LITCHFIELD — A visitor to this town’s website is greeted with its past.

A chunk of old mineral – a rare igneous rock known as Litchfieldite – can be seen near the top of website, rendered in black and white and inlaid into the town’s seal. Next to the seal appears a short description of the town’s more than 200-year history and a note to visitors: “The Town of Litchfield, Maine welcomes you!”

But a couple of residents have complained that the site,, is too rooted in the past and not welcoming enough. Its design is clunky. It’s short on information about registering cars and applying for marriage licenses. And for stretches of this past year, the site was down and the minutes from Selectmen meetings were infrequently updated.

“At the time it was made, it was a good site,” said Kelly Weissenfels, who became the town’s web technician last spring. “Now we need to do some sprucing up.”

Weissenfels has already made some improvements to the site, but he’s hoping to do more to ensure that residents can receive as much information as they can online. And his efforts received a boost at a town meeting in June, when voters agreed to raise an additional $2,000 for the task.

“Over the last couple months, I’ve heard comments and suggestions about the website,” said Mark Russell, chairman of the Select Board, during the meeting. “We need to examine how the website can meet the needs of the town, and it’s going to take more than what’s in the budget.”

The town won’t necessarily spend that money. For now, Weissenfels is seeing what improvements he can make on his own. He receives a monthly stipend of $50 for the work. He was hired last spring, after the last web technician stepped down and the site was taken down until a replacement could be found.

Spreading information isn’t new for Weissenfels, who served in the Air Force for 20 years and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He worked as a communications officer and observed the ways that videos taken in combat were spread through the agency, he said in an interview.

After retiring, he moved to Litchfield with his family. He also serves on the Budget Committee and works as a part-time clerk in the Town Office.

“Our goal is not necessarily to provide an exciting destination,” he said of the town website. “It’s to provide information. While the content (currently on the website) is useful, it’s missing some basic how-tos.”

Of the improvements Weissenfels has already made, the biggest is that he’s begun uploading videos of local meetings onto YouTube and linking to them from the Select Board and Annual Town Meeting sections of the website.

Some of the criticism of the town’s website came from Tim Lachapelle, who was elected to the Litchfield Select Board last year before getting recalled from his post. He argued that town officials should behave more transparently and that residents should have better access to videos of their meetings.

Weissenfels has also simplified the process for viewing election results and Select Board minutes. He’s updated the formatting on the existing pages of the website and given them a consistent color scheme. He’s posted the town’s seal, with its illustration of a mineral, on the home page.

But Weissenfels is not rushing to make any major changes, he said. He’s studying the websites of other towns, such as Pittston and Richmond, and trying to learn which features are best.

Among the information that Weissenfels hopes to add to the site are instructions for car registration and marriage licenses.

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ceichacker

filed under: