Morenci Police Department to move 6.10.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The Morenci Police Department will soon move into new quarters in the city-owned building behind Wakefield Park.

City council approved Monday a motion to allow the police to move immediately into the vacant city building at 599 W. Chestnut St. The motion states that renovations will be considered at a later date.

Council member Keith Pennington was the only one to cast a “no” vote, stating that he was not in favor of moving quickly on the issue.

“I do firmly agree that the department needs more room,” he said, “but I’m not satisfied that we need to go down that road yet.”

The police will move into the front office space of the building, but no renovations are to be made yet because council members are also considering moving the recycling center to the location behind the park.

That would place all DPW services in a central location, councilor Tracy Schell said. In addition, she noted that all of the property surrounding the building is for city use, so she thought it made sense to include the former industrial building.

The structure has been leased to businesses since 1993 when NWD International moved in. The city was earning rental income of $2,000 a month until TNG Technologies closed last year. The building had also been viewed as a good location for an “incubator” building for a business starting up.

Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks said he’s noted weaknesses in police facilities since his arrival in Morenci.

The space to store evidence is subject to weather changes, he said, and there’s no facility for interrogations or for storage of gear. Overall, he said, the existing department doesn’t allow for traditional police services.

Weeks intends to partition a portion of the empty building to serve as a garage for police vehicles.

The move will open up more space at city hall. Building inspector Kevin Arquette literally works out of a closet, Weeks said.

FIRE SERVICE—The Chesterfield and Seneca township boards approved a 10 percent increase in fire protection services with the Morenci Fire Department, but Medina Township officials suggested a lower increase in trade for the township billing residents for fire runs.

The increase is the first in six years, Pennington noted. He said a meeting with the townships several weeks ago led him to believe there was agreement on the increase. The city set its budget accordingly.

Schell suggested offering the option of an annual base fee of $5,500, a first hour charge of $1,000 and a charge of $550 an hour for subsequent time spent on a call. She said the overall cost would probably end up much higher than the original proposal.

Only Greg Braun supported Schell’s amendment. Council voted to stay with the original motion for the 10 percent increase and it passed unanimously.

BMX—Council gave conditional approval for a new BMX track contract—contingent on completion of the contract form.

The track is on city property, but it’s operated by a non-profit organization. Will and Amanda Harsh have operated the track since its opening in 2000, but Will told council he resigned over the winter.

Felicia Burton will now be listed as president and Paul Burton will serve as secretary.

“They’ve been doing a good job with it,” Harsh said. “They’re good with the kids and their hearts are in the right place.”

EMS—The annual renewal of the special assessment district for EMS service was approved by council, with no increase in amount charged.

  • 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
  • Front.sculpta
    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.
  • Shadow.salon
    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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