Morenci city council 11.19.08

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When Morenci mayor Doug Erskin was elected in November 2007, he had campaigned for better enforcement of property maintenance issues.

He also stated that portions of the International Property Maintenance Code—regulations adopted by Morenci City Council in 2003—might be too harsh for a small town.

“They’re really good guidelines,” he said, “and some that you have to comply with, but there should be some leeway on other issues.”

Erskin was looking for change in the enforcement of maintenance problems, but he hoped to find “friendly” ways to create change, rather than demands that came straight from the code book.

Now Erskin is asking council members to repeal the International Property Maintenance Code due to financial conditions.

At the Nov. 10 council meeting, Erskin read the following recommendation:

“Due to the economic conditions that many of us are facing in the community, and since the standards called for in the International Property Maintenance Code place such a high financial burden on the residents of Morenci, the Mayor recommends that the International Property Maintenance Code of 2000, adopted on June 23rd of 2003 be repealed.”

Erskin sought no immediate action from council, but he will seek a motion for the recommendations at the Nov. 24 council meeting.

He will seek opinions from the public about how to proceed with maintenance issues.

Erskin gave one other recommendation for councilors to consider. He said he’s heard concerns from citizens about council voting too quickly on issues.

The mayor suggests that an issue should be read twice—at two meetings—before a vote is taken.

“This will allow time for the citizens of Morenci to interact with council before a vote is taken on the issue,” Erskin said.

Erskin also revived a practice from many years ago of reading the minutes from the previous meeting at the start of the meeting.

POLICE—Police chief Larry Weeks told council about a change in basic standards through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) that requires police officers to log at least 520 hours annually in order to maintain certification, beginning in 2012.

This would hurt many police departments in small communities, Weeks said, because part-time officers are not always able to obtain that much work in a year.

Weeks and other police chiefs are urging the MCOLES to abandon this idea and instead establish minimum standards through training requirements rather than hours worked.

Council unanimously supported a resolution calling for a change in the standards.

CONTRACT—Councilors approved changes in a proposed union contract with police officers.

Legal and finance chair Keith Pennington presented the motion and was asked by Mayor Erskin if this would open the door to further negotiations. Pennington answered that he did not think it would.

“What happens if it’s rejected?” Erskin asked.

“There would be no changes in the existing contract that expired in June,” Pennington said.

Negotiations could begin again during the regular 90-day period before the annual contract expiration date.

APPEALS BOARD—Council and audience members discussed the existence of an appeals board for the International Property Maintenance Code( IPMC), as specified in the code.

City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said that she thought the city’s Construction Board of Appeals was also designated to serve as the maintenance code appeals board.

Erskin stated that board appointments had expired and said the board no longer existed.

Schroeder pointed out that council re-appointed board positions Jan. 14 to two-year terms, and that same board was designated to serve as the rental inspection board of appeals.

Board members are:

• Don Merillat, general contractor;

• Chris Merillat (chair), general contractor;

• Chris McCowan, mason;

• Tom Barnes, electrician;

• Larry Borton, plumber.

Schroeder said the city’s rental inspection ordinance, adopted in 2004, specifies the IPMC as the applicable standards. Therefore, she believes appeals would go to the rental board.

Erskin suggested that the city attorney give an opinion on the issue.

APPOINTMENTS—Council members approved the mayor’s recommendations for department heads and appointments, with no changes from the existing list: chief of police, Larry Weeks; city superintendent, Lonnie Vanderpool; city administrator/clerk, Renée Schroeder; city treasurer, Stephanie Mossing; library director, Colleen Leddy; zoning administrator, Jack Baird (residential) and Jacob Barnes (commercial); code enforcement officer and building inspector, Kevin Arquette; EMS coordinator, Cindy Lazarz; fire chief, Chad Schisler; city assessor, Marty Marshall; city attorney, Fred Lucas.

  • 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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