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.

  • 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.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.

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