By DAVID GREEN
Local job growth is a priority for Morenci mayor Keith Pennington, and he urged city council members Jan. 25 to keep the thought in their minds, as well.
Pennington spoke of the ramifications of the new BioDri plant scheduled to open in Blissfield by the middle of this year. He said the benefits of the new business will extend beyond Blissfield.
“We need to keep abreast of the project and think about any ancillary business to support it,” he said. “It’s a large enough project that it will impact us all.”
The BioDri facility will separate the components of liquids, solids and gases. For example, grease could be processed for use as biofuel feedstock, and the company is expected to furnish a product for the NextDiesel plant in Adrian.
Pennington said he met recently with the leaders of all Morenci industries to learn of challenges facing them. He noted that the success of each local industry benefits everyone in the community, not just those who are employed at the businesses.
Pennington said that he and city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder recently met with Consumers Energy representatives to talk about increasing electrical capacity to the city’s industrial park.
He said the city needs to think ahead about attracting business and not wait until a prospective customer arrives.
“I’m not saying that we can do anything about it,” he said, “but at least we’re working on it.”
He’s awaiting proposals from Consumers about increased power and about energy-efficient street lighting.
Schroeder told council about a state program called Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement (ICE) that will be funded through the Community Development Block Grant program. Morenci is among the communities eligible to apply for funding.
Schroeder said she will work with the city’s engineering firm to obtain estimates of costs to repair the city’s parking lot across from city hall to the east.
The lot is in need of an upgrade which is already planned in the current budget. With the grant, however, estimates will also be made for the larger lot behind city hall.
After costs are estimated, the city’s share of the project price would be determined.
“Our match could come in less than what we were going to spend on doing just the east lot,” Schroeder said.
Any water and sewer work needed in the area could also be included in the project.
BUDGET—Pennington urged department heads to monitor spending. At this time, he said, about 60 percent of budgeted funds should have been spent.
SENECA—Election inspectors were approved for the Feb. 23 special election in Seneca Township that Morenci will oversee.
Dorothy McDowell will serve as chair, assisted by Doris Collar, Joyce Woerner, Stephanie Mossing and Renée Schroeder. The township will reimburse the city for its costs.