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.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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