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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES » VERMONT » Fairfax, Vermont's Proud Webmaster
Fairfax, Vermont's Proud Webmaster

By Lisa M. Boucher | July 23, 2010

In another century, Henry Raymond would have been known as the “town crier,” in the modern lexicon however, that term barely exists, but the job-though changed a bit, still does.

Raymond, an affable, IBM-retired, septuagenarian maintains a website with a forum where he posts current events from the town of Fairfax and surrounding communities on a daily basis.

He started working for IBM in 1957 as a young man, when the computer giant first came to Vermont, but never anticipated the computer would dominate his retirement.

Raymond writes about stuff going on in town from the hard news of town politics, thefts, and car accidents to births, deaths, and marriages. He also updates everyone on other points of interest like what local farming families might be doing such as sugaring or slaughtering chickens, as well as community events at the school and local churches.

He peppers his news reports with his own Yankee musings; this is anything that crosses his mind that he feels like sharing. It runs the gamut from a visit to the doctor with wife Maryann, the peculiarities of backyard wildlife, or the activities friends and neighbors might be up to. Whatever the chosen topic, his reader’s are guaranteed to be informed and entertained.

Often, when there is a question about something, He will take the time to research the issue and inform his followers. Members have become knowledgeable on a wide range of topics suited for trivial pursuit enthusiasts.

He got his first PC in the mid 1980’s when IBM, his former employer gave middle management computers and access to the plant via telephone. Not exactly a technology hub, making a long distance connection from Fairfax with a modem was a bit of a challenge.

“I couldn’t connect to the plant because the operator would ask ‘what is your number please?’ The guys down in Endicott (N.Y.) never heard of such a thing,” Raymond said. IBM modified the system so he could connect with an adapter on his phone.

He began a primitive website in the late 1980s when Fairfax came online with a local bulletin board system. For $10 a year, he posted information from the Fairfax Historical Society.

This little website of meager beginnings burgeoned into an informational Mecca for the town of Fairfax that it is today, providing links to other local and area websites, a photo gallery of town events and non-events alike, a community forum with several subdivisions to capture all aspects of daily living in the small town. Whatever anyone wants to know about Fairfax can be garnered from this website.

In fact, many former residents keep tabs on what’s going on “at home” from across the country by accessing the site several times a week or daily in some cases. Conversation, information, and photos are shared with people from as far off as Alaska, Wyoming, and Florida.

The site is user friendly and set up so members can easily start a new topic of interest on their own or add their comments to one started by someone else.   Participants do not hesitate to offer honest opinions, but the commentary is never more than a friendly, albeit lively debate.

To prevent abuse of the site that users near and far have come to greatly appreciate, the moderator has taken on the task of screening each person who registers as a member. If the person is unwilling to answer an e-mail asking about his connection to Fairfax, Raymond assumes it is someone with no actual interest and doesn’t accept the membership. His diligence to the matter has kept the sight free from folks who just want to wreak havoc.

“It’s very important once you retire you don’t sit around and vegetate. I get great enjoyment out of talking with people,” said Raymond on his reasons for tending to the web site. “I would not be happy living in Florida where I don’t know anybody. That would be a disaster for me, I wouldn’t last six months.”

A smile lights up his face and he concludes with the resolve of an old-time Vermonter, “I don’t ever see myself being gone from here more than a day.”

He shouldn’t ever have to; he has managed to bring everybody to his desktop.

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