Linn County launches new website

Thursday morning, Sept. 15, was an exciting time at the Linn County Courthouse, as a highly anticipated new website went live, according to Linn County Administrative Officer Darrin Lane.

The site – http://www.co.linn.or.us – succeeds a former site that was between 20 and 30 years old.

Staff and the general public have asked for a more comprehensive, but easier to use website for a long time, Lane said.

Several months ago, Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker approved a contract with municipal website development firm Municode (now CivicPlus) that submitted a low bid of $48,000 among a field of about a dozen nationally and internationally based companies.

Development price quotes ranged upwards of several hundred thousand dollars, Lane said.

The CivicPlus quote includes developing an Intranet system for county employees. That project will follow the new website’s launch in coming weeks.

Sprenger advocated for a new website from her first day in office and said Thursday that it was “one of my most exciting days as a county commissioner.”

CivicPlus has developed an easy-to-use system that will allow staff members from each of the county’s departments to add information or make changes without having to work through a webmaster. Information and photos can be updated as many times per day as the department head wishes.

The site complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act and with the click of a button, users can select from numerous languages from Chinese to Russian, in addition to English.

Several mid-valley municipalities including Sweet Home, Millersburg and Lebanon utilize websites built and maintained by CivicPlus.

A committee composed of Steve Braaten, Karen Guilford and Vicki Slover from the IT Department and Communications Officer Alex Paul have worked with Civic-Plus staff for several months and are pleased with the outcome.

“We believe the public will like this new website because it so comprehensive, yet easy to navigate,” IT Director Braaten said. “People can find links to each department on the front page of the website and there is a full seven-day calendar of upcoming events on the front page as well.”

Braaten called the new website a “living document” that will evolve over time.

Paul said he is pleased that press releases and photos can be added in real time and there is a banner heading for any breaking news, such as inclement weather issues.

“When people learned I had come to work for the county, the first question I would get asked was whether we were going to do something about the website,” Paul said. “Thanks to support from Darrin Lane and the commissioners, the answer was yes. Considering the magnitude of converting so much information into a completely new system, the project went amazingly well. We have an amazing IT Department and they worked one-on-one with a single CivicPlus project manager the entire time.”

The design committee thanked department heads and elected officials for providing clear direction in terms of their department’s needs and working with the committee every step of the way, including face-to-face meetings with the department heads and key staff members.

“It is not the committee’s website, it is the county’s website and we wanted as much input as possible from everyone involved,” Paul said. “We even provided folks with a couple color samples and asked their opinion about which they would prefer.”

Data Center Engineer Guilford noted, “County staff will now have the ability to quickly update and maintain information they are directly responsible for. This is a huge benefit to Linn County residents, giving them the ability to quickly and easily access even more up to date information. We are extremely excited to finally be at a point to share it with all of Linn County.”

The committee appreciates photographs that were provided for this project by Trisha King, Amber Enyart, Michael Carmichael, Mark Ylen and Alex Paul.

The county welcomes the submission of high-quality digital images of life in Linn County including landscapes and events such as the Scio Lamb & Wool Festival, the Lebanon Strawberry Festival and Sweet Home’s Sportsman’s Holiday, among others.

Send images to [email protected].

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer