Joshua Tree Star web site featured in local newspaper
By Jimmy Biggerstaff - Hi-Desert Star
JOSHUA TREE — What started as an Internet repository for wildlife imagery is morphing into an information site for local tourists.
Bill Ford manages Joshua Tree Star.com and is creating a website directory for visitors to the Monongo Basin, offering maps, directions, hours of operation, phone numbers and hyper linked data.
People who visit the area and get a flat tire, have a sick pet, need a hairdresser, a pizza or a particular medication or want to visit a museum will be able to find what they’re looking for on the site.
Ford has created 41 categories of goods and services, along with graphic banners that will lead visitors to the appropriate information. He is surprised by how popular the site has already become registering 88,000 page hits and 900 unique visits last month [October 2011].
One spike in site visits came during an on-line discussion about a proposed Indian casino in Joshua Tree. Ford does not intend to manage a blog and political or religious discussions are off limits.
Ford is still a relative novice to website design, although he has been working with computers ever since they became available to the public [in the late 70s]. Before that, he started and sold an electronics hobbyist-oriented magazine.
Joshua Tree Star dot com is taking shape near the northern border of the [Joshua Tree] national park, east of downtown, in a U-shaped workspace supporting three computer screens displaying screensavers of Ford’s wildlife photography, the original inspiration for the website.
Ford’s “hired help” are a rescued Chihuahua/Terrier mix, “Cosa”, and “Youngus” the rescued tortoise. Frequent visitors include roadrunners, quail, cottontails and ground squirrels, and the occasional snake. All become muses for this wildlife photography hobby.
The website founder’s formal education is limited to high school and some college-level vocational courses. Nevertheless, he is a wealth of knowledge across a wide spectrum of subjects from astronomy to xeriscaping.
The corrections officer possesses an insatiable curiosity and has a varied resume including single-engine pilot, ballroom dance instructor, amateur radio operator and wedding photography.
He has lived in Joshua Tree for seven years, relocating from the Ontario area.
After several attempts to find an unused [website] name about three years ago, Ford was stargazing one night, came up with Joshua Tree Star, found the name had not been taken and registered it.
Investments in the visitor information project so far have been some software and domain name costs and a few extra bucks on the electric bill.
“I’ve got lots of time invested,” Ford points out, “but I’m retired.”
The site does not now contain commercial advertising but may consider accepting ads in the future.
“I wouldn’t mind having a little extra income to offset my costs, “Ford said with the simple shrug of a person who has found something he enjoys doing, and is happy to share the results of his effort with whoever cares to visit his website.” (end quote). . . .
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