHAMPTON

Aquadro & Associates Insurance
355 Bridge St.
$2,000 — Illuminated sign

Cutchins Center for Families & Children
17 Brewster Court
$32,000 — Remodel office, including new window, sink, entry door, and separate storage space for client use

Florence Savings Bank
85 Main St.
$65,500 — Minor office renovation

Maureen McGuinness, Peter St. Martin
223 Pleasant St.
$275,000 — Three new toilet rooms, new bar layout, new accessible ramp, renovate finishes in dining area at Roberto’s

Northampton Historical Society
46 Bridge St.
$45,780 — Install 31 solar panels at Damon House

River Valley Market
330 North King St.
$16,906 — Install new electric door at entrance

Safe Passage Inc.
76 Carlon Dr.
$242,241 — Renovate building, making three tenant spaces into two

Konstantinos Sierros
99 Main St.
$8,000 — Remove staircase, construct walk-in keg cooler for JJ’s Tavern

SPRINGFIELD

Amerco Real Estate Co.
88 Birnie Ave.
$3,500 — Demo three previously infilled windows and install new windows in existing openings

Best Fitness
1739 Allen St.
$445,000 — Renovations to locker areas, create spinning room

CCA
3550 Main St.
$14,350 — Add three hand-washing stations to existing medical space on first floor

Children’s Study Home
30 Sherman St.
$4,000 — Build wall to divide room into two rooms for use as office space

City of Springfield
474 Armory St.
$2,021,000 — Window and door replacement at Zanetti School

City of Springfield
180 Cooley St.
$5,274,500 — Window and door replacement at Kiley Middle School

Five Town Station, LLC
380 Cooley St.
$3,000 — Demolition of two bathrooms and one door opening for future build-out of tenant space

MassMutual
1500 Main St.
$345,000 — Interior fit-out of tenant space on first floor for Westfield Bank

Mzion Corp.
1341 Main St.
$35,657 — Renovate existing space by removing old millwork and partition walls, erect platform for display and register, patch walls and hang slat wall for displays

Norley Realty Inc.
350 Albany St.
$18,000 — Remove three antennas and add three RRUs to cell tower

WESTFIELD

Tario Mahmood, Rizwana Mahmood
397 Little River Road
$2,000 — Relocate window, re-side front of building

Stephen Oleksak, Susan Oleksak
994 Western Ave.
$1,675,000 — Solar field

Anthony Rix
164 Elm St.
Roof replacement

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Home Depot USA Inc.
179 Daggett St.
$115,000 — Install new kitchens and appliances displays and fixtures, move existing racking to new area

Kudlic Bros. Inc.
1419 Union St.
$5,900 — Changes to building, electrical, and plumbing

Springfield Country Club, LLC
1375 Elm St.
$14,500 — Repair water damage to card room

WILBRAHAM

O Ice, LLC
1855 Boston Road
$5,400 — Create new office space in existing interior space

Palazzesi Realty, LLC
2141 Boston Road
$10,950 — Install partitions for new hair salon

Departments People on the Move
Christine Devin

Christine Devin

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. announced the promotion of Christine Devin, CPA, to manager in its Audit and Accounting department. In her new position, Devin will be responsible for the management of audit and review engagements for the firm’s not-for-profit, commercial, and pension clients. In addition, she will assist with the management of the not-for-profit niche, which encompasses the supervision and training of staff, client relations, firm protocol, and regulatory updates. She rejoined MBK in 2015 as a senior associate. With nine years of experience as a controller of a closely held business and more than eight years of public accounting experience, Devin combines a deep understanding of the operations, financial reporting, and regulatory requirements of the private sector with the technical expertise of a CPA. Devin received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Elms College. She is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

•••••

Katie Longley

Katie Longley

Elms College appointed accomplished higher-education finance executive Katie Longley the college’s new vice president of Finance and Administration. Reporting to the president, Longley, who will join Elms on March 26, will be responsible for the strategic oversight and management of the college’s financial resources and operations. She comes to Elms from Abilene Christian University in Texas, where she currently serves as associate vice president of Finance. She held successive positions as controller, tax director, payroll manager, and senior accountant during her tenure with ACU. Prior to her work in higher education, Longley was in public accounting, working as an associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, and then becoming a senior auditor for Davis, Kinard & Co. She holds a master’s degree in accountancy and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, both from Abilene Christian University. Longley fills the position vacated by Brian Doherty, who retired from the college earlier this year.

•••••

Marcie Zimmerman

Marcie Zimmerman

Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) promoted Marcie Zimmerman to Human Resources officer. In this role, she is responsible for the day-to-day management of HR, including benefits administration, employee relations, payroll, affirmative-action plan, recruiting, orientation, performance management, policy implementation, and employment-law compliance. Zimmerman joined GSB in 2009 and has worked in the field of human resources for more than 12 years. She holds a number of HR certifications, including Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), and Certified Compensation Analyst (CCA).

•••••

Jeanne Kosakowski

Jeanne Kosakowski

The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced that Jeanne Kosakowski has been hired as claims director. In this role, she handles some of the personal-lines claims, all of the commercial-lines claims, and oversees all claims. “Jeanne joins us with over three decades of insurance experience and demonstrated customer relations that will benefit our customers,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. Kosakowski came to the Dowd Agencies from Hanover Insurance, where she was a commercial-lines product analyst. She received her bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage College in New York, where she was a Kellas Scholar. She is an Associate in Claims (AIC), a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR), and a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), and is currently working on her Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation. Kosakowski, who was named an “outstanding instructor” for the Worcester County Insurance Institute, will be based in the Dowd Agencies’ home office in Holyoke.

•••••

Elizabeth Dineen

Elizabeth Dineen

The board of trustees at Elms College appointed Elizabeth Dineen, executive director of the YWCA of Western Mass. in Springfield, as a new board member. Dineen has had a long career of community service, first serving as an assistant district attorney for 25 years prosecuting child sexual abuse and rape cases, then entering an academic career as the director of the Criminal Justice program at Bay Path University, and now at the YWCA, whose mission — “eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all” — is consistent with that of Elms College. Her legal career focused on helping the most vulnerable in the community, especially women and children who were the victims of sexually based and personal violence, and that focus has carried over into her work at the YWCA, which serves women and families at critical times in their lives. Dineen has served on the board of directors of Square One of Springfield, which provides early-education programs for children, since 2013. She previously served on the board of Mont Marie Child Care Center in Holyoke, and on the appropriations committee in East Longmeadow. Honors Dineen has earned throughout her career include the Governor’s Award for Service to the Commonwealth, the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, Top Women of Law from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the first Justice Kent B. Smith Award from the Hampden County Bar Assoc., the City of Holyoke Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition, the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. Access to Justice Award as Prosecutor of the Year, and the Elms College Alumni Assoc. Distinguished Alumni Award.

•••••

Nicholas D’Agostino

Nicholas D’Agostino

Holyoke Community College recently welcomed Nicholas D’Agostino as its new Affirmative Action officer and Title IX coordinator. D’Agostino comes to HCC after working for nearly 12 years as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action professional in Connecticut, most recently as the associate in Diversity and Equity at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) and before that as an EEO specialist with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. He started at HCC on Jan. 29. A longtime advocate for equity and social justice with a focus on LGBTQ issues, D’Agostino has been an Anti-Defamation League anti-bullying trainer for more than 10 years and has a long association with True Colors, a support and advocacy group in Hartford for LGBTQ youth, which he has served as board president. He has either led or participated in hundreds of affirmative-action and discrimination investigations during his career. At CCSU, D’Agostino conducted awareness and advocacy programs, promoted social-justice initiatives, engaged the college community in sexual-harassment and assault prevention, and led training sessions on diversity, Title IX compliance, anti-racism, and LGBTQ awareness. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in federally funded education programs. D’Agostino holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Quinnipiac University and a master’s degree in counselor education with a specialization in student development in higher education from CCSU.

•••••

Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito

Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito

Jeffrey Sattler

Jeffrey Sattler

The Springfield Technical Community College board of trustees recently welcomed two new members. Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito and Jeffrey Sattler to serve on the board, an 11-member body that governs STCC. Oleksak-Sposito worked as a clinical care manager at Boston Medical Center Health Plan from 2012 until her retirement in 2016. She provided holistic medical-care-management services for plan members with chronic conditions and complex care needs. Prior to joining Boston Medical Center Health Plan, she worked as a medical case manager for Broadspire, a division of Crawford & Co. and provider of claims-management solutions to the risk-management and insurance industry. She previously worked as a sales specialist and account manager at Hill-Rom Home Care in Charleston, S.C. A certified case manager prior to her retirement, Oleksak-Sposito holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from American International College in Springfield and a diploma in nursing from the Cooley Dickinson Hospital School of Nursing in Northampton. Her term ends March 1, 2022. Sattler is senior vice president, Commercial Lending, at Savings Institute Bank & Trust. He is responsible for managing and growing the bank’s commercial-banking business, including lending, leasing, and deposit accounts throughout the Greater Springfield and Enfield, Conn. areas. He has more than 35 years of experience in commercial banking at various institutions in the region. Prior to joining Savings Institute Bank & Trust, Sattler served as president of NUVO Bank & Trust Co. (now known as Community Bank N.A.) He serves on the board of directors of Mason Wright Senior Living Community, Rotary Club of Chicopee, and the Western Massachusetts Boy Scouts of America. He is an associate member of the National Tool & Die Assoc. Sattler graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history, with a minor in business administration. He also graduated from the ABA Commercial Lending Banking School at the University of New Hampshire. His term ends March 1, 2021.

•••••

William Sharp

William Sharp

Freedom Credit Union (FCU), headquartered on Main Street in Springfield and serving members throughout Western Mass. through nine additional branches, announced the recent appointment of William Sharp as the new branch officer in Chicopee. Sharp has worked with financial institutions for 40 years, having held management positions within the banking industry prior to joining Freedom Credit Union in 2013. He is active within his community and has received several recognitions. He currently serves as board chair for the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, which awarded him the Dr. Edward Ryan Award for board service in 2016. That same year, the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, which he had served as treasurer, named him Ambassador of the Year. He also has served as board chair for the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board and, in 2003, was named Volunteer of the Year by the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

•••••

Mary Russell

Mary Russell

The Dowd Agencies, LLC announced that Mary Russell has been hired as commercial lines account manager. “With nearly a decade of insurance experience, Mary’s expertise and commitment to customer service will benefit our customers,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. As commercial lines account manager, Russell manages a roster of insurance clients and supports producers with a variety of initiatives. She came to the Dowd Agencies from a local agency, where she was a personal lines account manager. She received her associate degree in psychology from Holyoke Community College.

•••••

Margaret (Meg) Beturne

Margaret (Meg) Beturne

Ruben Arroyo

Ruben Arroyo

The Gray House recently inducted two new board members to a three-year term. They were welcomed at the January board meeting by the president and officers of the board. The new board members are Margaret (Meg) Beturne and Ruben Arroyo. Remaining board officers are Kathleen Lingenberg, president; Susan Mastroianni, vice president; Janet Rodriguez Denney, clerk; and Candace Pereira, treasurer. Beturne is a professional nurse with extensive experience in perianesthesia, surgical, ambulatory and critical-care nursing and is the assistant nurse manager at the Baystate Orthopedic Surgery Center in Springfield. Previous positions include Nursing Clinical Operations manager of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit and staff nurse in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. She has served on several boards of directors, including the Children’s Study Home, the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield, the Elms College board of trustees, and the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses. Arroyo is the Code Enforcement inspector for the Holyoke Board of Health and president of Arroyo Inc., an HVAC and home-improvement business. He is a deacon at his church, Iglesia Casa de Misericordia, and also involved with Iglesia Apostolica Cristiana Betzaida and the Christian radio broadcast station La Hora Zero 1490 AM.

•••••

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

LUSO Federal Credit Union announced the appointment of Jennifer Lopez as its new Marketing manager. She will oversee the credit union’s Marketing Department staff and daily operations, including brand and product promotions, advertising, online activity, and other marketing efforts. Lopez is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 10 years of experience in media and marketing management in Western Mass. Most recently, she spearheaded the marketing and communications initiatives at Pope Francis High School in Chicopee. Prior to that, she was a reporter and editor for Turley Publications in Palmer, and worked as a content writer for Market Mentors in West Springfield. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Western New England University.

•••••

Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully announced the promotions of Mark Phillips, Andrew Sullivan, Sarah Yurkunas, and Christine Witz. Phillips has been appointed to first vice president of Internal Audit. He has been with the bank for 23 years and is a certified internal auditor and certified bank auditor. He has more than 40 years in the financial-services industry in various positions, most recently director of Internal Audit. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from Nichols College, and is also a graduate of the National School of Banking. He and his wife, Lisa, actively support the Epilepsy Foundation and the Worcester County Food Bank. Sullivan has been promoted to small-business lending officer and has been with the bank for four years. He began his career as a staff auditor at Wolf & Co. in Springfield, where he worked for two years before joining Country Bank as a credit analyst. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management along with an MBA with a concentration in accounting from Elms College. In 2015, he started a charity golf tournament, Andrew Sullivan’s Swing for a Cure, to bring awareness to cystic fibrosis. Over the past three years, this event has raised more than $30,000. Sullivan is also a member of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and was recently selected to receive the Best in Bank award from Country Bank. Yurkunas has been promoted to commercial portfolio manager and has been with the bank for 11 years. She began her career at Country Bank in the loan-servicing area and then moved to a loan coordinator position, which inspired her to pursue her career in the commercial-lending area. Yurkunas has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Bay Path University. She has also taken classes from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. and received a certification in Fundamentals of Credit Analysis: Intro to Commercial Lending. She volunteers many hours of her personal time to support the bank’s community programs and enjoys giving back to her community. Witz has been promoted to retail lending officer. She has been with the bank for seven years, most recently as the assistant branch manager in the Charlton office. She serves on the Buy Ware Committee.

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT

Gissel Santiago v. Picknelly Family LP
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $4,828
Filed: 1/31/18

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT

Guillermo Rivera v. Chicopee Property, LLC
Allegation: Window blinds in apartment maintained by defendant fell on plaintiff, causing injury: $5,204.34
Filed: 1/25/18

Reinhart Foodservice, LLC v. AJB Ventures Inc. d/b/a Corner Grill & Pizzeria and Ibrahin Abed
Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $6,618.37
Filed: 1/26/18

Nicole Ward v. Yellowbrick Property, LLC
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $12,080
Filed: 2/2/18

Gordon Hunting v. Eastern States Exposition and Outdoor Sports Expo Group
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $7,469.17
Filed: 2/7/18

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT

Kathy L. Wheatley v. Eastfield Associates, LLC a/k/a Eastfield Mall Associates, LLC and Macy’s Retail Holdings Inc.
Allegation: Slip and fall in Eastfield Mall parking lot causing injury: $91,500
Filed: 1/23/18

Catherine Byrd Clear v. Salema Management Corp.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall at Dunkin’ Donuts causing injury: $21,587.41
Filed: 1/24/18

Mark Pisarczyk, personal representative of the estate of Phyllis Pisarczyk v. Dr. John Romanelli; Baystate Surgical Associates; Jamie Wicks, M.D.; and Baystate Medical Center
Allegation: Wrongful death: $2,524,000
Filed: 1/25/18

The Collins Companies Inc. d/b/a Collins Pipe & Supply Co. Inc. v. the William Powell Co. d/b/a Powell Valves
Allegation: Breach of contract: $428,949
Filed: 1/26/18

Rosemary B. Herberger v. Baystate Medical Center
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $4,144.63
Filed: 1/29/18

Michael Forni v. Kmart Corp.
Allegation: Negligence causing injury: $25,000
Filed: 1/31/18

Christina Mancini v. Haven Plaze East Associates LP and the Stop & Shop Companies Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $43,845.75
Filed: 2/2/18

NGM Insurance Co. as subrogee of Katelyn M. Ford v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority
Allegation: Negligence; driver of PVTA bus backed into plaintiff’s vehicle, causing injury and property damage: $14,381.83
Filed: 2/2/18

Henry Favreau v. Craig Schacher, M.D.; Kalpana Mani, M.D.; Timothy Herbst, M.D.; and Jefferson Radiology, P.C.
Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $25,000
Filed: 2/5/18

HOLYOKE DISTRICT COURT

Lisa N. Grimaldi v. Tannery Crossing Condominium Assoc.
Allegation: Slip and fall causing injury: $1,975
Filed: 1/19/18

John McCluskey v. Pyramid Management Group
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury at Holyoke Mall: $5,000
Filed: 1/31/18

Daily News

AGAWAM — At its [email protected] event on Wednesday, March 7, the Springfield Regional Chamber will host Jay Ash, state secretary of Housing and Economic Development, who will talk about “Unlocking Economic Development,” and his priorities to grow jobs, help communities realize their economic-development initiatives, connect citizens to new economic opportunities, and build prosperity across Massachusetts.

