After working for the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office for almost 10 years, 911 dispatcher Robert Newart has decided to hang up the dispatch phone on Tuesday, May 28. He’s one of three dispatchers who have recently left the job, right behind Roni Philips and Brandon Church. “He was very friendly and outgoing and knew how to make people calmer in a bad situation,” St. Regis Assistant Fire Chief Kat Kitteridge said. “He knew just what to do and say.” Dispatchers have a tough job. Their duties include listening to the radio while many different systems go off, including Mineral County’s deputies, fire departments and Emergency Medical Systems. “They’re the hinge pin to the county,” Kitteridge says. “They’ve got to be very attentive to what’s going on.” Newart, 34, began his career with the Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer 10 years ago and was transferred to dispatch after six months. “I liked the fact that I was helping the community, whether it was simple questions about road conditions or when open burn was to helping people that were in life or death situations,” Newart said.
NEWART IS leaving not only the Sheriff’s Office, but the entire state of Montana. He and his husband are headed for Jamestown, N.Y., for better pay and better job opportunities, and to explore a new area. Newart says he’s a distant cousin of Lucille Ball and he’s excited to live in her hometown. He says his husband is a singer and he will have more opportunities there. He looks forward to this new chapter in his life, but he says he will miss small-town life in Superior. “I’ll miss the fact that you can go to the grocery store and see your neighbor and get in a 20-minute conversation, and know everybody in town,” he said. He says he will especially miss Phillips, his former supervisor. “She’s one of the best supervisors I’ve ever had,” Newart said. Newart’s departure will add another open dispatch position, but Kitteridge says there are a few new dispatchers. “We’ll have to go through that hiccup first,” she says. “They’re doing good, it just takes a while.” “He’s just going to be very missed,” Kitteridge says of Newart. “He was very direct about what’s going on. People don’t seem to realize he’s in a little box, he always did a great job.”