A new liquor license category will allow alcohol sales at entertainment venues and events.


Newton City Council members unanimously approved the new liquor license class during the June 2 council meeting. It could be used in different ways to help promote different events and fundraisers. This category is similar the license class already available in Effingham, Mayor Mark Bolander said. This category will also allow wine tasting.


The vote on Tuesday night had council members Rob Reisner, Larry Brooks, Dave Brown, Eric Blake, Gayle Glumac and Marlene Harris answering roll call in favor of the motion.


Kristi Matthews was sworn in as a new Zoning Board of Appeals member by City Clerk Rosie York after the council members approved the appointment. Matthews is filling the vacancy on the board after Dave Dhom’s resignation last month due to his moving outside city limits.


The council approved a Tax Increment Financing agreement for $2,500 for assisting with improvements to the Galloway Insurance property on North Van Buren Street. The work included window and siding replacement and a brick and stone veneer all aiming to improve the appearance of the building.


With $74,353 appropriated for 2020 street maintenance with the city’s share of Motor Fuel Tax funds, the council accepted bids on maintenance supplies. The successful bidders on materials included: Compass Materials, of Overland Park, for road salt, $4,837; Lee Kintner & Sons, Mt. Carmel, for seal and prime coat, $55,565; and Heuerman Brothers, Effingham, both stone and aggregate mix, $9,916 and $4,035.


During committee reports, Reisner noted the trail bridge over the river needs some repairs. The Street Committee also discussed the resurfacing of South Jackson and West Washington streets with Rebuild Illinois through Illinois Department of Transportation funds. Reisner also mentioned repairs are scheduled to start on July 20 at the Van Buren crossing. Railroad crews will complete the work and be responsible for traffic control. Mayor Bolander expressed concerns about large trucks traveling through residential areas. Appropriate detours are being worked out for the project that will last at least two weeks.


Harris offered reports from the Finance and Jasper County Economic Development Inc. meetings. She said the city is not charging late fees on utility bills due to COVID-19. Payments plans are being arranged for residents facing financial hardships due to the economic shutdown.


The JEDI meeting offered information on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the new jail project to the next phase of reopening Illinois, Harris said. One interesting question relating to the latter subject still being decided is how Illinois schools will reopen this fall with COVID-19 concerns still present.


Jasper County Community Unit 1 Superintendent Andy Johnson said there are three options being considered: go back to school possibly with the use of masks; conduct classes online; or have a mix of in-class and online learning. More information on school reopening will be offered in coming weeks.


The council then went into closed session to discuss litigation, and the sale of property.


Newton City Council will next meet at 6 p.m. on June 16 at City Hall. Members hope they can resume meeting in the council chambers instead of the police garage to meet COVID-19 distancing rules. It was noted that the garage was getting a little warm Tuesday evening.