The event takes place from 7:15 to 9 a.m. at Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. The cost is $25 for members ($30 at the door), or $35 general admission ($40 at the door).

Ash is responsible for directing and executing Gov. Charlie Baker’s agenda on housing and community development, job creation, business development, consumer affairs, and business regulation. He previously served as city manager in his native Chelsea, a position he held from 2000 to 2014. In Chelsea, Ash’s leadership produced both economic expansion and fiscal stability. He grew the city’s housing stock by more than 10%, expanded its commercial base with two dozen major projects, led all Gateway Cities with a 15% increase in new employment, developed 10 new parks, secured five credit-rating increases, and won two All-American designations for Chelsea.

In his current role, Ash has led statewide initiatives on health insurance, youth violence, transportation infrastructure, and expanded gaming in Massachusetts.

To make a reservation, visit www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mail [email protected], or call (413) 755-1310.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — John Dowd Jr., Dennis Fitzpatrick, Diane LaCosse, and James Wall were recently named to the board of the Sisters of Providence Ministry Corp. (SPMC).

SPMC functions as the holding company for Providence Place Inc., Mary’s Meadow at Providence Place Inc., and Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc., all in Holyoke; and Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center in Westfield. The Sisters of Providence executive council serves as the corporation’s members on the SPMC board and as corporation officers; they include Sr. Kathleen Popko, president; Sr. Mary Caritas Geary, vice president; and Sr. Senga Fulton, secretary/treasurer.

Dowd is president and CEO of the Dowd Insurance Agencies, and has served on numerous boards, including the Sisters of Providence Health System (SPHS) and foundation board, NUVO Bank & Trust, and CityStage and Symphony Hall.

Fitzpatrick is president of the O’Connell Companies and former board chair of Brightside for Families and Children, SPHS, and Catholic Health East, of which SPHS was a founding member.

LaCosse is senior vice president of United Bank’s commercial banking division in West Springfield and a member of the Providence Place/Mary’s Meadow board and finance committee. She is a volunteer for the WestMass Eldercare Money Manager Program, an associate of the Sisters of Providence, and formerly served on the Brightside for Families and Children Board.

Wall retired in 2012 as global managing director of talent and chief diversity officer for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., U.S. He currently serves on two boards of trustees: as vice chair of American Management Assoc. International, NYC, and chair-elect of Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc. in Holyoke.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced that Jeanne Kosakowski has been hired as claims director. In this role, she handles some of the personal-lines claims, all of the commercial-lines claims, and oversees all claims. 

“Jeanne joins us with over three decades of insurance experience and demonstrated customer relations that will benefit our customers,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO.

Kosakowski came to the Dowd Agencies from Hanover Insurance, where she was a commercial-lines product analyst. She received her bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage College in New York, where she was a Kellas Scholar. She is an Associate in Claims (AIC), a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR), and a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), and is currently working on her Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation.

Kosakowski, who was named an “outstanding instructor” for the Worcester County Insurance Institute, will be based in the Dowd Agencies’ home office in Holyoke.

Autos Sections

Driving Forces

The auto market has been in high gear for the past several years, and area dealers expect that pattern to continue, and for several reasons. These range from a solid economy and abundant consumer confidence to quality vehicles and lingering pent-up demand.

‘Flat.’

In most discussions involving business, that term has a somewhat negative connotation to it. And in many ceases, we can leave out the ‘somewhat.’

But in the case of the auto-sales industry and local dealerships … ‘flat’ has a pretty good sound to it these days. In fact, just about everyone who would use images of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in their promotions this week, or tie red, white, and blue balloons to the cars in their showroom come July, would be pretty happy with ‘flat.’

Just as they were last year.

Indeed, since the very dark days during and just after the Great Recession, car sales have rebounded nicely, with the high-water mark, if you will, coming in the 2016 sales year, with nearly 17.5 million light vehicles (cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks) sold nationwide.

Last year was off that pace, but only slightly, with more than 17.1 million light vehicles sold. And the projections for 2018 are for pretty much the same, with maybe another slight decrease of 1% or less.

But, again, 1% off what? Even in the super-solid years leading up to the economic nosedive a decade ago (years 2001 to 2006), total sales were under or just slightly above 17 million.

As we said, ‘flat’ has rarely looked so good.

“Yes, last year was off what it was in 2016, but you’re coming off historic highs — and the drop was minuscule,” said Jeb Balise, CEO of Balise Motor Sales, adding (after checking his phone to make sure he had the numbers right) that sales this January were up 1% over a year ago, this despite some bitterly cold days, a few snow days for many adults, and even that dreaded bomb cyclone thing.

Jeb Balise says projections are for another flat year for auto dealers. But ‘flat’ is more than acceptable given the high volume of sales in recent years.

Jeb Balise says projections are for another flat year for auto dealers. But ‘flat’ is more than acceptable given the high volume of sales in recent years.

And the various forecasts he’s seen project sales of between 16.7 million and 16.9 million light vehicles, which would be another outstanding year.

Other dealers we spoke were equally upbeat and happy with ‘flat’ or something approximating it, and said a host of factors are contributing to solid sales and optimism that this trend will continue. A healthy stock market (until quite recently), a sound economy, still-low interest rates (albeit amid concerns that they will rise), low unemployment, large amounts of consumer confidence, well-made products, lots of inventory, attractive incentives from the manufacturers, some lingering pent-up demand, and the basics of supply and demand are all on that list.

“It’s just a good time to be buying a car,” said Don Pion, president of the Chicopee-based dealership started by his father, Bob Pion Buick GMC. “The product is good — the best I’ve seen since I’ve been in the business. They’re good products, they get good fuel economy, maintenance is pretty inexpensive on these new cars today, the manufacturers have been aggressive with their offers, there are good lease offers … it’s all good.”

Michelle Wirth, co-owner of Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, which opened its doors last fall, concurred.

“We have a very optimistic outlook on 2018,” she said. “People are feeling good about the economic outlook, and that allows them the mindset to spend money a little more than they would have in years past.”

Meanwhile, solid sales are not the only trend within the industry on track to continue. Others include the soaring popularity of SUVs and crossovers — Wirth noted that, for the first time last year, Mercedes reported more sales of those types of vehicles than cars — and an ongoing evolution in the role of the dealership.

Indeed, where once that was a place to check out the new models, see what they cost, and explore available options, consumers can now do a lot of that, if not all of that, on the Internet. By the time they come to the dealership, they know what they want, and they know what they expect to pay. Thus, the role for those at that facility is to make the rest of the process as quick and painless as possible.

In response, TommyCar Auto Group, comprised of three dealerships selling Nissan, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, has come up with a new product called Click, Drive, Buy, whereby the consumer can do pretty much the entire buying or leasing process online, and also get a car delivered to their home for a test drive.

“They can fill out a credit application, do the pricing up front, they can go through all the financing options and rebate options and see what they qualify for, all without coming to the dealership,” said Carla Cozenzi, president of the group. “They can even research all of the after-market products like warranties and gap insurance, all of that through our website.

“We’ve evolved because we had to,” she went on, speaking for everyone in the industry. “Customers can literally do it all from their iPhone.”

Fast Times

As he talked about the current market and the forces driving it, Pion referenced one recent vehicle traded in to get some of his points across.

“It had 250,000 miles on it, but it looked like it only had about 50,000 miles on the odometer,” he told BusinessWest. “It was in great shape; you would never know it had a quarter-million miles on it.”

And this was certainly not an isolated incident, he went on, adding that these high-mileage vehicles he’s seeing on a regular basis say a lot about the market today.

They speak to the quality of the cars on the road today and their durability — “you watch the cars drive by every day, and you see a lot of older models,” said Pion — but also to the fact that, eventually, people need, or want, to turn them in.

And this lingering pent-up demand for new models — although there is much less of it than was a few years ago — is just one of many reasons why Pion’s dealership had a 2017 to remember.

Don Pion, seen here with his son, Rob, general manager of the dealership, says the soaring popularity of SUVs and crossovers has helped fuel solid sales for the industry.

Don Pion, seen here with his son, Rob, general manager of the dealership, says the soaring popularity of SUVs and crossovers has helped fuel solid sales for the industry.

Indeed, Buick sales were up 40% over 2016, he said, while GMC sales were up 30%, and used-car sales were up 20%.

Pion attributed these strong numbers to that combination of factors he described above. And while he’s not expecting a repeat, exactly, he’s projecting another very solid year.

“No one’s looking to set a record,” he told BusinessWest. “But I don’t think we’ll see any declines, only more-modest growth, perhaps.”

Consenzi agreed, and told BusinessWest that 2017 was a solid year for all three stores within the group, especially Nissan, and she is expecting improvement on those numbers across the broad in 2018.

Balise was also optimistic, and said that the pent-up demand from several years ago has been replaced by a state of general “equilibrium,” as he called it. Surveying the market now, he sees still-ample demand and considerable inventory, an intriguing mix.

“Business is good, and plenty of cars are being sold,” he explained, “but it’s a little more competitive amongst dealers, which is always good for the consumer.”

As for Wirth, she doesn’t have any numbers from last year to use as the basis for projections, or many of them, anyway.

As noted, the dealership opened its doors in September, and that last quarter or so of 2017 was essentially a time for reintroducing the brand to this region after nearly a decade’s absence, she said, adding that this process is ongoing and has many nuances to it.

Indeed, reminding people that they no longer have to drive to Hartford or Route 128 to buy a Mercedes or get one serviced is just part of the equation, she went on.

Another big part is introducing the region to the people behind that dealership with the huge Mercedes sign in front of it — and they’ve done so in ways ranging from a huge grand opening to a presence on the ice at the MassMutual Center for Thunderbirds games, to various forms of support for several area nonprofits.

Still another is educating people about the brand, how it has evolved in some ways — all those SUVs, for example — and making it clear that, in many cases, and despite popular perception, it is not beyond their reach.

“The brand stands as a symbol of success and the ultimate in luxury, and it’s just a big brand to wear,” Wirth explained. “Mercedes is not just for folks who have made it or are about to retire and end their career; it’s very much for the person who’s still climbing.”

Elaborating, she said the dealership, and Mercedes-Benz in general, are trying to attract people not of a certain age group or income bracket, but people with a certain mindset.

“They’re young at heart, they’re entrepreneurial, they enjoy craftsmanship and brands that stand for something,” said Wirth as she explained this mindset. “As for the brand, they look at it like, ‘this is this best, everyone deserves the best, so reward yourself.’”

Into a Higher Gear

Getting back to the outlook for 2018 and the factors driving those optimistic projections, one of the influencing forces is the quality of the vehicles now parked at dealerships across the region. Indeed, while those cars and SUVs with 100,000 or 200,000 or even 300,000 miles on them are still getting the job done, the products rolling off the assembly line are appealing — enough to prompt some trade-ins.

Michelle Wirth says the role of the dealership continues to evolve, and the focus now is on transparency and making the consumer’s experience as easy and painless as possible.

Michelle Wirth says the role of the dealership continues to evolve, and the focus now is on transparency and making the consumer’s experience as easy and painless as possible.

Especially the crossovers and SUVs. As noted earlier, even brands that have built their heritage on sedans, like Mercedes, are selling more SUVs than cars these days. Buick, known for most of its existence for its sedans, now has a lineup flush with SUVs and crossovers, said Pion, and there’s only one true sedan left — the LaCrosse.

The Balise company counts nearly a dozen makes in its portfolio, including Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru, Kia, and more, and for nearly all them, SUV and crossover sales now exceed those of sedans, said Jeb Balise.

And there are many reasons for this, everything from relatively low gas prices to the additional room in the SUVs and crossovers; from the added height of such vehicles, and the fact that they’re somewhat easier to get in and out of, to their ability to take someone virtually anywhere they want to go.

“People are more active,” said Wirth. “They want to go more places and do more things, and those vehicles present themselves as being more versatile.”

Cosenzi agreed, and noted that most manufacturers, including those she represents, now have SUVs and crossovers in small, medium, large, and even micro sizes, and they are attracting consumers in all age groups. And for most people trading in a car, she said, the SUV they’re getting into will offer comparable mileage.

Even Volkswagen, which has traditionally lagged well behind in SUV and crossover sales, is making great strides with additions like the Tiguan, a smaller SUV, and the Atlas, a much larger model.

“Volkswagen always lacked in that category, but now it’s catching up,” she said. “We’re seeing it across all brands — the demand is really healthy in the SUV/crossover market.”

All that said, compact and mid-sized cars are still a huge segment of the market, said Balise, using one of the more iconic nameplates, the Toyota Camry, and some numbers off the top of his head to get his point across.

“Let’s just say Camry was selling 400,000 units and now they’re selling 315,000; that’s still a lot of momentum for that segment,” he said. “While the phenomenon is happening and it’s material — it impacts business, and we have to figure out what to do — it’s not a total-sum game. Sometimes you look at these reports and it looks like you’re never going to sell a car again, and it’s all going to be trucks — it’s not that dramatic.”

But it is still a sizable movement within the industry, as is the overall ‘dealer experience’ and the changes that have come to it, and the ever-greater emphasis on transparency and all that phrase implies.

As noted earlier, much goes into this equation, but it comes down to making life as easy as possible for the consumer during and after the buying or leasing process.

Putting it another way, Wirth said, while no one realistically expects to enjoy the car-buying process, dealers, and especially hers, are succeeding in making it far less painful that it was years ago.

How? By being up front and transparent with pricing, putting information in consumers’ hands, and adding convenience when possible, such us applying for financing online.

Balise agreed. “When it comes to the customer, their time is extremely important to them, and they don’t want to waste it,” he explained. “So when they come in, you need to be on your game and give them the information in an easy, transparent way; what you’re really doing is being as helpful as you can to help them make a decision.”

Pion echoed those thoughts, noting that a good number of people who come into a dealership ready to buy want to drive off in their new vehicle the next day — or even later that day — and dealers have to respond to such whims with inventory and an ability to get such deals done.

But these efforts to enhance the customer experience don’t end with the sale, as those in this industry like to say. Indeed, service is a huge part of the equation, especially with cars remaining on the road as long as they are, and emphasis on this part of the experience manifests itself in everything from spacious, well-appointed waiting areas to car washes built into the dealerships.

At the Mercedes dealership, said Wirth, the technician will create a video of the vehicle in for service and text it to the customer so he or she can see what the issue is.

