The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 19, 2013

Volunteers, Penn St. students help redesign city website

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Sharon’s website has a new look after a redesign coordinated by volunteers with the Sharon Community and Economic Development Commission.

Laura Ackley demonstrated the site Thursday for city council and ran through its features before it went live Friday on the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments server.

Information technology students at Penn State-Shenango worked in one of their classes on the redesign that got professional finishing touches from Stewart Creative Design.

The Pittsburgh-area company specializes in destination marketing, Ackley said, and has designed websites for Visit Mercer County PA, the local tourist promotion agency, as well as for Visit Pittsburgh and the Three Rivers Regatta.

“We’re trying to market Sharon in any way we can and the website is a big part of that,” said Ackley, who manages Buhl Mansion and Donna’s Diner in addition to her volunteer work with the commission. “It’s one of the keys to bringing in new businesses, supporting local businesses and informing and motivating our citizens.”

Visitors who open the home page will find five categories that help to introduce them to “Sharon, Pa., A Great Place to Live, Work and Grow:

• Vibrant Downtown

• Neighborhoods & Community

• Culture & Recreation

• Growing Economy

• Efficient Government

The various categories include links to local businesses, Sharon schools, WaterFire Sharon, Buhl Community Recreation Center and other topics as well as a gallery of dozens of photos of interest to website visitors.

The government link directs visitors to such things as tax information, a directory of city officials with phone numbers and an assortment of useful forms.

Users can download forms for permits that may be needed by contractors, landlords and tenants. Homeowners will also find forms and information about housing rehabilitation.

An events calendar link takes visitors to a page of information listing council meeting dates and times and the schedules of the city’s zoning, beautification and other commissions.

Volunteers from the Community and Economic Development Commission, working with City Clerk Lori Merolillo, will update city information twice a month, Ackley said.

Other links won’t require the city to update them because they will take visitors directly to the websites of local businesses and other organizations as well as state government websites which will do their own updating as necessary.

“We want it to be useful to city residents to find information they need,” Ackley said. “And we want it to be useful to people from other places who might consider Sharon as a location for their business or a place they might want to live.”

She acknowledged that there may be improvements to make after the community gets to know the website better. Suggestions can be directed to the Community and Economic Development Commission.

Council members praised the volunteers and students for working as hard and as long as they did for the city’s benefit.

“The website is our city’s window on the world and our window just got bigger and better,” said Councilman Ed Palanski.