Anderson named county sheriff

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NEWFANE — Windham County Sheriff Capt. Mark Anderson has been named the county's new sheriff by Gov. Phil Scott.

Anderson, 33, of Vernon, was the top choice of Scott as well as the Windham County Democratic Committee and Anderson's previous boss — former Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark.

Anderson, a 2004 graduate of Brattleboro Union High School, joined the sheriff's department immediately after graduating from high school, he said Wednesday.

He had attended the Windham Career Center at the high school and fell in love, he said, with law enforcement.

"I graduated from high school on a Friday and I started at the police academy the next Monday," Anderson said. "I've been with the sheriff's department 15 years," he said.

He said when he was at the career center, the sheriff's department actually taught the law enforcement curriculum, and the class came with a potential job. Anderson said he jumped on it.

"I am excited," he said about his newest appointment. "It certainly is an honor to be selected by the governor and it's an honor to serve Windham County."

He said the "direct-hire" opportunity was just what he needed. "I didn't know what I wanted to be," he said, and he said he "fell in love" with law enforcement.

"I'm pleased to appoint mark as Windham County Sheriff and appreciate his experience and the dedication to public safety he's demonstrated over his years of service," Scott said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "He'll serve the people of Windham County well in this new role."

Scott pointed to Anderson's experience with budget management at the sheriff's department, and his work in drug recognition and records management.

Anderson received his bachelor's degree in business administration in management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has an associate's degree in business administration from Greenfield Community College. He is also a director for INSPIRE for Autism, a nonprofit school for students with autism in Brattleboro.

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Windham County has technically been without a sheriff since July 1, when Clark's resignation took effect. By law, the county's high bailiff is in charge — and that is Anderson, who was elected to that little-known position in 2018. Anderson most recently was chief deputy under Clark.

Clark was sheriff for six years. He was reelected to a four-year term last November, but decided this spring to resign and move to North Carolina to be with his wife, who had moved there with her job. The Clarks, who were former residents of Westminster, had been commuting.

Anderson is also a member of the Barnes Air National Guard in Westfield, Mass., where he is a staff sergeant for the 104th Fighter Wing. He serves as the weapons crew chief and is responsible for loading aircraft. He said he joined the Air National Guard in July 2005.

Anderson said the governor asked him what his background was in the military, and what would happen to the sheriff's department in the event his unit was called up.

Anderson said his second-in-command, Robert Lakin, stepped in and was acting sheriff when Clark's National Guard unit was called up for deployment in Afghanistan in 2010, and was capable of running the department in his absence. The department currently has 27 employees, with 22 deputies, Anderson said. .

The new sheriff said he wants to work on making sure all Windham County residents have access to law enforcement and emergency services. He said there is room to making access simpler, and to avoid duplication.

Too often people call one police agency for help, and get transferred to another because of jurisdictional boundaries. The county is served by a combination of Vermont State Police, local police departments and the sheriff's department, which currently has contracts with 15 of the county's 24 towns.

He said other priorities are helping to organize a regional effort to combat the opioid epidemic, as well as adopting what he called pro-active measures.

He also said he wants to work on an "overhaul" of the civil process, a statutory responsibility of the department. "We have technology to do it better," he said.

Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake had also applied for the sheriff's position, and had worked previously for the department.

Anderson is scheduled to be sworn in at noon on Thursday at the Windham County Courthouse in Newfane. The sheriff's office is also located in Newfane.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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