Morenci’s newest council member is seeking an investigation of possible contamination on property for which the city has a purchase option.
Councilor Ron Apger said he was invited to look at chemicals stored in a barn on the Horton property east of Morenci—land that council is considering buying for an addition to the industrial park.
Morenci mayor Keith Pennington said the seller would be required to disclose the presence of chemicals on the property if the purchase were to be made. He also reminded Apger that his investigation was done by a lay person and not by someone trained in inspecting a contaminated site.
Pennington said he was told by the property owner that Apger insinuated he was on the property as city representative.
“You’re not representing council on something not approved by council,” he said. “We do have the right to inspect but you don’t have the right to inspect,” referring to Apger visiting the site on his own.
Apger said he didn’t recall saying that he was a city representative.
“Regardless of whether or not he should have been there,” said audience member Everett Cool, “you have evidence of possible contamination just outside the city.”
Noting that the property does not belong to the city, Pennington said the renter of the property should call an environmental agency if he suspects a problem. He added that the concerns are entirely speculation at this point.
“I didn’t just have a psychic premonition there was a problem,” Apger said.
Chief of Police Larry Weeks expressed his concern about Apger seeking information from a police officer at a public venue about the Skelton brothers investigation.
Weeks said it places officers in a difficult position because they have been instructed not to discuss the issue with the public. Weeks said the inquiry should instead go through a council committee.
“I have a right to ask about the Skeltons anytime,” Apger said.
He also denied seeking any information that the public should not be aware of.