Falls residents question meetings

NEWTON FALLS – Village council held an emergency meeting Friday behind closed doors to discuss department head personnel, but took no action afterwards.

Residents who attended the meeting expressed frustration with secrets and rumors.

Council members, with the exception of Richard Monteville, who was absent, met for about 20 minutes and emerged from the meeting only to adjourn. Mayor Lyle Waddell was also excused from the meeting.

Before heading into executive session Councilwoman Mary Ann Johnson questioned if it would be appropriate to specify the department council would be discussing. Law Director Joseph Fritz said it was not necessary, and the group passed the motion for the meeting without the specification.

Members then headed into the room off the side of the courtroom where council meets, each carrying a large manila envelope.

Meanwhile, a handful of locals sat in the courtroom waiting to see if any action would be taken.

Resident Ron Lane said he has been living in Newton Falls for 70 years and referred to the village as a “rumor mill.”

“If they would say what was going on, the rumors would stop,” Lane said.

This is the second time in the week that council has held an executive session without resulting in action or discussion or commenting on the purpose before or after the closed-door session.

Ohio Sunshine Laws do not require officials to discuss what happens during an executive session, but they do require a clear explanation of why the meeting is occurring. Friday morning that reason was to “discuss personnel department head.”

On Monday council held an executive session at the end of its regular meeting to discuss possible pending litigation, the police department and council personnel. Waddell requested that police Chief John Kuivila attend that session.

Kuivila had no comments on the meeting or the ethics probe that the council discussed in a couple executive sessions at the end of December concerning himself and a car dealership.

Kuivila has been taking time off of work for the past few days for personal reasons, according to City Manager Jack Haney. Haney said Kuivila did not say when he would return to work, but that in the meantime, it is not necessary to appoint a stand-in officer.

Fritz said he had submitted the appropriate forms to the Ohio Ethics Commission, and that he cannot comment on any pending litigation.