SOUTHWICK – When a police officer unexpectedly knocks on your door on a Saturday morning, it’s not often good news. But when Southwick Police Officer Ernest Malone knocked on Jim Putnam II’s door Dec. 12, it was great news.
Putnam was given the Veterans of Foreign Wars Robert L. Miller community Service Award for 2020 and was honored at his home Saturday.
“This is one heck of a surprise,” Putnam said when Malone asked him to come outside. Members of the VFW, town officials and a few friends and family were there for the casual outdoor presentation.
Putnam retired last spring after more than two decades serving as town moderator. Troy Henke of the VFW noted that Putnam has been a longtime part of the town’s government.
“Jim has presided over every Southwick Town Meeting since I could vote,” Henke said.
Putnam was also selected for the award for leading the town’s Southwick 250 Committee. He said in both roles, Putnam was flexible and innovative in 2020.He said Putnam’s leadership in hosting two outdoor Town Meetings during the pandemic was something that put Southwick on the map locally, and was even given a national nod.
“Everyone was looking at Southwick,” Henke said.
When most of the 250th celebration events were postponed for the year, Putnam rallied the planning committee to create new events appropriate for COVID-19 guidelines so the town could still celebrate in some way.
Henke spoke of Putnam’s family history in agriculture and his efforts to keep agriculture alive in the region, noting his work with the Eastern States Exposition.
Putnam, who joked about being known for his sometimes lengthy speeches, kept his remarks short Saturday.
“Thank you so much,” said Putnam, “this was unexpected.”
Putnam said his commitment to the community comes from his love of Southwick.
“I feel very blessed to have spent most of my life here,” he said. “It’s very special.”