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International Biergarten in Springfield hosts weekly ‘Walking Dead’ viewing parties

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SPRINGFIELD — Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” have been anticipating tonight’s season premier for months. Anyone looking for a fun place to watch the show with fellow zombie lovers can head over to the International Biergarten where weekly viewing parties will be held.

“I have been a huge fan of zombies since I was a kid,” said Eric Maldonado, of NightsTV, who is organizing the weekly gatherings. “My first zombie movie was George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn Of the Dead’ that came out in the late 1970s and from there I’ve been hooked. So having a series like the ‘Walking Dead’ just solidifies my belief that there are plenty of people who love zombies.”

The weekly gathering will include trivia games and prizes and food and drinks with a zombie theme. Drinks will be served by zombie bartenders.

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First details about reopening of Student Prince and the Fort revealed

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SPRINGFIELD – The first details about the reopening of The Student Prince and The Fort were revealed at the Board of License Commissioners on Sept. 25.

Peter Picknelly, Andy Yee, the restaurant’s new manager Anthony Evens and their attorney Paul Maleck appeared before the board for approval of transferring the liquor license to the new corporation.

The new company running the restaurant is a partnership between Peter and Melissa Picknelly and Andy Yee, whose family not only runs the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee but also Johnny’s Tavern in Amherst and several other restaurants. The Picknellys will be the majority owners.

Maleck said Yee is a “partner at Peter’s choosing.” He added the Yee family was Picknelly’s first choice in running the restaurant.

Maleck said Picknelly “didn’t want to see an institution like The Fort closed forever.”

A new lease for the restaurant has been secured and former co-owner Rudi Scherff will be the “front person or maître de” for the restaurant, Maleck said.

Maleck explained a $350,000 upgrade to the facility is planned with a reopening date set for late October. Among the changes will be the wall removed from the bar that separated the original bar space with the newer lounge area. This is planned to improve the flow of people through the restaurant as well as improve sightlines, Yee explained.

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Presley Blake celebrates 100th Birthday in Downtown!

Prestley Blake joined by Executive Director of the Museums, Holly Smith-Bove.

Prestley Blake joined by Executive Director of the Museums, Holly Smith-Bove.

Last evening, surrounded by his family and many friends, Prestley Blake celebrated his 100th birthday at The Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.  Although Mr. Blake’s birthday is not until November, he’s not waiting to start celebrating.  S. Prestley Blake and his brother Curtis L. founded Friendly’s in Springfield in 1935 with $547 from their parents. They grew the company in the postwar boom, selling to Hershey Foods in 1979.

A lovely dinner was served by the exquisite Marriott in Downtown Springfield and guests enjoyed performances by the Northfield Mt. Hermon choir, as well as the stunning art.  Art which includes Mrs. Blake’s son-in-law, Edgardo Abello.  Mr. Abello is being featured in the Starr Gallery of Watercolors with his paintings and drawings in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.  To learn more about the exhibit click here.

And to read so much more about Prestley Blake click here.

UMass Springfield offers workforce training

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SPRINGFIELD – People seeking workforce training will have another option in the city.

Workforce training classes are being conducted at the new UMass Springfield Center at Tower Square in downtown Springfield. The classes are the product of a collaborative effort between Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), Holyoke Community College (HCC), and theMassachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The program currently serves over 300 students annually, offering coursework geared towards adult basic education and workforce readiness. Thirty-two new students began classes in the new location on Sept. 15 that will meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Dec. 19. Directors of the program are optimistic that the new site will generate even more interest.

“It is essential that as a region we continue to scale up programs like our basic education and workforce readiness to provide an access point for those in need of an opportunity to enter a pathway to employment,” STCC President Dr. Ira H. Rubenzahl said.

These courses best benefit citizens whose educational attainment has not reached the status of high school graduate. The courses and their materials are free of charge to students who enroll. ll generate even more interest.


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BID announces new director and lighting project

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SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Business Improvement District (BID) has a new permanent executive director, a new website and a new capital improvement plan.

The announcements were made on Sept. 16 at a press event during which BID Board Chair Skip Lessard announced that BID Executive Director Chris Russell’s appointment has been made permanent.

“He’s taken the BID in new and exciting directions,” Lessard said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with his performance.”

Russell was appointed interim executive director in January. His position was changed in August.

Lessard described the BID as an organization that “takes city services and enhances them” for its downtown building owner members.

Russell explained the BID has become partners with DevelopSpringfield in an effort to install architectural lighting that will create a “corridor of light” on Main Street from Falcon Way to Bridge Street from dusk to dawn. The project will cost about $400,000 and Russell hopes to expand it throughout the downtown area.


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Springfield celebrating opening of UMass downtown center

(From L to R) Chris Russell, Rosemary Tracy Woods, Kateri Walsh

(From L to R) Chris Russell, Rosemary Tracy Woods, Kateri Walsh

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In the heart of Springfield is a promise of hope to students and businesses. There is now a permanent University of Massachusetts Springfield satellite campus downtown.

The UMass Center at Springfield, as it is known, occupies a 26,000 square foot space at Tower Square. It’s been open since the beginning of the semester for students, but Wednesday was the celebration of its permanent place in the City.

It allows students to take classes in fields including management, health care, and education. It also will offer programs in conjunction with the Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Boston campuses of UMass, as well as Holyoke Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, and UMass online.

“Throughout the Commonwealth, the investments we’ve made in education in innovation and in infrastructure have been a winning strategy, but they have to be tailored for the conditions in particular regions,” said Governor Deval Patrick, who also got a tour of the facility and watched a demonstration from students in the nursing program.

In this region, the goal is to provide an education to students who can then contribute to the Greater Springfield economy.

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Governor: New UMass center in downtown Springfield provides bridge to success

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SPRINGFIELD — In the thoughts of Gov. Deval Patrick, and many others celebrating the opening of a new University of Massachusetts downtown center at Tower Square: mission accomplished.

Patrick was among local, state and university officials who gathered at the 26,000-square-foot center on Wednesday to see the new facility, dubbed UMassCenter at Springfield, and celebrate its opening. The student interest in the new center, which opened on Sept. 2, has been higher than expected, officials said.

The center has exceeded 300 enrollments, which bodes well for the potential of future expansion, said UMass President Robert L. Caret. There is space at Tower Square that could allow the center to double in size, if needed, officials said.

Patrick said the opening of the center is one more component in the mission of providing access to higher education as a bridge to success.

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Springfield Partners for Community Action to celebrate 50-year anniversary with a red carpet event

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SPRINGFIELD — Fifty years of providing services to low-income residents in Greater Springfield will be marked by the Springfield Partners for Community Action with a red carpet event downtown Sept. 26.

During the event at the Springfield Marriott hotel, awards will be given to community supporters who have helped Springfield Partners provide services to families to break the cycle of poverty through an extensive range of programming, according to a press release from the agency.

“It is an incredible testament to the hard work of everyone involved with Springfield Partners over the last 50 years that we are now approaching this milestone with renewed vigor, to continue revitalizing our community,” said Paul Bailey, executive director.

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Naturalization Ceremony in Springfield

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is celebrated each year on Sept. 17 in remembrance of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. USCIS marks this occasion – also known as Constitution Week – by holding special naturalization ceremonies across the country. 

Today, September 17th, a naturalization ceremony was held at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, and our Executive Director, Chris Russell, had the pleasure of attending.

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