KNIGHTSEN -- The only website dedicated to the community of Knightsen has gone dark. Knightsen.net is no more, following the town advisory council's recent decision to discontinue all affiliation with the site, operated since the mid-1990s by a former council member.
Although the vote was unanimous, the five members on the council had differing reasons for their votes.
Former advisory council member John Gonzales created and ran Knightsen.net. Through the site he interacted with people interested in local real estate and schools, and answered questions about town history. The site also had links to every government agency and elected politician connected to the 1,100-resident community.
Gonzales quit the council in 2008, but continued to maintain the site for the council, which had more than 6,000 hits over a 12-month period between 2009 and 2010, he said.
"That's pretty good for a community of our size," he said.
In 2010, several members of the advisory council left and were not replaced. Eventually county supervisors voted to hand over council duties to the Knightsen Community Services District board, which now meets separately as the town council.
In the seven months the council did not meet, the website bill continued to increase.
Gonzales said as of Dec. 1, KTAC owes about $160 to pay the website's hosting company for last year's bill.
He said he has sent several letters to Supervisor Mary Piepho's office and to KTAC Chairwoman Linda Weekes informing them that the bill was past due and needed to be paid. Gonzales has been receiving delinquency bills for KTAC's website and has been forwarding those bills to both Peipho and Weekes for more than a year, he said.
Piepho said the county has no intention of paying the bill because she says there was never any formal contract. Gonzales could have shut the site down at any time, she said.
"The website wasn't set up by a government agency," she said. "It was set up by an individual. It's never been a CSD or (Knightsen Town Advisory Council) account."
Knightsen Community Service District board member Mike Walko said he had never used the website and did not think it was important to the community.
"I didn't even realize it existed until the issue of the bill came up," he said. "The bill came due and we decided, 'Why keep using it if we're not getting any use of it?' "
Weekes said she had asked Gonzales for more than a year to post advisory council agendas and other notices on the site, a claim that Gonzales denies.
Instead of focusing on posting meeting documents, Gonzales concentrated on the historical pages, she said.
"It had stuff on there that was not pertinent to the community service district," Weekes said. "We don't have the time to delve into that (historical material)."
Piepho agreed with Weekes and added that no government official had access to the website after Gonzales left the advisory committee. Gonzales, however, said he gave Weekes access to the site.
Service district board member Al Simas said the district did not have the resources available to maintain a website, which many in the community would never use.
"I don't know how many people read it here," he said. "A lot of people here aren't Internet-literate, myself included."
While Simas said putting Knightsen's historical blueprint online was not the district's responsibility, Gonzales was welcome to run Knightsen.net privately.
"John has always done a good job with the historical-type issues," Simas said. "Without him a lot of the history might be forgotten."
But, as KTAC continues to own the domain name, knightsen.net, for the next three years, Gonzales says he could not legally continue the website on his own.
Community service district board member Jan Brown said the board will consider other options about having an online presence.
"We'll probably get a Facebook page just like everyone else," she said.
Contact Roman Gokhman at 925-779-7189. Follow him at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.