Newton Falls – Opinions were made known at Monday’s council meeting, the first open forum since the efforts to recall current mayor Patrick Layshock were successful at the recent polls.
All council members were present as well as the city manager, city clerk, and the new law director, but the mayor himself was absent at what is, schedule wise, the last council meeting before he will step down from office.
An ample audience filled the community center seats with many members of the public and several media outlets represented. The November 1st meeting had been cancelled due to not enough council members attending, so at this gathering there was a lot to cover.
In the mayor’s stead, Councilman Richard Monteville served as chairperson for the evening and officially welcomed Mr. Joseph Fritz as the city’s new law director. Though Mr. Finamore’s services as an interim law advisor were appreciated, Mr. Monteville mentioned it is good to finally have a permanent person in the position.
Special guests: Starting off the evening were Dan Tietz for the Western Trumbull Comprehensive Plan, and Captain Joe Marhulik of the Warren City Police Department, the latter discussed the OVI Task Force in hopes of bringing Newton Falls onboard. Newton Falls City did not participate in the Task Force last year and Captain Marhulik came to ask Chief Kuivila and council if they would be interested this year. The OVI Task Force organizes traffic blitzes and sobriety checkpoints, just to name a few of the efforts to keep residents safe. Later in the meeting, the motion to support this proposal was defeated by council. In the discussion, Mr. Monteville stated that although he, of course, does not condone drunk driving, he expressed that he is personally against participating in the Task Force, citing that the checkpoints are an “infringement upon civil liberties” and he did not wish to bring that upon the citizens of Newton Falls. Chief Kuivila pointed out, however, that opting out of participation does not prevent the Task Force from setting up checkpoints in Newton Falls, it merely means NF officers will not be the ones conducting such checkpoints.
In other news to help keep residents safe: the Newton Falls Fire Department is offering smoke detectors free of charge – stop by while supplies last. The NFFD is also hosting the Annual Turkey Raffle this Friday, November 19th at 7pm at the station. Sure to be a fun evening, public is invited to take a chance on several turkeys and door prizes. (It would be a good opportunity to pick up your smoke detector while you’re there!)
More holiday goings-on: An announcement was made reminding all about free Thanksgiving Dinner at the American Legion on November 25th from 11:30-12:30. Volunteers willing to help out would be appreciated.
Home 44444 the Holidays planning is going well. A motion was passed allocating $450 from the Parks & Recreation fund to be donated for decorating the giant tree to be placed at Four Corners Park.
The Church Mouse and the Brew Basket are sponsoring a take -home-a-backpack program. The rough details supplied mentioned taking a backpack, filling it with food and school items, and sending it home with a local child in need. The backpack would then be returned for the process all over again for another child. For specific details about this effort, stop by the Church Mouse or the Brew Basket.
Other items on the agenda included trying to change the scheduling of the budget meetings, currently held at 9am. After much discussion and attempting to find a date/time that works for everyone involved, it was settled on 2pm on the 29th and 30th, though that still is not a perfect solution for what has proven to be a challenging situation. Another challenging situation continues to be the acoustics in the community center. A better and more effective sound system is still in the works with a financial estimate having been prepared for about $2700 – but that is only the first installment. Further costs will be identified as the specific needs of the space are discussed.
Mr. Fritz expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be Law Director of Newton Falls and is looking forward to representing the interests of the city.
Last but not least, a proclamation of appreciation was read into record for the Make a Difference Day efforts of the volunteers who took time out of their busy schedules to beautify the Veterans’ Park and the area around the namesake waterfalls. Clean up will stillcontinue and future fundraisers are being planned to support the upkeep.
Public comments touched on many of the topics on the agenda including varied stances regarding the possible involvement of Newton Falls in the Task Force; concern over spending more money on a new sound system when the chambers in the courthouse are already equipped with a system in good working order, installed specifically for council use, that is now effectively going to waste; and extending votes of thankfulness for the men and women who work hard to help make a difference in various capacities in the community.
The next meeting is December 6th at 6pm. As always, public is invited to attend.