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.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • 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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