“We’re in it for the long haul, and it’s more valuable to us and more important to us that people feel taken care of and understood,” she went on. “It’s more about how we meet people’s needs at that moment in time and have all the information at that moment.”

Full Throttle

The dealers we spoke with said those Presidents Day sales that once dominated the airwaves and turned Washington and Lincoln into pitch-people are still a part of the landscape, just not on the same scale as years ago.

Those sales were needed to propel the industry out of winter doldrums and create a bridge to spring, said Pion and Balise, both industry veterans. Today, car selling is different, and there is more of a even flow of transactions throughout the year — although a boost in February is always welcome.

That’s just part of a changing landscape in this business, where ‘transparency’ is now the watchword, and where ‘flat’ sounds really good.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Autos Sections

On the Move — Always

The new car wash in West Springfield is the latest addition to an ever-growing portfolio of facilities for the Balise Auto Group.

The new car wash in West Springfield is the latest addition to an ever-growing portfolio of facilities for the Balise Auto Group.

As he talked about the very latest addition to the already-expansive portfolio for the Balise Auto Group, a car wash just off Riverdale Street in West Springfield, Jeb Balise said it was a capital-intensive, very necessary supplement to the collection.

Capital-intensive because car washes, as some might know but others might not, are now very sophisticated, computer-operated facilities offering an ever-greater array of wash options. And necessary because … well, consumers are becoming ever-more demanding, and, likewise, the auto business is ever-more competitive.

So auto groups like Balise need to respond with the proverbial ‘more’ and ‘better.’ ‘More,’ as in more products and services to offer those customers, and ‘better,’ as in better than the competition.

And this mindset reflects itself in everything from the company’s growing stable of car washes (there are now three, including two in Western Mass.) to the ongoing work to replace or renovate the group’s large roster of dealerships, including the Balise Nissan store a half-mile east of the car wash on Riverdale Street, to an insurance agency in Rhode Island as part of the mix.

“We’re making sure we’re giving the customer everything they want for support instead of just selling them a car,” said Balise as he talked about additions to the number of collision centers, used-car facilities, and more. “So if someone buys a car from us, they don’t have to worry about collision repair or getting their car cleaned or insurance; we can pretty much provide holistically everything they need for the life of that car.”

He offered those thoughts in an interview in one of the sales offices at Balise Nissan, the latest of the company’s dealerships to be replaced, or, in this case, given a huge makeover. Long operated under the name Jerry Rome Nissan, the facility now bears the Balise name.

Open for just over two months, the ‘new’ dealership was essentially gutted and rebuilt from the ground up, said Balise, adding that it is the first store selling this brand to incorporate new imagery and design elements developed by the carmaker.

The Nissan dealership on Riverdale Street now carries the Balise name. It’s the latest of the company’s dealerships to undergo extensive renovations or new construction.

The Nissan dealership on Riverdale Street now carries the Balise name. It’s the latest of the company’s dealerships to undergo extensive renovations or new construction.

“There was nothing left of the showroom — we stripped it right down to columns and roof, basically,” he explained. “We really rebuilt it, and you can feel it; you would never know it was a retro.”

That’s the word he chose for a dealership built in the ’80s and ’90s — before they became far more spacious (50,000 square feet in the case of the Toyota dealership, also on Riverdale Street), comfortably equipped, and customer-friendly.

As he talked about the Nissan store and offered a quick tour, pointing out its larger, revamped showroom and well-appointed service waiting area, Balise said there are a few minor touches to be completed before a grand opening can be staged — probably later this month.

And as those final touches are made, thoughts are already turning to what’s next, said Balise, adding that the company embarked on a massive campaign to make over facilities for all the brands it sells more than a decade ago, and there are still a few projects left to undertake.

One is the Balise Mazda facility on the other (north) side of Riverdale Street. Built in 1984, it is certainly showing its age, said Balise, adding that plans will be on the drawing board soon for either new construction or another extensive renovation.

Meanwhile, another nameplate in line to have a new home is Kia, which became part of the Balise stable in 2015 and has been housed in a small facility that was once a Mercedes dealership a decade ago.

Kia is a rising star in the auto galaxy, said Balise, adding that it has an attractive mix of cars, vans, and SUVs, and it will soon have a home befitting that status. Various options are currently being reviewed, and no formal plans have been announced, he went on, noting that both the Kia and Mazda facilities will be upgraded within the next 24 months.

“Our plans will be really impressive,” said Balise in reference to both projects, still in the developmental stage. “These will be either brand-new buildings or significant renovations — total change.”

As for the car washes, Balise said they are part of broader efforts to serve the full gamut of customer needs and provide additional layers of value.

The company started with a facility in Hyannis, where it also has several dealerships, then added one on East Columbus Avenue in 2016; the West Springfield location opened in January.

There are two more car washes on the drawing board for the next 24 months, said Balise, adding that the specific markets have not been identified.

The car washes offer ample evidence of consumers taking better care of their vehicles, but also of the value that auto groups are trying to provide.

Indeed, the car washes are strategically located to serve customers at the Balise dealerships (there are three on Columbus Avenue and a half-dozen on Riverdale Street), he noted.

Those who buy a car at any of the Balise dealerships get 60 days of free washes, he went on, and they also get special pricing on both everyday washes and the hugely popular ‘unlimited plans,’ whereby consumers can wash their car as often as they want for one monthly fee.

As for new dealerships, the company is always looking for new opportunities — in this market and others, he went on, adding that, despite an ongoing wave of consolidation within the industry, there are still a number of single dealerships and small groups that could be added to the portfolio if the conditions were right.

“Even with all the consolidation, it’s still a fragmented business,” he told BusinessWest. “The majority of facilities are owned by someone who might have two or three stores, or one store.

“We’re just focusing on the best-location, best-franchise philosophy,” he went on, and then making sure our facilities exceed the customers’ expectations.”

— George O’Brien

Chamber Corners Departments

1BERKSHIRE

www.1berkshire.com

(413) 499-1600

• Feb. 27: Entrepreneurial Meetup, 8-10 a.m., hosted by Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, Pittsfield. Join us for networking and share what you’ve been working on in an open-mic format. 1Berkshire’s Entrepreneurial Meetups are free events that gather entrepreneurs together to network, learn, and engage. They provide small-business owners, or people interested in starting a business, opportunities to have casual, organic conversations with peers and resource providers.

• Feb. 28: Good News Business Salute, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Zion Church, Pittsfield. Come celebrate Jacob’s Pillow, IS183, and more. This event recognizes major milestones, including anniversaries, expansions, and new product lines of Berkshire businesses, and gives us a chance to come together to applaud their efforts. Member cost: $35 for individual, $140 for table of four, $280 for table of eight. Non-member cost: $45 for individual, $180 for table of four, $360 for table of eight.

• March 21: Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Lee Bank, 75 North St., Pittsfield. Bring your business card to enter to win our door prize. Register online at www.1berkshire.com.

• March 28: Career Fair, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by Berkshire Community College, Paterson Field House, 1350 West St., Pittsfield. Get in front of Berkshire-based businesses at this annual event. Connect with employers looking to hire. You may also choose to exhibit, and recruit new employees, grow your business, and get in front of hundreds of job seekers. The event is free and open to the public. If you are interested in exhibiting or attending, visit www.1berkshire.com.

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.amherstarea.com

(413) 253-0700

• March 15: Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and Young Professionals of Amherst After 5 Networking, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Country Nissan, 40 Russell St., Hadley.

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

• March 2: Shining Stars Enchanted Gardens Gala, 6-10 p.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by Westfield Bank, Polish National Credit Union, Planet Fitness, PeoplesBank, the Arbors Kids, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, BusinessWest, Savings Institute Bank & Trust, Hampton Inn, Holyoke Medical Center, Pioneer Packaging Inc., United Personnel, CHH Engraving, Central Oil, Masse’s American Bistro Inc., and ICNE. Cost: $60. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

• March 8: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mill 180 Park, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. Multi-chamber event sponsored exclusively by CHH Engraving Inc. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

• March 21: St. Patrick’s Day Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by the Delaney House, 1 Country Club Road, Holyoke. Chief greeter: John Beaulieu, city of Chicopee and St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. Keynote speaker: Sean Cahillane, Irish Cultural Center. Sarah the Fiddler will perform. Sponsored by United Personnel, Westfield Bank, Holyoke Medical Center, Polish National Credit Union, Gaudreau Group, Sunshine Village, Spherion Staffing Services, and PeoplesBank. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

• Feb. 27: Strengths-based Leadership, 7:45-10 a.m., hosted by Innovative Business Systems, Mill 180, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. In the first of a two-part series, Colleen DelVecchio, a certified CliftonStrengths coach, will lead us into our strongest selves as leaders via our personnel Gallup StrengthFinder assessment and insight reports. At the end of the two breakfast sessions, you will understand the keys to be a more effective leader, unveil your strengths, learn to invest in the strengths of others, get people with the right strengths on your team, and understand and meet the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership: trust, compassion, stability, and hope. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

• March 8: Multi-Chamber Networking Event, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mill 180 Park, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. Sponsored by Interland Real Estate, LLC. In addition to the Easthampton Chamber, the chambers of Northampton, Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield, Chicopee, and West of the River are all involved. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

• March 16: St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, noon, hosted by Northampton Country Club, 135 Main St., Leeds. The main speaker will be Easthampton City Councilor Dan Carey. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

• March 27: “Strength-based Leadership” featuring Colleen DelVecchio, certified Clifton Strengths Coach. The second of a two-part series (see Feb. 27 listing above). For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.holyokechamber.com

(413) 534-3376

• Feb. 21: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Holyoke Community College MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. Sponsored by Holyoke Community College. Join us for a casual networking experience at HCC’s recently opened culinary facility. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com.

• Feb. 28: “Ask a Chamber Expert: How to Attract Customers to Your Marketing Table,” 8:30-9:30 a.m., Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Executive Conference Room, 177 High St., Holyoke. Get ready for the upcoming multi-chamber Taste of Business by learning how to successfully attract customers to your table. Presented by Francie Richardson of Art Craft. Cost: free for chamber members, $15 for non-members. Price includes a continental breakfast. Register at holyokechamber.com.

• March 7: The Chamber Coffee Buzz Morning Networking, 7:30-9 a.m., sponsored and hosted by Loomis House, 298 Jarvis Ave., Holyoke. Jump-start your day with the opportunity to meet business and community leaders while enjoying coffee and a light breakfast. Coffee sponsored by Manage Your Health and Wealth. Free to the business community. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com or call (413) 534-3376.

• March 7: “Women in Leadership: Leadership in Your Future,” 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by HCC Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. Join us from March through June to learn from area CEOs while networking with peers from the region. An elegant lunch prepared by the Holyoke Community College Culinary Arts program will provide the setting, which will create the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue on some key leadership issues for those building their careers. Each month, your table will join one of the region’s leading CEOs. Future leadership luncheons will take place on April 4, May 2, and June 5. Cost: $125 for all four sessions.

• March 8: Networking by Night Multi Chamber Event, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mill 180 Park, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. An evening of powerhouse networking with several regional chambers, plus food and a cash bar. Chamber partners include Holyoke, Easthampton, Springfield, Westfield, West of the River, Chicopee, and Northampton. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Pre-registration required.

• March 1 4: St. Patrick’s Day Business Breakfast 2018, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. Sponsored by PeoplesBank; Holyoke Mall at Ingleside; Resnic, Beauregard, Waite and Driscoll; and the Republican. Coffee bar sponsored by Marcotte Ford and Holyoke Medical Center. Connect with friends over a hearty Irish breakfast. The 2018 St. Patrick’s Parade Committee award winners, the Grand Colleen and her court, local business milestones, and new chamber members will be recognized. Register by March 8 for a discounted price of $35; cost is $40 after that. Marketing tables are available. Door prizes are welcome. The deadline to register is March 12. Visit holyokechamber.com to sign up, or call (413) 534-3376.

• March 21: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Slainte Restaurant, 80 Jarvis Ave., Holyoke. Sponsored by Expert Staffing. Meet up with your business associates for networking and food. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com. Call the chamber office at (413) 534-3376 if you would like to bring a door prize or if you’re interested in a marketing table for $25.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.explorenorthampton.com

(413) 584-1900

• Feb. 21: February Arrive @ 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Greenfield Savings Bank, 325A King St., Northampton. Sponsored by Webber & Grinnell Insurance Co. Cost: $10 for members.

• March 8: March Arrive @5 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mill 180, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. Sponsored by Applied Mortgage. The Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Springfield, Westfield, West of the River, and Chicopee chambers are partnering on this networking event. Cost: $10 for members.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.westfieldbiz.org

(413) 568-1618

• March 5: March Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Mercy Continuing Care Network at Westfield Adult Day Health, 24 Clifton St., Westfield. Cost: free. Call the chamber office at (413) 568-1618 to register for this event so we may give our host a head count.

• March 14: March After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Spotlight Graphics, 9B Whalley Way, Southwick. Refreshments will be served, and a 50/50 raffle will benefit the chamber scholarship fund. Bring your business cards and make connections. Cost: $10 for the general public (cash or credit paid at the door). Register online at www.westfieldbiz.org. For more information, call Pam Bussell at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

• March 16: St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by Westfield State University, 577 Western Ave., Westfield. Event sponsor: Westfield State University; bronze sponsor: Republic Services; in-kind flower sponsor: Flowers by Webster. Keynote speaker: Bo Sullivan, executive director of the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England. A 50/50 raffle will support the chamber scholarship fund. Cost: $25 for chamber members, $30 for the general public. Register online at www.westfieldbiz.org. For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, or additional information, contact Pam Bussell at the chamber at (413) 568-1618 or [email protected]

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

(413) 787-1555

• March 7: [email protected], 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. Cost: $25 for members ($30 at the door), $35 general admission ($40 at the door).

• March 8: After Hours with Springfield Regional, Greater Easthampton, Westfield and West of the River Chambers, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mill 180, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. Cost: $10 for members, $15 general admission.

• March 9: Outlook 2018, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by the MassMutual Center, Springfield. Featuring keynote speaker Gov. Charlie Baker and Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Cost: $60 for members in advance; $80 general admission in advance.

• March 13: Lunch ‘n’ Learn, details to be announced.

• March 20: C-Suite Conversations & Cocktails, 5-7 p.m., hosted by CityStage, One Columbus Center, Springfield. Members-only event featuring MGM President Mike Mathis. Cost: $25.

• March 29: Speed Networking, 3:30-5 p.m., location to be determined. Cost: $20 for members in advance ($25 at the door), $30 general admission in advance ($35 at the door).

Reservations for all chamber events may be made by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.ourwrc.com

(413) 426-3880

• March 6: Business Breakfast with MGM, 7-9 a.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern, West Springfield. Join fellow members and non-members for a business breakfast with MGM. We will provide an update as well as one-on-one sessions with MGM representatives for the bidding process. Sponsorships are available for this event. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• March 15: Networking Lunch, noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Crestview Country Club, Agawam. You must be a member or guest of a member to attend. Enjoy a sit-down lunch while networking with fellow chamber members. Each attendee will get a chance to offer a brief introduction and company overview. The only cost to attend is the cost of lunch. Attendees will order off the menu and pay separately that day. We cannot invoice you for these events. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD

springfieldyps.com

• March 10: Eighth annual YP Cup Dodgeball Tournament, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., hosted by Springfield College, Dana Gymnasium, 263 Alden St., Springfield. Cost: $35 for individuals, $275 to $1,000 for teams and sponsorships. More information and registration available at springfieldyps.com.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELDThe MassMutual Foundation Inc. — a dedicated corporate foundation established by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) — today announced it is providing Springfield Public Schools $1 million to expand the City Connects program into eight additional elementary schools throughout the city.

