Graymatterhost Honored for Green, Business-Friendly Websites

By Nichole DupontiBerkshires Staff
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — In the age of Facebook, Blackberries, tweets and iPhones, technology can be intimidating, even for tech-savvy people.

Small businesses especially struggle to keep up with an ever-changing Web world in which Google is king and taking precious time to manage a website is nearly impossible.

It was with these small businesses and organizations in mind that Bob O'Haver founded O'Haver and his crew (which consists of local contractors including Web designers) create easy-to-use websites for small companies nationwide as well as in the Berkshires (Peter Fasano fabric and wallcoverings and the Berkshire Film Commission to name two).

In addition to its web services, Graymatterhost is also completely solar-powered. This combination of business and Earth-friendly service recently earned the company two awards, Best Small Biz Host by and Best Non-Profit Host by

"We literally have hundreds of Word Press sites for contractors, stores, churches, photographers, both locally and nationally," O'Haver said in a phone interview. "We set people up with Constant Contact and email and links and PayPal for nonprofits to be able to collect money. It's very vertical, though, what we're doing, and it's a broad range of what we offer. We make it easy for our clients by assessing their needs. That was the reason I chose to put my face on the website. It's really rare to be able to connect with people behind the screen."

Putting a face to a screen is just one way in which O'Haver hopes to continue to make Graymatterhost an approachable entity, particularly in the local community. Julie Brady, co-founder of Awaken Healing Arts in Sheffield, has been using Graymatterhost for nearly seven years, both to manage several businesses and to maintain a blog.

"He's always made things very easy to understand and he respects that I need to have creative license," Brady said in a phone interview. "It worked on a technical end and he was able to make the website intuitive. I also went to him because it was important for me to have the website be solar-powered. Right now, the website is functioning really well. I update it several times a month and we really look forward to taking the site a little further."

As many of his clients' businesses continue to grow, O'Haver said that he is shifting Graymatterhost's focus to accommodate this growth and some recent changes made by Google.

"Google recently changed so that now it lowers the rankings of site with reused content," he said. "Now everybody has to deal with their website every day or they are going to fall off the page. Who looks past the first page when they are searching? What we're finding is that everybody's got a job in a small business, and they don't have time to be updating their website on a regular basis. But we can do that. And hopefully this will bring more businesses to the Berkshires and give them more options. That would completely change the landscape of this place."
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Pittsfield Looks Forward to New, Improved Streetscape Maintenance

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state of disarray in downtown medians stemmed from a problem with a contractor who won the bid and then was terminated twice.

Earlier this month, members of the City Council were outraged at overgrown medians and flowerbeds in the downtown area and referred several petitions on city maintenance to Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales.

The lack of care was attributed to issues with contracted work, being short-staffed, and weather struggles. The overgrowth has since been cleared and a new partnership between the city and local organizations will take the reins.

On Tuesday, Morales reported that EMS, a property maintenance and landscaping company, won the bid twice and both times did not complete the monthly pruning, weeding and prepping outlined in the contract.

"They were not doing it last year. We terminated the contract. We obviously did not pay them for the work they didn't do and we put out the contract to bid again. They were the only ones that bid again," he explained, adding that they were awarded the contract after an extensive meeting that outlined expectations and when they were not met, the contract was terminated again.

EMS was given until the end of June to get the work done.

"I acknowledge it and it's something that we should have done better," Morales said.

To address the issue in the short term, overtime work from the Highway Department has been arranged. This will allow crews to focus on downtown maintenance, working alongside a different local contractor to address overgrowth and weeds, Morales said.

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