The homemade "laugh meter" perched on a wall at the Moffat County Public Safety Center was off the chart Wednesday.
Nancy Muldoon, a volunteer with the Craig Police Department whose boisterous laughter echoes through the sprawling complex around mid-week, is back and typing furiously.
She brings her weekly dose of levity to a work environment not always geared toward life's happier side.
Hence the laugh meter -- Craig Police Lt. John Forgay's creation inspired by Muldoon's cackle. The device hangs from a wall near a workstation where police and Moffat County Sheriff's staff answer phones and process huge stacks of paperwork generated by law enforcement operations.
"I just try to have a little fun because this is a serious job," said Muldoon, 65, nearing a lunch-hour break from her Wednesday routine. "Anyone who works in law enforcement deals with people who aren't following the rules and may not be the most likeable people in a community. I respect (the officers) very much and what they do is very important."
Muldoon does anything and everything waiting to be done each Wednesday for Craig police.
That typically starts with paperwork.
"It's continuous," she said. " Mostly computer records ... field interviews. If they don't get recorded accurately, it could down the line cause problems."
Muldoon has volunteered for the work for the last eight months. She said her interest in the position stems from her graduation from Craig's citizens' police academy in November 2001.
"At my age I do what's fun," Muldoon said. "Each place I've lived has given me a lot of good stuff."
A native Texan, she traveled in 1956 to Vassar College where she met and married William Muldoon III at the nearby Dartmouth College.
The couple in 1962 moved to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and opened a mom-and-pop printing shop, which eventually grew into a newspaper and commercial printing business. They stayed in the newspaper business upon returning to Texas in 1975 before landing in Sterling in 1989.
Muldoon spent years volunteering in Sterling, working with numerous agencies assessing community needs across seven Eastern Slope counties.
"People get lost in systems," she said. "But we were able cut through red tape and get them what they needed."
Bill and Nancy moved to Craig in 1997 and published the Craig Daily Press for the next year.
She then looked to Moffat County schools, teaching English as a second language to students between grades fifth through eighth.
Muldoon's education work locally was capped at Moffat County High School last year as an aide with special education students.
But hardly slowing down, Muldoon said learning new things brings her back to the Public Safety Center each week. The once-a-week pace also ensures things stay fresh, she said.
"I walk out the door and leave it here," she said. "It gets really heavy when that bag gets full."
At which time, a good laugh meter comes in handy.
"I could be home cleaning my house daily but I don't want that."
Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.