The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
  • Front.homecoming Court
  • Cheer
  • Front.park.lights
  • Front.pull
  • Front.ropes
  • Front.sculpt
  • Front.tar.wide
  • Front.toss
  • Front.walk Across

2008.08.13 Rubber Dump roadkill

Written by David Green.


I’m wondering this morning if John Hanawalt thinks I’m nuts. Well sure he does, along with a lot of other people, but I mean specifically because of what I said to him Saturday.

I was at the Morenci Sportsman’s Club to take photos at the annual Kids’ Day event. The Wildlife Encounters show had just ended and a few people were trading stories while the speaker packed up her gear. I can’t remember which of her animals she was talking about when she mentioned something about road kill.

I turned to John and said, “You’re a specialist when it comes to road kill, aren’t you, John?”

I don’t know how he responded, but he didn’t deny the statement.

I reminded him about the time that dead raccoons and possum were collected and hidden under someone’s front porch.

I’m not proud to say I was a participant, but I was there in the collection-and-delivery vehicle, traveling some local roads in search of stench.

I’m going too far back in history to get the details right.

The year must have been 1968: out of high school and making money at a summer job before heading to college in the fall. It was the Rubber Dump, as many employees fondly called Morenci Rubber Products. I was good friends with the Bryners and plant manager Doc Bryner hired me to work on the press line.

I can still recall the nostril-piercing smell of hot rubber and the incredible heat of the press line on a stifling summer day.

I remember the searing hot metal molds when they came out of the press, but the scars have all disappeared from my wrist burns.

It was a miserable job and always somewhat of a mystery. How were these strange sheets of rubber used, anyway?  It always seemed like we were creating hundreds of door mats that wouldn’t really function well as door mats.

Near the time clock was a list of job openings. One day there was a vacancy in the mixing department and someone convinced me to go ahead and bid on it. It was a ticket off the press line and it even paid a little more.

How could a rookie summer kid work his way up so fast? Maybe other people knew better.

My father told me that Doc had some reservations about giving me that job. He just wanted me to be very careful and pay attention to what I was doing.

I went to work on a mixing machine where materials were added to raw rubber. A certain formula of additives created a particular grade of rubber. The product was formed as it passed between two huge rollers and the danger existed of losing an arm if the rubber, as it was cut, wrapped around the operator’s arm and pulled him in.

There was a safety bar overhead to pull down and halt the operation, but I imagined that I would have to somehow activate it with my feet as I was pulled in. Help me, OSHA! It makes me squirm to think back on this job, but I mastered it and mixed some good rubber before leaving for school with both arms intact.

I’m sure John Hanawalt was there the evening I took off running across the front lawn of the factory. It was dinner break at the picnic table and I made some smart remark. Soon someone was chasing me, but all in good fun.

Then came the “ummph!” feeling of getting the wind knocked out of you. There was a wire cable around the edge of the property. It was nearly dark on the second shift break and I ran into that wire while traveling at a pretty good clip.

John must have been there to watch my sudden halt and of course he was present when I had to be one of the boys and say, “Sure, I want to go collect dead coons to put under Pete’s porch.”

Saturday, when I reminded John about that incident, when I accused him of being a road kill connoisseur, I even told him where the house was located and asked him, “Don’t you remember?”

He seemed a little confused about the event and now I know why.

He couldn’t have been there, could he? He had just finished his sophomore year in high school and he certainly wasn’t working in the Rubber Plant mixing room.

So tell me, John, how do you know so much about road kill?

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2015