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Newton Falls City Council Meeting

Newton Falls – The first council meeting of 2011 ushered in the new year by bringing some old business from 2010 with it, literally. The December 20, 2010 meeting had been adjourned by a 3-2 vote in the middle of closing public comments because of the majority of council’s frustration over continual catcalls from the audience. Since then, Mayor Waddell, along with Law Director Fritz, examined Robert’s Rules of Order to find that such a move was not permissible according to the guidelines which council meetings are expected to follow. Specifically, an adjournment may not be passed while someone is at the podium, which was exactly the case at the last meeting. Due to this finding, the last meeting of 2010 was never officially adjourned, and thereby technically carried over into the start of this past Monday’s meeting.

All officials were present and after the Pledge of Allegiance Mayor Waddell explained to council that when obtaining public records they will now be expected to pay for the copies they request just as any other citizen would be required to do. This has been a free practice for council members in the past but the general public has always had to pay to offset the cost of the ink and paper used to duplicate the records and council should do likewise.

Councilman Luonuansuu questioned the listing on the agenda which addressed the abrupt, and now deemed unofficial, end to the previous meeting. After Mr. Waddell and Mr. Fritz explained how the discrepancy occurred (due to interrupting a member of the public who had been speaking at the time the motion had been made and passed), Councilwoman Johnson asked if council would have to continue putting up with “those clowns” from the audience (the small majority of people who continue to loudly voice their opinions from the podium) since council cannot adjourn at will to prevent someone from talking. The mayor responded by reminding all present that those members of the public who wish to attend the meetings in person as well as those seated on the council need to uphold a professional decorum while interacting at the open-forum business meeting.

Also to be noted is that the Board of Election is scheduled this week to review the signatures submitted in support of holding a recall election that could potentially remove Councilman Luonuansuu, the Ward 4 representative, from his position. If the paperwork is found sufficient, the election will be set in the near future. Mayor Waddell pointed out that February 8th has already been designated by another district for a special election and if Newton Falls also chooses this date it would save the city some money. He thereby recommended that date for the possible upcoming recall, but it will ultimately be up to council to decide when it should be scheduled.

The charity drawing winner this week is the NF Tiger Tattler.

During individual reports, the operation of the town’s tornado siren was addressed. It is the practice in Newton Falls to test the siren every Saturday. Some residents hearing the siren thought there was a real tornado approaching, but a reminder: if it’s a clear day and the siren goes off, and it happens to be a Saturday, and twelve-noon, don’t panic – chances are it’s just the test and citizens should not be concerned.

At the last meeting, it was requested of the City Manager that he explore the costs associated with bringing security to the community center during meetings. Mr. Haney presented his findings, stating that expenses could range from $300 for a security wand, plus $14-$36 per hour depending on which member of the police force would be standing guard, to $4,500 to install a walk-through security gate at the door. Another option is to relocate back to the city building and utilize the convenience of existing security facilities. This would require no new equipment and about $11 an hour for the established security guard at the building. Councilwoman Johnson opined that if the chairperson could control the public during the meetings, extra security would not be needed in the first place. “I hope you can conduct a meeting without any harassment,” she said, addressing the mayor. “It’s like those are the clowns and this is the circus.”

The Law Director’s report consisted of the fact that he’d worked thirteen hours this month, which would not require any overtime pay. Councilman Zamecnik requested a more itemized accounting of the law director’s billable hours. Councilman Luonuansuu made a motion to amend the minutes from the last meeting to include the two points-of-order that were called during closing public comments, those which had ultimately led to the abrupt adjournment.

Highlights of the rest of the meeting included the mayor pointing out that “there are many sections in Robert’s Rules of Order that give the chair the power to control the meeting” but he hadn’t wanted to be forced to use them. Citing that this meeting was technically considered part of 12-20-2010, the city manager showed a sense of humor by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In other business, the sign ordinance was revisited, prompting Councilman Zamecnik to point out that a small committee had been formed during a past Chamber Association meeting (the Rick, Rick, Rick and Jack mentioned in September’s Chamber report) to investigate the best options for this matter and he felt that pushing this through by council before the appointed group had a chance to do so was “haphazard.” Nonetheless, the ordinance passed 3-2.

Councilwoman Hoffman and Councilman Zamecnik moved to nominate Councilwoman Johnson for the vice-chair of council position for 2011. She declined, citing Councilman Monteville as a better choice. Hoffman and Zamecnik voted against that, but Johnson and Luonuansuu voted for it, with Monteville voting for himself and becoming the third in the 3-2 vote.

In other roles that needed filling for the new year, several committee positions had opened. One of them was filled by Phillip Beer, a Fourth Ward resident, who was appointed after Johnson and Monteville voted against him, and Hoffman and Zamecnik voted for him. Councilman Luonuansuu abstained from the vote due to the fact that Mr. Beer was responsible for circulating the recall petitions against him. Mayor Waddell broke the 2-2 tie in favor of Mr. Beer.

In response to the news that council members would be charged for public record copies, Councilman Monteville moved that the council member requesting a public record receive that copy for free, with stipulations for other members wishing to have that information. The motion passed 3-2.

In closing comments, Councilwoman Hoffman stated that “When you’re on council you have to listen to everyone, whatever they say, whether it’s good or bad.” Many who spoke at the podium are looking forward to a great and prosperous year for Newton Falls, but also acknowledged that it will require teamwork.

Mayor Waddell closed the meeting by thanking The Bridge, The Villager, and The Review in covering the meetings and reporting the news in a professional manner.

Due to the holiday, the next meeting will be on Tuesday, January 18th at 6pm.

