May 2001 - August 2002
Back in May of 2001, I became Director of the TRC Internet Project. At that time, the site had not seen a good update since June of 1999 when I, a freshman at college, decided it needed some fixes. I have been involved with this project since its inception in 1996, when I was a student at Penquis Valley High School. The project began as part of a competition put on by the Computer Learning Foundation. The original concept of the OurTown Project was to promote your community on the internet through the work of students. This worked for a while, but TRC eventually fell into disrepair. The site had not been updated in almost two years, so I decided to take action. I contacted all the members of the old TRC Group, and asked if they would support me in taking over the website. Only two members of the group of over a dozen were still interested, so I became Director.
While recently formatting some old floppy disks, I came accross a backup of TRC from June of 1999, which was the last time it was updated before the current version of the site. Below are pictures of the main page from these two versions of the site. I am placing many comparisons like this into my report to show how much the site has changed and improved over the past year. (Click some images for larger versions).
As you can see, and have probably noticed, there are a lot more pictures on the site now. The old version had very few pictures, and the ones it did have were of poor quality. The main navigation menu has changed slightly as well. One of the first projects I took upon myself as director was to finish the portions of the site that had never been developed. These included the Local News & Highlights, Community Calendar, and Four Seasons Recreation. The news page had never had anything on it except for a "We need stuff here" line. The calendar was nothing compared to what it has become. It was just a simple listing of weekly and monthly meetings. As for the recreation page, I removed the four seasons part and placed the local Recrecation Departments information on it instead. Just recently we have decided to revive the Four Seasons Recreation info, but once again it is taking a slow start.
Four Seasons Recreation Page, June 1999
Recreation Page, August 2002
We started out by redesigning the look of the site. It had been essentially the same since day one, and needed an overhaul. I changed the color of the old menu (it had been changed to a light purple at some point) and started playing around. Eventually we made the blue menu color wrap around at the top and the bottom of every page. Recently we have rearranged the main menu, making it a little shorter and more concise. We combined Organizations, Business Directory, and Government all into Local Directory. Originally, Organizations had also been split up into Organizations, Churches, and Schools. This really saved room on our menu.
After a few months, we decided to do something that had been talked about for a long time. We purchased a real domain name. When I first took over the project, our address was still www.kynd.com/~ourtown/ and I decided it really needed to change (we hadn't gone by ourtown in many years). I had it changed to www.kynd.com/~trc/ and that worked out well. We had several options for a domain name, but www.trcmaine.org stood out as the best. When we got this domain, we also moved the site from being hosted at KyND Internet Services to running on a machine at Milo Elementary School.
On the old site, the Government page had always been a partial listing of just addresses for our government officials. Now we have comprehensive information from each town office. They each have their own page and supply their own information to us.
Government Page, June 1999
Government Page, August 2002
There have also been several other major additions to TRC in the past year (other than the town offices). We have added the regional maps section, which have a map for each town showing points of interest; the news page has been updated to include articles from the local newspapers (including the Piscataquis Observer and Bangor Daily News); and we have added the Three Rivers News. Members from TRC are also involved with the production of the Three Rivers News along with the Three Rivers Kiwanis Club.
The Business Directory has been completely revamped into a whole new format. It is much easier to use, and even easier to update. We have added many business to it and made it nearly complete. Before, it was very small and inadequate.
Business Directory, June 1999
Business Directory, August 2002
Another great addition to our site has been the search engine. We talked about it years ago, but we never found a free one that worked. I stumbled across an easy to use search engine that was free with minimal adds. It has worked out great so far! We have also added a comprehensive counter that tracks all kinds of information about who is visiting our site. Below are graphs showing the visits and page views of the past year. Note that in March, we reset the counter so our weekly averages would come out correctly (we had very few in the beginning and it threw off our averages). It shows how much the traffic to our site has increased over the past year.
April 2001 - March 2002
March 2002 - August 2002
In the past year, TRC has been involved in many projects throughout the community. The first of these was the 40th Annual Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby. We became the official website of the derby, and posted all the information we could get. During the derby itself, we went to the two weigh stations, took pictures, and advertised ourselves around. At the grand prize drawing, we had a live webcam so people at home could sit and watch the drawing. We also typed up all the winners as they were called off so they were on the site instantly. This did wonders to promote our site, and we had about 60 people watch the live webcast!
Another project we did was to put a float in the Memorial Day Parade. In conjunction with Three Rivers Kiwanis, Key Club, and the Three Rivers News, we decorated the kiwanis float, and put it in the parade. Also along with the Three Rivers News, we sold parts of Milo History at the Kiwanis Auction and the Milo High School Alumni Reunion. We sold Milo paperweights, coins, plates, copies of The Milo Story vol. II, and even old town reports. All the proceeds from this went towards a reprinting of The Milo Story. Some other projects we have talked about for the future include a Christmas Lighting Contest (we did one of these years ago) and the possibility of having a live webcam setup permanently in the area.
All in all, the TRC Project has really improved. We've had a great year since we brought it back to life, and hope it continues this well in the future. As always, we are still looking for more volunteers to help run this project. If you are interested, please email us!
Seth D. Barden
Director & Webmaster
Three Rivers Community Alliance
August 21st, 2002