The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

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    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.
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    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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Beagle Love: To love them is to run them...after rabbits 2008.02.06

Written by David Green.


Get a group of rabbit hunters together for a conversation and it soon becomes obvious what they’re really talking about.

Shooting at rabbits isn’t the focus; that’s just incidental to a morning in the field. They’re talking about their dogs. Running those beagles is the reason for the hunt.

“It’s all about the dogs,” says Travis Thompson of Morenci.

Those dogs could run forever.

“Beagles are the most stubborn dog,” he said. “They don’t know you have to go back home and go to work.”

Travis was one of five area hunters who joined a trio from the Michigan Out-of-Doors television show Jan. 24 to go after rabbits. The group spent about six hours at Hickory Hill nursery northwest of Morenci.beagle.crew.jpg

Travis’s father, Don, called the Michigan Out-of-Doors office last June to suggest a rabbit hunt and he received a return call a few weeks ago. Kelly Gotch from the show said they were interested in watching the group run their dogs, but that’s not what Don had in mind.

“No, come down to hunt,” he told Gotch.

Nobody invites the trio to hunt, she told Don. That was a very unusual request. She promised to get back with him after discussing the invitation with producers Jimmy Gretzinger and Gabe Van Wormer.

She called back and the date was set.

“None of us slept very well the night before worrying about the weather,” Travis said, but in the end everything worked out just fine.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Ed Eyer of Wauseon.

He was at the Thompson home Sunday morning with his brother, Tony, and dog running companion Joe Dillinger of Leipsic, Ohio.

“They were real down-to-earth people,” Don said about the television crew. “It was a good group. And all of them got rabbits.”

Tony said he let a few run by in an effort to make sure everybody, especially Kelly, went home with a rabbit.

“I could have had seven or eight rabbits that day,” he said. “We worked hard that day getting them a rabbit.”

Van Wormer, behind the camera, had his own challenge. It wasn’t easy to capture an image of a dog in close pursuit.

“They should have given me the camera,” Tony said. “You’ve got to move.”

Running the beagles

For the three Ohio men, running their dogs  is much more than a hobby. The Eyers have a 40-acre training pen for their beagles and a smaller area to train puppies. Along with Dillinger, they travel to several states to compete in dog trials.

“Me and Tony have been in it all our lives,” Ed says about the two Pennsylvania natives. “To have a good dog, you’ve got to have it on the ground a lot. Two or three times a week.”

“It’s like training an athlete,” Tony says.

Travis runs a speedy young male and a slower female.

“He has one of the fastest dogs I’ve seen,” Don said. “He doesn’t bark much, but he’s always 20 to 30 yards ahead of the pack.”

The slower female, actually a house pet that belongs to Travis’s wife, has an excellent “cold nose,” Don said, talking about her ability to pick up on an old trail that might elude other dogs.

Travis has good results with the pair, but the Eyers aren’t so fond of that mix.

“The object is to have the same speed of dog,” Ed says. “They have to work together.”

But if it’s working out, Tony’s going to be satisfied.

“You have to account for the game,” he said. “That dog better keep running it.”

Dogs are getting too fast, the Eyers said.

“These dogs are designed to be in front, but they’re getting too fast for hunting,” Tony said.

He and his brother aren’t about to own two separate packs—one for trials and one for hunting. They’ll just keep working with the best overall dogs they can find.

“A good dog knows when it’s time to stop and turn around,” Ed said.

According to Tony, rabbits are one of the most difficult animals to track. He says the eastern cottontail is designed to out-trick its enemy, but the snowshoe is designed to out-run it.

Rabbits leave very little scent, Ed said, particularly the doe. This helps prevent predators from discovering the nest.

“People don’t understand what keeps the scent on the ground,” Ed said.

Adam Johnson of Morenci, who joined the group Sunday morning along with Mike Shoemaker, always thought that moist air was a key to holding the scent on the ground, but that’s not how the Eyers see it.

It’s the barometric pressure, Tony says. The air temperature and ground temperature need to be close to the same, Travis explains further.

“And the position of the moon and stars,” Adam says, not quite convinced of the reliability of a barometer reading.

He no longer has a beagle of his own to run, but he’s with the others when it comes to enjoying the hunt.

“Half the fun is just watching the dogs,” he said.

• Michigan Out-of-Doors appears on various PBS stations. The show featuring the rabbit hunt is expected to be broadcast either this Thursday or Feb.  14.

The local hunters look forward to seeing what was produced from the six-hour jaunt. It might include the Eyers’ unique field dressing technique they learned from Canadian hunters.

“They probably edited that out,” Tony said.

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