Newton Falls – Residents of Newton Falls and recent visitors to the small town may have noticed a lot more orange and black than usual and it’s not because locals are getting into the school spirit a month early. Summer may be almost over, which means football season is right around the corner, but there’s a different reason for the presence of all the extra additions to the color palette: construction, construction and more construction!

Photo: Mialie T. Szymanski

As much as driving through, or completely around, construction can be a well-known hassle, in general construction, construction and more construction is intended to equal improvement, improvement and more improvement, and in this case the end result should be just that.

So, when all the dust settles, what can we expect to see? There are three major projects going on right in the main part of town. First of all, the fire department has been busily remodeling the building across from Arby’s where they used to store extra fire trucks and turning it into a fully operational second fire station. Station #2 is very nearly complete and will feature a live-in environment including kitchen, bathroom with shower, sleeping quarters, common area, and offices for the duty crew. The upgrade was made possible in part by a generous donation of $100,000 from the American Legion Post 236 in Newton Falls. The new facility, which will also house an ambulance, a rescue squad and a fire engine, will be up and running soon!

For another means of improving the safety of the town’s residents and also helping to aid the first-responders in doing their jobs, one only needs to look to the intersections throughout town to see a second project under development. A new traffic light system is being installed at the major intersections throughout the town. Provided by a grant, this more high-tech system will, among other things, be sensitive to the needs of approaching emergency vehicles by recognizing special receivers placed within the vehicles and will adapt the traffic pattern to allow the emergency vehicles a more rapid passage. The installation of the new lights will not be fully completed until at least next year (maybe longer) but progress is well underway.

Neither of these projects has significantly affected the flow of normal traffic, however, one set of ROAD BLOCK signs definitely has and drivers need to be aware, though certainly not surprised. The historic covered bridge, a long-time staple and visitor attraction, is yet again closed for repair due to damage by a passing vehicle. This is at least the third time in as many years that the route through the short bridge has been blocked and there is no definitive word when it will be open to traffic this time around as the city decides on the best course of action for restoring a beam that was broken by a moving truck at the end of July and has been hanging from its truss.

The bridge had been closed for a restoration project lasting two years and was reopened in 2007. The 9’6” clearance is clearly marked at both entrances of the path and large trucks are prohibited. When it is finally back in operation, drivers should use extra caution when approaching the one-lane covered bridge so that passers-by will not find it so quickly out-of-service and needing more repairs yet again in the near future.

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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.