Meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Wellington Village Council lauded the influential examples set by its Top Firefighter, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Capt. Cecilia Eaton, and Top Cop, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tim Barbusio.
Take Eaton. She began volunteering as a firefighter at age 15 in her native Peru, not letting go of that dream, even after coming to the United States and learning English while dealing blackjack on cruise ships.
Eaton began her career as a Palm Beach County firefighter in 2000, rising through the ranks and operating out of Wellington. Along the way, she married and became the mother of two.
“I won the lottery and didn’t even know it,” Eaton said. “To be a firefighter is all I wanted, and I am beyond blessed to be here.”
Colleagues and council members alike saluted the impact she has had in the community.
“One thing Capt. Eaton has done is take a compassionate and personal interest in the elderly we run calls on,” recently retired Battalion Chief Kenneth Wooldridge said. “This means oftentimes she will be following up with their children, or other family members, to ensure they receive follow-up attention after the call is finished. This is rare.”
That also impressed Councilman John McGovern, who noted that he is the father of daughters himself.
“What you have done and what you have achieved tells all young girls everywhere that everything is possible,” McGovern said. “You have really been a trailblazer at every time in your career.”
Councilman Michael Drahos agreed.
“You have to be passionate, and you have to sacrifice to reach the top of whatever field you’re in,” Drahos said. “I mean, you started as a 15-year-old and identified early in your life that is what you wanted to be.”
Wellington’s 2023 Top Cop and Top Firefighter award winners were selected from finalists by the village’s Public Safety Committee in June.
For his part, Barbusio has served more than 35 years, much of it in the Lake Worth area before joining the Wellington district three years ago. “In my career, I’ve been very fortunate to have great bosses,” Barbusio said. “I had one bad boss in the beginning, and since then, it has been great.”
He thanked his wife for her role in raising their three sons as he pursued cases, such as searching shipping containers in Miami for stolen cars.
“Detective Tim Barbusio is synonymous with the go-to guy,” said Capt. Nichole Addazio, who leads the PBSO’s Wellington district.
A homicide case early in his career in Lake Worth was recently featured on an episode of “On the Case” with Paula Zahn, she noted.
He was instrumental in helping gain support for a state law that required criminals to be photographed as they left prison, and not just before going behind bars, to aid in identifying repeat offenders as they aged, she said.
In Wellington, he has been involved in more than 60 long-term cases, many involving financial crimes, including a bail-bond scheme with victims nationwide.
Barbusio’s son Michael now serves as a PBSO deputy, Addazio noted. “I had a recent conversation with Mike and asked him about his career goals, and he said without hesitation that his goal was to sit in his father’s chair one day in the Wellington district’s detective bureau,” she said. “I just thought, what a testament to Tim’s decades of hard work.”
Mayor Anne Gerwig said a common expression is “back the blue,” but in this case it’s back the dark green uniforms of the sheriff’s office.
“It’s a stressful life that you lead in public service, especially the schedule and time away from family,” she said. “Congratulations on making the right choices and supporting each other, because that is not to be ignored in this.”
Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone thanked Barbusio for his service.
“It’s an honor to have you out here, not only as a member of the PBSO but as a resident,” Napoleone said.