Foundation raises money for Falls center work

NEWTON FALLS — A honey-baked ham dinner and holiday raffle were among the recent fundraisers being done by the Newton Falls Historic Preservation Society as they plan to make improvements to the historic USO community center in the park.

More than 250 people attended the recent holiday dinner to help the society with its efforts. The Honey Baked Ham Company assisted the society by providing the hams.

Lisa Hoerig, a society member, said she has checked on similar centers and found 13 of 14 in the nation are on the National Register of Historic Places. She said four of the centers are on a $1 lease agreement. All but one operates on fdonations and from money raised from opening the centers.

Hoerig said more than 80 items were auctioned.

Steve Simpson, a member, said Newton Falls Village Council and the village law director are working on a lease agreement.

The center was constructed in 1941 for $65,860.

Simpson said talks have been progressing in hopes to get into the center by 2019 and start working. He said when the society has the lease, it can start applying for grants.

“We are very optimistic at this point than where we were a year ago. It will take a while to get started at the center — to get in and reopened to the public again. We will have our own set of keys once we get the lease done,” he said, noting the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office will check the building and it will be tested for asbestos.

Simpson and Hoerig said plans are to begin operations in 2019 with some revenue-producing services such as classes, room rental and recreational activities and programs. They said the center would grow in 2020 and have full operations in 2022.

Goals of the foundation are preservation of local history and heritage through education, collaboration and advocacy.

In addition to opening the center, other goals are the beautification of the river and river banks, enhancement of the parks and preservation of the local buildings.

In collaboration with the Trumbull County Historical Society, the foundation has submitted applications for four Newton Falls homeowners for consideration by the Historical Society of their homes as historic buildings of age and significance under the Historic Building Recognition Program.

Once approved by the historic sites committee, each homeowner will receive a distinctive plaque recognizing the historical significance of their property, which can be displayed on the exterior of their home.

The society’s next fundraiser is 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Chipotle with 33 percent of the proceeds donated to the foundation.

Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 61, Newton Falls 44444 or the GoFundMe or PayPal.