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Daily News

SPRINGFIELDNursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the United States. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region.

 

The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories placing 45th in the region and 21st in in the state.

 

Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: The institution’s academic prestige and perceived value; the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered; and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly.

In its consideration of AIC, Nursing Schools Almanac stated, “American International College opened in 1885 as a school for international immigrants. The institution became coed in 1892, making it one of the first colleges in the region to educate women. AIC offers BSN and RN-to-BSN courses for undergraduate students. Graduates of the traditional BSN program have passed the NCLEX exam at an 87% rate over the past decade. The college introduced its MSN program in 2005, which offers a hybrid of classroom and online modules. In fact, two-thirds of the content is available online, providing much-needed flexibility for working nurses.”

 

“While the demand for healthcare professionals grows each year, at no time has that need been more critical than now,” said Dean of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, RN, PhD. “The School of Health Sciences at American International College provides access to educational opportunities that develop a diverse network of skilled individuals who provide comprehensive nursing care in a variety of settings and who are able to demonstrate leadership in evidence-based practice to promote continuous improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare.”

 

Custom Content

Learning Experience

aic-medidrawer

As the population grows and ages, and the need for quality healthcare services grows, so too does the need for highly trained professionals to provide such care.

American International College has emerged as a regional leader in the ongoing work to not only train individuals for careers in healthcare, but fully prepare them to succeed in this ever-changing, increasingly challenging sector.

This is an assignment, or commitment, that the college approaches with a passion, a word chosen carefully by Cesarina Thompson, PhD, RN, ANEF, dean of the School of Health Sciences. It’s a passion for serving the community and for helping a diverse population of individuals — many of them first-generation college students — achieve their dreams of providing compassionate care and working on the cutting edge of medicine.

Cesarina Thompson

Cesarina Thompson

“We have a very distinctive collection of programs within the School of Health Sciences,” Thompson noted. “And they’re all under one roof, which makes us very unique.”

AIC has been adding to this roster of programs in recent years, and more additions are planned, she went on, because changing demographics and growing need for specific types of healthcare are demanding such steps — and the college is committed to meeting that demand.

“Students can come here and prepare themselves for a number of fields in health,” said Thompson, “from working with people when they’re healthy to keep them healthy, to working in the broad realm of sports, to direct, hands-on care, such as that provided by nurses and physical and occupational therapists.”

AIC’s programs include bachelor’s and master’s programs in Nursing (the nursing school was recently ranked among the top 50 in New England by Nursing Schools Almanac), a bachelor’s program in Public Health, a master’s program in Occupational Therapy, and a doctoral program in Physical Therapy.

New for this fall is an OTD (Occupational Therapy Doctorate) program, while programs in Exercise Science will be added in the fall of 2017, and a program in Athletic Training will be added in 2018.

“These are the fields that will be seeing growing demand for qualified professionals in the years to come, and advanced degrees will be needed to succeed in these fields,” Thompson noted. “AIC is committed to meeting these needs.”

And this commitment is what sets AIC apart!

aicclass
aiclogo-1115

A Unique Approach to Learning — Inside and Outside the Classroom

At American International College, it’s not just what students learn that’s important when it comes to preparing them for careers in healthcare — but how.

Indeed, Thompson noted that students are exposed to what she called the ‘continuum of care,’ meaning all facets of healthcare, not simply the specific field they’ve chosen, such as nursing or physical therapy.

“And this is very important,” she noted, “because, as technology advances, it is ever more important for professionals across a wide array of healthcare disciplines to communicate with one another and, yes, work with one another to provide needed care at the various stages of a patient’s life. Interprofessional work and interprofessional collaboration are a big focus today.”

At American International College, a diverse population of students is taught under one roof, with a decidedly hands-on approach to learning that enables students to learn not only the skills they will need to succeed in their chosen field, but to understand the various professional ‘languages’ used by others across the broad health spectrum.

aic-therapy

At AIC, students across various fields are brought together in myriad ways so they can understand the continuum of healthcare, what other professionals do, and how they work with others.

“The focus is on learning what each of us does, what each person’s role is in caring for that patient, and what value each professional brings to the process of caring for a patient,” Thompson explained.

Also, healthcare providers and the populations they serve are becoming ever more diverse. AIC helps prepare individuals for this environment through an extremely diverse student population and outside-the-classroom work in one of the most diverse regions in the country.

This unique approach to learning is one of many factors that sets AIC’s programs apart and makes the school a regional leader in training the individuals who will provide quality healthcare for decades to come.

