By DAVID GREEN
When Michigan state law changed to allow fireworks on federal holidays, local communities were given the option to expand the number of days. That’s what Morenci city council did Monday night, but it took about 30 minutes of discussion to reach an agreement.
Councilor Robert Jennings stated that he’s not in favor of fireworks at all and has no interest in expanding the number of allowable days.
Brenda Spiess, on the other hand, pushed for extended days and suggested allowing fireworks on five days before and after each of the state’s designated federal holidays.
Mayor Keith Pennington favored staying with the state’s plan to see how it goes and consider changes later.
Rebecca Berger stated her opposition to extending the days, while Jeff Bell and Greg Braun said they would support one day on either side of a holiday. That’s what the state law currently allows.
Spiess gave an example of where she thinks the law is too limiting. Memorial Day falls on a Monday and people enjoy celebrating over the weekend, she said. The state law doesn’t allow fireworks on the Saturday of that weekend.
Tracy Schell proposed an amendment that would allow fireworks on the 10 federal holidays—New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day—and also the weekends surrounding each one plus the days in between. That would allow up to nine days for each holiday, depending on when the holiday fell during the week. If a holiday occurred on a weekend, then two weeks would be allowed. The motion failed by a 2-5 vote, with only Schell and Spiess supporting it.
Spiess then offered a motion to follow the existing law, but add five days before and after the Fourth of July and throughout the weekend of the annual town festival. This time only Jennings and mayor Keith Pennington voted against the measure.
HEALTH—Council voted 5-2 to approve a change in amount of money paid to employees that choose to opt out of the city’s health insurance plan.
Currently, the city gives $600 a month if someone opts out of family coverage and $300 a month for single coverage. For the next fiscal year, the rate will be cut back to $500 and $200.
The cost of insurance, said city treasurer Crystal White, is $1,649 a month for family coverage, $1,319 for a couple and $649 for a single person.
Spiess said the city’s payment schedule is very generous and higher than the private sector.
Robert Jennings and Berger opposed the motion.
GRANT—City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder told council that the city received a $500 grant from the Lenawee Community Foundation to support the summer recreation program. Stair Public Library received $1,000 for its summer reading program.
CONTRACTS—Employment agreements were approved for six city employees: library director Colleen Leddy, administrator/city clerk Renée Schroeder, city supervisor Lonnie Vanderpool, police chief Larry Weeks and city treasurer Crystal White. Building inspector Kevin Arquette’s contract was extended for 60 days during which time details of his contract will be reviewed.
BLEACHERS—Council gave the Town and Country Festival committee permission to rent two sets of bleachers from Black Swamp Equipment of Archbold for use at the rodeo.
In the past the committee borrowed seating from Pittsford, but White said the new bleachers will be safer and easier to transport.
PROJECTS—The Lenawee United Way plans to arrange another Day of Action in Morenci on Sept. 4. Organizers are seeking ideas for a community project or for projects benefitting individuals.
CANDIDATE—County commissioner candidate Jim Driskrill told council he does not favor across-the-board budget cuts, but instead wants to consider each county service on its own merits before deciding where to make cuts.