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Berkeley Web site to be fixed

April 01, 2001

Berkeley Web site to be fixed



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Believing they have solved most of the computer problems that have plagued Berkeley County government for months, the county commissioners last week moved ahead to upgrade the county's Web site.

"We should have the best Web page of any county in West Virginia by July 1," said Commission President Howard Strauss on Thursday. "Today what we have is the semblance of a Web page. It provides the very basic information. We should be the vanguard in West Virginia.

The county will use its computer consultant, Shepherd College professor James Romano to make additions to the site, www.berkeleycountycomm.org.

The home page refers users to eight subject areas, which either provide cursory information about county functions or contain outdated information such as the commission minutes from the Feb. 20 meeting. On the new bids page, bids are sought for a hazardous materials unit that was bid last July.

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Strauss, who made upgrading the Web site part of his 2000 campaign, said he sees many possibilities for an improved site, such as allowing citizens to access forms and applications they need to do business with the county.

"Somebody who needs an application for a building permit could download the application from the Web site rather than having to come downtown to get it," Strauss said.

Updated minutes from recent county commission meetings could be available. And Strauss sees multiple links to county agencies such as the Planning Commission - where minutes and agendas could be posted - as well as such peripheral county groups as the Berkeley County Development Authority.

Strauss said Romano would upgrade the Web site as part of a long-standing contract he has with the county that pays him $18,000 a year.

"This won't cost us any more money," he said. Romano's contract will be renegotiated in July, which is why Strauss wants to get the upgrades done between now and then. The county has a computer company that provides it with software technology, lessening the need for Romano's services, Strauss said.

Romano can be a big asset in helping bring citizens more into the workings of their government, he said.

"My desire is that everyone in the county has the same opportunity for information as if they were sitting in the commission meeting," he said.

Strauss said county officials appear to have put behind them problems that led to the county to stop paying its software vendor for a while.

"I think we have made significant progress," Strauss said. "We haven't had a major problem in a month."

The county still plans to hire a part-time employee to help back up the computer system and troubleshoot those problems that might crop up occasionally, Strauss said.

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