After 42 Years, Sandy Barbeau Says 'Goodbye'
Familiar face at Town Hall is honored for her service to the community.
The call came in on Tuesday, March 1 at 4:30 p.m., just as Town Hall was closing for the day.
Sandy Barbeau answered the call as she had thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of times before.
"Selectmen's Office, how can I help you?"
But there was no help needed. Not this time. The voice on the other end was Atty. Charles Zaroulis, longtime town counsel. He was calling to wish Barbeau well, as she wrapped up her last day as assistant to the Town Manager.
Tuesday marked the end of Barbeau's 42-year-career in Town Hall and she admitted having mixed feelings as said goodbye. One of her last official acts was to deliver a citation from the Selectmen to Donna Gill, who was also retiring Tuesday after a long careeer with the town in the Finance Office.
"That was hard," she said. "I had a hard time keeping it together."
"It's the people that I've come to know that I'll remember. Some are still working here, some have moved on to other things," she said, sitting behind her desk, Tuesday afternoon. "I'm sad, but I'm glad."
Barbeau began her carer at Town Hall in 1969 as a "Confidential Secretary" to the Board of Selectmen. In those days, she worked under Executive Secretary Ruth Aubert, a woman Barbeau came to know as a dear friend and mentor.
In 1985, Barbeau succeeded Aubert as executive secretary. In those days, there was no town manager. So Barbeau was the "face" of the town and helped coordinate things on a day-to-day basis. If residents had a complaint or a concern, it was Barbeau they came to see.
In 1988, the structure of town government changed and David Cressman was appointed as the first town manager. Not needing an executive secretary, Barbeau's title was changed to assistant to the town manager, a position she held 23 years.
Ove the years, Barbeau's job responsibilities have been varied. She has done tasks in the area of human resources, put together Town Meeting warrants and Town Reports, published public notices, handled unemployment issues, administered the town's recycling and solid waste contracts and basically handled an situation the town manager assigned her.
"I've loved the day-today challenges of the job," said Barbeau, wo lives in Tewksbury. "The job has never been boring. No two days have been the same."
Barbeau was honored at Tuesday night's Board of Selectmen's meeting with a citation for her years of service.
Current Town Manager Richard Montouri said Barbeau has been invaluable to him as he got his feet wet in a new town.
"I've been here a little over a year and I don't think I could have done it without her," said Montouri. "She's been a tremendous help.
"anytime you take a new job you need to have someone you know you can trust and you can rerly on ... someone who is dedicated to the community and to the job and I had everything of that and more in Sandy."
"All of us up here tonight and all of our predecessors truly appreciate all the work she has done for the selectmen and for the town managers in order to make the town work and make the town government work for the residents of our community," said Todd Johnson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
As she steps away from Town Hall, Barbeau will have plenty to keep her occupied. She is looking forward to spending more time with her three daughters and four grandchildren. She will also continue to serve on the Special Act Charter Committee and the Recycling Committee.
But she is most looking forward to spending quality time with her beloved quarter horse "Copperfield," who is stabled in Newton, NH. She said she also intends to continue volunteering at T.H.E. Farm.
As for the future, Barbeau admitted she hadn't thought that far beyond having dinner with co-workers Tuesday night and getting her nails done Wednesday morning. But a run for public office isn't out of the question.
"It hasn't been ruled out," she said with a smile.