Bet on U:First ‘Dealer School’ for Encore Casino Begins Classes Next Month

Bet on U:First ‘Dealer School’ for Encore Casino Begins Classes Next Month

Now that the Encore casino tower has come into full view of Everett, it’s time to learn how to deal a good hand.

Encore Boston Harbor, Cambridge College in Charlestown and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced this week that they will begin the first session of ‘Dealer School’ at Cambridge College in early September, focusing on teaching dealer basics, Blackjack games and Poker games. In coming years, they will also offer training on other games such as roulette and craps.

The collaboration is known as the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute and is long in the making, debuting now as Encore begins ramping up for the hiring of 1,100 dealers to fill out its gaming staff. Hirings will take place next spring, and it is expected that two full sessions of the Dealer School will be completed by the Encore opening on June 24, 2019.

Classes will start on Sept. 17, and the cost is $700. However, residents of Everett, Malden, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea and Medford will have the opportunity to win scholarships that will make it free. The deadline to submit applications for scholarships is Sept. 10.

“We have been talking with Cambridge College for a number of months about this and it has worked out well,” said John. “The space is 2,500 sq. ft. and it will hold about 80 students per classroom. They will have three sessions per day.”

The sessions will run Monday to Thursday, with sessions at 8 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. A student is expected to stay in their time slot once they start.

The Blackjack training will last nine weeks and the poker training will last 14 weeks.

There will also be a weekend session that only offers Blackjack training all day Saturday and Sunday for nine weeks.

Doug Williams, vice president of table games, Gary Hager, director of poker operations, and John all said that the Dealer School is a great opportunity to be ready when Encore ramps up to hire gaming staff next year. If one does get hired, it can mean a starting salary of $60,000 for a full-time job, plus benefits.

“This could be transformational for certain people,” said John. “In a matter of months for a 16-hour commitment and flexible times, you can begin a new career that starts at $60,000 for full-time work. It’s a chance for you to earn good money and have a career for the rest of your life. This isn’t for someone who likes to play cards and wants to do something fun. This is for someone really looking to make a career change.”

Said Williams, “It’s also a good avenue for someone who isn’t going to college or doesn’t want to go to college now. It’s a career you can take with you for the rest of your life. There aren’t many instances in a major metropolitan area where a new industry just pops up and you can get in on it.”

Added Hager, “When these kinds of jobs open up on the strip in Las Vegas, they don’t stay open long. These are good opportunities and this is getting in on the ground floor here.”

Those enrolled in the school will practice hands-on training, being taught by five former Encore dealers who will teach them all aspects of how to deal and oversee a good game. More than that, they will teach them the basics of being a dealer. That includes how to let people enjoy themselves and how to show off a good personality that will enhance the customer experience.

Basic requirements are that one have an 8th grade level of math competency; be 18 or older; be willing to work weekends, holidays and off hours; and have a great personality.

“The personality is very important,” said Williams. “We hear all the time it’s not whether a customer wins or loses that determines whether they had a great time, but it’s the interaction they have with the dealer. They may enjoy themselves more because you are they’re preferred dealer or you become their lucky dealer. You can go a long way here with a winning personality.”

John said, however, there is no guarantee that anyone who completes the Dealer School would be hired, but they would have preferred status.

“Honestly, we don’t know if they will definitely be hired by Encore,” he said. “It’s the first time we’re doing this. Obviously though, if you get through the program, you’ll have preferential status and you’ll be the first person we look to when we’re hiring.”

The full information about scholarships and enrollment in the Dealer School can be found at www.BetOnU.com.

Once again, classes for the first session start on Sept. 17.

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Powerful Wynn Executive Sinatra to Step Down July 15

Powerful Wynn Executive Sinatra to Step Down July 15

When Kim Sinatra appeared beside Matt Maddox for Wynn Resorts’ high-stakes meeting before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) in early May, many thought her to be on shaky ground with the company – though that

Wynn general Counsel Kim Sinatra speaks to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) during license hearings in 2014. She is flanked by former Gov. Bill Weld and current Encore President Bob DeSalvio. Sinatra will resign from Wynn Resorts on July 15, and is remembered here as being a key negotiator in helping Wynn make the final push to secure the Greater Boston region gaming license.

day she appeared to be every-bit in control and ingrained in the company.

It is no longer the case.

