For now, drivers entering or leaving the Newton Square should probably keep their heads on a swivel.

During committee reports at the Aug. 18 Newton City Council meeting, Street Committee Chairman Rob Reisner explained a solution could not be determined on improving traffic flow at Jackson and West Washington streets. As with most intersections on the Newton Square, Reisner explained it is hard to see traffic in all directions. Having no one-way traffic routes around the Square is convenient but requires drivers to look more closely for other vehicles.

Council members approved a 5-year lease for a new backhoe from Midwest Tractor Sales with a trade-in of the city’s current backhoe. The total annual fee would be $7,157 with costs shared by the Water and Wastewater departments. Answering roll call on the transaction were Reisner, Gayle Glumac, Larry Brooks, Marlene Harris and Dave Brown. Alderman Eric Blake was absent.

The Eagle Trail Riverwalk project is moving forward, Mayor Mark Bolander told council members. He was relaying that message from Michael Tappendorf of Milano and Grunloh in Effingham. A goal is to seek bids later this year. Another trail idea involved placement of educational signs on animal and plant life along the trail.

Mayor Bolander also reported the neighborhood vehicle permit and semi parking permit programs are doing well. There has been 172 issued neighborhood vehicle permits since the startup and at the present time there are 108 active permits. The semi-parking has 20 spaces and 14 spaces are rented, which leaves the remaining six rented for short-term parking. In the last two months these programs have generated close to $6,000.

In other business, Harris reviewed the pre-paids totaling $257,345 and the bills and accounts payable amounting to $223,371. The vote for paying the bills was unanimous.

The council also authorized the plat easement grant and easement vacation for Newton Senior Housing residences, located at 201 Eaton St. Brooks during the Water Committee report noted discussion on installing master meters for apartment complexes on billing.

During council comments, Glumac expressed her pride in Jasper County Community Unit 1 and the students on how well they are handling returning to school with the new COVID-19 rules. Brown urged residents to "Please Vote." Brooks said he was contacted about property maintenance problems in an alley.

After closed session on litigation, sale or purchase of property and on past closed session records, the council back in open session approved the destruction of audio tapes of several past closed sessions.

The next city council meeting convenes at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1 in City Hall.