2010.12.08 Getting by in our tiny outpost

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

How are we all doing in our tiny rural outpost?

It’s true, Morenci is no longer a sleepy little town. The Detroit News has characterized us as a “tiny rural outpost.” I’m really glad they did that because it actually caused me to laugh out loud.

Merriam-Webster defines outpost as “an outlying or frontier settlement.” I suppose that’s how we appear to the Detroit media folks. They’re driving through miles and miles of nothing but empty, brown farmland wondering, “How do people live like this?”

Finally, they see a sign for Morenci and they soon reach the tiny frontier settlement.

We’ve been a sleepy little town for so many years of daily newspaper clichéd coverage. I really welcome the change, but don’t they know that people aren’t sleeping well? We really are tired these days. Have you seen police chief Larry Weeks lately?

Many, many people have spoken about how proud and impressed they’ve been with regard to Larry as he faces the TV cameras and reporters. The number of cameras increased through the week and I think at the maximum there were nine large video cameras staring him in the face.

There was also me with my little Flip camera, rudely recording the reporters and video people. That’s what was really interesting for us outposters. We know what Larry looks like, but golly gee, we’ve never seen these big city types before. I still recall the look that Reporter A gave when Reporter B’s louder voice overruled hers and he got to ask the question. Perhaps you watched these news conference videos on the Observer website.

One thing that really impressed me about Larry is that he answered each question without slapping his forehead or saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. You’re asking me that?”

It was either Day 5 or 6 of the investigation when a TV reporter asked if John Skelton’s computer had been searched for clues.

Now if it had been me or you, we would have given a startled look, slapped our forehead and said, “Oh my gosh, we never thought of that. Thank you, thank you.” But Chief Weeks politely gave an answer with no sign of disbelief.

I was also impressed that at two different news conferences, he said something about “leaving no stone unturned.” Had it been me, it would have come out “no tern unstoned.” I know I would have blown it.

If you haven’t yet been interviewed by a TV reporter, I hope you don’t feel slighted. Probably 10 percent of us frontierspeople have stood in front of one, however, I’m not among them.

I declined an offer from Detroit Mike last Tuesday night when I was addressing newspapers. He tracked me down as the guy in the neighborhood with the blog.

“It will only take five minutes,” he said. “Three minutes? You can keep on working.”

I should have convinced him to bundle newspapers. He could have taken the Detroit bag back home with him and maybe those subscribers would have received their paper the same week it was published for a change.

I had a call Friday from someone at Channel 4 in Detroit wanting to get some information that I wasn’t yet aware of.

“You know how it goes,” I told her. “They don’t tell you about an event and then they criticize you for not covering it.”

She knew just what I meant. She kindly asked if there was anything they could help me with. I suggested covering the girls game at Hudson for me that night.

I should have asked for help with proofreading. The Observer is known for keeping its typos to a minimum, but corrections to last week’s lead story weren’t made. On a sports page we learned this about Fayette’s boys team: “Faystarts sea-son Sat. at Lirty Center.” And of course there was that page 3 story about Santa arriving in Fatyette.

Let’s just say that things were busy last week at deadline.

I wish I didn’t have to write a single word more about this incident—well, I’d gladly go with “Boys return home from Disneyland trip”—but it’s certainly not over, not for us and not for the big media.

As I left the police station Saturday, I heard the woman at the phone saying back to the caller, “You say you listened to the Nancy Grace show...?”

Another slap to the forehead.

  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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