By DAVID GREEN
Morenci police officers have heard complaints about careless snowmobile operation in recent weeks. Monday night it was city council’s turn to hear about problems.
East Street South resident Lowell Oberhaus said he’s in favor of banning snowmobile operation in the city due to his experiences.
“I have a very big problem on my property because of the location,” he said. Oberhaus lives on the south edge of the city.
He’s had trees and flower beds damaged, grass torn up and blocks pushed out from a wall along his driveway. He also noted that the wood planks on the pedestrian bridge over Silver Creek are splintered where snowmobiles have traveled.
Washington Street resident Dick Kelly—a former snowmobile operator—said he wouldn’t mind if they stayed within three or four feet of the road, but instead they drive closer to his house.
He said the incidence of problems has dropped recently—perhaps due to police action—but he expects trouble will increase if more snow falls.
After the meeting ended, there was informal discussion about damage to other property, such as a mailbox knocked over, and also about excessive speed in town—up to 60 m.p.h. on Coomer Street.
Councilor Tracy Schell said she was told of a state law that prohibits snowmobile operation in communities. She suggested tabling the issue until the law could be researched.
“It may not be necessary for us to do anything but follow the state law,” she said.
The city’s existing ordinance prohibits snowmobiles from operating at greater than “motion speed” or 5 m.p.h. They must obey existing motor vehicle laws, use the right side of the road as near to the curb as possible, and not operate in the business district.
Mayor Keith Pennington expected the issue to return for discussion at the March 14 meeting.
UNION—Pennington informed council that the police department is seeking new union representation. He pointed out that the change will result in additional time for council members to meet with two unions since the DPW workers will have different representation.
VIDEO—Morenci police chief Larry Weeks said he expects to spend between $8,000 and $11,000 to replace video equipment that is used in the department’s two cruisers.
The original equipment was purchased in 2006 for $15,000. When he called recently for technical support, he learned the company is out of business and repairs would probably not be available.
“I believe this piece of equipment to be invaluable for what we do,” Weeks said, and he doesn’t consider replacement to be optional.
The chief expects that the server located inside the department will still be used for storage, but the recording devices in the car will need to be replaced.
COPIER—Council approved a new contract for the copying machine it already leases. The move is expected to save $402 annually.
The new contract will cost $229 a month over the next four years. The contract includes toner, service calls and black and white copies. Color copies cost eight cents each.
CHAMBER—Council approved a resolution recognizing the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce as a non-profit group functioning in the city.
The move was required by the state before the Chamber could serve as the sponsor for bingo games and a raffle planned by the Town and Country Festival committee. The Chamber is serving as the sponsor since the Town and Country Festival committee is part of the city.
DEVELOPMENT—Schell said she attended a Lenawee Economic Development Corporation meeting that reviewed recent actions by the group.
She said the corporation is very much open to suggestions from the public for development ideas.