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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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