LITCHFIELD — A visitor to this town’s website is greeted with its past.

A chunk of old mineral — a rare igneous rock known as Litchfieldite — can be seen near the top of website, rendered in black-and-white and inlaid into the town’s seal. Next to the seal appears a short description of the town’s more than 200-year history and a note to visitors: “The Town of Litchfield, Maine welcomes you!”

But a couple residents have complained that the site,, is too rooted in the past and not welcoming enough. Its design is clunky. It’s short on information about registering cars and applying for marriage licenses. And for stretches of this past year, the site was down and the minutes from Selectmen meetings were infrequently updated.

“At the time it was made, it was a good site,” said Kelly Weissenfels, who became the town’s web technician last spring. “Now, we need to do some sprucing up.”

Weissenfels has already made some improvements to the site, but he’s hoping to do more to ensure that residents can receive as much information as they can online. And his efforts received a boost at Town Meeting in June, when voters agreed to raise an additional $2,000 for the task.

“Over the last couple months, I’ve heard comments and suggestions about the website,” said Mark Russell, chairman of the Select Board, during Town Meeting. “We need to examine how the website can meet the needs of the town, and it’s going to take more than what’s in the budget.”

The town won’t necessarily spend that money. For now, Weissenfels is seeing what improvements he can make on his own. He receives a monthly stipend of $50 for the work. He was hired last spring, after the last web technician stepped down and the site was taken down until a replacement could be found.

Spreading information isn’t new for Weissenfels, who served in the Air Force for 20 years and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He worked as a communications officer and observed the ways that videos taken in combat were spread through the agency, he said in an interview.

After retiring, he moved to Litchfield with his family. He also serves on the Budget Committee and works as a part-time clerk in the Town Office.

“Our goal is not necessarily to provide an exciting destination,” he said of town website. “It’s to provide information. While the content (currently on the website) is useful, it’s missing some basic how-tos.”

Of the improvements Weissenfels has already made, the biggest is that he’s begun uploading videos of local meetings onto YouTube and linking to them from the Select Board and Annual Town Meeting sections of the website.

That means any residents who have questions or concerns about local decision-making can watch the proceedings on the internet, Weissenfels said. Those videos that aren’t on the site can be viewed or accessed in the Town Office, he added.

Some of the criticism of the town’s website came from Tim Lachapelle, who was elected to the Litchfield Select Board last year before getting recalled from his post. He argued that town officials should behave more transparently and that residents should have better access to videos of their meetings.

Weissenfels has also simplified the process for viewing election results and Select Board minutes. He’s updated the formatting on the existing pages of the website and given them a consistent color scheme. He’s posted the town’s seal, with its illustration of a mineral, on the home page.

But Weissenfels is not rushing to make any major changes, he said. He’s studying the websites of other towns, like Pittston and Richmond, and trying to learn which features are best.

Among the information that Weissenfels hopes to add to the site are instructions for car registration and marriage licenses.

Those are “things that residents who have grown up with the internet expect to be able to find online,” he said. “Some of our residents are accustomed to calling the office directly, or already know what to bring with them, but it’s time to modernize so all our residents can quickly get the information they need.”

The town currently pays $30 per month to host the website, but the funds raised by taxpayers would help design a new website if that’s what’s needed, Weissenfels said.

Trudy Lamoreau, the Town Manager, praised the improvements that Weissenfels is making, and said they are part of a host of other improvements. She said Litchfield will soon enroll in the state’s online, rapid renewal program for registering cars, and office staff are preparing to accept payments with debit and credit cards.

“There’s a whole lot of information that we have that citizens can have access to,” she said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: