Morenci city council 6.24.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Despite a 6-1 vote June 8 in favor of moving the police department, council members are going to discuss the issue further at the committee level.

Councilors voted previously to allow the police department to move to the former industrial building at the back of Wakefield Park. Police chief Larry Weeks told council that more space is needed to operate the department efficiently. Only Keith Pennington voted against the measure.

Following a lengthy discussion of the issue Monday, Morenci mayor Doug Erskin said, “I’m wondering if council would like to reconsider. Would we like to take it back to committee and discuss it at length?”

Weeks confirmed that he has already begun moving into the new facility, but he is not operating out of that building. He asked if council had heard negative comments about the move.

Erskin said he heard about opposition expressed by business owners at the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) meeting and Pennington said he heard one complaint.

Council member Tracy Schell said she asked several people and none of them had any concerns about where the station was located.

Pennington asked if any response was heard from a company that inquired about renting the building, but city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said that no follow-up call was received.

“I think [the move] is the right thing to do,” Weeks said, “but if council wants to discuss it further, there are no hard feelings on my part.”

He said he would hold off on moving any additional materials.

Erskin directed council’s Public Works committee to review the previous decision.

The issue came before council Monday when audience member Tim Decker said the DDA board asked him to express its concerns about the move.

“We’d rather that you not do it,” Decker said.

He said the board was concerned about the loss of potential income for the city if it was no longer able to rent the building. He acknowledged that building is currently empty, but said it was a good building for a small industry, with its high ceilings.

“If you don’t have it, you’re losing the potential to bring jobs to the community,” Decker said.

Even if it were used only for storage, he said, the city would receive some income that could help pay for an alternative, such as adding on to the existing police station.

The existing location is more accessible to people, Decker said, and city hall staff members are able to take information from people when no one is in the police station. A phone could be installed on the exterior of the building that would ring into the county sheriff’s office, Weeks said.

He pointed out that the building is an island among the park land and other city property and not the best place to develop industry. Councilor Jason Cook added that semi-truck traffic is a problem when cars are parked in the area for ball games.

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  • 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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