Morenci city council 8.13

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s Little League program is going strong, board members reported Monday at the city council meeting, and council approved a request to help strengthen it even more.

Scott Merillat and Brandon Stover presented a request for work at the large softball field at Wakefield Park to make it more adaptable for Little League play.

Work includes leveling a small mound on the infield where a pitcher’s mound was once located; reducing the size of the infield five or six feet by planting grass on the outer edge; and completing some electrical work.

Merillat told council members that the Little League board would like to expand tournament options for the older players. Tournaments bring a lot of people into town and serve as fund raisers for the ball program.

“We thank the city for your support,” Merillat said. “Our fields are among the nicer ones we play on.”

He said about 70 volunteers turned out this year for the annual clean-up day at the start of the season. After that, he said, city workers do a great job of maintaining the fields during the season.

Free use of the fields helps keep costs down, Merillat said, noting that ball programs are charged for field use in some communities.

During the past season, 225 children participated, ranging in age from five to 14. Twenty teams were formed and more than 40 people volunteered to serve as coaches. Others worked in the concession stand or volunteered time at tournaments.

“It’s a big group of people that makes it happen,” Merillat said.

Stephenson Park was used for practice sessions and T-ball games. Merillat said it worked out well except for families with children in two leagues. However, the fields at Wakefield Park were busy with either games or practices every night and many weekends.

LAWNS—The property maintenance committee, chaired by council member Leasa Slocum, will present a plan to streamline lawn maintenance enforcement in light of the many vacant homes.

The city attorney is examining a proposal that would bypass the current process of sending a letter to the property owner and waiting for the required response time.

SAVINGS—City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder told council that more than $18,000 was saved after the AmeraPlan option was approved a year ago.

The city buys a higher-deductible plan through Blue Cross/Blue Shield to reduce premiums. When an employee needs coverage for an incident, the city pays the deductible and out-of-pocket costs on behalf of the employee.

Savings through AmeraPlan vary from year to year, Schroeder said, depending on how many claims were submitted to the insurance carrier.

LIQUOR LICENSE—Council voted 5-1 to approve a beer and wine license for Rex Crist, owner of the BP gas station/convenience store in Morenci. Keith Pennington voted against the request and Tracy Schell was absent.

Pennington voiced concern about past misdemeanor counts on the applicant’s record, but mayor Doug Erskin said they were unrelated to the liquor sales.

Police chief Larry Weeks explained that the state Liquor Control Commission requires a local police department to sign off on an applicant’s criminal history and character.

The commission makes the final decision, Weeks said, but it wants to hear local opinion before deciding. In addition, he said, a local ordinance requires council’s approval.

Pennington said the criminal history probably wouldn’t have affected his “no” vote anyway, but it drew added concern to the issue.

RETIREMENT—Council approved a change in the retirement benefit plan for part-time employees who work at least 24 hours a week. The city will match 100 percent of an employee’s contribution, up to four percent.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • 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.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.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.

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