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Council approves additional work on East 8th Street project

Improvement projects dominated the agenda for the Morris City Council on Tuesday.

Council members first heard from a homeowner who reported that above-ground drainage was ruining his street. Howard Jaeck told the council that the running water and frost heaves have left Birch Avenue in very poor condition. He asked what plans the city has for repairs.

Public Works Director Jim Dittbenner said the waterway in that area should be replaced and crews are planning to make those repairs.

City Manager Blaine Hill said they are considering a correction similar to one recently installed on the frontage road by Pizza Hut to allow for better drainage.

Council members also approved additional residential sewer work on the 400 block of East 8th Street after homeowners approached the city to have the sewer lines replaced along their block.

Hill noted that since 100 percent of the homeowners signed a petition requesting the work, the city is not required to hold a public hearing for the project and the council can order the work done. Hill said the sewer is very shallow in that area, which is causing problems for homeowners.

Hill noted that the city will use what's left in the contingency fund for the East 8th Street project to pay for the additional work to draw up the plans and specifications for the project. The 12 homeowners on the block will also each be assessed $3500 for the project. Hill said this will be a "good deal all the way around," Hill said.

In other business, Council members

-Approved a contract with Stevens County for the services of Aaron Jordan as city attorney. The County Commissioners recently appointed Jordan as the county attorney to fill the unexpired term of Charlie Glasrud. Glasrud was recently named a district court judge. Under the contract with Stevens County, the city will pay $35,000 a year for Jordan to serve as city attorney. Council member Bill Storck questioned if

there was any conflict in having someone be both city and county attorney, but Hill said that it is rare. Hill also said that the city is "not in this forever. If something changes with the county attorney position, we would renegotiate the contract."

-Approved an agreement with the Morris Area Schools for a School Readiness Officer. Police Chief Jim Beauregard reported that the city had one of its lowest juvenile crime rates in 20 years last year and he believes the School Readiness Officer is one of the reasons. Beauregard reported that one of the program areas they hope to expand is on cyber bullying. He said they are seeing problems in younger grades and the Police Department's goal is to be there to intervene.

-Appointed Ron Kubik, Deb Stoneburg and Roland Guyotte to the Morris Human Rights Commission. The Commission still has one opening to fill. Hill said anyone who would like to join the Human Rights Commission or nominate someone for the position should contact city hall.

-Heard an update from Hill on Local Government Aid. The city will lose $209,390 in LGA for 2011 and 2012. At the same time, the legislature removed levy limits for local governments. Mayor Sheldon Giese commented, "All that does is give us the right to raise taxes. That may not be a good idea." Hill said the preliminary budget for the city will be done in August.

-Learned that a marketing consultant will be in Morris on Aug. 10 to hold a focus group session to develop a marketing plan. This is being coordinated by the city's Tourism Committee.