New Stockbridge Police chief to take reins at midnight Saturday

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STOCKBRIDGE — The changing of the guard at the police station is set for this weekend as Police Chief Robert Eaton completes his service at midnight Saturday, heading for the chief's job in the larger Middlesex County community of Townsend.

Sgt. Darrell Fennelly, promoted to second-in-command by Eaton last September and chosen as the new chief by the Select Board on March 30, will be sworn in at 9 a.m. Sunday by Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden, who's also the assistant town clerk. The two-minute ceremony at the town clerk's office is open to the public.

A more elaborate, ceremonial swearing-in by Town Clerk Terri Iemolini is planned for 7 p.m. May 11 at the Senior Center in the Town Offices.

"The day has arrived," said Select Board Chairman Charles Gillett. "I want to thank you, Bob, for everything you've done for the town since the day you arrived. You've done a wonderful job, you've made the police department more professional and hired young people and mentored people like Darrell that allows him to be qualified to be the new police chief."

Gillett voiced appreciation on behalf of the selectmen and also of the town.

"You've brought us to a new level and we needed that, though we might not have known we needed it, but we did," he said. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you've been a joy to work with."

"I wish you the best of luck," Selectman Stephen Shatz added, as Selectman Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo nodded in agreement.

"It was my pleasure," Eaton said.

"I'm looking for a good passing of the torch for us and for you," Gillett told Fennelly, who had just briefed the Select Board on a vacancy in the department and the challenge of finding qualified new officers.

"It seems that everybody is struggling with the same personnel issues," Fennelly said, referring to a meeting of the Berkshire County police chiefs earlier this week. "Every one of them says it's difficult to find good people. They seem to be having trouble with the younger generation only wanting to work the prime shifts and not wanting to put in the work that us old-timers did."

"It's going to be an even worse problem as the years go on and we have fewer young people here," Shatz said.

Fennelly, 47, a Tyringham native who now lives in Lee, signed a three-year contract with the Select Board two weeks ago giving him responsibility for administrative control of the six-officer Stockbridge force and supervision of daily operations and all department personnel.

"I want to be open, transparent and fair to all and continue to provide the best service to the town of Stockbridge," he said at that time.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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