New Lehi Facebook page gives residents direct line to city

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Lehi City created a Facebook page to invite community members to ask questions directly to the city. (Photo courtesy of Lehi City Chat Facebook)

Want to know what’s happening at what used to be a horse pasture in Lehi? Wondering why your road is torn up? Are you looking for more information about a Lehi event? The city recently started a new Facebook page where residents can ask these kinds of questions and more, and get answers directly from city officials — Lehi City Chat.

“We’re finding better ways to engage the public,” said Cameron Boyle, city spokesman.

Sure, the city’s had a Facebook page for a long time, but only the city could create posts there. Others could just comment. Because of that, conversations often turned to something unrelated to the original post, Boyle said. For example, the city would make a post about a power outage or event. And then the commenters would turn the conversation to traffic issues or something else unrelated because it was the only way to engage with city officials on the social media platform.

“On our page they can’t create their own post and start their own conversation,” he said. … “They had to use what was already there.”

Another issue was residents were asking questions about issues in the city and directing comments at city officials on Lehi-centered Facebook pages. But the city doesn’t own or monitor those pages, he said.

“We created this as an opportunity to get direct answers from the city, and an official response,” Boyle said.

“We created this as an opportunity to get direct answers from the city, and an official response.” — Cameron Boyle, Lehi City spokesman

The city’s public relations staff monitors the page during business hours, Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Elected officials and admins from the city’s other official pages — fire, police, Legacy Center, literacy center and library — also monitor and respond to comments.

For example, a resident asked a question on Wednesday about a development. A few minutes later, City Councilman Johnny Revill answered, and continued responding to follow-up questions. Other recent posts are about crossing guards for Skyridge High School, a right-turn lane onto I-15 at the Main Street interchange and trick-or-treating at Main Street businesses.

“This is exactly what we were hoping it would turn into,” Boyle said. … “We get people answers directly, and they make us aware of issues.”

Anyone can see the posts on the page, but you must be a member of the group to comment. As of Thursday, more than 630 people had joined the group. The city has posted its social media agreement at the top of the page. It requires that members adhere to the policy.

Boyle said the page is giving the city an opportunity to have conversations with residents in a “more modern way.”

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Amie Rose has more than 14 years of experience writing and editing at newspapers in Utah and New Mexico. She graduated from BYU with a degree in journalism. She lives in Utah Valley with her husband, toddler and crazy dog.

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