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Workshop Slated on Handling Employee Leave, Injuries

LEE, Mass. — L.V. Toole Insurance Agency of Lee and Skoler, Abbott and Presser PC of Springfield is sponsoring a free workshop for employers dealing with employee leaves and injuries.

The workshop is on Thursday, Feb. 9, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in Lenox. A continental breakfast will be served.

Susan G. Fentin, a labor and employment attorney in Springfield, will present "Leaves, Disabilities and Injuries: the Intersection of the FMLA, ADAAA and Workers Compensation Act." She will cover the basics of the workers' compensation and the Family and Medical Leave and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments acts to help employers understand how to handle employees whose physical or mental conditions qualify them for protection.

Fentin is an attorney with Skoler, Abbott and Presser, which specializes in labor and employment law and represents only management. She is an associate editor of the Massachusetts Employment Law Letter and regularly presents master classes on the FMLA to employers.

To register, email Heather Forman at heather@tooleinsurance.com or call 413-243-0089.
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Great Barrington Friendly's Casualty in Bankruptcy

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The town's lone Friendly's Restaurant was shuttered on Monday as the ice cream scooper emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Great Barrington restaurant was the only closure in the Berkshires. Thirty-six other restaurants were also closed, including three in the Springfield area and seven others in Massachusetts. Several in the Capital Region of New York also closed their doors.

According to a statement from company, "we were unable to reach an acceptable agreement with landlords at 37 restaurants. Therefore, the Company has made the difficult decision to close these Friendly's effective at the close of business on January 8th."

The Great Barrington location is no longer listed on the company's website.

That makes 100 restaurants closed since the Wilbraham company first entered Chapter 11 last fall. The company has about 7,500 locations. The restaurants employed about 20 people each.

Friendly's Ice Cream Corp. emerged from bankruptcy after selling the corporation and its subsidiaries to Friendly's Ice Cream LLC for a reported $75 million.

Read the full press release here.

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Walmart Buys Curran Highway Site for $7.35M

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The final step in the development of the Walmart Supercenter was completed in December with the sale of the former gravel bank on Curran Highway.

Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust bought the property and an adjacent parcel at 1519-1525 South State St. for $7.35 million on Dec 19.

The property includes the gravel bank on Curran Highway and land formerly used by Berkshire Concrete Co.

The retail giant filed plans for a 160,000 square foot store last fall but purchase of the 23 acres was put off until some site preparation and cleanup was completed. Buying the land means the company will begin construction soon.

BVS 5401 Investors LLC, developers for the shopping plaza, purchased the property from the city in 2007 for $700,000. The parcel was one of several bought by developers Nigro Development LLC of Albany, N.Y., and Starwood-Ceruzzi of Connecticut several years ago. Nigro has since dropped out, leaving Ceruzzi Properties of Fairfield, Conn., in control.

Ceruzzi, acting as BVS 5401 Investors LLC, also purchased the Dellaghelfa properties at 1519 South State St. and West Road for about $2.2 million in 2007, and the former North Adams Plaza in 2004 for $2.5 million.
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Berkshire Chamber Authorized as Insurance Group Carrier

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce has been approved as a Group Health Insurance Cooperative as part of the Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

The approval by the state Department of Insurance and with Retailers Association of Massachusetts will allow the state association to operate as one of up to six cooperatives authorized by law to work with insurance carriers in an effort to give small businesses and individuals more options for saving on health insurance by banding together to buy coverage.

Through MACCE, the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce has been approved as a qualifying chamber and will work with insurers in the coming months to create new opportunities for its members, of which nearly 85 percent are considered small businesses.

More information on this new member benefit will be discussed at MACCE's annual meeting this Friday, Jan. 6, at Cranwell Resort in Lenox.
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