AIC is the right course for
those pursuing health careers.

aic-lectureclass

aiclogo-1115

Custom Content

Learning Experience

aic-medidrawer

As the population grows and ages, and the need for quality healthcare services grows, so too does the need for highly trained professionals to provide such care.

American International College has emerged as a regional leader in the ongoing work to not only train individuals for careers in healthcare, but fully prepare them to succeed in this ever-changing, increasingly challenging sector.

This is an assignment, or commitment, that the college approaches with a passion, a word chosen carefully by Cesarina Thompson, PhD, RN, ANEF, dean of the School of Health Sciences. It’s a passion for serving the community and for helping a diverse population of individuals — many of them first-generation college students — achieve their dreams of providing compassionate care and working on the cutting edge of medicine.

Cesarina Thompson

Cesarina Thompson

“We have a very distinctive collection of programs within the School of Health Sciences,” Thompson noted. “And they’re all under one roof, which makes us very unique.”

AIC has been adding to this roster of programs in recent years, and more additions are planned, she went on, because changing demographics and growing need for specific types of healthcare are demanding such steps — and the college is committed to meeting that demand.

“Students can come here and prepare themselves for a number of fields in health,” said Thompson, “from working with people when they’re healthy to keep them healthy, to working in the broad realm of sports, to direct, hands-on care, such as that provided by nurses and physical and occupational therapists.”

AIC’s programs include bachelor’s and master’s programs in Nursing (the nursing school was recently ranked among the top 50 in New England by Nursing Schools Almanac), a bachelor’s program in Public Health, a master’s program in Occupational Therapy, and a doctoral program in Physical Therapy.

New for this fall is an OTD (Occupational Therapy Doctorate) program, while programs in Exercise Science will be added in the fall of 2017, and a program in Athletic Training will be added in 2018.

“These are the fields that will be seeing growing demand for qualified professionals in the years to come, and advanced degrees will be needed to succeed in these fields,” Thompson noted. “AIC is committed to meeting these needs.”

And this commitment is what sets AIC apart!

aicclass
aiclogo-1115

A Unique Approach to Learning — Inside and Outside the Classroom

At American International College, it’s not just what students learn that’s important when it comes to preparing them for careers in healthcare — but how.

Indeed, Thompson noted that students are exposed to what she called the ‘continuum of care,’ meaning all facets of healthcare, not simply the specific field they’ve chosen, such as nursing or physical therapy.

“And this is very important,” she noted, “because, as technology advances, it is ever more important for professionals across a wide array of healthcare disciplines to communicate with one another and, yes, work with one another to provide needed care at the various stages of a patient’s life. Interprofessional work and interprofessional collaboration are a big focus today.”

At American International College, a diverse population of students is taught under one roof, with a decidedly hands-on approach to learning that enables students to learn not only the skills they will need to succeed in their chosen field, but to understand the various professional ‘languages’ used by others across the broad health spectrum.

aic-therapy

At AIC, students across various fields are brought together in myriad ways so they can understand the continuum of healthcare, what other professionals do, and how they work with others.

“The focus is on learning what each of us does, what each person’s role is in caring for that patient, and what value each professional brings to the process of caring for a patient,” Thompson explained.

Also, healthcare providers and the populations they serve are becoming ever more diverse. AIC helps prepare individuals for this environment through an extremely diverse student population and outside-the-classroom work in one of the most diverse regions in the country.

This unique approach to learning is one of many factors that sets AIC’s programs apart and makes the school a regional leader in training the individuals who will provide quality healthcare for decades to come.

AIC is the right course for
those pursuing health careers.

aic-lectureclass

aiclogo-1115

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been named one of the top 50 nursing schools in New England by a research team at Nursing Schools Almanac, which collected data on more than 3,200 nursing schools and campuses throughout the U.S., with just 10% making the final list.

Each nursing school in the six-state region was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

According to Nursing Schools Almanac, “AIC ranked number 36 in New England. American International College opened in 1885 as a school for international immigrants. The institution became coed in 1892, making it one of the first colleges in the region to educate women. AIC offers BSN and RN-to-BSN courses for undergraduate students. The college introduced its MSN program in 2005, which offers a hybrid of classroom and online modules. In fact, two-thirds of the content is available online, providing much-needed flexibility for working nurses.”