This grant further demonstrates the MassMutual Foundation’s ongoing commitment to Springfield and aligns with its focus on supporting programs that broaden economic opportunity for students and their families by transforming the system of learning. It is also consistent with the company’s recent decision to expand and reinvest in Massachusetts, including continuing to be a leading community partner in the Springfield area.  

“Education is a key lever in achieving financial security later in life and the MassMutual Foundation is committed to ensuring that students have access to the support system and resources needed to learn and thrive in school,” said Dennis Duquette, head of MassMutual community responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation. “The City Connects program has already garnered great results in our schools; this investment will expand the program’s reach, bringing positive change for even more students and their families.”

City Connects, a national program executed by the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, launched in five Springfield Public Schools in September 2011 and has tripled its reach and impact, serving 15 schools in 2017. The MassMutual Foundation grant will enable City Connects to reach a total of 23 schools. The program provides support for students based on their individual needs by addressing out-of-school challenges that affect student success, and leverages existing community resources and support services to optimize students’ readiness to learn. 

During the 2016-17 school year, City Connects served more than 5,000 Springfield students, and nearly 100 community partners provided support and services to meet these students’ unique strengths, needs and interests. Research has shown that the City Connects program significantly improves students’ academic performance; some positive long-term effects include lower dropout rates, higher test scores, and less chronic absenteeism.

In addition to strengthening education in Springfield, the MassMutual Foundation invests in projects, programs and organizations focused on strengthening the city of Springfield through revitalization, development, and social capital. In recent years, signature investments in the region include $15 million of support over 10 years to UMass Amherst to drive education and economic opportunity in Western Massachusetts, $1 million to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Capital Campaign to revitalize the museum, $1 million of support over three years to Valley Venture Mentors,  and seasonally supporting the Springfield Museums.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Technical Community College board of trustees recently welcomed two new members. Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito and Jeffrey Sattler to serve on the board, an 11-member body that governs STCC.

Oleksak-Sposito worked as a clinical care manager at Boston Medical Center Health Plan from 2012 until her retirement in 2016. She provided holistic medical-care-management services for plan members with chronic conditions and complex care needs.

Prior to joining Boston Medical Center Health Plan, she worked as a medical case manager for Broadspire, a division of Crawford & Co. and provider of claims-management solutions to the risk-management and insurance industry. She previously worked as a sales specialist and account manager at Hill-Rom Home Care in Charleston, S.C.

A certified case manager prior to her retirement, Oleksak-Sposito holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from American International College in Springfield and a diploma in nursing from the Cooley Dickinson Hospital School of Nursing in Northampton. Her term ends March 1, 2022.

Sattler is senior vice president, Commercial Lending, at Savings Institute Bank & Trust. He is responsible for managing and growing the bank’s commercial-banking business, including lending, leasing, and deposit accounts throughout the Greater Springfield and Enfield, Conn. areas. He has more than 35 years of experience in commercial banking at various institutions in the region. Prior to joining Savings Institute Bank & Trust, Sattler served as president of NUVO Bank & Trust Co. (now known as Community Bank N.A.)

He serves on the board of directors of Mason Wright Senior Living Community, Rotary Club of Chicopee, and the Western Massachusetts Boy Scouts of America. He is an associate member of the National Tool & Die Assoc.

Sattler graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history, with a minor in business administration. He also graduated from the ABA Commercial Lending Banking School at the University of New Hampshire. His term ends March 1, 2021.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced it is funding three scholarships to the 2018 American Legion Boys State at Stonehill College in June. The one-week, overnight program focuses on understanding one’s responsibilities and rights in the democratic process. Participants establish a mock government, complete courses in economics, and participate in elections. Founded in 1935, past participants include some of the most prominent names in the country, including former President Bill Clinton, movie critic Roger Ebert, and basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

“We are thrilled to have Phillips Insurance be such a generous and enthusiastic supporter of Boys State,” said Delfo Barabani Jr., District Three Boys State chairman.

Joseph Phillips, president of Phillips Insurance, noted that “my son Connor attended Boys State in 2016 and had a positive experience, so we decided to reach out to Delfo and provide the same opportunity to other students so they could benefit from this unique program and help prepare them for college and beyond.”

Phillips Insurance Agency was established in 1953 and is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 25 professionals. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses throughout New England.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, LLC announced that Mary Russell has been hired as commercial lines account manager.



“We are expanding our team at the Dowd Agencies and are pleased to welcome Mary to our dynamic team of professionals,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. “With nearly a decade of insurance experience, Mary’s expertise and commitment to customer service will benefit our customers.”



As commercial lines account manager, Russell manages a roster of insurance clients and supports producers with a variety of initiatives. She came to the Dowd Agencies from a local agency, where she was a personal lines account manager. She received her associate degree in psychology from Holyoke Community College.



“I strive to provide the best possible customer service to all of my clients, and am proud to join a company like the Dowd Agencies that places such a high priority on this as well,” said Russell, who will be based in the company’s home office in Holyoke. “I look forward to furthering their mission while also continuing my education.”


Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today announced a multi-year plan to expand its footprint in its home state of Massachusetts by significantly increasing its presence in Springfield and growing operations in Boston. In total, MassMutual will invest nearly $300 million into the Commonwealth and increase its workforce in the state by approximately 70 percent by the end of 2021.



As part of this plan, MassMutual is renewing its commitment to Springfield, the city of its founding in 1851, and expects to grow its workforce at its corporate headquarters by approximately 50 percent. To accomplish this, the company will be adding 1,500 positions to the facility over the next four years, bringing the total number of employees in Springfield to approximately 4,500 by 2021. MassMutual expects to make an investment of $50 million in facilities improvements at its State Street campus over the next several years to accommodate this growth.



MassMutual also plans to expand upon its Boston presence, constructing a new campus in the Seaport district on Fan Pier by 2021. This campus will ultimately house approximately 1,000 employees. The multi-story office structure — which will be in excess of 300,000 square feet – will be situated on an undeveloped parcel owned by MassMutual, with MassMutual as its primary tenant. The company expects to invest approximately $240 million into its new Boston campus over the next several years.



MassMutual is expanding in the Commonwealth because the state provides the company with everything it needs to continue to best serve its policyowners in the future: a highly skilled workforce, including a rich pipeline of talent from the state’s best-in-class network of higher education institutions; robust local economies; convenient access to transportation, and a diversity of communities, including the best of both metropolitan and suburban locations.



“Following a thorough strategic assessment of our operations and footprint, we concluded that our home state of Massachusetts is the best place for us to grow and thrive over the long term,” said Roger Crandall, MassMutual Chairman, President and CEO. “We have deep roots and a supportive community in our hometown of Springfield, and we will continue to invest and grow our workforce in the city. At the same time, as we evolve, a stronger Boston presence immerses us in a booming financial and digital economy and provides us with an enhanced opportunity to recruit innovators from the area’s deep and diverse talent pool.”



MassMutual’s Boston campus will primarily house functions that will benefit most from being located in a vibrant ecosystem with access to financial markets and digital talent.



“Our highly educated and skilled workforce helps the Commonwealth and great companies like MassMutual continue to lead the nation in a number of competitive categories,” commented Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud MassMutual has called the Commonwealth home for over 165 years and we look forward to what their investments in Western and Eastern Massachusetts will mean for Massachusetts, our economy and their employees.”



Baker added that as part of this agreement with the state, MassMutual will receive a package of incentives valued at approximately $46 million from the Commonwealth, the largest commitment ever made to a Springfield-based company. Those incentives are contingent upon MassMutual meeting its job-creation obligation of adding 2,000 jobs to Massachusetts. The job growth will result from new hires as well as relocation from other MassMutual sites to both Springfield and Boston.



“We are thrilled to have MassMutual expand its presence and build a new campus on Fan Pier,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh remarked. “MassMutual’s decision to grow in Boston will give the company greater access to the growing technology and financial services industries in our city and enhance its ability to attract the best available talent. I am delighted another major employer has decided the City of Boston can contribute to its successful future.”



MassMutual has been a supportive citizen of the Springfield community since the company’s founding in 1851. In recent years, MassMutual has invested largely in education, economic development and cultural vitality through the MassMutual Foundation, a dedicated corporate foundation established by the company.



“MassMutual remains one of our leading corporate citizens, and I am pleased that we have once again been able to work together to support the company’s continued growth and expansion here in its hometown of Springfield,” said Mayor Domenic Sarno. “My administration has been working hard to create an environment that encourages job growth and today’s announcement illustrates that through collaboration, we can find constructive solutions to support our communities for the long-term.”



Over time, MassMutual plans to consolidate certain facilities in other parts of the country, moving positions to its Springfield and Boston campuses. The company currently expects to retain offices in Amherst, Mass., New York City and Phoenix, AZ, which provide access to specific talent pools and business solutions.

Class of 2018 Difference Makers

A Unique Nonprofit Meets Some Very Special Needs

Craig, Will, and Maria Burke.

Craig, Will, and Maria Burke.

Kim Schildbach says she and her husband bought the trampoline on Craigslist back in 2013.

The price tag was only $60, and that number spoke volumes about its condition. “It was in decent shape, but … we knew it had a little life left in it, but not a lot,” she told BusinessWest, adding that, not long after they brought Anelia, the young girl they adopted, to their home in Leverett from her native Bulgaria a year later, that trampoline’s life had pretty much run its course.

And giving it some new life became important, because Anelia is blind and has other developmental challenges, and bouncing on a trampoline is one of many forms of therapy for her.

Replacing the unit was simply not in the Schildbachs’ considerably tight budget, so they turned to a unique but somewhat obscure nonprofit they had heard about called the WillPower Foundation for some help.

They were told that families of special-needs children, or ‘children with different abilities,’ as this nonprofit prefers to call them, could apply for small grants — $500 is the limit — for items like, well, trampolines, that are needed but not covered by insurance, and certainly not in the category of ‘necessity.’ So they often fall through the cracks.

To make a long story a little shorter, the Schildbachs were somewhat dubious about applying for another grant — they had filled out the forms for several as part of the exhausting process of adoption — but did anyway, found it took just a few minutes online, and wound up getting a grant to resuscitate their trampoline, among other things.

“They paid to replace the bouncy floor part and the thing that goes around the outside,” said Schildbach, who didn’t know the technical terms for what WillPower paid for, but certainly does know how important that grant was and is to the quality of life for her daughter.

Just listen to this.

“I put a milk crate by the side of the trampoline,” she explained. “Anelia has learned to get up on the milk crate, put one leg up over the side of the trampoline, and push herself up. Anie is very globally delayed, but she has some superpowers, as we call them, and one of them is navigation; she uses her cane, and amazingly she has an awareness of the space around her in a way that … I can’t do when I’m walking around the house at night and the lights are off.

“She gets on that trampoline and bounces away,” Schildbach went on. “It’s so good for them to move their bodies, the endorphin release is good, and then there are these things called vestibular stimulation, which is any kind of movement that is soothing to kids who come from traumatic places.”

The Schildbachs have two blind children from traumatic, or ‘hard’ places, as Kim calls them — they adopted Mabel from China in 2016. And they have now received two grants from the WillPower Foundation to pay for everything from that trampoline to what are known as sensory toys.

And this is just one of dozens of families across the region to benefit from that nonprofit, which was inspired by and named for another young person with at least one super power, Will Burke. His is the ability to inspire others to live life to the fullest, to move above and beyond the many obstacles life can throw at someone, and to give back.

Born with a rare brain malformation and adopted by Maria and Craig Burke, Will underwent a number of surgeries and procedures early in life at the Shriners Hospital for Children.

His parents, desiring to find a way give back to the Shriners, started with a three-on-three basketball tournament, with the proceeds going to that institution. While the tournament thrived, the Burkes and a growing corps of supporters wanted to do more and also do something quite different.

Four of the Schildbach children: from left, Anelia, Mabel, Jericho, and Olive.

Four of the Schildbach children: from left, Anelia, Mabel, Jericho, and Olive.

After considerable thought, they created a foundation that would put money directly in the hands of families that needed it.

The foundation is approaching two important milestones — its 10th year of operation and the $200,000 mark when it comes to grants awarded to families across the region. Actually, it will mark three milestones in 2018, with the last one coming in March when Will Burke will make his way to the stage at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House to accept the Difference Maker plaque from BusinessWest.

That plaque is in the shape of a butterfly, which, as most of you know by now, was chosen as a nod to the so-called ‘butterfly effect,’ whereby small and seemingly innocuous events like a butterfly flapping its wings can have a huge impact.

Perhaps no award winner in the program’s 10-year history better exemplifies the butterfly effect than the WillPower Foundation. The grants it issues are for only a few hundred dollars, but no one who receives one would ever use that word ‘only,’ because they are literally life-changing in nature.

Just ask Kim Schildbach.

Allowing Spirits to Soar

As she talked about WillPower and its importance within the community, Kim said the families of special-needs children, or, again, ‘those with different abilities,’ have lists of things they have to pay for.

Long lists, usually.

A $60 pair of cordless headphones for music-loving Anie (that’s another form of therapy for her)? Well, that would usually have to wait for “another week,” said Kim, adding that it might be many of those before the family, living on one income, could fit them in, if it ever did.

But through those two grants received from the Willpower Foundation, the family was able to get those headphones, as well as a rocking horse for Mabel, something called a “sensory backpack,” and some fidget toys, as they’re called — all things that insurance would not pay for and that would have had to wait for ‘another week.’

Missy Roy tells a similar story. Her daughter, now 7, has Down syndrome and needs a host of services and special equipment. But she also needs (and her family also needs) someone to advocate for her when it comes to school and other matters.

And insurance won’t cover the services of such a professional, which is unfortunate, said Roy, because some of these matters are technical in nature.

“When you’re just a parent, you don’t know all the ins and outs of school and what the law says,” she told BusinessWest. “You need an advocate, but insurance won’t pay for it.”

Such advocates charge $50 an hour for their services, and the $500 grant from the Willpower Foundation covered roughly two-thirds of her total bill. Likewise, another grant helped pay for a device to help’s Roy’s daughter communicate. Insurance covered 80% of the cost of a device known as an Accent 1000 (sticker price: $7,000), but Roy had to cover the rest. Her load was lightened appreciably by a second $500 grant.

Life-easing episodes like these are the kind the Burkes and the board they would assemble had in mind when they took the Willpower Foundation off what amounts to the drawing board and made it the truly unique nonprofit that it is.

And as they did so, they drew on their own experiences early and often. Will was born prematurely and was adopted by the Burkes when he was just seven weeks old. The couple had what they described as a huge support system of family and friends, and they relied on it.

Jeff Palm says the WillPower Foundation strives to be as “unbureaucratic” as possible as it helps parents pay for equipment and services that fall between the cracks.

Jeff Palm says the WillPower Foundation strives to be as “unbureaucratic” as possible as it helps parents pay for equipment and services that fall between the cracks.

“We had a lot of support from our families, but as we went along, we knew we had to get some help,” said Craig Burke. “And while Marie is so awesome at making things work, a lot of things were not accessible to us financially or just available at all.

“So we vowed that, someday, once we got through all this, we would try to do something to do give back,” he went. “We received a lot of support early on, but there were a lot of out-of-pocket expenses, and we knew others were facing the same challenge.”

So, in essence, the Burkes created a different kind of support system in the form of a nonprofit that would help with those expenses. In the beginning, Craig recalled, one of the early concepts discussed was to create something approaching a ‘make a wish’ format involving parents, whereby, through $1,000 grants, they could take some time off for themselves, something that is often very difficult to do, and their children would be cared for by a professional.

What they found, said Maria Burke — and they already knew this from experience — is that the parents of special-needs children don’t ever want to leave them. So the model for the nonprofit evolved into providing grants for items families need but that insurance won’t cover.

