Two Washington County institutions are making their websites more user friendly and informative for area residents and businesses.
"Our old website was more designed for static information," said library assistant Dan Strecker of the Washington County Public Library, which has worked with the Ohio Public Library Information Network since March to create the website's framework and fill it with information.
The site made its online debut Monday.
"We want to keep the public up to date with what's going on at the library," said Strecker. Now library employees can quickly add content, news, program listings and more to the website.
New site features include individual pages for each of the county's five libraries: Barlow, Belpre, Beverly, local history and genealogy archives, the main Marietta library and New Matamoras.
"Before they were all stuck on one page," Strecker noted.
On the Web
Washington County Public Library website - www.wcplib.info
Washington County website (debuts January 2013) -www.washingtongov.org
An improved event calendar is easier to navigate and has filters so Barlow parents, for example, can find children's programming at the Barlow library.
A new online catalog (no longer called a "card catalog") and 'Contact Us' form are additional features of the new website.
Using 'Contact Us,' "People can easily send us information, questions or comments," Strecker said. "We can hopefully better respond to people's requests for new material or if they're having a problem with their account."
Washington County's new website will go live at the end of January 2013, according to Susan Burkhart, the county's safety and loss control coordinator. The website's name, or URL, will remain the same: washingtoncounty.gov.
"Our current website is out of date and cannot be updated, so we were compelled to design a new site so the residents of the county would have a more user friendly site with more features," Burkhart said.
The county is working with Civic Plus of Manhattan, Kan., an agency that specializes in government websites. The contracted cost of the project is $42,276.
New features on the website will include emergency alerts for road and school closings that will be posted on the website's home page, an events calendar, an agenda creator and a place where agendas and minutes can be posted online.
"We will keep several months of minutes and agendas online, then after a certain time frame they will be archived," said Burkhart.
The archived material can be researched online, which "may cut down on our employees' time doing public records' requests," she added.
In addition, contractors will be able to submit blueprints, do bid postings and get permits online.
"That saves contractors from taking time out of their daily work to come to the courthouse and wait in line," Burkhart noted. "They could do this of an evening."
Other permits and licensing can also be completed on the website.
"We will eventually have online bill pay," she said.
"We're very excited to offer this to county residents," Burkhart added. "We are very hopeful that our site will offer new features, new services and more information to our county residents."
County residents are encouraged to submit photos to be used on the new Washington County website.
"We want photos that catch the eye, show action and tell a story about the county," said Washington County Commissioner Cora Marshall. Photos could be from the Sternwheel Festival, a fire department's ice cream social or other events.
A team will select which photos will be used on the county site.
Those submitting photos need to be willing to sign a release allowing the photos to be featured on the site, Marshall said.
For information about photo submission: Burkhart at 373-6623, Ext. 269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.