Readying for launch

‘Slick’ new county website to offer mapping, property search features

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS A new website for Marshall County was demonstrated Tuesday in the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting room in the Marshall County Courthouse. Schneider Corporation Executive Vice President of GIS and Marketing Jeff Corns, right, and Business Development Manager Ryan Smith, sitting, spoke about the new website’s property search and mapping features. Corns is a Marshalltown native, and said he was excited to bring the product to his home area.

“It’s about modernizing local government.”

Ryan Smith, a business development manager for the Schneider Corporation, said he is excited for the launch of a new website, called Beacon, in Marshall County.

“It’s a property information site, it’s a land records site; it pulls from different data sources from different departments within the county,” he said of Beacon. “All the data we display is all publicly-available data … everything you’re looking at is items that you could traditionally go down to the courthouse and ask for.”

During a live demonstration at the Marshall County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon, Smith showed off many of the features Beacon offers to a small audience of county employees, interested business people and county residents.

He said Beacon is used in over 70 counties in Iowa, and about 600 counties nationwide.

“I’ve used it before, I’m a former customer of theirs, when I worked in Hardin County, and it’s a slick little product,” said Marshall County Information Technology Director James Nehring.

He said several features on the website will be useful to county residents and businesses, as well as people looking to live or do business to the county.

“One part of it is real estate research; you want to go look up a property, and you want to learn about … when it was built, the generic assessment information, the property taxes that are on it, the ownership information, that parcel information,” Nehring said. “Another feature that we’re looking to really, really emphasize on it is the mapping component of it; we want you to be able to go to a website that has a map of Marshall County with a very feature-rich interface.”

The website’s map features tools to look up political subdivisions, property tax information, valuations, recent property sales, soil reports, bike paths, bridges, zones, culverts and more.

Despite the new website being implemented, Nehring said an existing property search website, called Wedge, will still be available to users.

“A number of people have gotten used to it, and I certainly don’t want to pull the rug out from underneath anyone; there may be features that Wedge has that Beacon may not have, and vice-versa,” he said, adding Wedge has been in place for about three years. “We want to be able to run these two products in tandem, and let the user decide which tool works best for them.”

Nehring added the developer of Wedge, DevNet Inc., is set to upgrade the website in the near future.

While the Schneider Corporation is based in Indianapolis, Ind., it has a connection to Marshalltown.

“We work with local governments across the country, but it’s always special to work with your hometown, and it’s really nice,” said Marshalltown native and Schneider Corporation Executive Vice President of GIS and Marketing Jeff Corns, who was at Tuesday’s live demos. “That’s why I came back to help with this launch.”

He said Beacon will prove useful to those living in and wanting to come to Marshall County.

“It’s a pretty powerful tool that’s used in a lot of surrounding counties already,” Corns said. “A lot of people involved in land transfers are probably using Beacon already in Jasper County, or Story County, so they’re going to like that consistent user experience.”

On Tuesday, Smith said the Marshall County Beacon site is not yet open to the public, adding the website could be available sometime this week.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com