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Day: December 22, 2014

Keizer family hunting a different kind of treasure this weekend

Michael Hickman, a former Keizer Points of Interest Committee member, discusses the ins and outs of geocaching with Jill Bonney-Hill and Charlotte Clark during a KPIC Tour in June. KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy
Michael Hickman, a former Keizer Points of Interest Committee member, discusses the ins and outs of geocaching with Jill Bonney-Hill and Charlotte Clark during a KPIC Tour in June.
KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

It’s not unusual for families to spend the weekend before Christmas looking for treasures.

Usually the treasures are gifts to give at Christmas time.

The Hedberg family, however, will be looking for a different sort of treasure.

Erica Hedberg joined the Keizer Points of Interest Committee in October, a group that meets the third Tuesday of each month.

Upon joining the board, Hedberg immediately volunteered to take over KPIC’s geo-caches project, which had been spearheaded in the past by former KPIC member Michael Hickman.

As part of the geo-caches project, there are different sites around the city with hidden treasures. Clues are available on a statewide geo-caches website (clues for Keizer are available at http://www.geocaching.com/seek/nearest.aspx?lat=45.000491&lng=-123.021885). Decryption codes and a downloadable application are available.

One site is by the Thomas Dove Keizur statue in front of the Keizer Civic Center. The online description of the location is “Life sized statue of Thomas Dove Keizur on his Morgan horse. Some stealth is required.”

The decrypted additional clue is “Quick grab. We were given strict guidelines by the city so cache hiding places were limited.”

Hedberg noted her husband in particular has an interest in geocaching, while her 5-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son are also involved.

Upon taking over the project, Hedberg discovered some of the items are missing or haven’t been maintained for quite a while. Several people have commented on the website that logbooks for messages are missing from multiple locations.

“I have gotten everything together to go do the updates,” she said at Tuesday’s KPIC meeting. “It’s like  a treasure hunt. Someone puts stuff in a box, then hides it somewhere. There’s an app that tells you how to get there and gives clues. When you find it you open up the box and there will be trinkets there. You take a trinket, then put one back in the box and write in the book when you were there.

“I have gotten little booklets, bins, bags and little trinkets to put in the boxes,” Hedberg added. “I will go do them all this weekend. This weekend that’s what we’re going to do. I have two kids to help.”

Hedberg pledged to tell what she finds during the Jan. 20 KPIC meeting.

“I will give an update at the next meeting,” she said. “I don’t think they’re in very good shape right now.”

Hedberg noted people have had issues trying to find one of the sites.

“I looked for the one, because people said they couldn’t find it,” she said. “There is an app you can download onto your phone. It will tell you where there are geo-caches nearby and clues on how to get there. Maybe we’ll update the clues to make it a little easier.”

City website waiting to load

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

When members of the Keizer City Council approved a contract for a new city website to be built in early May, the impression given was the site would be up and running by the end of the year, if not earlier.

That’s not going to happen, as EVO Government Websites is still working on building the site.

The project was one of the items City Manager Chris Eppley gave an update on during a council work session Dec. 8.

“It is being built,” Eppley said. “We’re meeting it seems like all the time on it. We’ve provided a lot of initial information. Their next step is to provide a drawing of what it will look like. The intent is to make it a lot more customer friendly, to be able to find and also to be able to do business with us.”

Councilor Kim Freeman then asked the key question.

“To be completed when?” Freeman asked.

“Gosh, I hope soon,” Eppley said.

In an e-mail to councilors Dec. 12, Eppley gave some more insights into the project delay.

“The contractor we have hired to construct this site has had some internal turnover, which has slowed this project down a bit on their side,” Eppley wrote. “We just received notice this week that the project manager working on our project has now been replaced because the company leadership did not feel they were meeting the city’s goals for development of a clean, simple and modern site that is user friendly. They are ready to get going full speed ahead again immediately.”

When he recommended the new website in the spring with an initial cost of $15,800, Eppley referred to the current site as being “woefully inadequate and outdated” as well as “difficult to maintain.”

At the time of the approval back in May, the contract didn’t include a date by which the website should be live. The closest it came to a date was this wording: “In no event shall the go-live date of the website as described herein be later than 16 weeks from the effective date herein.”

Tim Wood, Keizer’s assistant controller who has been working on the project, confirmed that meant no certain date.

“To my knowledge there wasn’t a definite date the website would be live by, our intent was to move the project along,” Wood said. “However we want to make sure the end product is something everyone can be proud of. We discussed timing with the contractor towards the end of the initial 16 week period and there wasn’t any concern about going beyond that date.”

Wood also expanded upon EVO’s internal shake-up.

“We did experience a slowdown in November when the third party web site development firm changed managers on the project,” he said. “The change in project managers was due to a change in creative direction by the firm to ensure the city gets a user-friendly website that is clean, simple and modern.”

Wood said city department heads are reviewing a live prototype version of the website this week, which reflects feedback given to date in addition to the impact from EVO’s new creative direction.

“Once the prototype version is approved by the city, staff will be trained in how to update and maintain the site while at the same time it will be populated with content,” Wood said. “The site will likely be ready to go in about two months.”

The project was originally going to be done in the 2013-14 fiscal year, but was delayed until this fiscal year due to other budget priorities.

Wood noted plenty has changed since the city’s current website first went live more than a decade ago.

“The original website was developed in 2003-04,” he said. “The primary reasons for the new website are the ability to easily update content in a way that is easy for the users to find and use, and that is formatted so it can be accessed from computers, tablets and other handheld devices.”