North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- A crowd of more than 150 packed the American Legion Hall Friday night to meet The Berkshire Bachelor -- Brent White of Pittsfield, a 26-year-old professional engineer -- and the eight young "bachelorettes" who will vie for his favor in the coming weeks.
"I'm just glad they all showed up," quipped White after greeting each "20-something" bachelorette with a rose and a hug, as Master of Ceremonies Rod Bunt introduced them all individually and they strode through the hall to center stage amid whoops, whistles and cheers.
The bachelorettes -- Michelle Bissell and Ashley Bonin of Pittsfield, Jennifer Meany and Stephanie Puc of North Adams, Amanda Rand of Lee, Kelsey Romaniak and Julie Wojieck of Adams and Sarah Strull of Becket -- each gave White a letter of introduction and got a chance to say a few words to him at the microphone before the "coming out party" started cranking to the music of The Damn It Band.
Every week through Sept. 11, White will take one of the eight young ladies on a dinner date and a recreational date (bowling, miniature golf, museums, etc.). Then he will announce his favorite bachelorette during a grand finale of The Berkshire Bachelor Contest on Sept. 16 at Taylor's Fine Dining. He and the chosen young lady will share a grand prize of $1,000 (and everlasting local fame).
A full accounting of Friday's party, including reactions from the principal parties and
Brief biographies of White and the eight young ladies follow:
The Berkshire Bachelor
Brent White, 26, was born in Fort Belvoir, Va., and grew up on Barker Road in his mother's hometown of Pittsfield from age 5.
He works as managing professional engineer at his family's consulting business, White Engineering Inc. in Pittsfield, which his parents launched in 1993.
He was a three-sport athlete (cross country, basketball and baseball) and dean's list student at Taconic High School, graduating in 2001. He was also in the band his freshman year and became involved in Berkshire Youth United, the Rotary Club and the National Honor Society.
After graduation, he began studies at Norwich University for civil engineering while also becoming a member of the Corps of Cadets. He rose higher in rank each year and was appointed deputy commander of the corps in his senior year. He graduated in 2005 and moved back to Pittsfield.
He received his master's degree in civil engineering from Norwich University in the summer of 2007 and passed the professional engineer exam that fall. He is a licensed professional engineer in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont and an adjunct faculty member and course developer for the Norwich University School of Graduate Studies, Masters of Civil Engineering program.
In the community, he is active with the Berkshire Young Professionals Steering Committee and is chairman of its community service subcommittee. He has umpired Little League baseball in Pittsfield since 1996 and has been a basketball coach for the Dalton Youth Center and Catholic Youth Center. He is also a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berkshire County.
"I have many interests and hobbies," White said in his application to become The Berkshire Bachelor. "I love to play the drums, although I mostly play along to an iPod. I also love to work out, doing various types of exercise such as running, lifting ... I love to be outdoors and go hiking and biking throughout Berkshire County."
A sports enthusiast, he plays in the Al Bianchi Sunday Morning Basketball League through the winter, plays softball at the Berkshire County Softball Complex and enjoys golf, cycling and running. He hopes to get better at tennis and racquetball.
White's idea of a perfect date is dinner, one-on-one, with him doing the cooking.
"Ideally, after dinner we'd have a chance to get closer, just the two of us," he said. "I always envisioned having an iPod or CD playing over the truck radio while gazing out at the lookout point on Lenox Mountain Road in Richmond over Stockbridge Bowl on the Fourth of July."
The Berkshire Bachelorettes
Michelle Bissell, 26, of Pittsfield works as clinical data coordinator for infection prevention and control at Berkshire Medical Center. She helps out with hospital events throughout the year.
Her hobbies and interests include swimming, tennis, basketball, animals, traveling and spending time with her niece. She has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Westfield State College.
Her favorite music is anything that has a good beat.
Her idea of a perfect date: "Anything that makes me feel special."
Ashley Bonin, 25, of Pittsfield was born and raised in that city and works in the neurology department at Berkshire Health Systems as a medical assistant.
"My job has given me the knowledge I need in life to succeed," she said in her application to become a bachelorette. "I am very conscientious when it comes to my work and enjoy everyone I work with. I am determined to succeed in my career and take the experiences as they come along."
Her many interests include dancing, traveling, going out to dinner and spending time with friends. She is an avid sports fan and enjoys all outdoor activities.
"Relaxing by the lake or ocean is one of my favorite things to do," she said.
Her ideal date: dinner and a movie and "getting to know each other."
"Dating for me is both a challenge and a joy," she said. "Some dates and relationships have changed my life, while others have broken my heart ... I think being a contestant in The Berkshire Bachelor will open doors to meeting my Mr. Right!"
Jennifer Meaney, 27, of North Adams, works as a senior teller and customer service representative at Hoosac Bank. She describes herself as "a fun-loving girl with lots to give."
"I enjoy life to the fullest, and my family and friends are everything to me," she wrote in her application. "I come from a large family that has taught me the values that I will take with me forever."
She enjoys baseball, basketball and football and loves to play softball with friends. Over the last couple years, she has taken an interest in cake decorating, which has kept her busy and taught her about her "artistic side." She has diverse taste in music and enjoys working with the public because "it is something different every day."
"My idea of a perfect date is either being outside having a picnic or staying in with pizza, beer and a great ball game. I am not a high-maintenance kind of girl. I enjoy the simple things in life."
Stephanie Puc, 25, of North Adams, is originally from Southampton but came to the Berkshires in 2003 as a student at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, graduating with a degree in sociology. She said she loved the area so much she returned.
She has worked at the Brien Center for two years as part of its direct care staff, working with emotionally disturbed, at-risk children and adolescents.
Puc says she likes to "de-stress" by curling up with a good book and a glass of wine.
"On the weekends, I have fun hanging out with friends, checking out new local hot spots. I take walks to enjoy the great scenery around town. I also enjoy going to the movies ... road trips to the coast in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
She has an identical twin sister.
"My perfect date would be a casual dinner and a stroll through downtown North Adams to check out the art -- a great chance to get to know one another."
Amanda Rand, 26, of Lee, has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's in social work. She works as a child therapist at The Berkshire County Kids Place in Pittsfield.
"I enjoy helping people and quickly realized during my master's program that I wanted to be more helpful than punitive for children and adolescents," she wrote in her application. "My job can be very emotionally tough at times, so having hobbies and interests help to keep me upbeat. Some of the things I like to do in my free time are: play tennis, travel (name a place and I'll have a bag packed in a moments notice), mini golf, watch movies and of course the ultimate relaxation -- manicures and pedicures."
Her other interests include movies, walking, trying new recipes and visiting new places. She said when she's not smiling, she's laughing, and she would love to meet someone with a great sense of humor.
"As for my idea of a perfect date, I think the best would be a picnic on a sunny evening in a quiet location where there is plenty of opportunity to get to know one another without distractions," she said. "It seems like here in the Berkshires, wherever you go you run into at least one person. This definitely is not a bad thing, but on a first date, it'd be nice not to. We could watch the sun slowly set, then build a fire, roast marshmallows. Somehow I think incorporating some sort of activity that would involve working together would be beneficial to see how compatible we could be."
Kelsey Romaniak, 22, of Adams, graduated magna cum laude from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a bachelor's degree in psychology and minor in criminal justice. She is working part-time while seeking full-time employment in social work.
"I have always been intrigued by human behavior, but as I completed two internships with juvenile probation, I realized that my passion lies in not only understanding people, but getting out into the community and actually helping them," she wrote in her application.
She described herself as "a people person, sometimes shy at first meeting, but a good listener." She loves to laugh and appreciates mild sarcasm. Her hobbies and interests include traveling, photography and scrapbooking, spending time with family and friends, concerts, baking, reading, trying new beers and wines, the Red Sox and being outdoors."
Her perfect date: "Dinner at the Olde Forge with chicken wings and a never-been-tried-before beer, sitting outside enjoying a warm, setting sun and seeing the stars appear in the night sky."
Sarah Strull, 29, of Becket, works as program director for the Berkshire Outdoor Center and helps run Becket Day Camp during the summer.
Her hobbies and interests include reading, running, hiking, camping, seeing live music, learning to play the guitar, snorkeling, scuba diving and other activities. She also enjoys sports, including soccer, lacrosse, downhill skiing and golf.
"I love to cook, work/play with children, dig in my garden, continue learning to sew, write letters, try new foods and, most of all, spend time with the people I love doing any or all of these things with," she said.
She worked for a time as a journalist but returned to school to get a master's degree in recreation administration after rediscovering her love of camping and the outdoors.
Her perfect date: "It's always good to have a shared "task" when you're getting to know someone, so something like bowling, where you have an activity to do together but can still share face-to-face conversation, is a great date. If you already know the person, continuing to get to know them is important, so hiking or sharing in the preparation of a meal can be great activities for advancing conversation and sharing special moments."
Julie Wojieck, 21, of Adams works as a scanning coordinator at Big Y while pursuing schooling to become a veterinarian's assistant.
She has a great love for the outdoors and enjoys hiking, fishing, camping, four-wheeling, landscape photography, playing catch, tubing -- "anything to get me out enjoying the beauty." She also likes watching sports and playing softball and a little one-on-one basketball.
She belongs to Adams Outdoorsmen for Youth and is part of the Big Y Employees Sharing Time (BEST) program, donating time to the community and raising money to help people and organizations.
Her perfect date: "I like to be spontaneous and unique. For example, I would love to start off mid-day and meet up near a lake and go for a nice walk to talk to my date. It's relaxing and quiet, therefore I could get to know the other person better. Maybe have a little picnic type deal. Then lie on a blanket under the stars and just talk about life, where we've been and where we'd like to go ..."