Morenci indust. park grant 03.10.2010

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When the Palm Plastics expansion project was derailed in 2009, it looked as though Morenci’s industrial park road project was gone, as well.

That situation changed Monday afternoon. Before the week is over, Morenci could have the promise of a state grant to complete the road project.

Morenci mayor Keith Pennington told city council Monday the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is interested in moving forward with the project.

Pennington praised city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder for maintaining contact with the MEDC and urging the agency to keep the road project open.

Pennington learned Monday afternoon the state has federal “stimulus” funds that might be sent to Morenci. If approved, funds would cover the cost of completing the north/south portion of the road through the park—giving access off Main Street—and installing water and sewer lines along the road.

When the project was initially discussed, the city was to contribute $270,000 to the state’s $900,000.

After Pennington told the MEDC that the city no longer has that much funding to contribute, a revised offer shows the city paying $100,000 and a state grant coming through with $1.17 million.

“My opinion would be that even if we had to borrow the money this would be an important project to get done,” he said.

The majority of the city’s contribution would come through the sewer fund. About $440,000 of the project would pay for sewer work.

Councilor Tracy Schell asked if this would drain the sewer fund dry. For the ICE grant parking lots project, the city recently pledged about $50,000.

Schroeder reviewed several fund sources from various department of public works funds, and noted that some money must be reserved for renovation of the city’s older water tower.

City supervisor Barney Vanderpool said the project would give a loop in the water system in the southeast part of town and would provide better water flow for fire protection.

Schell said the new road would also benefit the city in marketing the industrial park.

Audience member Kent Deatrick noted that many streets in town are in need of repair and funds should also be directed for that use. Pennington said the new road would actually increase state funds for road repair.

Councilor Greg Braun reminded council of the importance of the new road in regard to the bridge near Dollar General. The bridge will have to be replaced in a few years and a new road through the industrial park would provide an alternate route through town without diverting traffic past the school.

Pennington said the city has done well in maximizing existing tax dollars by taking opportunities with state grants. More than $2 million in grants have been received in recent years.

“Whatever we have to do with our budget to get there, it will be worth it, including borrowing,” Pennington said. “I am confident we could work it out in the budget when it comes to that.”

In this case, especially, he said, he believes it would be wise to act on a project that requires matching funds of less than 10 percent.

Schell also stated that it would be beneficial to invest in the industrial park so the city is ready to act when the economy rebounds.

Council voted unanimously to commit $100,000 to the project.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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