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City of Morris seeks grant to improve public access equipment

MORRIS -- The City of Morris approved a grant application for equipment to approve the city's public access channel at their regular meeting on Tuesday.

City Manager Blaine Hill worked with a University of Minnesota, Morris student, Seth Elsen, and the Center for Small Towns to research equipment, work with vendors, and complete the grant application for the project to the Otto Bremer Foundation.

With the current system – a DVD player scheduled by an alarm clock – the city can only play programming when there is a staff member physically in the city office to start the video, said Hill.

The new system, if the grant is approved, would be a computer-based system that could convert DVDs to electronic files and schedule programming using a secure server.

“Ultimately what we want to look at is a web-based system where authorized users can drop their own videos on to the server,” said Hill.

This could lead to additional programming on the channel and the opportunity to work with others to produce content, said Hill.

“I've always thought that we should be working with the University or even the high school putting together informational pieces,” said Hill.

Mayor Sheldon Giese and Council Member Jeff Miller both expressed enthusiasm for the project.

“I think it will be pretty exciting to have more options [to watch city council meetings],” said Giese. “It could be programed at two o'clock in the morning – guess what, you can turn it on and watch the Council.”

“We're due for an upgrade,” said Council Member Jeff Miller. “I know a lot of the elderly try to watch it and I think if we can get that on there it will be a win-win.”

Engineers finalizing demolition plans for old elementary school building

The City of Morris could begin advertising for bids to demolish the old elementary school building within the next month, Hill told the council Tuesday.

In his report, Hill told the council that he had been waiting on finalizing the plans with engineers Bolton and Menk until the revised Tax Increment Financing districts were approved by the state. However, he recently learned that the state does not have to approve the TIF districts, so the city can move forward.

Hill said he expects to bring plans and specifications for the demolition to the council within the next month. Once the plans are approved, the city will begin advertising for bids.

“We should be able to answer a lot of questions in the next month as to what direction we're going with that,” said Hill.

Other business

The council re-approved a five-year mutual aid agreement with the University of Minnesota, Morris. The city currently partners with UMM on law enforcement and utility personnel and equipment, but has worked on other projects in the past, said City Manager Blaine Hill.

“This is probably one of those things that the University, in general, wants to see just to protect themselves,” said Hill, adding that he has seen no problems with the agreement on the city side.

“I think it just make sense that both parties understand what that agreement entails,” agreed Council Member Kevin Wohlers.