2006.03.01 Hey, Detroit, need a sister?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When Morenci school superintendent Kyle Griffith was a classroom teacher, he would have students work on a “sister city” project. The assignment was to locate a city anywhere in the world with a population similar to Morenci’s and then dig in to learn about the place.

Mhlambanyatsi, Swaziland, Höfn, Iceland—most anyplace could become Morenci’s sister city for the sake of a social studies project.

With that background in his head, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Kyle recently suggested that Morenci could become a sister city to Detroit. It might look really nice on the city limits signs: “Morenci, Sister City to Detroit.” Or maybe just Little Detroit.

OK, now you know what got Kyle thinking. First came the recently boarded up building downtown, then came “Little Detroit” spray painted across the plywood. It’s not a very attractive situation and Kyle was trying to find some humor in the predicament. Make some lemonade out of the lemons, as the old saying goes.

Then things seemed to take a turn for the strange. Just look at the recent police report. It wasn’t just the rush of domestic assault charges and suspicious situations on Main Street. There were items never before entered into the logbook, such as a wild cat found in a house and a disorderly parent at a wrestling match.

Then came the report to top all others. I was just finishing breakfast when I heard the call over the police scanner: Unresponsive subject found in a Dumpster at Morenci Deli.

“We really are becoming Little Detroit,” my wife remarked.

Before I had my coat on, officer Don Thompson was on the radio reporting that the unresponsive guy was only sleeping, but even that is a too big city for us. No one in Morenci spends a winter night in a trash receptacle to keep warm. That only happens in Little Detroit.

Then it struck my personal life. First came the Stranger in the Kitchen dream. I stepped from the bathroom to the kitchen in a pitch black night and my hand encountered a person. Back in real life, my wife reported feeling my pelt stand on end.

Next was the Dark Force in the Bedroom. I never did figure that experience out. It was some dark thing moving across the bedroom toward the bed. Maybe it wasn’t a dream at all.

Finally, I was chased in a dream by a menacing man who was angry that I wouldn’t let him through the fence into Dunbar’s Used Cars so he could reclaim his vehicle. I ended up at the police station where a two old friends were having their groceries checked by—he’s back again—Officer Thompson.

“He can’t do that!” I said. “He’s a policeman!”

We’re drifting too far into the lemons here. Back to the creation of a sweet drink.

Kyle knows I’m always looking for a new festival theme. “Town and Country” just doesn’t do it, not the way Adam Johnson’s “Quillback Carpsucker” theme could work or my wife’s “Sleepy Little Town” festival.

But Kyle has really struck it rich with our new sister city and “Little Detroit Days.” After consulting with some natives from the big city, I’ve learned that any celebration must include Vernor’s floats and coney dogs. The Pub could become our little Greektown and R.D. could light the cheese on fire and yell “Opa!”

Kwame Kilpatrick will make a fine grand marshal for our parade, riding beside our own mayor, Kwame Sutherland. We can fashion some sort of People Mover (or maybe a Folks Pusher) to shuttle guests from downtown past our proposed Creekfront development to the park. Don’t forget the hydroplane races on the Bean (or the sewage lagoons).

My friends say we need some sculpture, something to match the Joe Louis fist. For Little Detroit, I suppose, just a finger will do. They say we need a skyline and I tell them we have it if you just lie flat on the sidewalk and look up. Casinos, Bingo halls—is there really much difference?

They say we need something fun like a contest for shooting out street lights and I tell them maybe this is going too far. We’ll change the school mascot to the Pistons or the Fuel Pumps, but we have our limits.

I should point out that Detroit already has a sister city, but with our wholesome image, we’ll be able to push the city of Dubai out of the way.

– March 1, 2006 
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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