About This Site
In no particular order, here are answers to questions some folks have asked . . . or at least could have asked!
WHEN did the site start up? This site was created in February, 2009 by Bryan Turnbull and Eileen Brown (and yes, the webmasters ARE married, despite the different names.) We live in the town of Monroe with one son and a cat, and a bird, and we love it here. We don't always love our driveway in winter, or in mud season, but that's a different story.
WHO are the webmasters? Bryan was born in Scotland and Eileen was born in upstate New York. After meeting and getting married in Moscow, Russia, we moved to New Jersey (for jobs . . . why else would anyone move there?), and have one son, Michael, or "Misha". As soon as possible, we retired and headed north. Bryan maintains he wanted to turn right when we left New Jersey, toward warm weather, but Eileen insisted we head for New Hampshire. So of course we turned left and here we are!
WHY create a website that makes no money - or like this one, a site that costs you money? Hmm. We're not sure, really, except that when we first moved to Monroe in 2007, we were a little confused about things like garbage pick-up, or how to find out who the cable company was. So we kind of figured we'd do our best to make sure other people were less confused than we were (although anyone who knows us will tell you how easy that is.) Around the same time we started to work on the website, Bryan happened on lots of old 35MM slides in the Library basement. He got permission and then set to work 'digitizing' them, to preserve them for the next generation - most of us just don't have slide projectors in our homes. The website seemed like a good way to share these great images of Monroe's history with everyone.
HOW MUCH IS THE TOWN PAYING FOR THIS? This site is maintained at absolutely zero cost to the town or taxpayers of Monroe. Bryan and Eileen pay for the domain name, www.monroetown.com, and the website hosting fee. Some people have asked us how we chose the name of the site, and the honest answer is, it was the closest we could get to what we really wanted, which was www.monroe.com. That one was taken. Along with many others that were our second, third, etc. choices. We're not all that creative, so monroetown.com is what we came up with. And why a "dot com" name, instead of "dot org"? Simple - because .com names are cheaper! We have left the use of the more expensive ".org" name for the town! (There is a cost that the town pays for their "official" site, but not this one.)
WHY have TWO websites for such a tiny town? When we first thought about a website, we approached the town selectmen to see if they wanted a free website, and their answer was no. Well, we started one anyway, for the entire community, as a hobby. About two years ago, the town decided to fund an "official" website - a decision we support 100%. We think every town should have an "official" site. This one will continue as a hobby, with content that is not "official", like lots of pictures of events, but now you have two sources to choose from, depending on what you're looking for. And by the way, there are not only 2 websites for Monroe - the school has another site, and there are at least half a dozen Facebook pages, a Twitter feed, and an Instagram feed, too! Remember, anyone can start a website - it's not hard - give it a try!
WHERE DOES THE STUFF COME FROM? OR, HOW DO WE CHOOSE WHAT GOES ON THE SITE?
Content comes from various sources, including directly from town government, announcements that are sent to us, things we pick up by living in town, or even by reading the Bridge Weekly! We don't always post what is sent to us. Sometimes that is because the content is not local. Folks do send us notes about interesting things happening down in Hanover, or up in St. Johnsbury, for example, but we have deliberately chosen to keep this site as local as possible. That doesn't mean we don't post things outside of Monroe - but we do so with quite careful deliberation. Events in McIndoes, for example, get posted because we believe many people in town have a strong connection to McIndoes, having either gone to school there or having a parent who did. The North Haverhill Fair gets posted because many of our town's children participate in 4H events that happen at the fair.
Sometimes folks send us great photos - and we just have not figured out where to put them on the website. That could be because the photos are 'one-off's', like of a sports team from the 1960's, and we don't yet have a contextual place to put them. It might be because there are identifiable children in the photos and we're not sure who they are, and whether their parents have given permission to use their photo. Or, it might be because we intend to use your great photo but then forget (yes, this really does happen!)
Content that is sent to us by the Selectmen's office is the same as what is sent to anyone else - i.e., selectmen's meeting minutes - is posted as it is received - we do no editing and make no changes. So if you have questions about things like Selectmen's minutes, it's best to call Cindy directly! We also pick up calendar items from things like official notices in newspapers.
PRIVACY AND 'KEEPING IT CLEAN': Whenever possible or feasible, we have asked for permission to use people's names or contact information (such as on the Groups & Clubs page.) As parents ourselves, we are very concerned with children's safety, and therefore have a very high standard for children's privacy. That is why, even if local groups like 4H or the Library Summer Reading Program have signed releases on file, we are still unwilling to use children's first and last names in conjunction with photos. Our privacy approach is modelled after the Federal COPPA Act and is significantly more strict than required by law. The main exception to getting individual permission is at large-scale events, such as the Harvest Festival. In those settings, privacy laws allow us to take and use photos - but in our case, if anyone ever asks us not to take their picture, or not to post it, we abide by their wishes, despite the laws that would allow use.
Also, we have consciously made extremely limited use of sites such as "You Tube" for video, because we are concerned about redirecting children to sites which parents may feel are inappropriate (heavens knows, WE think there's lots of content on You Tube that's highly inappropriate!) We do post links to sites we feel will be of interest, and do our best to ensure any links are to reputable sites without objectionable content. If you find that a site we link to is not as 'clean' as it should be, we'd appreciate it if you would let us know.
QUALITY CONTROL - OR, DO THE LINKS ACTUALLY WORK? We make every attempt to test our links at least monthly. However, sometimes we still come across sites that have moved, or shut down. If you find a link that is broken before we do, we'd love to know.
MAKING THE SITE LOOK GOOD ON EVERYONE'S COMPUTER is actually harder than you might think. The majority of people who access the site are now using smartphones or tablets, not traditional PC's. PC users are still using Internet Explorer in the majority, with about 25% running Google Chrome and 15% running Firefox. A small group use a MAC. We tend to program for the majority - occasionally checking to see how the site looks for different browser users or on different size screens. However, we have no control over who uses a laptop, a desktop, or a smartphone, or what screen resolution they have their computer set to. Simply put, it should work for most people most of the time, but that's not always the case with computers!
COPYRIGHTS AND OTHER LEGAL STUFF
As you may (or may not) know, personal work such as photography and writing is automatically granted copyright protection under U.S. law. Recognizing this, we obtain permission before using anyone's private materials, either from the creator of the images, or a legal heir or representative (i.e., getting permission from Steve Mclure, Agnes Little's grandson, before posting her wonderful photos.) We use content from existing websites, such as the 'weather widget', on the home page, and abide by their guidelines (i.e., show their URL if we are going to use their free content.) Naturally, we ask that others use the same respect for content on this website. If you would like to re-use a photo that is posted, please contact us for permission. If we personally took the photograph, we can immediately respond; if someone else submitted it, we can contact that person for you and ask for permission. It's just kind of the 'golden rule' - treat others' stuff as you would want yours to be treated!