Cesarina Thompson, dean of the School of Health Sciences, is pleased that AIC is being recognized. “Over the past five years, AIC’s average pass rate on the NCLEX exam has been at or above state and national averages. The college’s diverse nursing programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels offer a breadth and depth of courses and degrees that address current shortages of skilled healthcare professionals and an ever-increasing need for the future.”

Company Notebook

Mount Holyoke College Receives Largest Gift in Its History

SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College announced it has received the largest gift in support of financial aid in its history. Alumna Liz Cochary Gross and Philip Gross have committed $10 million to be directed to scholarships and financial aid.  Nancy Nordhoff, a 1954 graduate, also committed $1 million to support future Mount Holyoke students across the economic spectrum. These two gifts are the seed for Mount Holyoke’s new Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge. This challenge offers donors the opportunity to double — or triple — their impact with their endowment gifts. For first-time donors to endowed financial aid, the Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge will match two dollars for every one dollar contributed for gifts between $50,000 and $250,000. For repeat endowed financial-aid donors, the challenge will match new gift commitments between $50,000 and $250,000 dollar for dollar. The college is seeking to raise at least $20 million in new gifts and commitments over the next 18 months. As of Jan. 14, Mount Holyoke has already secured more than $5 million in gifts and commitments toward this effort, above and beyond the $11 million in challenge gifts.

 

Big Y Participating in Nexamp Community Solar Program

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y World Class Market has taken another step in supporting the production and consumption of clean energy by contracting with Boston-based Nexamp to participate in its community solar program. Under the agreement with Nexamp, Big Y is subscribing to 19 solar projects across Massachusetts, representing a total of 57 megawatts of capacity. Big Y will receive 50% of the energy credits generated by these projects. The projects included in Big Y’s agreement with Nexamp are located in Massachusetts in the National Grid and Eversource utility service territories. Big Y and other subscribers to these community solar projects are allocated a portion of the project’s output and receive discounted credits on their utility bills.

 

Monson Savings Bank Gives $15,000 to Nonprofits Chosen by Community

MONSON — After Monson Savings Bank asked community members to cast their votes for their favorite charitable organizations as a part of the Monson Savings Bank 2021 Community Giving Initiative, more than 3,400 votes were received. Now that the votes have been tallied, Monson Savings Bank is donating a total of $15,000 among the top 10 vote recipients. In total, 200 organizations received votes. The recipients include Women’s Empowerment Scholarship (Greater Springfield), Wilbraham United Players, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield, Rick’s Place (Wilbraham), I Found Light Against All Odds (Greater Springfield), Academy Hill Private School Scholarship (Springfield), Scantic Valley YMCA (Wilbraham), Monson Free Library, St. Michael’s Players (East Longmeadow), and Link to Libraries Inc. (Hampden). This was the 11th year of the Monson Savings Bank Initiative.

 

Comcast Introduces Fastest Internet Speeds over Wi-fi Across Northeast

PHILADELPHIA — Comcast announced it has introduced the fastest internet speeds over wi-fi available across the Northeast, including 14 states from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Customers can now take advantage of advanced wi-fi technology that is capable of delivering speeds faster than a gig to support the ever-increasing number of connected devices in their homes. The speed increase was rolled out in Comcast’s Northeast markets on Jan. 7 for no additional charge to customers, and will be introduced to the rest of its service areas throughout 2021. Comcast is one of the first U.S. internet service providers to offer a Wi-Fi 6 certified gateway with the latest version of its xFi Advanced Gateway, which is capable of delivering multi-gigabit speeds via ethernet and laid the groundwork for gigabit speeds over wi-fi. Customers on the upgraded Xfinity gigabit tier will require an xFi Advanced Gateway, or one of the wi-fi-6-capable devices approved to work with the Xfinity network to receive the faster speeds. Comcast will be reaching out to customers who need to upgrade their equipment for no additional cost if they don’t have a capable device in their home.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly.

 

The Royal Law Firm Announces New Strategic Association

SPRINGFIELD — The Royal Law Firm announced it has established a mutual of-counsel association with Minasian Becker LLC, a boutique commercial real-estate and business law firm, as of the third quarter of 2020. Complementing Royal’s business-side-only litigation practice, this association will provide Royal clients with the added benefits of commercial real-estate and corporate transactional work. The Minasian Becker team of attorneys has represented regional, national, and international companies and nonprofit organizations with their commercial real-estate and business-transaction needs for more than 25 years. Amy Royal, founding partner of the Royal Law Firm, believes the relationship with Minasian Becker will be an attractive supplement to Royal’s existing law practice of labor and employment law and other business-related litigation. With this alignment of their practices, Royal and Minasian Becker will offer their clients locations in Arlington, Springfield, and Rockport in Massachusetts, as well as in Hartford, Conn. Royal attorneys are admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Both law firms are nationally certified as women’s business enterprises and women owned small businesses, and are able to offer the benefits of diversity to their clients.

