City in need of technology reboot

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 18, 2009

NATCHEZ — Type “City of Natchez” into any online search toolbar, and visitors will encounter a Web site featuring a blank calendar of events, inconsistent information on city departments and missing biographies for two of the six aldermen.

Mayor Jake Middleton met with an eight-member information technology committee Thursday at the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau to discuss an overhaul of the City of Natchez Web site,, and the possible hiring of an IT director whose job responsibilities and salary are not yet defined.

“In order to get us into the 21st century with the technology we need, it’s going to be mandatory we hire an in-house computer person to take care of not only City Hall, but the police, engineering, CVB and other departments,” Middleton said. “But the first and most basic thing we need to do is our Web site.”

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Middleton said the CVB currently oversees the city’s Web sites, which also includes Middleton envisions a Web site where visitors can access tourist information and municipal information such as aldermen meeting agendas, minutes and various applications for newcomers.

Middleton also envisions paying for permits via credit or debit card.

“It’s got to be easy, cohesive and user friendly to people who are trying to find out about Natchez,” Middleton said of the Web site.

Middleton said city business is handled on more than 100 computers, and believes the addition of a technology director would put an end to antiquated procedures.

“We don’t have a good system,” Middleton said. “This has been going on forever and ever, and we have to get it changed.”

Middleton said members of the IT committee are currently reviewing technology setups in other cities similar to Natchez’s size.

Members of the IT committee are Jay Underkofler, senior director of finance at Isle of Capri; Dr. Akash Dania, assistant professor of finance at Alcorn State University; Allen Richard, IT manager at Callon Petroleum Company; David Gammill, owner of Fat Mama’s Tamales; computer consultant Johnnie Collins; attorney Ginny Benoist and CVB media liaison Sally Durkin.

The committee will meet again in January.