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A new statewide public notice website has been launched by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association to enhance government’s distribution of public information.

WisconsinPublicNotices.org is a free resource offering a direct link to public notices that are first published by the La Crosse Tribune and newspapers from around the state.

Tribune Executive Editor Chris Hardie, who also serves as secretary of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association executive board of directors, said the website is a natural extension of what newspapers have always done — keep the public informed.

“Newspapers have always operated with the presumption that democracy works best with an informed public,” Hardie said. “Making notices more accessible and searchable is very important.”

The site is a public service made possible by the newspapers of Wisconsin and was developed to assist citizens who want to know more about the actions of local, county and state government, as well as events occurring in the local and state court system.

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Notices are first published in newspapers and then placed on the site to offer enhancements such as statewide search and round-the-clock updates to online readers.

Content on the site is searchable by city, county, newspaper, zip code and key word. There is no cost to the public for accessing notices on the WisconsinPublicNotices.org website, and there is no added cost to units of government for placing the notices on the site.

Results of a September 2010 statewide Wisconsin Public Notice Readership Survey commissioned by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association indicated nearly 78 percent of residents believe state and local government should continue to be required to publish legal and public notices in newspapers on a regular basis.

“Wisconsin newspapers have always served as the independent, trusted conduit between government and its citizens,” association executive director Beth Bennett said. “The results of this survey clearly reflect Wisconsin residents’ desire for that relationship to continue.”

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