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SSMID Board looking at curb appeal

possible introduction of more trash cans on streets

The Newton Downtown Self Supported Municipal Improvement District Board met for the first time Wednesday morning and talked about what they would like to see done in downtown Newton.

The main focus was curb appeal. Bruce Showalter was present during the meeting and informed the board the Renew Newton Committee pledged $5,000 to their projects if they need any funding. Because the board was recently formed, it is limited to what they can do or spend until they receive official funding.

The members of the board are: Bonnie Terpstra, Farmer’s Wife; Dianna Ambroson, Medicine Shop; Robert O’Brien, Dairy Queen; Jeffery Maki, Clemon-Maki Insurance; and Robert Claypool, First Newton National Bank. The board elected O’Brien as chair and Ambroson as vice chair.

“I was very happy about being named chair,” O’Brien said. “Being part of the committee is going to be really good for Newton, and me being a part of it — I’m very lucky.”

One project the board was highly interested in was adding more trash cans throughout downtown. The estimated cost per trash can is $300, and members expressed interest in building bike racks.

Showalter informed the board that when he finds trash on the ground he picks it up, and often has to walk a distance to find a place to put it.

Another trash issue that was discussed was the possible hiring of a employee who would be responsible for cleanliness of the streets. O’Brien suggested that the board be open to accept help from volunteer groups.

Board members did like the idea, as it may allow volunteers of a younger age to appreciate the value of a clean street.

Maki also suggested the volunteers be recognized for helping the board.

The board also discussed the possibility of having a stronger enforcement of sidewalks and alleyways. Newton Director of Planning and Zoning Erin Chambers was in attendance and informed the board that she could bring the issue up to the city council.

Residents are responsible for sidewalks, and O’Brien believes that store owners should take pride in their property. He maintains his property, and believes that keeping it maintained is not only good for business, but for the city.

Showalter also informed the board that after large events, streets can become littered with items such as candy wrappers, and suggested the need for more benches.

Maintenance of street plants was also brought up. Some cities have them taken care of by a hired worker while others have an automatic water line. The matter may be discussed further at future meetings.

The board did not officially pass anything but agreed to the wording of the following by-laws:

Each elected official has a one-year term. In the event of a vacancy of the chair and vice chair, the board may appoint chair pro-term, whom shall attend the duties of such officer until their return.

Chair duties include being present at all the meetings, appoint all committees and perform such other duties exercised by the chair of the board. The chair is also to sign all minutes of the previous meetings certifying approval by the board.
The vice chair’s role is to act as chairman in the elected chair’s absence.

In the event of a committee being formed for special matters or intensive study, it will consist of two or more commission members and citizens with the necessary skill set needed to provide accurate information to the committee.

When a committee is formed, one member will be appointed chair thereof, and the chair will determine a meeting time and place.

Resignations are to be submitted in writing, either by hard-copy or electronically, to the mayor of Newton.

A special meeting may be called by the chair, Newton’s director of Planning and Zoning, the director’s supported staff or any three or more members of the board. In the event of a special meeting, the board shall meet at the same location as its regular meetings.

Each board member will be allowed two unexcused absences within the calendar year. If any members have more than two, that member may be replaced.

The board’s regular and special meetings will be posted on the city’s official bulletin board at least 48 hours in advance.

Board representation will be required at Newton City Council meetings when matters regarding SSMID are brought up to the council.

In addition, an annual meeting of the board will be held at the regular June meeting, and will include a report of the year’s activities which will be presented to the board for approval for submission to the council.

At least three members of the board are to be in attendance for the transaction of any business.

SSMID will meet at 7:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at the Newton Public Works Conference Room located at 1700 N. Fourth Ave. W., and invites the public to join and provide input.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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