STOCKBRIDGE >> Let the healing begin.
That was the upbeat message from a united Select Board following its surprise appointment of well-liked and highly respected administrative assistant Danielle Fillio as interim town administrator for one year, effectively immediately.
A small audience of current and former town officials as well as residents applauded and congratulated Fillio following the unanimous vote to promote her.
She had worked for nine years with the revered, now retired town administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden. The selectmen completed their contract negotiations with Fillio behind closed doors in less than 10 minutes.
Her annual salary will be $68,000 and her contract guarantees a return to her previous position just in case the town agrees to a shared-services executive with Lee and Lenox.
"There's good news in Stockbridge tonight!" exclaimed Select Board Chairman Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo following the 3-0 vote. "This will allow us to settle down, move forward and take things one step at a time. It will be a very good move for the town as a whole, Danielle's doing an excellent job."
Marsden, who attended the meeting as a show of support for her former co-worker, told The Eagle that Fillio "is an excellent choice, she has a lot of experience."
Shortly after the public board session opened on Thursday night, Cardillo moved to hold an executive session to negotiate with Fillio, a nonunion staffer.
Selectman Stephen Shatz urged Cardillo to return to a public session because "we owe people and have an obligation to report what we did in an open meeting."
The board members voted unanimously to proceed accordingly.
After returning to public session to confirm Fillio's appointment, Cardillo said he had "known Danielle for quite a few years, and it's a pleasure; Danielle's been doing a really good job that you taught her," directing his comment to Marsden.
"We'll be in good hands for the next year as we sort things out," Cardillo added. "Stockbridge is OK."
"I'd like to thank Danielle for taking this on, that's really great," agreed Selectman Donald Chabon.
Eventually, the town will advertise for an assistant to help Fillio.
A native of Lee, Fillio, 32, is a 2002 graduate of Lee High School, where she served an internship at the Pittsfield Police Department.
She attended Westfield State University and received an associate's degree in paralegal studies from Branford Hall Career Institute in Connecticut. Her first jobs were with Pittsfield attorneys John Donna and Thomas Hamel. She was hired by the town of Stockbridge in 2007.
In an interview after the meeting adjourned, Fillio acknowledged surprise at her sudden promotion — "I didn't see this coming. I feel excited and anxious, a little bit of both, just to try to get things settled down."
"We really need to move things forward and start focusing on what needs to get done until they figure out exactly what they want to do, where they want to go from here," she said.
Fillio said she was approached by Cardillo last week.
"He asked me what it would take to get me, so I said I'd be willing to step up," she said.
Fillio acknowledged that municipal budgeting would be the greatest challenge facing her, and that discussions will be held aimed at securing outside help.
"Our budget process needs to be streamlined," she said.
Fillio noted that her appointment coincided with her ninth wedding anniversary. She is married to Matt Fillio, and they have two daughters, 6 and 4.
Before Thursday's show of unity, the board had taken a beating from residents following a series of hotly divisive meetings that failed to yield a successor to Marsden, who retired July 15 after giving six months' notice to the town of her intentions.
The sole finalist for town administrator, Susan Carmel of Pittsfield, withdrew earlier this month following a 2-1 Select Board vote to hire her.
The former director of the city's finance and administration came with some sterling references, was interviewed by the Select Board with favorable results, but bitter disputes marred a televised meeting as her supporters, Cardillo and Chabon, tangled with Shatz, who had voted against the appointment.
Townspeople who spoke at the meeting voiced mixed feelings, and several department heads expressed skepticism because they had not met Carmel during the final search process. She was asked to return to talk with the department heads but declined.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.