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Kiosks put local information at fingertips

City, county and Orton Foundation working to place first touch-screen computer in Centennial Hall

Doug Crowl

— Deb Smith, of the Orton Family Foundation, picked up the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan, a document at least 100 pages in length, and flapped it in the air above her desk in Centennial Hall.

“Who is going to read that,” she asked?

The problem is that while many people want to understand the contents of the document, the huge stack of pages of technical writing can scare people away, she said.

Public information that is too long or too technical, or information that is hard to find, can be a deterrent for the average person.

But Routt County, the City of Steamboat Springs and the Orton Family Foundation are working together on a project they hope will change that.

Possibly as early as this summer a computerized kiosk that will serve as a clearinghouse for local information will be installed, most likely at Centennial Hall.

From area community plans in easy-to-read programs to the number of public meeting halls in town to local historical facts, the kiosk will be loaded with information and is expected to be an important resource to the average citizen, Smith said.

“One of the big reasons to do it is so people can see what’s going on in the planning department,” Smith said.

But all sorts of other information also will be included.

The kiosk will be a touch screen computer, free for the public to use.

Early plans for the computer show a variety of general categories for the user to choose from that will lead to more specific information.

The categories include: the economy, housing and employment; education and youth; health and human services; agriculture; and government.

Smith worked with several local organizations including city and county government, the U.S. Forest Service, the Yampa Valley Land Trust and the Agricultural Extension Office to develop the information to include in the kiosk.

So far, the information will be available through text, maps, graphics and multimedia programs, Smith said.

The maps, for example, can be used interactively to find city streets, identify hiking trails, track bear sightings and identify specific property owners.

Some other information the kiosk will include is a multimedia look at the Routt Divide Blowdown and the bark beetle epidemic, property records from the Routt County Assessor’s office, zoning maps, an outline on noxious weeds in the community, profiles on local Olympic athletes and business and service listings from the Steamboat Springs Chamber and Resort Association.

“It’s a way to inform the public in a different medium and make better use of their time,” Steamboat Springs Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said. “We are really looking forward to it.”

The kiosk was a condition of a $500,000 grant for the construction of Centennial Hall from the Orton Family Foundation.

The foundation gave the grant on the condition that it could also develop the public information site in Centennial Hall, DuBord said.

Now, a year after the public meeting hall and city offices were finished, the Kiosk is almost ready to go.

There also are plans for two more kiosk sites in town, possibly at the Bud Werner Memorial Library and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

The information also will be available over the Internet.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206

or e-mail dcrowl@steamboatpilot.com.


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