By Ron VandenBoom
Its been about a year since I last took a look at Montana and some of the sites that are of particular interest to those who want to know whats going on in their own back yard. So I thought it might be a good time to see what has changed.
The first thing I noticed was that there were a lot more sites being listed in guides that link to specific sites of interest. While still a growing industry, it is a feature that didnt exist two years ago and was very limited even last year.
One of the best I found is simply called Montana Sites and it is located at www.billings-biz.com.
It may not be the biggest site of this type for Montana information, although Ive yet to find any that are larger, but it is one of the best laid out and indexed.
It has links to schools, points of interest, I.S.P.s, weather, community websites, government sites, and media sites. For interest, it has added a Today In History link, a Montana Chat room, and links to Montana classifieds and Montana auctions. It did not have links to the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Center or to The Havre Daily News. Steps have been taken to fix at least the latter of these booboos.
Whats best about the site is the site provides a quick link to most of what tourists, those relocating to Montana, or even Montanans, would want to know.
The Points of Interest links lead to such interesting sites as Zoo Montana, Yellowstone Net, and Montana Pets. The Maps of Montana link did not work when I visited, but the idea is good if they ever get it fixed.
The Montana State Library - Montana Links site located at http://msl.mt.gov/slr/mtlinks.html, will offer 41 links to sites throughout Montana with the top section leading to medical libraries, hospitals and treatment centers.
The site is little more than a listing of direct links to things like Montana National Forests, Virginia City, (a much improved site), and individual communities.
It is a small site with only 41 listings, but still worth taking a look at.
Again, however, while Glasgow, Fort Benton, Billings, and Lewistown make the list of links, Havre is no place to be found.
The Search Montana Website at www.montanacyberzine.com/search.htm will give surfers unlimited possibilities. It could well be the largest database of links in the state.
Unlike the other two sites, search Montana offers a search engine that responds to key words that can save the surfer a lot of time. It sure beats cruising long lists of sites, many of which have little or no description.
Visitors will note that The Havre Daily News does appear at the top of the list when you type Havre into the search engine.
If, while researching this article, I learned anything valuable at all, it was that these sites and many more could give major economic and educational exposure to Havre, and Havre, much to its chagrin, has done little or nothing to put itself on the cyber-map.
Communities much smaller than Havre have their chamber of commerce listed over the Internet. While Havres chamber does have a website, it is not listed in directories inside Montana.
The Heritage Center, which provides tourist information on Havre and the Hi-Line through its Website, is not listed in any of the search engines I visited.
These sites will not come to you. You have to let them know you exist.
The tourist season is upon us and it would appear that a free and valuable resource is being ignored.
Come on team find out who out there will list your site and tell them to get Havre on the map. All it takes is an e-mail to reach hundreds of people with your message.