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City turns to Web social networks

City turns to Web social networks

After Saturday’s rain ruined plans for Make a Difference Day, city officials used Facebook to spread

After Saturday’s rain ruined plans for Make a Difference Day, city officials used Facebook to spread the message about the cancellation and date change.

City officials are using social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to communicate with residents.

Mayor Ann Thane said the city has had a Facebook site for awhile, but her new confidential aide, Thom Georgia, has taken an active role in the site. In less than a week the page had 400 new fans, and residents are using it to advertise their businesses, ask questions about government and generally support each other.

Thane said she thinks the city’s Facebook page shows “a very interesting snapshot of your community every day.

“What’s exciting to me is we’re getting young people commenting. Juniors and seniors in high school are talking about their ideas for the city. How exciting is that?” Thane said. “They are the ones who are going to be inheriting this place, and it’s inspiring to me that they would get involved.”

Comments on the page are also coming from former residents who currently live outside the city and are thinking of coming back.

Thane has kept a blog since nearly the start of her term in which she writes about things happening in city government and offers insights into her life. But she said the readership isn’t strong, whereas on Facebook she thinks she can connect to more people. As of Sunday afternoon the page had 630 fans.

“It’s a really fascinating way to spread information,” she said.

Residents use the site to advertise their private businesses, like Kyle’s Bounce Rentals, and publicize community events, such as the Elk’s-sponsored Halloween Parade Saturday afternoon.

Community events like Make a Difference Day are publicized on the city’s Facebook page, and Thane said the event Sunday was a large success. Pictures were up on the site Sunday afternoon.

“We really did make a difference,” she said. “It was amazing. People were just digging and chopping and wheelbarrowing at both sides of the city.”

Both entrances to the city were spruced up, Thane said.

Volunteers on the East End planted 500 daffodil and tulip bulbs. Thane said the Amsterdam Police Explorers and students in the Youth in Construction Program volunteered in the East End cleanup efforts.

They planted flowers and picked up litter along East Main Street.

On the West Side, about 14 volunteers dug out about half a mile of sidewalk along Route 5.

“I didn’t even know there was a sidewalk there,” Thane said.

“It was buried in about four inches of dirt and roots and weeds and litter.”

More work to clean up the East End entrance is already scheduled. About 18 arborvitae are scheduled to be planted to shield the Department of Public Works garage from view, and a fence is supposed to be built in the spring.

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