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.
  • Front.sculpt
    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.
  • Front.homecoming Court
  • Cheer
  • Front.park.lights
  • Front.pull
  • Front.ropes
  • Front.sculpt
  • Front.tar.wide
  • Front.toss
  • Front.walk Across

Seeing Life in Black & White: Fayette's photo class 2007.11.28

Written by David Green.


When Fayette art class students head into the darkroom with a roll of film to process, they’re taking a step into the past.

Developer, stop bath, fixer, water wash—hardly anyone follows that routine anymore.

Instructor Ryan Colegrove knows he’s teaching the proverbial dinosaur, but it’s still a good beast to have around. Even in Fayette’s art classes, however, film is probably heading toward extinction. When classes move into the new school, digital photography will take over.

photo.class.colegrove.jpgFormer art teacher Tom Spiess remembers starting up the school darkroom in 1971.

“We had a Yankee enlarger, three trays and a developing tank,” he said.

At the time, the darkroom wasn’t at all a permanent fixture.

“We used the girls rest room across the hall from the boiler room,” Spiess said.

During the class period when the darkroom was in use, a student would be posted outside—both to warn a visitor that she might want to use another rest room and also to prevent an open door from exposing film or photo paper to light.

Spiess has the satisfaction of knowing that over the years a few of his students took their basic skills with them and went on to use photography after graduation.

It wasn’t a class for everyone, but many students found it fascinating.

“Some of them would get intellectually involved in the process,” he said. “Even kids who were generally considered trouble-makers were paying attention.”

The magical process of watching an image appear on a white sheet of paper captured the imagination of most students, but not everyone was comfortable in the darkroom.

“I used to tell them, ‘If you go into the darkroom, your hands are going to smell like feet,’” Spiess said.

Spiess remembers that Fayette was the first school in the county to have a darkroom and Colegrove figures it’s one of the last.

By the time he took over as art teacher from Spiess in the 2000-01 school year, a permanent darkroom was in place in the art room.

Colegrove was pleased to continue the tradition. He learned about photography in Spiess’s art classes and he studied the art further when he earned his teaching degree at Defiance College.

He appreciates how the photo class can offer an art experience to a wider range of students.

“It’s always been nice for kids who wanted to be in art but weren’t really artistic,” he said, referring to the drawing skills used in art class.

As far as processing and printing goes, it’s more of a technical process where a prescribed set of steps is followed. Still, a student needs an eye for capturing the image before the darkroom work begins.

Colegrove offers a variety of class projects, ranging from sports action shots to portraiture to landscapes. Darkroom techniques include sepia toning, solarization and high contrast printing.

When students move on to his advanced class, they’ll learn about the electronic darkroom using Photoshop software.

“Photoshop has made some of the more difficult techniques a one-click process,” Colegrove said.

And in the ever-changing world of digital photography, some processes, such as sepia toning, are now done right on the camera.

Photoshop opens up a new world of darkroom control, yet something is lost that a few students miss.

“Some kids who go on to digital still want to do some darkroom work,” Colegrove said.

But for most students, the instant gratification of a digital camera wins them over for good.

“In this day and age, people want to look at the back of a camera and see the result instantly,” he said. “Black and white photography is going to be a thing of the past.”

In the new school, Colegrove expects to  expand on the digital work and bring web design into the curriculum, but he can’t let the dinosaur die off completely.

The darkroom has to be approached with a different attitude now, Spiess said. It can only be taught as a historical process.

“We were on the leading edge when I started it,” he said, “and when I retired it was on its way out.”

On its way out, but not yet extinct.

There’s a closet in Colegrove’s new art room that could serve as a temporary darkroom and he’s going to bring along one of his enlargers.

“We’ll still do some work with film,” he said. “Some of the kids really enjoy it.”

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2015