Giese gives the gavel one final rap

With the rap of the gavel, Sheldon Giese concluded his 16 year run as the Mayor of Morris. Prior to serving as mayor, Giese also served 5 years as a city councilman. His final meeting was held on December 27.

Prior to giving that final rap to conclude the meeting, he shared some words of thanks. The first thank you went out to his wife Kim and family for helping him as he worked those years on the city council. “It’s sometimes hard,” Giese admitted.

He then thanked the citizens of Morris for trusting him all these years and giving him guidance along the way. “It has been a ride,” he stated. “Sometimes the decisions are not popular and other times they are. Just know that we are doing our best.”

He then thanked County/City Attorney Aaron Jordan for his guidance through the years stating that he is a valuable asset to the area. “I am always happy when I see you walk through the door for a meeting,” Giese said.

He went on to thank the person who sits next to him at the meetings, City Manager Blaine Hill. He thanked him for his 15 years as the manager of the city but had one extra special message. “I am always very proud to stand next to you, as fellow retired veterans, and say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of each meeting.

Giese added that the pledge was not always a part of the meeting and he was proud that he was able to help bring it back. “We need to lead by example,” he said, “so I wrote a letter and it was brought back.”

He then thanked all his fellow council members both past and present and said that he could not have served with a better group of men and women. 

Prior to Giese closing the meeting with these words, the council also conducted other business including discussion on vacating 1st Street from Montana Ave to Columbia Ave. Hill said he had met with representatives of Stevens Community Medical Center (SCMC) to discuss a future expansion project there. The project would require vacating the street so the construction could go to the north of the current building. 

“SCMC has seen an increase of 8-10% in our Emergency Room volumes.” explained Kerry McEvilly, President and CEO of SCMC the following day. “Due to this, we need additional space with more exam rooms, including an additional secure room for patients who are experiencing a mental health crisis. We also plan to have a separate ER waiting room and a team station that has a clear view of all the exam rooms. We don’t have the fine details all worked out yet, as our first goal was determining the best location for the expanded Emergency Room. Obviously SCMC cannot shut down the ER during construction, so building new is the best approach. Also, it is important that our ER continues to be located close to the Radiology Department, because minutes count when you need to get a stroke or trauma patient to the CT Scanner. The fact that SCMC sits on somewhat of a hill also complicates construction options due to the grading. We want as level an entrance to the ER as possible.”

After working with an architect and general contractor since February, SCMC determined that the only feasible option that meets these criteria is expanding to the north. The current property line does not allow enough room for constructing a new Emergency Room and ambulance garage, which is why they are hoping to obtain a variance and possible vacation of 1st Street by the Morris Planning Commission and City Council. “We are very appreciative of the community support of SCMC and want to continue to offer the highest quality of technology and space design to our emergency room patients,” McEvilly concluded.

The Morris City Council members will take action on vacating the street at their meeting on January 10. Council member Jeff Miller stated that SCMC is a valuable asset to the community so the city needs to do what they can to encourage this expansion.

Construction is estimated to take about 14 months and they are hoping to begin this spring. No changes will be made to the current ER other than a shift in where the ambulance will be dropping off patients and entrance for Urgent and Respiratory Care. After the new ER is complete, there will be some inside changes with the current ER area added to the radiology department. 

Even though this was the final regular meeting for Giese, he will be present at the organization meeting of the council on January 3. Giese will call the meeting to order. After roll call and approval of the minutes, the city council will accept Kevin Wohler’s resignation from his city council position. Wohlers will then be sworn in as mayor and Giese will officially be done. Also sworn in at this meeting will be Councilmen Jeff Miller and Brian Solvie (although Solvie may not be there so he will be sworn in at the next meeting.) The city council will declare a city councilmember seat vacant. They will have 30 days to decide who will fill that position along with how and when.