Page 15 - BusinessWest July 20, 2020
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Kate Phelon says the Greater Westfield Chamber remains strong and active, and has even welcomed some new
Considering what’s already been lost in this unprecedented year, the shout of ‘play ball!’ was certainly welcome — and city and chamber offi- cials hope it heralds the start of a back half of 2020 that’s far more promising than the first half.
Full Power
While it was uncertain if the Starfires would be able to play this season, the crew at Westfield Gas & Electric never stopped.
General Manager Anthony Contrino said his crews have consistently provided essential ser- vices for customers of the municipal utility. After
a crash course on handling COVID-19 in the workplace that kept people safe and followed state guidelines, G & E crews have handled only emergency situations for the last several months. More recently, the utility has been able to handle non-emergency work like in-home gas and elec- tric installations.
Contrino said the many disaster-recovery drills he and his colleagues have done in the past helped prepare them well for COVID-19.
“We’ve had a lot of remote-workforce capabili- ties in place, but they’ve never been tested to this degree,” he said, calling it a “blessing in disguise” as the last several months confirmed that the processes they had set up work when they are most needed.
Administrative staff returned to their offices at the end of June after the building was reconfig- ured with the latest pandemic protocols in place.
“I commend my co-workers, who have done a very good job during this time for their service to the city and all of our customers,” Contrino said, adding that Westfield G & E received the Reliable Public Power Provider Award for excellence in operating efficiently, reliably, and safely.
Whip City Fiber, a separate business that pro- vides fiber-optic internet service, is also run by Westfield G & E. Contrino said 70% of Westfield now has access to the utility’s fiber-optic net- work. “In 2020, we have continued to add cus- tomers to areas that have access to fiber optics in their neighborhood.”
The plan going forward is to expand the net- work to the remaining 30% of the city. “Customer demand will determine where we build out the remainder of the network,” he noted.
In addition to serving Westfield, Whip City
Fiber is working with 19 towns in Western Mass. to establish their internet service, Contrino added. “We are working in places like the hill- towns that were underserved with internet ser- vice, so they are appreciative that we can help them get up and running.”
Once established, customers in the hilltowns will have access to gigabit service, or 1,000 mega-
great thing to see, especially during these times that are so challenging
 New business openings are a
    for everybody.
 bits coming into their homes. By installing fiber optics, Contrino said, these towns are “future- proofing” their internet systems. “We already had the competencies in place to build fiber-optic networks, so by expanding our services to other towns, we become more cost-effective for West- field residents.”
Getting Around
On the recreation front, the Greenway Rail Trail, an elevated bike path, is expanding across the city. By the end of next year, bike paths and five bridges will be added to the trail.
“The completion of the bike trail will be a real economic driver for Westfield,” Humason said. “I think it will attract cyclists from other parts of the country, as well as the state.”
  (413) 562-0601
1106 East Mountain Road, Westfield, MA 01085
• General Site Work
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• Storm Water Management
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sewer, drainage)
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• Steel Building Construction
• Commercial & Industrial Interior Building
Renovations and Repair
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For over 20 years we have specialized in general contracting, site work and development, and heavy civil construction. Our team provides high quality service in a cost effective timely manner, striving to ensure your satisfaction.
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