Morenci city council 6.4

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The East Main Street bridge over Silver Creek is approaching the time for replacement, according to an inspector, and federal funds might be available to cover most of the cost.

Morenci city council members met in a special session Thursday in order to beat an application deadline for funding.

The required semi-annual inspection of the bridge led to the suggestion for replacement, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool, and also brought a reduction of the load limit.

Vanderpool said new signs have been posted, reducing load limits from 61 tons to 42 tons.

If the city is chosen to receive the grant, federal sources would cover 95 percent of the estimated $300,000 project. That would leave the city with about $15,000 to pay, plus engineering costs. Replacement would be scheduled in 2011.

“The engineer is recommending inspection every year to keep an eye on it,” Vanderpool said. “It would be nice to leave the abutments, but they’re recommending 100 percent rebuild.”

The inspection found scaling on the metal beams of the structure, Vanderpool said, and underwash around the abutments.

Council members discussed the difficulties that will arise from closing the road during construction, but Vanderpool pointed out that a planned closure is better than an emergency closing that could last for an even longer period of time.

“If something happened and we had to shut it down, it would be really difficult,” he said.

Former council member Scott Merillat, who formerly worked as an engineer with the road commission, volunteered to complete the required paperwork for the application.

LAND LEASE—To sell or to lease? That was a question council members debated Thursday in regard to property in the industrial park used for a telecommunications tower.

SBA Communications rents the 0.75 acre plot to hang cellular telephone antennae, paying the city $5,700 annually.

In March, SBA offered to lease the property for 40 years for a lump sum payment of $67,000. The city gave a counter offer of $75,000, and SBA agreed to increase its price to $69,000—either for a lease agreement or to buy the property.

Council member Keith Pennington said he was in favor of a long-term agreement because with changing technology, there’s no certainty that cellular towers will even be in use 20 years down the road.

Dick Hewitt suggested leasing the property for 40 years at $69,000 and investing the funds. No one seconded the motion so Tracy Schell made a motion to sell the property for $69,000. Property taxes were estimated at $700 annually. Council voted unanimously to accept that option.

The 300-foot tower was built in 2001 for Verizon.

  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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