Stockbridge town administrator set to take Richmond post

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RICHMOND — Danielle Fillio, the town administrator of Stockbridge, is the unanimous choice of Richmond Select Board members to fill the open position in their town.

The three-member board voted unanimously on Tuesday night to offer Fillio the post, vacated on May 31 when Mark Pruhenski departed to take up his new role as town manager of Great Barrington.

The vote came after the board interviewed the only other candidate — Angeline Ellison, a Sturbridge resident and former town manager of Uxbridge, near Worcester.

Richmond Select Board Chairman Roger Manzolini phoned Fillio immediately after the vote to make the offer.

"I would absolutely like to take that," Fillio responded on speakerphone. "Thank you so much, I'm so excited. I can't wait."

"We all feel you're the best candidate to take the position," Selectman Neal Pilson added as he joined the call. "We're very happy for us, for the town and for you."

Reached on Wednesday while on a camping vacation in Pennsylvania, Fillio told The Eagle that "this is going to be a really great opportunity for me to continue doing what I enjoy doing."

She also suggested that "it's a good opportunity for Stockbridge to figure out how they really want to run the town. They're in a very good position financially, with a great group of employees."

Stockbridge town government has been rancorous in recent months, and Fillio indicated during her interview last month that while she loved being a town adminstrator, she was looking for something "little more calm."

The Richmond post pays $75,000 a year — the same as she is currently earning in Stockbridge.

Fillio noted that she contacted each of the Select Board members to notify them of her decision to accept Richmond's offer, and that they congratulated her.

"I will greatly miss the employees and a lot of the townspeople," she said. "I've made a lot of friendships and connections over the years."

Fillio, who was town administrator for 2 1/2 years after serving as assistant administrator for nine years, will return to work in Stockbridge next Monday, and she expects discussions then to determine a potential termination date.

Her contract specifies 90 days' notice for a resignation, but also states that the time period can be shortened by mutual agreement.

"I would like to give Stockbridge 30 days notice," she said.

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"I wish her all the very best in Richmond," Select Board Chairman Terry Flynn told The Eagle. "I sent an email back congratulating her and thanking for her service."

Speaking personally on the question of her termination date, Flynn stated that "I think we would try to accommodate whatever is best for her. We just want to be cooperative and considerate of her needs."

"We can work with Richmond and do what's best for both towns," Selectman Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo said. "Something can be worked out so we can come up with the best way for her to transition to her new job."

"I have great respect for her, she knew her job and I enjoyed working with her," he added. "I'm very happy for her; she deserves it, and she's going to be greatly, greatly, greatly missed."

Selectwoman Roxanne McCaffrey, who was on the road when reached, offered her congratulations.

During the Richmond Select Board discussion ahead of the vote, Manzolini described Fillio, a Lee resident, as "the local person, she's more qualified, she's got outstanding recommendations from everybody I've talked to and letters we've received. I think she's very capable and she would be a much better fit for the town of Richmond."

Fillio's references were state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, Lee-Lenox Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Ketchen and former Richmond Consolidated School Principal Monica Zanin.

Commenting on Angeline Ellison's interview, Selectman Hanson described her as "extremely professional, she knew quite a bit about running a town."

But Selectman Alan Hanson pointed out Ellison's interest in a previously considered shared administrative post with Richmond and West Stockbridge, which would have paid $115,000. But that possibility is on the back burner for the next several years, at least, since West Stockbridge appointed Marie Ryan, the town clerk of Richmond and Great Barrington, as town administrator.

"Then she [Ellison] came back with, `Well, the offer here was adequate for a town this size,' " Hanson continued. "She's had a lot of jobs in the past, I don't think she'd be here for the long term, which is what we're looking for. I believe if a better opportunity came along, she would jump at that."

Ellison also said in her interview that because she has a child attending school in Sturbridge, she would not be able to move to Richmond for three years, but would commute instead. It's a 160-mile daily roundtrip, according to Google Maps.

Pilson stated that he is "very comfortable with Danielle [Fillio]; she has experience, background and knowledge of the small-town, Western Massachusetts, Berkshire County community, living in Lee, working in Stockbridge."

"She would feel a more comfortable fit in Richmond," he added, noting a possible "degree of urgency" in making an offer to her, in case she had other job offers pending.

Manzolini, the board chairman, agreed that "we should act quickly, but not because of that. I think she would be the better fit for the town of Richmond" and that she had committed to staying in the town for the long term during her interview on June 25.

"She's looking for calm," he added, shortly before moving to offer Fillio a contract. Hanson, seconding the motion, stressed that "she's in this for the long term, rather than job-hopping."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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