After a year in the works, the Town of Orange launched a new website that serves as a one-stop spot for virtually anything residents would like to know about the town. Spearheaded by Assistant to the First Selectman Mary Shaw, the town’s IT administrator Josh Cloutier and Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan, the site went live October 20.
“We spent a lot of time over the last few months telling them (Civic Plus) what look and feel we wanted for the new town website and then we finally got to see a good version of it in the beginning of September. Once it was handed over to us, we had some training – all department heads attended a three-day workshop,” said Shaw. “The beauty of it is that each department head is going to create and own their own page and keep it up to date. They can be as creative as they want to be and as informative as the department should be.”
The site has 19 different department pages which contain contact information, hours of operation, access to frequently requested documents, answers to frequently asked questions, budgets and reports. The town’s 20+ boards and commissions also each have their own individual pages which offer contact information, meeting schedules, a list of board or commission members, and other useful information.
The site includes a ‘how do I…’ option, which outlines options such as applying for a building permit, find bid opportunities, search Orange land records, reserve meeting rooms or sign up for community news and notifications. A ‘Community’ section of the site provides information about places to visit, community news, recreational programs and things to do.
“Some of the town entities that already have a website, the Board of Education, the library, the police and fire departments, have their sites linked to the new site. You can navigate from our site to theirs,” said Shaw.
“Some of the things that are new and the most exciting is the link to agendas and minutes. Right now, if you want to get an agenda or minutes, you have to visit the town clerk’s office. Now you can see on the website what decision was made on an issue that is important to you. That’s brand new,” Shaw said. There is also a handy new option to pay taxes online.
By clicking on the ‘Notify Me’ button on the bottom of the home page, residents can sign up to get alerts and reminders for things such as meetings, employment opportunities, news from town departments, and updates to meeting agendas and minutes. “When residents sign up for this feature, if there is an emergency, a road closure or construction going on, we can send out push alerts so that people are not surprised or inconvenienced. This is wholly voluntary. If residents don’t sign up, they don’t get the alerts,” explained town attorney Vincent Marino.
This site is integrated with social media, with options to share links to information on the site to facebook or Twitter. “This is an organic website, meaning that it can and should always be changing to accommodate the needs of the town and residents,” Marino said.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent