Technology has become a pervasive aspect of modern life, so much so that Clintonville Area Commission members are poised to add a committee devoted to the topic to the panel's charter.

Technology has become a pervasive aspect of modern life, so much so that Clintonville Area Commission members are poised to add a committee devoted to the topic to the panel's charter.

CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt, at a Dec. 1 meeting, proposed a change to the bylaws that govern how the commission operates. The amendment, which is scheduled to be voted on at the Jan. 5 session, would add a fifth standing committee, one devoted solely to technology.

Currently in the bylaws as permanent committees are planning and development, zoning and variance, elections and, the most recent addition, historic buildings.

Wetherholt currently heads up an ad hoc committee devoted to bringing about improvement to the CAC's website, along with Matthew Cull of District 5 and District 7 representative Jason Meek.

"So much of our communication with the folks at the city and with our constituents is through written notices and emails that I think it has become inevitable that we would need to give more thought to our technology use and effectiveness," Wetherholt wrote in an email last week.

"Also, to maintain our URL address entities, we have to know who owns those addresses and who will be billed for them. Currently, the owner of our address is no longer formally a part of the commission. Commissioners Cull, Meek and I, as part of the ad hoc committee appointed by Kris Keller over a year ago, felt that the commission needed to control our addresses and website."

"I would say we're probably actually behind the curve on that one," Cull said in an interview. "We've been having issues with communications for several years now and issues with the website for several years now. It was probably beyond the point we had to establish a committee so we could stay abreast of technology so we could better communicate with the neighborhood.

"I think that's one of our failings," Cull said. "Whenever something big is out there, I think it's a standard complaint that people didn't know something earlier."

"It really came out of a realization that we're having to get more intentional about getting our message out and communicating the activities of the commission, relaying the information that the city gives us," Meek said.

He added having a web presence is "more and more an expected means of communication."

"I think it's very important," said Judy Minister, the District 4 representative who has been working to keep the existing website up to date. "We learned that through the last transition from a member who continued to help manage the website after she was no longer a commissioner."

"Right now, I see this committee drafting up our current practices in regards to the website and making sure the URL and website are under our control," Wetherholt wrote. "After that, I hope to have at least one to two people who can be on the committee as trainers for any commissioner who would like to add their own content.

"The third step might be making our website a little more efficient and attractive," she wrote. "We were hoping to accomplish that by hiring a webmaster; however, we found that we could not afford a webmaster."

At the Dec. 1 meeting, Meek said he would explore the option of joining with other area commissions to help pay for someone to manage websites for all of them.

"It will be effective to the degree that there is kind of a unilateral agreement on some core things that are shared between multiple area commissions, a kind of template platform for a website," he said last week. "It would be necessary to have it designed so there's not too much customization and moving parts other than the specific content. I think there are enough commissions out there that have a core mission that's shared, that might be a worthwhile partnership."

Wetherholt said she isn't certain how well that would work.

"I have asked the city if they wouldn't provide a platform for all area commissions to use," she wrote. "In my meeting with the folks at the city, they said they were willing to do something like that. However, they wanted a majority of the area commissions to make that request. They have found that many area commissions don't like to have the city involved in their business.

She added the CAC has been in talks with other area commissions about sharing webmasters or tech experts.

"That is still a possibility that we would be open to," she wrote. "Area commissions want to maintain their identity, yet some cooperation would not be all bad."