And when it came time for affix a name to this nonprofit, well, that was probably the easiest part.

Indeed, Will has been inspirational in many ways as he confronts, and overcomes, the many challenges he faces, said Maria, adding that his spirit and tenacity actually empowers others to reach their full capabilities.

A huge fan of video games and Rob Gronkowski, and an even bigger fan of blue cheese — the first thing the Burkes do when they arrive at a restaurant is ask if it’s on the menu — Will is involved with the nonprofit on many levels and enjoys being part of efforts to give back.

“I like to help people,” he said in a somewhat slow voice that is difficult to understand at first. But he gets his points across. “I like to help them by getting them what they need.”

Getting a Lift

Jeff Palm, chairman of the foundation’s board and a long-time supporter of the Burkes’ efforts, said the goal at the beginning — and it has persisted to this day — is to make the awarding of grants as “unbureaucratic” as possible. That’s not a word, and he acknowledged as much, but you certainly get the point.

If ‘unbureaucratic’ was a word, it would be synonymous with simple, which is what the foundation works very hard to make the application process. Just ask Kim Schildbach. She’s filled out hundreds of forms in the process of adopting their first two and now a third child.

“We make sure that we’re crossing our ‘T’s and dotting our ‘I’s and that we’re not just throwing people’s trusted money out the door,” Palm explained. “But we try to make it simple; we put money in the hands of families, and we fund really interesting and unusual things that make a child’s life easier and, as a result, make a family’s life easier.”

Elaborating, he said WillPower enables families to acquire equipment and services that essentially fall through the cracks.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, this is a big list. It includes everything from therapeutic horseback riding to the services of a speech-language pathologist; from electrical outlets with the proper voltage needed for a ventilator to the percentage of an Accent 1000 not covered by insurance.

To explain the importance of such grants, Palm used the example of that electrical outlet.

“The child had a ventilator that would plug only into a 220 plug, like a dryer plug,” he explained. “Every time that respirator needed to be on for the child, they had to wheel him over to that corner of the house and plug it in.

“They applied to us for a grant, and we found an electrician to put that plug in a place that was much more convenient for the family, and the child could be part of the family unit when the ventilator was needed,” he went on. “You just wouldn’t find an insurance company that would pay for something like that, and there are a lot of stories like that.”

Sarah Aasheim, interim executive director of the foundation, agreed, and noted that the nonprofit fills gaps that most people not in the situations these families find themselves in couldn’t appreciate.

Sarah Aasheim says the WillPower Foundation helps to close gaps that those on the outside looking in might have a hard time understanding.

Sarah Aasheim says the WillPower Foundation helps to close gaps that those on the outside looking in might have a hard time understanding.

“These are things that you often don’t think about,” she told BusinessWest. “The ventilator was covered by insurance, of course, so from the outside looking in, it looks like that family would be all set. But when you understand the nuances of these situations, you realize that there are a lot of unmet needs.”

As another example, she noted the kind of assistive technology that Will uses to help him communicate, called a ‘talker.’ One child who relied on such technology faced another of those funding gaps that might be hard for others to grasp.

“This child used a wheelchair, and while the insurance company paid for the device, it didn’t pay for the mount that goes on the child’s wheelchair, which costs an additional $300, which is a financial hardship for this family,” she explained. “The child had a talker, but he couldn’t access the talker because he didn’t have the motor skills to hold it and it didn’t work with his wheelchair, so we supplied the funding for that. Sometimes it’s just a bridge or a connection to meet a larger need.”

By filling these gaps, the foundation is empowering not only individuals, but their families as well, said Emily Albelice, former executive director and now a board member.

“That child’s ability to communicate better serves the entire family unit,” she said referring to the device mounted to a wheelchair. “And that’s something that’s important to us; it’s not just about the individual, but their family, their friends, their community.”

Fortuitous Bounce

Stories such as these make it easy to understand why the WillPower Foundation is far less obscure than it was years ago. Indeed, word of mouth has served as a very powerful marketing vehicle for the organization, because the word being spread — and it has spread quickly and effectively — is just how unique and game-changing the foundation’s work is.

“When families that are experiencing financial hardship find out there’s a resource that gives them cash — albeit a small amount — for something they determine they need, the word spreads very quickly,” said Aasheim, adding that, as word spreads and the volume of grant applications grows, the challenge then becomes raising more money to fund more of those requests.

Fortunately, just as this nonprofit resonates with those it helps through grants, it also resonates with those who recognize the uniqueness of the mission, the level of need, and the fact that many of these families don’t have many other options, if any at all.

Thus, support is growing, and the foundation’s board is looking to increase annual grant awards to $30,000, an ambitious goal made possible by the help of individuals and businesses that, as noted, and in very simple terms, can relate.

“The more we spread the word, the more information about what we’re doing gets out, the more the local community as a whole wants to support families like ours,” said Maria Burke. “Honestly, almost everyone you meet knows someone with a disability, and every business has an employee with a family member with a disability. Everybody can say they know someone who is facing these challenges every day, and that’s why they embrace our mission.”

The foundation stages fund-raisers, solicits donations, and benefits from the support of several primary sponsors — the law firm Alekman DiTusa, Orthotics and Prosthetics Labs, and LePage Financial Group.

Ryan Alekman and Robert DiTusa, partners at the law firm, said it is active in the community in a number of ways, and that the work of the WillPower Foundation dovetails nicely with its overall philosophy when it comes to giving back.

“We can see our money doing a lot of good with a smaller organization, as opposed to putting the same amount into a giant nonprofit,” said Alekman, adding that the firm prefers to support nonprofits and initiatives where the results are visible and tangible, and the WillPower Foundation certainly fits that description.

DiTusa agreed, and said the foundation produces these kinds of visible results with families that are truly in need and often have no other recourse.

“There are so many gaps in insurance, and most people really don’t understand that,” he explained. “They figure ‘that family has health insurance, those kids must be fine, they’re taken care of.’

“But if you have a disabled child, there’s a ton of things that they’re going to need that are not covered by insurance,” he went on. “The gaps are enormous, and if have a nonprofit like the WillPower Foundation that steps in and fills those gaps, that can make an enormous difference in a child’s life.”

Just ask Kim Schildbach. Or Missy Kim. Or Will Burke.

Reaching New Heights

Maria Burke remembers talking with the young mother of a child with special needs at a recent gathering of such parents. The conversation came around to how insurance often doesn’t cover the cost of many seemingly small but nonetheless significant services, leaving families scrambling.

And the woman mentioned that she heard about this unique nonprofit called the WillPower Foundation that actually awards small grants to the families of such individuals so that these gaps could be closed, and that it was certainly worth checking it out.

Burke quietly took those comments under advisement — without letting on that this was her baby, as they say.

That’s because her real baby is the inquisitive guy in the wheelchair with those superpowers mentioned earlier, especially the ability to inspire and empower others to do what they might have thought was beyond their reach.

Will’s been setting the bar higher and then clearing it his whole life, and the foundation created in his name is enabling individuals of different abilities and their families to do the same.

And thus, it’s truly worthy of that plaque shaped like a butterfly and the designation ‘Difference Maker.’

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Opinion

Editorial

‘Empower’ is a word with a very specific, somewhat technical definition. To empower means to essentially grant someone or some entity the official authority, or legal power, to do something.

But that’s not how most people deploy that verb these days. They use it to describe how individuals and groups provide others with, well, whatever it takes to do something they couldn’t do before. To ‘empower’ means, generally speaking, to enable someone to overcome obstacles, reach higher, dream bigger, and accomplish more than they thought they could.

Again, that’s not the definition you’ll find in the dictionary. But it’s the one that works in most cases, and especially BusinessWest’s Difference Makers Class of 2018.

All of this year’s six honorees — both individuals and groups — are empowering others to essentially recalibrate and find a higher quality of life (See stories HERE). That’s a somewhat poetic way to knit these impressive stories together, but it works. Let’s take a closer look:

• Through his deep involvement in almost all things Springfield, Evan Plotkin is essentially empowering the City of Homes to reclaim some of its past glory and position itself for a better future as Millennials and Baby Boomers alike rediscover urban living. Plotkin likes to say his collective efforts are aimed at ‘activating’ facilities and attractions ranging from Court Square to the riverfront to the ill-fated Pynchon Park. And his success with projects like the annual Jazz & Roots Festival downtown are bringing people to Springfield and creating much-needed momentum.

• Girls Inc., a nonprofit that serves individuals in low-income neighborhoods, essentially empowers girls to rise above the many challenges they face and set the bar for their lives and careers much higher than they probably would otherwise. It does this through programming that introduces girls to careers in many realms, but especially the STEM fields, but also gives them the confidence to pursue them. As it says on the Girls Inc. letterhead, it inspires members to be strong, smart, and bold.

• Similarly, Crystal Senter-Brown, an author and educator, empowers many constituencies, but especially girls and women, to reach higher, overcome adversity, and give back to their community. She does this through children’s books, novels, a course she teaches at Bay Path University called “Leadership in Practice,” and talks to groups of women looking for direction and the inspiration to do what’s necessary to turn their lives around.

• The WillPower Foundation empowers individuals with different abilities and their families to find a higher quality life by filling gaps in the coverage of care for such individuals. A unique nonprofit, it provides grants rather than services, and many of these grants are for only a few hundred dollars. But what they lack in size they make up for in true meaning. Indeed, these grants fund equipment and forms of therapy (like horseback riding) that are not covered by insurance and thus often beyond the reach of families.

• Bob Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores, empowers area nonprofits to do the important work they do by consistently supporting them not only with gifts of money, but, in many cases, with contributions of time, energy, and imagination. He received press coverage across the country and even around the world when he donated his share of that record lottery payout last summer to charities, but he’s been giving back quietly and effectively for decades now.

• As for Bob Charland, a.k.a. ‘the Bike Man’ and ‘the Bike Guy,’ he’s empowering young people to take a ride on a bicycle — in many cases, the first one they’ve ever owned. But that’s understating his impact on those he touches. Indeed, as he carries out his work in the community, he does so knowing that he has a terminal illness — and not knowing just how much time he has. His determination to make the very most of that time and find new ways to give back is inspiring and, yes, empowering others to do the same.

So there you have it, the Class of 2018, what you might call an ‘empowerful’ group of Difference Makers.

Law Sections

Positive Prognosis

healthlaw-184399153The field of law that focuses specifically on healthcare is diverse, challenging, and constantly changing, and that presents growth opportunities at a time when some fields of law are seeing job stagnation. But many law students aren’t aware of these possibilities, which run the gamut from malpractice litigation to end-of-life planning; from medical-records compliance to helping people navigate the complexities of the mental-health system. And those opportunities are only expected to keep expanding.

Barbara Noah says she took a winding path to her career as a law professor, one who specializes in the rapidly changing world of health law.

“When I graduated from law school, I was thinking more of the style of practice and the sort of things I’d like to do,” said Noah, professor of Health Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, during a recent panel discussion about health-law careers.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1990, she wasn’t interested in litigation, and instead went to work for a Washington, D.C.-based law firm with a strong focus on regulatory compliance.

“Our role was to counsel clients, which were mostly pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, on how to keep in compliance with the regulations issued by the Food and Drug Administration,” she explained. “It wasn’t about getting new drugs approved; these were already-approved products, and we were making sure clients were following appropriate safety rules.”

She found the field so interesting that she eventually transitioned into a long career, first at the University of Florida and since 2005 at WNEU, teaching the many facets of health law.

To name just a few of those, healthcare lawyers interpret the complex healthcare regulations and statutes that govern the administration of health services, advising hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and other providers on issues ranging from licensing, reimbursement, and risk management to malpractice litigation and general corporate management.

One panelist at the WNEU event, Judith Feinberg Albright, who works for Devine, Millimet & Branch in Manchester, N.H., started her career as a paramedic before enrolling in law school and taking a particular interest in health law. She developed a secondary interest in litigation through moot-court experiences during those years, and now defends healthcare providers against malpractice claims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“I see many people in health law with non-traditional pathways, people with some previous career in healthcare — like you see engineers and architects in intellectual-property law,” she noted. “It’s a pretty diverse group of folks.”

Some jobs are more unique than others. Deb Grossman, another panelist, serves as general counsel with Physician Health Services, an arm of the Massachusetts Medical Society that helps physicians deal with personal and behavioral-health issues and navigate their way back to work.

“Doctors don’t really like lawyers much; they see them as a threat of some kind,” Grossman said. “But I want to be supportive. I’ve been in different roles that were not always supportive, but now I’m in a very conciliatory position.”

After working for a large law firm earlier in her career, she explaned, she went looking for a lifestyle change, and took a job with the state handling the licensure of medical professionals, before taking on her current role.

“I became a much better lawyer,” she said, telling students gathered at the panel discussion that, yes, she made less money working for the state, “but what I gained in experience and autonomy as an attorney, I think was really invaluable.”

It’s just one example, Noah told BusinessWest afterward, of how a shifting healthcare field is cultivating many opportunities for lawyers that students might not hear about on a regular basis during their law-school years — which is why the panel was assembled.

“What’s included in the sweep of healthcare law is broader than people initially think; they think of medical malpractice or something to do with health insurance, but it’s a much broader field than people typically understand,” she said. “And a number of these aspects of health law are in flux right now, and they might be areas of growing demand for the purposes of careers.”

A Different World

One of those changing areas of the law is healthcare compliance — for example, how hospitals are complying with the privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

“Although HIPAA has been around for quite a while, every hospital of any size has a compliance office that makes sure medical privacy requirements are being met,” Noah said. “And now with the switch to electronic medical records, it’s created a whole new set of questions for HIPAA in information sharing, and I’m hearing that data security is a big issue which impacts compliance.”

The second growth area concerns the overlap between elder law and health law, driven mostly by the aging of the Baby Boomer population. Not only are older Americans making plans for their estates, Noah said, but they’re becoming more keenly aware of their own mortality, and considering issues like advance care directives, healthcare proxies, and end-of-life preferences, such as do-not-resuscitate orders and decisions on nutrition and breathing assistance.

recent panel discussion at WNEU School of Law

From left, Barbara Noah, Judith Fineberg Albright, Deb Grossman, and Dylan Mawdsley talk about their very different health-law careers at a recent panel discussion at WNEU School of Law.

“There are all sorts of questions, and more attention is being focused on them,” Noah said. “But there’s still a real reluctance to do much advance care planning until faced with a bad diagnosis. That’s an issue that’s going to need more well-trained attorneys in the future to reach this large and aging Baby Boomer population.”

The third big shift that could affect health law is, of course, the ever-changing Affordable Care Act, which has been threatened by the recent federal tax law that repeals its individual mandate.

“We’re keeping on top of how the Affordable Care Act is being changed, amended, and manipulated, and how that impacts the system of healthcare delivery. It’s a moving target,” Noah explained. “Without the individual mandate, if healthy people aren’t buying in anymore, the pool is sicker, and that drives up prices.”

According to Nick Sumski, an LSAT teacher for Kaplan Test Prep, health law is a compelling area of law because everyone has to touch the healthcare system at some point in their lives.

“Health law is such a big growth field with an incredible amount of opportunity, especially in the coming years,” he noted last month on the Kaplan website. “No one knows how it’s all going to work moving forward, and there is going to be a big demand for lawyers to help figure it out.”

Dylan Mawdsley, another panelist at the WNEU event, is assistant general counsel for the state Department of Mental Health, advising DMH staff in their decision making and compliance with laws, and representing the agency before probate and family courts.

He originally went to college as a political science major, but pivoted to law school afterward, starting his career in estate planning — right when the Great Recession hit, which was a bad time for that area of law. The work he does now, often serving as a liaison between doctors, patients, and the court system, is gratifying and presents a great deal of autonomy.

“I really feel like the work we do is good work,” he said, “helping people get treatment and services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

Meaningful Work

When Grossman was in law school, she recalled, she learned a lot about corporate law and litigation, but not much else, and certainly not what she’s doing today.

“This niche of work is very, very satisfying, it’s important work, and the schedule allows me to raise my kids,” she said. “Law students should know there’s a whole world of jobs out there, that aren’t typical law-firm, corporate types of jobs.”

Sumski said students shouldn’t feel like they have to pick any kind of specialization right away.

“Keep an open mind in those first-year classes; you might be surprised by the area of law that ultimately interests you,” he noted. “If you are interested in health law, however, you should take some introductory classes in the subject matter and see if a particular aspect of the field interests you. Health law is an incredibly broad field that touches on many different aspects of law. There’s a lot of opportunity in the area. The job market for lawyers is getting better, but it’s not great, so it makes sense to go into an area that is in demand.”

That demand, Noah said, is driven partly by the fact that health law is so interconnected, with so many moving parts.

“Any student who goes into health law is going to need a deep knowledge of the particular area they’re focusing on,” she noted, “but also a broad, contextual understanding of how the whole healthcare finance and delivery system works in this country — and it’s a very messy, complex, and inefficient system.”

And one that’s constantly changing, presenting plentiful opportunities for law students and career changers willing to think outside the jury box.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook Departments

MGM Springfield Moves to On-site Corporate Offices

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield has moved into new corporate offices at 95 State St., soon to be called One MGM Way. Located across from the Hampden County Superior Court, and adjacent to what will be MGM Springfield’s South End Market, the building will be home to members of the MGM Springfield executive and administrative teams. “Moving on site is a great way to kick off the year of our opening,” said Michael Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield. “We have a growing workforce, and this office space better suits our ever-expanding needs as this momentous year unfolds. It’s an exciting transition for all of us.” Like other elements of the property’s integrated downtown design, the 11-story building celebrates Springfield’s heritage while preserving its iconic past. Built in 1929, the building was designed in the classical revival style by Burton Geckler as an annex to 1200 Main St. It was formerly known as the MassMutual building at 95 State St., and has since undergone a complete renovation, including new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and finishes. MGM carefully conserved the exterior façade and maintained many of the lobby’s original features. “I am proud of the effort and care that our first-in-class construction team has put into preserving Springfield’s history throughout the property,” Mathis said. “This building is just one example of the many that will be unveiled this year.” Springfield firms Specs Design Group and Dietz & Co. Architects collaborated on the outfitting and design of the employee space with Las Vegas-based Friedmutter Group. Springfield-based Fontaine Bros. Inc. served as general contractor and stewarded the project through the construction phase. “As a company that has called Springfield home for over 85 years, we were excited to oversee construction of this critical portion of the MGM resort, and we are proud to have played a role in helping bring this unprecedented economic-development project to our city,” said David Fontaine Jr., vice president of Fontaine Bros. MGM Springfield’s new corporate offices boast collaboration and work areas, conference and meeting spaces, open cubicle areas, and private executive offices. The design scheme includes warm colors, reclaimed wood, and brick veneers throughout the space. The corporate offices will be located on floors two through eight. Approximately 50 employees have moved into the space. At full staffing, the area is expected to accommodate more than 300 employees. Activities at the approximately 85,000-square-foot employee offices will cover all aspects of the day-to-day operations for MGM Springfield. Anyone interested in learning about career opportunities should visit MGM Springfield’s Career Center, which will be open 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. During those hours, an MGM representative may be reached at (413) 273-5052.

ICNE Announces Addition of Eastman & Davis Insurance

AGAWAM — The Insurance Center of New England (ICNE) announced the addition of Eastman & Davis Insurance Agency Inc. in West Springfield to its growing company. “We are thrilled to not only have the Eastman & Davis Insurance clients join our agency, but also to have longtime employee Marilyn Loudon join the ICNE team as a personal lines account manager,” said William Trudeau, president and CEO of ICNE. Many ICNE clients have been with the agency for generations, Trudeau noted, so he understands what an important role Bill Eastman has played in the lives of his clients through the years. “I feel so honored that Bill trusts the ICNE team to take over the responsibility of caring for his clients.” Over the past several years, Eastman had been seeking out a business partner to ensure that his business would continue to thrive and that his clientele would be well-taken care of for decades to come. While Eastman & Davis clients may experience a few minor changes in process and procedures, the ultimate goal is to make the transition seamless. “When Eastman & Davis clients join ICNE, they will quickly learn that we are much more than an insurance agency,” Trudeau said. “We are a local team of insurance professionals who will get to know them personally and will always be there to answer their questions, review their policy, and help them make informed decisions to safeguard their family, home, car, and everything that is important to them.” As part of the transition, Eastman & Davis’ West Springfield office will be closing. However, for the convenience of clients, Marilyn Loudon will move to ICNE’s main office in Agawam, just five miles down the road from the current West Springfield location.

Speaker Sisterhood Announces Partnership with Baystate Health

SPRINGFIELD — Twenty-eight female medical providers from Baystate Health are set to begin a six-month pilot of a public-speaking training program uniquely crafted for women in academic medicine. The program is a collaboration between Women Advancing and Achieving in Medicine, a Baystate Health organizational resource group, and Speaker Sisterhood, a public-speaking training company for women founded by CEO Angela Lussier and headquartered in Holyoke. The program is focused on learning and practicing proven techniques to enhance participants’ communication so they are more effective and confident. The goal is for each participant to hone her own authentic voice so that she has greater impact both within her department and from behind the podium at major conferences. The program kicked off Jan. 10 and runs until June 6. “For years, I have noticed a lack of female speakers at many high-profile medical conferences, and I figured that there had to be a systemic way to change this, and our pilot project is a first step,” said Dr. Jeannette Wolfe, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at UMass Medical School’s Baystate campus. “We have partnered with Speaker Sisterhood to develop a very unique curriculum that addresses some of the specific challenges many women in academic medicine face in becoming recognized as source experts within their fields. I’m very excited about the potential of the program because creating a group of polished public speakers not only benefits those speakers, but also increases the regional and national recognition of Baystate Health.” Participants, who were nominated by their chairs and program directors, will meet monthly in a three-hour evening session. Each meeting will begin with a brief lecture covering topics ranging from effective storytelling to slide development to tips on how to break into conference speaking circles. Next, participants will move into their breakout groups of eight or nine women for hands-on experiential learning and practice giving speeches and feedback to each other. Each group has deliberately been created to include women from a mix of medical specialties and experience levels with the intention that this will help naturally facilitate beneficial networking and coaching within the groups. The pilot program is built upon the Speaker Sisterhood’s signature speaker development program, “The Secret Life of Speaking Up,” which was crafted to help professional women enhance their speech-writing skills, build on presentation effectiveness, and grow confidence while speaking. “We’ve been running this program for the last 18 months in various communities, and over 100 women have benefited from the Speaker Sisterhood curriculum. We’re excited to see the impact it will make in a hospital setting and in the medical community at large,” Lussier said. The aim of the pilot is to demonstrate its success though participants’ reports so that it can be expanded throughout Baystate Health and used as a template to benefit women in other academic centers.

The Drama Studio Secures Permanent Home

SPRINGFIELD — The Drama Studio was founded in 1987 by Steve Hays and a group of educators and parents who envisioned an institution where youth could study acting as seriously as they could study music. Located at 41 Oakland St. in Springfield, in close proximity to Forest Park, the Drama Studio had been a 30-year renter of space from St. Barnabas & All Saints Episcopal Church when the call came from the diocese that the building was no longer to be utilized as a place of worship. “When that call came, our board sprang into action,” Hays said. “Funds were quickly raised from a small group of generous donors, and thanks to the hard work of our board and the generosity of the diocese, we were able to negotiate a fair price. On December 22, 2017, we purchased the church and are thrilled to begin steps toward major renovation.” The mission of the Drama Studio is to enrich and validate the adolescent experience in this diverse community via excellence in a conservatory-style acting training program. It serves more than 250 students annually from the region. One alum, Gregory Boilard, of New York City, was involved with the Drama Studio from grade 6 until he graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham in 2010. He credits Hays with “shaping his childhood” and enabling him to land his dream job working in publicity for the Disney Theatrical Group on Broadway. While many alums have gone on to have careers in theater, film, and television, others attribute their success as lawyers, surgeons, administrators, teachers, and other professionals to the confidence they gained as students at the Drama Studio. The Drama Studio is one of a handful of after-school acting conservatories in the U.S. where young actors ages 6 to 18 can study intensively and advance through a theater curriculum before graduating from high school. It offers a coordinated program including both classroom and performance training with more than 25 after-school classes and six vacation camps. Two community outreach programs, DramaTours and TheaterReaders, currently serve more than 3,000 Springfield public elementary-school children each year.

River Valley Co-op Explores Potential Second Store Site

EASTHAMPTON — River Valley Co-op has secured an option agreement for the potential purchase of the Easthampton property at 228 Northampton St. (formerly the Fedor Automobile Dealership) as a second store location. River Valley Co-op is a cooperatively owned grocery store with one location in Northampton. Since 2014, the cooperative business has been discussing a second store location with co-op owners, customers, and employees in order to accommodate its growth as well as furthering the mission of building a strong local food system. “We’ve been looking for a suitable location for a second store for several years to serve our community better,” said Andrea Stanley, board president. “Our goal is to expand our community-owned grocery business to further our local economic impact and build the resiliency of our local food system through year-round purchases to even more local farmers. We believe that Easthampton is an ideal match for River Valley Co-op. In fact, we have many co-op owners and vendors from Easthampton already, so we feel a strong connection to the community and look forward to expanding our working relationships even further with this project.” The option agreement gives the co-op a year to conduct its due diligence, planning, and fund-raising before exercising its exclusive right to purchase the property. River Valley Co-op’s leadership team met recently with Easthampton Mayor Nicolle LaChapelle to discuss the dynamics of the plan. “River Valley Co-op is a natural fit for Easthampton residents as consumers and job-seekers. High-quality food and jobs is a combination that is hard to beat,” LaChapelle said. “I had the opportunity to sit down with the River Valley team last week. They conveyed deep understanding of Easthampton and shared their plans with thoughtfulness and enthusiasm. As the co-op is ready to grow, Easthampton is ready to support that growth to ensure success for everyone.” Property owner Eddie Fedor said his family is enthusiastic about the potential of River Valley Co-op expanding in Easthampton. “This is a great location and will be very convenient for a lot of people. River Valley Co-op’s support of local farmers and other local vendors would make them a great addition to our community.” The co-op expects to employ 100 people in its Easthampton store. More than 95% of Northampton store employees are full-time with benefits and are represented by UFCW Local 1459.

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q4 Results

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017. The company reported net income of $9.5 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $15.2 million, or $0.30 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $14.6 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016. Net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017 was $54.6 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, compared to net income of $49.7 million, or $0.99 per diluted share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016. On Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which, among other things, lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Companies must recognize the effect of tax-law changes in the period of enactment under the generally accepted accounting principles. This tax reform resulted in a $2.8 million negative net-income impact in the fourth quarter of 2017. Of the $2.8 million impact, $1.6 million flowed directly through the provision for income taxes, and was primarily related to a re-measurement of the company’s deferred tax asset. Additionally, there was a $1.2 million pre-tax adjustment related to the write-down of legacy United limited partnerships due to the aforementioned tax reform. Other significant events during the quarter included the  company surrendering $32.8 million of under-performing bank-owned life insurance policy value, resulting in a $2.4 million negative impact to the provision for income taxes. The company subsequently reinvested $30 million into higher-yielding product in early January 2018. “The United Bank team delivered strong loan and non-interest bearing deposit growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. Asset quality, capital, and liquidity remained strong and stable,” said William Crawford IV, CEO and President of the company and the bank. Assets totaled $7.11 billion at Dec. 31, 2017 and increased $137.7 million, or 2%, from $6.98 billion at Sept. 30, 2017. At Dec. 31, 2017, total loans were $5.34 billion, representing an increase of $134.2 million, or 2.6%, from the linked quarter. Changes to loan balances during the fourth quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $76.7 million, or 4.3%, increase in investor non-owner occupied commercial real-estate loans; a $24.9 million, or 9.3%, increase in other consumer loans; a $21.4 million, or 3.8%, increase in home-equity loans; and a $18.9 million, or 2.3%, increase in commercial business loans. Loans held for sale increased $24.7 million, or 27.6%, from the linked quarter, as the company increased the held-for-sale portfolio for delivery to third-party investors at the end of the quarter. Total cash and cash equivalents decreased $9.8 million, or 10%, from the linked quarter. Deposits totaled $5.2 billion at Dec. 31, 2017 and increased by $45.2 million, or 0.9%, from $5.15 billion at Sept. 30, 2017. Increases in deposit balances during the fourth quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $53.4 million, or 7.4%, increase in non-interest-bearing checking deposits, as well as a $77.3 million, or 4.5%, increase in certificates of deposit. Offsetting these increases was a $75.5 million, or 3.4%, decline in NOW checking and money-market deposits, largely due to seasonal withdrawals in municipal funds.

Chamber Corners Departments

1BERKSHIRE

www.1berkshire.com

(413) 499-1600

• Feb. 27: Entrepreneurial Meetup, 8-10 a.m., hosted by Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, Pittsfield. Join us for networking and share what you’ve been working on in an open-mic format. 1Berkshire’s Entrepreneurial Meetups are free events that gather entrepreneurs together to network, learn, and engage.

• Feb. 28: Good News Business Salute, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Zion Church, Pittsfield. Come celebrate Jacob’s Pillow, IS183, and more. This event recognizes major milestones, including anniversaries, expansions, and new product lines of Berkshire businesses, and gives us a chance to come together to applaud their efforts. Member cost: $35 for individual, $140 for table of four, $280 for table of eight. Non-member cost: $45 for individual, $180 for table of four, $360 for table of eight.

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.amherstarea.com

(413) 253-0700

• Feb. 8: After 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Bistro 63, 63 North Pleasant St., Amherst. Sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank.

• March 15: After 5 – YPA/AACC, 5-7 p.m., location to be announced.

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

• Feb. 9: Business After Hours, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Berchmans Hall Rotunda, Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Network with chamber members at this annual event. Meet with students who are learning about the importance of networking and share your insights with them. Hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, and raffle prizes. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members.

• Feb. 15: CEO Power Hour Luncheon with Spiros Hatiras, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Collegian Court, 89 Park St., Chicopee. Sponsored by Westfield Bank. Come enjoy lunch and listen as Hatiras talks about his journey as president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center. Cost: $30 for members, $35 for non-members.

• Feb. 21: February Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by Insurance Center of New England. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members, $250 monthly sponsor.

• March 2: Shining Stars Awards, 6:30-10 p.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, Chicopee. The chamber will recognize Interstate Towing Co. as Business of the Year, Dawn Creighton of Associated Industries of Massachusetts as Citizen of the Year, Karen Hansmann as Volunteer of the Year, and Valley Opportunity Council as the Nonprofit Organization of the Year. This event is sponsored by diamond sponsor Westfield Bank; platinum sponsors Polish National Credit Union and PeoplesBank; gold sponsors the Arbors Kids, Holyoke Medical Center, and BusinessWest; and bronze sponsor United Personnel. To register to attend, call the chamber at (413) 594-2101 or visit www.chicopeechamber.org and sign up in the Calendar of Events.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

• Feb. 8: Networking by Night, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Boylston Rooms, 122 Pleasant St., Suite #112, Easthampton. Sponsored by Tanya Costigan Events. This is a great networking opportunity and an opportunity to tour the new Boylston Rooms.

