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

  • 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.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • 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.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

2009.04.15 Honking through China

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Every now and then I reach down into a pile of unread or partially-read magazines for some good bed-time reading.

It’s the New Yorker magazine that poses the great problem. Too much good stuff to read and it just keeps arriving every week, as it should.

They pile up in places where they shouldn’t and then guests are coming and the New Yorkers are shoved into a bag and stashed somewhere else out of the way.

No, the house isn’t overrun by the magazine. I manage to thin out quite a few from time to time, either by reading through the index and chucking them into the recycling pile, or by reading the thing.

Last week I reached into the bag that I knew resided under my bed and I pulled out a gem. Nov. 26, 2007. I didn’t care about the political story (“Can Obama catch Hillary?), but a story called ”The Patron” was really quite fascinating.

It’s about a man named Orlando Tobón, a Columbian living in Queens, NYC, and is described as the go-to man in the Little Columbia neighborhood of Jackson Heights.

When new arrivals have problems, Orlando helps them out—citizenship problems, identity theft, the need for a wheelchair, arranging for the return of a body to Columbia following the deadly job as a drug mule.

It’s the next article in that issue that I want to write about: Peter Hessler’s account of driving in China, “Wheels of Fortune, the People’s Republic Learns to Drive.”

When Hessler wrote the story, an average of a thousand new drivers were being registered in Beijing alone every day of the year. The automotive boom was in full swing.

I read that car sales slowed some last year, but it’s back on a record pace. Auto sales in China exceeded U.S. sales for the first time ever in January and that feat was repeated in February and March.

Fortunately for General Motors, it’s part of that growth and recorded record sales in China last month.

As of 2007, China had a lot of catching up to do. There were about 28 automobiles for every thousand people. That equates to the United States in 1915.

When Hessler got his Chinese driver’s license in 2001, foreigners were still required to a take a road test. The testing road was cleared of all traffic. Hessler was told to start the car, move forward, and after about 50 yards, to pull over and stop the car. It was over.

“You’re a very good driver,” the examiner told him.

That gives a hint about what Chinese drivers are like. A few years ago China accounted for about three percent of the world’s vehicles and 21 percent of its traffic fatalities. There were 89,000 deaths in 2006.

Hessler explains that China has moved so fast from a pedestrian society to an automotive one, that people tend to drive as they walk.

They like to move in packs, and they tailgate whenever possible. They rarely use turn signals. If they miss an exit on a highway, they simply pull onto the shoulder, shift into reverse, and get it right the second time.

Drivers rarely check their review mirrors. Windshield wipers are considered a distraction, and so are headlights.

Headlights were banned in Beijing for many years until the mayor visited New York City and noticed that people turned them on at night.

Here’s a question from the written exam study guide:

77. When overtaking another car, a driver should pass

(a) on the left.

(b) on the right.

(c) wherever, depending on the situation.

He mentions that many answers involve honking. Drivers honk continually and he’s been able to determine 10 distinct meanings, from anger to fear. It’s like learning a new language.

353. When passing an elderly person or a child, you should

(a) slow down and make sure you pass safely.

(b) continue at the same speed.

(c) honk the horn to tell them to watch out.

355. When driving through a residential area, you should

(a) honk like normal.

(b) honk more than normal, in order to alert residents.

(c) avoid honking.

Hessler heard of a certified driving instructor who forced students to start in second gear. First gear would make them lazy. Another forbade the use of turn signals because they would distract other drivers.

Hessler’s wife signed up for lessons to learn the use of a stick shift. Her teacher sat in the passenger seat and adjusted the rearview mirror to face him. His wife asked how she was going to see what was behind her.

“I’ll tell you what’s behind you,” he answered.

Hessler rode with some students one day and the class stopped for lunch and had a few beers. One student told him they got so drunk the day before that the afternoon class had to be canceled.

Other foreigners in Beijing often express dismay that Hessler actually chooses to drive on China’s roads. Hessler believes he’s making the right choice.

“I can’t believe you get into cabs and buses driven by graduates of Chinese driving courses,” he answers.

They’re all crazy on those roads, but he prefers to sit behind the wheel.

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