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New city Web site now up and running

In an age that allows people to pay bills, research informationand even do their Christmas shopping at the touch of a button,Brookhaven is online in a new way.

Brookhavenites, by accessing www.brookhavenms.com, are nowdirectly linked to a site that will allow them to download thingslike ordinances and maps in just a few steps. Also, aldermen said,in just a few months, hopefully the Web site will allow city watercustomers to pay their bills online.

“I just saw this as a huge hole that needed to be filled in theinformation that we provide our citizens,” said Ward Six AldermanDavid Phillips, who developed the idea from early on in his time inoffice.

When Phillips presented the idea in a meeting shortly after hiselection, Mayor Bob Massengill appointed him chairman of the Website committee, assigning Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes andWard One Alderman Dorsey Cameron to also serve on the board.Phillips said the expertise of Samantha Melancon in the PublicWorks office and local Web developer Owen Junkins assisted with thebrainstorming.

“Because of how much he’s out there in the community and hisexperience, David really made us realize how much we need this andgave us the drive to do it,” Estes said. “Luckily it was budgettime and we could put aside some seed money for it.”

Phillips said some people gave him the advice that he would needto seek someone to build the Web site in Jackson, or somewhereoutside the local area. However, Junkins assured him the talent wasavailable in Brookhaven.

“I just feel we as a city will never develop the expertise inour own city as long as we’re going outside for things like this,”Phillips said. “Our mantra is ‘shop locally,’ and if we had theexpertise in this community to do this we wanted to utilizeit.”

So local Web designer Jay Perkins was enlisted to do the workfor the city, and aldermen said they are extremely pleased with hiswork.

The site, which is now up and operational, is still a little bitof a work in progress, Phillips said. But in order to launch it,committee members did their homework in each of the departmentsthat deal directly with the public.

“Early on, we asked the people in the trenches to give us thetop 10 requests they get from the citizens who call in,” he said.”They came up with a list that we used as the core of what wedesigned this Web site around.”

As such, citizens have access to the city government effectivelyaround the clock, Phillips said.

“Instead of having to come into City Hall to get a buildingpermit, it’s online 24/7 to make things more efficient forbusinesses and private citizens,” he said.

Things like schedules and fee listings and contact numbers forcity officials are available on the site, and as ideas come in, thesite will grow, aldermen said. In addition, links are provided toother sites like the local library, the recreation department, thechamber of commerce and The DAILY LEADER.

“Efficiency was the main idea,” Estes said. “And we’re hopingfor feedback from the community to let us know what kinds of thingsthey’d like to see as well. We want this site to beuser-friendly.”

And the “How Do I…?” page gives the people of Brookhaven andLincoln County a way to send suggestions straight to Perkins, witha link that says, “Can’t find what you need? Have a suggestion forinformation to be included here? Please e-mail us.”

“The goal here is to provide seamless government,” Phillipssaid. “And this is a work in progress. I can foresee this Web sitenever being complete, because it will be constantly changing tomeet the needs of the community.”