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Steve and Trent Kinney have purchased Catherine's Chocolates in Great Barrington. (Photo by Steve Kinney)

Biz Briefs: Couple Returns to Berkshires to Buy Catherine's Chocolates

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Change of chocolate hands

The iconic Catherine’s Chocolate handcrafted chocolatier was sold on April 12 to Steven and Trent Kinney of Lenox, Mass. The couple recently returned to the Berkshires, one having completed his military service. Both men were captains in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army piloting Apache helicopters and led teams as large as 80 soldiers.

Catherine's Chocolate owner Kathy Sinico is retiring after more than 40 years of hand crafting chocolates from the same location on Route 7 in Great Barrington. The chocolatier has been a pillar of the South Berkshires, well known for its homey atmosphere and the scent of chocolate. Patrons return year after year for life celebrations in which Catherine’s Chocolate are an essential tradition.

Sinico has been working with the Kinneys to pass on her legacy of quality chocolates to the new owners. "I am confident that Steve and Trent will continue classic Catherine’s quality offerings," she said.

Steven Kinney, who recently retired from the Army, is a Berkshire native who lived in Pittsfield as a child before his family moved to Wayland. Steven and Trent met while stationed together on a deployment to Afghanistan. "Moving from an Apache helicopter pilot to artisanal chocolate maker may not seem like a logical career progression, but both require precision in execution and great attention to detail," he said. "Trent and I were looking to move from public service careers in the Army to a future with a role in building and serving our home community. Continuing the Catherine’s Chocolate tradition is an exciting first step for us as we move back to the Berkshires."

Trent and Steven were married in Lenox in 2017. While Trent will be deploying to Europe for one last tour of duty with the Army, he will be returning in the fall to join his husband in managing the chocolate shop. "We are excited to meet Catherine's Chocolate long-time customers," he said. "This summer, we'll be making a special commemorative U.S. flag chocolate that will be free as a welcome gift to all visitors. Any money donated in exchange for the free chocolate will be given to charities that support our troops."


Stop & Shop Strike Still On

Five UFCW locals representing more than 30,000 workers returned to the table on Sunday to continue talks with the grocery chain. Workers walked off the job on April 10 after contract talks with a federal mediator stalled. Many of Stop & Shop's 240 affected stores remain open with limited service, including all three in Berkshire County. 

The stores on State Road in North Adams and on Merrill Road and Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield are open until 8 p.m., according to their websites, closing about three or four hours earlier than normal. Services are also limited with no deli or meat counters, for example. 

UFCW members are picketing at all three locations and have been joined by other members of other unions and have received support from elected officials including state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. Paul Mark. The unions are encouraging customers to patronize other stores and not cross the picket lines.

UFCW Local 1459 President Tyrone C. Housey in an update on Monday night said talks will continue and that the company wants "a cost-neutral contract." In other words, he said, it's asking for offsets from benefits that wage increases won't cover. 
"All we're looking for is a fair deal for our members," he said. 
Stop & Shop has consistently stated it is not looking to cut wages but has noted it is the only unionized grocery chain in New England and that is affecting it's bottom line. The grocery's parent company, Dutch international retailer Ahold Delhaize, is said to have made a $2 billion profit last year. 
"The UFCW leaders are pursuing a course in which no one wins. Not our customers and not our associates. And we hope they will return to the table to reach a fair and responsible contract now," according to an automated statement sent out by Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan to media.


Wild Oats bag charge

In an ongoing effort to reduce the amount of waste it produces, Wild Oats Market, a cooperatively owned natural foods grocery store, bakery and cafe in Williamstown, will charge for paper bags and donate all of the proceeds to local nonprofit organizations.

Beginning on Monday, April 22, which marks the 49th annual Earth Day celebration, Wild Oats will charge 10 cents per paper bag at the register, to help motivate customers to bring reusable bags with them when they shop. The co-op also has a number of reusable bags for sale and has boxes available, free of charge. The money collected from the sale of the bags will be donated to local organizations, selected by co-op owners, on a quarterly basis.

While paper bags are widely considered a more eco-conscious alternative to plastic bags, they have a higher cost and greater environmental impact associated with their production and distribution. Paper bags are also more expensive to recycle than plastic bags and don't biodegrade easily in landfills, due to their inherent lack of oxygen.