In a quiet announcement buried within a federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document, the company announced that Sinatra would be leaving her general counsel post on July 15.

Wynn Resorts did not respond to the Independent for comment on the shake-up, and hasn’t issued any statements or talked to any other media. There has been no reason given for her departure.

Las Vegas media reported that Sinatra would have a severance package of up to $9.5 million.

Wynn Shareholder Elaine Wynn – now the company’s largest single shareholder – has disputed that severance package in media statements.

Sinatra was a powerful force in the early days of Wynn’s entrance into the Boston market via the Everett site. She was front and center during many of the licensing hearings, in particular a very intense deliberating process at the Boston Teacher’s Union Hall in Dorchester in 2014.

During that meeting, Sinatra talked for many nervous moments on the phone with Steve Wynn about whether or not he would commit to additional mitigation measures – that happening in front of the entire room and in front of the competitor, Mohegan Sun.

After brokering that deal, Sinatra emerged from the phone with a ‘yes’ to the commitments, virtually sealing the license for Wynn at the time.

Since those early days, however, Sinatra has not been at the Encore site too often – only during a few permitting meetings and the major Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meetings.

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Chelsea’s Chavez to Offer Workshops at Gardner Museum

Chelsea’s Chavez to Offer Workshops at Gardner Museum

Drawing on the themes of Life, Death & Revelry, local artist Silvia López Chavez will offer workshops at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum designed to engage visitors in the exhibition with hands-on activities. Chavez’s Saturday Open Studio series will run every Saturday, starting June 30. She will also host studio workshops as the visiting artist on Saturday, June 30 as well as during Third Thursdays on June 21.

“The workshops are inspired by the Life, Death & Revelry exhibition,” says Chavez. “My hope is to allow visitors to experiment with the art materials and techniques I use in my own studio practice while having fun with color and creating personal meaning around the idea of Life Cycles.”

With roots in the Dominican Republic, Chavez is an interdisciplinary artist who believes in the power of the creative process as an agent for positive change. The Chelsea resident has collaborated on projects and public art works throughout the city and the Greater Boston area, including murals at Uphams’ Corner, the Charles River Esplanade, Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, and Northeastern University, among others. Her exhibit record includes the Fitchburg Art Museum, Boston Children’s Museum, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She is also an artist-in-residence at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Chavez is an award-winning graphic designer and has worked with high-profile companies and institutions for more than 15 years. She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and continues her studio art practice at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Through the Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series, the Museum supports four artists in the Boston area by providing them with opportunities to develop artistic experiences and engaging workshops for visitors. The series allows artists to consider their work within the rich cultural context of the Gardner Museum and the unique legacy of the Museum’s founder, Isabella Stewart Gardner, through a structured three-month collaboration period of thought, exploration, and workshop implementation.

The Polly Thayer Starr Artists design and implement curriculum for Saturday Open Studios and lead hands-on activities at the Museum. Chavez’s workshop series evolved from her collaboration with the Museum throughout April, May, and June.

Chavez’s workshops will run every Saturday, June 30 through September 1, from 11 am to 4 pm. Open Studio events are included with Museum admission.

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East Boston Savings Bank Announces New Strategic Alliance with Starkweather & Shepley Insurance

East Boston Savings Bank Announces New Strategic Alliance with Starkweather & Shepley Insurance

East Boston Savings Bank (EBSB), and Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage Inc. (S&S) are pleased to announce a strategic alliance that will allow both financial service institutions the ability to offer a full line of commercial, personal and life insurance products.

The formation of this alliance will enable both organizations to expand the services offered to their respective clienteles throughout New England. This relationship will enhance the strategic goals of both organizations given the synergies of their client base, geographical footprint, product offerings, industries served as well as the shared value of a strong commitment to the communities served by both organizations.

Richard J. Gavegnano, President, CEO and Chairman of East Boston Savings Bank stated “Every person we are connected with; both employees and customers alike, need insurance protection and we often get requests to assist people with their insurance needs.  We found that S&S can consistently provide insurance solutions that are a perfect fit for our customers in addition to fitting seamlessly into our geographic footprint.  We are thrilled to have found S&S and look forward to referring their services as an option to our employees and customers”.

