A Poultney man whose actions led to the apprehension of a pair of bank robbers last November has been selected as the Poultney Chamber of Commerce’s “Citizen of the Year.”
Jeff Roberts, known affectionately as “Jeff the Barber,” will officially receive the distinction during a ceremony at the Poultney American Legion at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15.
“When we choose our citizen of the year, we look for someone who is recognizable and has given to the community and Jeff certainly fits that description,” said Valerie Broughton, president of the Chamber of Commerce. “He’s a true member of the Poultney community. He’s lived here, he’s grown up here and he owns a business here. He’s the kind of person people look up to.”
Michelle Hunter, branch manager of the Poultney Citizens Bank, was one of two people who nominated Roberts for this year’s award, and said his actions last November have gave she and her staff “peace of mind.”
“Jeff’s concern for his community, as well as his willingness to step forward, speak up, and do the right thing in a situation where many others might be tempted to keep to themselves, helped ensure that not only the employees of the bank, but the members of the entire community could rest easy knowing these dangerous criminals had been apprehended.”
Roberts, who has run People’s Choice Barbershop on Maple Street in Poultney since 1975, is a well known and gregarious member of the community.
“He’s a very nice young man and a very pleasant fellow,” said Mary Mazur, a fellow Poultney resident who also nominated Roberts.
“He’s always pleasant, always friendly, and always has a smile on his face,” Hunter said.
Broughton said Roberts is they type of guy when people hear his name, “their face light up.”
On Nov. 2 of last year, Roberts was in between appointments when he saw a black 2000 Ford Taurus with New Jersey license plates pull into the Stewart’s Shop across the street.
When Jill Ludwig emerged from the car wearing a hooded sweatshirt on what was a balmy day for that time year, Roberts felt something wasn’t right.
When Ludgwig returned several minutes with a bag billowing purple smoke, his suspicions were verified.
Roberts wrote down Ludwig’s license plate number and when police came knocking on his door a short time later, he gave them the break they were looking for.
Less than an hour later, Ludwig and her accomplice, John Maynard, were apprehended in Castleton.
The duo was linked to a total of five bank robberies that occurred between Sept. and Nov., including TD Bank in Granville twice in a span of two weeks.
Both have pleaded guilty to the Poultney robbery and are scheduled to be sentenced this month.
Remarkably, Barber’s astute observations on that day were not the first time he played a role in the apprehension of a bank robber.
In 2008, someone parked in the same spot as Ludwig and Maynard, and held up Citizens Bank. He too was caught thanks to the observations of Roberts.
In an interview conducted with the Granville Sentinel last November, Roberts brushed off suggestions he was a hero, but those who nominated him see it differently.
“Twice he saved the bank when it was robbed. I don’t think people would have thought about it,” said Mazur.
“We are thrilled the Chamber chose him and are very grateful for what he did,” Hunter said. “He may not don a cape, but he definitely is a hero to us, and the Poultney community is certainly a better place for having him as a member.”