The Union Recorder

December 31, 2013

County seeks web makeover in 2014

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

The modern era requires individuals, businesses and government entities to maintain an Internet presence.

Social media explosion is one facet, but the website cornerstone remains a pillar for information and marketing imprint.

Admittedly, Baldwin County’s website portal isn’t an asset heading into 2014. Several county commissioners want to change that weakness into government strength.

Commissioner Henry Craig, District 4, said most on the board agree the site is “desperate for improvement.”

“We are trying to determine what the next step is. We want a very interactive website,” Craig said. 

The District 4 Commissioner desires a “functional and productive” web presence.

The current outdated county site doesn’t tell the Baldwin story, according to Craig.

“We should do better in sharing with the community what happens to their resources they provide the county and remind them what it costs,” he said. “We don’t do well in telling that story. We need to be progressive and turn the corner.”

Currently, the county uses Georgia College to run the “ancient” website.

County staff provides the information that goes up.

County Finance Director Dawn Hudson said the college’s computer science department handles normal web upkeep for no cost to the county.

“When we make changes to it, we will pay for upgrades, but as far as maintaining it, they don’t charge us,” she said. “That’s a lot of the reason why we use them.”

Hudson said the county is working on web development upgrades, which aren’t complete at this point.

Commissioner Tommy French, District 2, said the county’s information technology should be brought up to a higher standard. In his words, the site “has improved slightly” the last year, but “is still far behind.”

“We’ve discussed some outside corporations that do these things for reasonable costs. We really need to look at it,” French said. “In a competitive atmosphere you need to be able to present yourself. That website is a presentation of Baldwin County, and it needs to be up to standard.”

Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland, District 5, said people are just looking for a way to know what’s going on.

“Some people in the community think that we don’t do anything,” Westmoreland said. “It’s a way to thank people and tell them what we do.”

The three newest commissioners agree that the 2013 upgrades to the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority sites reveal a blueprint for the necessary changes.

Both entities have interactive and up-to-date information presented in an easy to navigate format with a complementary look.

“I think what they did is a home run,” Craig said.

French expects the web issue to make the county agenda very soon.

Potentially using a web developer to overhaul the county website and email isn’t the only work area. French said these groups could put the county government on social media outlets as a point of community contact.

Public works interaction is one example.

“When you click on Public Works, it should tell you where they are working. These things should come up instantly,” French said. “It will take a lot of leg work for our staff as well. We have a long way to go.”

The District 5 Commissioner said a plethora of local students or tech businesses would have the county Internet remedy.

Prospective industries and future residents look to the web first for community information.

“A lot of times they don’t know about us because of what’s on the web,” Westmoreland said. “We need to do everything we can to show other communities what we offer and get some businesses in here. This would be an easy way for people to know all about us. If we could update it and get the info out there, it can’t hurt us but it can sure help.”