According to Andrew Fotopulos, President, Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Corp. of Massachusetts.  “We are very proud to be working with a distinguished financial institution such as East Boston Savings Bank that shares many of our core values and history. There is a reason why our two institutions have been in business for approximately 310 years. It’s our continued commitment to customers, community and employees that inspires us to evolve and improve the client experience every day.  The mantra “hard work” is emphasized by EBSB in their marketing campaigns and that’s what we both will do in order to be the best provider of banking and insurance services.”

Established in 1879, Starkweather & Shepley is the 68th largest Insurance brokerage firm in the U.S. Held in trust since 1935, ensures that the firm will remain privately held in perpetuity, providing certainty to clients and associates alike. The firm provides commercial and personal insurance, health and employee benefits, surety bonding and risk management services.

East Boston Savings Bank is a Massachusetts chartered stock savings bank originally founded in 1848. Offering a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts, EBSB is known for exceptional customer experiences, solid financial performance, workforce development and community leadership. The bank operates thirty five full-service branch locations and three loan centers in the Greater Boston metropolitan area.

East Boston Savings Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meridian Bancorp, Inc. The common stock of Meridian Bancorp, Inc. is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and trades under the ticker symbol “EBSB.”

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Chief Warns of Safety on Porches Following Major Fire Last Week

Chief Warns of Safety on Porches Following Major Fire Last Week

Following a six-alarm fire last Wednesday afternoon, May 2, on John Street – where two dwellings were a complete loss – Chief Leonard Albanese warned this week for residents to be extremely careful with activities on back porches – though he said the cause last week wasn’t yet determined.

Chelsea firefighters fighting the John Street blaze on May 2 with heavy smoke.

The fire last week originated on a second-floor, back porch of 10 John St.

“We haven’t determined the official cause yet,” he said. “We know it’s not arson, and it’s accidental. I want to emphasize that porch fires are a significant threat to our community and residents need to use extreme caution with the fire load on their decks, not smoking on their decks and not cooking on decks. No one is allowed to use a grill on any floor above the ground level.”

Chief Albanese said the firefighters and mutual aid partners did a great job with the fire on a day that was extremely busy in Greater Boston, as there was a fire in Cambridge and Somerville on the same day.

The fire came in on the afternoon of May 2, and it originated on the second-floor rear porch of 10 John St., a three-story multiple wood frame dwelling. Companies arrived with heavy fire conditions on all three rear porches at 10 John St., extending into the structure with fire threatening the immediate three-story exposures to the left (6 John St.) and right (12 John St.). The end result was the total loss of both 6 and 10 John St.; along with minor damage to 12 John St.

A large three-story, six-unit building at 68-70 Clark Ave. also sustained water damage. The home at 66 Clark Ave. sustained radiant heat damage only in the rear. Also, 56 Parker St. had exterior radiant heat damage only to the rear; and 50 Parker St. had a damaged fence from fire operations.

At 6 John St., 18 residents were displaced, and at 10 John St., 12 residents were displaced. Both structures were considered a total loss by fire officials.

The Red Cross provided immediate assistance to displaced residents.

There were no reported civilian injuries.

There were three immediately reported firefighter injuries, and all were treated and released. There were multiple other injuries sustained with the extreme conditions in which this fire was fought. All firefighters were exposed to smoke and products of combustion inhalation with an estimated three to five additional injuries being evaluated after the fire.

“The members of the Chelsea Fire Department along with our mutual aid partners engaged in a major fire operation under extreme conditions, which led to the containment of the fire to the loss of two structures only,” said the chief. “Without their valiant efforts, we could have lost several other structures further devastating the effected neighborhood. This was without a doubt a great job done by all.”

He also praised 9-1-1 dispatch for coordinating all six alarms.

“Additionally, Chelsea 911 did a great job allocating resources for the six alarms and guiding them to the scene,” he said. “This is difficult on a normal day, but Somerville had a multiple alarm fire that was tying up companies in the Metro Fire region at the same time, making this task a challenge.”

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New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New Early Morning MBTA Bus Routes Started this Week

New, early morning bus routes on several area MBTA lines began on Sunday, April 1, for a one-year early morning pilot program on the routes.

The pilot will be on the MBTA’s busiest key bus routes serving neighborhoods within the immediate Boston core traveling to downtown Boston, the Seaport, and key stops in between beginning as early as 3:20 a.m. Serving residents who start their work day before many people’s alarms ring, the new routes are part of the MBTA’s continued commitment to expanding offerings for those riders who need them most.

