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Sheriff Honors 44-Year Department Volunteer

Sheriff Honors 44-Year Department Volunteer

Long-time Sheriff's Posse volunteer John Barnes is recognized with a proclamation from Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak during a ceremony on Tuesday.

San Jose Mercury News via YellowBrix

December 22, 2010

SANTA CRUZ – From riding on search-and-rescue missions on horseback to cooking hot dogs for children at the Kids Fun Day, friends and colleagues of John Barnes said he has done just about everything to help the Sheriff’s Volunteer Posse – and often behind the scenes.

Barnes, 80, has been volunteering with the Sheriff’s Posse for 44 consecutive years, and on Tuesday Sheriff Phil Wowak and others in the Sheriff’s Office presented him with a proclamation for his efforts.

“I’m the fifth sheriff he’s served under,” Wowak said. “It’s actually quite remarkable that someone … would give that much of their life to the community,” Wowak said.

Barnes is the longest continuously serving member of the posse, which is a mounted volunteer search and rescue corps that also puts on annual events like Kids Fun Day. Around Mother’s Day each year, children with special needs can ride horses, have their faces painted and have fun dancing and listening to music at the posse’s facility on the Ocean Street Extension.

Barnes always helped with the event’s details, colleagues said, from directing school buses to recruiting friends to cook hot dogs with him for more than 100 children.

“He’s the guy who’s always in the background,” said former posse President Bill Lev. “He’s a diligent and faithful worker.”

Barnes joined the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office posse in 1966, when all posse members were reserve deputies who volunteered in addition to their full-time jobs. Through the years, Barnes worked in Silicon Valley and continued his volunteer service on weekends.

His work as a reserve officer ended in 1983, but he stayed on as part of the mounted unit in search and rescue. Friends said an illness has kept him from recent meetings, but he still keeps in touch online.

This summer, Barnes helped coordinate the painting of the posse facility at 2027 Ocean St. Extension.

At the ceremony at the Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Barnes’ colleagues said that he is one of the most respected volunteers.

“John is an extremely valuable member of the Sheriff’s Posse, said Posse President Kathleen Anzalone. “I have the utmost respect for this man,” she said.


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