Media Archive

Commissioners support Web-based community calendar

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 8, March 03, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT Piscataquis County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously agreed to act as the fiscal agent for a group of volunteers seeking to build a regional Web-based calendar of events.

Roger Merchant, an educator at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Dover-Foxcroft, head- ed the presentation on the interactive "e-Calendar."

Other presenters were Terri Davis of Interface Fabrics in Guilford, and Jim Macomber and Ben Bragdon, both of The Piscataquis Observer.

According to Merchant, the idea for the Web-based calendar evolved out of discussions among graduates of the Penquis Leadership Institute and members of the Cultural Heritage Eco-tourism (CHEt) committee.

He said the goal of a regional community calendar presented on the Internet would be to link residents and visitors to the region alike with community, cultural and educational opportunities. It would serve Piscataquis County, along with adjacent Penobscot County towns, such as Dexter and Corinna.

The calendar would incorporate events that touch on (he "four spheres of rural life,' according to the presentation. Those include leisure, educational and volunteer activities, along with various "rural works" events such as municipal/school/county public meetings.

The Web site would allow electronic submissions of calendar items.

The group estimated the start-up costs of the Web site as approximately $5,000 to $10,000 for design/implementation; $300 to $1,000 for internet hosting fees; $2,000 to $4,000 for marketing; and $200 to $1,500 for ongoing administration.

Merchant said the goal is to apply for grants to fund the initial start-up, and then sell banner advertisements to generate revenue to maintain the Web site. Commissioners agreed to act as the group's fiscal agent when applying for grants, In order to move the project forward, the group is making presentations to Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and Penquis Higher Education Center, along with the county commissioners. Merchant said a key component to succeeding with the Web site will be collaboration among these groups and organizations.

Commissioner Chairman Eben DeWitt asked whether anybody had ever completed a survey of the county to determine the percentage of households with computer/Internet access.

Commissioner Tom Lizotte said he believed the statistics for rural Maine households with access to computers and the Internet hovered around 50 percent. After a short presentation of the sample "e-Calendar" by Macomber, Lizotte praised the group for undertaking the initiative, adding that the regional calendar "would be an effective adjunct to the local media."

"I think this is a wonderful idea| said Lizotte. "I'm very thankful you've done all this work."

DeWitt agreed. "My sentiments exactly," he said, adding that such a project would support the county "economically and culturally."

In other county action, commissioners decided not to schedule a meeting among municipalities and the county to discuss potential opportunities for regionalization.

The Maine County Commissioners Association sent a letter dated Feb. 26 to the commissioners asking all county and municipal officials to conduct such a meeting to discuss regionalization.

Piscataquis County Commissioners decided to hold off on that meeting, given the county is applying for a grant from the State Planning Office to study the issue. DeWitt suggested the county wait and conduct the meeting as part of that grant process.

Commissioners also accepted a letter of resignation from Dan Tourtelotte, domestic violence investigator for the district attorney's office.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.