Morenci city council 2012.08.22

Written 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.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
  • 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.
    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.
    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.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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