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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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