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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Website links 'surfers' to New Madrid

Monday, March 18, 2002

TOLEDO, Ohio - It was boredom and a bit of nostalgia that sent Richard Jones searching the Internet for information about New Madrid, Mo.

That search led him to create a unique tribute to his boyhood home - a Website devoted to the community, its residents and its history. Jones, who prefers his name written richard ("ricky") jones, is the creator of New Madrid Online at www.geocities.com/newmadridonline.

It was two years ago, jones said, when he sat down at his computer during an idle moment and started searching for information on the town that was his home from 1968 to 1979.

"I was impressed enough by what I was discovering that I wanted to organize and share the information with others," recalled jones in an email interview. "So I came up with the idea of New Madrid Online, a Website featuring comprehensive links to information about the town and its people."

An IT support specialist since 1998 with extensive experience as a Webmaster, jones began a search for online resources on or about Madrid or someone from New Madrid. He estimated it took him about three days to prepare the site for public viewing.

The hardest part about creating the site, he said, was avoiding links to Madrid, Spain. But there were plenty of links to New Madrid available and an array of information.

"I was surprised to learn that Mark Twain mentions New Madrid in his travelogue 'Life on the Mississippi'," said jones, who added with a grin: "I was disappointed to learn that he was not impressed."

Twain might be more impressed by the town after seeing jones' Website. From New Madrid Online are links to schools, businesses, the City of New Madrid and articles on earthquakes. He has links on government, tourism, religion and even for youngsters.

According to jones, the feedback he has received from the site is all positive. Some who contact him offer suggestions while others submit links they would like included.

He explained his goal was to provide some important and useful information for those searching the World Wide Web for New Madrid. "If they live or have lived in New Madrid, I hope to give them a sense of pride," said jones. "Or a desire to visit as tourists or prospective residents."

New Madrid Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Palmer is pleased with the look of the site. "I think it will be beneficial," she said. "Hopefully people will browse and see something like that and will browse further"

The site creator continues to work on his New Madrid Online site, adding links and further refinements. As part of his effort, jones said he is adding most of its links to the Hyperlink http://www.dmoz.org.

Also he is the new editor of the open director project's regional category for New Madrid. "The latter development is significant because ODP is the most widely distributed database of Web content classified by humans, which means this will be the first time New Madrid has had extensive representation in a premier Web directory," jones said.

With relatives, including his father, still living in New Madrid, jones said he hopes to visit the community again some day, not just online. "My desire to return home for a visit is greater than it has ever been, but I'm not sure when my schedule will permit this. For now, I'd be delighted to hear from hometown folk more often than I do," jones said.

In the meantime, when not working on the Website, he keeps busy as the minister of music for a Toledo congregation.

"I spend time with family and friends, read intellectually stimulating writing and fulfill speaking engagements as an ordained Christian minister," he said. "And I look for as many reasons as I can possibly find to laugh as often and hard as I can."