Newcomerstown resident Kristie Wilkin is a person who is very passionate about what she believes in, and the causes she supports are very near, and dear to her.
Wilkin is a lifetime resident of Newcomerstown, and says she is very concerned about the village of Newcomerstown's future.
During the Newcomerstown Village Council meeting Dec. 2, Wilkin and another village resident Carol Harper both voiced concerns about the current fiscal emergency that Newcomerstown is currently experiencing. Both residents presented questions of concern to council and Mayor Jim Friel seeking answers to on how the village is planning to resolve the fiscal emergency.
"I love Newcomerstown. I grew up here. My family has lived here for generations. I don't want to see the village go under and lose their status as a village because of the situation we are in," Wilkin said.
In fact, Wilkin has even went as far as developing a proposal to village council that would facilitate improving the village's fiscal status within the cemetery department, the same department that has been identified as the source of the village's fiscal deficit.
Sharon Hanrahan, chairperson from the Financial Planning Commission Administration (FPCA), told council during the Oct. 7 meeting that the cemetery fund is what continues to keep the village in the fiscal emergency.
Wilkin's proposal would involve the formation of a Friends of the Cemetery Committee -- comprised of Wilkin, as chairperson, the cemetery board and several local citizens.
The next step would be to obtain bids from reputable lawn maintenance businesses and then once a bidder was accepted, the proposed plan would be for the maintenance business to mow and trim each of the three cemeteries in Newcomerstown and vicinity ( which includes Pioneer Cemetery, East State Street Cemetery and West Lawn Cemetery) on a weekly basis. The plan is for the mowing/trimming to begin just prior to Memorial Day holiday (May 2014) and continue through the regular mowing season for 2014.
The proposed plan calls for a higher standard mowing that had been done in the past seasons, prior to this past summer. The mowing, trimming would be monitored by the committee to ensure it is at the highest quality and meeting the standards set fourth. The village would continue to maintain the cemeteries in the months that mowing is not required. They would be responsible for general cleanup and keeping the cemetery grounds, as well as storage areas in a respectable fashion. The funding for the proposed plan would be provided through local resident financial pledges. Wilkin mentioned she already has many pledges being made and also has support interest from several local businesses.
According to Wilkin, the general idea for the proposal is to lift the financial burden from the village for one year, in order to give the village time to
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resolve the financial deficit in the cemetery funds. Wilkin said the proposed plan will be a "good faith effort to help our village in their time of need, as well as keeping the cemetery maintained, and up to the highest standards that our loved-ones deserve."
Wilkin previously submitted her proposal in October 2013, requesting village council's consideration of the proposed plan.
Wilkin has yet to receive a response.
Village council and Mayor Friel verbally agreed Dec. 2 to review the proposal and discuss with legal advisement to ensure there would be no liability issues.
Other business from the Dec. 2 meeting included:
• Council approved the 2014 contract with RIMS for the police department's records management service and support.
• Police Chief Gary Holland wished to thank local auctioneer Ron Hickman for providing auction service for the recent village auction.
• Mayor Friel received information from Columbia Gas of Ohio regarding an increase in natural gas rates for 2014.
• Information concerning the village potentially paying taxes to the Tuscarawas County Jail for housing local inmates has been tabled for further discussion.
•2014 membership for the Tuscarawas County Regional Planning was approved at the cost of $611.52.
• Council approved Robert Stephenson as village solicitor for two years at the cost of $20,000 per year.
Council's next meeting is set for Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at the civic center.