MASON CITY | Colleen Devine, executive director of Main Street Mason City, said Wednesday there was no way she was going to pay ransom for her website.

So the organization has a brand new one: www.mainstreetmasoncity.com.

It had operated for years with the same name except as a domain designated for non-profits — with ".org" at the end of it.

Then, a strange development occurred.

"During the interim period when there was no full-time director, the domain registration expired," said Devine, who has been at the helm for a little more than a year.

"We discovered that the registration had been picked up by someone on the East Coast who was using it," she said. "When we contacted him, he offered to sell it back to us which we weren't about to do. Ransom? No way," Devine said.

She did not say how much the person wanted in "ransom money."

A logical question is: Why would anyone on the East Coast want a Main Street Mason City domain?

Devine thinks the culprit probably latches onto expired domains from all over the country with the intent of selling them back to the original users.

The old website still exists, full of advertisements but with no obvious theme. 

As for Main Street Mason City, it is business as usual with the new website — and business is good, Devine said.

The last two "Friday Night Live" events have drawn thousands of people downtown. The next big attraction is the Great River City Festival on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16, which will feature the annual re-enactment of the John Dillinger robbery of the First National Bank.

On Friday, Sept. 15, Main Street Mason City will partner with the North Iowa Diversity Appreciation Team in putting on the 14th Annual Ethnic Lunch featuring foods from many different cultures. 

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