Morenci city council 05.26.10

Morenci city council conducted two public hearings Monday night prior to the regular meeting.

The annual budget hearing drew no comments from the public while the parking lot rebuild plan (ICE grant) did result in some discussion.

Scott Merillat of Associated Engineers pointed out a few refinements from the original parking lot proposal that council first discussed in February.

Merillat described changes in the approaches to some parking areas and a walkway on the north side of the main parking lots, behind the businesses.

A sidewalk could also be added along the south side of Baker Street, he said. The best placement, he said, would be right next to the curb because of the limited amount of space in front of some residences.

Mayor Keith Pennington suggested that council might exchange the cost of installing the sidewalks for obtaining an easement for the walk from property owners.

David Sallows, who lives on Baker Street, expressed dissatisfaction with the location of Dumpsters for businesses to use. He suggested moving them north closer to the Eagles. Merillat said he would look at the possibility.

Merillat said if sufficient funds are available, the recycling center drive would also be repaved.

Pennington cautioned residents not to expect to see work begin soon because the city is still waiting to hear back from the state historical preservation agency. When state funds are used for demolition, a review is required.

“We’ll get done what we can this year,” Pennington said.

Budget

The public had no questions about the city’s 2010-11 budget, but there was discussion among council members.

Councilor Tracy Schell asked about the change in the general fund contingency account compared to an earlier proposal, noting a large decrease.

Greg Braun explained that some items increased and others went down. The largest change came in proposed library spending due to the addition of health insurance benefits to library director Colleen Leddy.

The finance committee recommended that when the contract comes due, Pennington said, that health insurance benefits be given to the library director.

He added that perhaps the best time to discuss the issue is when salaries are reviewed in July.

“But it would be difficult to make a change if funds were not in the budget,” he said. “If council decided against offering that, council could move the funds back to the contingency fund.”

Schell noted that the library is still being asked to contribute money to the general fund, and now the proposal is to add an expense more than double that amount.

She suggested waiting until funds are no longer needed from the library and then consider the issue.

Council member Leasa Slocum said the library director is the only full-time staff member not receiving health insurance, and money is now available in the budget.

“I think that would be a wonderful thing to offer once we’re in a position where we don’t have to ask the library for money,” Schell said.

Councilor Jason Cook asked for information about salary raises for city employees. All department heads are receiving a 1.5 percent increase, he was told, except for city administrator Renée Schroeder who is to receive three percent. Union employees will also receive three percent increases.

• Additional city council news will be reported in next week’s Observer.

  • Front.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.