In-house candidate picked as next leader of BRPC

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PITTSFIELD — On Thursday, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission chose an in-house candidate to serve as its executive director.

Thomas Matuszko, longtime assistant director of the agency, will be offered the leadership role soon to be vacated by retiring Executive Director Nat Karns.

"I feel honored to be selected," he said Friday, noting that economic development has long been a focus area for him and the commission. "There's a lot going on in Berkshire County."

Karns announced his readiness to retire about a year ago, embarking the commission on a long-term search process.

Commissioners raved about all three finalists for the position — which also included Sungman Kim, a planning consultant from Texas, and Sean Maguire, a director with the Capital District Regional Planning Commission in Albany, N.Y. — but decided Matuszko had more of a proven track record in Western Massachusetts.

Senior Planner Laura Gaherty said Matuszko certainly knows the "personality" behind each one of our communities.

"He's been very creative and very helpful," said Clarksburg Town Administrator Carl McKinney, who serves on the commission, acknowledging that the towns "all have our unique, little quirks."

Matuszko joined the commission in 1997 and was named the commission's assistant director in 2001. Before coming to the Berkshires, he worked for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. He holds a master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Commissioner James Mullen cast the only dissenting vote on the matter, but only because he said he feared that Matuszko would soon retire. Still, he said, "Tom could step into Nat's big shoes."

Commissioner Pam Kueber offered a "word of caution" against allowing age to enter the discussion.

"We should be choosing a candidate based on qualities," she said. "It's about getting the job done."

Commissioners said they would get to work negotiating Matuszko's employment terms. Karns, whose salary is $121,627, said the agency's directors serve on an at-will basis.

Matuszko said Friday he hadn't yet received the formal offer, but that he'd serve the BRPC for "as long as they'll have me."

Amanda Drane can be reached at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, at @amandadrane, and 413-496-6296.

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