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.

  • 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.
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    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.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • 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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