PITTSFIELD -- One day after being sworn-in for his second term, Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi on Tuesday appointed a Pittsfield native to be the new executive director of the BerkshireWorks Career Center.

William Monterosso, a 1982 Taconic High School graduate, formerly the executive director of the West Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, will assume his new position on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

He will replace former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, who was named BerkshireWorks interim director in May 2011 by former Mayor James M. Ruberto, before assuming the position on a permanent basis that October. Barrett's last day is Friday, Jan. 17.

Barrett's two-year contract expired in October, but he had asked the mayor to extend his term after the state implemented the new online system to obtain Unemployment Insurance benefits.

"I asked him in a letter if he thought it would be in the best interest of BerkshireWorks and the people that are coming in here to keep me an additional four to six months and it's about what I got," Barrett said.

BerkshireWorks is a quasi-public agency chartered by the Berkshire Regional Employment Board with offices in Pittsfield and North Adams that provides job training, planning and assistance to county residents.

Although the executive director's position is funded by the state, Pittsfield's mayor is the appointing authority because he is the leading elected official of Berkshire County's largest municipality.

Bianchi originally sought to hire a new director for BerkshireWorks earlier in 2013, but he called off the search in early October after rejecting the initial round of candidates, which included Barrett.

Monterosso was one of three finalists in the second round who were chosen from the six candidates that were interviewed. Bianchi conducted the final interviews with North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright and Richmond Town Manager Matthew M. Kerwood, who represented the Berkshire Town Managers Association. Kerwood is a former Pittsfield city councilor.

Bianchi said Monterosso's experience and the passion that he demonstrated for the job made him stand out from the other candidates.

"He has been in charge of a statewide agency for a lot of years, and with workforce development and unemployment issues he was a standout," Bianchi said. "The two other (finalists) were good as well. I was pleasantly surprised because when we reached out the first time we didn't receive any strong candidates.

"One of the things we were looking for was someone who lives and breathes workforce development and the problems of the unemployed."

Monterosso could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but according to information supplied by the city, he has been certified as a workforce development professional since 2003, and has more than 15 years of service in that field.

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Monterosso has also served as executive director of the Office of Employment and Training in Kentucky, and as the program director of West Virginia's Workforce Investment Board. Monterosso holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Glenville State College in Glenville, W.Va.

Although Monterosso is originally from Pittsfield, Bianchi said he did not know him before he applied for the position.

Barrett said on Tuesday morning that neither he nor his staff had received word from the mayor's office that a new director had been appointed.

"I've never seen it done like that before, to be honest with you," he said. "I have not officially been told who my replacement would be."

Bianchi said he believed the city had sent a letter to Barrett notifying him of the change.

"I just assumed that he had received it," Bianchi said. "Mr. Barrett was aware that we were in the process. He came into (BerkshireWorks) to address certain issues that that department had with reporting, straightened things out in Boston, and we appreciate it."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6224