There are nine routes on the pilot, and four of them serve the areas of Everett, Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and downtown Boston. Those routes in this area include:

  • Route 104 – Lynn Street Revere via Broadway Everett to Sullivan Square.
  • Route 109 – serving Broadway Everett.
  • Route 117 – serving Wonderland Revere to East Boston, via Revere, Chelsea and Eastie.
  • Route 455 – Salem to Wonderland Revere.

“The T’s expansion into early morning bus service will provide an important opportunity for the changing needs of Massachusetts’ workforce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Throughout this one-year pilot, the MBTA will be able to gather important information about changes in bus ridership and analyze that data to better inform future transportation plans around the Greater Boston area.”

“The launch of early morning service demonstrates that the MBTA is acting on its top priority to put the needs of its customers first,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “This new transit option will serve workers who must start their day earlier than most. Other commuters and city residents depend upon these essential workers and the MBTA’s ability to get them to their work places safely and on time.”

The changes also include additional service on existing routes during pre-dawn hours. Some routes will extend beyond their normal end points during the early morning to provide direct service to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, allowing customers to reach those destinations even before trains start running. Early morning service is already a part of the MBTA’s bus service on several routes, but these added services represent earlier and/or extended routes on several bus lines. This expansion is the result of a year-long ridership study and planning initiative at the T, which resulted in the identification of key routes where early morning demand is heaviest.

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Acorda Therapeutics Looks at Major Expansion on Everett Avenue

Acorda Therapeutics Looks at Major Expansion on Everett Avenue

Riding on the heels of what is expected to be the approval of a new Parkinson’s disease treatment drug, Acorda Therapeutics of 190 Everett Ave. has announced a proposal to significantly expand its existing operations.

The company has been located at its facility for some time, and operates under a lease from a New York company that is very active in Greater Boston. Now, however, they received good news from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the likely approval of its new drug INBRIJA, a drug that delivers relief to Parkinson’s patients through an inhaler rather than a pill. It is expected it could be approved in October, leading to the need to ramp up manufacturing of it by 2019.

“Acorda Therapeutics seeks to expand operations at its manufacturing site at 190 Everett Avenue where it will support the global market for the Parkinson’s disease treatment INBRIJA and will ultimately provide the capability to support simultaneous manufacture of multiple products…The proposed project is an immediate expansion and upgrade of manufacturing and warehouse space. Acorda anticipates that the project will create 20 to 25 full-time, well-paying new jobs with targeted construction completion by Quarter 3 2019. This is a first step toward a long-term master plan vision that could ultimately create 100 new jobs and include a substantial capital investment.”

A spokesman for the company declined to comment now as it was too early in the process.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he is 100 percent in favor of the proposal and will speak in favor.

“I am hoping that it will be nothing for smooth sailing for them,” he said. “This is a very exciting proposal and I am 100 percent in favor. It has a lot of potential for Chelsea.”

The project includes a new manufacturing fit out of existing space in one of the buildings to house specialized equipment. It will also include the demolition of the 115-foot smoke stack and a demolition and reconstruction of another existing building on the site.

The manufacturing building will be unchanged in its footprint, though more than 2,000 sq. ft. of space will be added to the top floor for manufacturing.

The reconstruction of the demolished building will add nearly 4,000 sq. ft. of new floor area for manufacturing, shipping and warehouse space.

The identify that the new configuration will have at least 121 parking spaces, and they will require a zoning variance for the building height of the warehouse – where the requirements are no higher than 25 feet and the new building would be 66 feet. The existing building is now at 44 feet tall.

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Sen DiDomenico Annual DiDomenico Foundation St Patrick’s Day Roast in Charlestown March 9

Sen DiDomenico Annual DiDomenico Foundation St Patrick’s Day Roast in Charlestown March 9

Sen. Sal DiDomenico will once again be hosting the annual DiDomenico Foundation St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday, March 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Bunker Hill Knights of Columbus in Charlestown.  This event has become the official kick-off to the St. Patrick’s Day season. In addition to a traditional Irish dinner, the night will include Irish music, step dancers, comedy by Tony V, bag pipers, videos by elected officials and the annual presentation of the Golden Shamrock Award to a community leader.   Over 75 federal, state, and local elected officials are also expected to attend and several of them will try their favorite St. Patrick’s Day jokes.  Political figures joining the festivities include Gov. Charlie Baker, Congressman Mike Capuano, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and many more! There will also be a special surprise guest as well.  This has quickly become one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in the Greater Boston community.

