There's been a lot of buzz in Poultney lately about downtown barber Jeff Roberts.
"We're all very proud. And the more people I talk to in town who do know him, it's like oh my gosh, Jeff. It's about time Jeff got nominated. I just can't say enough nice things about him," said Valerie Broughton of the Poultney Area Chamber of Commerce.
This humble barber played a big role in solving nearby bank robberies in 2009 and 2011, earning him the title Poultney Citizen of the Year. It's something he says he was surprised to receive.
"I think 'you guys must be calling the wrong guy,' you know? Because I didn't think I'd deserve anything like that," he said.
On both occasions he says he was just passing time the way he has since he opened his shop in 1975, by people watching.
"If I'm not busy, I'll be standing in the window watching what people do across the street. I enjoy watching people, seeing their actions," Roberts said.
Both times he saw cars park at the gas station across the street from his shop, about a block away from the bank. Though he can't see the bank from his window and he says he didn't know what the people were up to, his intuition tipped him off.
"When you deal with people day in and day out you see the way people act. You can recognize when people are up to no good really, is what it is," he said.
In 2009, he says something about how long the group of men sat in the car seemed fishy. And in 2011, he says it was the way the female bandit was dressed.
"Of course it was a beautiful day for November. It was like 70 degrees. And when somebody gets out of the car with a hood on and sunglasses, you just know there's something going on," he said.
So, in both cases, he jotted down what he could make out of the license plates. When police came door-to-door looking for witnesses, he gave them all the information they would need, but he still tries to give away all the credit.
"The police finished the case, really. If you think about it, I just gave them the vital information really," Roberts said.
But others around town say he's very deserving of his new award.
"I am honored to have my hair cut by a citizen of the year," said the customer in his chair. "Absolutely."
"He's just very helpful. A very helpful man. He'll do anything for you and he's very well deserving," Broughton said.
And there is another perk to being the Poultney Citizen of the Year: the winner is also the grand marshal of the town's Fourth of July parade.
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