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Sewer opponents speak out again in Norton

7/12/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Also, special meeting set on fire levy

Though Norton City Council’s Committee of the Whole previously tabled moving forward on a proposed project to extend sewer service in the city, several residents spoke out at the July 9 meeting to express their anger about the project.

Nine residents appeared before Council during the public comment period of the meeting to ask questions and vent about a project they say they can’t afford and don’t want.

“As determined as you are to push this sewer project through, we are just as determined,” Norton resident Patricia Reese said during her remarks.

Reese and others who spoke said they are prepared to begin circulating petitions to recall some Council members, while resident Del Nelson wondered if new elected officials would allow for a change in the city’s paid administrative staff.

“Maybe if we get some new people in here, we can get rid of [Finance Firector John] Moss, [Law Director Peter] Kostoff and [Administrative Officer Rick] Ryland,” Nelson said. “There will be recalls if you can’t get it together.”

Council members and city administrators mostly remained silent through the remarks and took no action on the sewer issue. A week earlier, during a committee work session July 2, the committee unanimously voted in favor of a motion proposed by Councilman Bill Mowery (Ward 3) to table the proposed sewer project until it can be evaluated for total cost, including assessments on residents, and all avenues for financial help have been exhausted.

Also appearing before Council on the issue was state Rep. Marilyn Slaby (R-District 41), who said her office is in the process of applying for a grant to help the city with the sewer project.

“This would take care of a great deal of the cost” of the project, Slaby said.

Several residents asked Slaby questions about the potential grant, and one cautioned that grant funding isn’t always the answer to problems due to requirements to use particular vendors.

And even though some in the audience spoke out that they still wouldn’t want sewers with grant help, Slaby indicated it’s inevitable.

“The EPA has told us it’s time,” she said.

In other business, Council’s Committee of the Whole discussed the second piece of legislation to put the fire/EMS levy on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot. The resolution was put forward to pass on first reading so that the necessary paperwork could be submitted to the Summit County Board of Elections before the Aug. 8 deadline for the November election, and since the meeting was to be Council’s last before a month-long break.

However, Mowery and Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey (at large) voted against the resolution. With Councilman Scott Pelot (at large) excused, that meant there weren’t enough votes to pass the resolution on first reading, resulting in the need to schedule at least one special meeting for a second reading.

When Council later voted on resolutions, Council President Don Nicolard (Ward 2) asked if Mowery, who supported the first piece of legislation regarding the fire levy in June, would reconsider his no vote, but Mowery declined.

“It’s hard to understand how a councilman cannot support our fire or police,” Mowery said. “But you have to do with what you have.”

Nicolard scheduled a special meeting to again address the legislation for July 11 at 8 p.m. Results of that meeting were not known at presstime.

Also Monday, Council adopted two ordinances regarding agreements with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, one with the Norton Police Department’s lieutenants, sergeants and patrol officers and the other with dispatchers. Whipkey voted against both contracts.

During his report to Council, Kostoff noted he had received a copy of a federal court case brought forward by a Norton police officer who is claiming he was discriminated against because of his Muslim faith.

“I have not reviewed the complaint,” Kostoff said. “We will respond through the courts and will do so at the appropriate time.”

Also during the public comment period, Council heard from Timothy Heitic, representing Delivering for America. The postal service employee asked Council to sign a letter in opposition to the Postal Reform Act of 2011, which he said proposes the end of Saturday delivery, elimination of some postal facilities and changes to door-to-door mail delivery.

Also speaking to Council was Michael Kaplan, the Democrat who will face Slaby in November in the race for the newly created District 43 Ohio House seat.

During his comments, Nicolard thanked Councilman Ken Braman (Ward 4) for organizing this year’s car show July 5. Braman thanked the sponsors and volunteers who helped with the event.

Mayor Mike Zita reminded residents that a public meeting on the widening of Cleveland-Massillon Road will take place July 25 at 5 p.m. at the Safety-Administration Building, 4060 Columbia Woods Drive.

He added that Norton residents can pick up tickets for free Akron Zoo admission for Aug. 13-14 at the city’s offices.

Norton City Council will recess, with the exception of any special meetings scheduled, until Aug. 20, when Council will meet for committee meetings at 7 p.m. at the Safety-Administration Building. Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.

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