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By state and our own village laws, it is a requirement for the mayor to present a State of the Village message each year.
2016 was overall a very positive year for Newcomerstown. The help and assistance from Lisa Stiteler, Council, the heads of our police, water, and street department, our employees, and the Board of Public Affairs have been invaluable to my education of my position. All of these people are responsible for working together for an outstanding year of accomplishments for our village.
Yes, we had some tragic events occur such as the gas explosion on Beaver Street and the murder on Nugent Street, but both were handled very well by our police and NERS. Everyone had to weather the closure of County Road 15 for 3 months instead of the 3 weeks of the original plan.
However, the positive events and achievements far outweigh the negative. The village employees got a lot of things fixed and done. The biggest and most significant event was the formal release of our village from Fiscal Emergency with the State of Ohio. That achievement is due to the excellent organization and work of Lisa Stiteler, our fiscal officer. Her work with our budget, setting parameters for purchasing and accountability for each department, and work with state officials got us released in two years instead of the five years predicted. She has also saved us money this year by proposing changing insurance companies and banks, as well as collecting more back taxes by working with citizens. We settled several funding issues with good communication with Salem Township trustees and the Tuscarawas County Metropolitan Water District. Both increased revenues. A Reeves Foundation grant brought $22,860 to purchase a new tornado/emergency siren. Newcomerstown scored the highest points in its application to receive a Small Community Grant from the state to assist in the paving Park Hill Drive, Crestview Drive, and a portion of Neighbor Street and the culvert on Park Hill near Cross Street. Another great event was the renewal of our ten street levy. Council and I thank our voters for their confidence in that street repair program.
Four houses were removed as well as six trailers this year, not by the village but by the landowners. Portions of State and River Streets were repaved as well as the alley by the pool. The Street Department initiated and completed three big projects with the widening of the end of the First Street Alley, the Starkey Drive culvert, and the new storm drain line along Ohio Drive. All these were done with assistance from the citizens around those areas. New railroad gates were put in place at Nugent Street, and the Nugent, West, and Chestnut Street crossings were all repaved and cleaned up. The Municipal Building has been receiving a facelift after many years by Lisa Stiteler and myself by painting, sanding and refinishing the walls, ceilings, and floor. We are very proud of the fresh, clean, professional appearance. We want the citizens of Newcomerstown to be proud of it too.
The Water and Wastewater Department has been busy, especially since we hired Tom Sauebrey back to be Superintendent. Tom is quickly bringing back routine to that organization. All of our fire hydrants have been inspected, tested and numbered to be accounted for with the fire department, and inspection officials. He and his crew are doing a great job working on other projects that need updating, as well as maintaining the water wells and sewer treatment plant.
A look into 2017 will show activity in the Industrial Park, the building of a community foundation, at least 15 new projects, continued renovations at the Municipal Building, updating of employee policies within the village, the continued application for grants to assist us with present and future projects. Zoning ordinances that will protect home and business owners, not ones that tell you what color you can paint your house, will be something important for our community in 2017. We cannot get rid of the Cooley Hotel or Simonds without zoning ordinances that lay out a process for eliminating abandoned buildings.
The Village of Newcomerstown used 2016 as a starting place to begin catching up. We have good people leading our departments in the right direction. All have a pride in their job and work to do their best. We all have set goals to work towards for 2017 and the goals all have the same purpose -- to improve our village and make it better. That's a better place for you as a citizen to live, for our businesses to grow in, and for the employees who work for us. With as much as the village managed to get done in 2016, we are very excited about working harder to see 2017 be even better. --Pat Cadle, Mayor