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Kelli Robbins of the town of Holland was selected to succeed Paul Sieloff as the town's chief executive.

Lanesborough Selects Holland Executive as Town Administrator

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. —  After eight interviews, the Selectmen on Thursday night unanimously voted to offer the post of town administrator to Kelli Robbins.

The board felt no need to go to a second round of interviews Thursday evening and after interviewing two more candidates voted to hire Robbins, the executive secretary for the town of Holland, after about 15 minutes of debate.

"I would feel comfortable with her. Personally, I feel she could do your [current Town Manager Paul Sieloff] job," Selectman Henry 'Hank' Sayers said. "She would have to learn about the town but otherwise she could sit in that seat."

After interviewing final candidates Christine Dobert, the current Florida town administrator, and George Sutherland, a selectman in Plainfield, Sieloff asked the board members what they wanted to do next.

Sieloff offered to bring more candidates before the board if they felt it was necessary but suggested they move to Phase 2 of the process and narrow down the field to three or four candidates.

Earlier this week, the Selectmen also interviewed Tanya Stepasiuk, Kevin Towle, Josh Garcia, Stacy Parsons and Mark Shea.

The Selectmen agreed that their top three candidates were Robbins, Sutherland and Dobbert but Selectman John Goerlach and Sayers felt Robbins was the clear choice.

"I don't think we need to go to second round," Goerlach said. "I would say I would be more than alright with Kelli."

Selectman Robert Ericson said he had the same top three candidates but had them ranked closer. He said he would still like to have them return for a final interview of some kind.

"If we did bring them back I would like to specifically ask them to solve some problems that we have come up with," he said. "I would want to see what their solutions were instead of just sitting down and talking about things."

Resident Barb Davis-Hassan, who was involved in the process of hiring Sieloff, said she did not think it was necessary to ask more of the candidates.

"I would be concerned about putting someone on the spot of solving the problems that we have that are so massive and so intensive that it might be a little standoffish," she said. "It took us a year and a half to come up with a viable solution to the beginning of solving problems with our economic development so how fair would that be?"

She added that Robbins was the clear choice to her and said she was impressed that she also had a law degree. She noted that part of the reason they decided to hire Sieloff was that he also had a law degree.

Sieloff also offered his opinion and said although he thought Sutherland was a good candidate he did not have the actual municipal administrative experience Robbins had.

"It is an easier choice because she is actually doing the job, and she seems very serious," he said. "She would have to learn about our issues but the day-to-day stuff she could fall right in."

He added that Robbins was the kind of candidate he was searching for and said he is familiar with her from the Small Town Administrators of Massachusetts group.

"That kind of gave me a comfort level because people can say what they want to say but you need to get to the foundation of them to see what their real substance is," he said.

Sieloff said Robbins was willing to relocate closer to town and the vote is still subject to a background check and contract negotiation.

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Lanesborough Police Chief Retiring, Taxes Dropping

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police Chief Timothy Sorrell will be retiring after serving five years in the position. 
Sorrell was appointed chief in 2015 after serving in the Police Department for 28 years. He started full time in Lanesborough in 1987 as a patrolman. He served as sergeant for 12 years and was a finalist for the chief's position when the town decided to hire Mark Bashara. He then served as an investigator for twelve years under Bashara before getting the spot spot upon his retirement in 2015. 
When asked for comment on Sorrell's departure on Monday, the Board of Selectmen said almost in unison, "he will be missed" and they all wished him luck along with Town Manager Kelli Robbins.
The process of finding his replacement was started immediately as the board wasted no time in forming a search committee.
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