By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — Sam Zannini has had a lot of titles and helped a lot of people in his 36 years at Town Hall.
But, most of all, he’s made a lot of friends.
Approximately 30 people packed the Knightly Meeting Room at Town Hall on Monday night — with most coming to the Board of Selectmen meeting to pay tribute to Salem’s retiring chief building official.
Yesterday afternoon, the 66-year-old Zannini was honored again by approximately 35 fellow employees, friends and family members during a retirement party at Town Hall.
“I’m enjoying it; it’s overwhelming,” he said. “I never thought this day would come.”
Over the years, Zannini has also served as health officer, code enforcement officer and plumbing inspector, to name a few. He’s led the town’s Building Department for many years.
Zannini’s last day on the job is Dec. 31, but don’t expect him to be sitting around the house after next week.
Zannini will continue to remain active in law enforcement. He’s a part-time police officer with the Salem Police Department and a deputy with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department — something he has done for more than 30 years.
“I like to stay active,” he said.
He also plans to return to Town Hall to help as needed and to regularly visit those he’s worked with over the years.
“I will come back,” Zannini said. “I’m going to miss the people.”
Zannini is, indeed, a true people person, according to town planner Ross Moldoff, who has worked with him for 29 years.
While most people cringe when a town official comes to deliver a violation notice, that was hardly ever the case with Zannini, Moldoff said yesterday.
“One thing that stands out is that Sam has a personality and a demeanor,” Moldoff said. “Sam could hand you a violation notice and by the time he was done talking to you, he would convince you he was doing you a favor.”
That’s because Zannini would help save them from worse, more costly problems if their code violations weren’t addressed.
“He always tried very hard to compromise and help people out,” Moldoff said.
Zannini admitted that many people would actually thank him for giving them a summons instead of becoming angry.
Those who packed Town Hall on Monday night had nothing but praise for the longtime official, including state representative and Zoning Board of Adjustment Chairman Gary Azarian.
“A grateful community thanks you for your service and dedication to the town,” he said.”You are an asset that will be truly missed by all of the community.”
Board of Selectmen Chairman Patrick Hargreaves presented Zannini with a plaque to thank him for his service.
Zannini will not be replaced because Town Manager Keith Hickey eliminated the position from the town budget. His responsibilities will be handled by a part-time building inspector.