By DAVID GREEN
Morenci has a new fire chief in place following the resignation of veteran chief Chad Schisler.
Schisler’s letter of resignation was read Monday at the Morenci city council meeting in which he stated that it was time for him to make a change in direction.
Schisler praised his department members and their ability to adapt to changes over the years while continuing to provide excellent service. Schisler said he was proud to play a role in that effort.
Morenci mayor Keith Pennington expressed his appreciation for Schisler’s work and said he was sorry to see him leave the post. Schisler will continue to a member of the department.
Bronson DiCenso also resigned from his C-4 officer’s post due to his work schedule, but will remain a department member.
Tracy Schell, head of council’s Public Safety committee, recommended that Brad Lonis, second in command should take over as chief to finish Schisler’s term that expires in two and a half years. Pennington made the appointment and council members approved his choice.
Lonis’s C-2 position and DiCenso’s C-4 position will be appointment by department members. Both terms expire at the end of the year.
Lonis said he was intending to seek a city council seat, but now he will focus on the fire department.
Council members voted 6-0, with Brenda Spiess absent, to approve revisions to the handbook for non-union city employees and to accept changes to city sign ordinance, as recommended by the planning commission.
INSURANCE—The city’s health care provider is giving city council until July 15 to decide whether it wants to continue with its current Blue Cross insurance plan or make a change through the new federal insurance exchanges that will be available in the future.
The cost of the existing plan is expected to increase by 10 percent next year in addition to a five percent tax. A 10 percent increase was built into the budget, Mayor Pennington said, but not additional cost for a tax.
“It is very unsettling to say within two weeks you have to have a decision on something of this magnitude,” he said, particularly when details of the new health care reform aren’t available.
The only information coming is through Blue Cross.
“We might as well toss the dice and see what else is going to happen,” Schell said, “and give ourselves some time to find out the details before we make a decision.”
Pennington agreed, stating his opposition to making a rushed decision. He would like to explore a Health Savings Account.
DPW—Schell asked Pennington to explain the DPW hiring situation since she’s heard some questions from the public.
With the new budget, one full-time and one part-time DPW employee was laid off by seniority, which meant cemetery sexton Eric Emmons and recycling center worker Laurie Schisler.
After that, full-time employee Barry Stover resigned, which canceled Emmons’ layoff. Later yet, full-time worker Merlin Zuvers retired and that’s position the city is now advertising to fill.
SIDEWALKS—City supervisor Lonnie Vanderpool reported that five Page Street residents have had sidewalks constructed, leaving six to go. He will contact the property owners to see what they are planning before he seeks bids for the work to be done through the city.
LIBRARY—Stair Public Library director Colleen Leddy reported that 166 children are registered for the summer reading program.
STAGE—Council voted to allow the Morenci American Legion to borrow the stage used by the Town and Country Festival for a fund-raiser this weekend, but only if the stage can be transported to the site legally. In its current condition, it could not legally travel on a public street.
Schell recommended that council consider creating a policy for future requests to borrow city equipment.