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.
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    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.
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2006.02.08 Who cares about the smartest state?

Written by David Green.


What’s the dumbest state in the country? Care to take a guess? I’ll bet you’d be surprised. According to Morgan Quitno Press, a private research and publishing company based in Kansas, our friends in Arizona get to wear the dunce cap this year.

Morgan Quitno bases that conclusion on a study of 21 factors, including high school graduation rates, student proficiencies in various subjects, drop-out rates, class sizes and much more.

The “smartest” state, according to Morgan Quitno, is Vermont, another ranking I wouldn’t have guessed. Morgan Quitno’s president, Scott Morgan, said, “Vermont shines in many key areas of education. A high percentage of its students excel in reading, writing and math.

“In addition, schools in Vermont have smaller class sizes and lower pupil-teacher ratios than in most other states.”  And all that maple syrup has nothing to do with it?

Rounding out the top 10, in descending order of smartness, were Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Montana and New York. The next ten were Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Wyoming, South Dakota, Maryland and North Dakota.

It looks pretty suspicious to me with all those northeastern states ranked so high and Morgan Quitno’s home state and its two neighbors cracking the top 15. And how did Montana make the top 10?

Missouri leads the next 10, followed by North Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan in 27th, Idaho, South Carolina and Washington. Isn’t Texas ranked at the bottom in education? How can they be 24th smartest?

Ohio rears its head at 31st, followed by Illinois, Utah, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, Oregon, Oklahoma and Georgia.

The bottom 10 is led by Tennessee in 41st, then Hawaii, Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Mississippi and Arizona, the 50th “smartest” state.

How about California in 46th? That’s the home of Silicon Valley, so why the low ranking? Because the governor can’t pronounce the name of the state?

Before anyone from Michigan gets too excited abut the state’s ranking of 27th topping Ohio’s 31st, I should point out that Michigan’s lead has fallen drastically since the rankings were first done three years ago.

When Morgan Quitno first assembled the smart state list, Michigan ranked 20th, while Ohio was tied for 41st with Alabama. In three years, Michigan has dropped seven places and Ohio climbed 10 to cut the gap to four spots.

So what’s making the difference? Modesty forbids me from pointing out that between the two rankings, I moved from Michigan to Ohio. That would be way too self-serving to mention.

Morgan Quitno compiles several other state rankings in other areas, including healthiest state. Vermont leads this one again, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Utah, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Connecticut.

This is just about the same group as the top ten smartest states except for New York, which is tenth smartest but only 31st healthiest. It’s a virtual tie locally with Michigan ranking 23rd, compared to 25th last year and Ohio 26th, compared to 24th last year.

The “unhealthiest” state is Louisiana, followed by Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. The odd state here is Texas, which is 24th smartest, but only 45th healthiest.

Then there are the safest rankings. North Dakota is the safest state, followed by Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin and Idaho.

Start at the bottom of the list to find the most dangerous state, Nevada, followed by Louisiana, Arizona, Maryland, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Alaska, New Mexico and California.

Ohio leads Michigan by a good margin here. The Buckeye state is 28th safest (23rd most dangerous), while Michigan is 39th safest (12th most dangerous).

Notice how the safest states are all in the north, while all the most dangerous, except for Alaska, are in the southern part of the country?

Notice that Arizona ranks as dumbest, third most dangerous and 12th unhealthiest while Vermont is smartest, healthiest and second safest?

I still think I’d rather vacation in Arizona. Vermont is so boring it probably only seems like you’re living longer. As for being safe, that’s no surprise. Even criminals are smart enough to hide out where the weather is warm.

– February 8, 2006

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