Lancaster County website gets extreme makeover

2010-06-24T17:00:00Z Lancaster County website gets extreme makeoverBy ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

People who look online for information and services from Lancaster County government offices will notice something new Friday.

The county's website has a new, cleaner and brighter look, new graphics and quick links to federal, state and local government offices, including villages.

"The new website will allow us to be more proactive and to do more on the front page," said Gwen Thorpe, the county's deputy chief administrative officer.

Lancaster County and the city of Lincoln share an umbrella website called InterLinc, from which online users can go to a plethora of county and city offices.

InterLinc is not going away, but as of Friday, online users who click on Lancaster County in InterLinc will be taken to the county's new website.

Lincoln-Lancaster County Information Services Systems Coordinator Terry Lowe said the city and county aren't getting an Internet divorce. Instead, both governmental entities want to place more emphasis on their respective programs and services.

"To share a (web) portal -- there's not enough real estate there," said Lowe, who built the county's website with web designer Chris Plock.

Diane Gonzolas, manager of the Citizen Information Center for the city, said city government also has been working on a new website but a personnel change has delayed the project. She said it should be ready by the end of the year.

Gonzolas said the changes are good for the city and the county -- and their residents.

"We can reduce the amount of information on the home page (InterLinc) and make it easier for the public to find things on the county side and the city side," she said.

A seven-member committee headed by Thorpe worked on the new website for several months. As part of her research, Thorpe looked at what counties with similar populations are doing with their websites.

She said Lancaster County's new site came with no added cost because it was done in-house with Lowe's help.

Lowe said the new website offers better access to court systems, something county officials requested. Also, links to county offices and elected officials precede those of the city's on the new website.

"We've collapsed 30,000-some (web) pages into more manageable groups," Lowe said.

The new website includes a Google map feature and links to government television Channels 5 and 21.

In addition, villages will be able to place cemetery records on their websites, with the help of free software provided by the county, to help families and relatives find graves and for genealogical research.

"They can list all of the people in their cemeteries," Lowe said.

Plans call for promoting local festivals and tourist attractions on the county and village websites.

Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.

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