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It's 'Hail to the Chief' as Barton retires from Sanbornton PD


January 06, 2010
SANBORNTON — Food, laughter, good wishes and some reminiscing filled the Sanbornton Police Department as state and local police officers, townsfolk and town employees stopped by to thank Chief Mark Barton for more than 19 years of service to the town.

Former selectmen and state representative Bill Tobin and his wife Faith came by to wish him the very best in his future endeavors and congratulate him on his successful career.

"I'm only going to say goodbye to the chief temporarily. He'll be around and I hope to continue a long relationship with him. He's a good man. Sanbornton's been very fortunate to have such good people like him," said Tobin.

Faith Tobin recalled when Barton was first named chief and said she was very happy he stayed with the town. The Tobins spent some time chatting with the chief, letting him know how much they appreciated how he handled a job that, as Bill said, takes a lot of dedication and receives little fanfare.

Throughout the morning people came and went, stopping for one last cup of coffee and chat with the chief. His administrative assistant, Carolyn

Di Nitto, organized the open house for the Barton's last day.

"We wanted to give the town employees a chance to come and say goodbye to Mark," she explained.

Barton said it was a "bitter sweet" day for him. He had spent a lot of the morning reflecting on his years with the force, not just as a chief, he noted, but all of his time with the department.

"There's an awful lot of memories here. You see guys come and go and yet we all have a close bond. This is going to be a whole new chapter for me now though and I'm looking forward to moving on," he said.

For the immediate future, Barton said he is going to take a little time to just relax. He has a list of chores he wants to get done around the house and looks forward to spending more time with his family. In February he and his wife are taking a much anticipated vacation to Hawaii and then he will begin working toward his next career. Mortuary science.

"I'm going for something completely different. I'll take some classes at night in a few weeks to get some requirements done then I'll start school at Hudson Valley College in Troy, New York in the fall," said Barton.

While the school is a few hours drive from Sanbornton, he said he is fortunate he can do most of his classes over the internet and only have to travel occasionally to the campus for lab work.

"It's been 28 years since I've been to school. Maybe I'll finally be able to help my daughter with her algebra," he laughed.

The decision to leave his job after so many years, Barton said, wasn't easy but he felt he was leaving at a good time for the department and that made things easier for him. Having Stephen Hankard selected as his successor, he said, left him confident the town and the department would be in good hands.

"The great camaraderie we have (in the police department) is still going to be here. I'm leaving a clean slate for them and the timing is right," he said.

Barton confessed that those he worked with made the challenging job as chief all that much easier. He never had to worry about what was going on around town because he had a great staff to handle any issues that arose when he was busy back at the office. During his training at the police academy he learned that that was one secret to success in the job.

"Good staff certainly makes a difference, they told us. That, and a good family life. A good wife to support you makes all the difference in the world and I've had all of that," he said.

Hankard stood nearby to joke with the outgoing chief, saying he was going to "miss the old guy- he's been more like a much older brother" to him. Barton had his jabs for the incoming chief, too, as he patted his belt and told him he would have everything all charged up for him to take over at four o'clock when he left. He got nostalgic for a moment though as he recalled the day he dropped off an application for an opening in Sanbornton when Hankard was a dispatcher at the Belknap County Sheriff's Office. The men have spent more than 13 years together as friends and co-workers and he said it wouldn't be good-bye for them.

Since Hankard's appointment as Sanbornton's fifth police chief, the two said they have worked closely together to make the transition as smooth as possible. They were both grateful for the time they were given to make sure Hankard was comfortable with his new role. Barton said the new chief can now begin building on what he has left behind, as each chief in Sanbornton has done, to continue the success of the department.

"I know he's ready. The department's ready and now I'm ready, too," Barton said.

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