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Feeney returns to Morris City Council

The Morris City Council appointed a familiar face to the fill its vacancy during a special meeting Monday.

Former Alderman Brian Feeney returned to the council to represent the Third Ward. He replaces Barry Aldrich, who resigned in August because he was moving out of his ward.

Feeney was voted in unanimously with Alderman Randy Larson absent because of work obligations. A special meeting was held in order for the vacancy to be filled in the state mandated 60 days, which would have been up this Friday, said Mayor Richard Kopczick.

Returning to the council was not necessarily his plan, but when he heard Aldrich was looking to move out of his ward, Feeney said he took some time to think about it.

“And I definitely wanted to get back involved if I could,” he said after the meeting.

Feeney was sworn in after the vote by City Clerk John Enger.

The council chose Feeney from five candidates who expressed interest in the opening to Kopczick. Kopczick would not comment on who the other candidates were. As he does every time he has to make an appointment, Kopczick said he shares the background of each candidate with the council and then has the aldermen vote through a ballot system on who they would like to see fill the vacancy.

The majority of the aldermen’s votes is who the mayor recommends for the appointment. The majority of the aldermen’s votes were for Feeney. Larson was unable to vote because he missed recent council and committee meetings because of his job, Kopczick said.

“It’s nice working with men and women that have been on the council before because they know a lot more about how things work then someone who comes off the street,” the mayor said. “There is a lot of work to it and difficult decisions, and Alderman Feeney knows how it works.”

Feeney is currently the third seated alderman who has been appointed by the council at one time. Previously Aldermen Bill Martin and Don Hansen were appointed. Feeney is the only other Democrat on the council besides Kopczick.

Feeney was on the council for 16 years, but did not seek re-election in 2007 because of a new job. But in 2008, another alderman resigned and Feeney was appointed to finish that term. In 2009, he lost the election to former Alderman Drew Muffler in a close race.

Feeney said he plans to return his efforts to fixing up the former Federal Paperboard property on the east side of town.

“It’s been an eyesore and it’s always been on my agenda,” he said.

While he served on the council previously, the city acquired some of the property and has continued efforts to purchase more since he has been off the council. The city formed an agreement with Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity to construct a five-house subdivision on the some of the property it has already obtained.

“With the layout of the city and the infrastructure, [the council] has done a really good job,” said Feeney.

Feeney said the sidewalk replacement program started when he was on the council before and he would like to see it become more frequently used again. He said some of the downtown sidewalks need to be redone.

Feeney was previously the chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee for many years.

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