Local lawyer maintains tourist web-sites

By KYLE LOVERN Daily News Staff

    WILLIAMSON ó Tourists from all over the world can link up with local internet sites thanks to Williamson Attorney Robert Carlton.
    Carlton, who is also the current vice president of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce, has built and maintains several web-sites that promote the region.
    "I took a weekend class at the community college (SWVCTC) from an instructor who taught web page development," Carlton said. "That gave me the basic information on how to create a web page."
    Carltonís wife Karen arranged for the class, she is the Director of Community Services at the local college.
    "I realized the county and most of our cities did not have a web-site to promote tourism," the civic minded Carlton said. "I started with a Williamson page. I began to put that together, it was my first experiment."
    Carlton grew up in Williamson, attended local schools and has his business here. So he had a lot of basic information and pictures to start his first web-site. "I contracted with a local company to provide me with a server."
    From that point he developed a home page for his church, the First Baptist Church of Williamson.
    "Itís my hobby and I enjoy it," Carlton said. His hobby has lead to bigger and better things for the area. He continues to update the sites, and provides links with other tourism, county and municipal sites in the region.
    "My ultimate goal was to support tourism," he said. "A web-site is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a great advertising tool."
    "Hopefully it will encourage people to visit our area, and lets them know what to expect," Carlton said. "We needed a portal for this area to connect all the links together."
    Not only does Carlton have local photographs on his site, he can now provide videos. He has 60-second type clips of certain events and he has put together a library of information.
    He also has developed a site in which his church broadcasts its services live on the internet.
    He recently went to his daughterís house in Charlotte, North Carolina for Thanksgiving and was able to watch a Sunday morning service live via the web-site. This has been up and going for about six months.
    "This is good for people who have moved from the area and still want to watch services," Carlton added. "They can stay in touch with the area."
    The local Mingo County sites link with towns such as Delbarton, Kermit, Matewan and Gilbert as-well-as the chamber, Hatfield McCoy Trail system, and many others.
    "This is like a permanent brochure for the area," he said. Through trial and error, and a lot of feedback, Carlton has continued to improve the internet links.
    "I try to maintain them, and itís no small task, and can be time consuming," Carlton said. Some of the web-sites are www.tugvalley.us, www.mingocountywestvirginia.us and www.williamsonwestvirginia.us. These sites will show links to other regional internet hook-ups.
    The community minded attorney provides these services at no charge and during his own spare time. He is a true civic leader for Williamson and Mingo County.