Morenci city council 03.16.2011

Written by David Green.

City council received only one comment from the public regarding a downtown development project.

Councilors voted unanimously Monday night to authorize city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder to submit an application for  CDBG funds for the project.

The grant would help in the improvement of blighted property located at 203 and 205 W. Main Street and is pegged at $164,000 for exterior work on the buildings. Developer Ketan Patel would furnish matching funds of $237,000 to cover the exterior work.

Patel intends to open a Subway restaurant and office space on the street level and apartments on the second floor.

Patel told council that he already successfully operates a Subway in Hudson and he hopes to do the same in Morenci. He thanked council for his welcome to the community.

Mayor Keith Pennington said he received one comment from Morenci resident John Van Havel who spoke  against the city seeking any grant. Van Havel told the mayor the government should not be giving away taxpayers’ dollars.

Councilor Tracy Schell disagreed.

“I think it is very wise for the city to take advantage of funds that have already been set aside,” she said.

SNOWMOBILES—City council voted unanimously to direct the city attorney to write an ordinance that would allow police to ticket the owners of snowmobiles rather than the operators.

Councilors had discussed options in the past in response to complaints of careless operation and trespassing on private property. One option is banning operation inside the city, as most communities in southern Michigan do.

There are many snowmobile operators who follow the existing law, Schell said, and she didn’t favor banning operation.

Because of the difficulty of apprehending snowmobile operators, council favored a measure that would allow police to follow a machine’s tracks back to the owner.

LIQUOR SALES—Councilors heard the first reading of a proposal to allow the sale of liquor on Sundays.

Existing city law does not allow Sunday sales, but due to a recent change in state law, council could decide to adopt the same wording as the state. The state now allows Sunday sales with a permit.

Now that the state law has changed, said Chief of Police Larry Weeks, a local business owner has requested the change for Morenci, also.

CONTRACT—Councilors voted 5-2 on a tentative contract extension for DPW workers. The new contract would leave benefits the same, but increase wages 1.5 percent in each of the next three years.

“I think the days of increases just because it’s another year are past,” Schell said. “You don’t see that in private companies, especially if they’re not unionized.”

She favored leaving wages and benefits steady during a time of falling city revenue. Jason Cook joined her in opposing the contract proposal.

Mayor Pennington noted that the city does not yet know about revenue sources for the next year.

SENIOR—Council voted to hire a worker through the Senior Community Service Employment Program, coordinated through Region II. A.A.R.P. will pay minimum wage and workman’s compensation costs for one senior to work up to 20 hours a week.

The city has the right to cancel the program at any time.

The employee is expected to assist the DPW at the cemetery and the recycling center.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

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