• Feb. 27: Strengths-based Leadership, 7:45-10 a.m., hosted by Innovative Business Systems, Mill 180, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. In the first of a two-part series, Colleen DelVecchio, a certified CliftonStrengths coach, will lead us into our strongest selves as leaders via our personnel Gallup StrengthFinder assessment and insight reports. At the end of the two breakfast sessions, you will understand the keys to be a more effective leader, unveil your strengths, learn to invest in the strengths of others, get people with the right strengths on your team, and understand and meet the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership: trust, compassion, stability, and hope. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.holyokechamber.org

(413) 534-3376

• Feb. 9: Legislative Coffee Hour, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Summit View Banquet and Meeting House, 555 Northampton St., Holyoke. Sponsored by Marcotte Ford, bankESB, and Holyoke Medical Center. Guest Speakers:  state Rep. Aaron Vega, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, and Holyoke City Council President Todd McGee. Join us for a casual conversation about 2018 issues affecting the city of Holyoke and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members and walk-ins. Price includes a buffet breakfast. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com.

• Feb. 21: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Holyoke Community College Center for Culinary Arts, 164 Race St., Holyoke. Sponsored by Holyoke Community College. Join us for a casual networking experience at HCC’s new culinary facility. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com.

• Feb. 28: Ask a Chamber Expert: How to Attract Customers to Your Marketing Table, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Executive Conference Room, 177 High St., Holyoke. Get ready for the upcoming multi-chamber Taste of Business by learning how to successfully attract customers to your table. Presented by Francie Richardson of Art Craft. Cost: free for chamber members, $15 for non-members. Price includes a continental breakfast. Register at holyokechamber.com.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.explorenorthampton.com

(413) 584-1900

• Feb. 7: February Arrive @5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Christopher Heights, 50 Village Hill Road, Northampton. A networking event. Cost: $10 for members.

n March 7: March Arrive @5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by 50/50 Fitness, 251 Russell St., Hadley. Sponsored by Applied Mortgage, a division of Merrimack Mortgage Co. A networking event. Cost: $10 for members.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.westfieldbiz.org

(413) 568-1618

• Feb. 5: Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Join us for our monthly Mayor’s Coffee Hour with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested at (413) 568-1618 so we may give our host a head count.

• Feb. 13: After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by ReStore Westfield (Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity), 301 East Main St., Westfield. Bring your business cards and make connections. Refreshments will be served. A 50/50 raffle will support the chamber’s Scholarship Fund. Cost: free for chamber members, $10 for general admission.

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

(413) 787-1555

• Feb. 7: [email protected], 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Carriage House, Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Featuring political consultant Anthony Cignoli, sharing his insights into the upcoming November elections. Cost: $25 for members ($30 at the door), $35 general admission ($40 at the door).

• Feb. 15: Leadership Institute, first session. Runs through March 29. Presented in partnership with the Springfield Regional Chamber and Western New England University at the TD Bank Conference Center. Applications must be received by Feb. 8.

• Feb. 15: Fire & Ice Craft Cocktail Competition and Fundraiser, 5:30-8 p.m., hosted by Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. Sponsored by Florence Bank, the Republican, and MassLive. Cost: $40 for members in advance, $50 general admission in advance, $50 at the door.

• March 7: [email protected], 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. Cost: $25 for members ($30 at the door), $35 general admission ($40 at the door).

• March 8: After Hours with Springfield Regional, Greater Easthampton, Westfield and West of the River Chambers, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mill 180, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. Cost: $10 for members, $15 general admission.

• March 9: Outlook 2018, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by the MassMutual Center, Springfield. Featuring keynote speaker Gov. Charlie Baker and Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Cost: $60 for members in advance; $80 general admission in advance.

• March 13: Lunch ‘n’ Learn, details to be announced.

• March 20: C-Suite Conversations & Cocktails, 5-7 p.m., hosted by CityStage, One Columbus Center, Springfield. Members-only event featuring MGM President Mike Mathis. Cost: $25.

• March 29: Speed Networking, 3:30-5 p.m., location to be determined. Cost: $20 for members in advance ($25 at the door), $30 general admission in advance ($35 at the door).

Reservations for all chamber events may be made by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.ourwrc.com

(413) 426-3880

• Feb. 7: Wicked Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, West Springfield. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events, hosted by various businesses and restaurants, that bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880, or register at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• Feb. 13: Lunch & Tour at the Bistro LPVEC – West Springfield, noon to 1:30 p.m. Join fellow members and non-members for a networking lunch at the Bistro at Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, followed by an informative discussion on the value of gaining skills in the trades industry and how we can promote to fill local jobs. Sponsorships are available for this event. Register online at [email protected]

Daily News

HOLYOKE — David W. Griffin Sr., executive vice president and treasurer of the Dowd Agencies, LLC, is the 2018 recipient of the Daniel J. Gallivan award from the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

“We are honored that one of our own has received this well-deserved honor,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. “David has provided tireless effort for Holyoke, fulfilling various leadership capacities that have benefitted our clients and the citizens of Western Massachusetts alike.”

Griffin is an active member of the Holyoke community, serving as president of the West Springfield Chamber of Commerce, West Springfield Rotary, Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, Springfield Country Club, Hampden County Insurance Agents, and chair of Mont Marie Health Care Center. He remains active with the CYO of Western Massachusetts as well.

Griffin has more than 35 years of experience in the insurance industry, beginning his career in 1978 as a surety underwriter for Aetna Casualty. Since then, he has served as a broker specializing in large commercial and contracting accounts. He is a licensed insurance advisor as well as a certified insurance counselor.

Since 1972, the Daniel J. Gallivan award, named after the South Hadley resident and longtime member of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, has been awarded to long-standing members of the association who have made significant contributions to the overall success of the parade and committee.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — Genevieve Brough, president of Finck & Perras Insurance Agency Inc., recently announced that the firm invested roughly $40,000 in the wider community through sponsorships and donations to nonprofits in 2017.

“It’s my aim to have a tangible engagement in our community,” Brough said, noting Finck & Perras aims to support organizations that have a mission to improve the lives of children and people with disabilities.

Organizations the company supported range from youth sports and recreation programs in Hampshire County to Riverside Industries in Easthampton, Link to Libraries, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County. “These organizations are among the great assets of our community. They’re part of its fabric,” she said.

Brough passes on her philanthropic values to employees, encouraging them to take part in community activism and fund-raising. Finck & Perras has supported the United Way of Hampshire County for 19 years, for instance, encouraging employees take part in making regular donations by offering various incentive programs.

Other organizations Finck & Perras supported in 2017 include the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton; the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Springfield; Pathlight, Springfield; TedXEasthamptonWomen; Safe Passage, Northampton; the Northampton Family Fourth Celebration; Nonotuck Community School Inc., Northampton; Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Northampton; and Look Memorial Park, Florence.

Finck & Perras provides home, auto, business, and marine insurance and has offices in Easthampton and Florence.

Daily News

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017.

The company reported net income of $9.5 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $15.2 million, or $0.30 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $14.6 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016. Net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017 was $54.6 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, compared to net income of $49.7 million, or $0.99 per diluted share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016.

On Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which, among other things, lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Companies must recognize the effect of tax-law changes in the period of enactment under the generally accepted accounting principles. This tax reform resulted in a $2.8 million negative net-income impact in the fourth quarter of 2017. Of the $2.8 million impact, $1.6 million flowed directly through the provision for income taxes, and was primarily related to a re-measurement of the company’s deferred tax asset.

Additionally, there was a $1.2 million pre-tax adjustment related to the write-down of legacy United limited partnerships due to the aforementioned tax reform. Other significant events during the quarter included the company surrendering $32.8 million of under-performing bank-owned life insurance policy value, resulting in a $2.4 million negative impact to the provision for income taxes. The company subsequently reinvested $30 million into higher-yielding product in early January 2018.

“The United Bank team delivered strong loan and non-interest bearing deposit growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. Asset quality, capital, and liquidity remained strong and stable,” said William Crawford IV, CEO and President of the ompany and the bank. “I want to thank our United Bank teammates for their steadfast focus on serving our customers and communities.”

Assets totaled $7.11 billion at Dec. 31, 2017 and increased $137.7 million, or 2%, from $6.98 billion at Sept. 30, 2017. At Dec. 31, 2017, total loans were $5.34 billion, representing an increase of $134.2 million, or 2.6%, from the linked quarter. Changes to loan balances during the fourth quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $76.7 million, or 4.3%, increase in investor non-owner occupied commercial real-estate loans; a $24.9 million, or 9.3%, increase in other consumer loans; a $21.4 million, or 3.8%, increase in home-equity loans; and a $18.9 million, or 2.3%, increase in commercial business loans. Loans held for sale increased $24.7 million, or 27.6%, from the linked quarter, as the company increased the held-for-sale portfolio for delivery to third-party investors at the end of the quarter. Total cash and cash equivalents decreased $9.8 million, or 10%, from the linked quarter.

Deposits totaled $5.2 billion at Dec. 31, 2017 and increased by $45.2 million, or 0.9%, from $5.15 billion at Sept. 30, 2017. Increases in deposit balances during the fourth quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $53.4 million, or 7.4%, increase in non-interest-bearing checking deposits, as well as a $77.3 million, or 4.5%, increase in certificates of deposit. Offsetting these increases was a $75.5 million, or 3.4%, decline in NOW checking and money-market deposits, largely due to seasonal withdrawals in municipal funds that are experienced during the fourth quarter.

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Vehicle for Growth?

The Willys-Overland building on Chestnut Street

The Willys-Overland building on Chestnut Street has a proud past, and developers now believe it has an intriguing future as market-rate housing.

Chuck Irving says the property at 151 Chestnut St. in Springfield — known to the well-informed as the Willys-Overland Building because the long-defunct car maker had a showroom on its first floor and a 1,000-car garage above — caught his attention some time ago, after it was damaged and then abandoned after the natural-gas explosion in late 2012.

And he thought it had some potential.

But what really opened his eyes was the rebirth of an almost identical property in Detroit also built by Willys-Overland.

Irving recalled googling ‘Willys-Overland Lofts,’ the name of the housing complex the site was converted into (just as BusinessWest did, and you can) and seeing headlines about relatively small but well-appointed units selling for north of $500,000. And going fast.

“We started reading the articles about the same building in Detroit,” recalled Irving, a principal with Boston-based Davenport Properties. “We went online, looked at the pictures … and it was an incredibly attractive property. And so we started looking at this building, thinking, ‘if it’s structurally sound, this is a great opportunity, because it comes with parking.’”

Indeed, seeing what happened in Detroit and coupling that with what readily appears to be a growing need for market-rate housing as the countdown to MGM Springfield’s opening hits eight, maybe nine months, the Springfield property’s potential soared in Irving’s eyes.

Enough to make the 70,000-square-foot, four-story structure Davenport Property’s latest investment in the City of Homes and the region as a whole. Others include the Springfield Plaza, the Hadley Mall, and the Walmart in Westfield.

“Our company is involved with MGM,” said Irving, noting that the company considers itself MGM’s development partner in Springfield. “And we’ve been watching the employees of the company come into the area, especially the young ones, and looking at their perception of the inventory of available apartments. Through their eyes, it became really clear that there was a need for more market-rate housing in Springfield.”

Whether the Chestnut Street property in Springfield can follow the lead of its twin in Detroit is a huge question mark, one that will hopefully be answered by extensive cost-benefit analysis work in the weeks and months to come, or what Irving called “calibrating Springfield’s market rents with construction costs.”

But he believes the property is certainly a sound investment and that the building will play a key role in the revitalization of the city and especially the area that has come to be known colloquially as the ‘blast zone.’

Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, agreed. He said the Willys project, if it develops as Davenport believes it could, might become a catalyst for the blast zone, an area bordered, roughly, by Lyman Street to the north, Dwight Street to the west, Pearl and Hillman streets to the south, and Spring Street to the east.

“There are other investors looking into that area, which we’re calling the ‘next frontier’ in Springfield,” he told BusinessWest, adding that the conditions are favorable for more housing initiatives and related businesses in that zone.

These conditions include everything from MGM and other job-creating ventures in and around downtown to the revitalization of Union Station, just a block or so to the north of the Willys building, to an interest among Millennials and also some retiring Baby Boomers in what Kennedy called “urban living.”

“When you calculate all the jobs that are going to be happening in the downtown and the Springfield area in general, and also take into account the fact that urban living is making a comeback, as well as the growing entertainment options in that area … all these things make this project viable and add up to something good for Springfield,” he said.

A new life as housing would only be the latest chapter in the intriguing history of what has come to be known as the Willys-Overland Block Local Historic District, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Built in 1916 as an automobile sales, service, and garaging area, the property became part of what would later be described as an auto-industry legacy in Springfield. Indeed, the Duryea brothers created the first marketable auto in Springfield — there’s a statue depicting their creation near Stearns Square — and Rolls-Royce located a plant in the city to capitalize on its highly skilled workforce.

But Willys-Overland, like the others, did not enjoy a long history in the city. Indeed, it closed its property here in 1921 due to slumping sales, and it has seen a number of uses since.

It was a primarily a parking garage for some of the downtown hotels before they were converted into condominiums, said Irving, and after that, it served as home to a host of businesses, ranging from Square One to a construction company.

These operations were forced out by the gas explosion in late November 2012, he went on, adding that the building was completely gutted and has been vacant, with most of the windows covered with plywood, ever since.

willys-overland-building-union-sept-24-1916

Above, a news story announces the opening of the Willys-Overland building in 1916. At right, the Willys-Overland property in Detroit, which has been transformed into lofts selling for more than $500,000.

Below, a news story announces the opening of the Willys-Overland building in 1916. At right, the Willys-Overland property in Detroit, which has been transformed into lofts selling for more than $500,000.

The previous owner applied for a demolition permit in January 2015, but the city sought and won a delay of that move due to the property’s historic significance.

It was this delay that essentially gave the property a reprieve — time for more progress to take shape in Springfield, time for a recognized need for more market-rate housing to emerge, and, yes, time for the Willys-Overland Lofts project to catch fire — and catch Davenport’s attention.

As noted, the Springfield Willys-Overland property is an intriguing addition to an already large and diverse portfolio of properties in Western Mass.

Perhaps the most visible is the Springfield Plaza, which has undergone an extensive facelift and added new tenants ranging from a trampoline complex to a new home for Springfield’s Registry of Motor Vehicles office, which, said Irving, has brought a significant surge in traffic to the plaza.

The portfolio also includes a retail complex across the street from the Eastfield Mall and what’s known as Davenport Square in Springfield, at the corner of Union and Main streets across from MGM Springfield. The development will include MGM’s daycare facility as well as some retail.

As for the Willys-Overland building, the next steps in the process of writing the next chapter in its history are finalizing designs, crunching the numbers, as noted earlier, and requesting support for historic tax credits, said Irving, adding that redevelopment is dependent on such tax credits and other forms of assistance.

While the reuse plans are still in their infancy, Irving anticipates perhaps 60 units of relatively small size, with a portion of the building to be used for parking.

“It’s got great bones, and it’s absolutely perfect for apartments with the column spacing,” he noted. “What we’re trying to go after is small — really small units for young professionals who don’t want the price of having a big space.

“Our take on it is that it’s a great investment,” he went on. “We’re not certain that the market rents will support the construction costs, and we’re still verifying that. But in the long run, we think Springfield is on the upswing, so whether it’s this year or next year, we’re convinced that this will be a great residential investment.”

As for the blast zone, or Springfield’s ‘next frontier,’ as Kennedy called it, progress has come slow to that area, with the gas explosion now more than five years in the rear-view mirror.

