What’s happening in city government?

City website feature can help citizens stay updated

By Jennifer Woods - jwoods@aimmediamidwest.com

If you are a resident of the City of Washington Court House or want to keep updated on what’s happening in city government, there is an option to become more involved and informed by creating an account on the city website.

The link for this account creation was recently shared on social media by city council-elect Jim Blair. Blair will begin his first term as a city council member on Jan. 1 of 2020.

Users can create an account on the city website, www.cityofwch.com. An account can be newly-created or created through a pre-existing Facebook or Yahoo account.

Once logged in, users can click on their name in the upper right-hand corner, then on “My Account” to go to their account information or other related locations on the website. Once on the account information, users can scroll to the bottom of the page and near that bottom is a line of six circles with different account options.

Each circle has a different label beneath it and those labels are “Notify Me,” “Let Us Know,” “Transparency,” “Alert Sign Up,” “Online Bill Pay” and “Legal Notices.”

To see existing alerts from the city and to have the option to sign up for alerts, click on the circle that says “Alert Sign Up.” To simply sign up for alerts click on “Notify Me.”

Once on the subscription page (“Notify Me”), an email or phone number can be used to subscribe to alerts from numerous parts of the city including the city council, various committees, economic development, employment opportunities, bids, city events, various boards, etc.

When clicked, the circle marked as “Transparency” sends users to a page with various categories containing various documents that are available to view online. Included in these documents is information pertaining to ordinances, audits, the city manager, the city council, the fire department, resolutions, the tax department, the utility department, etc.

“Online Bill Pay” sends users to a page with two different online payment options—one for “Tax payments” and one for “Utility bill payments.” The tax payment link sends users to information from and for “Ohio Business Gateway,” while the utility bill link sends users to the usual website where city residents’ water bills can be paid.

The link for “Let Us Know” sends users to a web page with various forms to submit to the city as well as a “Citizen Request Tracker.” Currently, the four forms available on the website include a “Trash Complaint Form,” a “Traffic Signals/Street Lights Form,” a “Potholes” form and a “Storm Drains/Catch Basins” form.

The account system allows for several applications to be accessed, many of which are located in a blue box on the left side of the “My Account” page.

One of these applications is listed as a “Blog.” When clicking this link, users can make their profile public, alter their public display name, add a profile picture and add a bio. A street address can also be added.

Once these blog features have been added, users can then see these features on their “My Account” page with the bio and photograph at the top of the page. There is also an option to create posts on this page which other users can view.

As long as a profile is not private, other users can view that profile by clicking on the name of the profile.

“Community Connection” is an application which allows users to create or join groups and to speak about topics or ideas that interests them.

“Community Voice” is another application that allows users to submit, comment on and vote on ideas—so if any users have an idea they want to share with the community for a project, event, concern, etc., this is a potential way to do so. The community voice link takes users to a page with pre-existing “initiatives” with subcategories to help keep things organized. Only two ideas have been posted—one in 2017 and one in 2018, nobody has responded to either.

A “Healthy City” application is available to log the date, hours, start time and end time of activities.

A calender application is available which shows when certain things, such as city meetings, will be taking place.

There is also a “Leaderboard” feature which assigns points to users based off their activity on the website or as the website explains it, “The Leaderboard is a simple way to see how active you are in your community.”

There are online badges awarded to users once certain point values have been gained. The first badge is a purple ribbon and is obtained with 50 points, the highest possible is a gold trophy at 1,000,000 points. Currently, the profile in first place only has seven points.

Also located in the blue box on the “My Account” page is the ability to “Find” contacts. This allows users to search for, message or add other users as a contact.

The website was created and is kept updated by CivicPlus. City Manager Joe Denen explained the website has gone through several updates and the current one is approximately the fourth version.

When asked why this service hadn’t been brought up in recent months, Denen said, “Well, they probably don’t think about it a whole lot.”

“Most people seem to still prefer—if they want to talk to us they either call us or they stop in,” he said.

The CivicPlus website explains, “In the last four years, CivicPlus clients have been honored with more than 290 top website awards. With a concentrated focus on e-government, transparency, usability, functionality, unique design and Web 2.0 technologies, your city or county cannot only receive the rewards that come from a seamless communications platform, but also the honor of industry and peers.”

Were you aware this informative service existed? If not, now that you are aware it exists, is this a service you will use to keep informed? The R-H will keep an eye on the Leaderboard (mentioned above). The top contributor as of Dec. 31 of this year will get to be featured in the newspaper in the first month of 2020.

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355, on Twitter @JennMWoods or by adding “Jennifer Woods” as a contact for your city page (Bio mentions the R-H).

City website feature can help citizens stay updated

By Jennifer Woods