A variety of issues and concerns from residents came before Newcomerstown Village Council last Monday evening -- with all, solutions were sought but none really given.
Two good things did arise from the meeting, however.
The first was the positive effects of the residents' outcry to save the Cy Young Pool.
Residents and organizations alike have donated funds to ensure the pool opens for this summer season. Work on the pool is tentatively set for May 30 and should last approximately three days.
The village obtained a $7,000 grant from the J.E. Reeves Foundation for the handicap lift, and the Newcomerstown CIC donated $12,500, the Coshocton County Community Foundation donated $5,000, Marion Sutton donated $5,000, Edwin Mulligan donated $5,000, and Randy and Katherine Osler donated $1,000 to help with safety issues at the pool. In all, $35,500 was donated to the village.
Those donations, along with the approximate $1,000 contributed from the community through private donations, were acknowledged and thanked by village council.
However, resident Carol Swigert and former Recreation Board President Greg Bowman said more individuals would donate if the Newcomerstown Recreation Board was re-instated. But, council held firm on their decision to disband the board. And with that reminder, some in the audience that night left the meeting.
"It doesn't do any good to continue getting upset," said councilmember Sue Simmons.
It was at council's last regular meeting May 6 that all six members of the board agreed that the way in which the board was disbanded was wrong.
However, there has been no action to re-instate the board, with council members giving financial reasons, saying the Recreation Board did not stay within the given budget each year.
Meanwhile, the lack of village employees have left a void in some of the duties that are normally conducted in the village.
For instance, mowing and maintaining the village cemeteries.
Several residents voiced concerns before council that the cemeteries, especially West Lawn Cemetery, need attention. More importantly, it needs trimmed, especially around the headstones.
"We're mowing it and doing the best we can do," said Mayor Jim Friel.
Mayor Friel was referring to the deficit that is in the cemetery fund. A plan to "repair" and correct the cemetery fund in the village must be set by the July 2 deadline. That plan, which outlines a five-year forecast, will, hopefully, find solutions to the problem.
Mayor Friel said the cemetery fund has been in a deficit since 2008 when the general fund was no longer financially stable to "bail out" the cemetery fund -- a fund that doesn't normally generate money. Instead, it is a service to the community.
The second good note from the meeting came when it was announced that village residents Marvin Garretson, Frank Parks and Justin Hughes all donated their time and volunteered to trim at the cemetery in preparation of the Memorial Day weekend.
"Volunteers are part of the solution until we get back on our feet," Mayor Friel said.
Council thanked those residents and said if anyone else wanted to volunteer at the cemetery, they should call the cemetery department at 498-6943. There are trimmers available for use at the cemetery, they just need volunteers.
Council also approved hiring Dustin Lehman of Newcomerstown to work 40 hours for the cemetery and street departments. Mayor Friel said the addition of Lehman will help with mowing at the cemetery.
Meanwhile, residents Kristie Wilkin and Carol Harper questioned the financial statements of the village, including the cemetery fund. They wondered why audits were not completed after each fiscal officer left/resigned their position and a new one took over.
Mayor Friel said audits were completed to the best of his knowledge. However, no traces of the audits were found.
Harper alleged that money from the cemetery fund could have been taken by someone leaving the position in the village.
In other business:
• Resident Susan Gantz asked if Park Hill Drive could be made a one-way street. Council said they would look into it.
• Resident Van Brown presented council with a signed petition from village residents requesting that they take back control of the South Side Park off Martin Luther King Drive. Village Solicitor Bob Stephenson said he would look over the petition.
Council will meet again at 7 p.m. Monday, June 3 at the David Barber Civic Center. All meetings are open to the public.