Grayson launches new websites

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County launched a brand new — and more interactive — Web site June 26 in hopes of helping local citizens gather information about the county and its governing body.

The new site — GraysonVirginia.com — has been in the works for about four months and still has some glitches to work out after being launched a few weeks early.

Grayson Assistant County Administrator Felicia Hash said the old site contracted a virus and was losing information rapidly.

“It’s still a work in progress,” she said of the prematurely launched site. “We are still sending data and will be getting things entered for the next couple of months.”

Professional Networks in Galax built the site and will maintain it for the county.

The site features a front page portal that rotates local photography.

The quote “Awesome photography optional... Majestic Mountains Guaranteed,” greets visitors as they open the site.

From there, surfers can go to either the governmental or tourism side of the Web site.

The two used to be combined on the old site and could be confusing to users now, Hash said.

On the governmental side, each department will have its own page with a list of things that can be handled by visiting the department.

Several departments still aren’t online, but Hash expects them to be ready in the coming months.

“We are trying to do that for each department. It’ll be helpful for people to look at the Web site so they know where to go to do what. We want to be as helpful as possible... the new site will be more helpful and directional.”

The next step for the governmental side will allow users to file personal property paperwork online through the commissioner of revenue’s office.

In the distant future the site may even be able to take payments for personal property taxes, decals and water bills. It’s something the county wants to consider, but Hash is unsure if and when it might be possible.

Also on the governmental side, citizens can download different forms they would normally obtain by visiting offices in Independence.

“For example, zoning applications will be online. People can fill it out and bring it in with them to save them some time.”

People interested in learning about responsibilities of each department can view them online.

“We want to do this to educate people,” said Hash. “We feel like people don’t know all the responsibilities of each department. By putting it on the site, it helps people know who to talk to and where to go.”

Also included are agendas from county meetings, previous meeting minutes and job openings that come available.

Hash thinks the new site is much easier to navigate and gives a more personalized and local view of Grayson.

Rolling pictures on the front page represent the area’s beautiful rolling mountains and mile-long views.

Local businesses can access the tourism side and make sure they are included in the business list.

The list on the old site was one thing destroyed by the virus, so many businesses previously featured are not included.

“There is a place where the businesses can submit their information to be put online. We also encourage the owners to submit a photo to go along with it.”

While all features are not active yet, Hash thinks citizens will come to enjoy the new site and like its compatibility.

“We had to go live really before it was ready. There are a lot of changes and additions to come.”

Hash played an integral part in getting the new site launched. She was actively involved in design and layout.

Professional Networks submitted a proposed look and she “tweaked” it to suit what she thought would be best for the county and more user-friendly.

“I’m very excited about the new site,” she said.

Once changes and additions are finished, the office plans to take comments on how to improve the site.