In the early part of the new year, people will be able to explore Brownstown with the click of a mouse.
Learning about town departments and services, paying a sewer bill, reading the latest news and finding out what events are going on will be among the features on town’s new website, explorebrownstown.com.
Matt Maurer of Creative Avenue, a Web development and graphic design business in Brownstown, recently demonstrated for Brownstown Town Council members what the site will look like and explained the features it will offer.
He had submitted a three-page proposal last year with similar information. During the Dec. 7 meeting, council members said they wanted to know what progress had been made on the website.
When Maurer attended the Dec. 21 meeting, he said he had planned on meeting with the council in early January to give an update about the website at that time.
“It looks familiar if you remember the proposal from last year,” Maurer said. “It’s pretty much exactly what we showed you then come to life.”
When the website is up and running, town council members will have access to an online dashboard to add and edit information. Each town department also will assign a person to maintain the departments’ pages on the website.
The online dashboard will be accessible from a variety of devices, including cellphones, tablets and computers.
“That’s kind of the beauty of it — everybody can kind of contribute their own thing,” Maurer said. “The collaboration of everybody is what makes it exciting.”
The main page will feature photos of places around town and has clickable tabs across the top.
One of the tabs is for government pages, including fire, police and sewer departments. When clicking on the subcategories, the left-hand side of the page will have general information about the department and a built-in news feed.
Maurer also will generate town Facebook and Twitter pages, and any news posted on the town website will go to those two social media sites, too. The town does not have Facebook or Twitter pages at this time.
On the right-hand side, there will be a live Google map showing where the department is located and contact information, including address, phone number and a link to its own website. When clicking on the department website link, a secondary window will open, leaving the town website up at the same time.
Another tab will take users to an events calendar. People will be able to see what’s going on around town, and they also will be able to click a button to plug the events into the calendar on their smartphones or mark it on their calendar.
Along with the town departments adding events to the calendar, town officials hope to provide access to local schools, organizations and community theater so they can add items, too.
“Everybody has heard somebody say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing to do,’” Maurer said. “Well, this gives us an opportunity, with all of these different departments contributing things and working together, we can build an online calendar of what is going on.”
The website also has a page that lists various services in Brownstown, including churches and cable and utility providers.
“If someone is new to town or if they are just looking at what their options are, we want to list all of the different services,” Maurer said. “This isn’t meant to promote businesses, really.”
Maurer said his team still is adding some content to the site and hopes to be done by mid-January. Town officials will begin working with departments to determine who will control content on the various pages.
Council member Bethany Brewster said it will be important to have all departments contributing to the website and keeping information up-to-date.
“It looks good,” council President John Nolting said. “We’re anxious to get this thing going.”
Maurer said he would provide the town with an invoice for his work. In his initial proposal, design and hosting of the website was listed at $3,499.99. A year after the launch, there would be a fee for Creative Avenue to make updates to the site.
After that, the town would be offered services at a discount.