Bonner Scholar leads team to rebuild Greencastle's website


When Greencastle mayor Sue Murray, (D), sat down with DePauw University junior and Bonner Scholar Richard Walsh last summer, she had no idea the meeting would result in a new website and a set of mobile applications for Putnam County.
Walsh is part owner of WynWay Technologies, a tech startup located off Greencastle's square. As a DePauw Bonner Scholar, he began working with the city last year to complete a service project for the program. The two sat down to author a plan on how to put the mayor's desire for a countywide emergency alert system into action. After talking to Walsh, her ideas and ambitions changed.
"We were talking last summer about the communication systems and how we could pair them with the website," Murray said.
The conversation quickly progressed.
The mayor's initial plan called only for an emergency alert system allowing residents to know when emergencies are taking place. After talking to Walsh, her ideas and ambitions shifted toward building a completely new website for the county.
"Richard [Walsh] is quite capable, quite creative and quite ambitious," Murray said.
The mayor stressed, "The time is right. It's a win; win for him [Walsh] and for us. Could we have put it off, sure, but the relationship developed."
The new website, set to go live within the next two weeks, includes the ability to contact each city office, receive personalized emergency alerts and provide updates on previously out of date information.
"I'm really excited for it," Walsh said.
Mayor Murray is most proud of the improved communication between the community and their government.
"We're going to have the ability for anyone to get in touch with any of our city departments," Murray said.
Specifically she points to the ability to merge city, county, university and other local calendars to give people a common place to go for information. The website also includes her original goal of an emergency alert system integrated within.
Murray believes the updated website surpasses all goals she initially set.
"It will be user friendly, and takes steps to ensure the information is correct. We've improved communication, and made sure people can use it regardless of their background," Murray said.
Walsh's work on the project doesn't end once the site goes live.
"We're working on a suite of mobile apps for the city that can help communicate emergency notifications as well as paying bills online," Walsh said. "We're also setting up the city with an email system so they can send out monthly newsletters and emergency email notifications any time something needs to go out."
In addition, Walsh has begun training first-year Lobsong Tashi on the website so it can stay up to date in the future.
"He wants to be able to pass it to the next generation," Tashi said.
In the middle of her final term in office, Murray believes the website renovation is another example of how DePauw's relationship with the city of Greencastle and Putnam County continues to improve. She is confident this relationship will continue to grow over her next two years in office and beyond.
According to the mayor, the $3,500 expenditure mentioned in the February 18th edition of the Banner Graphic is not a problem, and the council's approval is not necessary to continue.
"We have money available as needs come up, but we have not made any major expenditure for this project," Murray said.