Wild Oats continues to lead the way locally as one of the most sustainable businesses. In the last few years the co-op has transitioned to using electricity from 100 percent renewable sources, retrofitted all of their light fixtures to LEDs to reduce energy usage and preempted the town's polystyrene ban, discontinuing the use of coffee cup lids in its cafe. Most recently, Wild Oats eliminated most of the plastic items in its cafe (including straws, cutlery and take-out packaging) and replaced them with compostable alternatives.


Joint ultrasound

The Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Orthopedics Department has begun offering ultrasound-guided intra articular joint injections in the office setting. Ultrasound imaging allows improved placement of pain relieving injections. The procedure, which had previously been available only at the hospital, can now also be administered in the SVMC Orthopedics office at 332 Dewey St. in Bennington, Vt.

"Our aim is to provide the most advanced treatments to our patients as conveniently as possible," said Dr. Ivette Guttmann, a sports medicine specialist at SVMC Orthopedics and the one who administers the procedure. "We're happy that we can help those with joint pain get the care they need in our familiar and comfortable office environment."

Arthritis, the inflammation of your joint, is a common cause of joint pain and stiffness. In some cases, an injection of a steroid with an anesthetic given directly into the joint can work to reduce this inflammation and provide pain relief. It can make it easier for patients to complete beneficial physical therapy exercises and return to their activities of daily living. Shoulders, knees, and hips are the most common joints treated with ultrasound-guided intra articular joint injections. The procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes and can provide pain relief that lasts for months.

 SVMC Orthopedics offers preventive and non-surgical treatments, minimally invasive surgery, and surgery for sports injuries, painful joints, and complicated fractures. They execute complete joint replacements, rotator cuff repair, and surgeries on hands, knees, wrists, feet, elbows and ankles. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 802-442-6314 or visit the website.


Development plan workshop

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires presents a workshop titled "Creating a Comprehensive Resource Development Plan in Support of Long-Term Sustainability" on Wednesday, April 24, from 1 o 5 p.m. at Berkshire Community College South County Center at 343 Main St. in Great Barrington. The cost is $50 for NPC members and $75 for non-members.

Many organizations continue to follow a reactive, short-term approach to resource development. This interactive training provides practical tools, insights, exercises and collective information needed to more proactively sustain existing financial resources and identify and secure new resources to support an organization’s critical work and long-term sustainability.

If a nonprofit organization does not have a flexible cash reserve, a strategic plan that drives resource development activities, or an engaged board committed to raising capital, this high-level conversation can support the development of a more comprehensive resource development model, a broader approach, and more impactful outcomes.  

Topics include the need for a resource development paradigm shift, changing culture and strategies around resource development, a planning process including an inventory and performance matrix, and discussion of possible financial and non-financial resources. As part of a more formal process and plan, participants will collectively share information related to challenges, opportunities and approaches.

Presenter Tom Phillips is a thought-leader in the industry, providing professional support to nonprofit and government organizations and associations to achieve their mission and potential. For more information or to register online, visit the website.

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Flu Shot: It's That Time Again

By Dr. Everett Lamm

With flu season around the corner, your health care providers, employers, pharmacists and others are sounding the annual reminder: "Get your annual flu shot." We encourage this for you — and for the people around you, too. We see evidence every year of the benefits of the flu vaccine, and we also see the risks of skipping it.

The flu vaccine has dramatic impacts on public health. However, since strains of the flu may vary from year to year, the vaccine must be received annually. Although the vaccine doesn't guarantee a flu-free winter and perfect health, medical research has convincingly shown that the flu shot reduces flu severity and reduces sick visits, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions. For infants and the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the flu shot is essential protection against serious illness.

Although Massachusetts has historically ranked high in its overall immunization rates —  50 percent of all residents received vaccines in 2015-16 flu season — that percentage dropped from 55 percent the year before. The lowest rates of vaccination are in residents 18-49 — 40 percent for the 2015-16 season, but vaccine rates for all age groups (except young children) dropped slightly as well.

Some people have medical reasons for being unable to have the shot, but others go without by choice. Why? They may feel confident in their own good health and their body's ability to ward off illness. They may be skeptical about vaccines in general. However, skipping the flu vaccine means taking an unnecessary risk – for yourself and others whom you care for or work with, or who may be more vulnerable than you to illness.

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