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Morris City Council accepts bid from Riley Brothers for 2012 road improvements

The Morris City Council met in the Morris Area High School auditorium on Tuesday and conducted their meeting for two 9th grad civics classes. Pictured from left to right are City Manager Blaine Hill, Mayor Sheldon Giese, and council members Jeff Miller and Matt Carrington.

MORRIS, Minn. -- The Morris City Council accepted a bid from Riley Brothers Construction for the city's 2012 road improvement project at their meeting Tuesday, which was held in the Morris Area High School auditorium.

The bid from Riley Brothers was one of two bids the city received for the project, which will involve milling and overlays on a number of local streets.

Riley Brothers had the low bid of $356,000, compared to a bid of $391,159 from Central Specialties of Alexandria. The engineer's estimate for the project is $392,014.

The bids for the project are about $40,000 more than what the city budgeted for, but about $225,500 of the project will be covered by state funding, said City Manager Blaine Hill.

The project includes improvements to several Minnesota State Aid roads in Morris - Wyoming Avenue from Highway 28 to West 8th Street, South Street from Atlantic Avenue to Columbia Avenue, and South California Avenue from South Street to Elm Street.

The project will also hit local roads and city parking lots, including Iowa Avenue from East 7th Street to Highway 28, Glendale Street, Meadow Lane, Ridge Road and the Fire Hall parking lot.

Mayor, two council members don't regret buying old elementary school property

During a question-and-answer session at Tuesday's meeting, which was attended by two ninth grade civics classes at Morris Area High School, Mayor Sheldon Giese and council members Jeff Miller and Matt Carrington said they didn't regret the city's decision to purchase the old elementary school property.

"Personally, no, I don't regret that we did that," said Giese. "We knew from day one, or at least I knew from the onset that it was a long-term project. I wouldn't have expected it to take as long as it has, but we knew it was a long-term project.

"One of the reasons that the city decided to do that was so they could keep control of the property and guide what the property was going to eventually be. ... Remember, it's been over 100 years that that property has not generated any taxes for the city of Morris. If it takes a few years before it starts to generate taxes, it's probably still ok."

Miller said that he was part of the citizen committee that looked into ways to reuse the old building and property to perhaps build a green neighborhood.

"I really believe that 20 years from now, it's going to be a beautiful neighborhood and we're going to get some things done with it, but the last five years has been financially tough for everybody in the state," said Miller. "We're working on it and our goal is to get something done with it. My goal is to have a plan and get working and get something in our city budget for next year."

"I myself still want to see an outdoor pool," said Carrington.

Other business

• Morris Police Chief Jim Beauregard told the council the police department would be installing a new emergency siren within the next two weeks. This is the third year of a five-year transition to replace all of Morris' emergency sirens.

• The council had the first reading of an ordinance that will grant Centerpoint Energy a franchise to "construct, operate, repair and maintain facilities and equipment for the transportation, distribution, manufacture and sale of gas energy for public and private use."

"With the gas leak last fall, we saw what Centerpoint Energy was like," said Miller. "I think they did a great job, and they're a great company to work with."

There will be a public hearing on the ordinance at the council's next meeting on May 22 at 5:15 p.m.