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City website down

After seven years, the first website operated by the city of Jamestown crashed last week leaving the city temporarily without a presence on the internet, according to Jeff Fuchs, city administrator.

The website provided users with schedules and agendas for upcoming city meetings, contact information for city officials and listed city ordinances and plat descriptions. City staff emailed the agenda of Monday's City Council meeting to those who requested it.

Stutsman County's IT department provides technical services to the city of Jamestown under a contract. Josh Smaage, director of IT for Stutsman County, said the framework and software of the website were outdated. When the web-hosting company updated some of its computers, the old city website would not run.

"It essentially broke the site since certain modules were relying on older versions of software in order to run," Smaage said. "Being so old it was also open to exploits from random bots that are always scanning the web."

Bots can be computer viruses that can infect user's computers.

Smaage referred to 7-year-old internet technology as "very ancient."

"As far as web technology goes, this is probably far worse than running a 7-year-old

computer," he said. "It might work but you don't have the latest features."

Fuchs said while the city had updated content on the website regularly over the site's seven years of operation, the software that operated the site hadn't been changed. The city was aware the software operating its website was out of date but considered the problem a low priority until it failed.

The city of Jamestown also had problems with the site in November 2016, when it was flagged as containing viruses by Google. The site was restored to operations in about two days.

The Jamestown City Council approved a proposal from Smaage Monday to create new software for the website utilizing the same content. The proposal has an estimated cost of between $7,650 and $8,900. Work on developing the new website will be done separate from his work for Stutsman County, Smaage said.

Work has already started on the project and the basic website should be operational within a few days. Additional capacity will be added once the website's basic operations are live.

"That's more or less to get them back up and running ASAP since having a web presence is so crucial these days," Smaage said.

The city of Jamestown website is located at www.jamestownnd.org. While the new website is under development, a "Maintenance" message is displayed.

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