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.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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