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The nearly 20-year-old city website will be replaced by early next year.

North Adams Council OKs Funding for New Website

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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IT Director Katherine Lloyd explains to the council what would be in the new website package. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday approved an appropriation from the municipal technology fund of $20,240 to replace the city's long past-expiration-date website. 
 
The timing is right, says Information Technology Director Katherine Lloyd.
 
"I have to tell you that coming from today is a perfect time for me to speak to me for a new website," she told the council. "I made a very simple change to the website this morning. It crashed. I click 'save,' the entire server went down. It took me 6 1/2 hours to get the website back up and running."
 
The IT Department chose Revize of Troy, Mich., to build the new site after interviewing five candidates in all. Revize also redesigned the city of Pittsfield's website in 2017.
 
"After comparing the proposals, vendor features, city needs, and other options we feel confident recommending Revize to build and host the new city website," Lloyd wrote in the department's recommendation to Mayor Thomas Bernard. 
 
Revize has a 20-year track record in building and maintaining websites for government entities and is considered "well-regarded in the industry," she wrote. 
 
The company provided a 62-page presentation of its history, its services and references. In addition to Pittsfield, its clients also include the town of Easton, Auburn Hills, Mich., Logan, Utah, and St. Petersburg, Fla.
 
The updated site will be built to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (which the Department of Justice has ordered) and provide calendars, forms, social media connectivity, alert and e-notifications, document archive and payment portals, and an interactive map to show, say, a water break or other problem. Revize says its architecture, security features and redundancy make for a nearly 100 percent up-time rate.  
 
"There are so many widgets that come with this new website that are particularly thrilling to me," Lloyd said. She pointed to Pittsfield's app that allows residents to log problems directly to the site. "It also adds a level of accountability for city employees."
 
While Revize will build the architecture and design, the city will maintain ownership of the data should it decide to move to another vendor. 
 
Lloyd assured Councilor Eric Buddington that the city would own its content. 
 
"This is their product that we are putting our content into and they are branding their product for our us and we're paying them for that," she said. "As far as vendor lock in, you know, I don't really know a website vendor that doesn't do that. …  So as long as we own our content, our content is safe."
 
Security includes four server farms located in different parts of the country with 24-hour guards and security and tape backups every three hours.
 
The build cost is $20,240 and includes support for the first year; the annual maintenance and support cost is $2,400 per year, beginning in the second year of the contract. Lloyd said the cost was on target for what the city needed but added, in response to questions, it could move to a higher tier if needed. 
 
Lloyd estimated it would take at least 21 weeks to build and input data into the new site. The city is a little ahead because it already has "gorgeous branding" for the designers to work with, she said.
 
"But really, optimistically, first of the year, from realistically, we're probably looking at mid-March," she said. 
 
In other business:
 
The council passed to a second reading a zoning change requested by Colvest Inc., owner of the former St. Francis site. The parcel had three zones and now will be changed to one commercial zone. 
 
Buddington questioned changing the zoning since the city had not even had a conversation of what that corner should look like. It’s a busy intersection with traffic problems because of the fast food franchises across the street but there’s also Colegrove Park on the other side.
 
"I'm not in a rush to see this turned into a commercial development," he said. 
 
Councilors Jason LaForest, Wayne Wilkinson and Benjamin Lamb thought the commercial use was appropriate and noted any development would still have to go through the Planning Board. 
 
"I believe if we have an opportunity to facilitate development in the downtown, we should do that," LaForest said. 
 
• The council also passed to a second reading an ordinance change allowing parking on the east side of Ashland Street between Quincy and Summer streets. 
 
• The council heard from Adam Galambos, the local "coach" for the Solarize Mass initiative in Williamstown and North Adams. Galambos, who spoke at the invitation of Councilor Marie T. Harpin, explained aspects of the program and answered questions from councilors. 
 
• Councilors Rebbecca Cohen and Joshua Moran were absent. 

Tags: information technology,   website,   

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Rain, Rain and Then ... Snow? Wet Weekend Ahead

This weekend is starting off with icy rain that will switch to drenching, and then the beginning of the week could start with a foot of snow depending on which path a cross-country storm takes over the next couple days
 
The National Weather Service has a winter weather advisory in effect from Friday afternoon until 10 p.m. as light, freezing rain enters the region. The Albany, N.Y., office is warning there could be very slippery roads, sidewalks and bridges but the sleet should turn to just plain rain as the temperatures rise later in the day. 
 
That means Saturday will see warmer air and heavier rain, although there could be some dry spots in the afternoon. Max temps could reach into upper 40s and 50s, and it will continue to be cloudy and dreary through the day, according to NWS. Sunday's looking a bit better although colder.
 
Of more concern is a major storm system moving through the western states and heading into New England late Monday on the heels of the rainstorm. 
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