For more tickets and more information on the event, please call (617) 387-3327.  Proceeds will go to The DiDomenico Foundation, which funds educational scholarships for high school students, as well as a large toy drive during the holiday season for domestic violence and homeless shelters throughout the Greater Boston area.

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Meridian Bancorp, Inc Announces New Board Appointments

Meridian Bancorp, Inc Announces New Board Appointments

Richard J. Gavegnano, President, CEO and Chairman of Meridian Bancorp, Inc. and East Boston Savings Bank (EBSB) announces the elections of Carl LaGreca to Lead Director and Peter Scolaro to the Board of Directors for both Meridian Bancorp, Inc. and East Boston Savings Bank.

Mr. LaGreca’s succeeds Richard F. Fernandez, who served as Lead Director since 2015 and as a member of the Board since 2007. Mr. LaGreca will continue to serve as a member of Meridian Bancorp’s Audit Committee, a position he has held since 2009. The Lynnfield resident is a Certified Public Accountant at DiCicco, Gulman & Company, LLP of Woburn.  A graduate of Merrimack College, he also received a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Bentley College where he was awarded the Samuel Wolpe Memorial Award given to the outstanding student in the graduate tax program.

“We are excited to benefit from Peter’s thirty-four year affiliation with EBSB and his experience with ABCD preparing budgets and overseeing property and construction management and his many years of service to the East Boston community. His understanding of budgeting, finance and corporate strategy will enhance the board and we greatly look forward to his contributions” said Gavegnano.

Founded in 1848, EBSB is a proven community bank that offers products and services that meet the deposit and financing needs of both consumers and businesses.  And customers can rest easy knowing that their deposits are fully insured by both the FDIC and Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF).  East Boston Savings Bank currently operates 35 full-service branches in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, and offers a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located in its primary market, which consists of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk counties.

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Major Recycler Cheering Plastic Bag Bans, Including Chelsea’s Potential One

Major Recycler Cheering Plastic Bag Bans, Including Chelsea’s Potential One

One of the largest recycling plants in the nation, Casella Waste in Charlestown, is hailing the recent spate of plastic bag bans in the area, including the discussions happening right now in Chelsea about a potential ban.

Casella handles about 200,000 tons of recycling per year and is the number one plant in Greater Boston – and a top five plant in the U.S. They handle all of the recycling for Chelsea, but one thing they hope is that the City might follow Boston in banning plastic bags – known in the industry as Low Density Poly-Ethylene (LDPEs).

“By far, plastic bag getting into the facility are the number one contaminants in single-stream recycling,” said Bob Cappadona of Casella. “By themselves, they are a very recyclable product. However, there just isn’t any market for the product. Second, with everything else, they get caught up in our machinery and cause us a lot of problems. If they come into our facility and get past our pre-sorters, they tend to get wrapped up in our disk screens and they wrap around them and cause stoppages.”

He said when bags get caught up in the disk screen machinery – which separates plastic jugs from paper/fibre products – the only way to remove them is the old fashioned way:  with a razor blade.

“There are so many that get in there that at lunch or at break time we have to keep two or three people there to clean the disk screens of plastic bags,” he said. “Every three or four hours we have to go in and clean it up.”

Cappadona said he doesn’t want to malign plastic bags because they are a good recycled product on their own, if people were to take them back to the grocery store as directed.

However, many people throw them in the recycling, many times because they don’t know. On its face, it looks like something that could be recycled in the traditional curbside barrels. However, it is one plastic item that isn’t accepted, but routinely gets in the stream.

In Chelsea, Russell Disposal picks up all the recycling on the curb, and from there, they take it to Casella on Rutherford Avenue, behind Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown.

Once there, that’s when problems come.

“They are a good recycling product on their own, but when they get here with everything else, they are a contaminant,” he said.

In terms of the ban that will go into effect in Boston, Cappadona said they aren’t really preparing, but they are excited about it. And they hope others might follow suit to make their recycling product purer.

The Chelsea City Council has been exploring the idea of a ban for the last month, with two meetings so far on the issue. While many are calling for a ban to prevent litter and for environmental reasons, businesses in the area are concerned about the increasing cost burden it will put on them to use alternative bags that are more expensive.

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