 

Boston Children’s Hospital, Baystate Health Collaborate on Specialized Pediatric Care

SPRINGFIELD — Boston Children’s Hospital and Baystate Health have formed a collaboration that will improve patient access to highly specialized pediatric care and strengthen the coordination of care between Boston Children’s and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield. The collaboration will provide patients throughout Western Mass. with improved access to pediatric specialty care at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and it will streamline care planning among providers at Boston Children’s and Baystate Children’s. The collaboration anticipates that the two hospitals will jointly develop pathways to ensure that children and adolescents get the right care in the right setting. In some instances, Boston Children’s clinicians will be available to provide care at Baystate Children’s. The two hospitals already work collaboratively in cardiology, neurology, and dermatology, and by enhancing medical education, remote consults, information technology, and other initiatives, the two institutions will be better able to coordinate care for their patients.

 

Boulevard Machine & Gear Moves to Larger Headquarters

WESTFIELD — Boulevard Machine & Gear, a precision-machining facility, announced it has moved its headquarters to a new, larger space in Westfield to accommodate steady business growth over the last decade. The new address is 326 Lockhouse Road. Boulevard Machine will leverage its new facility to provide additional capacity for its customers while providing new internal operational efficiencies. The new facility also will provide Boulevard with improved, state-of-the-art production space to facilitate internal and external collaboration and communication, while providing the company with further room for growth with its ongoing investment in equipment. The newly constructed factory will accommodate leading-edge manufacturing technologies, lean equipment layout, and automated workflow, resulting in increased efficiency and better overall customer experience, company President Susan Kasa said. Boulevard Machine, founded in 1954, was acquired by Kasa in 2006. It is a certified woman-owned business that provides precision-machined components for the aerospace, defense, and medical markets.

 

Balise Auto Boosts Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Balise Auto, a long-time supporter of Square One, recently committed $15,000 toward the agency’s Adopt-A-Classroom initiative. “We have been so impressed by Square One’s dedication and ability to find creative and effective ways to support the education of children and families in our community,” said Alexandra Balise, director of Marketing at Balise Auto. “Balise is proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to shape the leaders of tomorrow.” Square One’s Adopt-A-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. The gift from Balise comes at a critical time, as Square One continues to provide full-day remote-learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, childcare offerings, and family-support services. Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, as well as family-support services to 1,500 families each year.

 

Academy of Music Raising Funds for Restroom Renovations

NORTHAMPTON — Northampton’s historic Academy of Music Theatre announced its “We Care!” campaign, which will expand and renovate the public restrooms in the 130-year-old landmark to provide more toilets and sinks and upgrade the facilities for cleanliness and hygiene. Among the improvements slated for the $325,000 project are the expansion of the existing restroom facilities and the installation of new plumbing, HEPA-filtered hand dryers, touch-free toilet and sink fixtures, and partitions to serve a larger patron population, as well as new wall, floor, and ceiling finishes. The project is led by Northampton-based Thomas Douglas Architects, whose previous design for the renovation of the Academy of Music’s auditorium earned a Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award. The Academy secured $225,000 last winter for the project from state and foundation sources, including the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Funds, Smith College, and the Beveridge Family Foundation. The “We Care!” campaign aims to raise the remaining $100,000 from the Pioneer Valley community.

 

Architecture Environment Life Inc. Wins Citation Award from WMAIA

EAST LONGMEADOW — Architecture Environment Life Inc., known to many as ArchitectureEL Inc. or AEL, received a Citation Award from the Western Mass. chapter of the American Institute of Architects (WMAIA). In partnership with the Western Mass. section of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA), WMAIA hosted its biannual Celebration of Architecture and Design Awards program last month to encourage and recognize distinguished architectural and landscape-design achievement and honor project teams, including the clients and consultants who work together to improve the built environment. The WMAIA Design Awards, held every two years, includes two Honor Awards for exceptional work, easily distinguishable by exceptional quality of design and function; two Merit Awards for work that demonstrates a high level of design quality worthy of recognition; and two Citation Awards for work that demonstrates a level of design quality worthy of mention. ArchitectureEL Inc. applied for this award by submitting a portfolio displaying its design for New Valley Bank at 1930 Wilbraham Road in Springfield. Judging for the award was informed by the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, which contends that design is not solely about aesthetic components, but also concerns how buildings perform for people.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters, Restaurants Team Up to Raise Funds for Programs

