County to get new online look

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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Wise County’s online image will soon be spruced up.

Commissioners approved Monday hiring a company to rebuild the county website at the recommendation of County Judge J.D. Clark.

“I’ve got money in my capital planning fund, and I want to use it to get a completely new website,” Clark said. “[Our site] is not user friendly, and it’s hard to find things.”

Commissioners approved hiring CivicPlus, which built websites for Decatur and Bridgeport. A company representative called in to the commissioners meeting to explain their services and give an online presentation. Cost is $17,500 to build the site and $4,000 per year for maintenance and support. CivicPlus estimated the new website would be online in six months.

“They do government websites. They did Bridgeport’s and Decatur’s along with Parker and McLennan counties. They’ve done a lot of counties across Texas and the country and do a really great job,” Clark said. “It’s very advanced and very user friendly. I think it presents many opportunities to allow us to better engage with people and be more transparent via the county website.”

The county already contracts with CivicPlus for its emergency mass notification system.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance wanted to know if the website redesign was a “need” or a “want.”

“I think it’s a need,” Clark said, “if you view it as a piece of equipment or resources for information and transparency.”

The judge hopes the new website will allow the public greater access to documents and meetings and hopes to eventually stream commissioners meetings on the site.

“I’m just old timey,” Lamance said. “If you think it needs it, it probably does …”

Clark said county department heads would give input on what they wanted for their department pages. He anticipates an improved website could cut down on general information calls to various departments because information would be easier to find.

The new website will also have a simpler URL and an intranet, a private network for county employees that would be utilized primarily for human resources purposes. Systems administrator Stephen Melton added that three websites currently separate from the county’s – the sheriff’s office, EMS and one that lists inmates – would be tied into the new website.

Clark thinks a new website would project a better county image to those looking to relocate their families or businesses to the area.

“We are a responsive, dynamic county. I don’t think you necessarily get that when you go to our website,” he said. “You guys invest capital wisely in equipment and vehicles to provide services to people, and I’m wanting to do the same thing with my capital. Provide a different type of service.”

In other business, commissioners approved the county’s transportation plan as put together by the North Central Texas Council of Governments with input from county officials and the Texas Department of Transportation. A story detailing the plan ran in the Jan. 9 edition of All Around Wise.

Editor Richard Greene contributed to this report.

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