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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Potency cannabis store opens; CHP names new Senior VP of Operations; CDCSB welcomes Cara Vermeulen; GIA donates to BAV; NAPS & MCLA Early College program

CHP Berkshires has named Thomas Duchesne as senior vice president of operations for the countywide health care network. 

New recreational dispensary, Potency, opens in Pittsfield on April 24

Pittsfield— A new recreational dispensary, Potency, opens in Pittsfield today, Monday, April 24th, at 12 p.m. This highly anticipated store will showcase locally sourced and curated products from Pittsfield and throughout the state with unique interior design.

Potency is dedicated to providing customers with the highest quality cannabis products available. The store’s team has carefully selected products that meet their high standards for potency, purity, and flavor. Customers can expect to find a wide range of cannabis products, including flower, edibles, concentrates, and more.

The store’s design elements are equally impressive, featuring a creative interior with a live wall, showcasing natural beauty. The store’s ambiance is designed to create a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere for customers, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our doors to the Pittsfield community,” said Owen Martinetti, Co-founder of Potency. “Our team has worked hard to create a dispensary that not only provides high-quality products but also offers a unique and inviting environment for our customers. We look forward to serving the cannabis community in Pittsfield and beyond.” said Chris Abbenda, Co-founder of Potency.

Potency is located at 1450 East Street, Suite 1, and will be open 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. Customers can browse the store’s selection online or in-store, and the dispensary’s staff will be on hand to answer any questions and help customers find the perfect product for their needs.

For more information about Potency, visit their website at

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Thomas Duchesne Senior VP of Operations. Image courtesy of CHP.

Community Health Programs (CHP) Berkshires names Thomas Duchesne new Senior VP of Operations

Great Barrington— CHP Berkshires has named Thomas Duchesne as senior vice president of operations for the countywide health care network.

Duchesne most recently was employed at CVS Health in Rhode Island as the lead director of strategic growth and insights.

Duchesne has previously held management positions at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Newport Hospital and Bristol Hospital in Connecticut, in addition to having other professional experience in the health care industry.

He will oversee CHP’s medical, dental and mobile health operations, collaborating with other CHP leaders to plan and execute strategic initiatives. In addition, Duchesne will serve as the operations advocate for compliance, quality and safety and will oversee clinical controls, administrative and reporting procedures.

Duchesne is a graduate of Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, LA, where he earned a master’s degree in health administration.  Prior to Tulane he attended Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, with minors in political geography and French.

He resides in Great Barrington with his wife and two teenage daughters.

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CDCSB welcomes Cara Vermeulen as Director of Fundraising and Philantropic Partnerships

Great Barrington— The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire (CDCSB) is pleased to announce the appointment of Cara Vermeulen as the new Director of Fundraising and Philanthropic Partnerships. Cara joined the team in February and brings with her over 30 years of expertise in philanthropy and fundraising, sales and marketing, and community outreach.

As an entrepreneur with a strong connection to the Berkshires, Cara founded and published Berkshire Magazine, a thriving platform that showcases the unique stories and fabric of the local community. Her work as a nonprofit consultant also demonstrates her commitment to helping businesses hone their messaging and create a culture of giving.

Current CDCSB projects include Windrush Commons, a 49-unit affordable housing complex under construction at 910 Main Street in Great Barrington, as well as the Small Business Technical Assistance program, which to date has mentored and assisted more than 50 small business owners and entrepreneurs in Berkshire County. In 2021, Bentley Apartments was completed, providing 45 new affordable housing units for low- to moderate-income individuals and families in the Berkshires.

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Image courtesy of Greylock Insurance Agency.

Greylock Insurance Agency donates to Berkshire Agricultural Ventures

Pittsfield— Greylock Insurance Agency (GIA), along with the Arbella Insurance Foundation, donated $2,250 to Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) as part of Arbella’s Let’s Drive Out Hunger program. The program aims to alleviate food insecurity in New England. Since it was started 15 years ago, Arbella and its independent agents have contributed more than $1.6 million to hundreds of food programs throughout New England.

“Food insecurity is an ongoing problem,” said Senior Vice President, GIA Manager Lori Goodell. “It affects our friends, our neighbors, and even our colleagues. We are proud to donate to Berkshire Agricultural Ventures to help our community overcome these challenges.”

BAV will use the donation to support Berkshire-area farmers’ markets with their Market Match Fund. The fund makes SNAP dollars stretch further by matching up to $30 in benefits. Families can get up to $60 in locally produced food at participating farmer’s markets.

Greylock Insurance Agency is a subsidiary company of Greylock Federal Credit Union. Greylock Insurance Agency, with six locations in Berkshire County and one in Westfield, Mass., handles commercial and personal lines including auto, homeowner’s, life, disability, and long-term care insurance, all forms of bonding, and 24/7 claims service. More information is available online at

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NAPS and MCLA have announced an official Early College program designation

North Adams— North Adams Public Schools (NAPS), along with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), is proud to announce the official designation of the Early College program at Drury-MCLA. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education approved the full designation on March 15.

Early College at Drury-MCLA will be the first program of its kind in northern Berkshire County, and one of the few comprehensive Early College programs in the state. By 2027, all students at Drury will have the opportunity to graduate with 30+ college credits at zero cost to families. The Early College program is designed to introduce a college-going identity to North Adams Public Schools students, beginning in grade 7, by building academic, vocational, and self-advocacy skills so they will have the content mastery and self-confidence to be successful in college and beyond. As Early College at Drury-MCLA is considered a “wall to wall” program, there are no barriers for any student wishing to enroll in the program. The overarching goal will be to increase the enrollment into Early College courses for economically disadvantaged students, high needs students, students with disabilities, and students of color who have been traditionally underserved in higher education.

Students at Early College at Drury-MCLA will have the opportunity to take college level courses on both the Drury and MCLA campuses. Kate Cyr, Early College coordinator on the Drury High School campus, said that currently, in Drury’s pilot year, there are 65 students enrolled in Early College, with 345 college credits being awarded in the first semester of the 2022-2023 school year alone. By the end of the 2023 school year, an additional 144 credits are to be attained by Early College at Drury-MCLA students.

For more information about Early College programming and opportunities, contact Drury Early College Coordinator Kate Cyr at


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