City website revamped

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The new City website, above, will be launched before the New Year.

Focus placed on interactivity

By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

The Natchitoches website is long overdue a facelift. The Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) took on that endeavor under the umbrella of their marketing initiative. Their vision will be unveiled soon, hopefully by Nov. 30. “This website is exactly what we’re looking for,” said Main Street Manager Janna Jenkins in reference to the revamped www.natchitochesla.gov site. The website will feature an interactive calendar that draws from social media and other Natchitoches groups and organizations to update every 15 minutes for a comprehensive, one-stop location for all things Natchitoches.

In addition, the site will offer an all-inclusive “Plan your visit” feature. Prospective visitors can utilize an app to create an itinerary based upon events listed on the calendar and receive updates. Chairman Van Erikson said the website will also incorporate beacons. Beacons, or iBeacons, are devices placed in locations, such as Front Street, the Riverbank or downtown retailers.

The City website, above, located at www.natchitochesla.gov, is getting a much needed facelift funded by the NHDDC.

When a user walks past an area where a beacon is set up, a code with a message is sent to their mobile device. It can be anything from “get a free sample” to “20 percent off” to “Fireworks start at 7 p.m.”

The NHDDC contributed $6,500 to implement the system and will dedicate $1,000 towards the annual fee. Two beacons are included in the initial purchase, with a buy in option for partners who want to include the technology into their business. Plenty of people enjoyed seeing the reindeer on the riverbank at Turn on the Holidays, but it almost didn’t happen. Sandra Dickens, representing the Historic District Business Association, said the Commissioner of Agriculture nixed the plans of bringing in out-of-state reindeer. “He did not approve those so now we had to get one from within the state,” she said. “At almost double the cost.”

When a user hovers over a tab on the new website a drop down list will appear.

Rebecca Blankenbaker, representing the Cane River National Heritage Area, announced a new attraction, Los Posadas. The event will be Dec. 15 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Cane River Waterway Commission representative Jim Rhodes said a barge is taking soil samples to determine the feasibility of a dredging project for the north end of Cane River. He said they are also pursuing property to create a Shell Beach type area on the south end of the lake. Rhodes said university and high school fishing teams will be featured on an upcoming episode of Fishing University. Crews will be on Cane River filming the episode in January.

Once a tab is clicked, a page will open containing information about the City, government, events, contact information, lodging, attractions and more.

The NHDDC received their state funding in the amount of $319,191 Oct. 31. Financials show the Commission allocates those funds for numerous projects that promote the Historic District. In October, the NHDDC contributed $5,000 to the HDBA, $5,500 to the NSU Foundation for Freshman Connection, $1,500 to NSU Theater and Dance Department, $6,500 to the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches, $6,500 to the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, $5,000 to the NSU Foundation and $1,500 to the City of Lights tournament. These entities utilize the funds for their various events and promotions.