Newton Township – Last week a train going through Newton Falls at about 7:00 in the early morning went off its track as it passed through the heart of the town. Approximately twelve hours later, half past 7:00pm, emergency responders had the wreckage under control and the town attempted to bring back what sense of normalcy it could to the day. The Newton Township Trustees held their monthly meeting in their usual building within a stone’s throw of where the back dozen or so train cars sat in unmoving silence, waiting for their fallen counterparts to be cleared from the center of the town.

All trustees were present for the meeting, with Kathy King filling in for Ella Johnson. No guests were on the agenda for the evening so business moved on to the usual reports: sheriff, zoning, financial, and cemetery. Highlights mentioned: the budget needs to be tightened as much as possible; a parcel of land may be  donated to the township; and they are looking into the potential for life and disability insurance.

From the trustee reports, Mr. Nemet announced that the April 16th Spring Clean-up will be combining with the NFJFD who is organizing a professional shredding company to come to the event. This will cost the sponsors about $250 for the service, but it will be free for the public to come and have their paperwork shredded. In order to have your documents shredded, it is requested that you bring a canned good or other non-perishable item that will be sorted into Easter baskets for needy families. The fire department is contributing Easter hams for the baskets and will be putting it all together on Monday the 18th, just in time to be distributed for the holiday.

In other news, a deed dating back to 1918 has been located and transferred for the property at 55 E. Broad Street.

Mr. Augusta noted that Friday, April 8th is the deadline for ordering seedling trees. Contact the township ASAP if you are interested in placing an order. Liberty Township is presenting “Gasland,” a Sundance Film Festival movie on March 31st. Since that event is now over at press time, if anyone is interested in learning about oil drilling and the effects of fracking, stay tuned for other local showings. He also mentioned that the short term and long-term insurance will be putting a cap on how many “sick days” an employee can accrue at a given time.

The trustees are planning a work session for April 9th during which they will discuss cemetery regulations, the long- and short- term insurance, and the employee handbook.

Mr. Page relayed the results in regards to the questions he posed to Atty. Finamore in response to public concerns discussed at last month’s meeting. The first question asked was “Do we have the opportunity to get out of the (comprehensive) plan if we decide it is not right for us?” The answer from Atty. Finamore was “Absolutely.” The second question was “Are we obligated in whole or in part to accept everything in the Plan?”  The answer was “No.” The third question was “Does the plan set any law?” Once again, the answer was “No.” Mr. Page compared it, in layman’s terms, to going to a library where many options are offered and picking and choosing which books you want to read. Just because the books are there doesn’t mean you are forced to read every one of them, they are merely presented as suggestions. In the end, it is up to the reader to choose the content they want to be involved in. He continued to explain that the purpose of the township’s consideration of being involved in the plan is to strive to bring business into the community. The conservation/ wetlands aspect of the Plan itself consists of merely suggestions for areas best suited to be conservation land. Reassuring property owners that the township will not confiscate their land based on the suggestions of the Plan, Mr. Page went on to say that involvement in the Plan does not mean the township will automatically turn the suggested properties into such designated areas. Further discussion about this issue will continue at a future regular meeting.

In other business, a motion was made for a resolution to vacate Erie Avenue, the strip of road between Newton Falls-Bailey Road and Arch Street, which currently divides two parcels of township-owned property. This resolution would dissolve the existing road designation and meld the two parcels into one lot. The motion passed unanimously.

New business included discussion about having homeowners pay for slag and gravel when filling in ditches with ditch-pipe and dirt. The past practice years ago was to give the homeowners the first load free, but then the homeowner would pay for any additional desired fill. This topic will also be discussed further in the future. A motion to buy a new power washer not to exceed $400 passed as well.

In closing remarks, Mr. Nemet requested of the Trustees to split the cost of the Easter hams with the fire department. Also, the township is considering ideas for “In Memory Of” landscaping ornamentation that residents can purchase for placement around town similar to the benches throughout the main village, but something that would instead be maintenance-free.

The next regular meeting will be April 25th.