Morenci city council: road project 03.24.10

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Progress continues toward obtaining a $1.17 million state grant to complete the road through Morenci’s industrial park. Although the process didn’t proceed as smoothly as first anticipated, Morenci mayor Keith Pennington remains positive.

City council voted Monday to send a Notice of Intent to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Pennington is looking for approval by the end of April.

The letter of intent, in effect, seeks approval from the state development corporation to resume work on the road project and to begin spending money on additional design work.

City council voted Monday to proceed with engineering work—a process that was halted two years ago.

Building a north-south road through the park from Main Street to the existing Skyline Drive was included in the Palm Plastics expansion project in 2008. The national economic downturn brought the expansion to a halt in Morenci and the road project was shelved.

More than $10,000 was spent on the initial design work before the project was put on hold. Council voted Monday to authorize the use of $7,000 to continue the work. The money comes from a fund established for the project in 2008. Associated Engineers of Adrian will continue where they left off from the earlier work.

The engineering work will make the project “shovel ready,” councilor Greg Braun said, should final approval come from the state. The city’s goal is to complete the project this year.

Braun learned that the money spent on design work will be considered a portion of the city’s $100,000 match for the project. The design fund contains $14,000.

A large portion of the city’s share will come from the sewer fund.

SPECIAL PROJECTS—Mayor Pennington has spoken to several council members about researching long-term projects.

“These all require a lot of background research,” he said.

Councilors would work with city administrator-clerk Renée Schroeder and eventually bring the research to the committee level. The work goes beyond the usual call of duty, he said, and he appreciates the effort.

At this point, Joe Varga has agreed to work on the city’s five-year plan; to investigate the cost of bringing a fiber optics connection to the city; explore the creation of a Wi-Fi (wireless internet connection) hotspot downtown; and look into the creation of a park events board.

Tracy Schell will continue work toward construction of an electrical substation at the industrial park, and she will survey surrounding communities in regard to employee compensation and taxation.

Leasa Slocum will explore establishing a farmer’s market and will join others on the substation and recreation plan projects.

Pennington has identified 14 projects in all to explore.

  • 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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