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County (BBBSHC) and four area restaurants partnered in December to raise money to support BBBSHC’s youth-mentoring programs. The four restaurant partners were located throughout Hampden County and included Springfield’s Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, Hampden’s La Cucina di Hampden House, Wilbraham’s Blue Elephant Restaurant, and Holyoke’s Delaney House. Staff, board members, and volunteers from BBBSHC delivered close to 100 dinners to more than 40 donors during four Fridays in December. Participants chose from customized menus created specifically for the fundraiser. BBBSHC Executive Director David Beturne formed the partnerships as a creative way to raise funds for his organization during a trying time that has seen revenues and staffing levels cut by more than half. BBBSHC captured 50% of the revenue, and the restaurant partners captured the remaining 50%. Between the fundraiser itself and a sponsorship from Freedom Credit Union, BBBSHC was able to pull in just over $7,000.

UMassFive Donates Hundreds of Winter Coats and Clothes to Amherst Survival Center

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced that its members, staff, and community partners have donated hundreds of winter coats and clothing to Amherst Survival Center. Donations were gathered through a collection drive held at UMassFive’s Hadley and Northampton branches throughout the month of December. “This is a drive that we hold annually, and we weren’t sure what to expect in terms of donations during the pandemic,” said Cait Murray, Community Outreach manager at UMassFive. “We were pleasantly surprised to receive a record number of donations this year. The generosity of our members, staff, and community partners is truly remarkable.” Five vehicle loads of donations were dropped off at the Amherst Survival Center, where they were sorted and distributed to the community. To support the Amherst Survival Center directly, visit amherstsurvival.org.

 

RT Consulting, LLC Acquires Sage Benefit Advisers, LLC

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — RT Consulting, LLC, has acquired Sage Benefit Advisers, headquartered in Peterborough, N.H. Formed in 2006, RT Consulting is a national employee-benefits administration firm focused on employee-benefits compliance, healthcare advocacy, data transparency, communication, education, and partnerships with clients and brokers. Since inception, RT has grown to become a robust HR-management tool helping to ease the burden of all the critical activities within human resources, such as enrollment, communication, navigation, and administration. RT Consulting has worked with companies of all sizes and industries, including technology, automotive, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and energy, and has also done extensive work with associations. The acquisition of Sage Benefit Advisers positions RT to expand its comprehensive advisory and administrative services.

 

Company Notebook

Thunderbirds Announce Suspension of 2020-21 Season

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that they are one of three AHL franchises that have elected to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The decision, made in conjunction with their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, was based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus toward the 2021-22 season. The Thunderbirds will maintain their status as active members of the AHL and return to play next season. “Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly with the St. Louis Blues to explore every possible avenue for returning to play this season,” Thunderbirds President Nate Costa said. “Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, travel logistics, new player-supply rules, and other considerations, the Blues and Thunderbirds collectively determined that it was in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season. Given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, it has also become clear that we will be unable to host fans at our games in the foreseeable future. As an independently owned franchise, our foremost obligation is to ensure that our team is financially viable for the long term, something that is not possible without game-day revenue.”

 

Hazen Paper Wins Award for 2020 Holographic Calendar

HOLYOKE — The International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) recently named Hazen Paper’s 2020 holographic calendar Best Applied Decorative/Packaging Product at the Excellence in Holography Awards 2020. Featuring a fire-breathing dragon with three-dimensional scales, the oversized calendar utilized an array of innovative holographic techniques to create a decorative design the IHMA called “outstanding.” These holographic designs included Hazen-Lens behind the months of the year, gray-motion for the sky background, color-motion for the dragon, and two-channel color-motion lenses and fire-motion lenses to animate the flames. The calendar was originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in Hazen’s Holyoke facility on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Made with renewable energy, transfer-metallized Envirofoil is made with less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, a recycled film carrier that is reused again and again, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks with customized opaque white by AM Lithography of Chicopee.

