The 2005 Citizen of the Year

On May 14th at the Town Meeting, Select board Chairman Hal Haberman presented this year's Citizen of the Year award to Jim Moran, Webmaster and Publisher of the town website. I have grown to know Jim and Judy Moran quite well since I started the Longmeadow Chronicles two years ago, and I just knew Jim would be hesitant about an article about his achievements. It took a call from me to Hal Haberman, who immediately and wholeheartedly endorsed the project, before Jim would consent.

Although definitely not one for self-aggrandizement, Jim spoke enthusiastically about "LEV", his eight-year-old baby. Like a proud father, he waxed on and on about LEV's intelligence, depth and scope, and bright future. At the tender age of eight, LEV is already a valuable resource to the town; enabling citizens and various town offices to communicate with each other, making local meetings, sporting events, election results, and other items of town interest accessible with super-human megahertz speed.

You see, LEV is Jim's acronym for the "Longmeadow Electronic Village" or the town website, born in 1997 and growing rapidly. That year, Jim wrote an article for the Longmeadow News which became the blueprint for the design and development of the Longmeadow town website. In the article, Jim states, "The Technology Planning Committee, a group headed by Pat Krusko, the Town of Longmeadow's MIS coordinator, hopes to take advantage of these new technologies [the internet]. One of the initiatives that is being undertaken by the committee is the creation of an Internet website called the Longmeadow Electronic Village…. A successful website, or 'electronic village should provide for interactivity within the community with links to town government/ offices and elected officials' fire/police departments, community schools including teachers, students and administration, homeowners and businesses in our town. A website could include individual homepages for town residents, postings of community notices, classified ads, etc…. The LEV will become an excellent opportunity to enable our students as well as community members to participate in these exciting changes that are taking place on the Internet."

This ambitious dream was realized shortly thereafter with the launching of the town website around Thanksgiving, 1997. At Jim's invitation I recently visited LEV's birthplace. A chemical engineer, youthfully retired from Monsanto/ Solutia, Jim and Judy Moran reside in a gracious and well- maintained home just around the corner from my own home. They are frequently seen walking about the neighborhood at a relaxed but steady pace, which looks more romantic than aerobic! Their spacious home sports many pictures of their family and exudes a feeling of harmonious coexistence.

Webmaster Moran works exclusively out of a cozy office in his basement. All of his work is done on a volunteer basis, I might add. The town only pays a minimal fee for web space and domain name registration. In LEV's "nursery" Jim's computer gear shares space with Judy's sewing machine, making for the epitome of compatibility. Within four feet of each other, Jim's warpspeed ultramegabyte nitroinjected PC and Judy's late model sewing machine are somehow made for each other. I was reminded, strangely enough of the whaling ships of old; where, according to Herman Melville, the skulls of a Sperm Whale and a Right Whale were hung across from one another on either side of the ship for Cosmic Balance, in a yin-yang sort of way. This ancient New England tradition, rooted in the collective beliefs of whalers from all corners of the globe, seems to have resurfaced right here in Longmeadow. From all accounts, there may be something to it, because this Balance may be the key to LEV's continuing success.

The Town website needs constant attention. Neither Jim nor Judy are willing to put a figure on the number of hours required each day or week to keep the website current. As we all know, there a myriad of meetings, announcements, sports scores, classified ads and events that must be updated or archived on an ongoing basis. Whereas there were, in the past, a half-dozen or so people working the site, today Webmaster Jim Moran is assisted by volunteer Mark Gold, who is responsible for the classified section, alumni pages, and the sports section. Now there are affiliated subsites, like the one for the DPW, which has its own Webmaster, Chris Reed, and can be accessed through the town site.

Compared to some other town websites I have visited, our site is light-years ahead. All of the goals Jim set out at the onset have been realized. LEV has truly become a Renaissance Child, carrying Longmeadow into the Information Age in grand style. It is fitting and just that Webmaster Jim Moran has received town wide recognition not only for his grand vision, but also his ongoing efforts.

The following is an excerpt from a letter nominating Jim Moran as Citizen of the Year. The author wishes to remain anonymous:

"From my position here, I have not seen any person more dedicated to serving the Town in his own manner than Jim. Since the inception of the Town's website in 1997, he has continually worked to improve the content and appearance of the website, never having lost interest in his constant monitoring of the site…. his continual enthusiasm for what he does is astounding! Some examples are: during elections and Town meetings, Jim takes it upon himself to stay up late so that he can post the results the same evening; he has attended Dept. head meetings to explain what the website can do for the Town and to get support from all departments to post information…Jim monitors and posts information almost on a daily basis. I could go on but I think you get the picture."

It's a reassuring thought to envision Jim and Judy Moran in their happy nest, with both hard drive and sewing machine whirring away in sweet harmony. Congratulations!

Past Recipients

There is a suitable plaque in Town Hall, which lists citizens who have been recognized, like Jim Moran, for outstanding community service. They are:

 1993 Maurice "Moe" Fieldstein  1999 Rev. Gary A. Delong
 1994 Mark Schneider  2000 John "Jack" Sheehan
 1995 Msgr. Thomas F. Devine  2001 Peter A. Santos
 1996 Carol Mazzarino & Nancy Russell  2002 Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano
 1997 Henry H. Frisbee  2003 Cynthia A. Sommer
 1998 John H. Southworth & Ann Q. Southworth  2004 Saul Finestone & Ernest Blake