By Bob Uphues
Riverside Township officials have launched a new website – still something of a work in progress – in order to raise the visibility of an agency that most often takes a backseat in residents' minds to municipal government, school boards and even public library boards.
"There's so much people don't know about township government, and it's high time," said Vera Wilt, who was elected township supervisor in 2017 with the aim of raising township government's profile. "This board has been about reaching out to the community more."
The new website can be found at riversidetownship.org, and residents of the township can already access information about a number of programs and services, including mental health resources, programs for senior citizens, township grants opportunities, the food pantry and short-term medical equipment lending library and the assistance available through the Riverside Township Assessor's Office.
In addition, the website includes an easy-to-use event calendar and provides information on how to rent rooms at the Riverside Township Hall for special events and meetings, how to take advantage of notary public services, some information about how residents in need of financial assistance can apply for aid.
Another goal with the launch of the website, said Wilt, is to make township government itself more transparent and accessible for taxpayers. Unlike the township's prior website, which was hosted by the Township Officials of Illinois and provided very little flexibility in presenting information, the new website includes a section where taxpayers can access meeting agendas and minutes as well as links to videos of board meetings, via the Riverside TV Commission.
In the future, Wilt said the township would like to add more government information, such as its annual budget.
"The goal is be more transparent and in the public eye," said Wilt. "We need people to know what we're doing and what's going on."
The new website, which is being designed by Riverside-based marketing consulting firm Via Digerati, is part of a broader outreach effort by township officials, said Wilt. The township has beefed up its newsletter and sent a special mailing to senior citizens to spread the word about programs like the township's senior exercise program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon in the township hall auditorium, the weekly Thursday afternoon movie screenings at 12:30 p.m. and the monthly Riverside Township Radio Players performances.
"Every time we put something out, the services we provide get an upsurge in utilization," Wilt said.
In the future, Wilt said, the township would like to establish a social media presence to reach more people.
"We're hoping, eventually, to be on Facebook and get with the 21st century," she said.