 

Tighe & Bond Named Finalist for Engineering Excellence Awards

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond Inc. has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) as a 2020 Engineering Excellence Award Finalist (Gold Award). Tighe & Bond, in conjunction with a team of subconsultants and property owner ENGIE North America, transformed the site of the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant into the state’s largest community solar and energy-storage facility. In 2014, the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant in Holyoke stopped operations, and ENGIE North America began the task of decommissioning and closing the power-plant site. This undertaking involved demolition of the coal-fired plant and remediation of many areas of the property. A portion of the site was also used for renewable-energy generation and energy storage to benefit the region and the city of Holyoke. The project team aided with the decommissioning design of the property and worked to obtain a complex array of environmental and land-use permits for the entire project for future industrial and commercial redevelopment. The Tighe & Bond environmental team developed the remedial design for the power plant and the associated coal ash management on the property. The largest component of the property restoration included risk-based evaluations and various capping strategies to address coal ash that has been deposited over much of the property. The successful coal-ash closure approach resulted in preserving and protecting nearby waterways, including the Connecticut River and Kennedy Brook, as well as more than 50 acres of vegetated forest and associated rare and endangered species habitat. For the solar project, the project team provided permit-level design and engineering support as well as construction-period design for the energy-storage system. This project developed the largest community solar project in Massachusetts and the largest utility-scale energy-storage installation in the Commonwealth.

 

UMass Amherst Grad Students Receive Financial Support

AMHERST — The economic and research hardships stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic have strained campuses around the country, including UMass Amherst. Especially hard-hit are graduate students in the sciences, as their research opportunities and funding trajectories have been greatly reduced by COVID-19 public-health restrictions. In response, the university’s College of Natural Sciences (CNS) created the Graduate Student Fellowship Fund this fall to provide additional funding to graduate students who need to extend their work for another year, and to make available innovations in data collection for those who are unable to conduct in-person experiments. The largest gift to the fund so far has come from alumni and long-time supporters Richard and Barbara Mahoney, who contributed $100,000 in early December. The contribution has sparked additional donations from donors who recognize the value of graduate-student research in the college and want to support those students. Graduate students are at the core of the research enterprise on campus, putting in thousands of hours to run experiments, collect data, and analyze findings. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many graduate students have lost the opportunities they previously had to spend much-needed time in labs or out in the field. More than 1,000 graduate students are working toward degrees across CNS.

 

Florence Bank Donates Nearly $100,000 in 2020 to Ease Food Insecurity

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated nearly $100,000 in 2020 to support a new food-distribution collaborative and nine other longtime nonprofits with a mission to feed people who are battling food insecurity in the Pioneer Valley. The gifts have been made since March to organizations in all corners of the region, including the hilltowns, to help ease the economic strain brought on by COVID-19. In the spring, Florence Bank donated $50,000 to the Community Food Distribution Project created jointly by the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton to help fund emergency food distribution in the early months of the pandemic. The new collaborative makes food staples available through on-site distributions at nearly a dozen local sites. Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton established the organization in partnership with Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the city of Northampton, and Northampton Public Schools. Grow Food Northampton and the Northampton Survival Center each received $25,000 from the bank. Since May, Florence Bank has also made the following gifts to these local nonprofits: Amherst Survival Center, $10,000; Springfield Rescue Mission, $10,000; Easthampton Community Center, $7,500; Chesterfield Community Cupboard, $5,000; the Gray House Market of Springfield, $5,000; Easthampton Congregational Church, $2,500; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as part of Monte’s March, $1,000; Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry of Chicopee, $1,000; and Open Pantry Community Services Inc. of Springfield, $1,000. Florence Bank also nominated Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen to receive a $5,000 award from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Charitable Foundation, which the nonprofit has accepted.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. According to Dean of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, “while the demand for healthcare professionals grows each year, at no time has that need been more critical than now. The School of Health Sciences at American International College provides access to educational opportunities that develop a diverse network of skilled individuals who provide comprehensive nursing care in a variety of settings and who are able to demonstrate leadership in evidence-based practice to promote continuous improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare.”

Company Notebook Departments

Jerry Rome Nissan Becomes Balise Nissan

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Jerry Rome Nissan, located at 500 Riverdale St. in West Springfield, has officially become Balise Nissan of West Springfield. The current facility and parking area will undergo expansion in the coming months. Pending approval from the town of West Springfield, the dealership will be renovated to align more closely with Nissan’s latest dealership image. “Our team is thrilled for the all-new Balise Nissan of West Springfield,” says Bill Peffer, president & COO of Balise Motor Sales. “We look forward to exceeding customers’ expectations in areas of sales, service, and overall customer experience.” Balise Nissan is the sixth Balise dealership on Riverdale Street in West Springfield and the ninth Balise dealership in Western Mass.

