By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 22, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Photo by Jamie Cohen]
HAMPTON -- Wearing cowboy hats and T-shirts that read: "It's a Texas thing Y'all wouldn't understand it," Town Manager James Barrington and his wife, Darlene, told those attending his farewell party on Sunday that it's finally beginning to sink in that this is their last week in Hampton.
"We are beginning to realize the bittersweet nature of all this," Barrington said. "We are looking forward with great anticipation for a new life and going back to our roots. But we are also looking forward with sadness and trepidation about leaving behind some of the people who have been so meaningful to us."
Barrington, who will be leaving his post as Hampton's town manager this week to return to his home state of Texas, was honored Sunday for his 9½ years of service to the town with a good old-fashioned Texas barbecue at Tuck Field.
"Its an end of an era," said Selectmen Chairman Ginny Bridle Russell. "James has always been one that goes out of his way to listen to the people and lead the people."
Several town officials spent the afternoon recalling Barrington's accomplishments during his tenure including construction of a new police headquarters and voter approval of a $12 million plan for Hampton Beach infrastructure improvements.
They also joked about his southern accent and recalled while they had a hard time understanding him when he first came to town they are glad he ended up in Hampton.
"I'm sad that he's leaving," Selectman Jim Workman said. "He is the only town manager that I have worked for. I think he was always professional and looked out for the best of the town. I think he had brought a vision for the future of Hampton and the knowledge and strength to take us there."
Karen Anderson, former administrative assistant for the town and current Greenland town administrator, said if it hadn't been for Barrington she wouldn't be in the position that she is in today.
"He was an incredible mentor to me," Anderson said. "The town will be a different place without him."
Selectmen gave Barrington a plaque, and Hampton's state representatives gave a declaration of appreciation.
"James, both of us came into office around the same time and now both of us are leaving," Hampton State Representative Sheila Francoeur said. "I'm happy to say, even though I visited several parts of Texas, I still don't know what you are saying. But I do think over the years, with me not understanding you that well, we worked extremely well together."
Chamber of Commerce President B.J. "Doc" Noel said Barrington wasn't only a great town manager but also one of the best Rotary members they ever had.
He recalled the time when Barrington shaved off his beard during a fund-raising auction for the Rotary Foundation.
"When he shaved off that beard, no one knew who he was," Noel said. "At the next selectmen's meeting everyone said who is the kid behind the desk."
The Rotary Club awarded Barrington a crystal award at his farewell party for his achievement of reaching a major donor level in the organization's foundation.
Barrington said while he's looking forward to returning home, he's going to miss friend he has made here.
"Our time in Hampton has been an absolutely wonderful experience for us," Barrington said. "New Englanders have a reputation for being cold, aloof and not very friendly. I have to say that is absolutely wrong. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time."
And to remember Hampton, town employees gave Barrington the picture that is hanging in the selectmen's meeting room of the new Town Hall. The picture was donated to the town by local artist Harold Lapointe.
"We hope that this will act as a reminder to him of his hard work and accomplishments in the town of Hampton," said Administrative Assistant Maureen Duffey.