THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
APRIL 22, 2017
*NOTE -- THE CADILLAC NEWS DID NOT PUBLISH THIS COLUMN IN ITS PRINT OR ONLINE EDITIONS.
In 1991, the year before Bill Clinton was elected president, there was one website on the Internet. One! The next year, 1992, the Net expanded to ten websites. As we speak, there are now about 1,200,000,000 websites. I say “about” because the total keeps climbing by the second.
You can see these website stats live at: www.internetlivestats.com. Along with the number of websites, other totals that will boggle your mind include the over one billion smartphones that will be sold today, the over 107 billion emails that will be sent, and the over 1.5 billion megawatts of electricity that will be used today just for the Internet. From a single website to all this in just 26 years.
With this explosion on information it's no wonder that local websites might get lost in the shuffle. However, a place like Cadillac has a veritable treasure trove of homegrown resources that are specific to the town and therefore extremely useful to the local population. To be sure, many of these are sites for single businesses and commercial enterprises, but many are public in nature and exist to promote the common good.
For example, if you want information about the City of Cadillac you can go to the city's website at www.cadillac-mi.org. There you can check meetings schedules, look up an ordinance, pay taxes, and even find out how often you should mow your lawn.
The Chamber of Commerce (www.cadillac.org) aims to “improve the economic environment of our region,” so their contributions are of benefit to local businesses in general. One of the things the Chamber promotes is leadership development within the community.
As with many small towns, a focal point is often the school system. The Cadillac Area Public Schools operates the www.vikingnet.org website and it's here where you can find everything to do with the schools. Everything from district calendars to directories to newsletters to education reports are available.
It's no secret that much of Cadillac's economy depends on tourism. The good news for locals is they can enjoy all the benefits of tourism as much as visitors. Front and center in answering the tourism question “what's there,” the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau at www.cadillacmichigan.com is a digital shopping mall for tourists. A visitors guide, trip planners, event calendars, photos, videos, and sign-ups for special promotions are just part of the offerings.
In conjunction with the CAVB, Explore Cadillac (www.explorecadillac.org) features more videos, stories about recreation by local writers, area tourism news, and even guides for things like motorcycle tours and ten activities for a ladies weekend in Cadillac.
Added to these, many Cadillac events and attractions also have specific websites. These include: the North American Snow Fest (www.nasfcadillac.com), Cadillac Freedom Festival (www.cadillacfreedomfestival.com), Cadillac Craft Beer Festival (www.ccbeerfest.com), KISS Cadillac (www.kisscadillac.com), Cadillac Pathway (www.cadillacpathway.org), Cadillac YMCA (www.cadillacareaymca.org), Wexford County Historical Society and Museum (www.wexfordcountyhistory.org), the Cadillac Wexford Public Library (www.cadillaclibrary.org), and the Carl T. Johnson Hunting & Fishing Center (http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10369_46675_58936---,00.html).
One of the main attractions in Cadillac each summer is the Cadillac Festival of the Arts. The 49th edition of this is Friday and Saturday, July 21-22, 2017, and all the information is at the Cadillac Area Artists' Association website at www.cadillacartists.org.
The Festival of the Arts is a key part of Cadillac's cultural scene, but there is more. The Cadillac Footliters Community Theater is in its 53rd year and going strong. At their www.cadillacfootliters.com website you can preview coming attractions, get ticket information, and find out about show times. The Cadillac Symphony Orchestra website (www.cadillacsymphony.org) has a calendar of their upcoming shows and a photo gallery of past performances.
If you want to find out about what's going on in downtown Cadillac and in the Lakeside District, the Downtown Cadillac Association's website at www.downtowncadillac.com coordinates events and promotions for those locales. A big part of the future of downtown Cadillac is the development of the Cadillac Commons, described on its www.cadillaccommons.com website as: “A collaboration between the City and community... (to make the) district into a year-round destination evoking all the historical charm and sophistication that makes Cadillac unique.” The current status and future plans are on this website.
What would Cadillac be without its lakes? To their credit and the community's benefit, the Lake Mitchell Improvement Board and the residents around Lake Mitchell are doing great work in helping to preserve this valuable resource. On www.lakemitchell.org, there is information about water quality, weed control, wildlife, and even fishing conditions for the day.
Of course, there are always those who strive to enrich the fabric of a community's life. Most of the time, these organizations and the people who work with them get little recognition. In Cadillac these include: the United Way of Wexford-Missaukee Counties (www.uwwexfordmissaukee.org), the Stehouwer Free Clinic (http://stehouwerfreeclinic.org), Wexford Habitiat for Humanity (http://wexfordhabitat.org/), and the Wexford County Council on Aging (http://wexfordcoa.org).
There are so many wonderful local website resources, I am sure I have failed to mention quite a few. This sampling, however, illustrates the point that although the Internet is vast it can also be local and specific. When it comes to information, there's nothing better than homegrown.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.