Morenci city council 2012.08.22

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The benefits of in-car computers for police cruisers are so overwhelming, says Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks, that there’s no question in his mind about replacing the existing models.

City council members agreed with him at the Aug. 13 meeting and voted to join in on a county initiative.

The existing computers came through a county grant, Weeks said, and some departments in the county are experiencing problems with them.

The county government has offered to replace the computers with a special rugged model at a cost of $1,382 annually, starting in the 2013-14 budget year. Technical support is included.

Tracy Schell, head of council's Public Safety committee, said the computers cost about $5,000 each.

Weeks said the program has no long-term commitment and the city could withdraw at any time if council decided to buy its own units.

Features of the county program include an automatic police car locator that tells the command post in Adrian, as well as any officer out on the road, the location of all other law enforcement vehicles in the county. This will allow rapid dispatch of officers where needed.

The computer will provide details on the nature of each call reported, including follow-up information that's not given on the regular radio channel.

The history of each address in regard to law enforcement matters is also available and the computer is connected to the nation-wide LIEN network of data.

Weeks also received council's approval to incorporate the Report Management System software that would provide what Weeks describes as “real criminal intelligence.”

Officers would use the software to enter data into a countywide records system that will store data off-site. Morenci officers would have access to records from other county agencies that could give insight into their own dealings with suspects.

“It’s a significant law enforcement tool and it makes officers safer,” Weeks said.

The program offered by the county is cheaper than the existing software, he said, and is much better.

The cost of the two computers and software is initially $4,604, plus a $380  annual maintenance fee for the software.

“We couldn’t do it without county support,” Weeks said before obtaining council's support. “I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

PILOT—Morenci city council members expect to learn more about the PILOT program—standing for “payment in lieu of taxes”—when a representative from the county equalization department visits Aug. 27.

The PILOT program allows certain entities that provide low-income housing to pay a fee rather than taxes. The program is in accordance with Michigan’s State Housing Development Authority Act of 1966.

A PILOT agreement allows the housing owner to pay up to 10 percent of rental income, minus utilities, instead of taxes.

The owners of the York Hills apartment complex have applied for the tax exemption and all 24 units are described as serving low income individuals.

City treasurer Crystal White told council members at the July 23 meeting that Whitman Crossings is also considering an application.

“It seems like we’re being forced to do something that’s not to the best interest of the city,” councilor Tracy Schell said Aug. 13 at council’s second discussion about the topic.

The York Hills application leaves council members with several questions. Mayor Keith Pennington wondered if the savings to the apartment owner must be used to reduce rent or to take on maintenance projects. He also wants to learn more about the qualifications that an applicant must meet to obtain the break.

Pennington said he’s conscious of anything that reduces revenue, not only for the city but for the school district, as well.

 

SALES—Schell said at the July 23 meeting that council has been asked to look at regulations governing door-to-door sales. Other than children’s fund-raising efforts, sales could be banned, she said, or they could go through a licensing restriction to know what items are being offered for sale.

Schell urged residents to contact city hall with suggestions about the issue.

PLANNING COMMISSION—A couple of issues are coming up that the planning commission must address, said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder, and a couple members are still needed.

POLICE—Chief Weeks told council that he has lost two part-time officers. Cory Daza and Brad Elston have both accepted full-time jobs elsewhere.

MAINTENANCE—Council voted to seeks bids to paint the exterior of city hall and to replace awnings. For the United Way Day of Action project, the City will suggest painting the Wakefield Park concession stand, and furnish the materials.

LIBRARY—Heather Walker and Kym Ries were approved to continue as Stair Public Library trustees for three-year terms.

TREES—A $1,300 grant will be sought from Consumers Energy to purchase 13 trees. The planting locations have been chosen, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool, and if the grant is received, the trees will be planted in the fall.

TRAFFIC—Council approved a request by an E. Chestnut Street resident to close the 200 block of the street during a wedding ceremony Aug. 25. Closure is not crucial to traffic flow in the area, Chief Weeks said, and the people requesting closure consulted neighbors who would be affected.

Any future requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

MODEL T CLUB—Council discussed parking for the Model T Jamboree members who will visit Morenci on Saturday. More than 80 cars are expected. The Jamboree is based in Adrian and the group will travel to Hudson and Morenci in the morning before visiting Blissfield for lunch.

The final decision about parking will be left to Chief Weeks.

“I say we oblige them any way we can,” city administrator Renée Schroeder. “It’s bringing a lot of people to town.”

GOODWILL—Goodwill Industries of Southeast Michigan will bring tubs for another donation drive Sept. 24-28. The tubs will be placed at the recycling center.

HABITAT—Schroeder said that only one prospective family attended the informational meeting at the library to learn about becoming a Habitat for Humanity home owner. An Aug. 27 deadline was set to find a Morenci family interested in participating in a Habitat restoration project.

  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
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    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
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    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.
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    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.
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