Berkshire Bank Named Among Top 10 Best Banks in Massachusetts

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank has been recognized by AdvisoryHQ News as one of the Top 10 Best Banks in Massachusetts. “We are honored to be recognized by AdvisoryHQ News on their list of the best banks in Massachusetts,” said Tami Gunsch, executive vice president of Retail Banking. “We look forward to continuing to provide solutions to meet the financial needs of those within our communities and help our customers thrive and achieve what’s most exciting in their lives.” AdvisoryHQ News based its rankings on a number of factors, including advantages, benefits, and value-creating products and services provided by these financial institutions that benefit the consumers they serve. It delves deeper than the obvious fees, ratios, and metrics, also looking at the quality and value of products and services, creating a more personal examination. The products listed by Advisory HQ News as particularly beneficial to consumers are the NOW Checking, Pure Excitement Money Market, mobile banking, and MyBanker programs. AdvisoryHQ News is an online news outlet that provides research, reviews, and ranking of firms and products across the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

PFHS Accredited by New England Assoc. of Schools and Colleges

SPRINGFIELD — Pope Francis High School, a faith-based, college-preparatory school serving grades 9-12, announced its accreditation by the New England Assoc. of Schools and Colleges Inc. (NEASC). The school was formed by the recent merger of Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School. “This accreditation provides assurance to our prospective families that Pope Francis High School meets and upholds the standards that are outlined by the NEASC, and we will continue to work to meet those standards in the future,” said interim Head of School Dr. Thomas McDowell. “Accreditation by the NEASC is voluntary; it shows our willingness to abide by their standards and open ourselves regularly to examination by outside evaluators familiar with higher education.” According to a letter dated July 19 from Jay Stroud, NEASC interim director of the commission, Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic have been members of the association since 1993 and were last evaluated in 2013. By commission policy, their accreditation is extended to cover Pope Francis High School, which will be reevaluated for continued accreditation in 2023. “The effective date of accreditation for Pope Francis High School is Nov. 5, 2013, and the expiration date is Dec. 31, 2023,” Stroud wrote, adding that “Pope Francis High School is in good standing with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.” NEASC was founded in 1885 and works to establish and maintain high standards for all levels of education, from pre-kindergarten to the doctoral level.

Garvey Communication Associates Feted in Newspaper Poll

SPRINGFIELD — Readers of the Daily Hampshire Gazette voted Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) “Best Marketing – Advertising Agency” in the 2016 Reader’s Choice poll. GCAi is a digital-marketing agency and independent Google Certified Partner agency which recently celebrated its 25-year anniversary. “The award certainly comes as a surprise and is a nice 25th-anniversary present,” said Mary Shea, vice president of Digital Strategy at GCAi. “We have worked hard for years to introduce new digital-marketing strategies to the market, and our volunteer work with startups, here and around the world, is unparalleled. We see the award as validation of both.” For several years, GCAi was the pro bono agency of record for local startup accelerator Valley Venture Mentors, and the GCAi digital-marketing team regularly presents and mentors entrepreneurs from around the world through the global accelerator MassChallenge.

Florence Bank Employees Recognized Among Top Loan Originators

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that Toby Daniels, vice president and branch manager at the bank’s Hadley location, and Susan Seaver, vice president and mortgage loan officer, have both been recognized by the Warren Group as among the top loan originators for the Central and Western Mass. regions. The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, compiled the list and rankings for the top loan originators statewide for the period between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016. The originators were ranked by number of loans and volume of loans, statewide and by region. Seaver was listed eighth in mortgage volume and seventh in number of loans. Daniels was listed ninth in mortgage volume. The comprehensive list, based on public records, is the compilation of data on hundreds of licensed loan originators in the state, as well as their lending institutions. The list was published in the June 20 edition of Banker & Tradesman and also distributed to attendees at the 2016 Mid-Year Mortgage Conference, held June 23 in Natick. In its report, the Warren Group stated that the Massachusetts housing recovery is one of the fastest in the nation and still going strong in most areas of the state. “All over the state,” the publishers noted, “loan originators have worked hard in the face of increased demand and increased regulatory burden. They are to be commended for their well-deserved success and their contributions to helping families achieve their dreams of home ownership.” Seaver said, “I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with so many great customers. It’s very rewarding to help people purchase their dream home. I’m also thankful for the underwriters and processors at Florence Bank who work as a team with the loan officers to ensure the borrower gets the highest level of personal service, which makes my job easy.” Added Daniels, “I’m very happy to have been recognized. We have a great network of realtors who provide referrals, as well as a strong back office and streamlined approval process. And the lending rates have been great. We’re very pleased to have been able to help so many of our neighbors and friends here with their housing needs.” John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank, said the bank is honored to have the pair recognized among the region’s top lenders. “This speaks volumes about their commitment and good work. At Florence Bank, we are fortunate to have such a dedicated team of people focused on helping our friends and neighbors achieve their dreams of buying a home. I am proud of them all.”

