SKOWHEGAN — Know of a blocked culvert and want to alert Skowhegan’s highway department?

Want to report a pothole? A burned-out street light?

No problem. Starting Friday, the town will launch an interactive website, making it easier for residents to contact all town departments with the click of a mouse — or the snap of a camera.

Residents can send pictures of problems from their cellphones directly to town department heads via the website, said Jeff Hewett, the town’s economic and community development director.

“The whole thing with this is we’re trying to get more information out there,” Hewett said. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to give us information and for us to respond.”

The new website will have the same address as the current one: www.skowhegan.org, but will be loaded with colorful images, bold graphics, interactive links and a slide show of interesting sights in Skowhegan.

Hewett said the current website is more static, providing simple information on municipal departments, meetings, ordinances and maps. The new site will let residents request more information and get a reply via email, he said.

Eventually, the site will allow taxpayers to pay some fees there, get police incident reports and contact the recreation department, town clerk or tax collector. Some of the reports will come with a transfer fee, Hewett said.

“It’s convenient for them; that’s the whole thing,” he said.

The home page displays a photograph of a bright blue sky over Skowhegan’s downtown island and some of the landmark buildings there.

A banner at the top shows links to government offices, community groups, social services, business pages and a special “How do I” link.

A click on the link opens access to apply for bids on municipal projects, business licenses, passports, jobs and permits as well as contacts for the water company, volunteering, registering a vehicle and learning about the annual budget.

There also is a link to ask the town to notify residents via email of new meeting agendas, training opportunities, calendar changes, fire or police messages, recycling information and minutes of Board of Selectmen’s meetings. Alerts, such as an Amber alert, flood warnings, fire notifications or high wind warnings also can be flashed across the website for anyone who signs up for them, Hewett said.

“It’s allowing you to decide what you want,” he said.

Hewett said each department will have one person who will have direct publishing access to the website to make changes quickly, when necessary, without waiting for another department. Three town employees will have complete access to all the pages, he said.

He said the website was designed by a company called CivicPlus, based in Manhattan, Kan. The $20,000 needed to pay for the work came from the town’s Sappi tax-increment financing marketing fund. Town employees assembled all the information for the website and fed it to CivicPlus for programming, Hewett said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]

 

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