This can be attributed to several factors, he went on, including the slow pace of insurance settlements on many of the properties in the zone (including the Willys-Overland building) and a desire among investors to see how and in what ways Springfield continued its revitalization.

But Kennedy believes the Willys-Overland project could trigger other developments in that area and other housing initiatives as well. And Irving agreed.

“The Springfield market, in our mind, is about to blossom,” he told BusinessWest. “And so, this is a good place to be on the ground level.

“This is a small project at 60 units,” he went on. “If this tests out and verifies that market rates can support new construction, then this will be a catalyst for that entire area.”

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of January 2018.

AGAWAM

Oak Ridge Golf Club Inc.
850 South Westfield St.
$15,000 – Verizon Wireless replacing three antennas with new models and adding three to existing cell tower

CHICOPEE

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
202 East Main St.
$69,000 – Code upgrades to Mary’s House of Prayer

DEERFIELD

Deerfield Academy
7 Boydon Lane
$2,490,000 – Erect roof over tennis courts

Deerfield Academy
1 Albany Road
$13,021 – Re-roof dining hall

Yankee Candle
16 Yankee Candle Way
$132,000 – Re-roof building, add insulation and sump at roof drains

EASTHAMPTON

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$2,640 – Remove internal stairway, construct non-load-bearing demising wall

One Northampton St. Inc.
1 Northampton St.
$18,000 – Install replacement windows

Williston Northampton School
40-50 Park St.
$21,300 – Roofing on gymnasium

EAST LONGMEADOW

Dores Dental
281 Maple St.
$210,500 – Interior commercial renovations

First Congregational Church
239 Porter Road
$3,200 – Insulation

W.F. Young
302 Benton Dr.
$71,000 – Solar

GREENFIELD

CC MA Realty, LLC
7 Legion Ave.
$36,550 – Install new wet and dry sprinkler system

LONGMEADOW

Hair Studio One Inc.
20 Cross St.
$4,625 – Roof replacement

LUDLOW

Ludlow Fish & Game
857 Sportsmen’s Road
$2,100 – Commercial alterations

NORTHAMPTON

Atwood Drive, LLC
22 Atwood Dr.
$18,500 – Illuminated wall sign for Cooley Dickinson Health Care

Atwood Drive, LLC
22 Atwood Dr.
$16,500 – Illuminated wall sign for Cooley Dickinson Health Care

Atwood Drive, LLC
22 Atwood Dr.
$8,000 – Illuminated wall sign for Cooley Dickinson Health Care

First Church of Christ, Scientist
46 Center St.
$11,935 – Temporary egress stairs and porch deck

Florence Bank
491 Pleasant St.
$3,360 – Illuminated wall sign

Florence Bank
491 Pleasant St.
$3,360 – Illuminated wall sign

Lathrop Community Inc.
680 Bridge St.
$10,000 – Remove kitchen cabinets; install new cabinets, floor, and sink

Malvern PANalytical
22 Industrial Dr.
$7,000 – Replace windows on second floor

Smith College
84 Elm St.
$11,000 – Office renovation

Smith College
51 Belmont Ave.
$16,000 – Install new roof

PALMER

Camp Ramah of New England
29 Bennet St.
$9,500 – Repair floors in bathrooms in four bunks, remove and reset showers and sinks

SOUTHWICK

Lodestar Energy
63 Congamond Road
$3,692,333 – Solar

SPRINGFIELD

Boston Rd./Pasco Rt. 20 Retail, LLC
1300B Boston Road
$62,600 – Interior tenant fit-out

Mercy Medical Center
299 Carew St.
$85,630 – Create X-ray room out of two offices, remodel two offices

Phillips Edison & Co.
380 Cooley St.
$3,337 – Install horn strobes and initiating devices and connect to landlord’s fire-alarm panel

Springfield Redevelopment Authority
55 Frank B. Murray St.
$900,000 – Fit out third floor of Union Station for future Peter Pan Bus Lines offices

WARE

Country Bank
75 Main St.
$41,384 – Roofing

Country Corners Storage
50 Greenwich Road
$48,400 – Storage trailer

WESTFIELD

FRP Holdings Westfield, LLC
24 Main St.
$68,127 – Remodel store, new bathroom, add two offices

Noble Hospital
115 West Silver St.
$17,254 – Rework three office spaces to create IT server room

Tyrone Co.
14 Sycamore St.
$42,000 – Convert garage into apartment

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Albert Keinath
888 Main St.
$7,385 – Assemble exhaust duct

Saremi, LLP
442 Main St.
$3,500 – Repair due to fire

WILBRAHAM

McClure Insurance
2361 Boston Road
$2,400 – Replace sign

Chamber Corners Departments

1BERKSHIRE
www.1berkshire.com
(413) 499-1600

• Jan. 27: BYP Winter Ball, 7-11 p.m., hosted by Country Club of Pittsfield. Let’s take an evening to dress up and enjoy a ball together. It’s an inexpensive way to enjoy an elegant evening with music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, elegance, and an excuse to dress to the nines — and much more — with friends. Cost: $25 for members, $35 for non-members.
• Feb. 27: Entrepreneurial Meetup, 8-10 a.m., hosted by Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, Pittsfield. Join us for networking and share what you’ve been working on in an open-mic format. 1Berkshire’s Entrepreneurial Meetups are free events that gather entrepreneurs together to network, learn, and engage. They provide small-business owners, or people interested in starting a business, opportunities to have casual, organic conversations with peers and resource providers.
• Feb. 28: Good News Business Salute, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Zion Church, Pittsfield. Come celebrate Jacob’s Pillow, IS183, and more. This event recognizes major milestones, including anniversaries, expansions, and new product lines of Berkshire businesses, and gives us a chance to come together to applaud their efforts. Member cost: $35 for individual, $140 for table of four, $280 for table of eight. Non-member cost: $45 for individual, $180 for table of four, $360 for table of eight.

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.amherstarea.com
(413) 253-0700

• Feb. 8: After 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Bistro 63, 63 North Pleasant St., Amherst. Sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank.

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.chicopeechamber.org
(413) 594-2101

• Jan. 23: B2B Roundtable, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Polish National Credit Union, 923 Front St., Chicopee. Sponsored by CHH Engraving Inc. An opportunity to connect and increase your contacts, generate leads, and establish relationships with other businesses. Cost: free to chamber members, but limited to one representative per business industry. Call Sarah Williams at (413) 594-2101, ext. 103, for more information or to sign up.
• Jan. 31: ChamberMaster Training, 9-11 a.m., hosted by Hampton Inn Chicopee, 600 Memorial Dr. This is a brief presentation on how to use ChamberMaster for chamber members. This is a great tool for all chamber members for some free advertising. Cost: free to chamber members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.
• Feb. 9: Business After Hours, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Berchmans Hall Rotunda, Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Network with chamber members at this annual event. Meet with students who are learning about the importance of networking and share your insights with them. Hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, and raffle prizes. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members.
• Feb. 15: CEO Power Hour Luncheon with Spiros Hatiras, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Collegian Court, 89 Park St., Chicopee. Sponsored by Westfield Bank. Come enjoy lunch and listen as Hatiras talks about his journey as president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center. Cost: $30 for members, $35 for non-members.
• Feb. 21: February Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by Insurance Center of New England. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members, $250 monthly sponsor.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.easthamptonchamber.org
(413) 527-9414

• Feb. 8: Networking by Night, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Boylston Rooms, 122 Pleasant St., Suite #112, Easthampton. Sponsored by Tanya Costigan Events. This is a great networking opportunity and an opportunity to tour the new Boylston Rooms.
• Feb. 27: Strengths-based Leadership, 7:45-10 a.m., hosted by Innovative Business Systems, Mill 180, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. In the first of a two-part series, Colleen DelVecchio, a certified CliftonStrengths coach, will lead us into our strongest selves as leaders via our personnel Gallup StrengthFinder assessment and insight reports. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.holyokechamber.com
(413) 534-3376

• Jan. 24: Candidate & Elected Officials Reception, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Gary Rome Hyundai, 150 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. Sponsored by Dowd Insurance, the Republican, Marcotte Ford, Comcast Business, Holyoke Medical Center, and Ferriter Law. Join the Greater Holyoke business community in congratulating newly elected officials and rubbing elbows with local legislators. Featured keynote speaker: U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. Guest speaker: Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center. Cost: $40, which includes appetizers, food stations, and an open bar. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com.
• Jan. 31: ACE, Ask a Chamber Expert: Social Media Strategic Plan, 8:30-10 a.m., hosted in the executive conference room of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, 177 High St., Holyoke. The chamber welcomes chamber expert Heather Turner, chief log roller at Forfeng Designs and Media, who will share her expertise on how to design a winning social-media strategy. Cost: free for chamber members, $15 for non-members.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.explorenorthampton.com
(413) 584-1900

• Feb. 7: February Arrive @5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Christopher Heights, 50 Village Hill Road, Northampton. A networking event. Cost: $10 for members.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618

• Feb. 5: Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Join us for our monthly Mayor’s Coffee Hour with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested at (413) 568-1618 so we may give our host a head count.
• Feb. 13: After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by ReStore Westfield (Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity), 301 East Main St., Westfield. Bring your business cards and make connections. Refreshments will be served. A 50/50 raffle will support the chamber’s Scholarship Fund. Cost: free for chamber members, $10 for general admission.

SOUTH HADLEY & GRANBY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.shgchamber.com
(413) 532-6451

• Jan. 23: Annual Meeting, 5:30-8:30 p.m., hosted by Willits-Hallowell Center, Mount Holyoke College, 26 Park St., South Hadley. An opportunity for chamber members to socialize with old friends in the business community and make new ones. A cocktail hour will be followed by dinner. The brief meeting will introduce the board of directors, describe the chamber’s various committees and their functions, and open discussion of 2018 calendar/plans/suggestions for the coming year.

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER
www.springfieldregionalchamber.com
(413) 787-1555

• Jan. 23: C-Suite Conversations & Cocktails, 5-7 p.m., hosted by CityStage, One Columbus Center, Springfield. Members-only event. Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door. To make a reservation, visit www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mail [email protected], or call (413) 755-1310.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.ourwrc.com
(413) 426-3880

• Feb. 7: Wicked Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, West Springfield. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events, hosted by various businesses and restaurants, that bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880, or register at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.
• Feb. 13: Lunch & Tour at the Bistro LPVEC – West Springfield, noon to 1:30 p.m. Join fellow members and non-members for a networking lunch at the Bistro at Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, followed by an informative discussion on the value of gaining skills in the trades industry and how we can promote to fill local jobs. Sponsorships are available for this event. Register online at [email protected]

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT
Eduardo Carattini v. Sargeant West II Apartments and Mount Holyoke Management, LLC
Allegation: Slip and fall causing injury: $1,949
Filed: 12/13/17

Carmen Esquilin-Campos v. Sahara & Sahara, LLC
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $6,362.20
Filed: 12/18/17

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
EP Floors Corp. v. District Cider Co. Inc.
Allegation: Breach of contract; failure to pay contractually required down payment for agreed-upon services: $19,742
Filed: 12/27/17
HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Antonia Rodriguez v. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, et al
Allegation: PVTA bus negligently struck plaintiff’s vehicle, causing injury: $8,969.95
Filed: 12/11/17

Linda Mansur v. 270 West Street Ludlow Realty Trust, Frank Arduino, and Holly Arduino
Allegation: Slip and fall causing injury: $60,890.60
Filed: 12/12/17

Alton E. Gleason Co. Inc. v. Ed Speight & Co. Inc. and Edward T. Speight
Allegation: Money owed for services, labor, and materials: $74,700
Filed: 12/13/17

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
A.J. Virgilio Construction Inc. v. Town of Ware through its selectmen Nancy J. Talbot, Alan G. Whitney, Tracy R. Opalinski, John E. Carroll, and Michael P. Fountain
Allegation: Breach of contract; money owed for labor, materials, and equipment: $15,705.55
Filed: 12/19/17

Robert Shover v. G4S Secure Integration, LLC; Adesta, LLC; and John Doe as agent/manager
Allegation: Failure to pay prevailing wages, failure to pay overtime wages, fraud and misrepresentation: $100,000
Filed: 12/19/17

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT
Michael J. Duda v. Hulmes Transportation Services Ltd. and Michael Silva
Allegation: Negligence; failure to use shoulder belt to strap in plaintiff on Hulmes bus and failure to slow down at flashing yellow lights, causing injury when bus hit bump and plaintiff lifted out of his wheelchair and slammed back down: $152,106.75
Filed: 11/14/17

HOLYOKE DISTRICT COURT
Pedro Perez and Travelers Insurance Co. v. Gilberto Rivera d/b/a Gil’s Auto Repair & Performance
Allegation: Negligence; failure to perform motor-vehicle inspection properly; plaintiff injured when vehicle’s suspension failed and wheel collapsed on the highway: $24,999
Filed: 12/14/17

PALMER DISTRICT COURT
Robert A. Staniewicz v. Riverview Auto Sales, LLC
Allegation: Fraud in sale of goods; breach of warranty: $10,000
Filed: 12/22/17

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT
Krysten Gasparrini v. Massachusetts Willows Limited Partnership d/b/a the Willows Apartment Home
Allegation: Negligence; slip and fall causing injury: $2,400.84
Filed: 1/5/18

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — One of the most comprehensive genetic/DNA tests available will be offered to the public at Tower Square’s Health & Wellness Expo on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

A simple swab of the mouth, this test, conducted by True Blue Health & Wellness, can offer insight into cardiac health, cancer detection, carrier status, response to medications, as well as weight and diet analysis. The results are 100% confidential, and the test is covered by most health insurance plans. While walk-ins are welcome, those interested in having the testing done are encouraged to pre-register at www.truebluehw.com/schedule (select Tower Square).

The genetic/DNA test site is just one of more than 20 professional healthcare stations available to residents and office workers at Tower Square’s food court on Jan. 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Other vendor stations include eye screenings, weight loss and hypnosis, sleep disorders, posture screenings, kidney-disease treatment, allergy and immunology, yoga and meditation, massage therapy, CPR and first aid, home healthcare, and more.

The public is invited to attend this free health expo and enjoy live music and giveaways, including free gluten-free snacks by Bakery on Main. The snow date for the event is Jan. 25.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — A seasoned chief information officer for some of the world’s largest healthcare payor organizations, Terry Ramey has joined Holyoke-based healthcare consultancy VertitechIT as an executive project officer (EPO). He will lead engagements with large healthcare systems as the company continues to expand operations throughout the East Coast and across the country.

Ramey previously held senior technology titles at PerformRX (a subsidiary of AmeriHealth Caritas), Penn Mutual Life Insurance, CIGNA Health Services, and Dendrite International.
 
As a nationally recognized healthcare technology executive, he says he was looking to make an impact on the provider side of the industry.

“At CIGNA, Penn Mutual, and other major payor organizations, my responsibilities were to leverage technology to positively affect the bottom line,” he noted. “At VertitechIT, I have the opportunity to help transform hospital IT departments with a direct impact on patient care. It’s not often that an IT executive gets to do that.”

VertitechIT CEO Michael Feld agrees. “Our work at work at major health systems goes far beyond designing and implementing cloud strategies, overhauling infrastructure, and streamlining operations. As an EPO, Terry will counsel clients on the IT initiatives that can literally change the way doctors do their jobs.”

Working at the executive level within a healthcare organization, EPOs oversee a collaborative office of the CTO (oCTO), implementing VertitechIT’s proprietary LeverageIT process. Working side by side with senior internal managers, the oCTO refines strategic directives and implements tactical solutions that make organizations more profitable and efficient.