Newton Falls – The first council meeting of 2011 ushered in the new year by bringing some old business from 2010 with it, literally. The December 20, 2010 meeting had been adjourned by a 3-2 vote in the middle of closing public comments because of the majority of council’s frustration over continual catcalls from the audience. Since then, Mayor Waddell, along with Law Director Fritz, examined Robert’s Rules of Order to find that such a move was not permissible according to the guidelines which council meetings are expected to follow. Specifically, an adjournment may not be passed while someone is at the podium, which was exactly the case at the last meeting. Due to this finding, the last meeting of 2010 was never officially adjourned, and thereby technically carried over into the start of this past Monday’s meeting.All officials were present and after the Pledge of Allegiance Mayor Waddell explained to council that when obtaining public records they will now be expected to pay for the copies they request just as any other citizen would be required to do. This has been a free practice for council members in the past but the general public has always had to pay to offset the cost of the ink and paper used to duplicate the records and council should do likewise.Councilman Luonuansuu questioned the listing on the agenda which addressed the abrupt, and now deemed unofficial, end to the previous meeting. After Mr. Waddell and Mr. Fritz explained how the discrepancy occurred (due to interrupting a member of the public who had been speaking at the time the motion had been made and passed), Councilwoman Johnson asked if council would have to continue putting up with “those clowns” from the audience (the small majority of people who continue to loudly voice their opinions from the podium) since council cannot adjourn at will to prevent someone from talking. The mayor responded by reminding all present that those members of the public who wish to attend the meetings in person as well as those seated on the council need to uphold a professional decorum while interacting at the open-forum business meeting.Also to be noted is that the Board of Election is scheduled this week to review the signatures submitted in support of holding a recall election that could potentially remove Councilman Luonuansuu, the Ward 4 representative, from his position. If the paperwork is found sufficient, the election will be set in the near future. Mayor Waddell pointed out that February 8th has already been designated by another district for a special election and if Newton Falls also chooses this date it would save the city some money. He thereby recommended that date for the possible upcoming recall, but it will ultimately be up to council to decide when it should be scheduled. The charity drawing winner this week is the NF Tiger Tattler.During individual reports, the operation of the town’s tornado siren was addressed. It is the practice in Newton Falls to test the siren every Saturday. Some residents hearing the siren thought there was a real tornado approaching, but a reminder: if it’s a clear day and the siren goes off, and it happens to be a Saturday, and twelve-noon, don’t panic – chances are it’s just the test and citizens should not be concerned.  At the last meeting, it was requested of the City Manager that he explore the costs associated with bringing security to the community center during meetings. Mr. Haney presented his findings, stating that expenses could range from $300 for a security wand, plus $14-$36 per hour depending on which member of the police force would be standing guard, to $4,500 to install a walk-through security gate at the door. Another option is to relocate back to the city building and utilize the convenience of existing security facilities. This would require no new equipment and about $11 an hour for the established security guard at the building. Councilwoman Johnson opined that if the chairperson could control the public during the meetings, extra security would not be needed in the first place. “I hope you can conduct a meeting without any harassment,” she said, addressing the mayor. “It’s like those are the clowns and this is the circus.”The Law Director’s report consisted of the fact that he’d worked thirteen hours this month, which would not require any overtime pay. Councilman Zamecnik requested a more itemized accounting of the law director’s billable hours. Councilman Luonuansuu made a motion to amend the minutes from the last meeting to include the two points-of-order that were called during closing public comments, those which had ultimately led to the abrupt adjournment.Highlights of the rest of the meeting included the mayor pointing out that “there are many sections in Robert’s Rules of Order that give the chair the power to control the meeting” but he hadn’t wanted to be forced to use them. Citing that this meeting was technically considered part of 12-20-2010, the city manager showed a sense of humor by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In other business, the sign ordinance was revisited, prompting Councilman Zamecnik to point out that a small committee had been formed during a past Chamber Association meeting (the Rick, Rick, Rick and Jack mentioned in September’s Chamber report) to investigate the best options for this matter and he felt that pushing this through by council before the appointed group had a chance to do so was “haphazard.” Nonetheless, the ordinance passed 3-2. Councilwoman Hoffman and Councilman Zamecnik moved to nominate Councilwoman Johnson for the vice-chair of council position for 2011. She declined, citing Councilman Monteville as a better choice. Hoffman and Zamecnik voted against that, but Johnson and Luonuansuu voted for it, with Monteville voting for himself and becoming the third in the 3-2 vote.In other roles that needed filling for the new year, several committee positions had opened. One of them was filled by Phillip Beer, a Fourth Ward resident, who was appointed after Johnson and Monteville voted against him, and Hoffman and Zamecnik voted for him. Councilman Luonuansuu abstained from the vote due to the fact that Mr. Beer was responsible for circulating the recall petitions against him. Mayor Waddell broke the 2-2 tie in favor of Mr. Beer.In response to the news that council members would be charged for public record copies, Councilman Monteville moved that the council member requesting a public record receive that copy for free, with stipulations for other members wishing to have that information. The motion passed 3-2.In closing comments, Councilwoman Hoffman stated that “When you’re on council you have to listen to everyone, whatever they say, whether it’s good or bad.” Many who spoke at the podium are looking forward to a great and prosperous year for Newton Falls, but also acknowledged that it will require teamwork.Mayor Waddell closed the meeting by thanking The Bridge, The Villager, and The Review in covering the meetings and reporting the news in a professional manner.Due to the holiday, the next meeting will be on Tuesday, January 18th at 6pm.

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