More than a ‘den of serpents’…

By on August 9, 2017

West Cocalico supervisors talk Web site modernization

Visit the West Cocalico Township Web site, and one of the first things you’ll see is something about a “den of serpents.” This odd moniker is even included in the snippet of text in the site’s Google search page result.

No, it’s not an editorial.

The Web site explains that “Cocalico,” a name that now encompasses two Lancaster County townships and a school district, was originally a Native American word for a collection of snakes. However, to someone who is scanning the text, this up-front information can be confusing — partly because of a lack of context.

The site has been that way for a long time, but it has just recently come to the attention of the board.

At the Aug. 3 supervisors’ meeting, two residents suggested that the Web site could be modernized to provide details of police reports and other vital municipal information that is currently not put online – and that perhaps the “den of serpents” reference could be moved or altered to make things less confusing for readers.

“We really under-utilize that Web site,” said resident Steve Laudenslager.

The supervisors agreed.

“I think the younger generation — a lot of them don’t read the news that much,” supervisors chairman James J. Stoner said. “They’d rather go to a Web site.”

Stoner said making more information available on the township Web site is a good goal, although he did note that the township might have to clear the publishing of some police information with the Ephrata Police Department, which provides coverage to West Cocalico.

Ephrata Police Sgt. David Shupp, who attended to deliver the month’s police report, said the department could have that conversation with the township.

Township Manager Carolyn Hildebrand said staff do some basic web maintenance tasks, but other bigger jobs need to be outsourced to professional developers.

In an explanation to The Ephrata Review on Aug. 7, Hildebrand said staff can upload agendas and post about upcoming events, but don’t have the tools to add new menu tabs or expand the structure of the Web site.

“We’re trying to be responsive,” Hildebrand said, adding that the township also has a Facebook page as a resource for the younger generation. “We’re getting some stuff out there.”

Hildebrand said the township will work on changing the top-level blurb on the Web site.

Brainstorming during the meeting, supervisors were agreeable to the idea of having an intern, possibly a Cocalico High School senior, work on updating the site.

The board also re-organized itself to include its new member, Jeff Sauder, who was sworn in prior to the public meeting and sat on the board for the first time.

Supervisors agreed that James J. Stoner will remain chairman and Leon Eby will move to vice chairman, a position previously held by former board member Ray Burns.

Another issue discussed was a railroad crossing conditions.

Stoner said the crossing at the intersection of Resh Road at Reinholds has deteriorated so much that some drivers will cross the median to go through it.

Supervisors discussed the best ways to pursue fixing the crossing. Stoner said a previous fix on Route 897, including a rubber lining, has become troublesome because the rubber will push up over time and create an obstacle.

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