By Sterling McGinn

Newberry’s Yooper Youth organization is seeking cooperation from the Newberry Village Council and permission to revitalize the former Washington Park, which was later renamed after the late Kurt Knierim.

Yooper Youth representatives Elizabeth Magnuson and Brooke Dake approached the council at their last regular meeting held on Tuesday, March 19.

The park is owned by the Village of Newberry and is home to the ice rink and the hill used by local youth in the winter for sledding. Though the village has Atlas Park on the east side of town, and Sherman Park on the corner of West Truman and Washington Boulevard, Yooper Youth wants to create an additional area for youth and adults.

The one-year-old Yooper Youth organization has brought back popular events such as field days, spring dances and the Halloween carnival, which was a huge hit last fall.

“Now that we have some events under our belts, we are looking at how we can impact our village on a long-term scale,” said Magnuson. “We are looking to provide more of a community feeling park.”

Yooper Youth will organize and plan work on the park and says funding is readily available.

“We are looking at potentially a pavilion, some walking paths, maybe some type of exercise and playground equipment not only for the youth in the community but for adults,” said Dake. “We would like to expand the opportunities for our community, not only to promote kids having fun but community wellness, it can impact physical and mental health.”

Magnuson said the park is beautiful, but has room to improve.

Village President Catherine Freese advised them to create a detailed proposal to present to Village Manager Allison Watkins. The proposal will be given to the village infrastructure committee to review and make a recommendation to the village council. No action was taken that night.

In other business, Insituform Technologies, the firm contracted to re-line portions of Newberry’s sewer mains, recently returned to remove some of the “plastic cookies” left after the laterals were cut following the placing of the new lining. The crews also sealed an abandoned lateral that should not have been cut open. This work was covered by a Clean Water State Revolving Fund low interest loan and grant to improve the sanitary sewer system.

The project is now finished.

The village was also awarded a grant to cover costs of creating an inventory of lead service lines in the village. The council had sought $350,000 to complete the project.

“This is where the contractor will come in, dig a hole on the customer side of the curb stop—visualize the line and will dig a hole along the foundation of the houses and visualize the line there,” Watkins said. “We are on the list that says we are being funded; I don’t know if that means that we are getting the full amount we requested.”

If funded in full, the money would cover the first step in the inventory project. The lead service line inventory must be complete by the end of this year.

In other news, Watkins said the Newberry warning siren has not been activating on Saturdays at 12 p.m., or when the fire department is dispatched.

The device was installed alongside the Water and Light building in 2013 and dedicated in honor of former fire chief George Stephenson. In addition to fire calls, the siren would activate if severe weather occurs. Central Dispatch is responsible for activating the unit.

Last week, village linemen found a blown fuse on the siren, which was replaced. After a test from Central Dispatch, the siren still did not work.

Technicians from West Shore Fire will be in Newberry this week to diagnose the issue.