AIC Named Among Top 50 Nursing Schools in New England

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been named one of the top 50 nursing schools in New England by a research team at Nursing Schools Almanac, which collected data on more than 3,200 nursing schools and campuses throughout the U.S., with just 10% making the final list.
Each nursing school in the six-state region was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
According to Nursing Schools Almanac, “AIC ranked number 36 in New England. American International College opened in 1885 as a school for international immigrants. The institution became coed in 1892, making it one of the first colleges in the region to educate women. AIC offers BSN and RN-to-BSN courses for undergraduate students. The college introduced its MSN program in 2005, which offers a hybrid of classroom and online modules. In fact, two-thirds of the content is available online, providing much-needed flexibility for working nurses.”
Cesarina Thompson, dean of the School of Health Sciences, is pleased that AIC is being recognized. “Over the past five years, AIC’s average pass rate on the NCLEX exam has been at or above state and national averages. The college’s diverse nursing programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels offer a breadth and depth of courses and degrees that address current shortages of skilled healthcare professionals and an ever-increasing need for the future.”

Olde Holyoke Development Corp. Is Now OneHolyoke CDC

HOLYOKE — Olde Holyoke Development Corporation will now be called OneHolyoke CDC (Community Development Corporation) to better reflect its service to the most challenged neighborhoods in Holyoke and its commitment to best practices in the field of community development.
“It’s ‘Out with the Olde’ at Olde Holyoke Development Corporation,” according to OneHolyoke CDC Executive Director Michael Moriarty. “Our new name reflects the changes we have made to be a Community Development Corporation that represents a 21st century catalyst for change in Holyoke.”
Founded in 1971, the newly-named OneHolyoke CDC has created more than 160 new homes in the Flats, Churchill, and South Holyoke neighborhoods, rehabilitated hundreds of apartments, and provided thousands of home-improvement grants to homeowners through the Neighborhood Improvement Program. Olde Holyoke Development Corporation was formed originally as a Model Cities Community Development Corporation serving only the Flats neighborhood and continuing the work of a discontinued federal Great Society program.

In 2014, Olde Holyoke Development Corporation became the only certified Community Development Corporation based in the City of Holyoke. “OneHolyoke is a name that reflects the unifying, flexible and responsive CDC we strive to be,” Moriarty noted. “We’re doing what it takes to build communities, make improvements and transform lives.”
In recent years the housing development agency has diversified its board of directors, expanded its community service outreach, and launched efforts to collaborate with many city agencies and nonprofits that go beyond brick and mortar projects. Moriarty said the new name reflects the company’s evolution.
“The ‘Olde’ has served its purpose and outlived its time; we have a legacy of service and success we are proud of as ‘Olde Holyoke,’ but it is not our original name,” he said. “In the early ‘80s we adopted Olde Holyoke because the Flats is the oldest densely-populated section of Holyoke, which was the only area of focus. Now in 2016, we have been working throughout the city for years, not only in the Flats.

 OneHolyoke speaks to our service to the whole City, and our hope is to be a unifying and positive voice for Holyoke.”Jerry Rome Nissan Becomes Balise Nissan
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Jerry Rome Nissan, located at 500 Riverdale St. in West Springfield, has officially become Balise Nissan of West Springfield. The current facility and parking area will undergo expansion in the coming months. Pending approval from the town of West Springfield, the dealership will be renovated to align more closely with Nissan’s latest dealership image. “Our team is thrilled for the all-new Balise Nissan of West Springfield,” says Bill Peffer, president & COO of Balise Motor Sales. “We look forward to exceeding customers’ expectations in areas of sales, service, and overall customer experience.” Balise Nissan is the sixth Balise dealership on Riverdale Street in West Springfield and the ninth Balise dealership in Western Mass.