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Newton Falls – Monday night’s council meeting explored changes for the coming new year as the main topic of conversation.
All officials were present and the floor of the forum was immediately turned over to two guest speakers. After the special presentation about city water usage concluded, local Police Chief John Kuivila addressed concerns over the proposed budget cuts for 2011 and how they may affect the dispatch methods in Newton Falls. “If it were up to me, I would love to keep our dispatch center,” he said. “It’s a costly thing, but very beneficial.” He acknowledged that the budget cuts would have an effect on every aspect of the department in one way or another. The specifics of just how the police department is going to operate with the tighter financial limits are still being determined, but keeping the personnel intact is the priority.
After the public had their chance for opening comments, the mayor gave his report, mentioning updates such as the success of the recent Shop with a Cop program during which area officers helped local children have a chance for a happy holiday; commenting on the importance of going through proper committee channels in the new year; and supporting a motion to start off 2011 on the right foot by enstating an employee recognition program as early as January. Mayor Waddell also announced that the charity beneficiary from the last meeting was the Shop with a Cop program, with this week’s random draw contribution going to the Newton Falls Elementary ABC Club. Having an opportunity to officiate his first wedding this past weekend, the recently-inaugurated mayor received a gratitude donation from the couple – he will be paying forward that $50 to the NFHS Technology Club.
By way of individual reports from council members, Councilman Zamecnik welcomed new business, Cubs Corners, a children’s clothing consignment and resale shop, to 26 W. Broad Street. The City Manager mentioned the large crowd that came out to support the Home 44444 the Holidays (- the Fill-a-Bus effort was very much a success as well -) and revealed that some lucky area children will be getting personal phone calls from Santa soon! He also mentioned, on a sad note, that Carl Byer, Jr., who had run the Car Show in town, passed away suddenly; condolences to Mr. Byer’s family.
After the law director’s report, Councilman Monteville immediately made the motion to adjourn into an executive session to discuss pending litigation, in response to a request by Mr. Fritz to do so at some point in the evening.
Highlights of the rest of the meeting included passing an amendment to legislation about the sign regulations. Several weeks ago there had been discussion concerning the posting of signs in town with goodwill messages and the thought that there should be leniency in the existing laws in order to allow such messages to remain. Most notably, the yellow temporary sign utilized by the Chamber of Commerce was specifically referenced, though the conversation pertained to any non-profit entity who wished to express congratulations, encouragement, and other similarly happy communications. There was a bit of confusion at the table over the exact alterations of the verbiage, especially pertaining to the section about political signs, and as a result in the end the ordinance was passed 3-2.
The proclamation of appreciation mentioned at the last meeting was indeed brought to tonight’s agenda, officially thanking the members of the police department who played a part in saving the life of a local man on November 22nd utilizing the AED equipment provided to the department.
In new business, Councilwoman Hoffman made a motion to put security in the community center during council meetings, stating that she was beginning to feel unsafe with the intensity of the recent arguments and citing the unguarded, off-the-street accessibility of the meetingplace as a situation that needed to be remedied. The official motion passed  to have Mr. Haney look into how much it would cost for a security person to be posted at the door during meetings and to report back his findings.
In reaction to continual catcalls from the audience during closing public comments, Councilman Luonuansuu made a motion in the middle of the segment to immediately adjourn the meeting. This would effectively deny anyone else who wished to speak their chance to be heard. The motion passed,  3-2. The next opportunity will be in 2011. Many who did stand at the podium wished a safe and happy holiday to all.

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