Morenci city council 2013.06.12

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council members worked through a variety of personnel issues during the June 10 meeting, including a resignation and a change in policy.

Council voted to accept the resignation of DPW worker Barry Stover who accepted a position at a local industry. His final day on the job is Friday.

This should clear the way for Eric Emmons to remain with the DPW, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool. Emmons was to be laid off June 30 due to a reduction in the city revenue for the next fiscal year.

Council heard the first reading of a proposed change to the employee handbook. Mayor Keith Pennington would like council to vote on the issue at the June 24 meeting.

The recommendation is for the city to change from a “just cause” employer to an “at will” employer. This would remove the progressive discipline steps for nonunion workers and instead allow the city to fire an employee at will.

Morenci is one of the only communities in the region that still uses just cause, said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder.

“As a salaried employee,” said library director Colleen Leddy, “it feels like an unfriendly relationship.”

Pennington asked why salaried employees should be given an extra layer of protection that other employees don’t have.

“I don’t see a benefit to the city,” Pennington added. “I think it’s more of a benefit to the city to be an at-will employer.”

The city’s attorney and liability insurer both advise moving in that direction, Schroeder said.

The contracts that department heads sign are in conflict with the employee handbook, Pennington said, and he would like them to mesh. He wondered if contracts are even needed.

Councilor Tracy Schell said that some sort of contract or agreement is good to have for department heads, although she doesn’t think it needs to be renewed annually.

An agreement for each position would allow the city to better negotiate with a prospective employee, she said. For example, someone might be willing to work for less pay along with more vacation time. She stated that an initial agreement when an employee is first hired is important to have.

Pennington favored separate job descriptions without the use of contracts.

Council member Brenda Spiess sees no value in contracts. Any minor changes  should be handled by human resources department, she said, which is the city administrator.

A motion to continue using an agreement in addition to the employee handbook failed on a 3-4 vote. A second motion stated that all non-union employees will be governed by the employee handbook, with any negotiated exceptions tracked in a personnel file by the administrator. That passed by a 5-2 vote, with Schell and Robert Jennings voting against the motion.

ADMINISTRATOR—Councilor Jeff Bell announced that three additional interviews are scheduled for the city administrator/clerk position.

FIRE DEPARTMENT—Cody Thompson was approved to re-join the fire department.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • 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.
  • Front.drum
    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.
  • 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.

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