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Morrissette stepping down from Planning Board seat

Date: 4/14/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW He helped create the home based trade bylaw. He s worked to build East Longmeadow into a prosperous town. He's served a total of 18 years in elected positions.

What's one of Tom Morrissette s most memorable moments in local government?

"The most fun thing I worked on was, when I was serving on the Board of Selectmen, introducing the pooper scooper bylaw to town meeting," Morrissette told Reminder Publications. That was my initiation from Steve Manning and Larry Levine.

As of the April 14 elections, the former selectman and Planning Board member will be stepping down from a position in town government, as he believes it is "time to enjoy the family I have."

Morrissette has been an East Longmeadow resident his entire life, with the exception of three years. When he was first married, he rented an apartment in Springfield for a year, and he spent 18 months on an Army base in North Carolina when he was a child.

A 1973 graduate of East Longmeadow High School, Morrissette went directly from school to working at and then owning and operating Tommy's Auto Body (now the site of Bodyworks Unlimited).

"My grandfather started the business in 1945, and I started working there when I was 12," Morrissette said. "I took it over in 1978."

In 1990, a fire destroyed the building and in 1995, Morrissette sold the rebuilt property. He had been working on getting his real estate license before the fire occurred, however.

"I was interested in real estate because it was back in the heyday of the 1980s when subdivisions were popping up everywhere," he explained. "I wanted to learn how they worked. It was my first foray into politics. I was very interested in how things get approved."

His curiosity led to his election to the Planning Board for the first time in 1985. He served on the Planning Board from 1985 to 1995, on the Board of Selectmen from 1997 to 2000 and has served again on the Planning Board from 2004 to 2009.

"The Planning Board has more of a focus on one particular service to the town, and the Board of Selectmen was very diversified," Morrissette noted.

He added that he had "a lot of fun working with very qualified and quality people," including the aforementioned Manning and Levine, former Planning Board member Marilyn Richards and Planning, Zoning and Conservation Director Robyn Macdonald.

"I did not personally know Tom prior to him being on the Planning Board but since then I have developed a wonderful relationship with him, both professional and personal," Macdonald said. "Tom has shown his caring for the town in many ways and works hard to balance his responsibilities to the town as well as developers that appear before the board. He is able to keep balance in the face of adversity with a cool, calm demeanor and I have a profound respect for him.

"As a devoted family man, Tom is always sensitive to others personal and family issues," she continued. "I will miss his sense of humor when times are tense and his sense of fairness. His leaving will leave an immense void in our town government. I wish him nothing but the best in what he chooses to do to replace our Tuesday night summits."

"I feel that everybody part of a community needs to give something back," Morrissette said of his public service.

So why stop now? "The Planning Board commitment is a five year commitment," he explained. "I can't see myself doing it for another five years. It's time for someone else to have some fun and serve the community. It's time for some new blood."

And will he ever run for another public seat?

"Never say never," Morrissette said.

His last meeting with the Planning Board will begin at 6:30 p.m. on April 13.